Honestly For You 11

As the last notes of the song were heard she held her hands above her head and bowed at the waist.

When her head was all the way down and she could no longer see the seats in front of her the smile on her face faded and she took a deep breath.  Her body ached from the run through they'd just finished, but there was still more to do.  She needed to run through things with Justin for the duet, which she wasn't looking forward to.  He'd been distant the last few days even going to the extreme of sleeping on his bus while she went on hers.  They'd spent the ride from Pheonix to San Antonio on the same bus, but she'd slept most of the time while he'd been on the phone and had been doing some programming for his album on his computer.   She'd understood his need to work, but at the same time it didn't make her feel good to see him working when she thought he should be relaxing, at least for his own good even if he didn't want to be with her.

A sigh escaped her lips and could be heard in her microphone, but it was soon covered by more music.  Meredith wanted to take a break, but she knew she couldn't just yet.  This was important.  She normally wouldn't have gone through a whole show like that, but something had happened to the stadium power station and they'd had to reroute everything so she'd been called in on her day off and had done a run through.  It wasn't that big of a deal.  With a set up like they had it would only take three hours to get the show correctly set up.

The music kept playing and she finally realized why.  She turned to find Justin standing there.  He wore jeans and a turtleneck today chosing to look dressed up compared to the running pants and the tank top she'd been in after she'd gone to work out for a while that morning.  He had his microphone in one hand and a bottled water in the other and held it out to her as he began to hum the song a little along with the band.  She took off the microphone that went around her chin and neck and grabbed up her hand microphone and went to join him.

He handed her the bottle and let her take a drink then waved for her to hurry up.  She didn't understand what his hurry was for.  He didn't have anything scheduled for the rest of the afternoon.  It was her with the meet and greet.  He just had to show up around eight thirty or so to step on stage for one song.  She narrowed her eyes and took a deep breath and moved to set down the bottle before she started her verse.

You walked in the room
and time was standin' still
knew you were my destiny
by the way you made me feel
only you in my life
forever and today
you're everything I ever imagined
my love could be
you for me

They moved through the motions of the song.  Justin stood next to her singing his verses, but didn't move the way he did when he was on stage.  He almost looked bored with what they were doing and when he started his second verse, the one where he normally would fall to his knees to sing she watched him sit down on the stage, lay on his back and close his eyes.

Like the stars, sky
river and rain
like an eagle needs it's wings
and the fire needs it's flames
like the sun it needs the day
and the night needs the moon
like the air that I breathe
that's how I need you
like the air that I breathe
that's how I...
dreamed of you
I dreamed of you
yeah
yes I did
oh baby

Not thinking to care about the consequences Meredith stepped over his body, dropped her microphone onto the stage and started to walk away. The music stopped and she shut her eyes as she walked towards the edge of the stage, knowing the way by heart.  She stopped in her tracks and tried to calm her nerves by counting to ten.  She knew that she wasn't going to get to walk out of there with no reaction and knew she'd hear something from someone soon.

"Meredith?" she heard Dave's voice.

She turned around and instead of Dave coming after her she saw Justin coming towards her.  She pulled out her ear monitors and pointed her finger at him.  "You stay away from me."  She wasn't sure why Justin had done what he'd done, but it was clear that he was bored with their song, bored with being there, and probably bored with her too from the way that he acted.  She leaned to the side and looked at Dave, "I think everything else will be ok with the set up.  I need a break."

"Bear what are you doing?" he asked, "We're in the middle of rehearsal."

"WE are not anything," she said, "YOU are in the middle of a nap and I'M on my way out to the bus."

"Mere?" he called after her.

When he started to follow her she glared at him.  "What part of I'm taking a break didn't you get?"

"This has got to be a PMS thing," he said.

Meredith looked around and saw the band staring at her.  She didn't have her microphone and neither did he, but the fifteen or so people around the stage all could hear what was going on.  Her eyes clouded over and when he stepped towards her she backed away.  "Leave it alone Justin."  She used a warning tone with him and held a hand out to keep him from coming any closer.  "Just leave it alone."

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The phone rang across the room and Meredith stared at it.  She had tucked herself into her room and had even covered up with the comforter hoping that if anyone came to the door that she could close her eyes and pretend to be asleep.  She wanted to be alone for a while because she sure as hell didn't want to break down and cry in front of the crew, like she felt she needed to do.

When the ringing sounded again she sighed.  She figured it was probably him calling her since she'd shut herself into the bus and when he'd come after her had shut herself into the back room of her bus.

"Mere you're phone is ringing," Gritty said at the door.

"I know," she finally called to him  and threw the pillow that she'd been leaning against towards the door.  It hit and fell onto the carpet.  "Tell him I'm ignoring him!"

Gritty sighed loudly.  "I'm not getting involved in this one.  If he lay a hand on you I'll take up a fight with him, but for the moment I think you should answer the phone and tell him yourself."

"Why can't you help me out on this one?" she asked.

"Mere are you ok?" he asked.

When the ring filled the air again she grabbed up the phone, saw the first three numbers to show that it was in incoming Orlando call and flipped the phone open.  "Justin I told you that I was taking a break!"

"Well well well," the husky southern voice on the other side of the line said, "So my son IS causing trouble out there."

She fumbled with the phone in her hand and switched ears.  She didn't know what was going on, but she might have just said the wrong thing to the wrong person.  "Hello?" she said.

There was a long pause and the calm voice spoke again.  "Mere darlin' you need to calm down."

Meredith closed her eyes and fell back onto the bed wondering who would be calling her at a time like this.  "Who the hell is this?"

"Calm down girl.  Its Paul sweetie, not the big bad wolf or my son as you seemed to be expecting.   Lynn was going to call you, but I'm glad that I did instead.  You sound distraught."

Meredith laughed a little and rolled her eyes.  "Distraught is not a strong enough word right now."

"What happened?"

"Justin and I got into an argument during rehearsal and he said something he probably shouldn't have said aloud to the crew that was there."

"Are you doing ok?" he asked.

Meredith moved to sit up and pulled the blankets back around her.  She moved to lay down again and pressed the phone to one ear as she closed her eyes.  "It'll blow over Paul," she said, "Everything is just stressed right now because I didn't sleep well last night.  I think I might be getting a cold or something."

"If you say so," he said and she heard him moving some paperwork around.  She figured he was at home from the relaxed sound of his voice and became instantly jealous of his albility to work from home.  "Anyway...my reason for this call is that I have two offers for you."

"Two offers?" she asked praying that one was to come home and never set foot on stage again.  She didn't understand why all of a sudden she wanted to go home.  She was always a fighter, but this was getting too hard for her.  She wanted to be anywhere but there, which wasn't the way she wanted to spend her time.  "What kind of offers?"

"Well I've got an offer from MAC cosmetics to be their new spokesperson."  He sounded happy about this, but all Meredith wanted to do was to hang up.  MAC was a great company and would definitely pay her well, but at this point she wasn't sure that anyone could pay her enough to stay in the spotlight how she was.  "There's also one from a movie production company offering you a staring role in a movie, with the bonus of you being able to do a lot of the music on the soundtrack if things work out."

"Ugh," she sighed out.  More work.  She was thinking that everyone was being the publicity around her and thought she was actually enjoying this.  She'd always thought that PR people were horrible, always saying and doing everything to keep people's images a certain way, but it seemed that her people were working well for her, even though to her they were working against her now.

"What's wrong?"

It was the dreaded question for her and she had to bite her lip, literally to keep from telling him the truth.  She knew it was extreme, but since the week before she'd come to hate everything that went along with touring.  The only time she was happy was when she was actually on stage performing, but even that had been ruined by Justin's attitude that day.  "I'm fine Paul," she said, "You just brought up decision making issues and at the moment I'm in need of a vacation, not another work related thing to do.  Can you fax them to Gritty at the hotel and we'll look them over?"

"Of course," he said, "I was already going to do that.  How much time do you need to look them over?  No rush, but I just want to give them kind of an idea."

"At this point tell them that I need a week."  She looked out the window.  "I've got a show tonight and then four more days in Texas before I get another day off.  I'll have a decision by next Monday if that doesn't seem like too long of a time."

"Sure thing princess," he said with a laugh.  "If I were you I'd call Lynn because God knows Justin will call her about you...you know how those two are...so you might want to warn her or something or you'll get her out on the road again before you might want her."

"Thanks Paul," she said, "I'll call her in a second.  Do you know where she is?"

"At the grocery story I think.  She's been home the last two days, and she'll be gone again for the weekend then out to see you next week."

"Ok," she said, "If you fax them over I'll look them over and call you and Lynn with an answer."

"Stay calm for me ok?" he said, "And if Justin gets on your case tell Lynn and we'll talk to him."

"Thanks Paul," she said finding tears forming in her eyes.

When he had hung up the phone she hung up her end and closed her eyes for a minute or two hoping to fall asleep, but there wasn't enough time.  Gritty was at the door telling her that it was meet and greet time.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"Justin is outside," Gritty appeared in the doorway then came into the room and leaned against the food table.  He grabbed up a  Snickers bar, his one request for her rider list, and quickly removed the wrapper and shoved it into his mouth.

"Why doesn't he just come in?" she asked.

"He told me to ask you if it was ok--"  He chewed the rest of his bite then licked his lips and smiled at her with an evil look in his eyes.  "--then he mumbled something about wanting to keep his balls intact."

Meredith smiled.  "That just made my day a million times better."  She went over to the mirror and checked her make up, grabbed a glass and filled it with lemon water then took a sip.  "Send him in."

"You sure?" he asked.

"Yeah."

He paused before he went back out into the hallway.  "You want me to stay in here or are you gonna be ok alone?"

"I think I can handle  him alone right now," she said.

"If I hear a bitch slap from either of you I'll kill him."

Meredith went over and hugged him, acting more girly than ususal.  She kissed his cheek and with a sarcastic tone spoke to him.  "I love you too Gritty."

Justin entered the room a few moments later.  He seemed calm and collected, but there was something in his eyes that was brewing, something that only probably she or his parents or family would be able to see.  He came in and went towards the food table, away from where she'd taken a seat in the recliner that had been added to her array of furniture.

"Did you need something Justin?" she asked.

"I wanna know what's going on?" he asked, "I know that we've been distant the last few days, but what's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong," she quickly assured him and stared down at her shoes.  She untied the left one and retied it.

"Meredith--"  He sounded a little angry now.  "Quit the bullshit and tell me."

"Nothing is wrong," she said, "I'm fine.  Everything is fine."  She stood up and began to stretch a little, making sure that her legs were ready to take the punishment of another show.  Her eyes avoided him and she stared at the wall clock.  "We're about to go on so I really think that you should rest your voice and let me get ready.  I'm sure Mira and Trina are around here somewhere."

"Meredith--"  This time his voice sounded choked with emotion.

When she looked at him she could tell that he was worried about her.  She knew if she didn't do something now to really reassure him that she was ok that this was going to snowball into a problem that would be bigger than the both of them could handle.  "BeeDee--"  She let out a sigh and walked over to him and pushed him back so that he could sit on the edge of the foodtable.  She moved his legs so that she could stand between them and be closer to him.  "Look at me baby."

His eyes searched her face.  "I talked to Paul today and he--"

"He told me about some work offers and I told him I'd call him back after looking them over.  I wasn't feeling well this afternoon and having more work on my shoulders wasn't what I needed."

"That's fine," he said, "I wasn't going to mention the offers.  I just thought that it was strange that he and Mamma called me today to ask me if you were feeling ok."

"They did?" she asked.  She sighed.  She hadn't called them like she'd told Paul that she would do and they probably had gotten worried about her.  She smiled, "I'm fine now.  I just think my blood sugar got a little more than low and I got cranky."

"Cranky?" he asked, "You told me to stay away from you.  You've never--well other than the Britney thing--kept yourself away from me."

"I didn't want to say something or do anything to make things worse."

"Worse than what?" he said, "I thought--I think we're doing ok...or that we were doing ok."

"Justin, I know you want to talk about this, but I have to go on stage in a minute."

"This is important," he said, "And you're gonna go and get on stage?"

"Yes," she said, "I have a job to do."

She leaned and kissed him.  "I'll be offstage and out to the bus as soon as I can.  Meet me there and we'll talk tonight, ok?"

Justin sighed.  "Fine."

"BeeDee don't pout," she said and moved away from him.  "I'll see you on stage."

Walking out the door she was met by Mira, Trina and Gritty.  Todd stood watching her for a moment.  "He's in there still," she said and began to walk towards the stage with the girls and Gritty.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

When Justin appeared on stage that night he moved slowly towards her.  His footsteps were dilberant and almost calculated as he came towards her.  There had become a rythmn to their performance of the song, but these steps were towards her and not the crowd and when he reached for her hand and moved over to the edge of the platform that the band was sitting on she followed him.

He took a seat and moved her so that she could sit on one knee and half face him, almost like having her sit on Santa's lap to talk about Christmas wishes.  He held his microphone with his right hand and kept his left arm around her, holding her around the waist.  He sang the lyrics to her that night, not the crowd.  It seemed as if to him they'd all disappeared and the two of them were left alone there.

Like the stars need the sky
and the river needs it's rain
like an eagle needs it's wings
and the fire needs it's flames
like the sun needs the day
and the night needs the moon
like the air that I breathe
that's how I...
I dreamed of you (and I)

When he sang the next part he stared at her, unblinking, and leaned towards her so that his head was close to hers.  He kept singing, but there was a deeper message there, deeper than the words that came out of his mouth.

Our love can't be denied, no no
there's nothing I can do, nothing I can say
my heart always knew
that's how I dreamed of you

Finally the song ended and everything came back into focus.  When the lights went out she was still sitting on his lap for a moment.  He found her in the darkness and kissed her, making sure that their microphones weren't around he pulled her ear monitor out and pressed his lips to her ear.  "I love you," was said loudly, the only way that he could get the message across in the noisy room.

Before she knew what was happening he was gone and she was left on stage to finish the show.  It didn't take more than the spotlight being turned back on her to snap her back into gear.  She stared offstage, but her voice spoke to the crowd, this disconnected message that was now rehearsed with her.  She thanked Justin for the song and told the crowd about the next song.

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