THE DANCE

(Part 2)


--05--


The slightly muted whirring noise of a vacuum woke Lance up the next morning, a strange, but equally effective morning wake up call. He could think of worse ways to wake up, most of which consisted of Mike or Lonnie or the others yelling at him. He opened his eyes to find himself lying on his stomach, face against the mattress, in the middle of the bed with his arms and legs spread out to the four corners of the sheets. For a moment he didn't know where he was. He'd woken up in more than a few cities in his lifetime and most of the hotel rooms looked the same, but this one seemed strangely familiar. He looked around for a moment trying to remember for the life of him where he was and why it was so light outside and no one had woken him up yet.

He smiled. Home.

He repeated the word over and over in his head until he realized that the vacuuming had stopped. When it didn't start up again he rolled onto his back and thought about getting up. He put a hand over his face and relished in the feeling of his slightly grown in beard. He decided that he wasn't going to shave that day. He knew he should look nice since his parents were coming into town, but he knew that his mother and father and sister would understand the unshaven look since on the road it was part of his image to be clean shaven.

After making his first decision of the day he glanced at the clock. It was almost eleven, which for any other person would have been fairly early in the day, but for Lance it was the equivalent of sleeping in until late into the evening. Almost every day of the last four years of Lance's life had started between the hours of four and eight in the morning so being in his bed at that hour of the day made him feel lazy. He liked the feeling, but at the same time thought that he should get up since if he lay in bed all day he'd want to do the same thing the next day and it would completely screw up his schedule.

Pushing himself off the mattress he rubbed his face for a moment and made the decision to first take his shower then go down to the first floor. He could have gone down to get breakfast in his boxers, a luxury that he hadn't had in over a year, but figured that he would spare himself the strangeness that would come from Nicole's reaction to such an outfit. He had a feeling that she wouldn't like to see him that way. From Johnny's conversation he guessed that she didn't have much experience living with people very closely other than roommates and he had a feeling that her past roommates hadn't been male from the way she always reacted to him. She always seemed to be cleaning up after him, like she was babysitting or something.

The bathroom mirror revealed dark circles under his eyes. He pressed on the skin around his eyes softly and sighed. For once in his life he wished that he had the tour make up artists with him. He didn't like to wear the stage make up that they always put him in, but at the moment he thought he needed some. The dark circles were going to worry his mother. He figured, after a moment of debating, that her reaction would be out of his control. She'd been very protective over him for the last few months since he'd fell ill a few months before with a mysterious flu that had lasted about ten days. He knew that he had to humor his mother.

Lance flipped on the stereo in the bathroom to the local country station that he'd found his second night home then danced his way over to turn on the water in the shower before stripping and stepping under the warm stream of water. Singing along to the newest Garth Brooks Album "The Life of Chris Gaines" he picked up the bar of soap off of the holder sticking out of the wall and washed himself off.

As he shampooed his hair a few moments later his mind drifted to Nicole. She'd completely freaked out the night before and he almost didn't know how to handle that. It was one thing to deal with over emotional fans all the time, but living with someone over emotional was little different. He was going to have to rethink his approach to her. He wanted to make her a friend considering that she was going to be living in his house, but he had to admit that he didn't know enough about girls to really make a plan.

Washing his hair off Lance sang a few more lines of the song that was still playing then stepped out of the shower, wrapped himself in a towel and went to go find his clothes. He still hadn't unpacked yet, but figured that he wouldn't since he only had two weeks to be home. He'd have to go through his clothes before he left on tour again, but figured that they were just as organized in the cardboard boxes as they would be in the dresser drawers.

A knock at the door startled him.

"Yeah?" he called out.

"I'm sorry to wake you up…" Her voice sounded better this morning. She seemed calmer anyway.

"It's ok…I was awake…"

He walked across the carpet to the door and opened it; not thinking twice about being only dressed in his towel. He'd gotten used to being half-naked around people. During shows he changed outfits quickly with the guys and it wouldn't be at all out of the ordinary to be seen in his boxers or towel. He remembered the outfit when he saw the shocked look in Nicole's eyes and the blush that matched the red T-shirt she had on. Her mouth hung open a little as her eyes flew from his waist to his face and back again before landing on his face finally. She didn't blink, which surprised him.

To not make the situation any more uncomfortable than it already was, he closed the door a little letting it stand between her and him. He felt silly doing it since the towel covered up just as much as a bathing suit would, but he figured that it was more shocking because it was a towel and not shorts.

"I…I…I just wanted to tell you that your mother called." Her eyes moved a little lower than his face and he smiled. Was she checking him out? "They're going to rent a car and be here in about an hour. They caught an earlier flight." Her voice came out softly and she still hadn't blinked.

"Thanks," he said. She turned to leave and he decided to stop her. "You feeling ok this morning?"

She turned back and looked at him, gave him a weak smile then said, "Yeah. I'll see ya downstairs. I was going to make a sandwich if you want one."

"Sure, make me one of whatever you're making."

"Ok." She turned and disappeared down the stairs.

Lance closed the door and leaned against it for a moment. He took a deep breath and wanted to laugh. He'd never thought of himself as a sex symbol although most of the teeny-bopper magazines and other media had showed him as one, and seeing her reaction to him made him feel so dorky. He wasn't at all used to the idea that someone out there really might be that interested in him sexually since most of the other guys played that role in the group. He could see JC being mauled for his shirt or Justin for his pants, but he'd always been the big brother.

* * * * * *

Nicole made it back to the kitchen where she'd already finished up the dishes. She found herself standing at the counter for almost five minutes before she remembered that she was going to make herself a sandwich. She busied herself by collecting up everything she needed then laid it all out on the counter.

She'd woken up early that morning and had gone grocery shopping, but it took her a moment to find all the stuff that she'd bought. She finally found the deli turkey and cheese and found the mayonnaise and mustard then grabbed out a knife and was cutting up a tomato for her turkey and cheese sandwich when Lance came into the kitchen.

He came in wearing jeans and a T-shirt, as always, but for some reason she jumped when she saw him. "Owe!" she dropped the knife onto the counter and grabbed her finger. She hadn't been looking and had sliced her finger a little.

"You ok?" Lance's shocked, but concerned look made her feel a little better. He leaned over the counter and tried to move her hand away so that he could see.

"I just sliced it a little," she said pulling her hand to her chest. She stared hard at him for a moment, letting the blood ooze out of the cut. Three drops fell onto the counter before she realized that she was really bleeding then went over and ran the tiny centimeter sized cut under water.

Wincing from the pain of the water on the cut she asked, "Do you know if you have any Band-Aids?"

Normally Nicole kept Band-Aids just above the sink, but she hadn't thought to put any in the kitchen when she'd moved in.

"I don't think so," he said. He came around and leaned around her to look at her finger. Nicole could feel his chest against her back as he wrapped his arms around her and grabbed a paper towel, forced her other hand away and wrapped the sheet of paper around her finger making a temporary bandage for her.

Nicole's breathing slowed and she held her breath as the scent of the soap from his shower engulfed her. He used Irish Spring and she found herself picturing him in the shower as he held her close for a moment. She'd heard the shower go on that morning and had tried to busy herself with chores and it had worked, but now her mind was on him, only him.

Please don't do this…
I can handle this…
Stay calm…
Nothing is going to happen…
It's ok…
Breathe…
Breathe…
Just don't faint…

She started to feel herself shake. It had been so long since she'd been in a man's arms. She'd been a social girl at school of course, but the physical girl-guy thing had been only with guys she'd known for a long time and it had been more of a brotherly sisterly thing. She hadn't encountered a sexually charged moment like this in a long time.

"Are you sure you're ok?" His voice came out softly next to her ear and sent goose bumps all over her body. He moved his hand from her hand to around her waist and held her close for a moment as she wobbled.

The action got her mind off of the blood and the cut, but seemed to distract her more as her bottom pressed against the front of his jeans. She could feel his belt buckle against her lower back and held her breath to keep from groaning at the feel of him against her. Nicole's eyes watered up in frustration and embarrassment and she wondered if she looked pale yet. She didn't like the sight of blood and worried that she might faint. The last time she'd gotten a cut she'd fainted dead away in the kitchen of the apartment she and Sara had been sharing. She nodded and said, "I'll be right back…"

Pushing herself away from him she held onto her bandage tightly, hoping that the pain of the pressure there would kick her mind into gear. She went around the counter and into her room then into her private bathroom and found her Band-Aid box. With shaky hands she managed to get the small cardboard box open then shook out a single Band-Aid onto the counter. She opened it ok on her own and got one side to stick, but couldn't get the other side around her finger due to the fact that the cut had started to bleed again and she couldn't stand to look at the blood.

"Here, give me that." She turned around and found Lance behind her with his hands out reaching for her hand.

Stepping towards him she held out her hand palm up. He reached and took her hand carefully bending her other fingers out of the way so that he could wrap the Band-Aid into place. "Too tight?" he asked.

Not being able to form the words in her mouth, Nicole nodded and began to pull her hand away. Having his hands on hers, with their warm satiny smooth texture was making her nervous.

"Wait a second," he said with a soft seductive tone.

What he did next totally shocked her. He held her hand softly and brought her fingers to his mouth, kissing the Band-Aid covered finger softly. "There…just like Mom always does," he said. He smiled and lifted his eyes to meet hers. When their eyes met she thought she'd faint. There was something there, in his gaze, which made her nervous and excited and scared all at the same time. He blinked and Nicole watched his eyelashes hit his cheeks in slow motion.

The image of him in his towel popped into her mind and for a moment she could see herself reaching out and kissing him since he was only a few inches away. She could feel his breath on her cheeks and wanted so much for something to happen, but at the same time was completely scared that something would happen.

"Better?" he asked stepping back. The tone of his voice lightened and the twinkle that had been in his eyes changed a little.

She shook her head slightly in the affirmative and tried not to seem too shocked although she realized that it was probably too late for that. "Thanks," she finally said.

The sound of the phone ringing was her saving grace. Saved by the bell literally.

"I'll get it." Lance turned from the bathroom and left her there.


--06--


When the doorbell rang for the second time that day Lance pushed himself off the couch and went to get it. He'd heard the bell that announced someone's arrival to the house, but since the intercom didn't come on he figured that it was one of the guys or Johnny.

"What's up J?" Lance asked when he saw Joey at the door. Joey looked like he was going out. He was in jeans, a red collared that matched the streaks in his hair and what Lance knew were Joey's favorite pair of shoes to dance in. Scratching his head, Lance wondered for a moment if they'd made plans and he'd forgotten about them.

"Nuttin'," Joey looked around for a moment. "Nicole and I are going dancing with Stevey boy and Trez. I'm not early or something am I?"

"No…" Lance's eyes automatically widened at the news. It was the one thing that he'd forgotten to plan for. He'd expected that she'd have a social life, but he didn't necessarily think that it would include one of his band-mates. "Really? A date?"

With that admission, most of Nicole's behavior from earlier was explained. Nicole had excused herself after an hour or so of socializing with his parents and had disappeared into her room. She'd been there when they'd left to go out to dinner and had been there when they'd returned.

Realistically he hadn't expected her to check in with him about her plans, but had figured that she would at least warn him of the date after the strange encounter that they'd had earlier in the day. Lance still pictured himself wrapped around her in the kitchen and could still see the strange, dazed look that had been in her eyes when they'd been in the bathroom. He hadn't meant for things to get out of control like that, but had liked the way she seemed to have been leaning towards him as if they would end up kissing. Now, seeing Joey in his doorway confused him. Had her behavior all been a game? Was she just teasing him?

"She didn't tell you?" Joey scrunched up his face.

"Joey is that you?" Lance's mother called from the living room.

"Hi Bass family," Joey called.

A moment later Lance's mother was hugging Joey and his father and sister were drilling him about his plans for the evening and for his time at home.

Before Lance could give Joey an answer to his question he caught a glimpse of something in the hallway and found, when he turned, that Nicole was coming out of her room wearing a sleek black dress and shoes. For a moment he didn't want to let her go. He knew Joey and trusted the guy on a daily basis, but there was something about Nicole that made him want to protect her. Maybe it was the vulnerable look in her eyes the first night they'd met or maybe it was the way that she'd paled at the sight of blood that afternoon. Whatever it was he didn't want her to get caught up in the drama that came with his position in the world. Letting her go with Joey would be like sending her to the wolves.

Besides, Lance had seen some beautiful looking women in his lifetime, but Nicole's outfit seemed perfect for her. She smelled of roses and her skin seemed to shine. If he hadn't known himself better he would have thought that he was jealous of Joey's opportunity to spend time with her that night. He'd never been jealous of the guy's way with women in the past, but now found himself wanted to intervene and stop their plans for the evening.

Quit it…
She's the housekeeper…
She's a damn fine looking housekeeper…
You can't get involved…

"Wow." Joey's voice sounded truly surprised and seemed to express Lance's reaction to her perfectly.

Feeling obligated to stick up for Nicole; Lance elbowed him hard in the ribs. It was one thing for Joey to lust over girls in clubs, but he didn't like the comments being directed at Nicole. She didn't deserve that kind of attention. He suddenly felt protective over her, as if he needed to keep her safe from all the outside drama that came along with being part of NSYNC.

"What was that for?" Joey asked rubbing his ribs where Lance had hit into him.

"Hi everyone," Nicole said softly. She made eye contact with Lance for a moment then turned and smiled widely at Joey. Lance wished that she would smile at him like that. She always seemed a little hesitant to do so. And the soft smile on her lips that she was giving Joey was making him feel more and more jealous.

"You look gorgeous," Joey said.

"Definitely," Lance's mother agreed.

Lance wanted to wipe the cocky smile off of Joey's face and almost want to whine at his mother for encouraging Joey's behavior. Was everyone forgetting about Angela? From what Lance had heard Angela and Joey were exclusive now, which made him worry that Nicole would get caught up into something that she knew nothing about. Lance knew that Angela was very protective over her relationship to Joey and it seemed strange that she would agree to let him take Nicole out.

"Thank you," she blushed.

Feeling suddenly out of place and a little too over emotional about the situation Lance turned and headed back into the living room and waited for the rest of his family to follow.

In the kitchen Lance heard his mother speaking to them then with a final wish of luck to the couple his mother returned to the kitchen.

* * * * * *

Nicole hadn't really made any preconceived opinions about Joey, but she was presently surprised to find that he was a complete gentleman. Not only did he look the part in his blue jeans and collared shirt, but he had the right moves too. He helped her into the black leather jacket she'd chosen to wear then held the front door for her. He even went as far as to offer her an arm on the way down the three front steps.

They walked down the steps and then Joey slowed and took a breath and turned to her. His confidence had disappeared. "Ok…here comes the bad part…" His voice lowered a little and he seemed to almost be embarrassed about something.

"What bad part?" she asked. She couldn't think of anything that he would tell her that could mess up her night. She been surprised to feel so comfortable with Joey, although in the back of her mind she had thoughts about Angela.

Joey looked really upset for a moment. When she'd first met him he'd had a confident look on his face, and at the door he'd showed the same cocky attitude, but now there was worry all over his face. She'd never seen anyone look so nervous, which somehow made her feel better. She figured that because of his star status he'd be the more confident one on their date. She'd been nervous all afternoon about their evening together and it was nice to know that she wasn't the only one.

"We have a chaperone tonight." His voice came out softly as he threw an arm towards the dark colored Honda parked in the driveway a few feet away.

Her eyes followed his arm movement and she found that a huge black guy in the back seat of the car. He wore a nice jacket and seemed to have some sort of an earpiece in his right ear. He was waiting for them patiently and Nicole wondered if he spent most of his evenings like that. "Bodyguard?"

"Yep. Don't leave home without him." He let out a strained laugh then sighed and gave her a cautious look. "I hope you don't feel strange about that."

"Not if you don't," she said trying to show that it was going to be a date like any other date. She did get a little nervous about being out and about with a star, but didn't want that to affect her evening. In truth it did feel a little strange to be her age and have a chaperone, but she wasn't about to admit it. Not that she ever had a chaperone in the first place, but having a third wheel was a bit strange. At the same time though it felt comforting. Since she didn't know Joey at all it felt nice to have someone watching over them. She decided that she should keep her chin up. If Joey and the others could live with someone watching over their shoulders everyday then she figured that she could get through it for the evening. It was only a few hours.

"Good." He started for the car.

"Just one thing," she said. She grabbed his arm and pulled him around and closer to him.

"What's that?" he asked opening his eyes wide for a moment.

"Do you talk to him or what?" she asked with a lowered voice.

"Lonnie probably won't sit with us at dinner and at the club you won't even noticed him…but for now he's my back seat driver."

"Does he always come out on dates with you?"

"No, but since we've been home and this is our first night off we're expecting more than a few fans to be around. Normally I would just go with a few friends and be fine…"

"Oh…ok."

Joey helped her into the car and as he walked around to the driver's side the guy in the back seat spoke up. "I'm Lonnie," he held a hand out to her. "Don't mind me…I'll try and leave you guys alone tonight…"

Nicole turned and smiled at him and gave his hand a shake. "It's ok…I feel bad about making you follow us around."

"Don't be alarmed about me being here…I'm just here in case something comes up."

"You two ready?" Joey asked slipping into the driver's seat.

"Yeah." They said in unison.

* * * * * * *

Lance couldn't help but to watch them out the window as they drove away from the house. He had an uneasy feeling in his stomach, but couldn't explain why. He knew that nothing would happen that night with Lonnie being with them, but he had a feeling that her evening out with Joey was going to corrupt the sweet attitude that she had about the group. She hadn't treated them any different than any other person and he wanted it to stay that way. He got enough special attention in his life and he needed someone to kick his butt and deflate his ego every once in a while.

"You like that girl…don't you?" Lance turned to find his mother standing in the doorway.

Lance sat down on the couch in the front living room with a heavy thud and sighed. He knew that his mother was just trying to stay in touch with him, but he really wasn't sure if he wanted to discuss Nicole with her. "She works for me mom…I think she's a pretty great girl, but she's just my employee."

"James Lance Bass, give me a break…I know I'm not around you every day or anything…but you really have forgotten that I am your mother and I know things about you that you don't even know…" She smiled confidently and Lance wanted to laugh. He had forgotten how she could practically read his mind.

Lance shut his eyes, took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm not looking for a relationship…after trying to keep in touch with Dani for so many months I'm tired of phone calls and keeping things going from a million miles away."

"Honey…I know it's hard for you…" He watched her eyes water up a bit. "With you being on the road and all…that's one of my biggest fears for you now that you're getting older…I want you to find someone to love and for them to love you…"

Lance leaned back and gave his mom a smile. She was worried about him, yet again. They'd never really talked about the future of his love life or social life, but he knew that it was on her mind since most of his friends back home had either already settled down with someone or were getting to the point of getting married. He was in his early twenties and he figured that because his mother and father had begun dating at that age that his mother expected him to be settling down too.

"Don't worry about that…love will find me somehow…" He had tried to keep thoughts like that out of his mind, but deep down it was a worry for him too. He'd had to sacrifice a lot in his life and true love seemed to be one of those things. He'd tried his best to be with Dani, someone that he'd really loved in his life, but he'd found it too hard to have a real relationship over the phone.

His mother looked at the edge of tears and he wondered for a moment if there was something else on her mind. She wasn't normally that overemotional with him, but she'd been that way for a few months now. "If I'm going to be with someone I want to be the best boyfriend or whatever that I can be…At the moment I'm going to be single. I can't be there for someone so it's sort of stupid to waste my time trying."

"Lance it's not a waste of time." Her sweet smile comforted him, but at the same time made him feel strange. He hadn't had a talk like this with his mother since he and Dani had parted ways and wasn't used to having someone know him that well.

"Mom…you know what I mean…" He pushed himself off the couch and excused himself from the living room and went and hid in the kitchen for a moment.

* * * * * * *

"So where is Angela tonight?" Nicole asked as they sat at their table that night waiting for their drinks. The subject had been on her mind for most of the ride to the restaurant and she thought that she should get it out in the open so that she could relax and have a good evening.

"Outta town," he said casually looking up from his menu. He'd told her a few things that were good on the menu, but had buried his face in the large booklet as soon as they had ordered drinks. "Why do you ask?"

She'd expected more of a reaction from him and was almost disappointed to not get one. With Angela as an excuse she could make sure that their date was a casual one. "I just don't want to step on anyone's toes…"

"You're not…" Joey said and looked back at his menu.

"Are you sure? I thought she was going to kill me the other night when we met."

"Angela and I have an understanding…" Joey laughed with a certain loving smile that revealed so much.

"Well, not to burst your bubble or anything, but I think she is going to have troubles with us going out tonight."

"Why do you say that?" He folded the menu and looked across at her. He concentrated on her and looked her in the eyes which made her feel a little uncomfortable.

She moved her eyes from where he was staring at her and gave a little laugh. "No woman acts that jealous without having some real attachment to the man she's fighting for."

"Whatever," Joey said with a light attitude.

Nicole wondered for a moment if Joey really was the player that the magazine article that she'd read about him said he was. She hadn’t meant to read the article, but on one of her breaks she'd picked it up and ended up reading the whole thing. He seemed very unattached to the strange woman who'd been so hostile to her the other day. "I'm telling you Joey…I don't know her at all, but I'm telling you that you should talk to Angela about it…"

Joey leaned his elbows against the table and stared at Nicole. "And what makes you the authority on love?"

"I have experience being the other woman." Nicole remembered the way that her last relationship had fallen apart when she'd agreed to see other people. It wasn't a pretty site and she had a feeling that her ex Collin was still dating Amaya to this day.

"Oh really?" he said.

"Yeah…never believe a woman when she says that it's ok to date other people…we never really mean it."

"Well…I'll take that into consideration…" He made a face as if he was thinking hard. "I can tell you something too."

"What's that?" she asked.

"You shouldn't tease Lance…"

"Tease Lance? Where did that come from?"

"I saw that look you gave him when we left…it was as if you wanted him to stop me from taking you out…"

"I don't think so…"

"Trust me…" Joey said. "I don't think that I'd have a sore rib right now if he didn't have feelings for you."

"Whatever Joe."

Her mind raced. Had the scene in the kitchen and in the bathroom been real? Had he really been that close to kissing her? She'd imagined for most of the afternoon that she'd been imagining the whole thing.

* * * * * *

Lance couldn't help himself. When he heard the bell announce Nicole's arrival home he went to the window to watch the Honda pull up the driveway and park. His parents had left earlier in the evening leaving him alone in the house and Lance found, after about an hour that the house was too quiet without somewhere else in it with him.

When he didn't see them get out of the car he sat down on the couch and thought about what his mother had said to him before. He had to admit that he did have a soft spot for Nicole, but he wouldn't consider it a crush exactly. She was his employee and he knew that he had to act professionally around her since something might get out to the press if something did happen. Johnny had the feeling that she'd keep whatever secrets needed to be kept, but he had a strange feeling that he couldn't quite trust her yet. She was hiding something and Lance was going to find out what it was.

* * * * * *

"So what are you doing next weekend?"

They'd reached the doorway to Lance's house and stood facing each other waiting for the night to end. It had been fun dancing with the trio of friends and she'd even made plans to hang out with Trez sometime in the next few weeks. It was all so comfortable that she didn't even have any of the end of the date jitters that always seemed to come when a couple was trying to decide to kiss goodnight or just shake hands.

"Nothing much," she said, "I work on Saturday and have Sunday off again…why?"

"There's a charity softball game on Sunday and I wanted to know if you'd come out to it."

"I don't have to play do I?" She laughed. "Because I really can't play softball."

"Na…you don't have to play…"

Nicole wiped imaginary sweat from her forehead. "Good."

"It's good that you live with Lance and not Justin or anyone else. Lance isn't into sports much either." He smiled. "So you'll come and watch me?"

"Can I watch everyone else too?" she said with a smart-ass tone to her voice.

"Come on," Joey said with a smile.

"You're not going to whine again are you?" she asked.

"No…" His face was serious for a moment then he smiled, "Unless you say no."

"Fine…I guess I'll come out to the game."

"Good," he said and leaned and kissed her on the cheek.


--07--


Three's Company was on the television when Nicole opened up the front door after coming home from work the next night. Thinking that Lance might be on the couch again so she made her way into the living room trying to keep fairly quiet. Seeing him on his back in the dim light of the television she watched the screen for a moment.

"Hey," he said sleepily looking up at her with glazed over eyes. His voice sounded shaky and she wondered if he was sick. He was curled under a blanket as if the air conditioning was too much for him.

"What's up? Why ya home so early?" she asked softly as she flipped on an overhead light in the room. She went around the couch and sat on the coffee table next to where he was lying, pausing only to move the cordless phone receiver out of the way. He had his foot propped up on a pillow and was underneath the huge green blanket. A container of painkillers sat next to a glass of water on the coffee table and next to that was a set of crutches leaning on the edge of the table.

"I sprained the hell out of my ankle," he groaned as if his ankle hurt more when he mentioned the injury. His eyelids drooped shut for a moment and his speech was a bit slurred.

"What have they got you on?" she asked picking up the pill bottle.

"Vicatin," he said with a sleepy smile. "It's not doing much for my ankle, but I feel…" He smiled widely and continued, "Happy."

She watched the color drain from his face. "Are you feeling ok?" she asked.

Lance took a deep breath and held it and seemed to snuggle into his blanket more. "No." His voice came out weak and she watched him shaking a little as if he had a chill.

"Did you eat anything with these?" she asked looking at the orange label on the prescription bottle.

She watched his face turn into that juvenile look that she figured he only used with his mother. "I can't remember," he said with a half smile.

The color was still out of his face leaving him looking even more tired than he had been looking the last few days. She leaned over and touched his forehead and watched his eyes drift shut again. His skin felt warm and clammy, but he seemed to be shivering. His mouth turned down into a frown and she wondered for a moment if he was going to puke. She took her hand away from him and put it in her lap.

"Do you want me to make you some toast or something?" she asked thinking of all the things that she'd seen people do in movies to make a stomach feel better. Personally she enjoyed Club crackers, flat soda and Otter Pops when she was sick, but wasn't sure everyone had the same strange tastes as she did.

Lance's eyes drifted closed then he opened them widely. "I'm not hungry."

"You should really eat something," she said. She got up and went around into the kitchen and began making him some toast. "It'll make you feel better."

When she turned her attention back towards the television she saw Lance trying to walk around with his crutches. He was wearing nylon running pants and a gray T-shirt and looked about half asleep as he struggled to arrange himself and the crutches. "What are you doing?" She dropped the bag of bread onto the counter and went over to where Lance was tittering on his right foot while keeping his left in the air.

"I gotta pee," he said with a soft voice.

"Well you're gonna fall on your face," she said just as he made his way around the coffee table knocking his good foot into the edge. She took one of the crutches away and wrapped an arm around his middle and had his arm around her.

"What are you doing?" His voice was low and heavy and vibrated in her ear.

"Helping you," she said. "You're gonna fall on your ass if you do this by yourself."

Lance shut up as they slowly made their way to the downstairs bathroom. He hopped his way in using the counter as a crutch then she left him in there. "Just holler when you want help again."

Nicole leaned against the opposite wall in the hallway and slid down so that she was sitting. It had been a long day and at the moment being in Lance's arms, even if it was just to help him walk around was a relief. She was normally a very huggy person despite her strange childhood and missed being in the arms of her guy friends at school. They'd all gone away for the summer and at the moment she was craving their attention.

* * * * * * 

Lance came out of the bathroom to find Nicole sitting in the hallway with her head tipped back and her eyes closed. When she didn't open her eyes right away he wondered if she was asleep. His head spun and his stomach churned and he tried to step over her, but hit into her shin with the toes of his left foot.

"Awe shit!" he said as the pain he'd felt early in the day shot up from his wrapped ankle to the outside of his knee.

"Oh my god!" she got up and immediately put an arm around him to steady him. "You ok?"

Lance nodded and gritted his teeth praying that he wouldn't start to cry. He'd bawled most of the afternoon until the painkillers had kicked in and thought that his embarrassment in front of the other guys was enough for that day.

"Come on," she said with a soft voice that took the edge off the tension between them.

He'd been on the couch since around four that afternoon and somewhere in his Vicatin induced daze had thought of her while trying to deal with his mother's observation of his attraction. He admitted to himself finally somewhere around six o'clock that he liked her, but wasn't sure what exactly to do about it. He was her employer after all and that kept him from making her more than a friend, not that she was that close to him in the first place, but he'd seen the possibility of her being more than that over the last week. His only confusion now was the whole Joey date thing. He'd hoped that she wouldn't go on the date, but that hadn't happened and when he'd subtly asked Joey about the date he hadn't had much to say about it, just that they'd had a good time.

"You ok?" she asked stopping just as they made it to the couch.

"Yeah," he said. He put the crutch down and leaned to sit down, but she kept a hold of him and ended up falling with him onto the couch.

Somehow in the fall she twisted around to face him and he fell on his back to try to save her, only to end up with her laying full length against him. As if the torture of her hugged up against him hadn't been enough she was now laying on top of him. He held his breath and tried not to move.

"Did you hit your ankle?" she asked after a moment. He wondered if she noticed that he'd stopped breathing. To calm her concerns he nodded no, but couldn't help himself and stared into her eyes. The deep brown color of her eyes shown bright and he thought she looked shocked. Not having her make a move to get up confused him a bit. He'd thought she'd have pushed herself up and run away instantly.

"Lance?" she said with a warning tone. Her whole body was tense against him. Her arms were just under his armpits and she was holding herself up from his body a bit. "Lance? What are you staring at?"

"Nothing," he said not wanting to blink for fear that she might disappear from his arms. She'd done that once and he didn't want it to happen again. He only had about a week to make up his mind about her and this was the perfect opportunity to work through whatever attraction his mother had seen in his eyes.

"Lance I should get up." Her voice was even and she didn't seem to sound scared, just a little uncomfortable about the situation. If he had half a mind he would have realized the position that he'd put them in.

"Not yet," he grumbled.

"Come on now…let me up," she said now sounding a little more demanding. He watched her blink a few times and watched as tears came to her eyes.

He leaned into her, feeling that this might be his last chance to do so, and kissed her softly. He felt her resistance for a moment then she seemed to relax. She let her breath out as he deepened the kiss and didn't move away so he continued.

The ringing of the phone sounded next to them and as he pulled an arm away from her to answer it she pushed against him, letting her arms loose so that her full weight was on him.

"Let it ring," she said breathlessly.

The phone sounded.

Lance pulled back for a moment and looked at her. "What?" he asked. He wasn't sure if he'd heard her right. It wasn't what he expected at all. He really had expected her to resist.

The phone rang again.

"Let it ring," she said with a smile as she leaned her head down and hid her expression from him by pressing her face into his chest.

"Nicole," Lance said, "Look at me for a second."

Nicole lifted her head and made eye contact with him again. "What?"

He stared at her for a moment. Her eyes had turned from shocked to what he took as excited. "I just wanted you to look me in the eyes and say that again."

The answering machine clicked on and a moment later Joey's voice came into the room via the phone, "Hey Lanceten…hope you had a good rest today. Justin, Chris and I are on our way over to check on your lazy butt so answer the door man. JC was going to come over, but Boo is on her way back up to Bowie so he's taking her." There was a pause. "See ya in about five."

* * * * * *

Silence filled the room until Nicole pushed herself away from Lance.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"The guys are going to be over here soon and I just don't want them to walk in and see me and you on the couch." She straightened her arms and began to remove her legs from his.

"Hold up," he said. He pulled her down against him and said, "A minute ago you didn't want me to answer the phone and now you're leaving?

Pausing for a split second she took a chance and leaned down and kissed him quickly. She was feeling strangely comfortable with him at the moment and knew that she only had a week to make a decision about him. The night before, when Joey had told her about the whole teasing thing she'd decided to try it out a bit to see what kind of a reaction she'd get out of him. Worst case scenario would be that he'd leave town still her friend.

"I didn't say this was over, just postponed." She smiled wickedly at him and hoped that her erratic behavior wasn't going to confuse him more than she wanted him to be.

"Fine," he said.

She pushed herself away from him and said, "Now do you want some toast still?"

"Yeah." His face looked a bit sickly all of a sudden as if having her there with him had distracted him enough to forget about his sick stomach.

She went around the couch and into the kitchen and stuck in toast for him. Smiling her herself she watched the television and thought about Lance. If this worked out with him it would not only be the biggest challenge of her life, but it would be the coolest thing to ever happen to her. She wasn't exactly excited about his job, but the idea of having a famous boyfriend didn't sound bad to her. She knew it wasn't at all set in stone yet, but she had a good feeling about the situation that had just started on the couch. There was something about him, some softness that she loved and wanted to have with her all the time.

About the time that the bread was popping out of the toaster Nicole heard the alarm sound for the front gate. "I'll get it when they knock," she said and brought Lance his toast.

"Thanks," he said now back into his sleepy mode. He'd moved a bit and put his ankle back up.

"DO you want some ice for your ankle?" she asked.

"I think I'm going to go shove it in the pool when the guys leave. I think the water is pretty cold out there."

"OK."

The sound of knocking on the door vibrated in the house and a moment later Joey, Justin and Chris came into the house. They were pushing each other and joking around which gave Nicole the chance to disappear into her room to change. She would have just put on her pajamas for the evening, but went with a pair of jeans and an oversized T-shirt considering that they had guests.

When she got back Justin was in the kitchen reaching up to grab one of the boxes of cereal above the refridgerator.

"Stop and back away from the cereal," she said with a half-serious, half joking tone.

"I'm not stealing it," he said with a smile turning to her. He showed her the top of the sealed box and said, "I brought you a new box."

Nicole felt like a heel, but smiled and gave him a very formal answer to his revalation. "Thank you kind sir."

"Hey Nicole, you never met Chris did you?" Joey called from the living room.

Nicole made her way over to the living room and Chris stood up. Wearing baggy jeans, a purple T-shirt and a silver colored vest he smiled at her and said, "Nice to meet you."

"He's normally not this calm, but we ran him around today a little before we came over," Justin said coming over to the rest of them.

"Well I don't know about you boys but I've had a long day myself and I need to go to sleep because I have to get up and go to work tomorrow."

"Don't tell that to this guy," Joey said, "Johnny told us he gets the morning off."

"Yeah right. I get to go to physical therapy."

"You're not going to see Henry King are you?" Justin said holding onto his thumb in a protective manner. "That guy almost ripped my thumb off after I got my cast off."

"No. I'm seeing some lady, Marta Weinman," Lance said.

"Uh oh," Justin said, "Don't try to hit on her on her like you did with the EMT today."

"I didn't hit on the EMT," Lance said. His eyes skimmed over to Nicole and she smiled.

"I would have loved to have seen that," she said.

"Anyway boys, I need to get to sleep, make sure you lock this guy in when you leave," she tapped Lance's head lightly as she wove her way away from the guys and into the hallway.

"Hey Nicole," she heard Joey behind her and stopped just out of sight of the living room.

"What's up Joey?" she asked.

"I just wanted to thank you," he said.

"For what?"

"I talked to Angela today and she said that she wasn't exactly telling the truth when she said we should date other people."

"See, I told you," Nicole said.

"Now." He put his hands on his hips and looked at her sternly. "You aren't going to tease Lance anymore are you?"

"Well it wouldn't be fun if I just fell into his arms. He has to work at it a little before I…" She cut off her sentence feeling that she was being a little too bold. It had been one thing to be that way with Lance, but she didn't think she should spread gossip about what was going on between the two of them. She took a deep breath and nodded once, "Let's just say that things are going well and that I'm not teasing him."


--08--


 

Dressed in a fresh pair of jeans and a sweatshirt she'd stolen off of Lance, Nicole turned the Explorer down 105th street and let out an involuntary sigh. It was almost four in the morning and the sun had yet to show its face in the sky, but Nicole felt like putting on sunglasses. She'd woken up that morning around three to the sound of the phone ringing and had immediately felt sick. Now, almost an hour later, she and Lance were only a few blocks away from the studio and from the start of her new life. As the "significant-other" of a famous pop star Nicole's life was about to change dramatically. If it hadn't already been completely overhauled in the last month, the next two months of the summer concert season were going to set into a whirl.

Lance turned from where he had been mouthing the words to the song on the radio and let out a little nervous laugh. "Hey, come on now, don't start that again." His voice came out in a playful whine. He gave her a half smile in the dim light as he leaned back in his seat. He looked as if he was in pajamas that morning wearing nylon running pants and a hooded sweatshirt. The guys had a fourteen-hour bus ride ahead of them and although it seemed stupid for them to ride all that way, Johnny had insisted that they start out the tour together.

Now it was Lance's turn to sigh. He adjusted the bill of the Black FUBU baseball hat that he'd put on as they'd left the house that morning then let his hand drift to her thigh. "I thought you cried it all out this morning."

"You heard me?" she asked feeling a little embarrassed. She hadn’t thought that he would have been able to hear her. She'd been in the shower that morning while Lance called Mike to tell him that Nicole was going to drop him off when she'd burst into tears. She hated good-byes and the one with Lance was going to be even more devastating now that they had gotten to know each other.

"I came in to see if you were out of the shower yet and heard you," he said with a frown on his face. He patted her thigh. "I wasn't spying or anything."

Nicole stopped at a red light and turned to face him while she waited for the light to turn. "Do you think this will really work?" Her tone was serious

"These days I try not to bank on anything, but I hope for the best and if the last week speaks for our future I think that we'll be ok," he said, "I mean we managed to spend a lot of time together this week despite our crazy schedules."

"I'm sorry we never made it to the video store last night," she said remembering how they had planned to stop by Blockbuster just before midnight to get a movie.

Lance had explained that he normally couldn't go shopping without someone from security with him especially when he was home, but had said he'd been able to slip into Blockbuster without being noticed a few times. They'd planned to rent a movie, but they'd never made it out of the house after he'd gotten home from rehearsal. His ankle had been feeling better and they'd washed cars then had made dinner and collapsed on the couch together and had been there until the wake up call had come.

Although nothing more than kissing had gone on between them, they'd spent the last four nights sitting up and talking and spending time together, usually falling asleep on the couch together in front of the television just after I Love Lucy reruns. It seemed strange to be with someone and never leave the house, since most of Nicole's friends were fairly active, but she knew that if things went on with Lance that she'd have to get used to the lifestyle. He had told her in great length how difficult his life was and how really complicated even the simplest things could be. He assured her that he'd try to be as normal as possible with her when they were together, although he'd laughed when he mentioned the tour and how that time of the year would never be normal.

Nicole couldn't fathom what her life in the next few months was going to be like, but she knew that it was going to be like the things that she'd seen in magazines and movies. Lance was going to be gone for almost two months before his first break and she knew that the jet-setting life and her didn't get along which meant that it would be July before she saw him again. She'd had long distance friendships before, being that most of her friends lived away from school, but a long distance relationship was something new for her and of course a relationship with someone famous was even more outregeous.

Now, in the early morning hours of the first day of May she was worried that she was throwing herself into something that was too complicated and too hard for her to handle. She was a tough girl emotionally, but it seemed that when it came to Lance she had a weakness. He'd been the first person in a long time to actually care about her, not because of who was she was, but in Lance's case for who she wasn't. She wasn't a star and according to what he knew of her she wasn't at all into his type of lifestyle.

"We'll go out when I get back," he said as the light turned green and she drove closer to the studio.

Nicole nodded and stared at the road. Lance still had his hand on her thigh and he squeezed her leg for a moment. "You're going to be ok aren't you?"

"Yeah," she nodded breathing deeply trying to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall. "I'll be fine when this stupid day is over."

"I gave you my cell phone number and all the other guys numbers right?" he asked sitting up. He removed his hand from her thigh and she suddenly shivered as if the heat from his hand was the only thing that was keeping her warm.

"Yeah." She kept her eyes on the road not daring to make eye contact with him for fear that she might cry.

There was a short pause in the conversation then Lance spoke again. "And you have Dani's, Boo's and Angela's numbers?"

"Yeah," she said with a smile, "I still don't know why I have to have their numbers since I don't know them at all, but..."

"And Mike's and Lon-?"

She nodded and started laughing. "You gave me a list about forty million phone numbers." She leaned back in her chair for a second. "Did you know that you are the most complicated boy to try to date? Maybe that's why you've been single so long."

"And my parents number is in the kitchen in the Rolodex," he said, "My mom says you can call her anytime."

"Ok stop." She looked at him and saw a worried look on his face. "I'll be fine." When the worried look didn't fade from his face she continued trying to convince him she was ok. "I know to call whenever and leave you messages and that you'll get back to me when you can. I have practically everyone's number from the tour. I know that you're going to be busy and I'm not expecting you to call everyday by any means."

"I’ll try to call as much as I can," he said patting her thigh again.

The studio came into sight and Nicole slowed the car causing them to be caught at a red light. Nicole could see the ten tour buses lined up along the side street and the crewmembers who all seemed to be milling around in the parking lot. She'd learned in the last week that the group traveled with about fifty or so people which made the crew huge, but Lance seemed to think that everyone in that group was like family, something that Nicole had found strange. She'd had a hard enough time being an only child, but having that many "siblings" seemed too complicated to handle.

"I know you will." She stared at the light and prayed for an instant that it would never turn green. The last four days had been like a dream and she wasn't sure that she wanted to wake up yet.

"Just think. You'll be starting up a new set of summer classes and Gino's is getting crazier with the summer season, you said yourself last night that things are getting busier."

"I know." She frowned.

Silence filled the small space of the car until Lance leaned towards her. "Give me a kiss." She kissed him softly and he looked into her eyes for a long moment.

"Here goes nothing," she said with a sigh as she noticed that the light had turned green.

A few minutes later they were parked and Lance began to pull out his suitcases and the backpack that he'd packed the day before. Nicole picked up the smallest of the suitcases and looked at Lance with sad eyes. He checked his watch then looked at her. "Let me go get these into the bus and we'll hang out until the bus heads out."

They made their way over to where Johnny was stationed at a small folding table. There were four other people at the table all on cell phones or walkie talkies. Nicole was nervous about the whole situation and wasn't sure of her place in the organized chaos around her. She gripped Lance's bag tightly Johnny and Lance got him checked in then Mike helped Lance take his luggage to the bus.

"Nicole?"

Nicole turned to find Angela and two other girls at her side. "You ok?" Angela asked.

"Yeah," she said softly not sure why Angela was being nice to her. The last time they'd seen each other she'd thought that Angela was going to beat her up, not make friends with her.

"Oh come on," one girl said. She looked slightly familiar and Nicole figured she'd been at the party three weeks before. "Don't start crying now or you'll never have enough tears for when the bus pulls out."

"Boo, leave her alone," the other girl said putting out a hand. "We haven't been introduced. I'm Dani and the loud mouth to my left is Boo. And you remember Angela."

Nicole shook her hand and stared at them a little confused by the introductions.

"Dani here belongs to Chris, or maybe it’s the other way around. We can't tell sometimes," Angela said with a smile, "And since Boo is with JC and you're with Lance we thought that we'd make plans to hang out together while they're on the road."

"I'm not really with Lance," Nicole said nervously. She and Lance had only spoke a little about what they were going to do about their blooming relationship and she wasn't sure if she should be calling herself his girlfriend just yet. "I'm just his house keeper."

"And I'm Mother Teresa," Boo said, "If you look any more love sick I think I'm going to puke!"

"Coming from her that says a lot. She's the worst of all of us," Dani said with a frown.

Nicole stood and stared at the group as they bickered for a moment. She watched everyone milling around and wondered for a moment if any of them knew how scared she was and how out of place she felt. Everyone seemed to know what to do and where to go and how to act while Nicole felt like she was completely lost. She searched for Lance for a moment and was glad that he returned to her side before the girls talked to her any more.

"Hey girls," Lance said coming up to them. He gave a friendly hug to each of them then asked, "Where are the guys?"

"They made a last minute run to pick up some breakfast. They should be back in a minute," Angela said.

"Can I steal away Nicole for a minute?" Lance asked slipping his hand into hers. He laced his fingers through hers as if he'd done it a million times and gave her hand a squeeze while he flashed her a smile.

Nicole stared at the other girls with a shocked and uncomfortable look. She and Lance had only been close to each other in the confines out the house and actually showing some sort of emotion to each other seemed strange. She wished that she could relax about it all, but she didn't know what to expect for the rest of the day and her worst fear was that she'd do something wrong and get the whole bunch of them in trouble.

"See, I told you," Boo whispered as they walked away.

* * * * * * *

"Lance I don't think I can do this," Nicole said unwinding her hand from his. Her tone had been serious and firm and for a moment he wondered if she was going to run away from him all together. Instead she stuffed her hands into her jeans and stared at him with a scared look in her eyes.

Lance stiffened and looked over at Dani, Boo, and Angela. He knew he shouldn't have let her alone with them. They were nice girls, but Nicole wasn't prepared for their humor or whatever horror stories they had to share. They'd been at this for a long time and knew what to expect and Nicole hadn't yet dealt with any of that and he had been trying to make it as painless as possible. He'd almost not let her drive him to the studio for fear that she would be spooked by all the chaos. "What'd they say to you?"

"Nothing," she said looking around nervously. He could tell that she was avoiding looking him in the eyes. She stared at his chin for a moment before staring at something around her. At the moment she seemed to be fascinated with the way that the crew was still packing up the buses. She'd acted that same way when they'd gotten up that morning, making the excuse that she needed to shower before they left. She'd been cuddled against him on the couch and had kissed him once on the cheek before jumping up and practically running to her room.

"Nicole look at me," he said. He pulled her out of the way of a few people moving things around in the parking lot and found an equipment box to sit on. He pulled her with him to sit down, placing her in his lap and held her closely.

She sat only for a moment before getting up. He wondered if she was worried about people staring at them or somehting. Lance had gotten used to having practically no private life over the years and realized that he needed to ease her into the lifestyle. Instead of forcing her sit back down he pulled her close so that she was standing in front of him while he sat. To make her relax he took her hands and twisted her back and forth a little to shake her out of her mood hoping that the action might make her smile. "Come on, relax."

Nicole finally softened and leaned against him hiding her face in his neck. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry for what?" he pulled back so he could look at her.

"I don't belong here," she said, "And I'm making a fool of--"

"Nicole you need to not worry about stuff like that," he said.

"But--"

"You're not making a fool of anyone here. Everyone knows that today is the only day of the year where everyone is upset and not sure what to do," he said looking around. "Everyone here has people they are saying good-bye to."

"Yeah well I don't fit in," she said.

"Don't worry about Dani and Boo and Angela. You'll get to know them better over the next few weeks," he said.

"I can't hang out with them."

"Why not?"

"Because they're all--" She lowered her eyes and said, "I'm not sure what I am compared to them."

Lance laughed a little, "Is that what you're worried about?" He laughed more thinking at how funny she was. For being someone who could be so brash and forward at times, it was nice to see her a little unsure of herself. He'd known this conversation was going to come at some point, but hadn't expected her to be so serious about it.

"I just don't want to assume too much about us," she said. "I mean Dani, Boo, and Angela seem to think that we're a couple and I just want to know what to say to something like that."

"Well, what do you think? If you want to consider it that then say yes, but if you want to keep it to yourself I have nothing to do with that."

"I want to say that I am your girlfriend, but I'm almost scared to claim that, considering that a lot of times when I say things like that I jinx myself."

"Hey Lance, we gotta pack up soon. The guys just called and are on their way back."

"Just a minute House!" Lance called. He stared at the bodyguard watching them then thought of the perfect way to clear up the conversation that he and Nicole were having. "Hey House, come here a second."

The huge bodyguard walked over and gave Lance a smile, "What's up LB?"

"Nothing, I just wanted to introduce you to my girlfriend Nicole," Lance said. He turned to Nicole and found a sad smile on Nicole's face. "Nicole, this is House."

"We've met," Nicole said shaking his hand. "You saved Justin from me beating him up at the party a few weeks ago."

"Oh yeah right, the cereal girl!" The huge guy laughed and Lance relaxed a little.

A moment later a jeep pulled into the parking lot and the driver honked a few times. JC was in the driver's seat with the other's in the jeep with him. They had the stereo blaring a new Eminem song and as JC turned of the engine the guys continued to sing.

"We gotta head out LB so say good-bye," House said walking towards the rambunctious group piling out of the car.

Lance stood up from his seat and pulled Nicole into a hug. He pressed his lips to her forehead as the others said their good-byes and hummed the song The Dance, by Garth Brooks. They'd danced to it the other night while he was trying to teach her the two-step.

* * * * * *

"Are you always this romantic?" she asked as he held her close and swayed to the music.

"No," he said, "Normally I don't have the time to be a gentleman."

"I can't imagine you being any other way."

"Wait until I get on the road. You'll want to kill me then. I'm so busy that I forget everything. Last year I forgot my sister's birthday and my parents anniversary. Luckily someone at the fan club called to remind me."

"Well you've impressed me so far.."

Lance held her close for a moment with a smile on his face. The last few days had been crazy, but taking a chance on her was paying off. She and he were going to be together. He could feel it.

* * * * * *

"I'll give you a call when we get to Mississippi," he said with a soft tone. He'd always hated good-byes, but hadn't experienced so much emotion since the first tour he'd been on when the group had gone to Europe without their parents for the first time.

"I'm sorry that I can't fly up to the show," she said.

"Awe, don't worry about it. You can catch a show sometime over the summer. I think we're making plans to get everyone out on the road for the Fourth of July weekend."

"I'll keep that weekend open then."

He could tell that she was trying to hold back her tears. "You need to come out and visit because I don't think I could stand to go that long without hearing you come home and tell me about Gino's and school."

When a final whistle came from Johnny's direction Lance pulled away from Nicole, leaving only the contact of their hands to keep her with him for a few more minutes. "Come on, walk me to the bus," he said.

They walked over to the bus and met up with the others. Joey paused to give Nicole a hug and told Angela to take care of Nicole while they were gone.

Lance pulled Nicole into one last hug, kissing her with one more long kiss before he climbed onto the bus. Everyone was somber as the bus pulled away and Lance tried not to look out the window although he did catch sight of Nicole and Angela waving at the bus while Boo and Dani seemed to be hugging each other and crying.

Instead of talking to the others, everyone seemed to part ways. JC went to go back to sleep, Justin and Joey went to play video games, while Chris sat up with the driver to talk for a while. Lance went and found his backpack and got out his walk man.

Settling himself into the couch in the living room, he stared out the window and began to play his Garth Brooks CD, hoping that the music and the thought that he would see her in July, would settle his nerves and help him get a few hours of sleep. He figured that if he slept for the next few hours he'd be able to get through the day a little easier.

****************

The Dance

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars alone
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye

*chorus*
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn't I a king
But if I'd only known how the king would fall
Hey who's to say you know I might have changed it all

*chorus*

Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I'd of had to miss the dance.

 


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