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[ later that afternoon ]

The dressing room door flew open and Chris came walking out.  His shoulders were slumped and he basically stomped his way over to the mirror where Ginni was already putting her hands on him to move him into place so she could check the hems on the pants and shoulders.  He looked like a little kid on his way to the dentist office. That do i have to look plastered on his face.

"What is wrong Chris?" she asked.

"Do I have to wear this monkey suit?"

"It's a great suit on you."  She reached in under the shoulder of the jacket and moved his shirt a little so the jacket would sit right.  "It's Armani for God's sake."  She brushed lint from his shoulder then moved behind him and put her arms through and tugged on the lapels of the jacket.  "Why are you complaining?  You have to wear it for about an hour then all you boys are going to take off your jackets and ties and get stinking drunk and pass out anyway."  He could see her eyes go wide.  "Don't puke on this.  Armani himself will kill you."

Chris put his hand on his hip and looked at her in the mirror with a pout on his face.  "There is no Armani the man."

"Hello?"  Her eyes rolled back a little.  "Gorgio Armani is a real person."

"My foot," he said.

"No your foot right now is Nike," Ginni said and pulled at the hem of his pants, "Why didn't you put on the shoes?  I need to see how the pants are going to fall when you have your shoes on."

"Let me get them," he said and began to walk away.  His ankle had gotten a little better overnight, but he was glad he didn't have to dance for another few weeks.

As he leaned down to pick up the socks and shoes she'd left for him he heard a ripping sound then turned around and looked at the back.  He looked at his boxer shorts now being able to be seen through the seam of the seat of the black pants.  "Ginni!"  He pulled tha pants off and slid back into his jeans wondering why he ever had to wear suits in the first place.  He needed a sweatshirt and jeans.  Hell, FuMan only made that stuff for him because he thought he was too young to be looking like a banker.

In the last few months he'd had to become more mature due to his need to be more involved with the company, but even he kept a loose work environment even when he was trying to work the company into something bigger than it had started out as.



[ a few weeks before...]

The plane into JFK Airport had touched down the night before around midnight and after a few hours of rest Chris had dressed in an outfit of FuMan appareal.  He normally didn't dress in all Fuman, he'd wear a hat or a sweatshirt or the jeans, but never did he dare to wear head to toe FuMan like today.  Due to the purpose of the trip he thought it was important to wear the gear that he was about to promote and if that meant looking like a walking billboard for his own company then he was prepared to do it.

"At least it's not Chris Kirkpatrick Gear," he mumbled, "I'd get sick of my own name."

"You ready?" Sabrina asked popping her head into his hotel room not waiting for him to say if she could come in or not.  He hadn't seen her the night before, just had gotten a message that she'd arrived, but as the Director of Promotions he knew she'd be showing her face sometime that morning.

"Yeah," he said pulling his visor down a little, "I need to put my contacts in."

"Wear the glasses Chris," she said in a distracted tone that meant that she was already into working high gear.  He loved the girl, but was a bit jealous that she could multitask better than he could.

"Should I try something new?" he asked trying to lighten the mood.  He was going to be around serious people all day and he didn't want to start the morning off with a big stress on him.

"No," she said looking at her watch.  Her black hair fell in her face and she pushed it out of the way.  "Usually I'd try and be your fashion consultant, but this morning its all about the practicality of it.  I could go into now a delay like this could throw the whole day off if you stayed here to--simply put--we don't have time."

"What time is it?" he asked lazily looking at his watch.  He did it on purpose this time knowing that Sabrina was a little anal about being late when she was working.  He liked that about her, but this morning he neeed a less stressful environment to work in considering that the rest of the day was going to drag him in a million directions.

"Time for you to get a watch," she said with a laugh.  She tapped her watch, "It's time to go.  If you want coffee this morning we need to get over to the GMA set.  We have just enough time to stop at Starbucks on the way over if you hurry."

Chris nodded and shoved his palm pilot, his day runner and his phone in his backpack, which already held his video games and his walkman as well as the Steven King novel Dreamcatcher that he'd been reading on the plane the night before.  He pulled on his jacket then slid his backpack on, letting the contents settle before he took a breath.

"Ready honey?" she asked.

"Yes mom," he joked rolling his eyes trying to hide the fact that he hated how people treated him like a little kid.  He was older than her by a few years, but she and Dani and the others always seemed to be babysitting him.  "Are you going to take my picture on the first day of school or do I get out of that this year?"

"Whatever Chris," Sabrina joked, "You'll be hating yourself on camera after this weekend.  The MTV crew are waiting for you in the lobby."

"Shit," he sighed as he moved across the room to the door, "I forgot about those guys."

"You aren't going to embarrass me on camera are you?" she asked as he entered the hallway.

"Me?" he asked in a mocking tone, "Embarrass you?"  He looked away from her and found Eric waiting for them a little ways down the hall, "I think it's Eric's turn this time."  He smiled at the bodyguard then threw a punch at the guy's huge arm when they got to where he was standing.

"Don't even think about it Kirkpatrick," Eric joked putting his hands up to box.  He took a swing at him and ran a hand over his head, "You've gotta be on your best behavior today or I'm gonna call your mom."

" guys aren't any fun," he groaned.  He remembered that he should call his mother, "Remind me to call my mom later."

"Ok Mamma's boy," Eric said.

"Yo Mamma so fat--" He began to joke.

"Whatever Chris," Sabrina said, "Now...this morning you've got GMA.  The models are already over there.  We're showing four outfits..."  She shoved blue index cards into his hands, "Read these."

"What is this?" he asked looking at her handwriting on the cards.

"The outfits," she said with a smile, "Everything is explained so you know what we're showing."

"Oh," he said.  He hadn't done promotions for a few months and with his schedule he'd forgotten how things worked.

"We've got interviews with E! this morning and with Oxygen, that Oprah station," she rattled off.

"Whoa. Whoa. Whoa," he said as they pressed the button for the elevator.  "Give me these one at a time...GMA, E!, and Oxygen this morning...when do I have a break today?"

"No break," Sabrina said not making eye contact with him.

"What?" he asked.

"You've got a lunch date with some reporters and you've got interviews all day long."

"Do I get to at least go to MTV or something?" he asked not really caring at this point about the scuffle he'd had with them the weekend before.

"Tomorrow around noon you're gonna be taping TRL," she said, "But today you get all the boring stuff."

"Where am I eating lunch?" he asked, "Please don't make me eat someplace least let me have that much."

"Planet Hollywood," she said, "We've got a signing at two, but about one we'll head over there for your interview and lunch before they let anyone in."

"Can I go in the back door?" he asked, "I hate to go in the front door then leave people standing outside while I eat."

"Sure," she said pulling out her palm pilot as the elevator opened, "I'll give them a call."

He paused for a moment when she kept walking out of the elevator.  "Hey Sabrina?"

"Yeah?" she asked.

"Thanks," he said.


He smiled at the thought until he saw Ginni leaning in the door.  "You split them didn't you?"

"I didn't do it on purpose," he protested quickly.  His sharp tone made him think of the time and he patted down his pants pocket and felt a little better feeling that the pill bottle was there for him if he needed it.

"Sure Chris."  Ginni held the pants up and looked them over, sighing like a disappointed mother at him for being so careless.  "Sure you didn't.  It just conviently happened right after you complained about the suit."

He put his hands up in the air then plopped them down again in defeat when he saw the anger in her eyes.  "I didn't mean to do it."

"Chris, one of these days your jokes is really going to get you in trouble."

Chris took the jacket off and threw it over the dressing room door.  "It wasn't a joke Ginni."  He tugged the bow out of his tie and pulled at the buttons of the shirt.  "Jesus."  He got them all undone then undid the cufflinks before he tugged the shirt off his shoulders leaving him in the wifebeater he'd worn that day knowing he'd have to change clothes.  The shirt was thrown to the gound.  "Everyone thinks everything I do is a joke.  I bent over to pick up the damn shoes and the pants split."

"What the hell is going on in here?"  Joey came walking in wearing no shoes with a very sleepy Brianna held against his shoulder.  He had his feet bare and was rocking Brianna a little as he came in.  He looked at the pants in Ginni's hands and the way that Chris was now half dressed.  "Is there trouble with the suit?"

"The pants split down the back and Ginni is accusing me of doing it on purpose."

"Really kids," he said, "Brianna and Colton are more mature that you are."

"Well then maybe I shouldn't be in the wedding."  He grabbed his shirt and threw it over his head and pulled it into place as he moved passed them, grabbing his shoes and his keys, wallet and phone as he left the dressing room.

As he was pushing his way out the door while trying to stick his shoe on he bumped into something, or someone.  He excused himself without looking at who it was and basically made a run for it when he heard Joey's voice calling his name after him.




Dani steadied herself and looked at Joey as he came out the doorway with Brianna on his shoulder.  She was looking upset that he was calling after Chris as Chris's car backed up from his parking spot and sped away from the compound with the stereo blaring.  "What the hell is his problem?" she asked.

"Hey Dani," Joey said as he watched Chris's car.  "Chris just had a fit and I think dropped out of the wedding.  I don't know what he was getting so pissy about, but all of a sudden he's ripping off his suit and leaving."

"No yell Didi," Brianna said and wiggled in his arms.

"Why don't I take Brianna back inside?  Maybe you should try and figure out what's wrong with Chris."

"Doesn't that sound strange that you're the one taking the baby and I'm the one following him?" Joey said with a laugh handing Brianna over.

"I have a feeling that he won't want to talk to me right now.  He wasn't excited to see me yesterday so I think I'll keep my distance."

"I think it has to do with the fact that an MTV crew showed up on his doorstep this morning and wouldn't leave him alone.  He finally had to get me to tell them that I didn't want the wedding on camera for him to be left alone."

"Awe," she sighed and hugged Brianna.  "As much as he and I don't get along right now I know how upset he gets about the cameras being around when he's not working.  Knowing him he probably go like no sleep last night too.  It doesn't take much to see the signs."

"I'll remember." Joey said and grabbed out his phone.  "Brianna go and show Dani your Seasame Street stuff that Johnny put on the fridge while I'm on the phone."

Brianna stuck her thumb in her mouth and looked over Dani's shoulder.  "Osser ana kermit ona ice."

"Let's go sweetie."  She hugged the girl to her before looking at Joey one last time and moved towards the door Joey had just come out of.


Two hours later Dani was standing on a platform wearing a pale blue dress being fitted by Ginni.  She'd been on her way over to get fitted when Chris had bumped into her, but after some convincing by Ginni they came to the idea that Ginni needed a break and would take on the project of her dress after lunch.

"Thank God you're the last one," Ginni sighed.  He eyed the dress.  "I like this color on you.  Most people with blonde hair can't take a pale color like this and make it work.  You must have been working on your tan out there in Cali."

"I've been working hard actually," Dani said thinking of the whirlwind of a trip she'd been on for the last two weeks.  She'd finally told ESPN that she needed the week off and had left her phone on silent.  She'd checked her messages the night before and had three phone interviews to do with NHL scouts and some coaches, but basically she wasn't working.  "I was up in Chicago and down to Memphis and back to California in the last two weeks.  I'm working a lot lately."

Ginni moved the dress around her a little and fixed the strap before stepping back for a final look.  "What are you doing now?"

"I've still got work going for FuMan.  I'm on the Board of Directors, but at the same time I'm working for ESPN again doing sportscasting."

"That isn't a job I see you doing," Ginni said and slid onto the stool that was near where Dani was standing and pulled it closer to the dress and began to pin the hem of the dress.  "I would expected modeling."

"Thanks," Dani said with a smile.  "I was an NHL brat growing up.  I love the sport and the channel wanted a woman to host a weekend show that would cater to girls and women so I go around and interview people."

"Do you like it?"

"It's ok.  The locker rooms are tiring, but the guys for the most part are nice about talking to me."

"I don't mind doing the fittings as long as people don't blow up at me."

Dani sighed and moved her shoulders a little.

"Hold still honey," she said.

"Sorry."  She sighed and looked down at the top of Ginni's head as she worked.  "Are you talking about Chris?"

"Yeah," she said, "One minute he's fine and the next he's ripping a two thousand dollar Armani suit off him and running out like a spoiled brat."  Ginni looked up from where she was fixing the hem with pins and said, "How did you put up with him for so long?"

It offended her that someone would speak of Chris that way.  She wasn't his girlfriend anymore, but she still felt that he should be respected by the people he worked with and if Ginni had such a bad opinion of Chris at the moment there must have been something else going on other than him just being tired.  "You act like it was a chore for me to date him."

"Wasnt it?" she asked.

"At times," she admitted.  She had been clear with people when it came to Chris.  She did have reservations about some of his behavior, but the love that he'd showed her had been sincere and she hadn't found someone like that since.  "But there are a lot of great things about dating a man like Chris."

"Like what?" she asked.

"Well," Dani said.  She looked at herself in the mirror and thought for a moment.  There were times that she loved what he'd done for her, but at the moment all she could think about was him with Michele and his attitude earlier.

"If it takes that long--"

"No, no," Dani said.  "There was one time when he sent me flowers.  He was in New York and sent them to me at the FuMan headquarters.  He quoted my favorite poem to me and said that he'd call me that night."

"Ahhh...the million dollar question," Ginni said looking up.  "Did he call?"

Dani slumped her shoulders, "Um no...there was a good excuse.  He'd been called into the studio to work on some tracks and when he was done he fell asleep in the studio instead of going to the hotel.  He woke up the next morning and called me to apoligize."  She took a breath and mumbled.  "He's very good at saying he's sorry."

"Or is he just good at being sorry?" Ginni said.

Dani just stared down at her in disbelief.  She didn't understand why people were so critical of him all of a sudden.

"Either way he's gonna have to say sorry a million and one times to get me to do his fitting now."

"Joey was saying he dropped out of the wedding."

"Maybe it's better that way.  That boy is messed up right now."  Ginni sighed.  "He needs a good long vacation in the nut house if you ask me."

Dani bit her tongue and was silent through the rest of the fitting.

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Last updated: 07/05/04.