He had practically run to her house.  He was so excited to finally get a call; he didn’t know what to do first.  He pounded on the door.

“Hi Mrs. St Germain.  Is Amy home?”  He panted hard.  Her mom laughed.

“Come on in, Lance.  She’s downstairs”.  He bounded past her and flew down the stairs.

“Hey”.  Amy looked up, excited to see him.

“I…I finally got…my voice coach called”, he stammered.  She laughed and pulled him to sit down next to her. 
”One sentence at a time”.  He caught his breath and tried again.

“My voice coach just called.  He got me an audition!”  Hey eyes lit up and she hugged him tight.

“Honey, that’s so amazing!”  She was really happy for him.  She knew that he had always wanted this.

“My audition is the day after tomorrow in Orlando”.  Her heart sank, but she didn’t make it obvious.

"When are you leaving?"

"Tomorrow morning with my mom.  Oh my gosh, can you believe this??"  He pulled her into a tight hug.  She was happy for him.  She was shocked, but so happy.  He had always wanted this.  She'd do anything she could to be supportive. 

 

"Amy?"  He put his finger in his ear, trying desperately to hear her on the old pay phone.

"Lance?  Lance speak up, I can't hear you very well".

"Baby, I got it!"  He tried to stay calm.  He was still in shock.

"You got it?  You know already?"

"I sang for them and then I totally got along with the other guys and it's just like, done". 

"Lance, baby, congratulations".  She drew her knees to her chest and propped the phone on her shoulder.

"I have to move out here".  He said it slowly, knowing that it was a big deal.

"When are you leaving?"  She closed her eyes tight, waiting for the answer.

"This weekend.  I'm moving in with our manager, and my mom is coming out here for a while too".  His words hit her like a ton of bricks, but she refused to get upset.

 

Mrs. Bass sat in the car and gave Lance a few minutes to say his goodbye.  He was ready to cry, but would try to be strong for her.

"So um, I'll call you when I get there".

"This isn't goodbye.  It's just see you later", she said.  It was more to convince herself.

"Please smile so I don't have to remember this moment with you and a sad face".

She gave him a big, toothy grin.  He chuckled and she looked down again.  He slipped a finger under her chin.

"You're going to have to do better than that".  His lips came down and connected with hers.  She held on to him for dear life, wishing desperately that she could stop time right then and there.

"I'll be home before you know it for Thanksgiving".

"I'll write every day", she promised.

"And I'll call you every night", he assured her.

"I love you", they said at the same time.  One more kiss, one more tight hug.

"Don't keep your mom waiting.  Get out of here already".  She tried to joke like nothing hurt.

He brushed his lips over hers one more time before making himself walk away.  It was the hardest thing he ever had to do.

 

His phone calls were the highlight of her day.  It seemed as if she were just going through the motions of her days for the first few.  It had gotten somewhat easier, not having him around all the time.  But she knew that when she finally did see him for Thanksgiving, everything would be worth it. 
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder", her mom had told her countless times already. 

She knew that they were still together.  But it didn't stop her from snapping at him over the smallest things.  Why did he only have a few minutes?  Why were there some nights that he didn't call at all?  Were the dancers pretty?  Did the other guys dig into his personal life?  She hated crying herself to sleep.  She felt like an ass for doing it, and she always woke up the next morning with a headache.

"What if he's cheating?"  She sat at lunch with Kelly, her best friend.  Kelly's eyes widened.

"He is the most honest person I've ever met in my whole life.  He couldn't lie to save his life".

"Cheaters aren't always liars".  She started to shred the napkin in front of her.

"Get real.  This is LANCE we're talking about here, not Don Juan".  Kelly took a sip of her drink.

"What are you saying?  My boyfriend isn't all that?"  Amy didn't mean to get defensive, but she couldn't help it.  Anything related to Lance was a sore subject these days.

"Hey, don't snap at me.  All I'm saying is that not only does he love you to death, but he'd do anything to keep you happy".  She was right.  Amy took another bite of sandwich and sighed.

"Do you trust the kid?"  Kelly had a point. 
"Of course I do".

"Then stop worrying so much and know that everything is all right".

 

Lance hung up his phone and stared at it for a few minutes.  He hated not being there with her.

"Everything all right?"  JC looked over at him from the refrigerator.  Lance sighed again.

"Wanna talk about it?"  He sat down across from him, popping open the can of soda he held.

"It's my girlfriend..." he trailed off.  JC smiled a half smile and swallowed his mouthful.

"Lay it on me".  JC folded his hands behind his head and leaned back in the seat.

"All we've done since I got here is fight.  She's flipping out over the smallest things, and that's not her.  She never used to get jealous or upset or anything.  She was always so perfect and she always let me be me".  He rubbed his tired eyes.
"How long have you been together for?"

"A little over two years".

"And what's the longest time you ever really spent apart before this?"  JC leaned forward, elbows on the table.

"Before this?  A few days here and there, maybe a week or two over vacations".

"You've been away for two months.  That's a really long time.  She has no idea what you're doing over here, who you're doing it with.  You and I know that you don't have too much time anymore, but she's not used to you not calling when you say that you will.  Am I right?"  He was a genius.  Lance looked at him and nodded his head.

"A relationship takes work.  You knew that before, but now you REALLY know that.  If you love her, and if you want her to make it through this with you, you have to put in the effort".

All Lance could do was nod.  He didn't know what to really say, but it all made perfect sense.

"Should we take a break?  See other people?"  He was so lost as for a solution.  He wanted it to fall out of the sky and onto his lap.  JC stood up and held his soda.

"That's for you to decide, man.  Whatever decision you make will be right one.  It's figuring it all out that's the tough part".  Lance nodded again.

"Thanks man.  You helped a lot".  JC smiled and raised his soda can to him.
"We've all been there, man.  I'm just sharing my experience".

 

Over the next few days, he tried to observe couples together.  He had asked everyone except Justin about their lives and how they would handle similar situations.  He hadn't meant to leave him out, he just wasn't so sure that he knew as much about women as JC, Chris and Joey did.

He sat in front of the TV, not paying much attention to what was on in front of him.

"Earth to Lance, come in please".  Justin snapped his fingers in front of Lance's blank stare.

"Huh?"  His head jerked back and he blinked a few times.

"You were really out there for a while".  Justin sat down and changed the channel.

"Sorry, I've had a lot on my mind".  He turned to the side and sighed with relief when he heard his back crack a few times.

"You've been really kinda distant and spacey over the last few days.  Everything okay?"

Lance sighed and stretched his arms over his head.  "Women problems".  Justin smiled and nodded.  "Wanna talk about it?"

"What do you know about women?"  Lance smiled, somewhat intrigued.  Justin frowned.

"I may be young, but I'm not an idiot".  Lance instantly felt bad.  That's not what he meant.
"Justin, I...that's not what I meant.  I just thought that..." he trailed off.

"You just thought that with age comes wisdom.  It's all right".  Justin shrugged and kept flipping the channels. 
"Me and my girlfriend have been together for about 2 years and we've never really fought.  It's all we've done over the last few months and I don't know how to make it better".

Justin nodded and turned to face Lance.  He could see the worry creasing his friend's face.

"What would you do if you were me?"  Lance picked at the threads on the couch.

"If I were you?  I'd try to save whatever we had together by letting her go".  He shrugged.

"Letting her go?"  None of the others had said that before.  They all said that it was work and that he would figure it out.

"You obviously love her.  If you know that you can't do this right now, then maybe you shouldn't.  You know that old saying, 'if you love something, set it free.  If it comes back, then it was meant to be'".

Justin was an absolute genius.  He had clearly underestimated his friend completely.  That made him feel a little bit worse, but now he finally had a choice.  He finally had something to consider and options to weigh.  He wasn't clueless anymore.  Justin stood up and clicked the television off.  Lance crossed the room and wrapped his arms around the younger guy.  Justin was shocked for a second, but hugged Lance back.

"Justin, you're a genius.  You are an absolute genius". 

Justin laughed and patted Lance's back.  "Thanks man.  But enough with this hugging thing".

Lance laughed and stepped back.  "I'm sorry I didn't ask sooner.  I'm sorry I didn't think you'd know".  Justin smiled.

"Being young is a bitch.  But it's all right, man.  I'm glad I could help you".

 

Lance had been thinking about this for quite sometime, but that wasn't making it any easier to digest. He knew that he needed to do this. He loved her too much to keep fighting with her and disappointing her. He tried to keep his emotions at bay every time they spoke on the phone. All he could hope was that she wasn't noticing that anything was wrong.

He was back in Mississippi for the next 2 weeks on vacation. He decided to wait until some point in the second week to tell her. He needed to spend quality time with her, because he missed her so much. He couldn't bear to do this and still be around to see her reaction. It would be too painful.

He turned off the car and left the radio on. They loved to come out and sit by the Gulf of Mexico. The full moon reflected off the water, and it was beautiful. Almost made this moment impossible. But he knew it was for the best.
"It's so perfect out". Amy leaned her head back on the seat and sighed.
"Yeah", he said with a quiet voice. She looked over at him.
"What's wrong? Are you sad to leave tomorrow?" She unbuckled her seatbelt and slid closer to him. She nuzzled his neck, but he made no effort to return it.
She pulled back unsurely. "Tell me what's wrong".
"I don't even know where to start". He ran a shaky hand through his hair.
"Try the beginning". She took his hand and massaged his palm.
"I think we shouldn't see each other for now", he blurted.
Her eyes were incredulous; as if that was the silliest thing she'd ever heard. "What?" She actually laughed. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back.
"I can't keep doing this. I feel like I'm being pulled in every direction at once and you're the one who keeps getting the shaft. I haven't been a very good boyfriend to you. Hell, I'm not even doing a very good job of being your friend".
Amy felt as though she had been punched in the stomach. "Why Lance?"
He cupped her face in his hands. Her eyes were starting to water, which only served to make him feel worse.
"Because you deserve the sun, moon and the stars in a box. I can't give you that right now. You deserve so much more and so much better".

Her eyes closed and a few tears rolled down her cheeks. "Do you love me?"
His heart broke at that question. "I love you so much, baby. That's why I have to do this. I can't watch you suffer because of me". She nodded and willed herself not to cry. That wasn't working. His strong hands wiped away the tears that were starting to stain her face.
"Please understand. Please know that the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt you". His voice was pleading. It was breaking his heart to see her cry.  She refused to get angry. She knew that this was serious, and she didn't have to look at his face to see the sad, pained expression he was wearing. She sat back and nodded, wiping her face with her own hands. "Take me home".

The car ride was dead silent. Neither made a move to turn on the radio, afraid of what they might hear. He turned into her driveway and cut the engine. More silence. They sat, both thinking of the right words.
"So um, have a safe flight tomorrow". Amy finally spoke up in a soft voice.
"Thanks". His voice was equally as soft. They looked at each other for a few minutes, neither knowing the right thing to say.
He leaned in to kiss her. She almost let him, but she turned her head at the last second, making his lips graze her cheek.

"I love you, Lance". She went for the hug instead. She held on so tightly to him and never wanted to let go.

"Please don't hate me for this", he murmured into her shoulder.

"I could never hate you", she said into his ear.
They held on for another minute. She finally pulled away, and noticed that his eyes were wet.
"Goodnight, Lance". She opened the door and made herself get out of the car.

 

He watched her walk slowly to the front door.  He hadn’t meant to lose it in front of her, and he noticed the wet spot he left on her shoulder.  He wanted to kick his own ass.  He knew that she was one of the most, if not the most amazing and special girl he knew.  He knew this was for the best. 

‘If you love something, set it free…’ he muttered to himself as he turned the car back on.

She closed the car door behind her and quietly unlocked her front door. She heard his car drive away after another minute. She took her shoes off and tiptoed to her room. Once inside, she closed the door tightly behind her.  Her eyes filled again, and she didn't try to stop those tears from spilling over. She looked around her room and saw that he was everywhere. All the pictures on her dresser of them together stared at her. She picked up one of her sitting on his lap; their faces pressed together smiling brightly for the camera. She traced her finger over it for a minute before hugging it to her chest and sobbing. All she hoped was that this would pass and he would come back to her.

 

She woke up the next morning in a fog.  She took a minute to open her eyes, and then instantly regretted it. The pain behind them was unbearable.  Oh yeah, I cried myself to sleep...

Lance.  She looked down and saw the picture of them on the bed next to her.  All of the previous night came crashing down on her.  The first guy she had ever loved had cut her loose.  Of course, he had tried to sugar coat it.  Or was he?  She knew that he wasn't the 'love 'em and leave 'em' type.  No, of course he wasn't.  Two years is a long time.  Losing your virginity is a big deal.  Was he really trying to spare her the pain?

"Because you deserve the sun, moon and stars in a box.  I can't give you that right now.  You deserve so much more and so much better".

She didn't want so much more.  She knew that she only wanted him.  He was the only guy she had ever loved.  He had to hurt too, right?  He was getting on a plane.  She glanced at the clock and saw that it was after 1 in the afternoon.  He was already on that plane, probably off it by now.  She rolled over again, setting the picture on her nightstand.  She shut her eyes and willed the pain in her head to go away.

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

“Watch where you’re going”, she angrily spat from the floor.

“I’m so sorry, let me help you”.  He held out his hand for her.  Her head snapped back and then she saw his eyes.  Those crystalline eyes were the same ones she had always known.

“Lance?” she almost whispered his name.  Recognition dawned on him.

“Amy?”  He did a double take as she stood up and brushed herself off.  “Oh my gosh, it’s you”.

The two stared at each other for a few seconds before meeting half way in a hug.

“It’s been so long”, she said, closing her eyes and remembering his strong arms.

“You can sure say that again”.  He looked at her face.  Even though it was older, it was exactly the same.

“It’s been so long”. 

“How are you?  What are you doing?”

“Well, I’m home for Christmas and New Years and everything”.  She picked up her basket.

“You’re still at LSU?”  He remembered when she called him up when she was accepted.  He was the first one she called.
”Yeah, still at LSU.  I love it there, I can’t believe I’m halfway done”.  He smiled a genuine smile.

“What about you, Mr. Pop Star?  You’ve been pretty busy”.  She tried to shift the conversation.

“Yeah, I guess you could say that”.  He blushed a little and looked away.  He was never good with compliments.  It was silent for a minute.

“I can’t believe we bumped into each other like this.  We need to get together”. 
”Yeah, we definitely should”, she agreed, nodding her head.

“Please have dinner with me.  It’s the least I can do for bumping into you like this”.  She smiled.

It’s the least you can do for breaking my heart…”I’d really like that, Lance”.

“Great!  Can I still call your house?” She laughed.

“Of course you can still call my house.  My parents do remember you”.

Her parents.  They’d probably wanted to skin him alive for a while.

“I will definitely give you a call”.  He hugged her again, smelling her hair.  It was the same scent she had always had.  She wrapped her arms around him, noting how strong he felt.  He hadn’t felt like that before.

 

She stood on his porch and rang the bell.  Her hands were shaking and her heart was racing.  She silently willed herself not to throw up.  He was all she had thought about for the last two days since she had seen him at the market.  All those feelings that she was convinced were the past had come back in full force.

He opened the door with a warm smile on his face.  “You made it”.  She stepped in, and handed him the box she had been carrying.

“I brought dessert, I hope that’s okay”.  He smiled, knowing that her mother had probably insisted.  She never let her go anywhere empty handed.

“That is great, thanks a lot”.  He led the way into his house and set it in the kitchen.  She looked around. 
”This is really nice”.  He smiled and nodded.

“Can I give you the grand tour?”  She nodded and followed.  He started to reach for her hand, but realized his error.  He tried to run it through his hair instead.

 

They ate dinner, making pretty good conversation throughout the meal.

"How's your sister doing?"  Amy had always gotten along so well with Stacy.

"She's doing really good.  She got married about a year ago, actually".  Amy smiled.
"That's so great!  Do you like her husband?"

"Yeah, he's a really great guy.  He loves her so much and they're just so good together".

Amy smiled and nodded, taking another bite of food.

"Tell me about school.  Are you still going to be a teacher?"  Lance shifted the conversation.

"No, I'm going to be a nurse".  Lance looked impressed.

"Wow, what made you change your mind?  You always wanted to be a teacher".

She shrugged.  "I don't know.  I took some education classes and it just wasn't me.  I couldn't imagine myself doing it anymore.  I've always liked medicine.  I think that's my real passion".

"Do you do anything else, like extra curriculars?"  She had been really involved in high school.

"Oh yes, I am quite the busy girl.  I'm on the Student Senate, I'm a tour guide, I'm president of the student nurses' group and I'm in a few other organizations too".  His eyebrows went up.
"Busy is an understatement.  When do you sleep?"  He laughed.

"Sleep is a fond memory, really".  They both laughed lightly.

“So, are you seeing anyone?”  He had to know the answer, even if it was yes.

“Not right now.  I broke up with someone about two months ago”.  She quickly took a sip of water to avoid his eyes.  He did the same thing to hide his smile.

“What about you?” 

“I’m so busy, I barely find time to pick up the phone unless it’s business related”.

“I never knew you were so interested in managing and producing and all of that”.  She sat forward, clasping her hands.  “You always wanted to be an astronaut”.  He laughed.

“There were a lot of things I never knew about myself until a few years ago.  I love performing, don’t get me wrong, but there’s just something so cool about being on the other side of it as well.  And I’ve always loved making connections with big wigs.  Schmoozing is a fine art”. 

She had to chuckle; she knew first hand that was true.  "Yes it is.  There's something about being on an almost first name basis with the president of your University". 

Lance smiled.  "Are you really?"

"Well, I don't think he knows my name off hand.  But I do get a kiss on the cheek when I see him, as well as a 'how's it going' and a good, firm handshake".  She smiled; she loved that.

"That's really cool.  I never knew you liked politics and all that".  She had really grown up.

"Hey, me neither.  If anyone would have told me in high school that I would be doing any of this in college, I would have laughed.  I never thought that people would know my face like this.  But I could never give any of it up".  It got quiet for a minute. They both picked at their food.

“So, I was wondering something”, he changed the subject.  She raised her eyebrows.

“Would you, um…go with me to the American Music Awards?”  Amy nearly choked on her mouthful of water.  “It’s totally just a friend thing and I haven’t found a date and it’s in two weeks, and…” he rambled, trying to make himself sound like less of a loser.

“The American Music Awards?”  She wiped her mouth with her napkin.  Of course she wanted to go! 

“Yeah, they’re in LA.  Unless of course you’ll be back at school and you can’t do it”.

“Are you kidding me?  I would love to!  Oh my gosh Lance, that’s so cool!”

He smiled at her enthusiasm. 

 

They had spent the day together.  It was almost like old times, really.  His personality hadn't changed, but she could tell that he had grown up in a huge way.  She missed him so much.  All the feelings she had believed she was over were slowly resurfacing.  She was silently cursing herself for being so stupid and so weak.  He probably only saw her as a friend...he could have anything he wanted now.

"When are we going to the show?"  Amy asked when they got back to the hotel.

"In about two hours.  We need to get dressed and get over there".  She nodded and followed him into the hotel room they were sharing.

"Did you want to shower first?"  He was still a complete gentleman.  She nodded.
"Yeah, thanks".  She gathered her stuff together and made her way into the bathroom.

The shower was refreshing, and she finished up as quickly as she could.  She changed back into her clothes and wrapped her hair in a towel.

"It's all yours", she informed him.  He grabbed his shaving kit and walked past her.  He tried not to make it obvious as he inhaled her clean smell.  It hadn't changed one bit.

"Thanks", he said with a smile as he closed the door behind him.  He banged his head into it when it was shut.

She sat down at the vanity table and dried her hair.  Makeup was next.  Doing something with her hair followed suit.  Lance came out of the bathroom in the middle of this.  He had shaved, and he smelled like she remembered. 
"I'll go to another room and change", he offered.  She looked up at him in the mirror and smiled.

"You don't have to do that", she tried to stop him.  He picked up his garment bag and slung it over his shoulder.

"It's fine, really.  You take the room".  He turned and walked to the door.

"Thanks", she said to his retreating form.  He looked over his shoulder and smiled.

 

Once satisfied with her appearance, she made her way to the closet.  She pulled out her garment bag and laid it on the bed.  The new dress she bought was perfect.  It was silver and a little sparkly, with a high neck and no back.  A little sexy, but that was what she needed.  She wasn't 17 anymore, and needed Lance to see that.  She quickly got dressed and put on her shoes.  She still couldn't believe that she was going to this.  She looked in the mirror and was a little surprised by her reflection. 

 

She looked absolutely beautiful in the dress she was wearing.  She had grown up since they were in high school.  She was an absolutely stunning woman, and Lance was floored.  He knew that he needed her back in his life.  There was no way he was letting her go back to school without knowing that he was certain of this.  He had done a lot of growing up over the last two years.  It was time to prove it.

“Dude, who’s that?”  Justin asked quietly in his ear.

“Do you remember Amy?”  Justin’s eyebrows went up in recognition, and a slow smile splayed across his face.
”The same one you were with when we first started out?  Daaaaaammmmnnnn.  She grew up nice”.  She nervously made her way to the pair who stood trying not to make it so obvious that they were looking at her. 
”You look beautiful”.  Lance quickly kissed her cheek.  A shiver went up her spine.
”Thanks”.  She tried not to sound so nervous and clutched her purse tighter.

“Forgive his lack of manners.  I’m Justin”.  He kissed her hand.  Lance subtly elbowed his ribs.

“I’m Amy”.  She tried to seem unaffected by Justin Timberlake kissing her hand.

“You certainly are”. 

Lance cleared his throat loudly.  “Shouldn’t the limo be here by now?”  He hoped that no one noticed the blaze that had set into his face.  He thought about punching Justin out for a second.  He didn't have to, though.  Thankfully, Britney made her way over at that moment.

"Hey Brit", he said loudly and distracting Justin.  Britney looked perfect, as always.

"Oh my gosh, that's Britney Spears", Amy said in his ear.  He smiled; everyone was always so cute when they were starstruck.  She and Justin kissed quickly and he took her hand.

"Brit, this is Lance's friend Amy.  Amy, I'm sure you already know who this is".  Britney smiled her perfect smile and shook Amy's hand.

"It's really nice to meet you", she said in her quiet Louisiana accent.

"You too.  I'm a huge fan of your work".  She tried not to sound like a complete loser.

Britney smiled.  "Well thank you so much.  That means a lot to me".

The other guys made their way out with their respective dates.  A lot of introducing went on, and everyone seemed happy.  The limo pulled up and they were on their way.

 

The show was amazing.  Nsync had won two of the four awards they were up for, and the guys were all on cloud nine.  They made their way to a few after parties.  Amy still couldn't get over all the celebrities around her. 

"Are you having fun yet?" Lance asked in her ear.  She smiled and nodded.

"It's like I'm trying not to stare because everyone in here looks so familiar.  But then I remember, you see them on TV every day, that's why they look familiar!"  She chuckled.  Just then, a slow song started up.  He held out his hand to her.  She took it and stood up.

"Shall we?" His voice was low, but she could feel it.  He led her to the dance floor and spun her around.  It was like old times in his arms.  She closed her eyes and rested her cheek on his chest.  Lance hadn't felt so at peace like this in a long time.  They belonged together.

 

They were both quiet for the whole limo ride back.  JC was sitting with Bobbi's head on his shoulder, and her eyes were closed.  It was just the four of them in the limo because everyone else was doing their own thing.  Nobody really had much to say.  Amy and Lance had far too much on their minds.  The elevator ride was quiet as well.  They all stepped off when they got to their floor.

"Goodnight, guys", JC said.  His arm was around Bobbi's waist, trying to hold her up.

"Goodnight", Lance replied.  Amy smiled at them.  They got to their room, both exhausted.

"I had a really great time tonight, Lance.  Thank you so much for bringing me".  She sat down in the chair and kicked her shoes off. 

"I'm really glad you came with me.  You looked absolutely beautiful".  He knew it was taking a chance to tell her that, but he had to.  She smiled.

"Thank you".  It was quiet for a minute.  She stood up and stretched her arms over her head.

"Amy..." Lance trailed off, watching her.  He crossed the small distance between them and pressed his lips to hers.  She was shocked for a second, but warmed up and kissed him back.  She had dreamed about kissing him again for so long. 
”I need you”.  He said the words against her lips when they separated.

“You what?”

“I need you back in my life.  For two years, all I ever did was miss you.  I kept it together and did what I had to, but I never forgot about you”.

“Why now, Lance?”  Her eyes were starting to cloud.

“I needed to grow up.  Doing all of this has taught me so much.  Those four guys have taught me more about women than I ever could have learned from Stacy”.

“Why do you think you can handle this now and not then?”  She needed him to be honest.

“I’ve learned so much about myself.  I couldn’t handle the physical distance between us; I couldn’t stand not being there with you.  I hated disappointing you, and I knew that what I did was right at the time.  I saved you more pain that way”.

“Lance, do you know that I didn’t date through the rest of high school?  I couldn’t handle any kind of boyfriend until I got to college.  Only then did all those memories of you finally ease up.  I had to leave the state first”.  She laughed, but she knew it wasn’t funny. 

“I cried for a week straight after we broke up.  My mom was ready to take me to a shrink”.

He cringed.  “Think of how much worse it would have been”.

“You ran away when it got hard!”  She covered her mouth with her hand when the dam broke inside of her.  “What’s to say that you won’t do it again?”  She tried to quietly sob.

He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her forehead.  Remembering something, he reached into the breast pocket of his blazer and brought out his wallet.

“I never forgot about you for a second.  I knew that in my heart, we were meant for each other.  I carried your picture with me everywhere”.  He opened his wallet, and sure enough, her senior portrait sat on the top of the stack of wallet pictures.  She ran a finger over it before pulling it out of the plastic.

“Lance: I promised, so here it is.  You’ll always be in my heart, and I hope I’ll always be somewhere in yours.  Love always, Amy”.  More tears spilled over as she looked up at him.

“You still are my heart.  I always knew that I would find you and that you would believe me when I said that I never stopped loving you for one second.  Not one other girl ever took your place.  Not one could hold a candle to you”.

She turned around and walked to the window.  LA was something, especially at night.  She wiped her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. 
”Say something?  Even if you want to tell me to fuck off, please just say something”. 

“I love you too”.  It was so quiet, but he knew he heard her right.  She didn’t move from the window just yet.

“It was so hard for me to go to school that Monday morning because I felt like everyone knew what happened.  Other guys would ask me out, but I could never say yes to any of them.  I didn’t even so much as kiss another guy through the rest of high school because I was sure that you’d call one day and tell me what an ass you were and what a huge mistake you had made.  Memories of you were all over Mississippi.  I couldn’t even face your mother in church because I was convinced that she hated me”.

His heart sank at her words.  “My mom is the last person who would hate you”.

“And then you started to get famous and Nsync was finally on the map.  I never told anyone about you because I was so scared I’d have to bring up all those old memories again.  That’s why I stopped emailing, that’s why I stopped returning your calls.  I couldn’t face you after I had worked so hard to move on.  And then I saw you in the supermarket that day and it all came rushing back.  I couldn’t say no to having dinner with you.  I was finally getting what I had wished for so long ago.  It’s like now that I have my wish, I don’t know if it’s too good to be true or if I should go for it and tear all the wrapping paper off because it’s finally mine”.

“Please believe me when I say that I’m not the same guy that I was a few years ago.  When I saw you last week, I knew that it was right.  I knew that everything had fallen into place and that we were exactly where we were supposed to be”.  He couldn’t help the pleading tone in his voice.

She finally turned away from the window.  Her face was stained with tear tracks and mascara, but she still looked beautiful all the same.  She made her way over and stood in front of him.

“Can we try?”  His voice was soft.  She closed her eyes and slowly nodded.

That was all the encouragement he needed to kiss her again.  She wrapped her arms around his neck and drew him closer to her.

“I love you so much.  I never stopped loving you”, he whispered.

“I love you too”.  She let her facade crumble.  She knew that she needed him too.

 

She felt the sunlight hit her face.  She groaned and rolled onto her stomach, throwing her arms to either side.  She smiled when she hit something, remembering that it was Lance.

“Good morning, Sleeping Beauty”.  He chuckled and kissed the hand she had struck him with.

She took a deep breath and opened her eyes.  “Good morning”. 

Lance was on his side, his head propped up on his fist.

“How long have you been awake for?”  She turned onto her back.  He shrugged.
”I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter, really.  I woke up next to you”.

Her hand came out and stroked his cheek.  He leaned down to kiss her.  Both of her arms snaked around his neck.  He stroked her hair and looked into her eyes.  That was the one thing that hadn’t changed.  They were the same eyes he remembered.

“Thank you for coming out and going to this shindig with me”.  She smiled.
”Thanks for filling a void I tried to forget”.  A slow smile spread across his face.

"Is that a good or bad thing?"  He knew the answer, but had to tease.

"Shut up".  She smacked him lightly and he winced.

"Oh how you hurt me", he mocked.  She laughed.

"You want me to hurt you, huh?"  She straddled his waist and pinned his arms.

"How you like me now?  Huh?'  Neither could stop laughing.  He managed to get his hands free and tickle her in the ribs.  He knew she hated it because she was so ticklish.  She squirmed and tried to grab his hands again.  It was useless, so she tickled him back.

"Uncle!  Uncle!" His hands left her ribs and she pinned his arms again.  She leaned over this time, putting all her weight into her hands to hold him there.

"And don't you forget it, mister".  They were both breathing hard against each other as they fought to catch their breath.  Their eyes locked, and they were both in a trance.  His hands came up to push away the hair that had fallen into her face.

"I missed you.  I've missed you every day for the last two plus years".  She smiled.

"Well I'm here now", she whispered.  Her lips came down and closed over his.  His arms went around her back and hugged her to him.  She was there now.  And he wasn't letting her leave him again.

 

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