The Baby Game:  Section Eight

TWENTY-TWO:

It was almost eleven.  Where was she?  They'd predicted rain that night and he didn't want her to be flying into a storm.

He'd been listening for the sound of the door to open for most of the forty minute meet and greet.  The five of them were in a private room with some people from Nabisco having a little one on one interview session and he knew that she'd be coming back during the session to tell him the news.  Normally he was so anxious about things, but that day was important.  He was going to find out first off if he was going to be a father which in itself would change his whole life, but also from that news he could guage if he and Serena should stay together.

He'd had a nightmare that previous night that everything would fall apart and that she would leave him immediately.  He knew that they got along, but getting along and raising a child were two separate things.  The second was something that he wasn't about to take lightly.  If this was going to work he was going to have to be there in his child's life.

"So on this next album we worked with a lot of people.  We had Steve Wonder," JC said then looked at the young girls, "You know who he is right?"

They nodded.

JC smiled, "I'm sorry...I don't mean to insult your intelligence, but sometimes I actually have to explain who he is.  Anyway he's a great harmonica player so we put him--"

"Can you excuse me?" he asked when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye as he spoke to JC and a few fans about the upcoming album.  His heart rate doubled in speed.  He couldn't see passed most of the people, but he caught sight of the side of her face and knew that this was the moment he'd been waiting for.  "I've got to go and meet with someone real quick."

The girls nodded and looked at JC which gave Lance the chance to get to her.  He almost embarrassed himself by practically running towards her, but he carefully avoided everyone in the room making sure not to make too big of a scene on his quest.

When he got to her he took her hand and pulled her behind a wall that would keep their conversation half-private.  Staring at Wes who started to follow them.  "Stay right there," he said, "I'll just be around the corner."

"Don't move from there Bass or you'll be hearing from my lawyer," he said angrily then looked at Serena, "How you doing babe?"

Serena cracked a smile from her serious expression seeming to like the way that Lance was getting ordered around.  It wasn't normal for him to not be the boss and somehow he had a feeling that she liked him better not being the one in contrrol. "Fine Wes.  What about you?"

"Good," he said and glanced back at the crowd,  "You and Lance have fun out here for a minute."

"I'm sure we will," Lance said with a nod and pulled her away from Wes.  "So?"

She took a deep breath, but didn't say a word.  He could tell her mind was going a mile a minute and so was his, but he needed an answer from her on it.  He needed a definite answer to what was going to happen.  "Tell me girl," he said impatiently tugging on her hand.

"Yes," she said nodding.

He'd expected a smile at least, but didn't get anything from her.  She was nervous, more nervous than he'd ever seen her before.

"Yes?" he asked making sure that he'd heard her right.  He'd thought that this news would be something that would make her happy, but it didn't seem that way so far.

"Yes," she repeated.

He started to see a panicked look in her eyes.  He hadn't seen her in two days and she looked tired, as if she hadn't been sleeping since she'd left the tour to go home.  "Honey, don't do this."  Moving quickly he pulled her against him, holding her around the waste with one hand while cupping her chin with the other hand.  "We talked about things, everything is going to be fine."

"Everything isn't going to be fine," she said firmly.

"Something is wrong with the baby? Somethings wrong with you?  Tell me what the doctor said," he asked rambling a little as fear crept over him.  He hadn't thought that things might go badly for the baby.  He should have gone to the appointment with her.  He should have been there with her to get checked for her pregnancy.  He should have been by her side when they told her if their baby was going to be healthy or not.

"No, no the baby is fine," she said softly watching him with a nervous smile on her face as he traced a hand over her stomach.  They'd been trying for a few months now to actually get her pregnant with no luck.  The doctor had said it might have been stress considering that they were both still on tour and the pressure now to actually get pregnant was high. "I'm...I'm just scared to death about all this."

"Don't be sugar," he said, "We've got everything under control.  All your stuff is already at my house and we've got the best doctors in Orlando on our side and I told you that once everyone around here knows about this that they are going to support us.  The guys already think that it's great that we found each other--"

"It's not the support that I'm worried about," she said taking a huge shaky breath, "I'm worried about my body blowing up like a balloon and for a watermelon sized THING coming out of me."

"Awweee," he said, "Sweetheart...it's gonna be fine.  We'll get you to do those Baby and Me Aeorbics and stuff."

A smile slid across her lips, "You've been researching too much again haven't you?"

"Guilty as charged," he said with an embarrassed smile, "I got bored last night while you were  back in Orlando."

"Oh," she said.  She moved away from him and looked around the corner, "When are you out of here?"

"Ten more minutes?" he guessed sliding his eyes up and down her quickly noting every curve.  He couldn't believe that his baby was now growing inside of her.  He'd been preparing for this moment for a few weeks now, but it was here and he had to admit he was completely overwhelmed by the sense of peace he now felt.  They had finally started down the path to parenthood and he was ready to walk beside her on this journey instead of running the other way. "Why?  What's up?"

"I'm tired from flying around today."  She was distracted by the sound of laught for a moment then looked back over at him.  "I was going to go out to the bus and take a nap," she said, "But if you're gonna be done in ten minutes then I'll stick around and catch lunch with you guys."

Lance slid his arms around her pulling her back towards him hugging her closely against him.  "How about you go out to the bus and relax and I'll be out in a while?  I moved all your stuff on there two nights ago after you left."

"You did?" she asked turning to look at him where he'd perched his chin on her shoulder, "How'd that go over with the guys?"

"They understand that I'm in love with you," he said, "Really it wasn't that big of a deal.  I had room and Joey is so into Brianna and Kelly that he won't even notice you're there."

"Is she out here again?" Serena asked.

"Yeah," he said, "Until tomorrow."

"Maybe I should go drill her with questions before she leaves," she said.

"Questions?" he asked.

"She's the only person I know who has had a baby in the last year or so," she said, "I bet she has some great insight on what to expect in the next few months."

"Hmmm," he said nuzzling his lips against her neck, "I bet she does."

"Lance you need to go," she finally said when his hands began to roam.  "I'll see you after this or right before the show...like always."

"Ok," he said backing away then looked at her with a pout, "At least send me off with a kiss or something.  I missed you the last few days and especially last night."

"Fine," she said with a sigh and kissed him then giggled when he leaned for another.

"I'll see you in a while ok?" he said.

She nodded and pushed him away and around the corner.  He leaned back behind the wall to watch her walk down the hall and out towards the buses.  His smile couldn't be hidden.  He was going to be a father in a few months and the woman walking down the hall just then would someday be his wife.  He hadn't yet asked her, but he was planning on it.  The first reason was the obvious, she was going to be the mother of his child, but the second took a little getting used to:  He was in love with her.

<hr>

Serena had a headache and a backache and being on tour again wasn't what she wanted to be doing right now.  After her doctor's appointment the day before in Florida she'd spent the evening with Lance's mother, who'd been told of the situation and although wasn't pleased at all that he was going to have a child before marriage, had been making an effort to get to know her.  It hadn't been the most comfortable day between the two of them, but by dinner time at least they could laugh a little while they talked, something that Serena hoped would improve over the months.

When her cellphone rang as she was climbing the bus wiping the soft fall of rain from her hair and forehead.  She pulled it out and answered it seeing that the number was an Orlando based number, "Hello?"

"Serena honey," the woman's voice said.

"Yes?"

"It's Diane," she said, "I just wanted to call and make sure that you made it back to New Orleans safely.  I knew that there was a storm supposedly coming in so I wanted to make sure that it didn't hit before you got there."

"Yeah," she said moving further into the bus and grabbed a towel off the rack first smelling it before she wiped her face.  Knowing that she'd been gone a few days, she knew that things probably had gone to hell while she was away. She didn't expect that there would be physical dirt on the cloth, but she knew it probably wasn't the freshest.  "I did.  I'm sorry...I should have called and let you know like I said I would."

"No worries," she said, "I just wanted to make sure that you were ok."

She held the phone against her ear and refolded the towel and threw it over the towel bar.  "Well thank you for thinking of me."

"I also wanted to apologize for--well for the tension between us yesterday.  My son is the one I should be upset with if I'm upset at anyone and I didn't mean to make you feel unwelcome."

"Really its ok Mrs. Bass," she said, "I totally understand where you're coming from.  We both didn't plan on this and the surprise of the baby coming isn't really the way that I thought I'd be meeting you...ya know?"

"Still," Diane said, "I'm very sorry about being not so hospitable."

Serena could see this conversation going on for hours so she finally took the initiative to end it.  "Really Mrs. Bass, it's ok.  How about we start fresh from here?  I understand where you're coming from and you understand where I am in all this."

"Sounds good honey," she said, "And if you or Lance need anything during the next few months don't hesistate to call me.  Lance has all the numbers to get in touch with us and I would hope that you'd feel comfortable enough to use the numbers too."

"I will Mrs. Bass," Serena said, "Thank you very much for that."

"We'll I'll let you go, knowing my son and his schedule you've probably only got another five or so minutes of peace and quiet so I'll let you enjoy them."

"Thanks," she sighed out, "I think I'm gonna take a little catnap if I can."

"Sounds like a good plan," Diane said, "I'll talk to you later."

"Bye," Serena sang out then hung up the phone and moved towards the back of the bus.  Instead of taking the empty bunk that she ususally slept in, she crawled into Lance's bunk, tucked herself under the covers, shivering once when her body hit the cold sheets then put her head on the pillow, falling asleep before she knew it.

TWENTY -THREE:

The rain had started to come down a little more so when he got outside he ran towards the bus.  It was something strange to be out there in the open like that, without anyone telling him to get an umbrella or not to go.  It felt good, a little bit of freedom after being cooped up all morning.  Even after knowing that she was in town he still needed a little bit more of a release to ease the tension and a quick run through the puddles with Wes and Eric coming behind him was just what he needed.

"She went to take a nap," James, their driver said from his seat at the table.

"Thanks," Lance said and moved his hands through his hair.  They were wet so he wiped them on the thighs of his pants then, slid out of his jacket and threw it on the couch.  "I'm gonna go check on her."  He ran his hands through his hair a second time and shook them off a little this time.  "I'll set an alarm for like an hour, ok?"

James nodded.  "There's a towel back there ya know."

"Thanks."  Lance rolled his eyes and grabbed a towel on the way back to the bunks, throwing it over his head to dry off.

When he pushed the curtain back on her bunk the sheets were in the same position they'd been in before.  With a smile he moved back the curtain to his bunk and found her.  She was there waiting for him.  He looked at his watch and set his alarm for an hour from then so he could take a little nap before he had to work.  "Sugar move over." 

He watched Serena moved her head to look over at him.  She looked dead tired, but she smiled sleepily at him before she turned her head back towards where it was facing the wall before she moved so she was closer to the wall.  He watched her back and the way she curled into the blanket and was careful when he crawled in with her.

"Sugar you feeling ok?" he asked sliding his arms carefully around her.

"I have a headache," she mumbled.  She shook her head a little.  "And my back hurts," she whined.

"Did you take anything?  I mean can you take anything?" he asked softly moving her body carefully so that he could hug her.

"I took some tylonol," she mumbled and pulled his arm tighter around her.  She moved so that she could kiss his cheek then lay down again, "I took some before I got on the plane."

Lance moved his hand and pushed her hair out of her face when it covered her eyes.  "You want some more?  I think I have some in the cabinet.  If not I can find some for you."

"No," she said pulling him against her, "Just lay with me and rub my back."

As much as Lance wanted to just curl up and sleep the next hour away she did seem like she was upset still so he thought he'd indulge her need to be babied a little. She curled her arm back and pointed towards her lower back.

"Where sweetie?" He moved her shirt aside and rubbed the small of her back for a while.

"Thank you," she said.

"Is this from--"  He found himself feeling stupid for asking, but he thought he should at least see if it was from that or from something else.  "Is this from the pregnancy?"

"No," she said and turned towards him, "I don't expect so."  Her eyes closed for a moment then opened again.  "I mean I'm not all that far along--"

"Are--When are you due?" he asked.

"Middle of May," she said.

"May is my birthday."

"Yeah I guess," she said with a shrug.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to sidetrack you...what's wrong with your back?"

"I think it's mostly from stress and stuff, you know?"

"Stress sugar?" he asked moving to kiss her, "I told you that this was all going to be ok."

He didn't want all expect her to move away from his kiss, but she did, moved to hug him instead.  "I know you did."  Her arms hugged him tightly and she felt like she was shaking a bit.  "But it's still a worry."

"Sugar don't hold onto me so hard," he said moving her back a little, "Sugar you're shaking."

"I'm scared to death," she said and the tears began to flow.

Lance leaned and turned on the light above them so he could see her and watched closely.  "Did you talk to my mom about it the other day?" he asked.

"No," she said, "As much as you love your mother and as much as I love you I don't want to say anything bad about her, but your mom and I weren't really getting along at the time so we didn't really talk about it.  She asked me if things went ok and I said yes, but we didn't--"

"Sugar you know my mom really isn't like that," he said with a worried expression.

"She's not thrilled with the idea of you being a father so soon and I don't blame her.  I didn't think about that when we were planning this.  Your parents are probably devistated--"  She sucked in a breath as she started to hyperventalate.  "I mean it's not the thing that everyone wants for their children you know?  It's all about marriage and and family values and everything."

"It's not about that," he said then paused, "I mean it is about that, but it's more about them wanting me happy and you make me happy so they're gonna have to learn to live with it."

"Learn to live with it?" she asked pushing him.  She rolled over him and moved to stand up in the small hallway, "What am I some kind of disease or something?  Just give them a little medication, a little tranquilizer and they'll be able to handle the stress of knowing that their son got a woman pregnant out of wedlock?"

Lance moved into the small hallway and saw James now standing in the living room looking at them.  "We're fine," Lance said and motioned sympathetically for him to go back to what he was doing, "We just need a minute to discuss things."

Serena moved to the back room and was about to shut him out when he pushed the door open and closed them both inside.

"I'm ruining your life," she said.

"You aren't ruining my life," he said, "You aren't.  I made the decision to be with you and if my parents aren't used to the idea of me being a father then they'll have to deal with it.  They aren't going to be upset with you and when the baby comes they aren't going to be thinking about that.  They'll be thinking about their grandchild and about how much they love the two of us for having such a great baby."

As she turned to face the window he put a hand on her arm to turn her around, but she wouldn't turn.  "This is so easy for you."  Her tone was accusing and he hated hearing that tone from her.

"Easy?" he said rubbing his forehead, "This is not easy for me.  I mean physically you have a lot more to battle with, but I'm stuck here wanting to make things better for you and easier for you and you won't let me."

"Stuck?" she asked turning to glare at him.  He couldn't imagine what the hormones in her body were doing at the moment, but the reaction to his statement was ridiculous.  She fell into the seat across from him and began to cry uncontrollably.  "Great.  Stuck."

"This is a no win situation with you isn't it?"  He sat down and sighed stared at her for a moment then moved across to sit next to her.  "Serena," he pleaded, "Please don't cry...I don't know what to do for you when you do and I'm not sure how to make you stop."

"I'm just tired and I need to sleep," she said, "And my back hurts and I just need to get away."

Lance took a breath, pushed himself up and moved to help her stand. "I've got some calls to make anyway before the show starts," he said, "Why don't you go back to bed and we'll talk tonight if you're awake or tomorrow morning.  Ok?"

"I'm sorry Lance."  She leaned towards him and hugged herself up against him.

"Just go back to bed sugar and rest.  I bet you'll feel better when you wake up."

<hr>

When the sound of the engine starting up roared underneath her and the bunk began to vibrate she opened her eyes.  It was still dark in her bunk and she was alone so she moved to roll over.  Her stomach hurt and her head ached and the lump of a backache that had been bothering her earlier was still there.

The door sliding open reverberated through the bus then she heard the screams of the fans waiting outside.  It took her a moment to sit up, but by the time she had she heard Lance's voice in the front of the bus.  "That sucked."

Pulling her shirt into place she rubbed her eyes and came out into the living room.  It was already full of the five security guards and the five group members so she slid into the closest seat, which happened to be the bench seat at the table.  She scooted all the way over and yawned, leaning her head against the window to watch the boys.  She wondered how they could be so energetic after running around on stage for almost two hours.

Even in perfect health she would be dead to the world if she did the routines that they did on stage.  She knew that they would eventually crash from their adrenaline high which would mean a good nights' sleep along side Lance, but until then she was going to be subjected to locker room behavior from all of them.

It only took a few minutes for Lance to notice her.  He slid in next to her only far enough so that his butt was on the seat.  He was sweaty and he knew enough to stay away from her so that she wouldn't get sweaty. "You ok?" he asked leaning to kiss her before he pulled his shirt over his head then caught a towel that someone threw in his direction.  He opened it and rubbed it over his face then wiped down his chest and arms.

"I feel better," she said softly trying not to stare at him.  It was staring at her like that which had gotten her in trouble in the first place. "Not perfect, but better."

Security and the other guys were trying to figure out where to stop to eat that night and when to off-load everyone onto other buses.  The decision making process was causing a lot of noise considering the adrenaline rush everyone was on at the moment.

Lance got a bit distracted for a moment to put his vote in on the dinner choices then turned back to her.  "It's good that you're feeling a little better...Is your back still hurting?"

"A little."

"I'm sorry."  He leaned and kissed her forehead then leaned back.  "These guys will be out of here in a little while."

"I don't mind them," she lied.  Normally she would have loved to have the guys around, but tonight she wanted to be alone with Lance, "I missed them  Lemme catch a shower and we'll eat something ok?"

"I'm not really that hungry," she said.

He frowned at her, leaning an elbow on the table so he could prop up his chin to look at her comfortably.  "Sugar you need to eat something."

She put her hands in her lap and tried to fight back the urge to tell him to leave her alone.  She didn't need a keeper and wasn't about to let him baby her the way his mother had the other day. Someone would have thought that she was as big as a house ansd needed twenty-four hour care already with the way those two bugged her.  "I know and I have been, but I just woke up and I'm not hungry yet."

"At least order something when we eat and we'll put it in the fridge.  It's gonna be a while before we get where we're going.

"Fine."  She pouted and crossed her arms over her chest.

"Please don't be upset Sugar...I just don't want you to get hungry in the middle of the night or something and not have anything to eat.  We haven't gotten refilled since the last stop and haven't got much to eat.

"Why do you keep calling me sugar?" she asked yawning again.

"Do I bore you that much?" he asked with a laugh.

"Just answer my question."  She pouted more.

"Cuz you're so sweet," he said with a corny smile.

Irractic emotional behavior usually wasn't her style, but she found herself tearing up again.  Being a gentleman was always Lance's way, but his compliments now seemed to hit a part of her that she hadn't expected for him to find in her.  It had been such a long time since a man had been that sincerely sweet that she almost didn't know how to react.

Working relationships were always strange, but this partnership was something else.  Lance had wanted to jump into a relationship with her and although she knew he would be great at it, she had still been a bit weary of his offer so she'd kept her heart out of it.  Even when they'd been in bed together, creating the child she now carried, she'd kept a part of herself from him, but now, with him being so sweet to her she knew that the last little bit of her was going to be given away soon.

"What's wrong?" he asked, "What'd I do?"

"Nothing," she said wiping her face.  "Everything."

"Which is it?"

"Both."

She knew she was confusing the hell out of him, but he'd signed up for this journey and was going to have to put up with her until and maybe after this baby was born.  She still wasn't sure of the future, but she hoped they'd both be there together.


TWENTY-FOUR:

"Are you feeling ok?"

Serena looked up from the papers in front of her and found Chris staring at her.  He had his glasses on and his lap top open and they were supposed to be discussing produciton costs for the new Men's line for Fumanskeeto, but things hadn't been going that well for them that morning.  "Yeah," she said, "I'm just tired.  I had that flight out and back in and haven't gotten back on schedule."

"You sure?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said, "I just hate this numbers stuff."

Pregnancy should have been something that she should be celebrating, but at the moment and after her trip home she wasn't in the mood to be happy about her current condition.  She wanted to tell him, wanted to see the look in his eyes because she knew that even if he was going to be shocked that he would love the idea of becoming an honorary uncle.  She'd seen him with his sisters and family and he was the one person in the group who seemed to think that the old saying was true.  The more, the merrier.

One thing held her back from standing on the table and screaming out that she was going to be a mother.  She wasn't sure when exactly Lance wanted to tell the others so she wasn't exactly sharing her good news with anyone.  Eventually they would all know, but for the moment she didn't want to spoil it for them.

"Numbers stuff," he said.  "That's a good one.  It's not really even that hard.  I just need to know how much you want to spend on your creations."

"My creations?" she asked.

"Oh," he said, "Did I forget to tell you that I gave you a promotion?"

"Promotion?" she said leaning back.  A hand went to her stomach and the other went to her forehead.

"You don't want more money and more control over the designs?" he asked.

She wanted to scream at him for this.  There was enough going on right now before throwing her work into it.  Her design for Farzana's dress had gotten a lot of press and the last few months she'd been getting requests for more designs.  She'd done a few dresses, but things had slowed down a little and she'd liked the idea of resting, especially if she was going to have a baby soon.

"It's not that," she said with a half smile putting her hands in her lap, "I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to ruin the surprise.  I'm just tired and it's not getting into my head, ya know?"

"Sure," he said.  He got up from where he was sitting and began to walk passed her. "If you don't want the job I can always find another designer."

"No," she grabbed onto his hand as he walked by.  "No. I want the job."

Chris looked down at her a smiled a little then sarcastically rolled his eyes, "YAY."

"I'm sorry," she said, "I've got other stuff on my mind right now Chris.  I don't mean to make light of the situation."

He looked at her for a moment.  "You're pregnant."

"What?"  She let his hand go and pulled it into her lap again.

"You are aren't you," he said, then moved to sit next to her.  "You are and you don't look happy about it."

"I am," she said begining to tear up, "I am, but I'm not."

"Awe," he said, "Come on."  He put an arm around her and hugged her, "It's gonna be ok.  You've got Lance and all of us are excited about this."

"I know," she said and wiped her face, "I'm not worried about you or him or me."

"Well then what is it?"

"His family," she said, "I never thought about his family.  I never once thought that what I was doing with him might ruin his relationship with his family.  I mean my parents and I aren't on the best of terms, but I'm older than he is and I don't need them as much as he does...and with him being in the business like this I know that he needs them--"

"Breath girl," Chris said, "Lance knows that his mom and dad will love him no matter what.  They may not be throwing a parade in his honor, but they love him and they aren't going to disown him over this."

"We should have got married or something.  We should have at least done that much to make this seem more--"  She cut things off before she said too much.  They all knew that she and Lance had gotten involved, but they didn't know the exact situation.  They weren't really in love with each other, or at least she wasn't a hundred percent sure about it.  She didn't need to draw attention to that information and she wasn't going to ruin the plan now.

"You love him and he loves you and it'll be ok.  His mother and father will fall into place eventually.  They're parents.  They have to be critical of the ones we fall in love with.  It's like their job or something."

Serena took a breath and smiled at him.  "How did you get so smart?"

"I'm the only college graduate here," he said with a laugh.  "Don't worry about all this stuff.  It'll work out in the end and in the mean time everyone around here is going to help out."

"Help out?"

The voice startled them both.

"What are you doing with my woman Christian?" Lance said.

"It's Christopher James," Chris said sliding out of the seat next to her.  "I was just celebrating with your woman."

"You told him?" Lance asked.

"She told me?" Chris said then turned to look at Serena, "You told me that you got a promotion and a raise?"

Lance moved and sat down next to her while Chris took his seat across from her.  "You got a promotion?"

Chris looked back at his papers and laughed.  "She's the head designer of the Men's line for next year."

"You are?" he asked.

She tucked her hair behind her ear and nodded.

"Sugar that's great," he said and leaned and kissed her.  "We should celebrate or something."

"No," she said and leaned against him, "Really, it's ok."

"Well at least we should go out to dinner or something."

"You can take me too," Chris said.

"We'll do something," she said and closed her eyes a little.

"You still not feeling good?" he asked.

Chris immediately sat up.  "She's feeling fine...great...perfect...right?  She just got a promotion and a raise...did I say raise?  I thought I told you about the raise."

"Chris!" Serena finally said, "It's ok."

"He knows?"

"He guessed," she said.

Chris frowned, "I have a lot of sisters.  I've seen the signs before."

"Are you feeling ok?" Lance said moving a hand to her forehead.  "Did you sleep ok today?"

"I didn't get a nap."

Chris leaned back and looked at them, "We're almost done with this stuff and I have some calls to make back to my sister and mom so I'll leave you guys to it."

"To what?" Serena asked with a laugh knowing that the comical nature of what he said might bring up the spirits of the three of them.

Chris made a noise that sounded like porno music, "Whatever you two crazy kids want to do with your afternoon."

"Get out of here old man," Lance said.

"I'm going," he said, "I'm going."

When he was out of the bus she started stacking up her papers.

"Stop," he said, "Leave this all here.  I came out here to ask you something."

"What?" she asked.  "I already ate lunch today and I've--"

Lance frowned, "I wanted to ask you something more than that."

"Well what dinner?  Or maybe a nap?  That's what I need isn't it?" she asked.

"No," he said.

"So?"

Lance moved from the chair and pulled her up.  "I have something to talk to you about and I should have done it a long time ago...but you know me.  I'm dumb like that."

"What is it?"

"I went shopping while you were gone and I have a present to give you, but I also have a question to ask."

"Oh no," she groaned.  She knew it was coming and she wasn't sure that she could handle him doing this.  Not like this.  He needed to ask her because they were in love, not because his mother wanted him or that he felt the need to do it because he felt guilty about not doing it before.

"Oh no what?" he asked.

"Don't do this," she said, "Please don't do this."

"Don't do what?" he asked.

"Whatever you're going to do," she said, "Just don't do it.

"But I want to," he said, "You don't even know what I'm going to do."

"Yes I do and I don't want you to do something that you're not ready to do."

"Just come on," he said pulling her outside.  "It's not that bad.  I just need your opinion on something."

"Opinion?" she asked, "So that's what they call it today?  An opinion."

Outside she found two matching Escalades parked in front of the bus.  Justin was leaning against one and Chris against the other.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"I'm gonna buy one and I want to know which color," he said, "Red or black, or we can get a white one or--"

"You want to know what color car I like?"

"Yeah," he said with a shrug, "What did you think I was going to ask you?"

She smiled and felt stupid for thinking that.  She hadn't discussed things with him about their future together.  She knew they'd be living together, but after that she wasn't sure what would happen between them.  She made a mental note to herself to talk to him about it later and gave her opinion on the car color.  "Black.  Definitely black."

 


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