JUST ME Part Six

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[[Sixteen]]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Somehow the heat seemed more intense when EJ met up with the girls in the lobby. They'd planned to go out, but she wasn't sure if she wanted to go now. Seeing Lance a few minutes before had really sent her realing. She didn't know if she should still be mad a him. Somehow her heart wasn't letting her be angry with him.

Maybe it was the look in his eyes that caused her to be that way. She'd seen some look in his eyes that was different than she'd seen before. He looked like he was almost in pain to see her and not to be able to talk to her normally.

It was true that they'd only really known each other for just over a week, but somehow they'd made a connection. They'd been completely relaxed with each other for those first few days and EJ wanted that back. She needed that back. She missed feeling like there was someone else out there who could understand her besides her father.

"What's up with you and Lance?" Dani asked as they loaded into the jeep.

"What do you mean?" EJ asked. She hadn't expected to be in the middle of everything. The other girls knew each other and she just expected to listen to them gossip and add her little comments, but as for being the center of attention it seemed a little too much for her to handle.

"We all know that you guys fought," Kellie said putting on her sunglasses. "So what was it about?"

EJ sighed. "Nothing."

Dani said, "Sure it wasn't."

"Look I don't want to talk about it. I know you all are being so nice and everything, but really. It's nothing. It was stupid and silly and it doesn't matter."

"It does matter," they said in unison, "We know it has something to do with Alayna."

"No offense to her, but if Lance is going to date someone we'd rather it be you than her," Dani said.

"What? You guys don't even know me."

"We know well enough that you're nice to us and you're good for Lance. I mean if you can put up with the crap that happened in the airport when we left Orlando then it should be smooth sailing for the two of you."

"Crap?"

"Yeah, Lance totally abandoned you for a while there and you handled it like a pro. Most girls would get pissed from just that encounter."

A silence fell over the group.

"Alayna was only one thing that caused me to get upset with Lance. It's not his fault really. I just know that I don't belong here and I should have never stepped into something that I didn't know about going into."

"What are you talking about?" Dani asked, "You belong here as much as any of us."

"Lance and I are from two different worlds and we should stay in those different worlds or we're going to really mess up our lives."

"Why mess up?" Dani asked.

"I've been in love with him since the first week he began coming into my father's place and well he's not the guy that I thought he was. I spent a year and a half watching him and I guess it's dumb to feel bad about that, but I just don't want to get any more hurt than I already have."

"Lance wouldn't hurt you intentionally," Bobbie finally spoke up. "He's just timid about relationships right now and you can't blame him, but I think he likes you and you two should be together."

"I don't know," she said.

"He never brings anyone on trips...well his sister and Carrah are the only people but they don't count because well because stacy is his sister and Carrah is like his sister..." Bobbie rambled.

"What she's trying to say is that Lance wouldn't have brought you along on this trip if he didn't really have feelings for you. I know he probably messed up with you last night at the club, but you were hanging out with Nick and I could see how he might take that the wrong way."

"I was only reacting to the fact that Alayna was there. He brought me half way around the world and spent his evening with some other girl...how am I supposed to react to that?"

"He was probably nervous. He and Alayna have been friends for a while and everyone in the club knows that they are friends and dance and stuff. He was probably nervous about showing you off to people who didn't need to see you."

"Didn't need to see me?" she asked.

"There were reporters there last night and I'm sure he wouldn't want to put you into a strange position."

"What?"

"Oh come on," Kellie said, "I can see the look in your eyes and there isn't a doubt in my mind that he feels the same way about you that oyu feel about him...so what's the issue?"

"I don't have an issue."

"Then go get him girl."

Dani slowly put the car into gear to pull out of the hotel driveway, "Just not right now...we have to shop for tomorrow night. We all need new stuff to wear for the concert and the dinner and all that."

"There's a dinner?" she asked.

"Yeah," Dani said, "They're doing the whole reunion thing...it's kinda like a high school reunion thing from what I can tell from the schedule they gave Chris."

"Oh."

"So take the frown down a notch and lets go spend some money."

EJ smiled for the first time that day. "Yeah...shopping does sound good."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lance jolted awake when he felt the stack of papers drop out of his hands. He immediately opened his eyes to find EJ standing over him.

"What's going on?" he asked.

"Sorry," she said softly, "I was going to put these away so you didn't mess them up in the middle of your nap. I'm surprised they haven't blown away in the wind yet."

He looked at her with a little confusion before he realized that he'd fallen asleep out on the porch. "Ugh," he moaned and pushed himself up from where he was asleep on the lounge chair. What time is it?" he asked.

"Not very late, only about two," she said collecting up the papers she hit the edges on the patio table to get them in order then handed the stack back to him.

"Crap," he said and rubbed his eyes with one hand while he got up and put the papers into the briefcase that he'd brought along with him.

Her expression was one of concern. "You should go back to sleep."

"I've got an interview dinner thingy tonight," he said trying to avoid eye contact with her, not knowing what feelings he might find there, "I can't."

"You've got a few hours until that." she said, "you could at least take more of a nap."

"Really," he said, "It's ok." At that moment he yawned. "Excuse me." He yawned again as he asked, "How was your shopping and whatever else you did?"

"It was fun...Can't you call in sick or something?" she asked moving to sit where he'd been sitting before.

Lance laughed, "If it were only that simple. I wish it was that way, but it's not that easy. It's not just me involved in this and as much as I would love to stay in bed tonight I have to go."

"What time is your dinner thing?" she asked. It wasn't that she was being nosy, she just seemed to be concerned about him and he found that odd. How could she be mad at him and still be concerned for him.

"Around six or something," he said.

"You've got at least an hour or two that you can spend asleep," she said, "It doesn't take you three hours to get ready for dinner." She walked over to him and began to pull him into the room.

"I can't EJ," he said pulling away, "Why do you care anyway? I thought you were pissed at me."

"I was," she said, "But look at you, you're half asleep standing here. You barely sleep and I'm worried about you." She walked over and put a hand to the side of his face. "You aren't getting sick are you?"

"You're worried about me?" he asked, "There was some mention of a yo-yo game being played and I think that I'm the one on the receiving end this time...what's going on?"

Lance went into the room and flopped down on the bed and rolled over onto his back so that he could see her as she came into the room a moment after him.

"I want to apoligize for that." SHe seemed to be a little nervous about her words, but she still spoke to him with an honesty that he hadn't seen in a while from someone.

"I think that last night was a little out of hand and I apoligize."

Lance's eyes went wide with shock. He wasn't at all ready for that remark. "Really?"

"I talked to the girls--"

"Oh no," he groaned. "What the hell did they tell you?"

"Dani and Bobbie and Kellie all told me about Alayna and why you hung out with her last night," she said.

Lance backed away and prayed that the girls hadn't made up something too horrible that he couldn't explain his way out of.

"They said that there reporters there last night and that you didn't want to be seen with me--"

"I didn't mean to be that way--"

"No," she said, "They explained and believe me...if I'd known last night about the reason I would have just played with Nick for the night then met up with you again later."

"Really?" He said. He would have thought that the girls wouldn't have been trying to help him. He'd been a real jerk about girls for the last few months and had been really rude to the other girlfriends when they'd tried to set him up. He wondered why they were helping him out now.

"Yeah," she said, "I was really bitchy when I had no right to be."

"What?"

"Should I talk slower or something?" She asked, "You seem confused."

"I am," he said, "I thought you'd be mad at me for--"

"I was mad, but I realized that we aren't really a couple and I shouldn't expect to have the rights and privilages of one...I got a free trip to Hawaii and I need to start thanking you for that."

"What?"

"Can we please start over?"

"Start over?"

"Yeah...start over from where we were the other day before you had to go to that interview."

Lance scratched his head and stared at her. "Yeah," he said, "I guess. I mean if you want to."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[[Seventeen]]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"You have stuff to do tonight right?" she asked when he just stared at her. She kinda liked the look on his face, but at the same time it made her a little more uncomfortable now. She was in control now, at least for the moment and that sense of power made her nervous.

He nodded that he did have things to do.

"Want to meet back here and watch a movie together tonight. I think everyone is going to go out tonight, but I was thinking--"

"Yeah," he said quickly.

"Good," she said, "I think I saw a Blockbuster Video down the street. The girls and I are going to go back out for ice cream in a little while since you all are doing pictures or whatever. I'll pick up a movie while I'm gone."

"I think we can get someone to go out for us," he said.

EJ knew full well that all he had to do was pick up the phone and it would be done, but she thought that he'd already done enough for her. The trip had been expensive and she'd already given the whole crew a bit of drama about the night before. Tonight she just wanted something simple, something cozy, something away from the clubs and away from the possibility that he might see Alayna. "It's ok," she said, "I'm going out anyway. Do you have any favorites?"

"Cl-clue," he stuttered out and smiled at her.

"Ok," she said and started to back away from him, "I'll try and get that and if not I'll pick something that isn't too girlie."

"Ok," he said.

"Come and find me in my room when you get back." She noticed the way he watched her leave the room. She'd wanted it that way. She'd been working up her nerve all day trying to get up enough courage to say what she'd just said and was definitely pleased at the reaction.

When she got back to her room Dani was waiting just inside the door looking like she was about to die with anticipation. "How'd it go?" she asked immediately.

"Good," EJ said with a nervous smile. "I've got to get my hands on a copy of Clue, but other than that he agreed to stay in tonight with me."

"Bonus Points for the movie idea. I thought that dinner would be great, but you're a genius." Dani moved around EJ's room putting things away. The beds were made and everything was set into place. She looked around the room. "When he comes over just have the lamp on..." She checked to see that it was working then turned it off. "What are you going to wear?"

EJ made a face at her wondering if it had been a good idea to ask for advice about getting her and Lance together. Throughout their trip they'd worn her down and now it seemed as if everyone was going to push them together even if she didn't want them to get together.

"It's a date to watch a movie," EJ sighed. "I didn't know that there was a dress code for that kind of a thing."

"Look," Dani said. She walked over and put her hands on each of her cheeks and looked her in the eyes. "I know that you two are in love, but sometimes lighting and the outfit really make it a lot easier on you."

"Easier on me?" She asked, "I don't want to look like a slut."

"No, no, no," she said, "It's just a little planning to help the evening along. Nothing more than that."

"Fine," EJ sighed, "What should I wear?"

"Well if you figure that you two will probably sit on the bed since the TV is in front of it...something comfortable and--" Dani laughed a turned a little red, "And god help me for suggesting this, but you should get something that can be taken off easily--just in case. What kind of pajamas do you have?"

EJ went over to her bag and pulled out the outfit she'd chosen to bring with her. She had known that there would be a possibility that she would sleep in the same place as Lance and had wanted to look cute, but she didn't want to end up looking like she'd planned on sleeping with him.

The outfit that had caught her eye at the store when she'd gone shopping had been a tank top and shorts, a little dressier than her normal sweats and a T-shirt, but nothing that looked too outrageous. In the heat of Hawaii she was glad for the thin cottony outfit.

"Good," Dani said looking at them. "When you wear them roll down the waistband twice...just so they're a little shorter than normal and so that your tummy will show off." She turned and looked around the room for a moment then went over and found the remote to the television and made sure that the VCR in the room was working. "Oh, and no bra...I don't know if you sleep in one or not, but believe me...things will go smoother if you don't have one on...besides...it'll tease a little."

EJ looked a little shocked for a moment. "Are you sure?"

"I landed the stud of the year--ok well not the stud of the year, but the man that I'm going to marry one day...I used this strategy and believe me it worked...not that I think it really needs to be done. Have you seen the way the guy stares at you?"

"He stares at me?" EJ asked nervously. She had hoped that he would act like that with her, but after the whole thing the night before she wasn't sure if he still had the same feelings he'd had for her when they'd been in Orlando.

"Yeah," Dani rambled on, "He stared at you today earlier and I swear his whole face turned red...which can only mean one thing."

"What's that?" EJ asked a little confused by the conversation.

"It means that he was picturing you naked..." Dani giggled, "Or maybe he already did that and was remembering what he saw a while ago in whatever day dream he'd had. I know that the guy seems like a church boy, but he's in his twenties and I'm sure that he's got the same thing on his mind as every other twenty something guy I know."

"Are you serious?" EJ laughed as she lay her pajamas on the bed. She ran her hands through her hair and looked around the room. "I don't think so. I'm not the type of girl who gets fantasized about."

"Sure, sure," Dani said then stopped and stared at her.

"What?" she asked.

"What are you going to do with your hair?" she asked.

"You're making this more complicated than it is."

"No I'm not," she said, "We just have to think of something cute to do with it without making it look like you spent time on it."

"What about if I just throw it up in a clip," EJ suggested. "I usually throw it up at night anyway...besides--" she held her hair off her neck, "Isn't it good to show off your neck? I thought I heard that somewhere."

"Good girl," Dani said with a laugh, "You have been paying attention. We'll turn you into a girl yet."

"I am a girl," EJ protested.

"Yeah, but you're not a girlie girl. We need to get you to flirt a little more and show off a little more."

"If you say so."

"I do," Dani said.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lance had taken a shower and was now fully awake from his earlier nap, but now had started to day dream about the scene that might take place that night. He wasn't expecting anything other than a night alone with EJ, but the possibility of something more happening was good. If he played his cards right he might be able to patch up some of the damage that had been done the night before.

"So Lance," the interviewer said breaking into his thoughts and strangely enough the next question that he got seemed to read what was on his mind. "Got any girls--excuse me--women in your life?"

The question was just another in a string of the normal questioning that came his way. The interviewer had all the guys on speaker phone and was broadcasting the interview to people away from the hotel. Lance had forgotten the details of the whole thing, but he knew that his answer would be important.

"Yes," he said with a smirk. He could see the immediate shock on his band mate's faces, but it was the rest of the people in the room that gave him more of a laugh. He loved the way that everyone in the room seemed to turn and stare at him. He was about to catch them at their own game. They always wanted to get gossip on him...so now was his chance to make fools of them. It would probably end up on the Internet as him having a girlfriend, which he didn't really mind, but at the same time he knew it would eventually come out in public that he liked EJ--that was if he got to get back on EJ's good side.

"You do have a woman in your life?" He reporter asked repeating herself as if she'd misheard him the first time. She was definitely caught off guard and he was sure that she didn't know how to respond to the answer.

"Yes," he said. He paused for effect. "I have my mom, my sister, my aunt, my grandmother--" He could see that he'd made his point clear to all of them. "Should I go on?"

"No," the reporter said ducking her head.

Lance nodded and settled back in his chair and waited for the interview to be over with. Joey hit his leg and gave him a smile that showed his admiration for his joke. It wasn't often that the guys got to play jokes in public. They'd done a million practical jokes on each other and the crew, but this little joke was the first one that would be seen by the public. It was a small one for sure, but it was Lance's first exploration into the wide world of pushing back when the media pushed him.

There would be a quick photo shoot with the other people who'd shown up for the reunion then he would be set free for the evening.

He noticed how everyone immediately had made plans to go out partying with their last night off before they got up early the next day to rehearse and hadn't been shy about telling everyone that he was staying in for the night. In front of the interviewer his excuse had been due to the amount of paperwork that he had to do with FreeLance, but once, during a moment by themselves, Lance had told them that he and EJ were going to hang out.

Strangely enough everyone seemed to just nod and smile at him a little wider than normal. He knew something was up with them, but hadn't gotten a chance to see what it was since the reporter returned too quickly.

"Thank you gentlemen," the interviewer said and finally left the guys alone.

"You all should get stuff together and get down to the ball room. The photographer is going to be down there in fifteen minutes," Melinda immediately instructed. She stopped and looked at Justin, "Britney will meet you down there. I know that you two are the happy couple and all, but try to have some pictures taken without you two being next to each other. As much as I love to see you all together--" She stopped and made a fake gagging noise, "I don't think everyone shares my opinion...mix it up."

"No problem," Justin said then made a face when Melinda turned and explained more to the guys.

Lance secretly hoped that one day...and this was the corniest thing he'd ever thought...but he wished that he could one day have that warning thrown his way. With him it had never been an issue, but he almost wished that it would soon become an issue like that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[[Eighteen]]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The hard knocking sound at the door sent an adrenaline rush through her body making her almost drop the brush that she was running through her hair. She'd been calm most of the evening after she and Dani had come back from Blockbuster, but now it seemed as if all those calm moments were being wasted. She stepped cautiously out of the bathroom where she'd still been trying to figure out what to do with her hair and headed toward the door where the knock came from.

When she pulled it open she expected Lance to be there but instead she found Bobbie standing there with Britney, Kelly, and Dani. They were all dressed up to go out wearing outfits like the ones that she’d seen them in the other night and EJ felt a little out of place standing there in her pajamas.

Her hands immediately flew to her hair to make sure that the way she had it wasn’t messy.

"Here," they said in unison and Britney handed over a brand new bottle of vanilla scented body lotion from Victoria's Secret.

EJ took the bottle and opened it up to smell it. It was nice smelling, but she could tell it would be pretty strong if you used it every day.

"Don't use too much," Dani said, "Just a little all over."

"That outfit is so cute," Kelly commented.

"It's just my pajamas. I don't really think I look as good as you guys…I mean wow…don't you have too much fun out at the clubs ok?"

They all laughed. "Good luck," Bobbie said with a smile and everyone nodded in agreement with her well wishes.

"Thanks guys," EJ said with a sigh. She all of a sudden felt girly. They'd chosen the right lighting, the right clothes, and the right smells to make the night memorable. She just hoped it worked.

"No problem," Dani said.

The ding of the elevator could be heard down the hall. "He's coming guys lets get out of here," Britney said and the girls walked down the hall towards Lance was coming off the elevator. All the other guys were on the floor above so they all stopped and talked with Lance for a minute.

EJ heard him comment on how nice they looked and how they would have fun and they all seemed to tease him one way or another playfully about how he was staying in that night.

"Well," he said, "I've got a date tonight as I'm sure you know and well I went out last night and I think I need a little rest."

There was some obviously sexual comment made by one of the girls because soon Lance was laughing. "Not every guy has only that on their mind," he said.

"Tell that to our men the next time you see them then," Britney said with a laugh.

Not wanting to look anxious EJ thought she should go back into her room. If not it looked like she was anxiously waiting for him to come back. She was shutting the door when his hand stopped her. "You aren't already going to sleep are you?" Lance asked. He looked at his watch. "It’s only eight."

She pulled the door open and smiled at him, "No."

"Because if you want to postpone this until tomorrow we can do that," he said.

"No," she said.

"Well you're already in your pajamas," he said, "Are you sure?"

"Are you trying to back out?" she asked, "If you really want to go out with everyone tonight you should."

"Not at all. I just wanted to make sure that you still wanted to do this."

"Yeah I do," she said, "I only had my pajamas on because I usually fall asleep when I watch movies and I don't want to have to get up and change."

Lance nodded, "Let me go take a shower real quick and I'll come over."

"Sounds good to me." She leaned against the door and smiled at him the way that Dani had told her to do. They’d been laughing earlier about her flirting skills and Dani had given her some tips a few little things that would bring attention to the right places. She tucked her hand into the waistband of her shorts and watched how his eyes moved to where her hand had moved. "I'll leave the connecting door unlocked so just come on in when you're done."

"It’ll be about fifteen twenty minutes?" He said.

She nodded. "I’ll be here."

EJ made herself not watch him walk next door and she willed her ears not to hear him in his room, but there was no stopping the sound of his shower starting from coming through the walls. She normally wasn't someone who would fantasize about someone else, but she couldn't help but to find herself listening to the sound of him bathing and trying to picture herself in there with him.

"Calm down," she mumbled and tried to keep her mind on something else. She went out on the balcony for a moment and tried to watch the surf but the cool wind wasn't making things easier on her. It just reminded her of how thin her clothes were and how overt she'd been about dressing a certain way just to get his attention.

She felt kind of slutty normally being the one in the group to try to win over a man with personality instead of physicality, but at the same moment she wanted to give their relationship a good kick in the pants. She trusted Dani's advice and Bobbie's tips and knew that Kelly knew all the guys better than any of them. Now all she needed to do was to have a little confidence when she spent time with Lance.

She knew that tonight would determine how things were going to go for them. Either they would get along great or she would never hear from him again after they got back to the mainland.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lance knocked lightly before he pushed the door open that would lead to the other room. He found EJ with all the lights off except the lamp by the bed lying on her side in bed already under the covers, which made him look at his watch. He'd known that he'd taken a long time to get ready, but he hadn't thought that it had been long enough for her to get tired and fall asleep on him.

"EJ?" he said softly as he came in the room. If she was really asleep he'd just leave her alone and go back to his own room. He watched her for a moment; bare arm curled up so that she was clutching the covers up towards her face. She looked like a little kid, but as he rounded the bed to go and talk to her he was reminded again why he liked her.

In the position she was in her tank top was handing at such and angle that most of her chest was exposed. He stared at her sun-reddened flesh and

"Hmmm?" she moaned and rolled over and looked at him.

"I didn't wake you up did I?" he asked.

"No," she said.

"I'm sorry it took me so long," he smiled at the way she was rubbing her eyes tiredly trying to look more awake than she was.

She pushed herself up into a sitting position then pointed to the television, "Push in the movie."

Lance nodded and went and put the movie into the VCR then stood and watched it a moment to make sure it was going to play after he pushed the button.

"Come here," she said.

Lance moved over to the bed and nervously sat down next to her leaning back against the headboard.

She threw her pillow across his lap with a laugh. "Get comfortable."

Lance put the other pillow behind him and looked at her, "Aren't you--"

Before he could get out a full sentence EJ scooted over and cuddled up to him. She first moved his arm so that it was around her as she pressed her cheek to his chest right where his heart was beating. Her arm curled around him and he stopped for a moment and crawled under the covers with her then pulled the covers up around both of them before he set his mind to watching the movie.

"You got Clue?" he said when the opening music started to play.

She pulled her head up from where it was resting and looked at him. "That's what you wanted wasn't it?"

"Truthfully I wouldn't have cared either way. I just wanted to hang out with you tonight."

"Good," she said sleepily and hugged him. "I wanted to hang out with you."

They watched the movie for a while, laughing at the parts that needed to be laughed at but soon Lance found himself completely distracted from the movie watching experience. EJ had curled herself more around him, throwing a leg over his and he couldn't help but to feel most of her body through the thinness of her pajamas.

Finally he decided he needed a break and he said, "Wanna let me up for a minute?"

She looked up at him and looked almost hurt since they had been sitting there so comfortably, him rubbing her back and her hugged to him.

"I'm not leaving," he said with a smile and leaned down to kiss her mouth quickly, "I just have to use the bathroom."

"Oh," she said and moved away from him. She looked at the television. "Want me to pause it?"

"No." He moved off the bed and walked around towards the bathroom. "I've seen this thing a million times. I'll be right back."

He watched her snuggle up to the pillows and close her eyes. "Ok."

Lance wasn't one for hiding out in the bathroom, but he knew that if he didn't get away from her for a minute or two things were going to get out of control. When he was done using the restroom he washed his hands, threw some cold water on his face and wiped his hands and face and returned to the bedroom.

The lights were out when he returned to the bedroom and only the television lit up the area. He let his eyes adjust for a moment until he found EJ still lying on the bed.

"You didn't fall asleep on me did you?" he asked with a little laugh.

"Nope," she said softly and sat up a little to look at him.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEXT

EMAIL ME

(c) 2002 Pit Pat Productions