"Lance you have to watch them."
"Are you kidding me?" he said lookin up from where he'd plopped down onto the couch. He'd been home for only five hours and had planned to sleep the afternoon away once he got done reading the latest copy of PEOPLE that had an article about FreeLance entertainment that mentioned Farzana on it.
His mother leaned over the back of the couch and pushed the magazine away from his face. "Honey, your aunt and I haven't seen each other in months and we want to go to dinner."
"But mom," he whined.
"Don't whine at me sweetie," she said, "I know that you're a big star and all the people usually are taking care of you, but your aunt and I want to go out to lunch and to go shopping. You can spend one afternoon with your cousins for us. We're taking them to Disney tomorrow so you can sleep all day tomorrow."
"I hope you realize that I haven't slept in three days," he said.
"Yeah right honey. I know you haven't slept a lot this week, but give me a break. You slept on the flight here. I asked Melinda to make sure that you did."
"I don't know how to take care of little kids," he said as an objection, "Can't dad do it?"
"Don't give me that James Lance Bass, MR. CEO, Mr. Hollywood," his mother scolded, "You used to babysit all the time. You need to take care of Mia and Franky for two hours. It's not a torture to be with them."
He looked up again from his magazine. "Can I hire a babysitter?"
She swatted at him with her hand. "Don't you dare."
His aunt walked into the room holding onto the hand of his five year old cousin Frank and carrying little three year old Mia. "Are you ready Diane?"
"Almost," Diane said and grabbed up her purse from the kitchen counter.
"Thank you again for watching them Lance," His aunt said with a smile, moving Franklin so that he could sit down on the couch then handed over Mia, plopping her into his lap.
"Do I have to?" he asked. He normally didn't mind kids, but after seeing so many while on tour he actually had wanted a day to sit home alone and do nothing. That wasn't going to happen. "I'm only in Orlando a few days a month and I had stuff to do today."
"It looks like your cousin Lance needs a nap," his aunt said to his cousins. The chubby cheeks of Franklin turned pink of course as he laughed at this and Mia reached back up to her mother.
His aunt looked around the room as if she was forgetting something. "I put Mia's carseat into your SUV and Franky is old enough to buckle up so you shouldn't have any trouble with them if you decide to go out."
The two women left a moment later, practically running out of the house before he could protest again.
Lance threw his magazine onto the coffee table and curled an arm around his little cousin. "So what do you guys want to do today?" he asked. He didn't have any kids movies and wondered for a moment if he should take them over to Joey's house to see if Kelly had any movies, or maybe he could swing by Steve's and see if any of their kids' movies could be borrowed for a few hours.
"Cousin Lance can we go get McDonald's?" Franklin asked.
"I guess so," he said looking at his watch. It was a little early for lunch, but if he did a few errands on the way he could manage to swing by McDonald's. "You have to come with me to some places first."
"Can we see Johnny's house?" Franklin asked, "I wanna do bowling."
"You want to go to Johnny's?" Lance said then looked around for a moment trying to think if it would be ok for him to stop by. He didn't remember if anyone was going to be recording so he smiled at his little cousin.
It only took three tries to get Mia in her car seat and get Franklin to buckle up. Once he had them in the car he remembered that he left the bag with Mia's stuff in the car so he had to run back inside. Once finally on the road turned on the radio to radio disney, adjusted the vents of the air conditioning towards the kids then drove the fifteen minutes to Johnny's to unloaded them.
"Franklin, you know the rules, right?" he asked as he grabbed out Mia, who came willingly into his arms. She looked a little tired and he figured if he loaded them back in the car she might fall asleep.
Franklin motioned like he was counting the rules off on his fingers. "No being loud and no going to the water."
"That's right," he said and adjusted Mia on his hip as he pointed towards the downstairs door that would lead them into the studio. "Go on, you can even knock if you want to."
Franklin got shy at the door so Lance was the one who knocked on the glass door as he entered and called out. "Anyone home?" He knew that someone had to be there, cars lined the driveway, but there was no telling who was actually around.
"Who's there?" a voice called from the open second floor that overlooked the main living room.
"It's Lance," he said and pointed towards the spiral staircase that led to the second floor and watched as Franklin moved up the staircase carefully.
When he got halfway up to the second floor he looked over and noticed her standing there watching them. "Serena?" he asked, "What are you doing here?"
"I had a meeting with the accountant this morning about my contract and I'm waiting for Chris to get back with lunch so we can go over some new designs."
"Oh." He moved Mia a little on his hip.
"Who are you?" Franklin asked Serena when he got to the top step.
"Franklin, you know better than that, be polite."
"I'm Franklin," he said holding out his hand. He seemed to forget something so he looked back over at Lance. "That's my sister Mia. Who are you?"
Lance smiled at his cousin then looked at Serena. She was staring at him with this certain smile on her face. It was the same look he'd seen on her face when he'd seen her with that contest winner. She looked intrigued, a bit confused, and somewhat joyful at the prospect of being able to interact with a little kid.
"I'm Serena Radcliffe," she said. She shook his hand with a grin on her face, "Who do you belong to?"
"My mommy is Lance's mommy's sister," Franklin recited with a huge sigh as if he had to tell the story a million times a day. Lance would have laughed outloud at the comment, but he contained the amusement he found in the fact that Franklin looked and acted like Justin did after a long day of interviews. "Guess what that means?"
"What's that?" she asked and he watched her face brighten as if she was getting ready for a huge surprise to be revealed to her. She wore casual clothes again that day, but this time she had on shorts. Normally on the road everyone wore jeans and saved shorts for running around the hotel pools, but today she was dressed in jean shorts and a t-shirt that said Kiss The Cook, with her hair thrown up into a pony tail and a sweatshirt tied around her waiste, even though it was probably ninety degrees out.
"That means I'm he's my cousin," Franklin said then stopped, "And Mia's too."
Serena had leaned down a little to listen to him, but stood up and looked over at Lance when she heard his news. "Wow, I'm jealous. I wish I had a cousin as cool as Lance's cousin."
Franklin didn't seem to care about the comment. He immedately looked around then said, "Can we play bowling?"
Lance was about to answer when he saw Serena nodded her head, "I think that Johnny is in a meeting. We should play a quiet game."
Lance almost swore aloud. He knew that he should have brought some of their toys with them, but he'd forgotten. He'd barely remembered the diaper bag just in case Mia needed a change of her little pull-ups things that his mother had told him a while ago that she'd gotten into wearing.
"Why don't I find some crayons and we'll color," She suggested quickly as Franklin looked around.
"You know how to color?" Franklin asked. It seemed as if he'd never heard of someone his age actually doing that. Lance had to admit that coloring wasn't something that was high on his priorities list, but he figured that at least some adult around Frankling must have colored in front of him. It was impossible to think that someone hadn't done that.
"Actually it's part of my job." Serena moved away from them and Lance finally noticed a backpack, a bag, and her art supplies sitting on the couch. "I'm the one that draws the pictures so that Chris can make them into clothes."
"Really?" Franklin asked with wide eyes, "They have a job where you can color all the time?"
Serena smiled and looked at Lance again. He didn't know what she was smiling about, but he liked the twinkle in her eyes. the last few days on tour before this whole three day weekend had been rough on all of them and for a while he'd thought she'd probably quit. She'd been moody with Chris about some of her designs and had even snapped at a few people tiredly. "Yep."
Mia wiggled a little in his arms as Serena went over and grabbed out her toolbox of pencils and grabbed a piece of paper.
Moments later she'd magically set up both kids with a huge box of crayons and paper and was sitting next to them sketching on her own pad of paper. Lance felt idiotic for a moment standing there watching them.
"Are you going to stand there all day or are you going to color with us?" she asked.
"Ummm," he stammered out, "Yeah."
Lance joined them on the floor and began to color. "So what else do you have in your little magic box?" he asked, "I didn't think that crayons were a professional tool of the trade."
"You have a magic box?" Franklin asked looking up from a picture that Lance took to be a dragon, or a green dog sitting on a box if you looked at it the right way .
"What is that?" he asked.
"Don't you see?" Serena said pointing.
"Obviously not," he stated.
"It's Oscar the Grouch," Serena and Franklin said in unison as if somehow they had ESP.
He'd grabbed the crayon so tightly in his hand that it had almost broken in half. He knew that wasn't probably the way that Serena intended for her crayons to be used, but she didn't seem to mention anything about it. "See Lance," she said pointing, "That's the trash can."
"I need to color more," Lance said.
"So do you really have a magic box?" Franklin asked again.
"No," she said, "I just keep a lot of things in here so Lance seems to think that I'm like Mary Poppins and her magic bag."
"You don't have a big mirror in there do you?" Franklin eyed the box.
"No," Serena laughed.
Lance was completely lost with that comment. He was sure that it was probably a reference to the movie, but the last time he remembered watching that movie had been when he was Franklin's age.
" And to answer your question," she said looking at Lance, "Crayon's actually have a great texture to them and the whole rainbow colors things helps when you need to mix colors for samples. Also if you melt them you can make the craziest--"
"Ok, enough with the crayon lecture," he said, "I get the point. Crayons: Don't Leave Home Without Them."
Serena smiled and went back to her picture. He couldn't see what she was drawing from where she was sitting again the couch, with her pad against her knees, but he imagined it was probably the kids considering that she was glancing at them every so often.
"So what are you trying to say?"
"I want it all," she said with a smile.
"It's good to want things," Bobbee said with a smile.
"You know what I mean...I want kids," she said, "They're too cute. I played with Lance's little cousins the other day and it was so much fun."
"You're nuts Serena," Bobbee said rolling her eyes, "You know how much trouble they are? Sure its fun to baby-sit Joey and Steve's kids, but at least you get to give them back at the end of the day. I love kids, don't get me wrong, but the idea of having them twenty four hours a day seems like a drag. At my age I can barely take care of myself and keeping track of a little kid seems like it would be worse that trying to keep track of Josh."
"That's just because your boyfriend lives in three different states and is never in the same place for more than forty eight four hours at a time," Serena said as she grabbed up another box of merchandise out of the truck to bring to the tent. "I'm talking about settling down with a kid and living a normal life...you know? 3 bedroom house, two car garage type of normal...not this."
"Oh please," Bobbee said rolling her eyes, "Don't make me start singing that song from that commercial...that whole Our House song."
"Whatever. Why do you find this so crazy for me to want a kid?"
"There are a lot of reasons, but the first is the fact that you have a job that is amazing and if you had a kid you wouldn't be able to travel. I mean for me, traveling is the best part of being with Josh--" she paused or a moment, "I mean other than being with him of course...oh you know what I mean. Traveling is a perk."
"Yeah well you're a little younger than me. I'm not sure you're at the point where I am."
"I'm only two years younger than you and I don't understand who in their right mind would want to settle down at such a young age. I mean Josh and I have been together for a long time, but I don't see us getting married until at least I'm thirty or so."
"Yeah well you know what?" Serena said, "I've been a bridesmaid for six weddings in the last two years and I'm finding that old saying to be true...always a bridesmaid, never a bride."
"Who's not getting married?" Lance asked coming up to them. He had a bag in his hands and was swinging it a little as he walked. She hadn't seen him since the day before when she'd been searching for Chris to approve some of her designs so she could FedEx them out to the California office. "Bobbee, they aren't starting rumors about you and J again are they?"
"No," Bobbee said, "Serena was explaining that she thinks that she's never going to be married because she's been a bridesmaid too many times."
"Oh yeah?" Lance asked, "Like that saying."
"See," Serena stated angrily.
At first her anger came from the fact that Bobbee was even having this discussion with Lance. It didn't seem like the right topic to be discussing with him or any other person of the male persuasion. Secondly she was upset because he seemed to totally understand the situation. Most people would like the sympathy, but coming from Lance it seemed like pity almost. Most of her anger probably stemmed from the fact that they'd been making fun of her for being so single in the last few days. She'd mentioned to someone in a conversation that she'd forgotten how to date because it had been so long and that now had become the joke for all of them.
"Even he knows it."
"Calm down," Lance said, "I brought you a present that should cheer you up."
"Present?" Bobbee said with tone that made Serena want to run away. It was one of those "there is probably more behind this present than meets the eye" messages. "You didn't hire her an escort?"
Lance paused for a moment and looked at Serena as if he was about to say yes then took a breath and nodded no.
Lance handed over the bag and Serena held it up a little. "What's this?"
"Just open it," he said.
Serena peered inside and felt tears come to her eyes when she realized what was inside. She pulled out a huge sixty-four pack of crayons and a coloring book and video tape which of course seemed perfectly logical to everyone except Bobbee.
"Mary Poppins," she said with a smile, as she looked the video over then put it back into the bag. She looked at the coloring book and smiled, "Oh Lance, this is great. I didn't think that they made Sesame Street ones anymore."
Lance looked way too proud of himself over that gift. "You just have to have some connections."
"Yeah," Bobbee said, "Hollywood over there probably called up Jim Hensen himself."
"Jim Hensen is dead," Serena and Lance found themselves saying in unison.
Serena caught the strange look that Lance gave her. She'd been noticing a lot lately that Lance seemed to be interested in her or at least she thought that he was interested considering that he was spending time actually paying attention to her, unlike the other ninety or so men on tour. It made her horribly uncomfortable for that to happen. She liked the attention, but at the same time she wasn't sure that she would be able to handle any kind of a relationship more than the friendship level with anyone right then. Her life was too hectic at the moment and that was also a reason for her frustration over the whole kid thing. She wanted one, but sometimes wanting something to happen or for someone to be there wasn't enough.
Soon Bobbee moved away from them and Serena looked at him and thanked him again with a hug, "Really this is a great gift. I hope you didn't have to send anyone out or anything to get this stuff."
"No," he said, "I got it before we came back out here, but I kept forgetting to get it to you. I just hope those crayons didn't melt together on you. I was trying to replace the ones that Franklin used. They looked a little battered after our coloring session."
"I think USED is the word," she said and looked at her things once more before putting them back into the bag, "Thanks a lot for thinking of this stuff." She stuck the bag onto the seat of the golf cart and sighed a little.
"Someone bugging you?" he asked, "You've seemed kind of stressed out."
"No one is bugging me," she said, "I got yet another invitation to a wedding and well it kinda bugged me out--" She stopped talking and looked at him wondering if she should be talking to him about it. "You probably don't want to hear about this stuff."
Lance shrugged and smiled at her a moment before speaking. "Well if you need to talk come and find me. I'm usually pretty busy, but this sounds important."
"Yeah well don't lose sleep over it or whatever. I know that you have tons more to stress over than me and my idiot problems."
"Lance are you ever going to get to Sound Check on time?" someone yelled to him. Serena recognized the voice as being someone from security, but she couldn't tell who because all of those huge football-player-looking guys had the same deep booming voices.
"Just a second," he yelled back to them.
"Anyway you should go and I have this stuff to get over to the booth."
She started to move away from him, but he reached for her arm and gave her a serious look. "They aren't idiot," he tightened his grip on her arm for a moment as if to keep her attention on him and away from the boxes she still needed to pack, "I'll listen if you need me to."
As he started to walk away she yelled to him. "Thanks!"
He waved back at her without turning to look at her and disappeared around the corner and as he did she had the craziest thought come to her head. If she and Lance were to ever have kids, they would be completely the cutest kids in the world.
Weaving her way through to the back part of the arena Serena held her breath in anticipation of what was about to happen to her. She didn't have clue what the meeting was to be about and of course Lance hadn't offered up any information. It was just like him to not give him all the news of what was going on. He'd done that when all the guys had ambushed her in her first week of working to spray her with silly string and shaving cream.
All she knew was that she was supposed to meet him by the green room, like he'd told her earlier that day. She prayed that she wasn't going to get creamed with something gross.
"Hey…Can you meet with me today?" he asked as he passed by her in the hallway. He was flanked by two guards and the SFX Promotions assistant who was carrying some paperwork for him, looking at it as if he was reciting the memos to him aloud.
She was in the middle of stuffing a cold Egg McMuffin in her mouth when he passed and she had to chew quickly and swallow even quicker to answer him. "Why is it always that everyone around her never says hello then wants to add themselves to my schedule?"
"You're in demand girl," he said, "What can I say?"
She stood there with her arms crossed.
"Hello Serena, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, as the case may be," he said then made a face, "Can you meet with me or not?"
She smiled at his silliness and folded up the bag that her meal had been sitting in for the last two hours. "What time?"
"That's more like it," he said. He turned and looked at the promotions assistant, "What time do I have free Marcus?"
Marcus almost snapped to attention like a little solider. "Tonight around seven. You're supposed to get dinner, but you can eat before then if you grab something to go."
"Sounds great," Lance groaned then turned back to Serena, "How about seven?"
"Where?" she asked.
"Backstage," he said, "Meet me outside the green room door."
"What's this meeting about?" she asked.
Before he could answer a golf cart came screaming towards him with Chris driving and he'd had to run for his life.
Lance had been given her ideas for his new artist, but had yet to give her the go-ahead to design the outfits that had been shown on her presentation. She was getting a little bored designing the more sports related clothes for FuMan and wanted to try her hand again and making some dress designs for Farzana.
Designing wasn't at all the subject of conversation when she got to the green room. Once let inside she realized that she'd been set up...literally. She walked into a blind date and Lance was the mastermind in the whole deal.
"Serena," he said, "This is Billy Davids."
She smiled at the guy. He smiled back then stuck out his hand, "It's nice to finally meet you Serena. I've heard a lot about you."
"It's nice to meet you," she said quickly then turned her attention to Lance hoping that her feeling had been wrong and he'd clue her into what was going on.
"Billy is taking you to the concert tonight," Lance explained.
Her stomach dropped. "Excuse me?" she asked.
Billy interupted as if he knew she might lash out at Lance if he didn't break up the death stare that Serena was giving him. "I know this is last minute but he said that I should take you to eat dinner and to the show tonight."
Serena looked at her watch, "You guys go on in like a half hour."
"No," Lance explained, "The show starts in a half hour, but we won't go on until for another hour and a half, you know that. Which means you guys will have enough time to go to hospitality and get dinner before you have to get out to your seats."
"Seats?" she asked knowing that usually she didn't watch the show from the arena. At times she would sneak out to the sound booth, but normally it was too crowded out there so she'd just listen or walk around or go back to the bus and work on her sketches instead.
"Yeah," Lance said, "Poodle is saving you a spot on the couch out there."
"Great," she groaned.
"Hey! I'm not that bad," Billy protested.
She turned and faced Billy with a fake smile on her face. "It's not you Billy, really."
She noticed that Lance was retreating from the room and she needed to catch him for a moment before he left her there. "Hold on a minute," Serena said.
"What are you doing?" Lance asked in a hushed voice.
"What am I doing?" she repeated pointing over towards Billy with her thumb, "What are you doing? Setting me up like that with some perfect stranger off the street?"
"He's not a stranger," Lance said simply. "He's Billy."
"Yeah, Billy God Knows How Many Dead Bodies I Have In My Closet at Home."
Lance's mouth turned up into a half smile. "Don't over-react." He moved his hand and pushed her hair behind her ear and leaned and kissed her cheeck lightly. "You'll get gray hairs."
Even though she should have totally gone nuts over the fact that Lance had kissed her cheek she was too upset about the whole blind date thing to care. "Over react? How should I act?"
"A thank you would be nice."
"Thank you?" she shrieked.
"Shh," he said and put a finger to her lips. "Billy is going to think that you're rude."
"You haven't seen anything yet. What in God's name possessed you to do this?"
"You said that you wanted to have a kid and I guess that the only way to get you a kid and get you out of bridesmaid mode is to get you dating...I thought I was helping…so I told Billy to get here to take you out." She hated the fact that he was so cool and calm about it, as if it was part of his every day thing to set her up on blind dates.
"You told him to come here?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said, "he's my friend from high school and he hadn't come to visit for a while so I flew him out here and asked him if he'd hang out with you tonight."
"Oh." She said feeling embarrassed about her cereal killer comment before.
"Yeah, so there," he said, "God, a little Thank You would have been nice."
"Who made you guardian over me?" she asked.
"Well if I can't date you myself I think that I should at least have a say in who is dating you."
"Excuse me?" she stammered out. Where was all this coming from? She hadn't a clue as to why all of a sudden Lance was taking this interest in her. For work it was one thing to interact with him, but this was something else, something foreign and as much as she would like to believe that they might end up together she knew that it was impossible and that it was more drama than it was worth.
"Just go have fun," Lance said and pushed her towards Billy. "I'll see you guys after the show...remember, if you guys want a ride to the hotel you have to leave before the last song...find Loni and he'll take you to the buses."
Billy waved and Serena sneered at him. She felt cheap for this date and it was going to take all her might to keep her cool and not embarrass either of them.
"So, you ready to get dinner?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said then looked at her watch, "We need to swing by one of the vendors."
"That's fine with me," he said and like the southern gentleman that she some how knew he'd be he pushed the door open for her and waited while she exited the room before following her. She had to admit that she wasn't at all comfortable with the whole situation, but she wasn't about to let that ruin the night. It wasn't Billy's fault that he'd been suckered into the whole thing. It was someone else's fault and she knew that she'd let him know about it later.
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Last updated: 07/09/04.