The sun started to go down and as much as he wanted to stay in the basement
with the others all night he thought he needed to get at least some fresh
air. Meredith had come down a while before and hung out, but when Farzana
didn't appear on the bottom floor of the house she'd left the boys to their
business. When he checked the clock on the wall he saw that it had
been a few hours and he thought for a moment that she'd gone back to the
hotel or something from the way it was so quiet upstairs.
"Pizza is ready Josh!" Farzana called down the steps to them.
Alex and Rip burst into laughter. Rip started to cough a little
and pointed up at the ceiling. "She's worse than your mom."
"At least I have someone who cooks and cleans for me." JC pushed
himself away from the boards. "And if you want pizza tonight you'll
be thanking me in a minute for getting someone so hot to serve us."
"Whatever," Alex said then looked at his watch, "Speaking of --I've gotta
get home or Val is going to kill me."
"Yeah." Rip yawned. "I'll head out too and leave you couples
to do whatever couple stuff you do."
They all got up to leave and Justin lagged back a little. He slid
his flip flops back on and finally got up enough energy to walk up to the
first floor. He wasn't dreading that he'd have to hang out with Meredith
up there, but at the same time he almost wanted to bypass them and go straight
to bed. He had gotten a headache when he'd finished his latest beer
and wanted to lay down.
When he reached the kitchen Meredith was pulling a piece off the pizza
that Farzana had cooked. Alex and Rip were yelling their goodbyes and
he heard the front door shut. He watched his girlfriend closely as
she pinched the string cheese with her fingers then pulled the end up to
her teeth and smiled across at JC while she sucked the cheese into her mouth.
Justin's eyes watched as she licked her lips and laughed at Farzana
who was pulling the ranch dressing away from JC.
"You can't put this on my pizza Josh. It's an insult to my cooking
"It's a frozen pizza honey," he said and pulled the bottle of dressing
back towards him. "I don't think that constitutes as cooking."
"At least its not delivery."
"Its DiGorno." Justin used a sarcastic tone as he came to stand
next to Meredith at the counter.
"I didn't know that you were such a commercial fan."
"I've had some free time this week." Justin said then ducked his
head a bit and stared at her pizza. "Can I have your pepperonis Bear?"
Her eyes showed her relief at his words to her and she began to pick them
off and put them on the empty plate on the counter. "I'm gonna go find
a movie to watch," Farzana said and pulled JC out with her making it clear
that they knew the two of them needed to be alone for a minute.
"I'm sorry I've been bitchy," she said, "I haven't been sleeping well.
I mean I have but I haven't."
"It's ok Bear," he said and when she went to wipe the grease off her hand
he pulled her hand to his mouth and sucked the oil off her fingers in a fairly
When she pulled her hand away when he was done she looked at him. "You've
"Yeah?" he said, "Nothing much though. Maybe three beers this whole
"Bear please don't back away from me," he said fearing that she might
run out of the room right then. "I'm sorry that you're stressed out
and that you're tired. Don't push me away."
"I'm not stressed out." He knew instantly that her protest was in
vain. She was lying.
He moved his hand to her shoulder then slid it up her neck. He gave
her smuslces a squeeze and leaned and kissed her cheek. "Baby please just
relax. I wanna help you through whatever is going on in your head
but I can't do that unless you tell me what's wrong."
"Nothing's wrong. I'm just tired." She moved her plate away
from the pizza. "You should grab this before it gets cold."
He sighed and saw that he was going to get nowhere with her so he put
two slices on his plate and went and grabbed a coke from the refrigerator.
When he turned back around she was leaning against the counter almost
waiting for him. "You want a coke?"
"No," she said, "I got one."
"Can I still sleep with you tonight Bear?" he asked. "I know you're
mad at me and I know that you haven't been sleeping well, but--"
"Justin its not your fault that I haven't been sleeping well and I'm not
mad at you. I've just got a lot on my mind lately."
He moved across the small space of the kitchen and put a hand on each
side of her hips as she leaned back against the counter. He leaned
to kiss her. "Maybe I can distract you."
"Maybe," she said and finally smiled at him, something that he never had
been happier to see.
"I love you," he said hoping that she'd return the words to him.
"I love you too."
"Guys!" JC yelled from the other room. "What do you want to
It was almost an hour and a half later that Justin noticed that she was
asleep. The four of them had been watching television in the living
room, sitting on the two overstuff couches in the room, when she'd finsiehd
her meal and had put her head on his thigh trying to get comfortable. He'd
made sure that she was comfy right when she'd put her head there and he'd
leaned back a little and put his hand in her hair to run his hands through
it as she rested there. The credits had begun to roll before he even
realized that she was out like a light.
"Are you gonna crash here tonight?" JC asked in a whisper as he pushed
himself up from where he and Farzana had been sitting leaning against each
"Is that cool?" he asked.
"Sure," Farzana said, "You guys can sleep down here or there is the guest
bedroom upstairs if you want it."
"Give me a second and I'll see what she wants to do," he said in a whisper.
It wasn't even that late, probably only after eight, but he thought
she'd want to go back to sleep if he woke her up.
"We're gonna go down to the studio and work on some stuff," Farzana said,
"If you go up the stairs the guestbedroom is on the right and the bathroom
is on the left." She looked towards the stairs for a minute, "I'll
go throw a t-shirt or something in there for her to wear to bed."
"Zana?" JC complained. He was pointing down towards the studio while
she was looking the other way.
"Honey, go down and cue up the song we were working on last week." She
blew him a kiss. "I'll be down in a second."
"Ok," he said and the couple split ways, one going up and the other going
It was a clear illistration of what was happening in his life. He
didn't know why he didn't see it before. Farzana and JC had just gone
through what they were going through now...or at least something like it.
He knew that Meredith had been reluctant about being a singer, but
maybe that was still the case and he'd been ignoring it all these months.
"Bear?" Justin said moving his hand to shake her shoulder. He could
hear her even breathing and didn't want to disturb her, but at the same time
he didn't want to sleep with her on the couch if there was a perfectly good
bed upstairs or back at the hotel that they could use. "Bear do you
want to go upstairs and go to bed?"
She opened her eyes and rolled so that she was looking up at him. "What
time is it?" she asked rubbing her eyes.
"It's early." He hoped that by waking her up that he wouldn't have
totally disrupted her sleep that night. She'd said that she'd been
having trouble sleeping and he didn't want to be the reason that she missed
out on sleep that night. "But you look like you could use the sleep."
"Yeah," she said and yawned. "I'm sleepy."
"Ok," he said, "Sit up and we'll go upstairs and go to sleep."
She yawned again and started to look around for something. "Where's
my phone? I need to call Gritty."
"I'll grab my phone and we'll go call him."
He watched her as she sat up and ran her hands through her hair then pushed
herself up. Her eyes were only a fraction of the way open and when
he stood up she leaned against him, curling her arms around him. "I'm
"I know Bear," he said, "Come on."
On the way to the second floor Justin grabbed the bag that he'd stashed
in the corner of the living room and grabbed up her bag on the way up the
Farzana was just coming down as they were going the other way. "Hey
you." She hugged Meredith. "Go up and go to bed and if you need
anything just holler at me."
"I need to call Gritty," she said sleepily.
"I got it covered," Justin said to Farzana then nudged Meredith so she'd
walk up more of the steps. "Thanks for dinner and stuff Farzana and
for letting us sleep over."
"No trouble," she said, "We'll be down in the studio for a few hours,
but we'll try to keep the door closed and--"
"Don't worry about it." Justin said and tried to push the thoughts of
working in the studio that night while she slept from his mind. He
needed to go upstairs and be with her and not think about work for the rest
of the night. "She's used to sleeping in the tour bus now so I don't
think anything will wake her up."
Farzana nodded. "Josh is gonna be here in the morning, but if I'm
gone I'll try and meet up with you guys in Vegas."
"Sounds good," Justin said and followed Meredith into the guest bedroom.
Farzana had set out a night shirt for Meredith, but she passed it by and
went to lay on the covers of the bed. Justin dropped the bags onto
the floor and grabbed up his phone from one of the pockets. He hadn't
realized it, but he hadn't answered his phone all afternoon. He knew
that there would be messages from his mom and probably his brothers, but he
decided to leave things alone and call them back the next day.
"Baby, if you need to go to the bathroom it's right across the hall,"
"No," she mumbled, "Turn off the light."
He dialed Gritty's phone number using his speed dial then put the phone
to his ear and flipped off the overhead light that was on and moved across
the room in the darkness to turn on the lamp next to the queen sized bed.
It left the room light enough to see in, but wasn't harsh on his eyes.
"Yo!" Gritty said. There was a lot of background noise.
"Hey Grit." Justin looked across the room at the wall of pictures
and realized that it was pictures of the group of them. There were
old pictures from before Farzana had come into JC's life and then there were
newer ones that ran right up to the time of Joey's wedding.
The best picture that he noticed he got up to look closer at. It
was him and Meredith on the dance floor dancing a slow dance together. His
face was half hidden by her head, but she was facing the camera, leaning
on his shoudler with a smile on her face that he hadn't remembered seeing
in the last month or so. She was in love with him, truly in love with
him at that moment.
He turned back to the bed and watched her as she curled into the blankets,
chosing to reach across the bed and pull the blanket over to her rather than
waiting for him to help her into bed.
"Justin? Is that you?"
"Yeah," he said. "Mere and I are going to sleep over at J's tonight
so you don't have to pick her up. I'm gonna call Todd and tell him
so you guys I guess have tonight and tomorrow morning off. We'll give
you a call around noon maybe."
"I'll tell Todd," Gritty said, "He ended up over here at TC's so we're
cool for the night. We'll both have our phones on if you need us."
"Thanks man," Justin said.
Gritty paused for a moment and Justin heard the background noise slowly
disappearing as if he was walking away from whatever was making it. "Is
she feeling any better?"
Justin wanted to ask him if he knew any more about her mood than he did,
but Justin knew that if he asked something like that Gritty would only get
upset about things and probably end up blaming him for whatever was going
on. "She's really tired so we're going to head to bed now and hopefully
not wake up until tomorrow."
"Sounds like a plan," Gritty said, "I'll talk to you in the morning."
"I will," Gritty said with a laugh and hung up the phone.
Justin ended the call then set the alarm on the phone for eleven or so
before he walked around to the far side of the bed and pulled Meredith up.
He had her into a sitting postion and he pulled her shirt over her
head and replaced it with the longer shirt that Farzana had left them. It
was like dealing with a zombie as he pulled her arms through the holes.
"Bear," he said quietly, "Stand up for me baby and we'll take off your
pants and then you can curl up and go to sleep."
She did as she was told and he undressed her and then had her stay standing
until he could pull the covers back and have her slid underneath them.
When she was securely in bed he slid out of his clothes, leaving them
in a pile at the edge of the bed and slid under the sheets with her. He
turned off the light and took a deep breath before he felt her hand snake
out and she pulled her sleepy body over to his and situated herself into
her normal sleeping position, head on his chest, arm flung over his middle,
and her leg across one of his.
"You ok bear?" he asked.
"I love you," she said sleepily.
"I love you too," he said and stared up at the ceiling for a long time
before he fell into a deep sleep.
The clock read three in the morning when he felt the bed move and opened
his eyes. He'd rolled onto his side, facing away from Meredith and
she'd curled against his back and was spooned up against him with her arms
around him. That was until she slipped a little ways away from him.
"Bear?" he said coughing when he spoke.
"BeeDee go back to sleep, " she said, "I'm gonna go pee and I'll be back."
He nodded and moved a little in the bed as she slid out of the covers
and went out into the hallway. His head pounded now and his whole
body seemed to ache as he waited for her to come back. he started to
think about the way the t-shirt that she was wearing looked sexy on her and
how he'd watched the backs of her legs as she'd been leaving.
By the time that she returned to the room he'd worked himself up into
a fairly good sized erection and when she crawled back into bed with him
he stopped her when she started to curl up to him.
"What's wrong?" she said.
"I'm hard," he said with a sigh.
"I was waiting for you to come back and I was thinking about how we made
love in New York and San Francisco and I got hard," he said.
To his amazement she curled herself up to him and smiled, "Is that supposed
to be a bad thing?"
"I don't know," he said, "I know that you're tired and I didn't want to
bring--" He paused and smiled into the darkness at his choice of words.
"I didn't want to bring it up since I knew you wanted to sleep."
"Justin," she said with a serious tone, "Make love to me."
"What?" he said, "I can't."
"You can't or you won't?" she asked.
"I can't and I won't," he said and pushed himself up. He flipped
on the light and was partially blinded by it for a moment. "I
don't have any condoms and I'm not going to make love to you--with you--without
"Are you seeing someone else?" she asked.
"What?" he hissed at her. "No. Why the hell would you say
that to me?"
"I don't know," she said and looked down at the sheets. "I'm sorry.
I just--" She put her hand to her head. "I'm just confused
and I'm trying to think of reasons that things are happening and I haven't
found any so I'm just throwing ideas out there and now I've offended you
and you're gonna be mad at me."
"Calm down Bear," he said and scooted closer to her. He pulled her
into his arms. "I don't know what has gotten you so upset all of a
sudden, but I'm not seeing anyone else. I swear on my mother and my
brothers I'm not. I just don't think that we should make love unprotected.
There's too much stuff going on right now to add a baby into the mix."
"But what if I want a baby," she said.
"Whoa whoa whoa," he said and pushed her away from him. "Where is
this coming from? I don't mean to be completely an idiot with all
this, but where are you--"
"I'm sorry," she said and lay down facing away from him. "Nevermind."
"No," he said and went and spooned against her. He moved her hair
out of the way and leaned his head against hers so that his mouth was near
her ear. "Bear tell me what's going on...I'm not mad, I'm not upset,
I just don't understand where all this is coming from."
"I don't know if I can do this anymore," she said.
Justin wanted to throw up. Those words were something he never wanted
to hear from her and he felt himself break out into a sweat when she rolled
over into his arms. "I don't know if I can be on the road anymore.
I love it, don't get me wrong, but I don't love it like you do. I
need a break from this. I need to go back to being your girlfriend,
not the woman on your arm that's on the cover of people or the enquierer."
"Mere," he breathed out finding himself happy with the idea that it was
her career and not him that she wanted to reject. His thoughts were
calm for a moment then he realized that maybe she was serious about the
whole dropping the career thing. Instead of trying to discuss it,
he leaned and kissed her. "It's ok," he said, "I know the road is
tough..." He pulled her hand up to touch his chest here his heart was
beating. "I'm gonna be here for it though. If you want I'll say
the extra two months on the road with you."
"You'd do that for me?" she asked.
His mind went crazy with the idea that she'd quit and his thoughts strayed
to the other bedroom in the house wondering if Farzana had anything to do
with the thoughts that were in her head now. Even JC might have talked
her into this. He knew that she was a strong girl, but with her being
tired and a little emotionally unstable at the moment he thought that a few
suggestive words from them could send her down this path of thinking.
"Of course," he said instantly thinking that if he stayed with her on
the road they wouldn't be able to talk her out of quitting. "I can
push the solo project back two months. I may have to fly in and out
to do promo shoots and the last parts of recording the tracks, but I'll
do it if that's what you want."
"You would?" she asked.
"I love you Bear," he said, "I'm sorry if I haven't shown that to you
by making love to you, but we always seemed so tired. I thought you
had wanted to sleep all those nights--or I would have made love to you--with
you--every single one of them."
"Make love to me tonight," she said with a desparate tone to her voice,
"I want to feel you in me--"
Justin's crotch seemed to like that idea more than he did and the way
she whispered that last part almost sent him over the edge. "Bear.
I don't want you to get pregnant. I mean I do eventually--"
"Eventually?" she asked.
"I want to make love to you, but I don't want to put you in a position
of you having to do something that I'm not sure if the two of us are ready
for. I mean you could get pregnant and as much as I would love for
you to have my baby one day I don't think that today is that day."
"Please," she begged down tears coming down her face. "Please make
love to me Justin. Please. We've done it before that way."
He looked at her and he started to soften against her pleas for him to
go ahead with it. He moved his lips to hers and kissed her. "Why
are you looking at me like you're scared?" he asked.
"Because I'm afraid I'm gonna lose you," she said, "I'm going crazy I
think because I can't seem to get that thought out of my head. I just
want to be with you--" She moved and wiped her face. "Will you
"Meredith," he sighed. His stomach dropped at the thought of her
asking. He'd always assumed in the back of his mind that he'd eventually
ask her to marry him, but that was years away in his mind and that was the
last question in the world he thought that he'd hear come out of her mouth.
He didn't even know she was thinking about him like that. They
had a very intense relationship, but he didn't think that she was at the
point of settling down or becoming a wife just yet.
He knew he needed to chose his next words very carefully, but everything
that came to mind seemed too harsh or would give her the wrong idea. He
wanted to marry her and would have whisked her away to Vegas that night to
do so, but he knew that it would be the wrong reason. She was upset
about something, but he didn't know if marrying him would be the cure for
it. "Meredith I think you need to go back to sleep honey. I think
"Beedee...I love you," she said as tears streamed down her face. She
started to hiccup. "I'm sorry if I'm being stupid or crazy or whatever,
He kissed her to keep her from crying. "Meredith. Please just
go back to sleep. I think you need more rest and in the morning if
you want to talk about this some more we can, but right now we both need to
go back to bed."
"I'm sorry," she said and pushed herself out of bed. She grabbed
the top comforter. "I'll be downstairs."
Justin watched her leave as if it was out of some movie. He wanted
to rewind the conversation and return to the part where he'd been asleep
and had her with him. He seriously didn't know what had gotten into
her and where the whole marraige thing had come into play. He'd expected
that she was going to ask him to take time off from the tour to maybe go
home or go see his brothers, but he never expected her to ask for his hand
At this point didn't know even if he wanted to follow her out into the
hallway and back to the first floor.
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