JUST WHEN I THOUGHT -- TWO



"What are you putting on your hamburger?" he asked looking at her plate with his mouth scrunched up.  She had thrown some mayo and some relish on the bun next to the well done burger meat, but now was looking over the selection of salad dressings for some reason.  He'd heard of people putting thousand island dressing on their burgers, like McDonalds did, but she was looking at something that looked more like ranch than thousand island.

"I put blue cheese on here," she said with a smile.  "It's really good that way."

"Blue cheese on your burger?" he asked shaking a little as if the mere thought of the dressing on the burger had hit a nerve.  "That's nasty."

"No it's not," she said.  "I need to take you out to eat more often.  You're getting too into your fancy foods.  You need some down home diner cooking."

He shook his head.  He looked like a little kid telling his mom that he didn't want to eat Brussels sprouts.  She could understand that not every person would like blue cheese on their burger, but the way his opinion about the subject was coming across wasn't making her feel better.  "I just can't stand the thought of blue cheese on my burger, hell, blue cheese in general is horrible."

"Awe," she said trying to mask the feeling that was curling up in her stomach.  She didn't like the way this conversation was going.  She knew that when friends were in groups the way that he was in the group with the guys that they would tend to bash on each other a little more than normal.  It was normally a friendly level of teasing that the friends seemed to understand, but to her she didn't like the fact that he was making fun of something that clearly was a part of her.  She liked the way she was unique in her food choices and she didn't think he should be bashing on something that she liked.  "It's my favorite."

"Ewe," he said and shuttered.  He leaned back.  "Don't kiss me then."

She frowned and looked at her plate.  "You really hate it that much?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said peering at her plate again.  He scrunched up his nose.

"Sorry," she said and turned her back a little on him so that he couldn't see her plate or the look that washed over her face.  She knew she shouldn't take a little comment like the way she liked to eat her burgers as something serious, but it did show a lot about how he dealt with his opinions.  If they'd been joking around it would have been one thing, but they hadn't been so she couldn't help but to take it personally.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing," she said and faked a cough.  She blinked her eyes and said, "The smoke from the barbecue got in my eyes and I totally thought I was going to cry there for a minute."

"You're tearing up," he said with a smile and moved to put his plate down.  He grabbed a napkin out of the basket of them sitting near the rest of the condiments and moved to wipe her face off.  "I didn't think it was blue cheese that would make a person cry.  I always thought that was onions."

"Gross," she said, "I hate onions.  I mean they're ok, but I can't stand when we have to cut them up at Pop's.  It's a really good way to get me to get out of the place.  That and hard boiled eggs.  I like eggs, but I can't--"

"Gross.  I can't stand the smell of them cooking."  Lance laughed.  "For a while Chris had this obsession with them and they would try to cook them on the bus in Europe.  I thought I was going to die because it made everything smell like that nasty sulfur smell."

"That's nasty."

Lance laughed for a minute.  "So what else do you like and not like, food wise I mean?" he asked.

"You really want to know what I like to eat?" she asked.

"Yeah," he smiled, "Why wouldn't I?"

"No reason...You just have never asked me about stuff like this before.  Its not something that we've ever really talked about."

"Well maybe I should know these things," he said, "After all, you're my girlfriend and I didn't know that you like the one food that I can't stand, you love to eat.  It's not good that I don't know these things."

"If you had known would you have not dated me?" she asked.

"No," he said and laughed, "I just had a really bad experience with cheese when I was little."  He took her plate from her hands and set it down and  pulled her closer.  "I didn't mean to make fun of you or whatever.  I just had this run in with cheese and it always reminds me of blue cheese."

"What happened?"

"When I was about eight years old I got to stay home for about an hour by myself while my mom took Stacey to her softball practice and I got hungry so instead of waiting for my mom to get home I went in and made myself a sandwich."  He laughed a little.  "I thought I was being a big boy and making my own stuff, but it only came back to haunt me like crazy.  I didn't know at the time that the cheese in the bin in the fridge wasn't blue cheese, but actually white jack that had mold all over it so I ended up eating it and getting so sick that I had to stay home from school.  It's not really one of my finest moments."

She started to laugh and leaned against him.  "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I don't know, probably because I thought I was going to puke on you."  He shuttered.  "Even the smell of that stuff makes my stomach turn."

"Well just tell me about junk like that," she said.


^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^

"Hello my tired little girlfriend."

She smiled at him where he stood in the door of the bathroom.  She'd been in the middle of washing some of the suntan lotion off her face and putting aloe onto the slightly burned skin.  They'd been out most of the afternoon and evening and after so many hours in the sun she was feeling the effects of it.  She wasn't burnt like a lobster, but she was a lot redder than before.

He looked a little nervous as he was leaning against the doorway.  "Mind if I come in and shave?"

"Not at all," she said with a laugh.

"What's the laugh for?" he asked.

"I was just thinking about earlier."  She wiped her face a little more.  "I like hanging out with everyone."

"I'm glad."  Lance moved into the space next to her and grabbed out his razor and shaving cream.  He'd changed into a pair of boxers and a T-shirt and turned on the water in the other sink.  He stuck his hand under the water and wiped it over his chin and cheeks. "The guys are pretty cool."

"It wasn't even that though," she said, "It was--"  She blushed.  "It's stupid."

"No," he said, "I told you about puking up cheese, you have to tell me."

She covered her whole face with the washcloth then sighed.  "This is totally high school to say, but I like the title of girlfriend.  I didn't think I'd ever like the sound of it so much--"

*****

"Emma?"

Her eyes stayed closed as she listened to the stories they were telling.  Jonathan and Steven were roasting marshmallows on the bonfire while the boys drank beers.  It was one of those comfortable situations that happened only every so often where everything seemed to fall into place and everyone was happier than they'd been in years.  It was only natural that she would curl up to Lance's side to listen.  They'd changed into jeans and sweatshirts due to the wind picking up and she was curled against him in a wicker love seat with his one arm around her as his other hand held onto his beer bottle.  "Hmm?"

"Emma honey, let's go back to the room."  He pressed his lips against her temple.  She leaned into the warmth of his skin on her skin and snuggled closer to him as his arm pulled her close.  "You look really tired."

"No."  Her eyes widened.  She moved her arms a little and pushed herself away from Lance to search around for her beer.  She found it sitting on the table next to them, but she hadn't remembered putting it there.  "I'm not done with my beer yet."

A few laughs went around so she leaned her cheek into Lance's shoulder.  "Don't laugh," she said with a grumpy tone finally giving up the search for her beer.  "I worked all week long.  No offense to you guys, but retail work is hard, not like standing around--."  She was grumpy and didn't realize the way her words had come out.  Her eyes blinked a few times and she tried to recover.  "Restaurant life isn't as easy as it looks.  It isn't just eating all the ice cream that I can eat and making burgers."

"They aren't making fun of you honey," he said giving her a strange look.  She hoped that it was because she was tired and not because she had basically just insinuated that they all were spoiled brats and didn't know what work was.  "Although I think I should take you back."

"I'm fine," she said looking around.  It wasn't that late, but the sun and the traveling and the beer had taken it's toll making everyone lean against each other to keep each other sitting up.  "I didn't mean to sound--"

"It's ok girl," Justin said, "You're drunk and sun burnt.  I'd be complaining too, but I can't swear because the rug rats are here."

"I don't want to go yet."

Lance smiled at her.  "Come on you.  It's time to go."

"Why?" she asked.

"You fell asleep and--"

"You were snoring like a big bear over there," Chris said and made a snoring noise.

They all cracked up.

"I was?"  She rubbed her eyes and leaned against him.  "I can't help it."

"Come on," he said and pushed himself up.  He pulled her up into a hug and then looked over at the others.  "I don't know about you guys, but I'm planning to stay in bed a long time tomorrow."

A few snickers filled the air.

"Oh you're just jealous," EJ said with a laugh and hugged and kissed him deeply.  "I may snore, but I make a good--"

"Girlfriend," Lance provided for her, nodding his head towards Jonathan and Steven.

"Yeah," she said, "Definitely.  That was the word I was looking for."

*****

"So I take it that you're having fun?"  he asked as he turned from where he'd been putting the shaving cream on his face.

"Definitely," she said and leaned and kissed Lance's mouth.  Her laugh filled the room as she pulled away finding that her mouth now had a beard and mustache's worth of shaving cream on her face.  She looked at herself in the mirror and laughed.  "Fun doesn't describe the day I've had."

"I'm glad that you're having fun," he said smiling at her.  He kissed her again, just for effect then moved to grab up a wash cloth.  He wet it and handed it to her and he watched her wipe her chin.

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^


"You ready for the lights to be out?" he asked walking into the room.  She'd disappeared from his side somewhere between when he'd lifted the razor to his chin and when he'd finished getting the edge of his mustache.  Seeing her there wrapped in the hotel comforter made him wish that he could have been home in Orlando to be with her that night.  He lowered his voice a little.  "You didn't fall asleep did you?"

"No," she said in a whisper.  Her eyes were closed, but she was still awake with a slight smile on her face.  "I was resting my eyes."

His eyes slid over her face, taking in her lips, her eyelashes and her sun-reddened cheeks.  When his eyes met her chin he saw her neck and saw that she was wearing next to nothing.  His eyes lingered on the bare skin there and he took a deep breath.  He'd seen her in next to nothing that day, considering that she'd been wearing a bathing suit all day, but somehow it was different.  In that setting, her lying on her side in bed, there was something more to her choice of wardrobe, some extra  She'd been wearing a t-shirt and shorts earlier, but she was now wearing, or actually not wearing that much.

He cleared his throat as his thoughts filled his head.  "Sugar?"

"Hmm?" she said and opened her eyes halfway, squinting a little as the light from the lamp on her side of the bed met her eyes.

"What are you wearing?" he asked looking away from the stare she was giving him.  He knew this night was important.  He'd learned in the past, not just with his experience with her, but his experience dating anyone, that the first night back was always the touchy moment.  Either things fell right into place or things were completely tense between them the rest of their time together.  Things had been going well so far that afternoon, but he was still a little worried about that night.  He wanted to make love to her, had thought about it a million times in the last three weeks, but he didn't want to make her think that was the only reason he'd had her visit.

"My nightgown."  She put her hand up to the lavender strap.

He knew he really couldn't hear it, but he imagined the sound of her nails sliding against her skin then wondered for a moment what it would be like to have them sliding over his skin.  Maybe it was the islands or the beers he'd had before or the sweet smell of her, but all three were making it difficult for him to even stand there next to her without being effected by her.

"Don't you like it?  I told you that I went to get new clothes before I came down here and I got conned into going to Victoria's Secret."

His eyebrows raised at that comment and he forced himself to look her in the eyes.  It was a strange topic of conversation and he knew it was important to see her true feelings on the topic.  He wondered if she'd really been conned into the shopping trip or if she'd really wanted to go.  He'd never seen her in anything more than what his sister or mother probably wore to bed so he wondered if she was forcing herself to wear what she was wearing for him.  "Conned?"

"Not really conned.  I knew I--I figured that I needed--"  He loved the way her cheeks turned even brighter pink as she shook her head.  "Kelly made a trip and came over to get me to go with her."

"So you're hanging out with Kelly now?" he asked.

"A few times in the last few weeks we've talked.  No gossiping.  We just bonded."

"Bonded?"  Why did the word bonded make him think of bondage?  He took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling for the moment.  He needed to control this or it could get out of hand.

"Was that eye rolling necessary?"  She moved to sit up a little.  "That's ok, isn't it?"

"I wasn't rolling my eyes."  He moved and sat down next to her on the bed.  "I didn't mean it like that.  I'm just surprised--"  He moved to lay down next to her, but chose to roll onto his stomach to hide himself from her.  He wasn't about to be sitting there trying to look like he was being serious with her when his body clearly had other ideas about what he should be saying and doing in bed with her that night.  "I didn't think that Kelly was the bonding type."

"It's hard for me, ya know?"

"Hard what?" he asked praying to God that he could keep his mind out of the gutter long enough to get through this discussion.  He couldn't help but be thinking about it, lying in bed with her half naked, but he knew he needed to concentrate.

"It's hard to be your girlfriend.  Not that I'm complaining," she said, "Far from it, but it's hard to not be able to talk to someone about this stuff."

The word hard wasn't the one she should have been using with him.  The three times she'd said it, he'd had to close his eyes and had felt his hips press into the mattress more than they had been.  He tried not to be a pervert, but he couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to press his hips against hers that night. try not to think too much about the way having her so close was effecting him.  He began to bounce his shins against the mattress to keep himself occupied.  He would have chewed on his nails or something, but he didn't want to look too nervous in front of her.

"Lance?"  Her hand moved to his arm and she squeezed his upper arm near his shoulder.  "What's wrong?"

"Hmm?" he said and turned and looked at where her hand was touching him.

"What's wrong with you?" she asked, "You're kind of distracted."

His feet bounced more and he turned to find her nightgown was sliding off her shoulder.  He groaned and lay down flatter than he was, curling his arms around his head so that she couldn't see the pained look on his face.

"What's wrong?" she asked and put her hand on his back and scooted closer to him.

"Oh GOD," he groaned.  "Don't touch me."

"What?"  He felt her hand pull away and her voice turned into a shaky pattern.  "What'd I do?  I didn't mean--"

He turned his head and looked at her.  "Shhhiiittt."  He pushed up again and turned a little towards her.  "I didn't mean it that way."  He took a breath.  "Emma."  Her eyes looked like they were in the process of tearing up and the sexy woman next to him was curling up into the body of the little girl that she seemed to become when she wasn't sure of herself.  "Please don't look at me like that.  I didn't want you to touch me because it does something to me that I'm not sure how to handle."

"I'm so stupid.  I knew that this was--"  She drew in a breath of air and moved back from him, rolling over onto her other side moving so that her backside was facing him.  "I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to assume that you and I would be--would be--"

"Emma no," he said.  He turned totally on his side and for a moment paused to look at the evidence of his own arousal.  For a moment his mouth went dry and his teeth stuck to his top lip.  He moved his tongue over his teeth and then scooted so that he was spooning against her back with his chest, but not his hips.  "Emma," he said and moved her hair out of the way.  He placed a kiss against her shoulder.  "I didn't mean that I didn't want you to not touch me."

"But?"

"No," he said and moved his hips against her.  He put his lips against her neck.  "Emma, you're making me insane over here and while I know that I should be the sensitive boyfriend that listen to you talk about how it's hard to be my girlfriend, my dumb ass boy brain over here hears the word hard, the word difficult isn't the definition it thinks of."

She turned in his arms and looked at him.  He backed away a little from him not sure that he could even understand English if she was pressing her body to his like that.  "I should be really mad at you right now."

"I know," he said, "I'm sorry.  Maybe I should sleep--"

"Maybe we need to stop talking," she said and leaned and kissed him.

"You're really not mad?" he asked pulling her closer to him.  He lost his breath when his hips touched hers.

"I should be," she said, "I really should be, but I can't--"  She smiled.  "I missed you and it's kind of nice to know that you missed me."

"Its not just the sex thing either," he said, "That's why I was having such a hard-I mean difficult time just then even talking to you.  I don't want you to think that I brought you down here to just hook up with you.  I mean that's part of it and all, since I am a guy in my twenties and all, but I didn't want to cheapen what we've been through so far."

Her eyes filled with tears and she started to cry, which was the most confusing thing he'd ever seen.  She tried to move closer to him and press her face against his shoulder but he wouldn't let her.  "What'd I do?"  He moved and looked in her eyes.

"You love me," she said with teary eyes.



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