WHENEVER YOU CALL


THREE

 

The car slowed to a stop in front of the storefront and he scooted across the seat to the curbside of the car to get out. "Thanks for the ride C," he said patting Chris on the back.

"No trouble."

"By JC," Dani said from the front seat of the PT Cruiser turning to wave at him.

"Bye sweet cheeks," he said with a laugh then slid from the car.

Home. He looked up at the sign above him and took a deep breath then made his way to the door. He'd gotten back to Orlando just a few hours before and after making sure that his things would just be left at the compound for him to get the next day he'd hi-jacked Chris's car to take him into town.

"Welcome to Sweet Pea's," the young hostess said.

JC let a smile curve onto his lips as he watched the new girl. She looked to be in high school and he saw the recognition in her eyes that she knew who he was, but he had a feeling that she didn't know that he was there as the owner's husband. She seemed nervous, but smiled at him when he smiled at her, "Is the owner around?"

"Umm," she started to say.

"No one is in trouble," he said putting his hands up. He thought he needed to reassure her that everything was ok because she looked like she might be one of those kids that cries when they get in trouble, "I just need to talk to her."

"Umm," she said and looked back over her shoulder, "She was in the bar, but I haven't seen her in the last little while. She might be back in the office...I can call back there."

"No," he said instantly, "Don't call...I know the way."

"Umm...Ok," she said.

"Thanks," he said.

JC walked past the front desk and made his way to the bar. With a smile and a wave he pushed back behind the bar and went through into the back part of the restaurant. He could hear her on the phone, rambling about some liqueur shipment that seemed to be late.

"I don't care if there was a storm in Cleveland...my bottles should have been here

three days ago," she said firmly.

JC walked up behind her and without warning grabbed up the phone from her hand, "Leah has to go now."

He placed the phone back on the receiver and then got hit with an arm.

"Why'd you do that?" she said angrily.

He turned his head a little to the side and smiled at her. "Because--"

"You scared me half to death in the first place sneaking back here, and then you shove down the phone in the middle of my conversation? What's gotten into you?"

"Levi you need to not be stressing out so much," he said.

A sigh escaped her mouth and she put a hand to her forehead. "I've had a long week," she said then looked at him again, "Wait...what day is today? I thought you were supposed to be back tomorrow?"

"I was supposed to be back tomorrow," he said, "But I missed my wife so we came home early."

"We?"

"Everyone thought it was stupid to stay another night in Miami so we packed up after the show last night and came home," he said, "Well except for Justin who already had flight plans out for tomorrow to go find his woman."

"That stinks that she's so far away," Leah said leaning back in her chair.

"So what is it gonna take for me to kidnap you and take you home with me?" he asked.

"I can't JC," she said, "I planned to have the next few months off, but tonight it's me and the crew."

JC's forehead began to crease with worry lines. "Then," he said moving in to kiss her cheek, "Tell me that you'll have dinner with me."

She blushed and turned in her seat a little, "I'll have dinner with you, but for the moment you need to get out of here and I need to get back to work."

"Fine," he sighed but didn't move away. "Can I have your keys?"

"My keys?"

"Yeah," he said, "I had Chris drop me off and I need to go back and get my stuff and take it home and I'll grab a shower and change clothes--I've got a date tonight ya know."

"This date of yours must be a lucky woman," she said.

"I hope she thinks she is," he said, "It's not every day that I shower for my dates."

"Gross," she said hitting at him playfully then handed over the keys.

"I love you," he said a moment later as he pushed his way out of the office.

"I love you too," she called after him.

"I'll see you in a few hours."

~~~~~

The phone rang and JC lifted his head from the bed to look around the room. For a moment he didn't remember where he was then it hit him. He'd gotten home and had unpacked a bit then had showered, but had never made it back to Sweat Pea's. He was still dressed in only the towel that he'd wrapped around his waist when he'd left the shower.

"Hello?"

"JC?"

He rubbed his face a few times. "Yeah."

"Thank God. I thought something happened to you."

"What?"

"It's almost twelve," she said, "I'm on my way home. I've been calling all night but I guess--"

"Awe Levi," he said sitting up, "I'm sorry. I totally got home and was getting ready and I must have sat down on the bed or something and fallen asleep."

"It's ok," she said, "Tonight was too busy to take a break anyway."

"Look, why don't you come home and we'll watch a movie or something and--"

"I'm almost there," she said, "Can you pop some popcorn for me?"

"Popcorn?" he asked.

"Popcorn so I can have it with my easy cheese."

"Easy cheese."

"Cravings honey," she said, "I'll see you in a few minutes."

"Ok."

JC got up off the bed, threw on a pair of boxers and a pair of shorts over them and went down to the kitchen to wait for her.

~~~~~

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."

~~~~~

"I think I can handle popcorn," he said talking to himself as he moved around the kitchen. He'd done it before, he could do it again.

 


 

FOUR:

The siren outside made him look up from the popcorn he was making and he held his breath hoping to God that nothing serious had happened to Leah. He'd been that way all week fearing that something would happen to her whole he was gone and he wouldn't be there for her when she needed him. It had caused him to not sleep for two of the five nights, until he called her in the middle of the night to tell her that he loved her. It was kind of pathetic, but he had this great fear of losing her.

His fears were settled later when Leah came in the front door. She turned and waved to a car that had dropped her off. "Shit," he said moving out of the kitchen to find her carrying the bag of popcorn with him. "I was supposed to come back and get you."

"I love you too," she said as he walked over and hugged her, setting the bag on thecounter. "It's ok. It's on Sean's way home."

JC found himself leaning a little to see if he could see the car that was driving away but it was too dark outside to do so. "Sean?"

"Yeah."

"Patty's Sean?" he asked hoping that it was someone he at least knew that was taking care of his wife instead of some stranger off the street.

She moved her arms around so that when he hugged her she could hold onto his waist instead of his shoulders, which also let her get a lot closer to him. She nodded against his chest. "We lost another bartender and needed a new one and he needed the work so he's been taking some shifts."

"That's too bad," he said. He hated that the business was a bit shaky since Patty had left to go to LA. He knew that her career had taken her there, but he wished that her career would leave her in Orlando so that she and Leah could have the same friendship they'd had before any of them had gotten mixed up in their lives.

She nodded again then moved away from him. "Where's Tahoe?" she asked.

"Crap. I left him out back because I thought I'd just be here for a while."

"You didn't feed him?"

He shrugged. "I forgot."

She shook her head in disgust at the situation. It was something that his mother did all the time. He usually felt bad when things happened to him at home, but with his wife the scolding seemed doubly harsh. He didn't want to make her upset. She had to deal with enough already without his issues coming in. "JC you need to go back up and go to bed for at least two days. Your memory is going." She walked towards the back of the house, "I hope you don't do this when the baby comes.

"I know, I know. Today was a long day and coming home early didn't help things," he said and followed her out into the backyard. "It's not an excuse...believe me it won't happen again."

"Tahoe!" she called half ignoring his rambling.

Tahoe came running towards them, but ran straight for the table where the popcorn was in the house. He was up and eating out of the bag before they could stop him.

JC ran over to grab the bag away and popcorn went flying. He thought for a moment that he'd be in trouble, but soon he found Leah sitting on the floor next to him laughing and picking popcorn out of his hair.

"You're just having a bad day aren't you honey?" she asked.

He shrugged, "I'm gonna get a ten on the cheese meter for this, but no day is a bad day when I'm at home with you."

"Awe," she said and began to touch her eye as if wiping away some tears.

He leaned and kissed her then looked around. "Is it ok if Tahoe is eating this popcorn?"

"No," she said.

"Crap," he tried to grab at Tahoe, but got only a growl in response.

"It shouldn't hurt him," she said when she saw the worried look on his face.

"But you said--"

"I said I didn't think it was ok." She pouted, "It was my popcorn."

"Great," he sighed, "Isn't having one of us being in show business enough?" He took the bag and stood up. "You need to keep to the amateur theater honey." He threw a hand out to her and pulled her up. "Let's make you some more popcorn and the easy cheese then go up and get in bed."

"That is some kinky food you want to play with there big guy," she said with a smile.

"Hey," he shrugged, "Those were your choices not mine. I'm more of a honey, whipped cream, chocolate sauce kind of guy."

"Oooh," she said, "That sounds good."

"You're crazy on this food thing now aren't you?" he asked.

"Just a little," she said, "But I'm eating for two."

"Yeah but the baby is only as big as your finger right now," he said.

"Which finger?" she asked using her middle one on him, "Give me a break. This is the only time in a woman's life where she can eat anything and everything and not feel guilty about it."

"You feel guilty about eating stuff?" he asked.

"Don't worry about my eating habits," she said, "Do I look like I'm wasting away?"

"No," he said, "But answer the question anyway."

"Every girl at one point in their lives feels fat," she said, "It's a fact of life. Some people let it take control of them and some ignore the feeling and move on. I took over a freaking restaurant because I loved food so much."

"Are you sure?"

She turned and looked at him, "JC don't look so worried. You know I'd come to you if something was wrong with me. I'm fine. I'm pregnant and hungry, but I'm fine."

He smiled at her and leaned to kiss her before they went into the kitchen. He walked behind her watching her closely to see that she truly was ok. He would have stared harder, but she stopped him.

"What are you looking at?"

~~~~~

"Do you always stare at people?" Leah asked with a nervous laugh.

"Sorry," JC pushed himself up in his chair and looked around a little confused how the conversation had turned towards him. He found himself alone at the table and wondered why Lance had disappeared. He felt more than a little foolish for losing himself into his thoughts. He tried not to do that in public. He didn't want everyone to think that he was some kind of airhead because he couldn't follow a conversation for more than a few minutes.

When Patty suddenly appeared at the table JC flashed her a smile. She gave him a strained smile in return then leaned and whispered something into Leah's ear, covering her mouth so that he couldn't see. He wondered what was going on, but soon found that it was something important when Leah pushed back her chair, rose to her feet and spoke softly, "Would you excuse me for a moment?"

"Sure," he said lazily glad for the moment to be alone and collect himself.

To keep himself occupied he picked up a fork and twirled it in his hand then let his eyes drift to Leah's figure as she maneuvered around tables on her way out of the room. His eyes shifted down to her backside as she walked away. In her fitting slacks her ass swayed as she walked through the narrow walkway then took a step up into the bar area. JC gripped the fork in his left hand and spread the fingers out on his right hand and stared at them.

Just about that size, he thought and dropped the fork to the floor. He grabbed for it and looked around wondering all the while if anyone had seen his reaction to her.

~~~~~

"Nothing," he said with a smile, "Let's get your food and get to bed."

"It's still early honey."

"Yeah well if I'm gonna run around after you for the next few weeks I'm gonna need my strength."

"If you say so," she said.

"I do," he said.

"Funny, you told me something like that a few weeks ago," she said.

"I think that I do was a little more important than this one," he said.

"Not when you're talking to a pregnant lady about food."

 


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