I think it scares me that I’m gonna lose her and not find anyone else in the world that knows me the way that she does.  Somehow she understands the panic I have when it comes to her and my career.  No one has ever come close to understanding me the way she does.  I can’t believe that it’s only been a few months.

My hand moves to my forehead.  I can’t believe I actually proposed.

I’ve done that before—proposed—but the last time I was drunk out of my mind and I proposed to her with a drink umbrella sticking out from behind my ear.  I don’t know what caused me to blurt that out and I’m finding that I’m not that shocked about her saying no.  I actually understand it and even though my ego is a bit bruised by it, it’s not something that is going to break me down.  She has her reasons and I know that they are valid.  I need to ask in a better frame of mind—yet another reason to love her—she knows that my intentions behind the words are good, but the delivery sucked.

Even just sitting here next to me looking at me I know she’s got a lot on her mind.  Our careers are fucking things up for us big time and no matter what either of us does, no one wants to force the other one to quit or to change so we’re just sitting here in limbo.  Personally I’d want her to have a job and do something with her life, but working for the company she does and being that high up doesn’t leave her with a lot of options.  She gets time off to do things and can be away from the office for short periods of time, but if a big event is going in Los Angeles—and there always is something going on there—she has to be in town.

I asked her to marry me.

What the hell was I thinking?

My heart is beating a mile a minute and I swear I’m going to throw up on myself.

I mean yeah, it’d be a good idea.  Marrying her has passed through my mind more than a few times despite the short amount of time we’ve been together, but I never planned on saying that to her out loud just yet.  Yeah it would be great, but she was definitely right about one thing.  How I asked her wasn’t the best proposal.  When I do it again—and I know I’ll be doing it again—I’ve got to plan something special.  A weekend away or something like that and make a big deal about it, but take it slow…maybe for Christmas.  That would give me a few months to get more used to the idea of it all happening.

“Lance?”  I look up and she’s looking at me with a worried look. This is what I love about her.  Even though I could have completely scared her away with my questions, she’s looking at me with a completely normal face—granted a worried face since I’m sure I sound a little bit out of it—but still a normal face.

“You ok?”

I don’t feel good all of a sudden.  I know it’s nerves and all, but really—how does a person move on from a conversation where they ask a person to marry them and the person says maybe later.

I know I shouldn’t be upset about this, but the blow to my ego is a little hard to shake off.  I know that there are a million girls out there who would faint dead away if I asked them to marry me.  That thought in it self makes me feel worse.  I definitely need to take a deep breath and reevaluate things because if I start becoming a prick over all of this I’m definitely going to end up alone.

“Lance?”

“Hmm.”  I don’t think I could form any words right now.  After what has just gone down I need to take a shower alone and just think for a while.

“I asked if you were ok?

My mouth has completely dried up and I swear I’m going to throw up, but I nod.  “I think I just freaked myself out,” he said, “I just asked you to marry me.”  I tap my foot on the ground.  “What the hell was I thinking?”  I turn and look at her.  “I mean I want to marry you eventually, but what the hell possessed me to pull that kind of drama into what is going on between us.  I mean…now…Of all times?”

“You were scared honey,” she says with a sigh and smiles at me.  “It’s ok.  I totally understand that you panicked.  I want you to ask me again don’t get the idea that my no was my final answer or anything—“ She laughs, “--But next time try to do it without blurting it out at me, ok?”

I nod and hold up the phone.  “I need to call him back and tell him that I can’t be there Monday.”

I start to dial the phone and she puts her hand on my arm.  “Tell him you’ll do it Tuesday or something,” she says, “That way we can get back Monday night and relax a bit before you have to go off and go back to work.”

“I shouldn’t have taken that call,” I hear myself saying.  Half of me actually believes that and the other worried half wonders if I shouldn’t just go to LA early and see what all the fuss is about.  If I’m gonna stay in the business I know that work calls like this are important. “I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s ok,” she says, “Work follows you home.  It does for me too—which reminds me.  I’m going to check my messages really quickly—what did you have planned to do today?”

“I thought I’d invite some people over, if that’s ok with you.  I’ve got a few friends in town that I haven’t seen since before I moved in with you that I thought I’d like to try and have dinner with tonight—if that’s ok.”

“It’s definitely ok,” she says, “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I don’t know,” I say with a shrug, “I’m not sure how much you want to tell some of my friends about us, so I thought I’d ask before I just had people showing up at the house.”

“You’re home,” she says, “If I was home I’d be inviting people over.  No worries about me.  If it gets to be too much I’ll escape next door and have your mom pull out all your baby books so I can have material to tease you with.”

“Sure,” I say with a laugh, “That’s really a fair trade.”

She nods to me and leaves me be.  This.  This half smile and retreat behavior.  This reaction.  This sense of peace that comes over her and spreads over me is what I need around.  I know that she freaked out in LA after the awards ceremony, but after the day we’d both had I would have freaked out too…this is the kind of reaction I’m used to.  Calmness.

*****

Calm is the last word that I’d use to describe my house hours later.  I’ve called Finch and Mary Grace and I swear ten minutes later my house is wall to wall people.  I know how this gets and normally I’m into having them all around.  Today I should be grateful for having them all come over especially since most people have family in town for the weekend and because I haven’t been home in a while, but now doesn’t seem to be the time to be surrounded by these people.  The only good thing about having them around is that I have a distraction to keep me from sticking my foot further into my mouth.

But I’m not.  I’m not happy, or grateful or even glad for the distraction.  I want my house back.  I want a lazy weekend day in front of the tv with Tammy curled up next to me watching a good John Hughes movie.

That’s definitely not what I’m in the middle of.

Jack Daniels and coke are flowing around the house and people have got Mikes Hard Lemonade in their hands while Turner runs to the store for a keg.  I sit in the kitchen at the breakfast bar, Tammy at my side watching Haley mix up margaritas.  She someone’s younger sister, but when Tammy leans and asks me who this younger girl belongs to I find I can’t remember even befriending her brother or sister.  The last name sounds familiar—she said it when she introduced herself to Tammy, but I haven’t gotten a clue who that person is.

“You ok Bass?”  A hand slaps me on the back.  I turn to find Horner standing there with a huge slappy smile on his face.  “You aren’t on lockdown are you?”

“Lockdown?” I ask and look to see that Brody and Parker have pulled out the dice and are using my gambling table in the play room.  “No,” I say looking at Tammy, pulling her closer, “Not on lockdown at all—just trying to relax after a long few weeks.”

“Horner—sorry—  I turn an little and move so that I can see both Tammy and Horner so I don’t have to flip back and forth between them.  “Quinn Horner, this is Tammy, my girlfriend.”

“Nice to meet ya,” Horner says.

“Nice to meet you too,” she says.  It’s a bit nerve wrecking.  This is the first time in a long time that I’ve introduced her as my girlfriend to someone that is outside my immediate family.  When everyone barged into the house I didn’t really get a chance to say to the gang who she was.

“No wonder you’ve been in LA so long,” Horner says nudging me.

“I haven’t kidnapped him.”  Tammy laughs.

“Just a little bit,” Horner says, “But I’m sure it’s worth it.”

“Yeah,” I say, “It is.”

“Lance?” Tammy says.

I turn and smile at her.  “What?”

“I was gonna let you talk to your friend for a minute and excuse myself—  She must see the worried look on my face when she tells me she’s excusing herself.  I gave her the option of going next door, but I really didn’t think she’d use it this early in the day.  “Ladies room,” she says in a whisper.

I nod and she disappears down the hallway.

“So you know Carrah is in town, right?”

“Yeah,” Lance said.

“She wanted to come over today, but decided not to,” Horner explains, leaning against the breakfast bar.

I lean against the counter and my eyes move to the hallway.  “She should have come.”

Horner shakes his head.  “I don’t think she would feel right about being here, especially since Tammy is here.”

“I didn’t bring her here to cause issues,” I say with a sigh, “I don’t want drama this weekend.  I just want to spend time with my girlfriend and my parents and just be home.”

“So she is your girlfriend now?”

“Yeah,” I say knowing full well that I’ve told people from home about her.  There is a small group of people I can still trust with information and Horner is in that circle of friends.  I’ll admit I haven’t spent as much time talking to people from home lately, but I know he’s got to know about her, even though he’s making a real good show of not knowing about her.  “We’re living together in LA, but we’re keeping it on the down low.  She’s got work stuff that’s keeping us in check and with me doing movie stuff now it’s just better to keep this quiet.”

He looks towards where Tammy disappeared and looks back at me.  “But you took that girl Jasmine to the awards?”

I know what’s coming next.  It was the same argument that ruined Carrah and me.  There was always a misunderstanding of what I have to do for work and what I do in my personal life.  Jasmine of course was a good date, but neither of us wanted to be there with each other.  The cameras in out faces have a way of changing that opinion enough to make us smile pretty for the press and the people outside.  “She was the star of the movie—I had to take someone and it just added to the press crap going on if I end up going to something like that with another celebrity.  Tammy understands that.”

“I understand what?” she asks coming back up to the counter, this time standing on the far size with Haley helping to make drinks.  She looks annoyed all of a sudden, or maybe I’m just making it up in my head, but either way there is a horrible look on her face.  Fatigue sits over her eyes pressing down on them so much that she looks drowsy now.

“About going to the Awards thing the other night with Jasmine—  I know its still probably a sore subject with her, but really she does understand why I went with Jasmine in the first place.

“Oh,” Tammy says picking up a margarita.  She sips it and looks over the glass at me then looks down at the drink.  “Yeah—that.  That’s business.”  She starts to walk away then yells that she’ll get the door when someone knocks at the door.

“Shit,” I sigh and move around Horner to follow her.  This isn’t gonna be comfortable in any way.  She knows that I didn’t want to be there and that I would have been there with her, but I guess talking about that with people she doesn’t know isn’t the way to handle things.

I should have stayed in the kitchen.

I should have stayed in Los Angeles.

What I come face to face with is my worst nightmare.

I smile instantly.  That fake smile that Tammy says I make when I’m being filmed or photographed and I’m not happy about it.

Isn’t it funny how an ex-girlfriend and a girlfriend can instantly hate each other, by just seeing each other in person?  I haven’t told Tammy anything really about Carrah, but they seem to know that they are enemies from the moment that Carrah steps over the threshold.

Carrah,” I say with a nod then motion to Tammy for her to close up the door and come back over towards me.  I know I must be acting like Carrah is going to bite her or something, but I really don’t want to see the two of them in the same place at the same time.

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