Justin stood across the room from her, drink in hand watching everyone. He was leaning against the wall silent for the first in the last hour. He'd been that way all evening, watching everyone. He'd watched her for a time, she hadn't seen him, but she'd felt his eyes on her the whole time he'd been doing. Why was this all so complicated. It shouldn't have been. She didn't want it to be, but it was.


"Ugh!" He pouted. "How is it that I can get a crowd of 40,000 people to sing a verse of one of the group's songs but I can't get you to say four words?" He could see it in her eyes that she liked him and there was so much that had been said over the phone to tell him that she did like him, but with her it was like pulling teeth to get her to admit.

"Cuz I'm stubborn…. Besides…I'm not interested."

"You piss me off sometimes. You know that?" He watched her for a moment. "How come you weren't like this on the phone? Maybe I should call you up so we can have a regular damn conversation." He reached for his cell phone in his pocket, but she stopped him.

"Fine…I'll admit it," she said.

"Yes?" he said, "I'm waiting."

"Ok…" He watched her take a deep breath. "Here goes…I…like you Justin."

Justin jumped up and bounced on the bed for a moment with his hands over his head. He didn't care that the jarring motion made his head hurt. He'd gotten her to admit what he'd known for a while now which meant that things would be moving forwards from there on out. He watched her bounce around on the mattress for a moment before plopping down, butt first, making her almost fall onto the floor as the mattress reacted to his landing.


Patty sighed deeply and rubbed the back of her neck and groaned. How long until she could get out of here? Was there a rule to that? After all she was in the wedding party, but did that mean that she had to stay until the party ended?


Patty gave her a warning look. "I don't need a guilt trip. I'm already having a complex over this whole thing."

"Then why are you doing it?"

"Because it's what I want and I'm going to do whatever it takes to get it done."

"Even ruin the rest of your life?"

"I'm not ruining my life."

"Keep telling yourself that. You may start to believe it."



As she moved a little in her seat her eye caught sight of JC gently leading Leah onto the dance floor for a slow song. He'd been really drunk earlier, but it seemed that now he was in a cuddle mood. It had been great that night to see them together. She'd worried about the two of them for a while, but it seemed as if the news of their baby and the wedding was pushing everything into place.

It was hard not to be jealous of the happy couple on the dance floor. Not only did they look the part of the happy little couple, but the way they acted towards each other was perfect. She hadn't seen them looking that in love in ages and it was especially nice ot see JC with his hand curled between them with his palm on her stomach as if he was dancing with two of them instead of just her.

A hand touched her shoulder and a moment later a familiar voice asked, "Is this seat taken?"

It was inevitable that he would find her that night. She'd been avoiding him long enough, getting away with it so far, but now there was no where to run. His family had left and all her reasons to be distracted were gone.

"It's a free country," she said glancing back at him. Justin pulled the seat out and sat next to her. With an elbow resting on the table top he looked at her and said, "We need to talk."

"I don't think you're in a state of being able to have a conversation with me right now," she said.

"What?" he asked.

"You've been drinking and you and I can barely carry on a conversation when we're both sober," she said.

"What made you get so pissed at me?" he asked, "What the hell did I do to you to make you turn into this big bitch?"

"Slick Timberlake," she said ignorning the fact that he'd just called her a bitch. "I always have enjoyed how you speak to me."

"What am I supposed to do?" he asked, "I've been waiting for weeks now to see what your verdict is on this relationship, but I've gotten no answers from you and now that you and I are in the same place you've ignored me."

"I have my reasons," she said, "I told you that."


She lifted a hand to his chest and held it there against his heart for a moment, pausing only to look into his eyes for an instant, before she removed her hand and stuck it into her pocket. "Don't do this Justin," she said and pushed away from him. "If you really love me, you won't ask me to stay."

"This is crazy."

She turned back and looked at him with sad eyes. "Justin, there's a saying. If you let something go and it comes back it's meant to be."

"Don't quote stupid things at me!" he pouted.

"Just leave it alone J," she said.

"But Cli," he whined.

She gave him a look of warning.

"So I've lost," he said.

"You haven't lost Curly. This was never meant to be a competition."


She watched him for a moment. She didn't like to see the pain on his face, but she couldn't help it either. She couldn't just pretend that everything was ok. She'd tried to be with him and all it had caused her was pain. She was in love with him, to the core, but she couldn't do both...she couldn't be her and have him at the same time.

Justin's face softened as she looked at him. "Cli please don't be mad at me," he said and lifted a hand to her cheek. At first he backed away from her, but soon he felt her cheek against his hand.

"I'm not mad at you Justin," she said softly. For the longest time she didn't look him in the eyes then finally she looked at him and there were tears in her eyes. "I'm in love with you Justin. I can't be mad at you."

His stomach flip flopped. He'd been waiting to hear those words for a long time, but he never thought he'd hear them again.

"Then why is this so hard?" He asked.

"Because it has to be," she said, "I have things that I want to do and I was afraid that if I didn't do them now that I'd get distracted and I'd never get them done."

"Because of me?" He asked.

"Being in love with you isn't an easy thing," she said.

"Thanks," he joked.

"I mean it Justin," she said, "Its not just you and me in this. It's you and me and the guys and the publicists and the managers and the lifestyle. It's a whole lot more than me and you."

"But why'd you run away Cli?" He asked.

"I had to make sure that what I wanted was right and I found out that it was," she said.

"So what does that mean?" He asked, "Does that mean that California is right or that being here is right?"

"All I know is that I want both," she said, "But I'm not sure if I can have both because I feel like I've already lost half."

Justin's breath left his chest. She was sitting there telling him that she'd thought she'd lost him.

Scooting his chair over he moved closer to her and took her face in both hands and looked at her, "Honey, Cli honey, you haven't lost me," he said, "I'm right here and I have been and always will be."

She nodded as he wiped her tears away.

"You once told me that we'd be in each other's lives forever and I know that you meant that even if we didn't end up together that we'd be friends, but I don't want that. I want you to be in my life and if it takes plane trips to California to do that and a shift in my schedule then that's what I'm going to do. My music is a big part of my life, but there's room for us to be together and there always will be."

"I'm sorry," she said.

"Sorry for what Cli?" He asked.

"For letting so much time go by without coming back," she said, "I feel like we've missed out on so much time."

He leaned and kissed her lightly on the lips. "We'll make up for it. I promise."

A moment later two figures stood over them. "You always have to make her cry don't you Timberlake," JC said with a sarcastic tone.

"It's not his fault this time JC," Patty said with a smile moving herself over into his lap.

Justin moved a little and hugged her to him. "We were about to make up, but I guess nothing is going to go smoothly for us."

"You're making up?" Leah asked.

Patty nodded and smiled at her. "It's going to take a little bit of doing and you're not going to be seeing Justy in Orlando for the next few months during vacations, but yeah we're making up."

Leah smiled and hugged JC. "Thank God," she said.

"It's nice to know that you care so much," Justin said.

"What are you talking about?" She asked with a laugh, "I thought my whole wedding party was going to be brawling. Who cares about you two...I just want my wedding to go well."

It was cold that evening when they all stepped out of the front door to go home. The weather had been nice, but Justin could tell that Patty wasn't used to it. Being out in California the temperatures had been higher than they'd been in Orlando. Justin only knew that because he'd been paying attention to everything Californian since they'd parted ways.

"So are you guys splitting up for the night?" Justin asked as the group made its way towards the parking lot. His arm was around Patty practically holding her up as she cuddled against him and he didn't know the plan for the evening, but he prayed that he and Patty would get to see the sun rise together.

"Tyler!" JC called to his younger brother.

"Yeah?" He asked.

"You ready to head over to the hotel?" He asked.

Tyler nodded sleepily.

"I guess this is good-bye then Leah," JC said with a grand motion. He hugged her then shook her hand. "It's been fun."

Patty giggled and leaned towards Justin, talking into his ear with soft words, "Please tell me that when something important happens to us like that you won't be that corny."

"I won't," he promised and kissed her cheek. He looked at her, "You're getting sleepy."

"I know," she said.

Justin looked over her shoulder as he brought her in close to him for a hug. "Where are you sleeping tonight?" He asked in a whisper.

"Where are you sleeping?" She asked.

"I'm supposed to go home, but I don't have to," he said in a soft voice.

"Go sleep at your woman's house," JC said loudly, "At least one of us will get a little lovin' tonight."

Justin look up just as Leah was hitting JC in the shoulder.

"Owe," JC said.

"That was so rude!" Leah said, "I hope you don't talk like that around our kid."

JC frowned and leaned in a kissed her, "Never."

Joey smiled and looked around, "What about me? What am I? Chopped Liver?"

Chris laughed, "You guys aren't the only ones getting some booty."

As if in unison, some planned choreography, both Joey and Chris got smacked by their dates.

Justin looked at Patty and could tell that she had been embarrassed, but she didn't move away from him like he thought she would have. She just curled her hands tighter into where she'd grabbed onto his sweater.

"You ready to head out?" Justin asked.

Patty nodded and the group of them parted ways. A moment later four sets of cars left the parking lot.

Justin leaned across his car and pulled Patty's hand across so that it was resting on his stomach. He twisted his fingers into hers and lifted her hand to his lips to kiss it then steered the car towards her apartment.

"Don't fall asleep on me just yet," he said.

"It's been a long day," she said.

"Well it's not over yet," he said, "But it'll definitely get better."

"As long as you're there with me when I wake up in the morning I don't think anything will ever be bad again."


"Hey Cli?" He asked.

"Yeah?" she said tiredly.

"What are you doing next week?" Justin asked loudly from the confines of the bathroom. The fan was running but the door was open. She had curled up into the sheets and was dozing when he'd left the bed, pulled on his boxers and walked across the room.

"I have to go back to LA," she said pulling the sheet up around her as she moved to lie on her back. She didn't realize it, but it was a lot better to sleep with another person in bed. She hadn't remembered that she got so cold without someone else there.

He hesitated a little when he went to speak and that was enough to show his disappointment. "Really? LA?" he groaned, "What's so great about LA?"

She watched him coming back from the bathroom. He'd turned of the lights sending the room into darkness, but she could still see him in the light coming in front the street. He pouted a little. She didn't have to see his face to know his reaction. Just the slowing of his footsteps showed her his reaction.

"I'm working on my book Justin," she said matter of faculty, "I have meetings with my editor and the publishing company next week."

"That sucks," he said, "I was going to see if you could stick around for a while and maybe go down to The Keys with me for a while."

"I can't," she shrugged, "Maybe in a few weeks, but not right now. I barely got in the first place and I hate to admit it, but I'm itching to get back to my computer and get more chapters out."

"Thanks," Justin said with a huff.

"Justin you know what I mean when I say that. You can't tell me that you haven't been itching to get into the studio before. It's nothing against you at all," she explained.

"That was something I was going to ask you about," he said, "Why didn't you ever told me about your writing? I mean you just up and left and I didn't even know I wrote."

Patty scooted down in bed a little as he pulled the covers back a little and slipped in next to her in the bed. He scooted up behind her and pulled her back against his chest. "It's kind of hard to explain…"

"I'm all ears," he said moving a little to get comfortable.

"Okay Mr. Mouse," she said.

"So?" he asked when she didn't say anything. She turned and faced him and took a breath. There had been so many reasons why she hadn't told him about the writing, none really that had to do specifically with him, just the fact that most of the people she knew didn't know that she wrote. "Truthfully, I wasn't sure if you'd be interested in what I'm writing."

"Why wouldn't I be interested?" he asked, "I make you listen to my music, why wouldn't I read your books?"

"Well because my books aren't exactly your style," she said cringing. The age difference and now the whole gender issue came into play. He was a guy and he definitely wouldn't understand.

"Not my style?" he asked. His arm slid over and pulled her over towards his body. He'd returned to wearing his boxers, but she was naked under the covers and the sensation of skin meeting skin gave them both a start.

"Justin I write romance novels," she said with giggle as he ran his hand over a sensitive part of her side that he knew was ticklish. "As much as I love you, I cannot see you sitting on some plane or some bus reading something that I've written."

"What?" he said tickling her, "I've seen those books before...Fabio isn't on the cover is he?"

Patty laughed a little then twisted away from his tickling. "I'm not sure yet," she said, "You want to pose for the cover."

"No," he said instantly, "I'll stick with singing." "See," she said, "Two totally different worlds."

"So what's your story about?" Justin asked as he slid his arms around her again bringing her against his chest.

It wasn't hard to relax with him holding her that way. She pushed her hair out of her face and took a deep breath. "You really want to know?"

"Yes," he said.

OK," she said, "I'll tell you the basic story...

What would make the perfect man? That's the delicious topic heating up the proceedings at a certain table of professional women at their favorite restaurant, Ernie's, tonight: Mr. Perfect. What qualities would he have? Would he be tall, dark, and handsome? Caring and warmhearted -- or will just muscular do? Jaine Bright and her three girlfriends start off with the basics -- he'd be faithful and reliable, the responsible type, with a great sense of humor. But as the conversation picks up momentum, so do the quartet's requirements for Mr. Perfect -- and they write down a tongue-in-cheek checklist that's both funny and racy. The next thing they know, the List, as it has come to be called, spreads like wildfire throughout their company and sizzles along e-mail lines. And it doesn't stop there: the List becomes an overnight sensation, grabbing the interest of local newspapers and television coverage. No one expected this avalanche of attention for something that began as a joke among friends. And the joke turns deadly serious when one of the four women is murdered... (***This is the real summary of a book called Mr. Perfect by Linda can buy the book at

Justin yawned, covering his mouth.

"See I told you," she said.

"No, no," he said, "That yawn wasn't from the story."

"Sure it wasn't," she said.

"No, it sounds great, but please tell me you don't write like that. That sounds like something off the back of the book."

"It is," Patty said with a blush. "I memorized it."

"Is this book about me?" Justin asked with a smile, "Mr. Perfect and all."

"No, Mr. Ego it's not," she said.

"I was just kidding," he said.

Silence fell over them for a moment and Patty thought for an instant that he'd fallen asleep on her. Her ear was pressed against his chest and she could hear his heartbeat and the rhythm of his breathing had slowed.

His mind had been racing for most of the night on the possible outcomes for their futures. It was inevitable that she would return to LA, but he wasn't sure how things would go after that.


"I'm not mad at you Justin," she said softly. For the longest time she didn't look him in the eyes then finally she looked at him and there were tears in her eyes.

"I'm in love with you Justin. I can't be mad at you."


It was great to be back with Patty, but at the same time he was already anticipating when she'd leave him again. She'd planned to come into town for the wedding and leave again and while he had vacation to use, he didn't know if he'd get to spend it with her.

"So when are you going to be back in town?" Justin asked sadly. He'd been trying not to dwell on the fact that he'd be away from her for a long time, but at the same time the last month had been torture and he wanted to know how much more of that he'd have to go through.

"I don't know," she said and looked up at him in the darkness. He could feel her breath on his chin and he smiled because she was so close to him.

"I don't know how this is going to go," Justin said, "But are you moved in enough to have a houseguest?"

Patty kissed his chin. "Do you want to come with me to California for your vacation?"

Justin took a deep breath and pulled her closer to him for a moment. "I missed you Cli. I don't want to lose you so soon again."

"How many days off do you have?" she asked.

"Until this time next week," he said.

"You don't have to work at all?" she asked.

"No," he said, "I was planning on spending time with Bubba and Jonathan for a few days, but I want to see you too."

"What about your dad and step-mom?" she asked.


"Well I was figuring that you could do both. I miss Bubba and Jonathan too," she said, "Want to bring them out to California for a few days? I live right near Disneyland and there are some beaches and stuff you could go to."

"You want to baby-sit my brothers?" he asked.

Patty moved so that she could kiss his mouth, "We could play house for a few days…except this time you get to be the stay at home mom and I can be the bread-winner."

"You want me to pack up my brothers and bring them out to California?" he repeated.

"Yes," she said, "We'll hang out with them during the day then once they go to sleep at night we can hang out."

"You sure?"

"I want you to spend time with your brother Justin," she said, "You haven't seen them in a while."

"How do you know that?" he asked.

"Because I keep track of stuff like that."

"Fine," he said, "I'll ask Dad about it tomorrow."


Patty had always been big on family, but that day watching JC and Leah exchanged their vows made her really want to start one. It had been her original idea to have Jonathan and Bubba visit her out in California so that she could visit with all of them and Justin could see his brothers. Now though, as she watched all three of them in their tuxedos standing in the front of the church, her maternal instincts were kicking in. They looked like a cute little family standing there and she found herself desperately wanting to be a part of that. She had her own brothers and sisters, but she wanted Justin.

At the moment she shouldn't have been dwelling on her own problems. With the bride and groom only standing feet away from her she felt like she was disrespecting them for not paying that close attention to them. She looked down at her feet, staring at the straps of her shoes like they were the most interesting thing ever invented, before someone saw that she was staring at Justin. The photographer had been snapping pictures all day and she didn't really need to be caught staring at him. Everyone had heard that morning that they had talked and made up, but she didn't want that drama to overshadow Leah's day.

Slowly her eyes focused on a white handkerchief that appeared in front of her face. Without looking up she knew that it was Justin's hand offering it. She squeezed his hand quickly before he pulled away then looked up to see JC and Leah staring at her. She'd missed the whole thing. The till death do us part's; the I do's; the you now may kiss the bride; all of it.

"I never thought I'd see the day that YOU'D be crying," JC said with a joking tone. Everyone gathered chuckled, "I'm just hoping that those are tears of joy instead of hate because I don't plan on having this one get away from me." He held up Leah's hand and kissed it.

Being a little more than embarrassed, Patty blushed and ducked her head, "No, no, definitely tears of joy." She immediately looked at Justin and tried to smile for everyone as JC and Leah made their way down the isle.

"You ok Cli?" he asked quietly as she took his arm to follow everyone outside.

She nodded not knowing if she could trust her voice.

"You sure?" he asked.

She nodded again, "I just got caught up in the moment."

"Well I hope you didn't use it all up just then…what are you going to do at our wedding?" he said.

She almost tripped over her shoe when he said that. Her eyes flew to his and he smiled at her, a little smirk of course. He leaned and kissed her cheek before breaking off to go find his brothers so that the three of them could throw rice at the bride and groom.

With shaky legs Patty found the little package of rice that had been left for her and a moment later Bubba was attached to her leg wanting to be picked up. Even though she knew that she shouldn't, due to the delicate nature of her dress, she grabbed him up and hugged him then handed him the rice as she walked outside to join everyone else throwing rice.

Everyone looked so perfect standing there waiting for Leah and JC outside.

"Why were you crying?" Bubba asked as he held the rice and grabbed up a handful.

Not knowing what else to say Patty tried to make it as simple as she could. "I was really happy."

"You shouldn't cry. Justin didn't make you cry did he?" Bubba said, "He's not supposed to make anyone cry. Mommy says so."

"No, honey," she said softly, "Justin didn't make me cry."

Bubba finally wiggled out of her grasp and as they walked by he threw rice at them as if he was throwing a baseball at them. Patty grabbed up his hand and told him to be careful and showed him how to do it correctly.

When they were safely in the car Justin appeared next to her and was tugging at his tie already. Of course Jonathan and Bubba did the same thing and soon the three of them were tucking their ties into their front pockets and undoing the front buttons of their shirts.

"You guys ready to go?" Justin asked.

Jonathan nodded and leaned against Patty a little bit. He was older and usually didn't like to look like he was depending on others, but that week he'd been very huggy with everyone.

"You ok kiddo?" she asked.

Jonathan nodded, "Now can we go have cake and stuff? That was soooo boring."

Patty laughed as Justin pulled Bubba into his arms.

"Are you ready for some cake little guy?" Justin asked.

Bubba nodded hard, almost knocking his chin against his chest.

It had been almost an hour since he'd spoken to her. He couldn't believe that they'd been in the same room this long without talking to each other. It was torture to have to sit on the other side of the room and watch her like he'd done the night before. Now that they'd made up he didn't want to have to share her with everyone else.

Once they got to the party there seemed to be some issue going on with Nicole. She'd been looking a little under the weather during the ceremony. He'd also noticed that she and Lance seemed tense around each other, which would have been a first for them. They'd always been so openly in love with each other, but today had been strained. He hoped it was only temporary, but when they arrived at the party and JC and Leah made their entrances Patty had slipped away from him and had disappeared leaving Justin to hang out with the guys. He didn't at all despise them for stealing her away, but he'd planned to stay with her a little longer than just walking in the door with her.

"Can I steal you away?" he asked softly as he leaned into the little group. They were all sitting talking and Nicole still looked upset, but he wasn't about to go the whole night without talking to Patty. She nodded and stood from the group giving them all looks before she followed him out onto the balcony of the place where they were having the reception.

"I'm sorry about that," she immediately apologized, "Slight girl crisis if you know what I mean."

"Better not be some PMS thing," he said, "Cuz if it is, I don't want to hear it."

"It's a little more serious than that," she said softly.

Justin pulled her towards him, wrapping her in his arms, then leaned against the railing and held her there. "What was all that crying about earlier?" he asked.

"Nothing," she said with a sigh leaning into him. He liked the way she seemed to fit perfectly there. If he could he'd hold her like that forever.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

She nodded, "I'm fine. I just got to thinking and well it got to me."

"What got to you?" he asked.

"Its nothing."

"Cli, you're the worst liar," he said, "Tell me."

She sighed, "It's stupid and the whole subject will probably just confuse things between us so I'd rather not talk about it."

"Confuse things between us?" he said leaning back to look at her. He tipped his eyes down and looked at her. "How is it going to confuse things?"

He wanted to smile when he saw her expression change from one of sadness to one of annoyance. She seemed to realize that he wasn't going to let this thing go until they talked about it--he thought that he'd made that clear when he'd run after her in the airport all those weeks ago.

"I just don't want to overstep the bounds that we have with each other," she said with a sigh.

"There shouldn't be any bounds between us," he said. He reached and put a hand to her cheek, "Cli, just tell me. I'm not going to get mad or upset or anything…I just want to know what's going on with you."

She moved forward and leaned her head against his shoulder. "It's the whole marriage thing…I'm the last of the group--"

Justin smiled and kissed the side of her head. "Are you feeling like an old spinster right now?"

Patty leaned back and looked at him. "Ok, first off I didn't know that spinster was in your vocabulary and second of all…yes! I'm one of the older ones in this group and I'm last to get married. It seems--"

"I shouldn't have said that earlier…" Justin groaned, "It was supposed to be a joke, but I guess the punch line backfired."

"No," she said and put a hand on his chest, "That comment shocked me a little, but I don't--" She let out a groan and mumbled, "I didn't want this conversation to go in that direction--" She looked up at him again. "I don't want you to think that I'm going to put pressure on you about that. I know that a lot of times when friends start to get married that everyone around them seems to follow the trend, but I want the man I marry to want to marry me for me, and not because all his other friends are doing it."

"Oh," he said and frowned.

"Shit," Patty said and backed away from him, "I knew I'd mess this up…"

He watched her pace for a moment before she came back over to him and leaned against him. "I don't want to discourage you from doing that, but I don't want to pressure you either…you know?"

Justin nodded and smiled at you. "I love it when you're frustrated," he said.

"You do?" she said.

"Yeah," he said, "It proves that you're not so tough."


"So I'll see you three tomorrow?" she said with cautious tone as he leaned to hug her. It had been the first words she'd spoken to him since they'd gotten out of bed that morning, when she'd told him that she'd rather stay with him in bed than leave again. He'd agreed with her at the time then had shut himself off from her, not speaking to her other than to ask her if she had everything when they packed up the car.

He'd had taken a hold of her hand after they'd parked the car and hadn't let go of it on the walk to the counter or the walk to the gate. He acted like she was going to get lost or something if he broke contact with her. When they'd ridden up the escalator, he'd stood next to her and tucked her hand and his hand against his stomach, as if protecting the bond so that it wouldn't be broken.

The whirlwind of activity around them seemed to disappear as they said their good-byes. She'd known that this would be hard, but now, in the moment it was worse than she'd imagined. They were only going to be apart for less than twenty-four hours, but after finding each other it was going to be a challenge.

Patty was not only nervous about saying goodbye, but having Justin in the airport without security with him hadn't been the smartest of ideas, but he'd insisted that he drive her to the airport and she couldn't have told him no. She didn't want to tell him no. Not this time anyway. Last time had been different, but this time was the start of something new and she needed to trust that he knew what he was doing.

"Yep," he said then kissed her on the lips quickly once, then again capturing her lip with his before looking in her eyes to give her a smile. He let out a contented sigh and kissed her forehead.

He smelled of cologne and soap and the leather of his jacket. It was all too perfect. She'd woken up that morning in his arms and although she'd be away from him for a night she knew that the next week with him in LA would be the best week of her life.

He smiled, "Flight 1457. Right at nine. Me and the two munchkins."

"Be nice to your brothers," she said with a half warning tone. She knew that he loved his two brothers and wouldn't do anything to them or have them be away from him. It was just one of those things…where the other brother has to hate the younger siblings every now and then, just for show. "I'm always nice to them. I'm bringing them to California and sharing you," he said, "That's nice enough for me. That's too nice if you ask me."

"You better be nice to them." She put a hand to his chest and felt his heartbeat for a moment. It was beating quickly although she didn't know exactly why. "I'll go grocery shopping tomorrow and get stuff for you guys to munch on," she said nervously, "The boys aren't allergic to anything are they?"

"Nope," he said with a nod and held her close more, "Don't worry about getting anything special for them. They're spoiled already. Just don't get too many vegetables. They aren't allergic to them, but getting them to eat them is more of a challenge than I can handle. I'm on vacation and I don't plan on getting whined at over something as stupid as that."

"Ok," she said with a laugh and leaned in, pressing her forehead against his chin. He hadn't shaved that morning and usually that would turn her off, but there was something about having him be not so perfect that made him seem sexier than normal. Also it made her feel even more special because he always seemed so put together in public. She got to see him at his not so best.

His arms tightened around her, pulling her as close as she'd been to him that morning underneath the sheets. His head went to rest on her shoulder and he held her close, breathing small breaths against her skin causing goose bumps to form.

"Justin you have to let me go," she finally said, her voice being mumbled into his neck. She had started to notice people watching them and she didn't want to cause a scene.

"I don't want to." His sigh indicated his reluctance to let her leave his arms. She didn't blame him for not wanting to let go, but if she missed her flight things would not go well for the four of them when they finally all got to LA. "Last time I did let you go I didn't see you for a month."

"I'll be there tomorrow night to get you and the boys, ok?" she said moving to look into his eyes. Her lids lowered a little then she looked him straight in the eyes and put a hand on his cheek. "I love know that right?"

He nodded slightly then leaned into her palm for a moment before kissing her hand. "I love you too."

"Now go on before Wes and Loni found out that you left the house without them," she said using a tone that was somewhere between concerned and downright parental.

"Damn celebrity status," he said with a laugh as he rolled his eyes, "It's worse than being the president's kid."

"You're cuter too," she said with a laugh and kissed him one last time. "I'll see you in a few hours."

"I love you," he said again as if she hadn't heard him the first time, even though she'd answered him.

"I love you too," she said.

As she moved away from him she felt a chill rush over her. She needed him there with her and if the month away hadn't been enough to convince her, the next few moments drove the steak home.

Walking down to her seat was a challenge. She didn't know why it had gotten so hard to say good-bye, but she knew that this had to be the last time. If she had to do this again she knew that she wouldn't be able to do it without tears.

Once in her seat on the plane she ordered a drink and slipped her headphones on. Not at all surprising, her choice of songs was one of Justin's and soon she was asleep, even before her drink got to her.

Justin was in a funk by the time he got home. He'd waited until the last minute, when he thought he saw her plane take off then drove around for a while before heading back to the house.

With all the relatives around Justin had a hard time escaping to his room, but once he did he locked himself in and flopped down on his bed, face first and stared at himself in the mirror across the room. He didn't know if he should feel better or worse. He'd thought that the pain of being away from her was over, but now it seemed as if he was hurting more. He was back with her, but couldn't be with her all the time and that bothered him.

The thing that was the worst about the whole situation was that he couldn't do a damn thing about it. Unless he decided to take her on tour or quit the music business all together there would be no way for them to be together.

When a knock sounded at the door Justin yelled, "Who is it?"

"Sweetie its me," the voice said through the door.

Justin groaned aloud knowing that his mother would be all over him for this. When she worrried about him she was way too over protective about it. He couldn't get away from her when she got it into her mind to mettle in his business.

"Sweetie why is the door locked?" She asked.

Justin had a few answers he'd like to throw at her but none were appropriate to say to his mother. "Hold on," he said.

He opened the door and a moment later was pulled into a hug. "I'm sorry J. I know that tonight was tough for you. Don't worry though. You and the boys will see her tomorrow."

"I don't want to talk about it," Justin said.

"I know you're hurting," she said rubbing his back.

"I'm fine mom," he said, "It's not something I want to discuss with you."

He moved away from her and sat down on the bed with a thud.

"Sweetie," she said looking at him, "Don't get all down. You'll figure something out. I know that you and her have some things to figure out, but you'll make it."

A thought popped into his mind and suddenly he could see himself in a house in LA. "If I moved out there would you miss me?"

"Move out there?" She asked.

"I'm in love with her mom and I don't think that I can handle being out here while she's out there," he said holding his head.

"Justin," she siad seriously.

He didn't look up.

"Justin look at me for a minute," she said.

"You aren't going to yell at me are you?"

"Yell at you?" She said, "Why would I yell at you?"

"I'm just complicating our families lives. I didn't think I could throw more twists and turns into this and now if I moved out to LA it would just make it worse."

"Honey," she said and moved to sit next to him. "You have to follow your heart. I told you that at the beginging of this that you had to make the decisions and that the rest of the family would deal with it."

"Yeah, but Jonathan and Bubba are getting so big and I've missed out on so much of their lives already. They're my brothers and I don't think i could tell you ten things about them."

"Is that your worry?" She said.

He nodded. "Part of it."

"We'll work it out honey," she said, "You need to think about you for once. Your heart is going to break in two and I don't want that to happen. If you want to be with your brothers then we can make that happen, but if you want to be with your love, you have to go find her."

"How am I ever supposed to be normal with her?" He asked. He didn't realize it, but all of this was bothering him more than he'd thought. He really didn't understand how he could have her and have his music and live a sane life.

"Honey...if you're meant to be together then you'll be together," she said.

"Please don't throw that quote at me. Patty said that to me the last time she left and all it did was confuse me more," he said.

His mom leaned and kissed his forehead and hugged him. "I'll leave you alone honey, but you should tuck your brothers in. I've got them all packed up and ready to go. There are instructions and things for them, but you'll be able to get in touch with me or Lisa if you need help."

"I'll be fine," he said, "Remember, Patty has like eightteen brothers and sisters."

"Eightteen?" She asked.

"Well not that many, but you know."

"Have fun honey, ok?" She said.

"I will," he said, "I'll make sure that the boys are good too."

"That's all I can ask for," she said.

"I'll make sure that I spend lots of time with them and keep them out of Patty's hair while she's working."

"You're taking Wes with you aren't you?"

"He'll be in town if we go out, but I'm planning on staying in a bit with the boys."

"Anyway I'll leave you alone honey. Just make sure you say goodnight to your brothers," she said, "And make sure that your radio doesn't get too loud."

"I'm headed for bed anyway."

"Well sleep tight then honey," she said, kissed his forehead and left him alone.


[[ NEXT ]]

© 2000-2001 Pit Pat Productions