Terms & Conditions 3

The first thought that comes to my head when I wake up in the morning is coffee.  Coffee.  Again the thought enters my mind.  Not moving, not breathing.  Nothing.  Not him. Not rolling over and going back to sleep, but a good cup of the expensive coffee he's bribed me into buying and consequently the stuff I am now in the habit of drinking too.  The lifeblood of all people within the Los Angeles City Limits definitely is coffee and I've fit in quite nicely even though I'm not a native Californian.  To be a part of this world you have to live the life and so far I've lived the life fairly well.  I got a condo, an SUV, a cell phone, pager and a great personal assistant.

I'm so concentrated on the idea of getting a cup of coffee into my hands that I don't even notice that he's not in bed.  I don't care that the bed sheets next to me have been deserted long enough not to still be warm from his body.  I don't notice that his pajamas are hanging out of the hamper and that some of his clothes are missing.  The first sign I see of him is through blurred vision as I come around into the kitchen and he's bumped into me spilling orange juice onto my bare toes.  His arm immediately curls around me and he hugs me to him.

"I'm sorry Seven," he said lips pressed against my temple.  "I thought you were still sleeping."

Even after a few months of hearing it, the name, the connotation and everything about that simple word brings tears to my eyes.  It's not an insult by any means.  Rather it's a nickname he gave me about a month after we met.  It came from a few different things, partially because my phone number ends with a seven.  For the longest time he couldn't remember the last number because when I'd written it down for him it had come out looking like a number one and he'd dialed the wrong number a few times.  Then there are those jokes about seven minutes in heaven, that old game where you stay in the closet with a member of the opposite sex and make out.  Shamelessly the guys in the group had wanted him to try that game out with me.  Too bad I was across the freaking country when they'd gotten the idea.  Lastly and most importantly, it comes from the romantic side of my boyfriend, Lance told me the first day that he met me that he fell in love with me after the first seven seconds that he'd seen me.

I turn my head and with a natural tilt of my head I move to meet his lips with a short kiss.  It may be just a moment, but his lips taste of orange, sweet and sticky against my lips.  "It's ok," I say and curl my toes up and move away from him so that I can get a paper towel to wipe my toes off with.  "Where'd you get the orange juice?  I thought we were out."

My eyes catch him staring.  His hand stops when the glass reaches his lips and he pulls it down a fraction of an inch to hold it there.  "You sure?"

I rub my eyes a little, getting the sleep away and when I look back at him I can see something is a little off about him.  He's looking tired of course from a night of partying, but there are worry lines on his forehead and his normally clear green eyes are looking a little murky. 

"Yeah."  My toes get wiped up and a paper towel is moved across the small orange juice puddle on the floor without another thought from me.

"Coffee should be up in a minute," he said sipping his orange juice.  "I ran over to the store to get something.  I ran out of shaving cream."

"You're up early."  His tongue moves to lick his lips.  Stupid lips.  I know the danger in those lips.  Lips drinking.  Lips drinking.  Lips kissing.

"Seven?" he turns his head back and forth looking at me like a hoot owl for a moment.

"I'm sorry hon--" I know he'll notice the nervous way that I move across the small kitchen to the coffee machine.  My fingers move over the buttons and make sure that it is brewing correctly then I place my palms on the cool tile counter and take a deep breath.  "My brain is fried after yesterday."

"I know the feeling.  After last night I swear I need to sleep for a week."

"Do you have press to do today?" I ask looking at the way he's dressed a wife-beater, but nice slacks on as if all he needs to do is throw on a shirt and head out the door.  His clothes for doing music promos were definitely a lot more casual than for when he does movie press.  When I met him at a party at a friends house he'd worn jeans and converse old school skate shoes, a t-shirt that said Don't Mess With Texas and had seemed comfortable.  This morning he doesn't seem comfortable at all.

"Sonia called this morning and said that I have a crapload of interviews."

"Really?" I say and start to whine.  I'm not normally a whiner, but when I find out that his work is taking him away from time with me it seems like the normal, the expected reaction to have.  I walk over and put my arms around him and hug him, "I thought you were going to hang out with me today."

"Yeah," he said ignoring my comment about hanging out at home.  When he is in Los Angeles it is usually half work, half play.  Even when he was recording the soundtrack song he was home a lot, choosing to work out of JC's home studio instead of a label sanctioned one so that he could only be up the hill from me while he had his long hours going. 

I can tell by his nervousness and by the way he moves away from me to get more orange juice that there is something that he isn't telling me.  "I was just trying to catch some of the stuff from the morning paper because they always ask me stuff like that.  Jake is gonna be here in a minute to get me and Sonia is meeting at the hotel to do the press junket thing for the day.  Are you gonna be around?  I saved the paper for you.  There is a picture of us in there."  His babbling made her nervous and she wondered what else was on his mind.  She knew that the night before hadn't been great, but she figured that he'd settled down at least a little.

"Us?" I ask feeling my stomach churn.  As much as I want my coffee I put the cup down and brace my hands on the counter.  "There's a picture of us?"

"Well there is a picture of me and Jasmine and you're in it, right over my shoulder.  If you cropped the picture it would be a picture of us."

I flip open the paper and see the big hole in the page then look over.  He's cut the picture up with the scissors and it's lying on the counter now.  In it you can see a picture of him and part of Jasmine's shoulder then on the far side of him is my face, or half a face and I'm looking at them, but looking probably at their hands that I'm sure are touching just outside the picture that had been taken.

His arms wrap around me and he sets his chin on my shoulder.  It's such a cliché way to hold a woman, but at the moment with his breath on my neck and his hands tucking into my pajama bottoms I'm not going to point that out to him.  "Not the best shot of the two of us.  Seven, you aren't even looking at the camera--"  His finger points to my eyes in the picture,  "But you can put it in your scrap book and say you're famous now."

I nod and don't know what to say to him.  Despite all my feelings of hurt and jealousy from the night before I know that Lance does have my heart in his hands and he's trying to be careful with it.  I can complain with the best of them, whine like a three year old.  Damn him for that.  I shouldn't be acting this girlie.  It's against my nature.  You'd think with the family that I'm in that I'd be able to hold my own.  You'd think with four brothers and me being the only girl that I really would know men better than I do, but I guess even I have more to learn. This morning though I just sigh.  I know that despite all the things in my life Lance really has given as much as he's taken from this relationship.  It just seems lopsided because he's the public figure and I'm not.

"Where'd you go there for a minute?" Lance's voice is in my ear and I turn my head and find him watching me closely.

"Nowhere--"  My voice gives me away "Just thinking."

He nods and leans and kisses my temple.  "I've gotta run up and grab my shirt and get out of here, but I should be back later on tonight if you want to grab dinner--"

"I'm going to be here."  I sigh.  I'm always at the house after a day like yesterday.  "I've tied up all the loose ends and my next assignment isn't until Wednesday.  Kelly's sister was in town for the ceremony last night and to sightsee so we're not going to get anything done with those two having their minds on shopping and sightseeing.

Lance's breath comes out with a slight snort of disapproval.  "Stalking."

I roll my eyes.  I hate being in this spot.  I am in the middle of the Hollywood world and I know the temptation to drive around in the hills and point out all the houses to my friends, but I wouldn't fly a friend from college across the country just to drive around in circles taking pictures of closed gates.  "It isn't considered stalking when she knows half the people they're going to conveniently run into."

"Dinner tonight?" he says softly, "You and me, no phones or cell phones or pagers no Kelly the amazingly wonderful personal assistant who happens to be a part-time stalker?"

My lips curl into a smile.  His sense of humor is a little strange and this morning he has taken on cynical as his M-O.  "Sounds great."

The knock on the door sounds and I move away from him.  It's strange how in such a short time we've come into a routine.  I answer the door while he walks into the bedroom.  "Morning Jake," I say with a smile then let him inside while I go and grab my coffee and move to sit up on the counter.  Lance hates when I do this.  There is some story about his mother wouldn't ever let him do it because she said that there was dirt on his butt and if he put his butt on the counter then made a sandwich that he'd be eating butt.  I'm sure that's not the way his mother described it, but his interpretation left not a lot of room for discussion.  "--but since I'm in the apartment eighty percent more time than he is, I'm the one who makes the rules for me.

"You're looking excitingly beautiful this morning Tammy."  He speaks with a condescending tone.  The skinny brown-haired man is dressed nicely this morning for once.  His jeans have been replaced with black slacks and his shirt is collared and button up.  Normally he doesn't have a dress code.  In his line of work there usually isn't one.  He's Lance's PA in the LA area.  God.  So many freaking jobs with these dumb ass letters.  I'm sure I have about six I can tack on to my title, but I'd rather just say what I am.  It's less pretentious that way.

"You're looking as evil as ever this morning."  The teasing isn't that real, but I've always felt that a bit of it is really meant to be thrown at me.  Jake doesn't like me.  Doesn't like the fact that Lance moved in with me and especially doesn't like the fact that the condo that Lance was going to buy never got purchased because of me.  Jake would have had his own floor in the place and would have been treated like a king, but instead he's moved into a small two room apartment over Tony Lucca's garage down in the valley.  It's a sweet apartment for someone who doesn't know better, but Jake knows better and knows what he's missing out on.

"Leave him alone Tammy."  Lance comes in the kitchen doing up the last of his buttons.  His hair has been worked on since I saw him a moment ago.  Before the spikes were pushed down against his forehead, but now he looks like the picture perfect Lance that most people see on magazine covers and on television.  I know from experience that he'll be primped and primed when he reaches the hotel to do his press appointments, but for now he's fresh faced, with his hair looking smart.  The only thing I'd have to disagree with in this case was the jacket to his suit was also being worn.  "Look ok?" he asks when he sees the both of us watching him.  Jake doing it because he has to make sure Lance is set for the day and me looking because I'm trying to see what his reaction to his press junket is.

"Yeah," Jake and I both agree.  For Once.

"You're gonna be too hot," Jake said.

"What ever--"  Lance doesn't like to be told what to do.  Despite his willingness to compromise the night before, normally he's a fairly stubborn person.  This morning he seemed a bit relaxed, but now something has gotten under his skin.

I know that he'll listen to me though and I feel like rubbing that fact in Jake's face today.  "Babe?"

"Yeah Seven?" he says.

"I think you should leave it here."  I smile as I see his brain work.  He's already starting to think about it.  He's probably wondering where a mirror is, not because he's worried about staring at himself, but more nervous about the impression he's making.

"Ya think?"

"Yes," Jake and I both say.

He slides off the jacket and sets it on the back of the chair.  He looks at me and I nod to  him.  "I'll hang it back up for you because I know Jake is gonna kick your butt if you don't get out the door soon."

"Thank you."  His arms come around me and he hugs me to him and kisses my temple.

"Baby you're swishing me."  I laugh.  "Go to work."

"Yes ma'am."  His southern drawl comes on strong for the moment before he kisses me.  "Call me today if you get a chance."

"You're going to be in interviews," Jake says.

"Oh yeah."  He scratches his cheek.  "Text me then."

I roll my eyes knowing that my day is going to be spent trying NOT to text him.  It always happens when he's in town.  There is this little part of me...that part where the butterflies in my stomach live that always has thoughts about him, wondering what he's doing, where he is and when he's going to be back with me.  I know he does that too.  I've seen him sometimes when he doesn't know I'm looking.  He's got his eyes on his watch or some sappy smile on his face that totally gives him away.

"Bye Seven."  His lips meet mine for a minute and I taste the mint of his toothpaste as he walks out the door with Jake off to do God knows what with God knows who.

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