DRIVING SIDEWAYS:


THREE:


 When she walked into work late on Tuesday afternoon she went straight to the bar to see how Patty was doing. She'd been doing errands and wanted to make sure that things were going smoothly. She knew that Patty could handle things on her own, but she liked to check in anyway.

Instead of finding Patty at her place behind the bar she found JC. With the sleeves of a green sweater pushed up to the elbows, he was standing, humming something under his breath while he dunked dishes into the sink with a smile on his face as if he did that sort of thing every day.

"JC?" she asked. She'd never met anyone like him. First he'd brought her the replacement glasses now it seemed as if he thought he needed to help out more. She appriciated his effort, but at the same time wondered what he wanted from her. No guy in her life, besides the men in her family, ever did things for her without some motive behind their actions.

He looked up. "Hey Levi."

"Where's Patty?" she asked forgetting to even say hello first.

"In the store room. She'll be back in a second," JC explained with a nod towards the door that lead to the back office and store room.

"What are you doing?"

He held up a dish. "Washing dishes."

"I can see that," she sighed. "Why are you behind my bar and doing my dishes?"

Patty pushed through the door that connected the storeroom to the bar area with her right hand held above her head. On closer inspection Leah saw that the hand was bandaged in gauze and tape and she could see a little red spot on the palm of Patty's hand.

"What happened to you?" Leah demanded.

"She sliced it up earlier," JC said. "You should have seen it." He made a face. "It wasn't pretty."

Patty frowned. "It wasn't that bad."

"Wait, you were here?" she asked.

"He came by to ask you out for lunch and ended up with me in the ER. It wasn't that great of a date, but at least he didn't faint when they gave me a novocaine shot." Patty leaned up against JC's shoulder as he washed the dishes.

"I got a sucker for that one," he said with a cheesy smile.

"You mean you are a sucker." Patty covered her mouth and looked meek for a moment. "Did I say that out loud?"

"Good one," JC sneered back at her. "Lefty!"

Leah took a breath when she found herself feeling jealous about their flirtatious teasing. She had no connection to JC at all, but at the moment she didn't like that she was more comfortable with her than with Leah. She and Patty had never competed for guys in the past and Leah knew that Patty had Sean, but the feeling of being on the outside of their little friendship hurt her feelings.

"So you wanna catch dinner with me tonight?" he asked looking at Leah with one of his smiles.

"I don't know," Leah said. She didn't know him at all. A few nights before when she'd been with him she hadn't really at all been nervous about being alone with him other than the fact that there was a certain sexual tension between them. To date him so close to him having a break up didn't sound good to her. She didn't want to be the rebound girl.

Patty stood just behind JC now and made an excited face. She pointed to JC's shoulder while mouthing the words, "Hit that shit!"

"Awe, come on," he said not seeming to notice Patty at his shoulder. With a pleading sound to his voice, he asked, "Please?"

"I have stuff to do tonight," she replied. She couldn't go out with him. He's a rockstar for God's sakes. Why isn't he out at Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Café or some place fancy picking up on someone.

"Need a chauffeur?" he offered giving another sweet smile.

Leah shifted her weight from one foot to another nervously as Patty gave her an angry look now. "No."

"Come on Leah, you haven't had a date in--"

"Shut up Patty!" Leah spat out at her friend getting the girl to cut off her sentence before she was completely embarrassed.

She look a breath, let it out then said, "I guess we can go do something tonight. But…" she turned to Patty. "…Are you gonna be okay here without me?"

"It's slow on Tuesday's remember," Patty said with an "I'm old enough to baby-sit myself, mom" sort of tone.

"You sure?" she asked.

"I'm fine," Patty said, "I think Sean was going to come over and visit, but I think I can get a few good hours of work out of him."

"Tell him I'll make him cinnamon rolls again if he helps out."

"I will." Patty smiled widely.

Leah turned back to JC. "Give me about an hour and a half to get some paper work done then we'll go run errands and get dinner."

"Sounds good," he said.

"And JC?" she said.

After walking a few feet towards her office she turned around. He was looking at Patty with a strange look on his face, somewhere between excitement and nervousness but turned and lifted an eyebrow as he listened. "Yeah?"

"Leave the dishes alone."

"Fine," he said.

Leah watched him wipe his hands then she walked into the back room.


 

An hour-and-a-half later JC was still at his place at the bar. He'd taken the day off from recording so he'd stayed around and chatted to Patty while she helped customers, trying to keep an eye out for Leah to come out of the back room.

"So if I keep feeding you free drinks are you going to hook me up with free tickets?" Patty asked then mumbled under her breath, "Or a date?"

"I'd even get you backstage passes if you'd get me a drink with extra ice this time," he said.

"Long Island Iced Tea," she said, "No Long Island?"

"Does that make me a regular now--since you know my favorite drink?" he asked.

"Don't expect a beer mug with your name on it, but yeah, I guess so," she said. She poured him another iced tea with extra ice in the glass, squeezed in a little lemon and passed him two packets of sugar.

"So…" JC said as he shook the packets then opened them and dumped them into the glass. He stirred the glass with a long spoon that Patty had offered him and stared at the door to the back room where Leah had disappeared to.

"If you want to know about Leah just ask," Patty said with a devilsh tone to her voice. "You've been dying to ask me about her all afternoon."

JC sat up straight and looked at Patty in the eyes. "I just want to know if she's--"

His cellphone rang and he reached to answer it holding up a hand to pause his conversation with Patty.

"Hello?"

"C, it's Justy," JC heard.

"What’s up Justin?" JC said for Patty's benefit. Sure as he'd thought, as soon as he'd identified the caller, Patty's face lit up with a big smile.

"My brothers are in town, want to come with me to get them?"

"I can't Justin, I've got plans," JC said. He didn't want to lie to the guy, but he wasn't sure that he wanted him to know that he'd been right about Boo and about the fact that JC needed someone new in his life.

"With who?" Justin asked, "Not that Leah girl you told me about."

"Yes Justin, THAT LEAH GIRL and I have plans," JC said with a smile.

"Well you're missing out. Jonathan has the new Playstation game and was going to play you on it, but I guess I'll get to learn all the new tricks before you do," Justin bragged.

"I'll catch him later sometime," JC said.

"Have fun on your date," Justin said with a laugh and hung up the phone.

JC clicked off his phone and smiled at Patty, "You didn't want to say hi did you?"

"No," Patty said bouncing in place. She turned and he watched her walk away as she mumbled, "Oh my god."


 

Leah held her breath for a moment before she pushed her way out of her office. She had been sitting at her desk for almost an hour and a half, but hadn't gotten any work done at all. She opened the books and had taken everything out to start working, but had gotten side tracked by a note that Patty had left for her on the desk reminding her to add the extra case of beer glasses to the inventory list.

She could have gone back out to the bar, but she figured that if she did go back out JC would wonder why she really wasn't busy. She'd had a feeling that he hadn't left when she'd disappeared into the office and she didn't want to embarrass herself by trying to explain why she wasn't working.

That afternoon JC had been dressed up. The green sweater made his eyes seem to pop and although she'd seen better pictures of his hair, thanks to Patty, she liked the sort of wild style he'd been sporting that day. She caught a glimpse of his pants as she walked by. They were a sleek black material and fit him perfectly. She couldn't help but to admire the way that pop stars and rock stars always seemed to have perfect clothes.

"You ready?" she asked when she found Patty and him leaning across the bar chatting with each other.

"Sure," he said sliding off the barstool. He pushed his glass towards her with a smile and a wink then joined Leah.

"Have fun kids!" Patty called after then.

Leah walked next to JC nervously, trying to concentrate on not hitting into him, but she couldn't help but to hear Patty mumble, "Don't forget to fasten your condom…I mean your seatbelts."


 

When JC felt raindrops on his cheeks he looked up into the sky and stood there watching the rain fall. He took deep breaths, letting the rainy breeze wash over him for a moment. It was completely quiet, just the rain sounding on some of the overhangs of the buildings played a soundtrack to his Kodak moment. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been able to just stand still long enough to see it rain. Between rehearsals, performing, interviews, meet and greets and traveling he hadn't really been out in the sun in a few weeks let alone be free enough to stand out in the rain.

"What are you doing?" Leah's voice broke into his thoughts.

Smiling, JC looked over and watched Leah stare at him as the rain began to fall a little harder. His shoulders were starting to feel wet and his whole face had been covered with water. "Come out here," he said reaching out to where she'd run for cover under a store's overhang. "This is great!"

He was surprised to find her responsive to his request. Boo would have just told him that she would melt in the rain and would have protested even if he'd pulled her out to stand on the sidewalk next to him, but Leah came and stood next to him and tipped her face up into the sky.

After a moment, when the silence between them seemed as if it had gone on long enough JC decided that it was time for a little fun. He linked his arm through hers and they began to walk down the street.

"So where are we going again?" he asked.

"If you want, we can go to the ice cream shop down the street," Leah said.

JC manuvered her over so that she was under the overhang then as soon as he could tell she was melting from the gentlemanly deed he'd just performed, he pulled her sideways straight under where the water was dripping down from the ceiling.

Leah screamed as some of the water trickled down her back and JC took a few steps back and held onto her hands as she began to swing at him while laughing.

Moving quickly he trapped her hands with one of his then made her stop moving. He wiped her face as her hair fell into her eyes. "What was that for?" she said beginning to struggle out of his grasp.

"I like you all wet," he said.

"What?" She got an arm free and swung at him and missed, so he grabbed her around the middle, picked her up off her feet and hugged her to him.

"Lemme go!" she said with a laugh.

"Nope," he said with a smile.

"Come on," she said kicking her feet a little.

"Not until you kiss me," he said he leaned towards her so that his mouth was inches from hers then pulled back teasing her as her eyes sparkled at him.

"What is this kindergarten?" she said, "Hit the girl then try to kiss her?"

"It's my addiction," he said, "Remember?"

"Addiction my ass," she countered. "I'm sure you don't need any help feeding that one."

"Oh come on Levi, give a guy a break," he said.

Just as she was beginning to lean towards him to kiss him, just before their lips met, a flash of lightening flew across the sky.

JC looked up and let Leah slide down his body until her feet hit the ground again. He hugged her to him as the thunder rolled in the distance then said, "So much for the kissing, lets get inside."


 

"Josh?" Leah called as she was coming back down stairs after changing. She'd put on sweatpants and a T-shirt and had brushed out her hair and washed her face. She knew she didn't look stunning, but she figured he'd already seen her soaking wet in the rain so there was no point in trying to primp herself up now.

Before she'd gone to change she'd given him directions to where to find her extra robe in the downstairs bathroom, so that they could throw his clothes in the dryer, but hadn't heard from him in a little while and wondered if he'd gotten lost.

"Josh?" She called out again into the quiet house.

Tahoe was at her side looking around as if something was really wrong. "It's ok sweetie," she said with a soothing tone and rubbed the dog's ears. She changed the pitch of her voice to a playful one and spoke again to the dog. "Where's Josh? Where'd he go?" Tahoe looked around. "Go get him!"

Tahoe ran towards the living room and Leah followed. "Josh if you jump out--"

She stopped when she saw him on the couch, wrapped in her old white robe asleep on his back. He took up the whole couch. He had his head propped up on a pillow at one end and his body stretched the length of the three cushions leaving his bare feet to hang off the far end. His breathing was deep and she wondered how long he'd been there. It could have been hours from the comfortable way he'd settled himself onto the couch.

When she noticed his wet clothes on the floor between the couch and the coffee table she reached down to pick them up. She figured she'd let him sleep for a minute or two while she put his things in the dryer. What she didn't expect was to be so close to him when she leaned down. She could have leaned out and kissed him, but instead she stood up and went to go push his clothes in the dryer. She needed to keep herself busy or she was going to get into more trouble than she was already in.

Returning to the living room Leah walked quietly by JC. He was still on his back and hadn't moved, but she could hear his breathing a little louder and watched as his eyes moved back and forth under his eyelids. She wondered for a moment was he was dreaming about. After a moment of staring, when she felt like a stalker for hovering over him she decided to just hang out for the evening and wake up JC if it got too late. With Tahoe at her heels she made her way to the kitchen to get a glass of water and see if she could find something to do that would keep her within earshot of the living room in case he did decide to wake up.

She found the book she had been reading earlier in the week on the counter next to her fruit bowl and grabbed it and went to wait for JC to wake up. She didn't think that he would sleep that long and reading would help her pass the time.

An hour and a half later she found herself beginning to slip in and out of consciousness as the rhythmic snoring coming from the couch lulled her into a relaxed state. She'd been sitting in the Papa-Son chair with her feet curled under her and her book in her lap when she finally decided that she couldn't wait any longer. She stood and stretched; placing the book on the coffee table then walked over and looked down at JC for a moment. She wondered if she should wake him up, but when he didn't stir after she shook his arm a little she decided to leave him.

She went around and got a blanket out of the cabinet next to the television stand and brought it over to him. Carefully she unfolded the blanket and settled it over him. He seemed to somehow know that there was a blanket on him and she watched him curl himself into it a little. She sat down on the coffee table to see if he might wake up, but when he didn't open an eye at her she got up and leaned over towards him. He moved his head towards her as if he somehow knew she was there and she leaned and kissed his forehead. "Sleep well sweetie."

Tahoe, who'd been curled next to where JC was sleeping, pricked his ears up and looked at Leah. "Stay Tahoe. Make sure he doesn't get lost."

She turned and looked at JC again then went up the stairs to bed.


 

JC opened his eyes to the sound of a whine next to him and wondered where he was. He hadn't remembered going home or to-- Leah!

He jumped up and with a startled feeling looked around the empty room and found himself in the exact spot he'd been the night before when he'd been waiting for her to come down the stairs. He looked at his watch. 8:00 stared back at him and JC groaned. He'd fallen asleep and spent the whole night--he looked down--in her robe--on her couch. A whine sounded from next to him and he looked over and came face to face with--her dog. "Great JC…Justin and Lance get tabloids written about them sleeping with girls...you get to have one about a dog. A dog!" If the guys could see him now! He'd never hear the end of it.

Tahoe barked and JC sat up to calm the animal. They'd gotten to know each other the night before when he'd first gotten to the house and JC felt comfortable enough with him to reach out and pet him. "How about some breakfast Tahoe?"

The dog ran off into the kitchen and JC followed, trying to be as quiet as possible thinking that Leah might still be asleep somewhere in the house.

In the kitchen he easily found cereal and milk and was about to pour himself a bowl when Tahoe barked. "You're right…" he spoke to the dog, "…we should have breakfast in bed. After all, it is my day off." JC tried to see if Leah might have a tray to carry stuff on, but after a search through three cupboards he found a cookie sheet and decided to use that instead.

He loaded two bowls, milk, spoons and the cereal onto the cookie sheet and carefully walked out of the kitchen; through the living room then at the bottom of the stairs he looked over at Tahoe and said, "Where's Leah?" The dog stared at him for a moment then ran up the stairs.

By the time he got up the stairs and to her room he could hear Leah pushing Tahoe away. "Down Tahoe. You know better," she scolded.

JC turned the corner into her room hoping that his arrival would be taken well. He felt stupid for being so nervous, but breakfast in bed wasn't his normal routine and he found himself wanting to make the morning perfect for her. He'd felt bad enough as it was to have fallen asleep on her then overstayed his welcome on her couch and he viewed the breakfast treat as a little peace offering to ease any tension that might be between them.

"Morning," he said softly.

Leah jumped and pulled the covers up to her chin. He could tell that she was wearing a T-shirt, but he liked to see that she was a little modest. Boo would have thrown the covers off and attacked him.

Stop it C; stop bringing Boo into this. It's just you and Leah…and Tahoe.

"Morning," she finally replied and sat back on her pillows.

"Sorry about falling asleep last night." He stayed by the door still unsure if she'd let him into the room.

"It's ok," Leah said softly.

JC stepped further into the room. "I thought I'd make you breakfast, but since my cooking skills stop after making Top Ramen I decided that cereal would be good."

Leah smiled, "Come on in then before it gets cold."

Seeing that she was in a good mood JC stepped towards her and a moment later found Leah scooting over for him. She pushed the unoccupied pillow over for him to lean against then held the tray while he settled himself next to her, carefully arranging his robe around himself. "I feel like Hugh Hefner in this thing."

Leah blushed. "I guess that makes y


FOUR:


Leah was completely exhausted that night when Patty finally escorted the last customer to the door. She fell into a chair with a hard thud and shut her eyes to rest for a moment until the phone rang.

"I got it," Patty said as she untucked her shirt and slid out of her shoes since the customers were gone.

A moment later Patty spoke into the phone. Leah didn't bother to open her eyes. If it was important Patty would tell her.

She opened her eyes when she heard a laugh from the far side of the bar. "Yes, Josh, she's here."

Leah got the receiver a moment later and put it to her ear. "Hello?"

"Levi, it's me," he said, "Sorry I didn't come by today."

"It's ok," she said, "I was so busy today that I doubt I would have even been able to say hello." Leah smiled thinking of how her day had started and hoped that it would end in the same manner. She had to admit, she could get used to waking up and falling asleep at night with JC by her side. "What are you up to now?" she asked.

"We're still in the studio," he said with a sigh.

"Please tell me you haven't been there all day?" she asked.

"We stopped for lunch-er dinner around five but we ordered in," he explained. He sounded tired to her and she wanted to ask him if he was, but didn't deciding that she didn't want to bother him. "It was cool though. Justin's two little brothers were with us so we had a pretty fun day."

"So are you done with the album yet? Lance called and said that Patty and I should come out to the barbecue whatever thing that you're throwing to celebrate the end of it."

"We should be done sometime before Friday if everything goes well," he said. There was a sound behind hm and a second later JC spoke into the phone, "I gotta run, we're starting up again. I just wanted to call and say goodnight."

"Thanks," Leah said with a sigh. What a waste of a good outfit. Oh well.

"If we get out of here for a few hours I'll come by."

"Whatever." Leah shrugged and tried to remind herself that all of this was too crazy and she shouldn't get used to it.


 

Twenty-four hours later JC was still in the studio. He'd gone home and had taken a shower and had thought about going to Sweet Pea's, but when he'd sat down on his bed to put on his socks after his shower he'd fallen asleep.

He'd been rudely awakened by a phone call from Mike telling him to get to the studio then had spent the rest of the evening in meetings.

Now, as the arms of his watch read three a.m., JC exited the studio, stretched, and immediately thought of Leah. He hadn't seen her in two days now and found himself missing her. He needed one of her smiles to keep him going.

He pulled out his cell phone as he exited the studio parking lot and dialed Sweet Pea's

"Hello?" Patty answered after two rings.

"Patsy Cline! What's up?"

"Hey JoJo," Patty replied.

"Levi around?" He asked and turned down towards Sweet Pea's.

"Nope, she left early tonight."

"She at home?"

"Just ask for the number," Patty said with a sigh.

JC laughed. "You know me too well."

"That's what I get paid for," Patty replied then rambled off the number.

"Do you think she's asleep?" he asked.

"Doubt it. I don't think she'd mind being woken up by you…I know I wouldn't."

"Funny," he said, "I'll talk to you later Cline."

"Bye JoJo," she said.

JC turned the jeep in the direction of the beach to head out of town. He was half way there when he dialed her number.

"Hello?" he heard after a few rings.

"Hey Levi," he said trying not to yell at her over the wind that was around him as he sped down the road in the open topped jeep.

"Hi," she said sleepily. He could tell she was smiling.

"Can I come over and say goodnight?" he asked.

"Where are you?"

Checking the odometer he made as estimation of how long it would be until he'd be at her house, "About fifteen minutes away."

"Well if you're in the neighborhood I could use a goodnight kiss," she said softly.

"Ok, I'll be there in a few."

"Just ring the doorbell," she said.

"Go back to sleep until I get there," he said.

"I wasn't asleep."

"Sure," he said, "Just hang up the phone and close your eyes then."

"Sounds good," she said. "See ya in a minute."

"Ok."

They hung up just as JC hit the town limited. He steered the jeep through the ocean front properties amazed that he remembered the way then found her house, parked on the street, put the jeepp's cover over the roll bars then made his way to the door.

It was freezing outside which wasn't going to help his throat any but he pushed that out of his mind and went to knock on the door.

He was greeted a moment later by Leah. Dressed in baggy pajama bottoms and a tank top she looked sexy as hell, but instead of sweeping him into the house like in one of his dreams he'd had of her she laughed. "No offense, but you look like shit."

"Thanks," he said with a smile. "You look like you just stepped off the catwalk yourself."

She let him into the house and Tahoe greeted him with a bark.

They made their way into the living room and plopped down on the couch next to each other.

"SO how's the album coming along?" she asked again.

He yawned. "It's good. Let's not talk about it though. That's all that's been on my mind since I left he other day."

Leah frowned.

"Well that and my addiction of course," he said.

"You were that in need of a nap?" she asked.

JC laughed. "Sure…that's what I thought about."

"So do you have tomorrow off?" she asked.

"Most of the morning. I have to be back at the studio at one for an interview and a photo shoot and another meeting."

Leah yawned.

"I know. It's going to be that interesting," he said.

She yawned again. "I'm sorry."

"Have a long day today?" he asked curling am arm around her, he pulled her close and she snuggled up to him as if they'd sat on the couch like that a million times before.

"Very," she explained. "No psychos, but it was really hectic." She yawned again. "You?"

"Today was fine compared to what's coming up. When we leave on tour I'm going to be working eighteen hour days for almost a month straight--" He stopped and watched her eyes drift downward as if she was having a hard time staying awake.

"OK," he said and scooted out of his seat. "Bedtime for you…"

"Tuck me in?" she said with a sleepy smile.

JC helped her to her feet, wrapped his arms around her and helf her for a moment before they made their way to the second floor.


 

Leah could feel herself waking up and wondered for a moment why she was so hot. Normally her blankets kept her at the correct temperature, but it felt like she had fallen asleep in a sauna or something.

Finally, when she twisted and turned and still wasn't comfortable she opened her eyes.

Deep blue sleepy eyes smiled back at her. "Done tossing and turning?" JC asked with a gruff morning voice.

"What?" she looked around and found that they were in bed together. JC lay next to her, underneath the covers earing only a wifebeater. She lifted the covers and saw that he'd removed his shoes and had slept the night in his jeans next to her.

"Did you know that you snore?" he asked with a playful smile.

"Do not!" she replied.

"Do too," he said and leaned and kissed the tip of her nose. "It's cute…Cute little…" He made horrible snoring noise and laughed.

"You snore too," she said remembering how she'd listened to him on the couch the other night.

"At least I can admit it," he said.

"Don't make fun of me this early in the morning. I'm not awake enough to defend myself."

"Oh poor baby," JC pulled her into his arms.

"Hey, be careful," she said with a laugh. "You might squeeze me to death." He let his arms fall away from her, but she stayed where she'd been pulled onto his chest.

He played with her hair, first pushing it behind her ears then combed it over her face with his fingers then playfully called out. "Look, it's cousin it!"

"There goes your cinnimon rolls," Leah grumbled. She pushed her hair back into place. "Speaking of that," she said, "Where's my breakfast? Or is breakfast in bed only for special occasions?"

To keep her mind off the way her body was draped across his she fixed the strap of his wifebeater which had flipped the wrong way, patting it against his shoulder for good measure when she was done.

"Breakfast in bed is definitely for special occasions, because of my lack in cooking skills."

"Well," she said getting up. "If you're gonna stay in this rancho you've gotta at least know how to make me an omlette." She came around to his side of the bed and pulled him up. "Just because I own Sweet Peas's doesn't mean that I'm ging to be in the kitchen all the time."

JC laughed and followed her to the kitchen.

While she let Tahoe out she called to him. "We need eggs, cheese, onions, bell peppers and grab out the milk."

"OK!" she heard him call to her.

Once Tahoe was outside she returned to the kitchen to find JC with all the ingredients on the counter. "OK, now put on the apron," she said pointing to the apron that was hanging on a hook next to the fridge.

He put the apron on, tied it then wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Gonna kiss the cook?" He asked pointing to the logo on the apron.

I always knew there was a reason I bought that thing.

"Maybe," she said with a teasing tone putting her hair up in a rubber band.

JC took two quick steps towards her and kissed her exposed neck just behind and below her ear sending a tingle that lasted through the time that it took JC to begin to crack the eggs.

She handed him a fork and as he beat up the eggs she added a little milk then salt and pepper.

"Onto the peppers and onion." Setting him to work chopping. She stood next to him with her cheek on his bare shoulder. "Anyone tell you that you have nice hands?"

JC stopped and stared at his hands. She stood on her tiptoes and reached to kiss him on the neck where she'd been kissed. "And nice arms," she said.

"Ya big tease," he said and finished chopping, leaning in the process to steal a kiss from her.

"Be careful, you'll chop off a finger," she said and left him alonw while she got out the frying pan and butter.


 

"Hello?" Leah said into the receiver in a calm tone despite the early hour.

At the sound of the other person's voice Leah's eyes flew to his face and with a shocked look on her face she covered the phone speaker and said softly, "It's Justin. Do you want him to know that you're here?"

JC held out a hand and took the phone and after clearing his throat and getting a drink of water from the glass on the table he put the phone to his ear. "What's up Justy?"

"Where have you been all night? I've been leaving you messages all over the place."

"What's going on?"

"Johnny moved up the production stuff. He took our week off away and we're starting rehearsals tomorrow at noon," Justin said.

"What?" JC said. His head began to ache from the thought of not getting his week off. He'd been completely exhausted in his last week of recording and had counted on spending at least four of his five days off in bed or at least sleeping the days away on the beach.

"He's pushing it up because Wade wants to give us more time to learn the choreography so starting tomorrow we're going to put together the set list and put together the wardrobe and take a look at the first stage sketches."

"We're going to be stuck out at the compound all night to go over the fucking budget?"

"Looks like it, plus Wade is going to be showing us a few new moves," Justin said.

"What the hell? I was supposed to go home to Bowie next week," JC whined.

"Well I guess he thought you weren't going because you and Boo aren't together anymore."

"He knows about Boo and I breaking up?"

"I didn't tell him man, I think he knows about Leah too," Justin said, "Cuz when he couldn't find you this morning he told me to call whatever girl's house you were at and get you on the phone."

"Damn," JC sighed. "So we have interviews and photo stuff this afternoon then tomorrow we're going to be in meetings?"

"Looks like it," Justin said.

"Screw this!" JC said then took a breath. "I'm sorry Justin," I don't mean yell at you. I'm just pissed because I need my sleep and I haven't been getting much lately."

"What! I don't need to know that much."

"Justin!"

Leah gave him a worried look as she walked over to the fridge and got out some orange juice.

"Hey man, don't get all pissy at me," Justin said.

"How'd you get this number anyway?"

"I called Lance who called Patty who said you might be out at Leah's."

"Shit! It's like fifth grade again!"

"Hey, don't kill the messenger," Justin said, "I gotta jet, but I wanted to let you know what was going on."

"See ya this afternoon then." JC let his breath out and looked over at Leah as he clicked the cordless phone off.

"What's up?" she asked looking at him a little strangely. He wondered why she was looking at him like that, but figured it was because he'd been so pissy at Justin. She'd never been around him when he'd really raised his voice, except when he'd escorted Boo out of Sweet Pea's and he was glad that he'd waited until he'd gotten to the car before he'd ripped into her.

"My vacation just got chopped all to hell," he said with a sigh. "I'm going into rehearsals tomorrow instead of next week which means that other that this morning and tomorrow morning, the party over the weekend is the only time I'll have off for about the next month."

"Oh," Leah said.

He watched her and could tell that she didn't know how to react to his situation. It worried him that he wasn't going to be able to spend time with her and for a moment he wanted to march up to Johnny and demand for his vacation time, but he knew he couldn't. Too much money was riding on this next tour to not have everything be perfect and he knew that they'd really need the extra time to make the show work, he just wished that they'd planned better before hand so that he could still have his time off.

"It's gonna suck and I'm going to be working my butt off and…" He watched her holding the glass of orange juice and almost expected her to complain, but she didn't. She gave him a sympathetic look and watched him with wide eyes. "…I don't think we're gonna be able to hang out that much after tomorrow morning."

"Oh," she said.

"Say something more than that," he said.

"What can I say? You have work to do," she said. She sipped her drink.

"You're a good actress you know," he said.

"Actress?" Leah went over and found a place to sit on the countertop at the corner where the two counters came together.

"You're telling me that if I walked out of this house right now and didn't see you for almost a month that you wouldn't care?"

"I'd care, I mean who else wakes me up in the middle of the night just to…"

JC frowned and looked at her. This was totally new. He'd never had someone act so--separate. She seemed to not think twice about him having to leave. In one instant it made him feel good. He figured that when he did really leave she wouldn't fall apart on him like Boo always had. In the instant he wondered what her feelings really were for him since she wasn't showing that much emotion about it.

"So I guess I'll leave right now then," he said with an angry tone, trying to sound angry but prayed that she would know it was a joke.

"Bye," she said with a laugh.

"God! You almost had me there," he said giving her a wink and a smile. He got out of his seat and walked over to her, took her glass out of her hand, placed it on the counter and slid his arms around her. He couldn't have planned it better. As he stood there between her legs she wrapped them around him and he picked her up and carried her out of the kitchen. He looked at the clock. "We have four hours until I have to leave for town…which means that we have four hours to…" He stopped and kissed her.

"Wait, did we turn of the stove?"

Leah wiggled against him and he took a huge breath then concentrated on trying not to drop her or bump her against anything while he turned, with her still in his arms and checked to see if the stove was off then nodded.

"I just don't want to get into something that doesn't need to be interrupted then have the fire department show up," she said with a shy tone.

"Oh really?" He flashed what he liked to call his cocky smile. It was the one that Justin always told him made all the girls scream a little louder during concerts.

"Really." She nodded for good measure and leaned her head against his forehead and looked into his eyes. "Where are we going anyway?"

"It's a surprise," he said, "Close your eyes."

When he saw that her eyes were closed he walked through the house and up the stairs.

"Be careful," she said with a soft voice into his ear. She'd moved her head to the side and was now kissing his neck as he climbed the stairs. And Justin says that I can't multi-task.

When she began to slip a little he moved his hands a little lower and cupped his hands under her bottom. He readjusted her against him then took another step.


 

Leah couldn't stand it any longer and opened her eyes a little. She hated not knowing what was going on and needed to see where he was taking her. JC was almost at the top of the stairs and she was nervous that he might fall, or drop her from the way that he kept moving his hands on her, but was pleasantly pleased to find him with his eyes on her face, still smiling.

"Hey now, I told you not to peek," he said, "You'll ruin the surprise."

Following orders, Leah closed her eyes and enjoyed her ride. She knew exactly where they were in the house and could tell when he got into her room. He stepped through the doorway and took five steps before he stopped. He set her down on the bed and reminded her to keep her eyes closed. "No peeking. Promise me."

"Fine…I promise," she said with a sigh and settled herself back on the mattress to wait for what was to come next. "Where'd you go?" she finally asked when she heard some noise over by where her dresser was.

"Hold your horses," he said.

"How do you want me to hold them?" she asked with a laugh.

"I'm almost done."

She heard a strange sound and a moment later she felt JC's hand on hers.

"I was planning…" he said pulling up from her seat.

She opened her eyes a bit to see where he was taking her now.

"Keep your eyes closed," he said again. He held her hands and pulled her away from the bed. "Anyway...I wanted to take you out dancing…. But this will have to do."

As he finished speaking her CD player next to her desk began to play as if somehow controlled by him.

 

Your lips, you smile, your tenderness
The way you walk, I can't resist your style,
When I sleep at night, I dream of you…

 

His arms slid around her waist and pulled her close. He carefully arranged her arms around his neck then kissed her before nuzzling her neck with his lips.

"Now can I open my eyes?" she asked with a shiver.

"Yep," he said.

He'd closed the blinds making the room really dim and when she looked over she saw that a few of her candles were lit. She didn't know how he'd done that so quickly, but wasn't about to ask the secret behind his tricks for fear that he might not perform them again.

Tears sprang to her eyes and she laughed feeling a little stupid for being so girly about his surprise. She never was over emotional with things like that or at least she hadn't had someone do something this special for her in a long time.

"You're too much," she said nervously. "I can't handle stuff like this."

"Like what?" he asked dancing her around. His arms tightened around her and for a moment she didn't care what time it was or how long until he had to leave or the fact that there was probably some bodyguard on his way to find JC at that very moment. It was just he and she and that's what she truly needed. "You already had the candles, the CD, and well the curtains were on the wall."

"Yeah, but boys don't think of these things," she said. She pulled back and looked at him. "I'm just waiting for this huge secret to come out…some hidden thing that you haven't told me."

He sighed, "The only thing that’s wrong with me is that I'm not going to be able to dance with you again for a long time. Once I go out on the road…" She watched a hurt look wash over his face. He took a deep breath. "I just hope that you can be as cool as you've already been once I go out on the road."

"I'm not expecting a proposal," she said with a serious tone hoping that she sounded convincing. Deep down that’s what she wanted in the big picture kind of way, to meet someone and fall completely in love, but it was too soon and too crazy to think that she would end up with JC in the end. There were too many things to keep them apart.


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