"Patchwork Chris"

by AmyK

 

"Grace, you’ve got a head laceration in 4." My friend and co-worker Denise said as she walked by.

I looked up from the 3-year-old with a fever that I was treating, and nodded, "Got it." I was a RN at Kinley General Hospital in Los Angeles. I patted the little boys’ head and told his parents, "The doctor will be in in just a minute."

"Thank you." They smiled as I shut the door behind me. I noticed a small commotion in the waiting area.

"What’s going on in there?" I asked as I grabbed the new patients’ chart.

"Two of the guys from Nsync are out there." Denise smiled. I gave her a confused look, "Grace dear you’re so out of. Nsync is like the New Kids on the Block of our generation." She laughed.

"I thought that was the Backstreet Kids or whatever."

"Backstreet Boys." She whispered. "Careful you don’t say that too loud around here. They’re arch enemies you know." She rolled her eyes and smiled.

"What are they doing here?" I asked. She shrugged and I said, "Well tell them to keep it down and clear out before we have to call security. This is a hospital, not an arena." I said as I made my way down the hall.

I flipped open the patients chart and began to read. Laceration approximately 1-2 inches over the left eye, 28-year-old male fell in a parking lot. Fun, I thought to myself. I pushed the door open and saw the young man sitting on the examining table, holding a blood soaked towel to the front of his head.

"Hi…" I looked at the chart again, "Mr. Kirkpatrick. What happened here?"

"I biffed it in the parking lot."

"I can see that." He removed the towel so that I could have a look. I could see that there was one deep cut above his eyebrow and a couple of smaller cuts and scrapes on the side of his face.

I took the towel and wiped away some of the blood to get a look at the cut. It wasn’t that bad, what I could see of it. "I’m going to need to wash it out so I can see how deep it goes."

"Am I going to need stitches?"

"Yeah." I smiled. "Isn’t that why you came in?"

"No, yeah, I guess so. I’m just not big on the idea." He said as he leaned back on his arms.

"You won’t feel a thing. I’ll numb it up really good, don’t worry." I smiled and got a bottle of saline solution. "If you could just lay down and tilt your head back."

"Okay." He leaned back and did as he was told. He turned his head to look out the partially opened door at the crowd.

"I’m sorry about that." I said, following his gaze. "Apparently there’s some boy band out there causing teenage hysteria." I rolled my eyes and laughed.

He laughed and said, "It’s all right."

"Wow, how did this happen?" I asked as I squirt the solution into his cut.

He winced and said, "I was goofing off and fell, and whapped my head on one of those cement car stopper parking things."

"Ouch, that’s what you cut it on?" I poured more saline solution and tried to clean the wound out as best as I could.

"Yeah." He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. "Damn that hurts."

"And this is just water, wait till I get to the alcohol." I said.

"What?!" His eyes flew open.

"I’m kidding, relax." I laughed quietly and turned his head to face me. "Actually this is a good lac, as lacs come."

"Thanks." He smiled.

"When was the uh, last time you had a tetanus shot?" I asked a minute later.

"Like in high school." He said.

"Then I’ll have to give you another one today, just to be sure."

"Wait, no wait, I think it was a couple years ago, I got all kinds of shots before I went to South America."

"Not a tetanus." I laughed and went to the medicine cabinet.

"Shit, are you sure?" He asked.

"I’m sure." I smiled and took out a hypodermic.

"Well, can you numb up the area before you give me a shot."

"How do you think I numb it up?" I eyed the needle.

"Oh you’ve got to be kidding. Isn’t there some kind of ointment or something?" He closed his eyes and laid his head back.

"Nope." I said.

"Can I go without it?"

"Trust me, you’ll like it much better if I numb it up before I try to stitch you up."

"Oh man." He said under his breath as I held the cut open to give the injection.

"Keep breathing." I said when I noticed him holding his breath. "So what were you doing in the parking lot? Skateboarding?" I asked, trying to keep him talking.

"No, back flips." He said through clenched teeth.

"Back flips huh? In a parking lot?" I smiled. "You can really do a back flip?"

He laughed quietly and said, "Apparently not."

I laughed and concentrated on my task at hand. "So you were just hanging out in a parking lot doing, or trying to back flip?"

"I was with some of my buddies. We were taking a break and one of them did a back flip, so the show off that I am decided to do one too, and bam-o, here I am."

"You’re lucky you didn’t break your head open."

"I know." He mumbled. "The doctor said I had a hard head, which I guess in this case is good."

"Yeah, it is." I said as I removed the needle and looked at his chart again. He’d had a CT scan and a x-ray, both came back clear. He really was a lucky guy.

"Is that all?" He asked.

"One more." I said. "Then I’ll get down to business."

"Oh man."

I prepared the hypodermic and he closed his eyes as I gave him the second shot. "All righty, we’re set."

"I’m done?"

"Not quite." I laughed. "I need to stitch you up and give you your tetanus."

"Isn’t that what you just did?"

"In your head? No." I said as I got the sutures and needle ready on a tray. "I gave you some lidocaine to numb the laceration and surrounding area. You should start to feel it in a second."

"But you gave me two shots."

"Yeah." I said. "It’s a good sized cut."

"Well couldn’t you just throw the tetanus in there while you did it?"

"The tetanus doesn’t go in your head. It’s an intramuscular injection."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning it has to go deep into a muscle. Your buttocks."

"You’re going to give me a shot in my ass?"

"Yep."

"I’ve got to drop trou in front of a total stranger?"

"I’m Grace Camp." I extended my hand and he shook it.

"Chris Kirkpatrick."

"Feel better?" I asked.

"Yeah, much, thanks."

"Okay Chris, you can go ahead and lay back, I’m going to let the lidocaine do its work, and I’ll be back in a couple minutes, okay?"

"You’re just going to leave me here?"

"You’ll survive. I’ll be back in a minute." I pulled the door shut behind me and went up to the front. There was still a big crowd of girls surrounding two teenaged looking guys and a couple older bodyguard looking fellas.

"They’re still here?" I asked as I put my name beside Chris Kirkpatricks name on the board, so the doctors would know he was being sewn up.

"Yep." Denise laughed as she picked up the phone to call down to the lab.

"Are you the doctor taking care of Chris?" A young lady asked as I re-did my ponytail.

"Are you a family member?" I asked.

"I wish." She giggled. "I just want to know if he’s okay."

"I… he’ll be fine." I frowned. "Can I tell him who’s asking?"

"Oh my god! Would you really? Oh my god. My name is Kelly and I’m from San Diego and I love him!" She said excitedly. "And tell him I really hope he feels better really soon!"

I looked at Denise and said, "What?"

"He’s one of them." She laughed. "Yeah, I need the Dochson results." She said into the phone.

"He’s in the band?" I asked Denise.

"Yeah."

"Excuse me?" I heard behind me. I turned to see one of the teen-age guys.

"Yes?"

"Are you the one taking care of Chris?" He asked.

"Are you a family member?"

"No, I’m Lance." He said.

"Well, Lance, can you tell me who’s in charge here?"

"What do you mean?" He asked.

"I’m not at liberty to discuss Mr. Kirkpatricks condition with anyone other than his family, or responsible parties." I said.

"He’s… I mean, all of his family is back east. We’re his family." He said.

"You’re in the band together, right, I got that." I said. "But don’t you guys have a manager or someone who’s in charge of making medical decisions?"

"Yeah, our manager isn’t here yet." He sighed and leaned on the counter. "I’ll tell you what, why don’t you go ask Chris if you can tell Lance Bass and JC Chasez his condition? So we can let our manager and his family know."

Without a word I turned and walked down the hall to my patients’ room. "How’s it feeling?" I asked.

"Numb." He smiled and tried to raise his eyebrow. "And it’s still bleeding."

"Nah, not that bad. That’s mostly the saline solution you feel running down into your hair. Sorry about that." I leaned over and wiped it with a gauze swab. "Hey listen, I didn’t know you were in that group that everyone in the waiting area is going nuts over. I’m sorry if I insulted you earlier."

He laughed quietly, "Not at all, don’t sweat it. Just don’t let them back here and I’ll be fine."

"Speaking of them." I got the suture tray ready. "There’s a Lance Bass and JC Chasez out there and they want to know how you are. Do I have your permission to let them know your diagnosis?"

"Oh yeah sure, that’s cool." He said. "Can they come back and watch this?"

"Not while I’m stitching you up, no. But I’ll go get them after." I said.

"Okay."

"So I’ll go let them know you’re alive and kicking, then I’ll come back and put you back together."

"Okay." He said. Just as I got to the door he said, "Hey nurse Grace?"

"Yes?"

"Can you tell them that I need three days in the sun to recuperate?"

"Sure." I laughed and shut the door behind me. When I got to the front desk Lance came back over to me. "Okay I talked to Chris and he told me to let you and the other fellow know that he is okay."

"Good." He smiled and let out a sigh of relief. "Is he going to have to stay the night?"

"No, no as soon as I stitch him up he’ll be about ready to go."

"He needs stitches?"

"Yeah, he’ll need a couple for the cut above his eye." I nodded. "He um, we gave him a CT scan and head x-rays and they all came back clear. There are no skull fractures or brain injuries. He does have a concussion though, and he’ll have a real bad headache for a day or two, but that will go away. Overall he’s a pretty lucky guy."

"Yeah, you can say that again."

"So, were you the one doing the back flips?" I smiled.

He laughed and said, "No, that would be JC." He nodded to the guy standing in the middle of the crowd. "Mr. Gymnast."

"Well, be careful guys." I turned to head back to room 4. "He’ll be ready in a couple minutes." I went back to the room and put my gloves on, "Ready?"

"Whenever you are." He said as he leaned back and closed his eyes.

"Okay." I flipped the light above the bed on and pulled it over so that it was shining where I’d need it. I worked slowly to make sure that there wouldn’t be much of a scar. "So, what are you doing in LA?"

"We’re- ouch!" He winced.

"You felt that?" I immediately stopped.

"A little."

"Okay, don’t move." I leaned over and got another hypodermic of lidocaine. I gave him a little more where I’d be working, then went back to stitches. "Sorry."

"It’s okay." He said. "Anyways, we’re recording a video, and putting the finishing touches on our album."

"Ahh, that sounds like fun."

"Yeah." He said softly.

"Well, you’ll need to take it easy for a couple days. Seriously." He smiled. "You’re also going to need to wash the cut with a solution of half water and half hydrogen peroxide, three times a day. You can use a Q-tip to wash around the stitches. You can use that solution to wash all of your little cuts. Other than the wash you’ll need to keep this area dry. That means no pool, no shower. Don’t wash your hair."

"Ew, for how long?"

"The stitches can come out after 6 days. You can go to your regular doctor and have them do that for you."

"So I can’t wash my hair for 6 days?"

"If you can avoid it at all. If any soap or dirt gets in there, you’re in for more than just the tiny scar this is going to leave you with." I said.

"Okay."

"Okay, now when I give you the tetanus shot, the area around the injection site may become swollen and warm to the touch, this is normal. If the swelling persists or if it becomes painful for longer than 2 days, see your doctor immediately."

"You sound so professional." He said with his eyes closed.

"I…" I stampered. "I am a professional."

"I know, but I’m just saying you sound it."

"All right." I finished up the suturing and got out the peroxide. I dampened a gauze swab and lightly brushed it over the area I just stitched. I took a couple more and cleaned up the other scrapes on his cheek and chin. "Do you have any other scrapes or cuts?"

"Nope, I think my noggin took the brunt of the fall." He opened his eyes and tied to frown, only half of his forehead creased. "Oh, that feels weird."

"It’ll hurt once the lidocaine wears off. I’m going to get you a prescription for some pain killer, as well as an antibiotic." I said as I wrote it out on a prescription tablet.

"So am I done?"

"After you get your tetanus shot, you will be." I smiled and opened the cabinet again. I prepared the hypodermic syringe and turned to him. "The faster I can do this, the faster it’ll be over."

"I know, I know." He mumbled as he hopped off the bed. He laid the bloody towel he’d been holding, on the bed and reached for the button on the front of his jeans. "So do you need my whole butt? Or just a cheek?"

"Just a cheek." I laughed and turned away as he pulled down one side.

"I’m sorry right butt cheek." He said with mock sympathy. "Okay, get it over with." He aimed my target at me and I swiped it with an alcohol swab. I quickly gave him the tetanus shot, and wiped it again.

"Hang on." I said as I reached for the tray to get a Band-Aid. I chose a smiley face one, one that I usually gave to kids who had to get a shot. I stuck it on his cheek and patted his back. "Okay, done. That wasn’t so bad was it?"

"I won’t be able to sit for a week." He mumbled as he pulled his pants back up. "Seriously. Dude that takes a couple seconds to kick in huh? Damn, now I feel it."

"I know, the burning will go away in a minute or two." I said. I reached into our folder on wound care and pulled out a printed sheet with the washing instructions and warning signs. "Here you go. I’ll go get the other two guys in the waiting room and bring them back here, is that okay?"

"Yeah." He said as he sat back on the bed… sitting only on his left butt cheek. "Seriously nurse Grace, that hurt worse than my head."

"It did not." I laughed and went out to the waiting room. The guys came right over, along with the other two security-looking guys. I took them back to the room and let them in.

"Hey Chris man, how’s it feeling?" JC asked as he patted Chris on the back.

"My ass hurts." Chris whined.

"Your ass huh?" JC smiled. "I guess you really are a butt head huh?"

"No dude, she gave me a shot in my butt cheek, that hurt worse than my head any day." He stood up and rubbed his right cheek.

"Seriously though, you okay?" Lance asked.

"Yeah, I’ve got a thick skull, but you guys knew that. No, the doc said I didn’t crack anything and I’ll be as good as new in a couple days." He said.

"Glad to hear it." Lance smiled.

"So can we go now? I’m afraid to hang around here, she’ll find something else to stick me with." He nodded in my general direction.

"Yeah, you can go now. Let me get you checked out." I headed back to the desk and started filling out his discharge papers.

"So is he okay?" A girl asked.

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"Chris Kirkpatrick. Is he okay?"

"Yeah, he’s fine."

"I saw he was covered in blood when he came in."

"He wasn’t covered. He’ll be fine. I’m sorry, I really can’t tell you any more than that." I signed him out and had his prescription signed by the doctor who saw him, then went to let him know he was free to go.

"Thanks a lot nurse Grace." He smiled and shook my hand.

"Your welcome Mr. Kirkpatrick." I smiled and handed him his prescription. "Good luck on your new album, and be careful."

"I’ll try." He saluted me and limped out of the examining room behind the 2 security guards and his band mates. I heard the girls out front start chattering as the group walked passed them and out to the parking area. What a day...

6 days later I was working in the vaccination clinic that we hold once a month for the families that can’t afford vaccinations for their kids. "Hey Grace?" John asked as he peeked his head into the small, cramped room.

"Yeah?"

"You busy?"

"What’s it look like?" I asked as I drew the vaccination into the needle. "Whatcha need?"

"I have a nervous patient out here that requested you personally." He smiled.

"Me?"

"Unless there’s another nurse Grace."

"That would be me." I shrugged. "Natalie, can you hold down the fort here?"

"Sure thing." She smiled as I took off my gloves and headed for the door.

"Where is she?"

"He is in room 6."

"What’s the presenting complaint?"

"Re-check."

"A re-check in the ER?" I frowned. "Who’s his GP?"

"Couldn’t tell ya." John shrugged and took off down the hall. I pushed the door to six open and walked in.

"Cool, you’re here." Chris Kirkpatrick said with a smile. He was sitting on the examining table playing with a reflex hammer.

"Hello Mr. Kirkpatrick." I smiled. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah." He said. "You said to come back in 6 days to get my stitches out." He pointed at his head.

"Let me have a look." I gently pressed the area around the healed cut. It was still bruised, but the swelling was almost completely gone. "You know, you could have just gone to your regular doctor for that."

"I don’t have a regular doctor. I’m only out here for a couple weeks." He said. "Are you sure it’s healed enough to take them out?"

"Yeah, it looks good." I said. "Your head and scalp heal relatively fast, since the skin is so thin there."

"Can you take them out?"

"Sure, sure I can." I pulled out a tiny pair of suture removers and a pair of gloves. "So, have you tried any more back flips?"

"No, no, my days being Nadia are over I think." He smiled.

"Good." I laughed and pulled the gloves on. "Where’s your little entourage?"

"You mean the other guys?" He asked as he lay back on the bed.

"And the dozen screaming girls?"

"Well, the other guys are back at the hotel, and as for the girls, I think I slipped by them on my way here." He smiled. "I can be pretty stealth when I want."

"That’s always a good thing." I smiled and said, "Close your eyes."

"Oh man, do you have to give me another shot?"

"Nope, no more shots."

"Wait." He opened his eyes and raised his hand. "Maybe I do need another shot, you know, that novocaine stuff."

"Lidocaine." I said. "You don’t need another shot. Taking them out won’t hurt."

"You’re sure?"

"I promise." I said.

"If it hurts…"

"You can sue me." I laughed and had him lay back down.

He closed his eyes and began talking, "Because I don’t like pain at all, I think you could tell that from the last time I was in here. I’m a big baby." I snipped a few of the stitches and gave a little tug. "Not that many people out there dig pain I mean, it’s just, I really don’t." I removed a couple more and smiled. "If you could just let me know when you’re going to do it so I can be prepared."

"I’m done." I said as I wheeled the little cart out of the way and leaned over to get a look at the partially healed cut.

"You… what? You’re done? That’s it?"

"That’s it." I said. "Hold still for a second." I prodded the cut to make sure there was no infection. "Looks good, you did a good job cleaning it."

"Yeah, of course my hair reeks, but that’s okay. Can I wash it now?"

"Yeah, you’re pretty much all healed. It’ll be red for another week or so, but it’s closed at least now. And the other cuts and scrapes look good too." I ran my thumb over his cheekbone where there was still a little scratch visible.

"So will it scar?"

"Yeah, you’ll have a little moon shaped scar there. Nothing much really, it will most likely be really light. It might not even show up in photos." I smiled.

"Oh man, I was hoping for a big old nasty scar." He laughed lightly and hopped off the table.

"Yeah but what would you tell everyone? ‘I was trying to do a back flip and landed on my head’?"

"No, I’d make up something cool. I was bungee jumping and I came too close to the rocks."

"No one would believe that, you’re afraid of heights." As soon as I said that, I blushed and became interested in the tray.

"Ah ha, you’ve been doing your homework." He said with a sly smile.

"Well, I um, saw you on a MTV thing." I said.

He laughed and said, "The one where everyone was making fun of me because I almost died every night before the show?"

"Yeah." I smiled. "But that’s okay, I’m afraid of heights too."

"Good, see, so you know where I’m coming from."

"I sure do." I laughed and took a step back from the tray. "Well, you’re good as new. Let me sign you out and you can get out of here."

"Okay." He grabbed his jacket off the chair in the corner and followed me out to the front desk. I signed him out and got his papers ready. He signed them and smiled, "Nurse Grace, no offense, but I hope I don’t see you again."

"Well, I hope I don’t see you again either." I laughed and dropped his chart in the completed bin.

Less than a week later John ran by me in the hall as I was returning from what would probably be my only break of the night. "What’s the rush?"

"MVA, pedestrian vs. bus."

"Ouch, shit." I said as I took off after him. As we ran into the ER Shirley, the head nurse stopped us.

"Whoa, slow down you two." She said, holding her hand up. "The ped. Vs bus died en route, they called it two minutes ago. However, we have the driver of the bus on the way in with multiple lacs and a possible concussion. Who wants it?"

I looked at John and he raised his eyebrows at me. "I’ve done 9 suture cases today."

"Six. Damn, okay I’ll take him." He frowned as he headed for the ER bay.

"Missy don’t go anywhere." She called after me as I made my way around a cart. She called everyone Missy.

"Hmm?"

"How about a casting?"

"What kind of cast?"

"Are you going to be picky now?" She raised an eyebrow at me.

"No." I smiled and extended my hand.

"Here you go, room 3." She handed me the chart and I headed down the hall.

I flipped open the chart as I pushed the door open, but before I could read the name I heard, "Oh no, not you again."

I looked up from the chart and saw Chris Kirkpatrick. "I might say the same thing. What happened this time? Playing superman off the roof?"

"Oh man, isn’t there anyone else who can do this?"

"I’m the best in town." I smiled and opened the casting cabinet.

"I feel like such an ass, I swear I’m not a big klutz." He laughed.

"I’m sure you’re not." I smiled and tried not to laugh.

"I’m not."

"All right then, what happened."

"I was bungee jumping and came too close to the rocks." He smiled.

"Uh huh." I rolled my eyes and got the kit out of the cupboard and started running the hot water to make the cast. I flipped the x-ray screen light on and looked at the films of his arm. I whistled and said, "Wow, you don’t mess around. Fractures in two places, not to mention dislocating your fingers. How did you do this?"

"We were horseback riding for a video and the horse threw me, guess what I landed on?"

"Your arm."

"My arm." He nodded. "Or, well my hand first."

"You’re lucky it wasn’t a complete break, or you’d have to have surgery to get pins put in there."

"I know." He winced. "Of course at least then they’d have knocked me out. I had to be awake when the doctor guy relocated my fingers. Oh my God, I’ve never felt pain like that before in my life. I swear I thought I was going to pass out, or throw up or something."

"Some people do." I said as I got a tub full of water and came over to his side.

"The doctor said I’d have to wear the cast for 6 to 8 weeks?"

"Yeah, that sounds about right."

"Great." He sighed.

"But look on the bright side, you get to chose what color you want."

"For what? The cast?"

"Yeah." I smiled. "See, I’ll put on the layers of gauze and mesh, then I’ll put an outer coating of a fiberglass type material, and that can be colored, if you want."

"Cool." He smiled as I had him lean forward and rest his arm on the tray.

I pulled a section of mesh tubing over his forearm and cut a hole for his thumb. "So where’s everyone this time?"

"Um, finishing up the shoot for today. One of the AD’s brought me in."

"AD’s?"

"Assistant director." He said. "For the video."

"Ahh." I tugged the mesh up and cut it to the right length then opened up a couple packets of cotton gauze.

"We still have another day of shooting, I guess they’ll have to shoot around my arm huh?"

"Yeah, or you could wear long sleeves maybe."

"Yeah, maybe." He sighed again.

"You mentioned last time that you were only going to be in town a couple weeks, where are you from?"

"Um, Florida." He said. "Orlando. We’re going back this weekend actually. So long as we’re done."

"Do you have a lot more to do?"

"Nah, we don’t have much at all, another couple hours, a day at the most. But it’s those little things that come up after that are going to delay us. You know?"

"Yeah, I know." I smiled.

"How about you?"

"How about me what?" I slowly wrapped the gauze tightly around his thumb, and up his forearm.

"Are you from here originally?"

"Not exactly. I was born here, in LA, but when I was still a baby my family moved up to the Bay area and we lived there until I was around, 12 or 13. Then we moved to Seattle and I lived there till I graduated high school. I went to college in San Diego and then I got hired on here, and I’ve been here for about 3 years now." I smiled.

"Cool." He watched me put a couple layers of gauze on.

We made small talk for the next fifteen minutes as I soaked a layer of the clear fiberglass and molded it to fit snug from his thumb to his elbow. "Okay, what color?"

"What are my choices?"

"Um, let’s see, we have black, dark blue, pink, red, green, neon green, orange… it looks like we’re out of purple."

"Hmm, how about black. That’ll go with my jacket." He laughed.

"Okay." I pulled out the colored fiber strips and laid them out on the tray. "We’re almost done, you’ll be out of here in a couple minutes." I folded the ends of the gauze down over the clear fiberglass so the edges would be soft.

"Whoa, it’s getting hot under there. Is this how it’s going to be?"

"No, that’s just the first layers drying. It’ll feel warm for about an hour today, but after that it shouldn’t be that bad." I said as I started to layer on the blue. "It’ll itch like crazy though after a couple days, because of the sweat that’ll be under the cast."

"I hate itching." He frowned.

"Then don’t sweat." I laughed.

"Okay." He laughed and rolled his eyes. "I’ve got another day of dancing around a sound stage."

"Well then life’s gonna suck for a day or two." I smiled and wrapped his arm again. I went over the do’s and don’t of having a cast, no pool/jacuzzi/ocean, don’t stick anything down inside, don’t use it to support any weight, all that good stuff.

"Oh man, so I can’t take a shower for how long?"

"You can take a shower, you just can’t get your arm wet." I said.

"It’s my right arm."

"Uh huh."

"Well I’m right handed, how am I supposed to wash my hair?"

"With your left hand."

"Oh man. I should just go back to my braids, I didn’t have to wash them at all if I didn’t want." He pouted.

"You could do that." I nodded. "Or if you have someone who could wash your hair for you in a sink or something?"

"Yeah, I could do that." He agreed. "This is still gonna suck."

"I know." I said as I wrapped the last section around. "You’re done. Now, in about 6 weeks you’ll need to get x-rays done again to see how it’s healed, and if it’s good, the doctor will go ahead and take the cast off."

"And I can go to my regular doctor then?"

"Yep, he or she will know what to do." I smiled as he stood up.

"Cool."

"Now, you’re not going to show up next week with something else broken or gashed open, are you?"

"God, I hope not." He rolled his eyes and followed me out to the front desk to get himself all signed out. "Well nurse Grace, thank you, again, for everything. And I really hope I don’t have to see you here again." I handed him his prescription for painkillers and completed his chart.

"Me too." I laughed. "Be careful!" I called after him as he left through the big double doors with what I assumed, was the AD.

Amazingly enough, I didn’t see Chris a week later. It was only two days later. But it wasn’t at work, so that’s okay. I was actually visiting my friend, the bartender at the Beverly Hilton. I was sitting at the bar sipping a slow comfortable screw. Dave, the bartender friend, was always making me try something different.

"Are you stalking me?" I heard a male voice ask from behind.

"Excuse-" I turned around as Chris sat on the barstool beside me. "Hi." I said, mildly shocked. "You haven’t hurt yourself again have you?"

"No, no not this time." He laughed and laid his casted arm on the bar.

"What can I get for you?" Dave asked, wiping the bar down.

"Um, Tom Collins." Chris said.

"Can I see some ID?" Dave asked.

I smiled as Chris stared at Dave, then reached into his wallet and pulled out his license. "I’m 28 years old and still getting carded. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad." He laughed.

"Be happy, people think I’m my moms sister." I laughed and took another sip of my drink. "So you’ve been keeping off of horses huh?"

"Yeah, I’ve decided I’m no John Wayne."

"Or Mary Lou Retton." I said.

"Right." He said as his drink arrived. "So, what are you doing here?"

"I am having a drink. Dave, Mr. Bartender here, is a friend of mine, so I come by after work on Fridays and get a drink or two." I said as I stirred my drink. "You?"

"I’m staying here." He said. "In the hotel I mean. Not the bar. This is actually the first time I’ve been in here." He looked around the dim lit room.

"Well Dave makes good drinks, anything you want."

"What are you drinking?" He asked, looking at my multi colored concoction.

"Um, it’s a slow comfortable screw." I smiled.

"Oh really?" He raised his eyebrows and looked closely at my drink.

"Yeah, what’s in this Davey?" I asked.

"Slo Gin, Southern Comfort, and OJ." He said as he poured another drink.

"Egads. Then I’ll stop with one tonight. I still have to drive myself home."

"Stop with one slo comfortable screw? Or one drink?" Dave laughed.

"One drink."

"That’s your second." He said.

"My second?"

"You had that shot when you came in." He smiled and wiped the bar down at the other end.

"Oh man, you’re right. Then I guess I’ve had enough." I smiled at Chris. "So this must look real good huh? A nurse getting sloshed after work."

"I don’t think I’d consider you sloshed, just yet." He laughed and drained his drink. He nodded at Dave to bring him another.

"Nah, not yet." I said. "So, are you done working? I know you said you only had about another days worth of work to do."

"No, it’s those little last minute things that come up. We’ll be here another week it looks like." He sighed. "But we’re going home tomorrow for a couple days to get some work done there, we’ll be back on Tuesday."

"Well that sounds like fun."

"Yeah tons. But we’re racking up our frequent flier miles. I get a free first class ticket about every week it seems like, we fly so much." Chris said as his second drink arrived.

"If you’re afraid of heights, are you afraid of flying also?"

"Nope." He sloshed his ice around in his glass. "Didn’t you pay attention to that MTV thing? Lance is he one who is afraid of flying." He smiled.

"Oh that’s right. Because every time you fly your chances are getting slimmer." I smiled. "I couldn’t remember who that was."

"That was Lance, my boy Lance."

"And what are the other guys names?" I finished my drink and took a piece of ice in my mouth to chew.

"Um, Justin, JC and Joey." He said.

"Cool." I took another piece of ice and set my glass on the end of the bar.

"So Grace, how do you like being a nurse?" He asked as Dave refilled my glass.

"I love it." I smiled. "But I’ve been thinking about getting out of emergency medicine."

"Because you keep seeing the same old people?" Chris smiled, and for the first time I noticed his teeth were a little crooked, cute.

"Yeah." I laughed quietly. "No actually, I’m getting tired of seeing all the same situations come in. For the most part we see violent acts and car wrecks."

"But not all the time I’m sure."

"Nah, sometimes we get wanna be gymnasts and rodeo riders." I looked at his scar above his eye. "Speaking of which, that looks like it’s healing really well." I lightly pressed on his scar. "Is it sensitive?"

"A little." He said. "But I think it’s still bruised."

"Yeah, it will be for another week or so. The bruising should go away here pretty soon, but the scar itself might be sensitive to temperature. Scar tissue usually is." I laughed. "More info than you needed huh? But I’m glad to see it’s less red." I took a sip of my drink.

"Me too. We have a couple photo things to do next week. Too bad the cast will be in it."

"Oh yeah." I frowned. "How is your arm feeling? Does it hurt?"

"Not really. I’ve been keeping myself medicated." He laughed.

"I’ll bet." I laughed. "Wait, then you shouldn’t be drinking. God are you trying to kill yourself?"

"I was kidding." He said. "I took a Tylenol this morning."

"Have you taken any of the Vicodan?"

"Nope, I didn’t even get it filled. I don’t like that stuff." He said. "Don’t worry. It doesn’t hurt that bad, only when I bang it against something." He smiled and took a sip of his drink.

"Well that’s good, I’m glad it doesn’t hurt that bad." I took another couple sips and asked, "Did you re-fill my glass?"

"Yes." Dave said as he poured a drink for another customer. "You sat it, empty, on the edge of the bar."

"All righty then. I’m definitely going to need a cab." I smiled and turned back to Chris. "So where are the others?"

"Um, I’m not sure. I know Lance and Joey were going to hit the poolroom, and I think JC is out with some friends. I don’t know where Justin is, probably with the guys playing pool." He shrugged.

"Why aren’t you with them?"

"I don’t play pool well. And I wanted a break from them. I’ve been with them for 2 weeks now, and I’m looking at another couple months of looking at them constantly for days on end. I thought I could use a night out of sight." He smiled.

"Ahh, I see." I finished my drink and kept it close to me this time. "Did you always want to be a singer?" And with that question, we started what turned out to be a two hour long discussion about how what he always wanted to be as a kid, turned into what he was. It was so nice to be able to sit and just talk to someone, for longer than the 15 minutes I usually had while I was working on them. While we talked Chris ordered a soda, and Dave kept pouring me drinks. Not that I noticed, I felt fine sitting down, but when I stood to go to the bathroom, the bar and hotel, spun like tops in front of me.

"Whoa." I grabbed the back of the chair.

"You okay?" Chris asked, reaching for my arm with his good hand.

"Yeah, as soon as the room slows down I’ll be fine." I closed my eyes and tried to regain my balance.

"Do you need some help?" He asked.

"Going to the bathroom?" I smiled. "No, I’ve got it. Just a head rush." I smiled and made my way to the bathroom. I did what needed to be done, and came back out. I was able to remain upright, which is always a good thing, as I walked back and sat down. "Much better."

"Hey guys, it’s almost time for last call." Dave said as he wiped the bar down. "Grace, you want to wait around, I can drive you home after I clean up."

"No, I’ll take a cab. Thanks." I smiled and looked at Chris. "I really do need to get going, it was good to see you again."

"You too." He stood up and reached for my arm as we headed for the door.

"I’ll see you later Davey." I laughed and waved over my shoulder at my friend. He just laughed and waved, towel in hand.

"I’ll make sure she gets a cab." Chris said over his shoulder at Dave. He wrapped his good arm around my waist to support me and we headed out through the lobby.

"I’m fine, really, I can walk."

"I know you can." He smiled, but didn’t remove his arm.

"Oh shit." I stopped walking and reached into my pocket. "I don’t have any cash for a cab. Let me go back and see if Dave can lend me some money."

"I got it." He said.

"No, that’s okay." I turned to head back into the bar.

"Grace, I can take you home." He said. "I have a car."

"Oh, are you sure? You don’t have to, I mean, you’re staying here, you don’t have to take me all the way to Santa Monica." I said.

"I don’t mind. Really. I’d love to get out of here for a little bit." He smiled and nodded toward the door. "Come on."

"You don’t have to, really, I can get cab fare from Dave."

"I can take you for free." He said.

"Well… okay." I followed him to the front desk where he talked to the concierge for a minute, then was handed a set of keys and directions. We walked out to the parking lot and Chris located the car. A very slick looking silver mustang convertible.

"Wow, is this yours?" I asked as I slid in the passenger seat.

"Not hardly." He smiled. "My piece of shit car is back home in my garage."

"Why do you have a piece of shit car if you have so much money? And whose car is this?" I asked as he pulled out of the parking lot and onto the main road.

"This is a rental the hotel loaned me to take you home. I have a piece of shit car because I’m never home enough to actually drive it, or buy a new car for that matter. And also, if I drive around in my crappy Toyota, I won’t get recognized." He smiled. "And for the record, I don’t have that much money, you’d be amazed at how much taxes and management take out."

"I bet." I smiled and leaned my head back on the headrest.

"So, nurse Grace. Where am I going?"

"You’re doing good, just keep going down this road till I tell you to turn."

"That’s easy enough. Do you have your house keys?"

"Yeah." I said, as I rummaged through my purse to find them.

"You’re going to have to find a way back to get your car tomorrow." He said softly as we drove down Santa Monica Blvd. I watched the streetlights light up his face at regular intervals.

"Yeah, I’ll have Dave take me or something." I said. "Thanks a lot for driving me home tonight. I don’t usually drink that much."

"No problem. I figure I owe you, for the head and the arm and everything."

"Nah, that’s my job. This is just you being nice." I smiled as we stopped at a light.

"So you live in Santa Monica huh? Do you live on the beach?"

"No." I laughed. "Not quite. The property out here is expensive. I have a little apartment about 6 blocks up from the beach walk. But I still pay out the nose for it."

"I’d love to live on the beach out here." He said.

"Orlando is on the beach, right?"

"Well, yeah. But I live about 15 miles inland." He said.

"That’s cool." I yawned. "Man, I’m tired."

"Me too." He nodded and stifled a yawn.

"At the next light make a left." I said a couple minutes later. He turned and headed down my street. "Okay, it’s the third building from the corner here."

"Here?" He slowed down in front of my building.

"Yeah, you can go ahead and drop me off here."

"I don’t think so." He said as he looked up and down the, not very well lit street.

"I’ll be fine."

"No, I’d rather make sure you make it safely up to your place." He said as he pulled into an empty parking space in the front.

"Then at least park in my spot so you don’t get towed in the 4 seconds you’ll be here." I said as I pointed to another empty space near the corner. He pulled into my parking space and got out of the car. He came around to my side to open my door, but I was all ready half way out of the car.

"You doing okay?" He asked as he reached for my arm.

"Really, I’m fine." I smiled. "Just a head rush."

"Okay." He laughed and followed me into the building and up the stairs to the second floor. I lead the way down the hall to my apartment at the end on the left, and unlocked the door.

"This is me." I smiled and held the door open. "Thank you for seeing me home."

"Anytime." He said.

"Have a safe trip home tomorrow, and back on Tuesday, and take care of that arm."

"I will, thanks." He smiled and looked at his shoes. "I’ll um, I’ll see you later then."

"I hope not."

"You…?"

"I mean at work." I laughed and touched his little scar.

"Ahh, well I hope I don’t have to come see you there again either." He said. "But I do hope I see you again."

"Me too." I smiled and reached up to give him a hug. He hugged me with his good arm and I laughed.

"What?"

"I’m hugging an Nsyncer." I laughed again.

He laughed and shook his head, "Just say goodnight Gracie."

"Good night, Gracie." I laughed and rolled my eyes as I shut the door.

He stood there for a minute just staring at the closed door. He smiled and shook his head again as he bounced down the stairs and out to his car.

I woke up with a gnarly hangover the next morning. My head, or the phone, I couldn’t tell which, was ringing when I opened my eyes. I reached for the phone, just in case, and answered it, "What time is it?"

"It’s like, 9:20." Dave said.

"What day is it?"

"Saturday." He laughed. I hung up on him, that was way to early on a Saturday to be calling me.

The phone immediately rang again, "I’m going to kill you. What?" I asked as I pulled the phone under the covers with me.

"Well aren’t you just a ray of sunshine." I could tell the bastard was smiling.

"Get to a point. Fast."

"Grace darling, I was just calling to see if you made it home safe… or at all, last night." He said. "I saw your car in the parking lot when I got off, so I was just checking."

"Oh man, my car. Can you come get me so I can pick it up?" I asked.

"Sure, we can do that later. Anyway, I just wanted to make sure you were all right." "I’m fine, thanks. And after this freight train in my head slows down, I’ll be even better."

"Drink orange juice, and eat something." He smiled. "I’ll give you a call a little later and we can work out how to get your car back to you."

"Thanks Dave."

"Anytime."

"Later."

"Bye." He laughed and hung up. Then, like a good little hung over person, I fell back to sleep for another couple hours.

When I finally dragged my butt out of bed it was closer to noon and I felt like I had a gym sock in my mouth. "Never, ever, ever, EVER again." I mumbled to myself as I climbed into the shower and stood there for a half hour.

I cleaned myself up and sat on my couch for a breakfast of aspirin and orange juice. Dave came by around 4 to pick me up to get my car, then we went to grab some dinner.

"So Grace, what happened last night huh?"

"You let me drink way too much." I growled at him as we sat across from each other at the diner.

"I did no such thing."

"How many drinks did I have last night?"

"I don’t know." He smiled.

"I think it was a lot. I think it was like… five."

"That’s not terrible."

"Dave! I weigh like… a buck! Two drinks would have done me in."

"You walked out of the bar just fine, and you were speaking coherently." He said in his defense.

"Yeah but I feel like I’m still drunk."

"You might still have alcohol in your system you know."

"I know. I’m a nurse, of course I know that. I’m never doing that again."

"I’ve heard that before." He smiled and took a bit of his sandwich.

"Well I mean it." I picked at my food and stared at him.

"So what else happened last night?" He raised an eyebrow at me.

"What do you mean?"

"Well you left the place with Mr. Boy Band."

"I… he took me home."

"He took you home huh?" He smirked.

"That’s all. He drove me to my place and walked me to my door, then said good night."

"That’s all?"

"Yes, that’s all." I said. "And he gave me a hug."

"A hug?"

"Yes, a hug. Stop repeating everything I say."

"Are you going to see him again?"

"I don’t know. He went home today, so..." I shrugged.

"All right." He smiled.

"All right nothing. Don’t be smart with me." I frowned. "God, all I want to do is go home and sleep some more. This sucks. I’m for reals not doing this again."

"Okay, are you ready to go then?" He placed his napkin on his plate.

"Uh huh. Let’s go." I dropped some money on the table and we walked out to our cars. I gave him a quick hug and then I drove myself home.

I did just what I wanted, and I fell right back to sleep. I recuperated all day on Sunday, and was even cheerful at work on Monday. Miracle of miracles. I stitched up a whole bunch of people, and ran interference with a couple baseball players and an umpire that had gotten into a fist throwing contest at a game.

Tuesday was about the same, nothing too exciting. I kept half expecting Chris to come in with another accident. I was coming back from my dinner break, when Denise waved me over to the front desk. "You have a call on hold."

"What line?" I asked as I came behind the desk.

She handed me a new patient’s folder and said, "Four."

I nodded and flipped open the new patients chart as I cradled the phone under my chin, "This is Grace Camp."

"Hi there nurse Grace. This is Chris. Chris Kirkpatrick. I’m sorry to bother you at work."

"Hi." I smiled. "Um, that’s okay, whatcha need?" I scanned the chart.

"Actually, I have a medical question."

"Ahh, well, I’m not a doctor, if you have a medical problem you’d have to see a doctor."

"No, I mean, it’s not like that." He said. "I just need to know how many stitches I had in my head." He laughed quietly.

"Oh, um, 17. I think. Sixteen or seventeen. Right near there. Why?" I asked.

"Um, I was doing an interview and they asked, and I didn’t know. So I thought maybe that was something I should know, just in case someone asks again."

"Yeah." I laughed. "You could have just made up a number, no one would have known."

"True." He sighed. "So, how do you feel? Has Friday night worn off yet?"

"Yeah." I laughed as Shirley walked by and gave me a "get back to work" look. "Hey, I’ve got to get back to work."

"Yeah, okay." He said. "Hey, are you going to be at the bar tonight? We’re back at the hotel, so I was thinking…"

"I usually only go on Fridays, since I have Saturday off." I said.

"Well would you consider making an exception?" He smiled.

"Grace? Are you going to take that abdominal pain or not?" Shirley asked as she walked by again.

"Yes, I am, in just two seconds." I answered her. "I’m sorry Chris, I really have to go." "Will you come by tonight?"

I sighed, "Okay, I’ll meet you there at 9:30, okay?"

"9:30? Isn’t that a little late for dinner?"

"I’ve really got to go, 9:30, I’ll see you then." I said as I hung up, under the watchful eye of Miss Shirley.

I sailed through the rest of the day, and was exhausted when I headed for the locker room at five minutes to nine. "And where do you think you’re going?" Shirley asked as I opened the door.

"Home." I sighed. "Or, well, out. But still."

"We’ve got a 80 year old male with joint pain, can you take it before you go?"

"Shirley…" I whined.

"You’ve still got 5 minutes." She looked at the clock.

"But the joint pain will take longer than, and I’ve really got to get out of here." I whined as I leaned on the door jam, all ready untying my shoe.

"Fine. But you owe me one."

"I’ll do lac’s all day tomorrow." I smiled and shut the door behind me so I could change into my civvies.

I made it to the hotel a little before nine thirty and parked in the back. As I came around the front I saw a small group of pre-teen girls bouncing excitedly. I saw a couple "I love *Nsync" signs and smiled to myself as I made my way around the crowd to the front entrance. The doorman smiled as I walked up. "Quite a crowd, hmm Stan?" I asked.

"Yeah, they’ve been here since this morning." He laughed and pulled the door open. We were old buds.

"Crazy." I laughed as he held the door open for me to go in. I walked straight through the lobby to the bar in the back and let myself in. "Hey hey trouble." I said to Dave as I slid onto a bar stool.

"Hey Gracie. Did you come back for more?"

"Not hardly. Ugh, I’ve never been so sick." I made a face. "I won’t be doing that again anytime soon. Can I get a diet coke please?"

"Straight up and on the rocks?" He smiled.

"You know it." I laughed and sat my purse on the floor.

"So, are you here looking for Mr. Boy Band?" He asked as he sat the drink in front of me.

"Um, kind of, we’re supposed to be meeting here." I said as I looked around the bar.

"I haven’t seen him." Dave shrugged. "Or any of them for that matter. They went out this morning and all the girls out there had a total meltdown. I can tell when any of them come down to the lobby because the girls go nuts outside." He laughed. "It’s like Beatle mania."

"I can imagine. The doorman said they’ve been out there all day."

"Yep. In fact there were some last night when I got here around 6." He said.

"Scary." I laughed and looked around the bar again. Dave went back to work and I went back to waiting. About 15 minutes later, there was still no sign of Chris. I took another look around the place as the phone rang.

"Hilton Bar, this is Dave." He answered the phone. "Um, yes she is, just one second." He smiled and walked over to where I was sitting. "Gracie, you’re boy band man is calling." He held the phone out to me.

"Thanks." I smiled and took the phone, "Hello?"

"Hi, Grace?"

"Yeah."

"This is Chris." He said.

"Hi." I laughed.

"I’m really sorry, I can’t make it downstairs tonight, we’re on house arrest, we aren’t allowed to leave the floor." He said softly.

"Oh, well, that’s okay." I said, disappointed.

"But tonight doesn’t have to be a total loss. I still haven’t eaten, so if you’d like to come up to my room I can order up room service or something. Are you hungry?"

"I… A little, yeah." I said. "You want me to come up to your room?" I asked as Dave gave me a raised eyebrow.

"If you’d like to, sure." He said. "I’d love to get out of here, but… well, we just can’t tonight." He sighed.

"That’s all right. What room are you in?"

"Um, 412. Fourth floor." He said. "I’ll meet you by the elevators."

"Okay." I smiled and said goodbye as I grabbed my purse.

"Nasty girl." Dave laughed as I laid some money on the bar.

"Oh stop. I’m going to go have some dinner with the guy."

"Yeah, I know how those slick rock band guys are." He smiled.

"Hello? Dave, have you seen *Nsync before? They’re hardly what I’d call a rock band." I laughed and leaned over the bar to give him a hug. "I’m a big girl, don’t you worry about me."

"It’s my job to worry about you. Be careful, I’ll call you later." He waved as I headed out of the bar. I took the elevator to the fourth floor and when the doors opened, I was faced with one of the biggest men I’ve ever seen.

"Whoa, hi there." I smiled and tried to step off the elevator.

"Can I help you?" He asked.

"I, well I’m here to see Chris. Chris!" I called as I saw him walking down the hall towards the elevators.

"Hey, it’s okay Pete, she’s a guest." He said as he walked up. Next to this guard guy, Chris looked about as big as a first grader.

"Did you get her a badge?" Pete asked.

"Yeah, it’s in my room. I’ll make sure she gets it. Also, I’m having room service sent up, so when they get here, can you let them on the floor?" Chris smiled.

"Sure thing boss." Pete laughed and sat back in his chair.

"Thanks." Chris looked at me, "Sorry about that. You hungry?"

"A little, yeah." I smiled and followed him as he started down the hall. "Are you, I mean, do you always have to stay in your room?"

"No, not always. But see, last week when we were here no one really knew where we were staying because JC went to the Wilshire hotel, so everyone thought we were there, which is fine by us. But when we left, and came back Monday or whatever, we were followed here." He sighed. "And then when we went out this morning the fans out front got a little out of hand and the hotel security got all bent so now in order to leave the floor we have to have our own security, and to leave the hotel we have to have the hotel security escort us out the back, and that’s just a big huge hassle." He smiled and opened his hotel room door. I hesitantly walked in and put my purse on the little suitcase rack by the closet.

"That sucks."

"Yeah, but it’s not always this bad. But I think since we’ve been out of the spotlight for a couple months, our fans are going a bit crazy."

"Yeah…" I said softly. He sat at the table so I sat across from him.

"Are you okay?"

"Hmm? Yeah, I’m fine." I looked around the room. "This is nice, I’ve never actually been up to the rooms here."

"This is one of my favorite places to stay." He smiled and kicked back in the chair.

"Do you come here often?"

"To LA?" I nodded. "Not too often. But we’ve been here a lot the last couple months."

"Working on your video?"

"Yeah, but not that whole time. That only took a couple days." He said. "But we’ve been doing some promoting for our new album, and making tour arrangements and stuff like that. It’s going to be a really busy year."

"When does your album come out?"

"Um, next Friday."

"Are you excited?" I smiled and got more comfortable in the chair.

"I guess so. I’m scared, nervous. I don’t know. I guess I just want it to do well, and I think it will, but that first week is always going to be nerve wracking."

"With all those girls out front tearing up the lawn, you’re worried about how well it’s going to do?" I laughed.

"Yeah, well…" He shrugged. "You never know. The video debuts tomorrow night on MTV, so that might boost sales a little."

"How cool, are you guys doing anything for that? I mean, with MTV?" I asked.

"Not really. MTV was there to tape us, for "Making the Video", have you seen that?"

"Yeah, a couple times."

"So, well that’s all they’re doing."

"That sounds like fun, I’ll have to remember to watch." I smiled.

"Yeah…" He blushed and played with the little menu thing on the table. "So tell me more about you."

"What would you like to know?"

He looked me in the eye and said, "Everything."

"Well…" I laughed nervously, "That could take a while."

"If you could be doing anything other than nursing, what would you be doing?"

"What would I seriously be doing, or what would I like to be doing?"

"Both."

"Umm, let’s see. I’d like to be a lawyer, I love to argue." I laughed. "But I’d probably be a teacher, if I wasn’t in nursing.

"Cool."

"What about you? If you weren’t doing this?"

"I don’t know. This is what I’ve pretty much always wanted to do. I guess I might have been a DJ or something else in the music business." He shrugged. "Actually I’d probably be a gas attendant or something like that." He laughed and flipped through the menu. "Seriously, are you hungry?"

"You’ve asked me that like three times." I smiled.

"Oh, sorry." He blushed.

"It’s okay." I reached for the menu and asked, "What’s good here?"

"The, um, lasagna is pretty good. And I like the club sandwich. I don’t know though, I think I’m going to get the BBQ chicken pizza."

"That sounds good." I nodded.

"Cool, do you want something to drink? I’ll go ahead and call it down."

"Just water." I said as he reached for the phone. He called in our order to room service and then stood up and stretched.

"How does your arm feel?" I asked, always the nurse.

"It’s all right. It’s hard trying to do things with my left hand though. I can hardly even dress myself anymore." He laughed.

"By the time you get it off, you’ll be ambidextrous."

"That might be cool." He cleaned off the table as we waited for the food to arrive. When it got there we took the food out to the lawn chair looking things on the balcony, to eat.

"What a gorgeous night." I said as I looked out over the city. "You can see the pier lights from here."

"You live right by the pier, right?"

"Kind of, a little to the right of the pier, and a couple blocks in." I squinted toward the ocean.

"What’s on the pier?"

"Lots of things. There’s a restaurant on the end, and an arcade, ferris wheel, fishing stuff. It’s cool, you should stop by if you have some time."

He laughed quietly, "Time huh? What’s that?"

"You’re pretty busy huh?"

"Yeah you could say that." He sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Those trips to the ER were the only time I wasn’t working the whole time I’ve been here."

"Sheesh, you’ll do anything to get an hour off, won’t you?" I laughed.

"Yeah, no kidding." He laughed and touched his forehead where the stitches were. "And it’s only going to get busier. But it’s worth it."

"Yeah." I said softly. "Do you ever get tired of this? Of being a celebrity?" I asked.

He thought for a second, then answered, "No. This is what I chose to do. If I ever got tired of being a celebrity, then that would mean that I was tired of being and Nsync. That won’t happen for a long time."

An hour or so later, while Chris took the food service tray down the hall to the elevator, I grabbed one of the magazines that was on the table, and laid on the bed to read it. When he came back he sat on the floor, leaning against the wall in front of the bed and asked, "What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?"

"Craziest?" I laughed. "I don’t know. I don’t think I do too many crazy things. I drove to Tucson Arizona with a friend of mine one night for waffles, 7 hours each way. And I didn’t even get the waffles when we got there." I smiled and said, "I don’t know… is that crazy?"

"Sure." He said, "What did you get? I mean, if you didn’t get waffles?"

"Grilled cheese." I laughed and shook my head. "It wasn’t even that good."

"It wasn’t worth the 14 hour round trip huh?"

"The food wasn’t, no. But it was a fun trip nonetheless." We continued talking for another couple hours before Chris stood up and excused himself to the bathroom. I laid my head down to rest my eyes and before I knew it, I was out like a light.

(…Where we left off)

I rolled over and stretched my arms over my head. I pulled the blanket up to my shoulders and yawned as I cracked my eyes open just a bit. Hold up. This was not my quilt, and not my lavender walls. I rubbed my eyes and sat up to get a better look at the room I was in. "Oh man…" I said softly. I was in Chris’ hotel room at the Beverly Hilton.

"Oh good, you’re up." He said from the bathroom doorway.

"Oh man, what time is it?" I swung my feet over the side of the bed and yawned again.

"It’s a little after seven." He said with a toothbrush in his mouth. "We’re doing the Donny and Marie show this morning and I have to leave here in about a half hour. You know, it’s really hard to brush with the wrong hand."

"I’m sorry I fell asleep last night, and took up your whole bed." I ran my fingers through my hair and re-did my ponytail.

"That’s all right." He spit into the sink. "The couch is actually really comfortable." He wiped his mouth and came to sit beside me on the bed. He leaned over to slip his shoes on and I caught a whiff of his soap.

"I’m sorry anyways. I should get going so you can go do your thing." I stood up and headed for the bathroom, trying to straighten my shirt as I walked.

"Well do you want to come with us?" He asked.

"To the Donny and Marie show?"

"Sure, you can watch the taping of the show if you want."

"I look like death warmed over." I said as I looked in the mirror in the bathroom. "Ugh."

"Well, we have a half hour, you can take a shower if you want."

"I think I’ll just go home." I said shyly.

"Naw, come with us. It’ll be fun, we can get some lunch after, and maybe go to the pier so you can show me around there. Come on…" He smiled and then gave me the little pout lip.

"Sheesh, okay." I laughed and looked in the mirror again. "But let me take a shower first." I headed into the bathroom and shut the door.

I felt much more like a human after my shower. I put my clothes back on and stepped out in the room. "Wow, and with ten minutes to spare. Not bad." Chris looked at his watch.

"Can I use your brush?" I asked.

"Um, yeah, it’s right there on the sink." He said.

I looked and smiled, "Not your tooth brush, your hair brush. I have my own tooth brush in my purse."

"Ahh, yeah you can use my brush." He started to pick up the room a little.

"You would have let me use your tooth brush?" I asked as I began to brush my wet hair.

"Sure." He said.

"That’s gross." I laughed and tied my hair back in a ponytail.

"No it’s not." He laughed and looked at me, "You ready?"

"Yeah." I nodded. "Can I use your phone real fast?"

"Sure." He said.

I sat on the bed and dialed, when the machine came on I said, "Hi Dave, it’s me. In case you were wondering, I’m fine. I’ll be out most of the day, but I’ll call you later. Bye." I had to check in with my pseudo-father.

"Let’s go." Chris held the door open for me. I stepped out and he handed me a laminated badge. "Here, you’re going to need to keep this with you."

"Okay." I nodded and tucked it into my pocket as we headed for the elevators.

"Hey Chris." A cute blonde guy said as we walked up to the elevators. "What time is this thing supposed to be over?"

"I don’t know. Ask JC, all I know is we’re supposed to be downstairs in like, 5 minutes." He walked over to the guy sitting on the floor and put his foot in the guys lap. "Can you tie these for me?"

"Damn Chris, are you an invalid?" He laughed as he tied Chris’ right shoe.

"Come on man, I can’t do nothing with my left hand." Chris whined.

"Hi, I’m Justin." The kid said from the floor, as he tied Chris’ left shoe.

"Hi, I’m Grace." I smiled and gave a little half wave.

"She’s the nurse who fixed me up." Chris explained.

"The head or the arm?" Justin asked as he stood up.

"Both." Chris and I said at the same time.

"So you helped put humpty dumpty back together again huh?" Justin laughed.

"You could say that…" I smiled as two other guys came walking down the hall. These were the two that came with Chris to the hospital the first time, Lance and JC.

"Hey JC, what time is this thing over?" Justin asked.

"Ten thirty." The tall one answered. "Then we have that thing at the hospital until two."

"What thing at the hospital?"

"Make-A-Wish." Lance answered. "There are two girls in two hospitals here in LA that want to meet us. We went over this a couple days ago."

"Ahh, that’s right." Justin nodded and yawned.

I stood off to the side just watching for a couple minutes before another guy walked up and leaned on the wall beside me. "Morning." He smiled, his dyed red hair falling over one eye.

"Hi." I smiled and tucked my hand in my pocket.

"I’m Joey."

"Hi Joey, I’m Grace."

"Are you staying on this floor?" He smiled and looked down the hall.

"Joey no!" Chris said loudly as he came over. "Down boy, she’s my nurse."

"Kinky." Joey raised an eyebrow.

"Joey, she’s really a nurse." Lance laughed as he came over. "Sorry about him." He said to me. "We usually keep him chained up on the bus."

"It’s okay." I laughed.

"You’re really Chris’ nurse?" Joey asked.

"Well, I am a nurse, yes." I said. "I’m a friend of Chris’ and I fixed him up when he whapped his head and broke his arm."

"Ahh, I see." Joey nodded as we all got on the elevator.

"Are you coming to the set with us?" Lance asked as the doors shut.

"Um, yeah, I guess. Chris invited me."

"Cool." He smiled and we rode the rest of the way down in silence.

As we stepped off the elevator, Chris leaned in and said, "It’s going to get hectic here for a minute, just stay close to me, and head for the big black van, okay?"

"Okay." I nodded as he held my right arm, with his left hand. We walked through the elevator, and out the doors, into the mob of teenage girls.

I held on to Chris’ arm for dear life. I tucked my head down and walked as quickly as I could toward the van, as I was told. We slid in and the security guys shut the doors. "That’s crazy." I said as I tried to catch my breath. "Is this how it always is?"

"Not always." Lance leaned back in the seat and fastened his seat belt.

"Usually the crowds not so big and we can stop and chat, but in LA man, everything is like, super sized." JC laughed.

"Amazing…" I stared at the window out at the crowd as we pulled away. We all made small talk on the way to the studio, those of us that were awake anyway.

"I love Nsync, don’t you?" A young girl sitting beside me asked. I was sitting in the second row in the audience of the Donny and Marie show.

"Um, yeah." I smiled and adjusted my purse at my feet. The guys had been ushered backstage as soon as we got here, and I was taken out here to be seated.

"JC is my favorite, he’s so cute." She giggled and bounced in her seat.

"Yeah." I laughed quietly and watched as the show started.

They went through the opening segment, where Donny and Marie just kind of talked to each other, and announced the guests of the day. A chef who wrote a children’s book would be on first, then Nsync would be on to perform their new single "Bye bye bye".

During the next segment the chef came out and made some cool easy snacks that actually looked good. We got to test taste a couple and I decided I’d have to go buy his book! During the commercial break Marie rolled up her sleeve to show Donny a little rash she had, "I don’t know, does it look like poison oak?" She asked.

"I don’t know…" Donny said, looking at her arm, careful not to touch it.

From where I was sitting I could tell it wasn’t poison oak, or ivy for that matter, "It looks like an allergic reaction." I said, loud enough for her to hear.

"I’m not allergic to anything though." Marie said, still looking at her arm. "Are you a doctor?"

"No, I’m an RN." I said. "May I have a look?"

"Sure." She laughed and walked over to where I was sitting.

She kneeled in front of me so I could see. I looked at her arm closely and said, "That’s some kind of allergic reaction. It looks like heat rash, but since it’s pretty cool in here, I don’t think that’s it."

"But I’m not allergic to anything." She said.

"Did you try a new perfume, or lotion or anything like that this morning?" I asked.

"Not that I know of." She shook her head.

"Marie!" A lady shouted from off stage. Marie looked over and the lady tossed her a small tube of lotion.

"Is this new?" Marie asked the lady.

"Yep, we just got it in today."

"That’s probably it." I said. "Can I try something?"

"Sure." She handed me the tube and I spread a thin layer on an unaffected area of her skin. Within a couple seconds, it started to turn red.

"That’s it." I smiled. "Your best bet for right now is to put ice on it to take away the itching. And from now on, use the lotion you had been using before."

"That’s all? You’re sure it’s not poison oak?"

"I’m sure." I laughed quietly.

"Wow, what’s your name honey?" She asked.

"Grace. Grace Camp."

"And are you from LA?"

"Yeah." I nodded. "I work at Kinley."

"Would you like to come up on stage for a minute?" She asked as she stood up.

"Seriously?" I smiled nervously.

"Seriously." She extended her hand, which I graciously took, and followed her up onto the stage. I sat in the chair to the left of hers and Donnys and bounced my knees nervously as the sound guy clipped a microphone to my shirt.

When they came back from commercial, Marie said, "This young lady right here, Nurse Grace Camp, just saved me a trip to the ER." She laughed and rolled her sleeve up, "See this rash here? I was convinced it was some kind of poison oak or something I’d picked up while I was camping this weekend with the kids. But she took one look and told me I was allergic to my new lotion."

I blushed shyly and said, "You can still go to the ER if you’d like."

"No way Jose." She smiled. "I just wanted to bring you up here to say thank you, and good work. Your team over there at Kinley Hospital does a wonderful job, I hope they’re all as great as you are." She gushed.

"They are all great." I smiled again and fidgeted in my seat. It was no big deal, really.

"Well hey Grace, you’ve heard of Nsync right?" Donny asked.

"Um, yeah." I nodded.

"Well, we’re going to bring them out here on stage, then they’re going to perform their new single "Bye bye bye", would you like to stay up here and meet them?" He asked.

"Sure." I laughed.

"Come on out guys." Marie stood up and waved them on from the sidelines.

The five guys walked out onto the stage and sat in the chairs beside mine, Chris kind of looked at me for a second with a look of confusion. Lance looked from me, to the producer, then back at me.

"Hi guys how’s it going."

"Good." JC smiled.

"Hey what’s she doing out here?" Chris asked, leaning forward in his chair.

"She saved my day." Marie smiled and explained for the guys why I was on stage.

"Yeah she saved my day a couple times too." Chris said. "She’s the one who sewed up my head when I crashed into the rocks when I was bungee jumping. And she’s the one that put this here cast on my arm when I… when I was bungee jumping again and hit the rocks again."

I laughed along with the other guys; I was feeling a bit more comfortable now. "You… so you know them?" Marie asked me.

"Yeah, kind of. Chris came into the emergency room with the cut on his head, and I stitched him up like he said, then, what was it, a week later? He came in with his broken wrist, and I put his cast on."

"And he was bungee jumping?" Donny asked.

I leaned forward and looked at Chris, I smiled and said, "If that’s his story, then sure."

"Okay, all right fine. I’m the biggest klutz on the face of the planet, how’s that?" Chris admitted. "I fell in the parking lot and cracked my head open, and then I fell off a horse and busted my arm." He leaned back in his chair and smiled.

"Wow, so you’re like, the hero of the stage today." Donny laughed.

"She can fix anything." Chris laughed. "But she’ll have to give you a shot in the ass first."

"She gave you a shot in the butt?!" Justin asked.

"Yeah, when I hit my head on that thing. I had to get a tetanus shot." Chris explained.

"Doesn’t that go in your arm?" Justin asked me.

Chris spun his head around to look at me, "It was supposed to go in my arm?"

"It… it can go in your arm, yeah." I nodded.

"She just wanted to check out your butt." JC laughed.

"No, it’s just, it hurts a lot worse if you take it in the arm, trust me." I blushed.

"And we all know what a wimp Chris can be…" Joey laughed and pretended to give Chris a noogie.

"No but seriously, aside from the shot in my butt, Grace was great. Like I said, she can fix anything." Chris said pushing Joey away.

"Hey Grace, I’ve got this boil…" JC laughed and started to roll up his pant leg.

"No no no." I laughed and covered my eyes.

They finished up the regular interview, with the guys talking about their new album and tour plans and everything like that. I sat there and watched up close as they got up and performed their new single. It was actually really good. I had seen it before on the MTV special I saw, but seeing it in person was totally different.

After the performance, the guys hung around to sign autographs for the fans in the audience, while I talked with Marie a little bit. Chris wasn’t able to really sign anything, but he made a valiant effort with his left hand. Squiggles or not, they were made my Chris Kirkpatrick, and I doubt any of the fans cared.

By the time we piled back into the van, it was close to eleven. "Did you want to come to the hospital with us?" Chris asked as we left the studio parking lot.

"I spend enough time in the hospital." I smiled. "Can you just take me back to the hotel?"

"Um, sure." Chris looked at the driver. "Can we go back to the hotel for a second?"

"Sure." The driver nodded.

"Thanks." I said softly.

When we got to the hotel we were brought to the back entrance, to avoid any fans that might be out front. I got out and leaned in to say, "Thanks a lot, for inviting me to the show and everything."

"Anytime." Chris smiled.

"I’ll talk to you later." I said as I reached over to give him a hug.

"All right, have a good day off." He smiled.

"I’ll try. You just steer clear of the ER, since I’m not there to clean you up."

"I will." He laughed.

"All of you." I smiled at the others in the van.

"You got it." Joey laughed and leaned over to hug me, "I’m sorry about that whole thing in the hallway."

"No problem." I laughed and hugged him back, "Hot stuff." I whispered. He laughed and pulled away.

"I’ll see you guys later." I waved and shut the door of the van. They waved back through the tinted glass as the van drove away.

 

I watched the MTV "Making the video" show that night, and caught all the behind the scenes stuff with the guys. It was fun to see all the stuff that goes into making a great video. And it was a great video. I actually taped the show and watched it a couple more times over the next couple days… I was becoming a fanatic!

I didn’t hear from them again until that Friday. I was at work, stitching up a kid who caught a fishing hook in his hand when Denise popped her head in, "My my, you’re a popular girl this week."

I laughed and said, "Why? What’s up?"

"First you’re on national TV, then you have superstars calling you at work." She smiled and pointed to the phone on the wall. "Line three."

"Wait, who is it?" I asked.

"Joey Fatone, from Nsync, looking for, and I quote, that hot little nurse Grace." She laughed and shut the door. I smiled and shook my head as I finished stitching the kid up. I took the call in the lounge and sat on a chair; "This is Grace Camp."

"Hi there gorgeous." Joey smiled.

"Hi, what’s up?"

"This is Joey."

"I figured as much." I laughed and grabbed a soda from the fridge near my feet.

"Well hey, Chris didn’t want to bother you at work again, so I volunteered."

"How nice of you."

"Yeah, I thought so too." He continued. "But hey, we’re doing a shoot tonight at the Santa Monica Pier and I… we, were wondering if you’d like to come hang out."

"Um, well, I don’t get off until 9." I said.

"Well, we won’t even be starting until after ten, we have to wait for everything there to close." He explained.

"Ahh, okay. Well, sure… that sounds like fun." I said.

"It will be." Joey smiled, "Chris says you live right near the pier, do you want to just meet us there? Ten-ish?"

"Sure." I smiled to myself and played with my can of coke.

"Cool, you’ve still got that pass thing, right? You’ll need that."

"Yeah, I have it."

"Awesome. We’ll see you tonight then."

"Okay, thanks for calling." I said, "I’ll see you guys tonight." I laughed quietly and hung up the phone. I finished my drink, before I headed back to work and walked around like a giddy teenager for the rest of my shift.

"What’s with you?" Denise asked as we walked out to our cars after work.

"Nothing." I laughed.

"Oh come on. You’ve got the boy band gods calling you at work." She nudged me.

"Well, you saw me on TV, you know I treated Chris both times he came in."

"Uh huh, and you just happened to be at the taping of that particular Donny and Marie show?" She gave me that look.

"Not exactly." I blushed. "Okay, but listen, don’t take this the wrong way. I was supposed to meet Chris in the hotel bar the night before the Donny and Marie thing, but he couldn’t leave his room so he invited me up for dinner, and I went, but I fell asleep so in the morning, he invited me to go with them to the taping."

"Oh riiiight." She laughed.

"I’m serious!"

"Gracie dear… that’s a good story."

"Denise! I’m serious, nothing else happened."

"And they were all so smitten with you they have to call you at work?"

"I… we all got along really well, and they invited me out again tonight."

"You know what? If you were a 14 year old girl, you’d be the luckiest kid in junior high." She laughed.

"Oh stop it, they’re really nice." I stopped at my car and unlocked the door. "You’re just jealous." I stuck my tongue out at her.

"Real mature Gracie." She rolled her eyes and un-armed her car. I laughed and got into my car as she said, "Tell Justin I loooove him."

"Shut up." I laughed and shut my door. I tooted my horn as I passed her car, and headed home.

I changed from my work clothes into a pair of jeans and a lavender sweater. I tore a brush through my hair and spritzed on a hit of perfume to cover the antiseptic smell of the ER I was sure followed me everywhere I went. My phone rang as I was on my way out the door; I flew across the room and picked it up on the last ring before the machine picked up, "Hello?" I asked breathlessly.

"Hey kid, how’s it going?" Dave asked.

"Good, fine, I was just on my way out." I said.

"Are you coming over for your weekly booze-fest?" He laughed.

"Not hardly." I rolled my eyes and moved the phone to my other ear. "Actually, I won’t be by tonight."

"Uh oh, you’re not going out with Mr. Boy band are you?" He asked.

"His name is Chris."

"Argh! You are, aren’t you?!"

"Dave, yes, I’m going to the Santa Monica Pier with the guys to hang out while they do a photo shoot."

"Oh Gracie…"

"Don’t ‘oh Gracie’ me." I frowned. "I’ve got to go though."

"All right. Be careful."

"I always am."

"Okay, give me a call tomorrow, I haven’t seen you in almost a week!"

"All right, I’ll call you tomorrow and we’ll hit Canters or something." I said, speaking of the best kosher deli in all of LA.

"Sounds like a plan. I’ll talk to you later."

"Bye." I smiled and hung up. I grabbed my purse and the laminated badge, and headed out, for the second time.

I drove the mile or so to the pier and parked on the street. It was weird to be on the pier after all the shops and everything closed, it was so quiet. I walked to where all the lights were set up and made my way up to someone who looked like he knew what he was doing. "Excuse me?" I asked. He didn’t even look my way, "Excuse me, sir?" I asked again, a little louder.

He put the spool of cable down and looked up at me, "Yeah?"

"Do you know where the guys from Nsync are?"

"Do I look like the Shell answer man to you sweetie?" He asked as he turned back to his work. Well all righty then. I walked around a little aimlessly, looking for anyone I recognized.

I finally spotted Joey sorting through a rack of clothes, taking out a garment, and putting it back again. "Joey?" I asked as I walked up.

"Yeah?" He asked without looking up.

"Are you, I mean, is everyone here?" I stepped over a footlocker full of shoes.

"Huh?" He looked up and caught my eye. "Oh hey! Hi Grace, I didn’t know that as you. How’s it going?" He took a shiny blue shirt off the rack and held it up. "What do you think?"

"It’s going good. And I think… no." I wrinkled my nose and shook my head.

"No huh? Iridescent blue isn’t my color?" He laughed and reached for another shirt.

"I think you’re more of a chartreuse green guy myself."

"Ya think?" He laughed and pulled out a dark blue long sleeved shirt. "This?"

"Works for me." I laughed and flipped through the rack beside the one Joey was looking through. "Are these all yours?"

"Nope, that one’s Justins I think." He said as he looked through the pants on the other end of the rack.

"Cool." I looked over the clothes on the rack. "So are the others here?"

"Um, I’m not sure. I know Lance is here. He’s all ready dressed and everything, I think he’s playing video games or something."

"Hmm." I sat on the footlocker and rested my chin in my hand.

"Hey Grace?" Joey asked a minute later.

"Yeah?"

"Remember when you were a kid, and your dad would swing you around by your arms, till you got dizzy?" He asked as he filed through the pants.

"Uh huh." I looked over my shoulder to see if I could locate Chris.

"Didn’t you ever wonder why your arms didn’t pop out of their sockets?"

"I guess." I said after a moments thought.

"Hmm." He frowned and hung the shirt back up as he took a pair of pants off the rack.

"Why?" I asked a minute later, there was still no sign of any of the other guys.

"I was just thinking, what would happen if we did it now? I mean, you’re arms would probably be stronger now, right?"

"Right." I nodded. "And…?"

"Wanna try it?" He smiled mischievously at me over the rack of jackets.

"What? Like right now?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Because I weigh more now than I did when I was four." I said. "And I don’t think I’d like to try out the ‘your arms are stronger now’ theory."

"Come on, please?" When I didn’t answer he continued, "Pretty please? With sugar on top?"

"Why me? Why don’t you see if Chris will let you spin him?"

"Um, I don’t want to spin Chris." He said.

"But you want to spin me?"

"You weigh less than Chris." He argued.

I thought for a minute then said, "Fine, but if my arms come out of their sockets, you have to personally take me to the hospital."

"Deal." He grinned from ear to ear and came around the rack to where I was standing.

"Is there enough room?" I asked, looking around once more, for anyone to come save me.

"Sure, we can do it over here." He said as he walked to the far end of the racks.

We were almost at the end of the pier so I said, "Just watch out for the railing." I sighed and moved to the center of the open area. "I can not believe I’m doing this."

Joey walked up and said, "Hold my wrists." We grabbed each others wrists and he laughed, "Here we go." He started spinning, and at first I spun with him, keeping my feet firmly on the ground. Then, before I knew it my feet were out from under me and Joey was spinning faster and faster. I watched the planks fly by beneath me and I laughed out loud.

"Ahhh! Joey! Put me down! Stop!" I continued to laugh through my screams of protest.

About half way up the pier, Chris and Justin were having an argument about "Star Wars", and it wasn’t pretty. "Dude, Justin, you weren’t even born when Star Wars was released. I saw it like, 9 times at the theater!" Chris argued.

"Who cares that you saw it at the theater? I’ve seen it a billion times since then." Justin shook his head, "I mean really Chris-"

"Whoa, who’s that?" JC interrupted, pointing up ahead. The three of them stopped and looked to where JC was pointing.

"That’s Joey." Justin said.

"And…?" JC squinted toward the end of the pier.

"Oh no." Chris moaned. "No no no…" He grabbed Justin by the shirtsleeve and began walking towards Joey and me.

"What?" Justin asked.

"That’s Grace. Shit, she’s early. I’ve left her alone with Joey."

"So what? So he’s a skeeze?" Justin stopped walking and faced Chris. "Big deal? It’s not like that’s a shocker."

"Justin… argh." Chris disregarded Justin and JC and took off down the pier.

"Hey man, he likes her." JC said as he playfully shoved Justin in Chris’ direction.

"Yeah." Justin nodded.

"So if you were diggin a girl, would you want her to be left unattended, in Joeys presence?"

"Oh man…" Justin laughed. "Come on, let’s go save her."

"Joey, man, put her down." Chris said loudly as he walked up to where we were.

"Hey… there… you… are…" I said as Joey continued to spin me. "Okay… Joey… that’s… enough…" Joey slowed down and I regained my footing.

"Thanks Grace, you’re a good spinner." Joey laughed and stumbled toward the racks.

"Hi Chris." I smiled as I somehow managed to walk in a straight line toward him.

"Hey Grace, you’re early." He forced a smile.

"No, you’re late." I sat on the nearest footlocker. "But that’s okay. Joey spun me."

"I see." He said. "I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for Joey. Deep inside, he’s really a 12 year old, trying to get out. Sometimes… sometimes he’s not strong enough to keep the brat under wraps."

I laughed and said, "It’s okay. I had fun." I looked over the racks and asked, "So, did you have a good day?"

"Yeah, busy you know." He said.

"I know the feeling." I sighed and stood up, getting my equilibrium back.

"Hey, I’ve gotta get changed, but after that you wanna go for a walk?" He asked, shyly looking at his shoes.

"I’d love to." I said softly. "But aren’t you here to work?"

"Aww man, leave it to you to ruin everything." He rolled his eyes and stood up, laughing. "Yeah, I know, I’ve got to earn my keep. But after that?"

"After you’re done, sure." I nodded.

"Cool. I’m glad you’re here." He leaned over and gave me a hug, careful not to bang his cast.

"Me too, thank you for inviting me, or, well, having Joey invite me." I smiled into his shoulder and stepped back. "Let’s find you something to wear."

I cruised around between the racks offering up my opinion for the next half-hour, while the boys got themselves dressed. "Okay guys, enough fooling around. We’re all ready 40 minutes behind schedule, let’s get a move on it. I need at least two of you in hair and two of you in make up in five seconds flat, move it!" The director guy shouted in our general direction.

"That’s our cue." Justin sighed as he and the other headed for the tented area set up by the arcade.

"I’m done in there, you guys go ahead." Lance said as he reached into a nearby ice chest and pulled out a bottle of water. "Want one?" He asked me, before he shut the lid.

"Sure, thanks." I took the bottle he offered.

We stood there in an awkward silence for a minute before he cleared his throat and asked, "So have you ever been to a photo shoot before?"

I smiled and said, "No, I don’t know many celebrities."

"Ahh." He laughed quietly and played with the zipper on his jacket.

"I’ll bet you do a billion of these huh?"

"Yeah, you could say that." He looked up at me and smiled, tension broke. "Want me to show you around a little?"

"Sure." I stood up and followed him around to the front of the building where a crew was setting up lights and backdrops. "Why are they setting up backdrops? If they wanted a white backdrop, couldn’t you guys just go to a studio?"

"Umm, yeah, I guess we could. But we’re doing shots all over out here tonight, so I guess they thought they’d consolidate the shoot. I don’t know, maybe the lighting outside is different." He shrugged. He walked me around, showing me the hair and make-up tent, the photographer and the dozen or so assistants and the truckloads of equipment.

"This is neat." I smiled and tucked my hands in the pockets of my jeans. It was getting chilly out here on the water, and I had forgotten my jacket.

"Yeah." He nodded and looked over his shoulder, "But it gets old after a while."

"I can imagine." I followed his gaze and saw the others coming out of the tents. "So how long will you guys be out here tonight?"

"A couple hours." He glanced at his watch, "Maybe till 1 or 2."

"That’s a long day for you guys…"

"Yeah and we’ll be out again tomorrow at 6."

"Six? How do you guys function with a schedule like that?" I asked.

"It’s hard. But worth it." He smiled as the others walked up. "Ready?"

"Yeah."

"I suppose."

"If we have to."

"Ready Freddie." Came a chorus of answers.

"Move it guys, I’m serious." The photographer shouted in our general direction.

"This ought to be fun." Justin sighed, but headed over to the set up nonetheless.

I stood back and watched as the guys, as a group, posed for a handful of pictures against the white backdrop. They were then sent to the arcade where they were told to pose for "candid" shots, which to me sounded like an oxymoron, but what did I know? I followed them around, laughing at their antics and trying to stay out of the way. They changed outfits a number of times, and took turns posing individually.

"So, are you having fun yet?" JC asked quietly while we watched Joey and Chris posing for goofy pictures together.

"Yeah." I smiled and looked up at him. "This is fun." I tried to keep my teeth from chattering as I hugged myself.

"Oh man, are you cold?" He asked.

"Yeah, a little."

"Hang on a second, let me get you a jacket." He walked around to the racks and began looking through, as Justin walked over to me.

"So, are you having fun yet?" He asked.

I laughed and said, "Yeah. Are you?"

"Yeah, but I’m tired and ready to go home and to bed." He stifled a yawn and stretched his arms over his head.

"What time is it?" I asked, trying not to yawn myself.

"Like, 3 or 4."

"No! Are you serious?"

"I don’t know." He laughed. He looked at his watch and said, "It’s one thirty."

"Here you go." JC walked up behind me and draped a fleece-lined jacket over my shoulder. I put my arms through the armholes and zipped it up.

"Thanks." I stood on tiptoe to give him a hug.

"JC! Justin! Back to work!" The photographer shouted. Man, he did a lot of shouting.

JC shrugged and smiled, as he headed over to the ferris wheel, where they were setting up. Chris walked up to me and draped his arm over my shoulders. "I’m sorry this is running so late."

"No, it’s okay. This is fun. Cold, but fun." I smiled. "This is a lot more exciting than taking temperatures all night."

"True." He smiled. "We only have another half hour or so left to do. You don’t have to stick around, I mean, if you’re tired or whatever."

"I don’t mind."

"Do you have to work tomorrow?" He asked.

"No, I don’t work Saturdays." I explained.

"You wanna do something tomorrow?" He asked.

"Aren’t you busy?"

"In the morning, yeah." He nodded. "But after that?"

"I’ll tell you what, if after your thing tomorrow morning, you still feel up to going out, give me a call. I don’t want to tie you down to anything, if you’re going to be tired."

"Okay." He smiled. "We’re almost done." He leaned over and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek before he headed over to where the others were standing.

They took another dozen rolls of film in front of and on the ferris wheel, before the photographer shouted, "That’s it! Go home!"

"It’s about damn time." Joey mumbled as they walked back to the racks to change again. I waited around while they changed and washed the gunk off their faces. They staggered out one at a time, rubbing their eyes and yawning.

"Are you guys ready to get the heck out of here?" I asked with a smile.

"Yes… very much so." JC yawned and lead the pack back down the pier.

"Hey… are you still up for that walk?" Chris asked quietly.

"Chris, it’s late, I’m sure you’re tired, and you have to be up early tomorrow."

"I’m not that tired." He smiled.

"I don’t want to keep you up, you need all the sleep you can get." I said.

"Amen." JC yawned again.

"How about a rain check?" I shoved my hands deeper into my pockets. "Tomorrow afternoon, when you’re done with your thing, call me and we’ll walk." I brushed my hair out of my eyes and smiled.

"Okay." He seemed pleased with that.

"Oh, hey, this is someone’s jacket." I looked down at what I was wearing. "JC, is this yours?"

He turned around and looked me over, "Nope. It’s Lance’s."

"Well here, I don’t want to take it with me, I’ll lose it." I started to unzip it.

"Nah, just keep it." Lance said. "You can give it to Chris later, or whatever. No biggie."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, it’s freezing out here." He smiled. We got to the street where I had parked my car and I stopped.

"Well guys, this was fun." I said as I got my keys out.

"Anytime." Justin said he waved over his shoulder and walked toward their van, where JC was all ready making himself comfortable.

"Thanks for letting my spin you." Joey laughed and gave me a big hug.

"Well thanks for spinning me. We’ll have to do that again sometime." I laughed and hugged him back.

"Good night Gracie." Lance gave me a quick hug and followed the others to the van.

"I’ll call you tomorrow." Chris kissed my cheek again, "Thanks for coming tonight, I’m sorry it was so boring and cold for you."

"No, I had a good time." I smiled and brushed my hair out of my face again. "I’ll talk to you tomorrow." I climbed in my car and waved, as Chris started toward the van.

I drove myself home and changed into my jammas. It was after two in the morning, and I was beat. I laid Lance’s jacket over the foot of my bed, then climbed under my covers, hardly able to wait until Chris called the next day! Was it possible for me to be any more teenybopper??

 

On to the next part…

 

Copyright 2000 Amy Lynn