WORK IT OUT 16-END

SIXTEEN:

"Kara?" JC asked holding out a hand to her as she stood wide-eyed staring at him.

Kara stepped back from JC's reach as her mind reeled with the information that had just been thrown at her. Her legs were shaky and her head hurt as she tried to process the information while trying to keep the thoughts of Lance from her mind.

When the back of her legs hit the edge of the bed Kara didn't sit down. The touch of something external in the room caused her legs buckle under her. She slid into a pile on the floor and held her head as her heart beat pounded in her ears. She was so involved in her pain that she didn't see JC leave the room and didn't know that everyone had come into the room to check on her.

No tears hit her cheeks as she sat there covering her face until she heard Lance's voice. "Kara what's wrong?"

The world closed in on Kara. It was like the fade to black at the end of a movie. Soon she couldn't hear JC's voice anymore and found herself drifting into some sort of black hole.

Ellie…not Ellie…anyone but Ellie.

***

"Ellie!" Kara shot up into a sitting position and looked around to find herself in the dark. She realized after a moment that she was sitting on the bed in the silence of the room. When a light in the room was turned on she shielded her eyes from it then turned to find someone next to her.

"Kara, you're ok." Lance lay half asleep propped up on an arm staring at her. With one eye open and the other one partially closed to protect itself from the glare of the light he stared at her. He was dressed in clothes, but it was clear that he'd been lying there with her for a long time.

"Wha-?" Kara lay back and put her head on the pillow trying to calm her breathing and her rapid heart rate. "I had the worst nightmare," she said softly, "It was about my friend Ellie, you know…the one that you talked to on the phone."

Lance scooted closer to her and lay a hand on her stomach. Pulling her so that she was cuddled against him he held her close for a moment before he spoke. Kara wondered for a moment why he was holding her so closely. She remembered being upset with him over something, but in her state of mind she could tell if that too had been in the dream or not.

"Honey your mother called after you passed out…"

"Passed out?" Kara looked at him and suddenly found worry in his eyes.

"Kara you passed out a while ago," Lance said, "Don't you remember?"

"Not really," Kara said.

"Your mother called back on your cell phone. Ellie's funeral is in a few days and she says that you should go home for it."

"Noooo," Kara's long moan brought tears to her eyes. She pressed her face against his chest and began to mumble. "It was just a nightmare. She's not dead."

"Honey…shhh…" Lance grabbed her tightly as she then fought to get away. "Please Kara calm down."

"No," Kara said pulling at his hands to let her go. She uncurled his fingers from around her and managed to push his arms from around her. At one point she thought that she might have bitten him, but she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she needed to get away and get away fast. Once finally free of his arms she pulled herself away from the bed and ran into the bathroom.

In the small confines of the bathroom Kara turned on the light and listened to the fan run while she leaned against the formica counter and stared at her reflection in the mirror. The light made her look a little yellow colored and for a moment she critiqued her appearance. Her eyes wore heavy dark bags and they seemed puffy, a sure sign that she'd been crying.

One, two three…wake up.

One, two three…wake up.

Kara closed her eyes and prayed that when she opened her eyes she'd be ok.

One, two three wake up.

"Kara," Lance's voice outside the door made her panic. She felt trapped, like an animal and wanted to get away.

Sinking to the floor she let the tears flow and curled into a ball on the cold linoleum. "Please God. No." She mumbled over and over again.

Finally Lance opened the door and pulled her into his arms and sat with her on the floor for a while.

It seemed like hours, but it was probably only minutes when someone else entered the bathroom. Kara was instructed to take pills then vaguely remembered crawling into bed again and remembered Lance laying with her, because it was his heartbeat that finally calmed her into sleep.

***

The next morning Kara awoke with a start and found herself in the same position that she'd been in the night before when she'd woken from her nightmare.

"Kara?" This time it was Kelsey's voice that comforted her. She turned and stared at Kelsey who was siting in the corner of the room working on a laptop.

"What happened?" she asked holding her head. She suddenly felt as if she had a hang over, but wasn't sure where she'd gotten it from.

Kelsey got up and came over to sit next to her on the bed. "Honey you have a rough night last night. The doctor gave you some relaxants so your head might be hurting a bit." Kelsey handed her a drink of water and waited for her to take a sip before she took the glass back and set it on the counter next to the bed.

"Was Lance here last night?" Kara asked vaguely remembering the incidents of the night before. She still wasn't sure what had been real and what had been a dream.

"He left around five thirty this morning after we got you settled down for the second time. He was going to stay all day, but I told him to go with the guys and I'd stay with you."

Kara lay back and stared at the ceiling as tears filled her eyes again. She remembered Lance talking to her and the fight that they'd had and even remembered shutting herself into the bathroom.

"Kara honey your mother called a while ago and wants to fly out to come and get you to bring you home. I think you should call her."

Kara reluctantly took the phone that Kelsey offered her. She stared at it for a moment before she pushed herself up and leaned back against the pillows to dial.

"Hello mom?"

"Oh my god Kara," her mother's voice sounded worried. "What happened? Are you ok?"

"I just woke up and I'm not sure what happened." Kara rubbed her temple where a headache was making it feel as if her blood vessels there were going to explode.

"Kara honey Ellie is dead."

"I know…," she said as tears welled up in her eyes. "What happened?"

"There was a car accident…Ellie and the girls were driving back from Pleasure Island and had been drinking…They were on the curve out by the beach and hit some sand that had blown up on the road. Any sober driver would have known what to do, but they weren't paying attention. The car slid and did a three-sixty and hit into one of the light poles."

Kara let the phone drop from her ear for a moment and she took a deep breath. It had all been true. Every nightmare from the night before suddenly found itself coming true.

"Honey I want you to get a flight home as soon as you can."

"I will," Kara said as tears escaped the corners of her eyes.

Kelsey got up and took the phone from her, spoke to her mother for a moment, then hung up.

"We got you a flight in about three hours. You should pack up then I'll take you to the airport."

Kara nodded and numbly got up and packed up her bags. As she placed each item in the bag the thought of leaving added another pound to the already heavy burden on her shoulders.

***

"Kara wait!" someone called in the lobby of the hotel. She stopped and turned to see Lance jogging towards her.

"Are you ok?" he asked stopping in front of her.

Kara looked him up and down for a moment then noticed his bandaged hand and asked, "What happened?"

"You sort of bit me last night."

"Oh my god." Tears sprung to her eyes and streamed down her face. "I'm sooo sorry." She ducked her head and felt extremely embarrassed.

Lance reached over and framed her face with his hands and looked at her in the eyes. He held his gaze there for a moment. "Kara its ok." He paused. "It’s ok…really."

"Come on…we have to go," Kelsey said from next to them.

"I know," Kara said never taking her eyes from where Lance held her face looking at him.

"I want to go with you…but I can't." His hands broke free and he stuck them into his pockets and looked at her.

"It's ok," Kara said blinking.

"Call me tonight when you get there."

"I will," Kara said nervously as his eyes pierced through her.

Lance reached for her and pulled her into a hug and held her there for a moment. Kara leaned into him and held onto him tight trying to push the thought of being away from him out of her mind. Although she still wasn't sure if she was still mad at Lance or not, she was going to miss him.

Lance pulled back and leaned and kissed her deeply on the mouth. "I love you honey."

Kara's mind reeled with not only the feeling of Lance kissing her, but also the words that he said. She'd never had a significant other tell her that he loved her.

SEVENTEEN:

One month later…

The doors of the elevator slid open and Kara was immediately stopped. She'd been stopped four times since she entered the hotel; even though she did have her security passes with her, and was getting used to the idea of being in a security zone again. "Special K! What are you doing here?"

"Well Wes it was supposed to be a surprise but I guess it's not going to be one now."

She still couldn't believe that she was in New York and was going to be seeing the guys. Pinching herself in the airport hadn't made it real, but now that she was actually in the same hotel with them and had passed the fans in the lobby and now was greeted by Wes's smiling face she felt as if she were home again. She'd debated for almost three weeks about coming back on the tour. After all the drama she'd caused before she'd left and the strange good-bye that Lance had given her she wasn't sure exactly where she fit in with all of them. Finally she booked herself a flight out before she changed her mind again.

"Sorry," he said with a hushed voice. He pulled her into a hug. "How've you been? It's been about a month now hasn't it?"

"I'm good," she nodded trying again for the hundredth time that day to put the last month behind her. She was back on the road now and was going to try and start over. She gave him a half smile. "Are the guys around?"

"Yeah. Lance didn't tell you the schedule for the day?" He reached and took her two bags from her.

"No, actually he doesn't know I'm here. We haven't talked in about three weeks. The only one who knew I was coming was my dad."

"The guys are having dinner tonight with some special fans at Planet Hollywood after they announce the line-up for the Challenge for the Children basketball game that's going on this weekend." He walked down the hall. "Which one are you? You staying with Kelsy?" he asked.

She nodded.

"Now everything makes sense," Wes mumbled.

"What?"

"No wonder Lance has been so pissy." He walked along with her then turned at room 418 and opened the door for her. "You back for the rest of the tour?"

"I think so," she said. "What do you mean about Lance?"

"Nothing," he said, "Things have just been different since you left."

"Different?"

"Have you talked to Johnny yet?" He walked into the room behind her and put the bags on the bed next to the messed up one that Kelsey was using.

"No I was planning to stop by and see the guys then go and talk to Johnny. I've been doing some work for him on the side back home, but I'd love to jump back into things, you know…keep busy and all."

"Well it's good to see you again," he said leaving. "The guys are in 422 and 424."

"Thanks Wes," she said.

"I'll see ya around."

Kara was about to go and find the guys when Johnny appeared in the hallway. He was on his cell phone and was chatting away, but waved her down asking her to come over to him.

Taking a deep breath, Kara went and stood next to him.

"Yes, I know that we can't do that." Johnny spoke forcefully into the phone. "Well call up Doug and tell him to get on it."

A few moments later Johnny hung up.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"Nothing much," he said, "How've you been?"

"Good," she nodded. She wondered if the scene she'd made when she'd gotten the news about Ellie was worse than she remembered it. She had known she'd made a pretty dramatic exit from the tour, but she hoped that wasn't going to be the only thing people talked to her about now that she was back.

"You ready to get back to work?"

"What do you need me to do?" she asked with a smile.

"Can you type some stuff up for me tonight?" Johnny smiled at her trying to use the twinkle in his eye to get his way. "After you go have dinner with everyone at Planet Hollywood of course."

He'd sounded that way a million times while she'd been on the phone with him. She'd been doing a little work for him over the last three weeks. It was that work, keeping up a new Internet site while she was at home, that had helped her decide to come back. She kept posting diary entries from Kelsey about the tour that were directed at the fans and had found herself just as excited about reading them as a fan would be. It hadn't convinced her to pick up the phone and call Lance; that was a subject she wanted to handle in person.

Johnny coughed a little probably because Kara had spaced out. "Also we have a reporter coming on tour with us for the week and we need someone to baby-sit the girl."

"Sounds like fun," Kara said.

"Good," he commented and looked at his watch. "Have you seen your dad yet?"

"Nope, I think he's still setting things up with the others. I talked to him this morning on the phone before I flew out."

"Well hang out for a while. We should be leaving here to PH in the next half hour or so."

"Thanks," she said.

"I'll bring the laptop down to you tonight."

"Thanks."

When she heard a door open down the hall the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. She turned around and found Lance standing there staring at her with wide eyes. It seemed for a moment that he didn't actually believe it was her then he came down the hallway to her.

"What are you doing here?" he asked. She couldn't tell if she was mad at her or not.

She found her answer when he pulled her into his arms and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "How have you been? I was getting worried there for a minute that you weren't going to come back."

"I've been better, but it's good to be back." Kara held her breath and looked him in the eyes and to her amazement found that there wasn't a change in his expression. He looked at her the way he had when they'd been together before. She hadn't expected that. She thought he would be angry with her for not calling, but it seemed as if the last month had been forgotten between them and that they were just as close as they had been.

Lance cupped her face in his hands and was about to kiss her when laughing burst out from behind Lance.

"Kiss her man!" Joey yelled.

"Molest her right here in the hallway!" Chris laughed.

"Go for it Lanceten!" Justin yelled.

Lance touched his lips to hers quickly leaving her with just a peck of a kiss before turning to run down the hall to wrestle with the guys. Her lips tingled, even from that slight touch as she watched the guys playfully battle each other.

JC entered the hallway at the sound of the guys fighting and when he saw her he came over and hugged her. Somehow he was always the calm in the storm, although most people wouldn't have known that about him if they just watched the guys' shows. Everyone knew him as Hyper Boy on stage, but that night he was cool, calm, and collected and actually so serious that it almost worried her.

"Are you back now?" he asked.

"Yep." She nodded and laughed at the guys. She wasn't sure if she wanted to get into discussing the last few weeks. She would eventually, but she didn't want to break out and tell a sob story on her first night back.

"Good," JC said, "Maybe now things can get back to normal."

"Normal C?" she asked, "I don’t think that's possible."

"Well you know what I mean."

***

Kara had yet to see her father, but Johnny and the others insisted that she have dinner with them. Instead of waiting for her dad at the hotel she watched the guys climb into a limo then climbed into the van that would take the rest of the traveling caravan over to the Planet Hollywood.

Twenty-five minutes later the group entered Planet Hollywood making their way down a huge red carpet. She'd heard of the red carpet treatment, but had never seen it in action. There were reporters and fans everywhere. Light bulbs flashed and people screamed. It was straight out of some movie and throughout the whole walk down the carpet behind the guys she felt as if she was in a strange dream world. Luckily everyone was looking at the guys and not at her. She walked next to Johnny trying to look as unimportant as she could.

Once the guys were seated at their huge long twenty-five person table Kara took a seat with Wes at a booth near the far end of the table. They could see everything, but wouldn't be in the way of the fans that had won the chance to have dinner with the guys that evening.

Lance sat staring at her from his seat, which made Kara uncomfortable. When he took off the jacket he'd worn into the restaurant she slid out of the booth and walked over to the guys trying not to draw attention to herself. She offered to take his jacket over to her booth and was soon holding all of their coats.

"Thanks guys," she said with sarcasm in her voice.

"Don't mention it," Chris said in a completely serious tone while making a crazy face at her.

The guys were in hyper mode and even JC was getting excited as they prepared to be bombarded by group of girls that would be entering the room soon. There were four winners and each person had been able to bring three friends to dinner making it possible for each winner to have a guy sitting at their section of the table.

When the group of winners arrived the guys all got up from their seats and introduced themselves while Kara made her way back to the table to sit next to Wes.

"Take deep breaths," Wes whispered to her.

"What?"

"Just take deep breaths and try not to think about it."

"Think about what?"

"Think about how jealous you are of those girls and how bad you want to spend time with Lance."

"What are you talking about?"

"Come on, you haven't taken your eye off of him all night." Wes leaned and looked at Lance who was looking in their direction. "And he hasn't taken his eyes off you either."

"Whatever Wes," she said.

"Look, he's staring at you now."

"Well he's probably staring in this direction because he probably thinks we're talking about him from the way we keep staring at him then whispering."

"But we are talking about him."

She hit at Wes and laughed. "You're bad!"

"You're the one that's trouble," Wes said, "I knew it from the first time I saw you."

"The first time I saw you I thought I was going to die. I thought you were going to kill me or something."

"I am pretty tough aren't I?" he said flexing his muscles.

Kara let out a loud laugh and almost everyone at the big table turned and looked at her. Kara covered her mouth and laughed more while Wes pretended to look the other way.

***

Her watch clicked over to midnight when they stepped out of the elevator onto their floor. All five guys and Wes and Mike stepped out with her and made their way along with her down the hall. The guys were still laughing about how the fans had been so crazy at dinner, throwing spitballs and blowing bubbles in their soda. Chris had started it all, but they hadn't expected all of them to continue the game until the manager finally had to come out to ask them to stop throwing things.

Kara had even had gotten into the act when the contest winners, most of who were girls in their teens came over and asked her to throw things at Joey and Justin since those two had their backs to them. With Wes looking the other way she'd thrown more than her share of wadded up napkins at the guys.

"You going to bed yet?" Lance asked.

"I was thinking about it."

"Want to hang out for a minute?" he asked.

"Kara, you still think you can do some work for me?" Johnny called.

Kara turned and stared at Johnny wondering if she was going to get in trouble for hanging out with the guys.

She looked at Lance and knew that she should do the work instead of hanging out with him. She still wasn’t' sure where they stood and she needed a little time to ease back into things. "Sure Johnny."

Lance made a face at her, kissed her cheek then said, "I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Night," she called after him and made her way to her room.

EIGHTTEEN:

Four days would pass before she saw Lance again. She would be lying if someone asked her if she noticed. She hadn't. Then again she hadn't noticed much past her computer screen those first few days. There was too much work to do and she barely noticed missing breakfast or lunch let alone another person. When she did finally see him again it was in her hotel room on their last night in New York before they returned to Florida for a quick rest before leaving for the overseas trip.

A much-relaxed looking Lance sat at the hotel room's small table leafing through a book. When she got closer she saw that it was her Day Planner open across his lap as if he'd been sitting there for a while looking at it. There wasn't much important in it, other than her list of phone numbers, but it still bothered her a little to have him be looking at it; he was invading the small amount of privacy she had on the tour.

When he didn't notice her she stopped and kicked his foot with hers and asked, "What are you doing?"

He leafed through the pages for a moment then looked up and answered calmly, "I wanna make an appointment."

"What?" she asked with a laugh. He sounded ridiculous asking her that. She knew that she hadn't seen him in the few days since she'd returned to the tour, but making an appointment seemed strange to her. Was her life that complicated that she had to make appointments to even hang out?

"How about tomorrow around lunchtime?" he said, "Does that work for you? You don't have anything scheduled." He pointed at the book and had a completely serious look on his face.

"What are you doing?" she asked with a smile and walked over to him. He stayed seated and didn't look at all as if he was going to move or give up her book. She pulled her it from his grasp and walked over to her the bed and sat down. "How'd you get in here anyway?"

"I have connections," he said with a cocky smile. "So lunch time tomorrow?"

"You don't need to make an appointment with me," she said.

"Yes I do," he said. "The last five times I've tried to even spend even a few minutes with you, you've had to work so I want to schedule an hour or something so we can sit down and talk. You've been home for almost a week now and I haven't talked to you."

"Home?" she asked.

"Yes, home," he replied. He stared at the book in her hands. "So schedule me in."

"We're going to be back in Orlando tomorrow. You don't want to spend your vacation time with me." She wasn't really trying to avoid him, but the next day was going to be busy and she thought that the guys would be leaving town before she and the others so she knew that it would be hard to have lunch.

"Come on Kara," Lance said, "We haven't had a real conversation since you got back."

She let out a sigh. It was true, but she couldn't help but to feel nervous about talking to him. When she worked no one asked her how her month long trip home. She had too many important details to organize and the work always came first.

When he didn't look like he was going to move she threw the book open flipped the pages and wrote something down. It wasn't even his name or even written on the correct day or time, but she didn't think he'd notice.

"Fine." She said. "Just not tomorrow. We're flying home tomorrow."

"Then when?" he asked.

"Why are you being so persistent about this?" she asked.

"Never mind then," he said standing up. "Forget I even came in here."

"Ugh!" She grabbed Lance's arm. "Wait."

"Look," he said with anger rising in his voice, "I thought that there was something between us, but I guess I was wrong."

Kara took a breath, "There is…" She let go of his arm and avoided his gaze on her. "…I just…" She walked away from him.

There was a knock at the door. "Kara you in there?"

Lance stared at her as if he was waiting to see if she would finish her sentence.

"Hold on a second!" she called to the person at the door.

She stepped forward put her arms around him and kissed Lance softly on the lips and suggested, "Lunch the day after we get back…ok?"

He closed his eyes for a moment, and took a breath as if he was trying to calm his temper. When he opened his eyes he looked a little more relaxed. "Fine. Call me."

"Ok." She kissed him again. "I've gotta run. Have a good concert tonight."

"I always do," he said.

"Come on Kara we're gonna be late!"

It was Kelsey outside the door. Kara groaned. They had to go to a meeting with Jive and Johnny about some issues that had come up with a few things that had happened around a canceled concert in Illinois and they were running late.

Lance and Kara reluctantly slid out of each other's arms when another knock sounded at the door and they walked towards the door hand in hand before they let.

***

Kara met Kelsey at the door and the two girls walked down towards the elevator while Lance turned in the opposite direction and headed further down the hall.

"So what was that all about?" Kelsey asked as they waited for the elevator. She looked back at where Lance was walking away and said, "Did I interrupt something?"

"Not really." She patted her pocket to make sure that she had her cell phone with her and took a deep breath. The whole situation with him was stressing her out and she half wanted to quit just to avoid having an out and out war with him about it. She knew that he wanted to know about the funeral and how she was feeling, but she really didn't want to talk about it. "We just haven't talked since I got back," she said, "Somehow he doesn't think he has enough people to talk to so he wants to talk to me."

"Did you guys break up?" Kelsey asked. She pushed the button for the elevator and a moment later they stepped into the small room and both leaned against the walls.

They'd been up since early that morning handling more press stuff since it was the last day in New York and were both stressed out over their meeting that afternoon. There were rumors of lawsuits being filed and the whole group of management people was up in arms over what to do about it. People were blaming them due to the crazy things that happened around a concert, but management was on the defensive saying that there was nothing that they could do about the trouble since it just happened to be over traffic problems and such.

When the stress of thinking about work got to her she immediately began to think about Lance again. At least that stress was on a smaller scale. "We never really were officially going out," she said. "Or if we were it was such a short time that I think I have a hard time even considering him as my boyfriend."

"You do know that you are nuts don't you?" Kelsey stated matter of factly. "Take this from one who knows. Any other girl would be going crazy knowing that Lance wanted them."

"Lance doesn't want me," she said, "How could he? We barely know each other."

She'd always pictured all the guys with model type girl friends and at the moment Kara wasn't feeling model-ish. She'd been wearing jeans and sneakers for the last few weeks and didn't expect that her attire was going to attract attention to her, especially one of the most eligible bachelors in the world.

"I say talk to the guy. He was really worried about you while you were gone."

"Really?"

"Are you going to question everything I tell you?" Kelsey asked. "If you haven't noticed that guy is in love with you."

"What?"

Kelsey gave her a stern look. "He called you a million times and even threatened to leave and go to Orlando to find you."

"Are we talking about the same Lance Bass?" Kara asked, "That doesn't sound like Lance at all."

"Well if you told someone you loved them and then didn't hear from them for a month I think you'd be going crazy too."

"I couldn't help that," she said, "I had too much going on back home to be on the phone with him dealing with things here."

The elevator door slid open and they could see Johnny at the front desk waiting for them.

"Hi girls," Johnny said with a tired sigh. "You ready?"

"Yep," they both said and headed out to the street to meet up with the car that would take them to the Jive offices.

"Kara, I know that you weren't here when all of this happened, but I want you to pay attention to the details today. We had that accident because of the storm…Kelsey told you about that right?"

"Yep."

"Well we've had some people threaten to sue us because when the stage fell down and we had to reschedule there was a whole mess that came with the rescheduling. Some of the parents of the fans were worried about their kids." Johnny sighed. "Anyway the real thing is that we have to handle this carefully. It wasn't really our fault that the traffic was bad on that night, but we do have to try to get that across in a calm manner."

"I understand," Kara said.

In the car, while Johnny sat up front talking to Melinda and a few of the others from SFX, the girls sat in the back chatting more.

"You should have at least left Lance messages or something. He was really sick over it. That's one of the reasons why the guys are so glad to have you back. When one of them is hurting all of them feel it. And that goes for you too. Everyone around here was upset after all the drama that went on."

"Great," Kara sighed, "I'm the drama queen now."

"No, not at all," Kelsey sighed. "Everyone was just worried about you."

"Really?"

"Why is it so hard for you to believe that they--that we--all care about you?" Kelsey asked.

"I don't know. It's like this dream world that we live in and no matter how many times I try to think about it I still can't believe that I'm on tour. It's just too good to be true."

NINETEEN:

Kara rolled over in bed and reached for the ringing phone. She caught sight of the clock and decided not to kill the person calling considering that it was already noon. She'd vowed the night before to kill anyone who tried to wake her up before noon. She figured she didn't have to tell Lance to call later on in the day considering that he probably would be sleeping in too.

"Hello?"

"Kara?" a male voice asked.

"Huh?" she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. She couldn't tell if it was her father, Lance, or someone else she knew or not.

"Kara? It's Johnny," the voice said.

"Johnny who?" she asked.

She heard a laugh. "We let you go home for a night and you totally forget everyone?"

She sat up. Johnny Wright. What was he doing calling her? "I'm sorry. I was asleep."

"Well I need you to wake up and come over to the compound."

Kara looked around the room. She was home. This was vacation. Why did she have to work? They weren't going to be going back on the road for at least a week. She thought she'd at least have one day off. "Huh? Why?"

"The whole Illinois thing is going down and we need you over here." His tone was serious and formal and she knew that something important must have come up for him to be calling her.

"I have a lunch appointment."

"Cancel it or reschedule it."

Kara listened to his command and took the information in. "How long are we going to be busy?"

"A few hours or so. The lawyers got together and have tried to deal with the lawsuit stuff, but we need you over here."

"Fine," she said with a sigh.

"That's my girl," Johnny said, "See you in the next hour?"

She looked at the clock again. "Yeah."

"Good."

The line went dead and Kara pushed the covers back and got out of bed. Not quite awake, she stumbled across the room and made it to the bathroom without hitting into anything. On shaky legs she climbed into the shower and let the cool water take away the rest of the daze that had been left from her night of sleep.

Twenty minutes later Kara was dressed and was pulling her hair into a ponytail on her way out of the house. The phone rang and she went to go get the line.

"Hello?"

"Hey K, its Lance." His voice was upbeat and he seemed excited to talk to her.

She groaned.

"What?" he asked.

"I have some bad news," she said.

"You're backing out," he said simply.

"I have a meeting with Johnny."

"Oh."

"It's not like I want to go and sit and listen to the lawyers yell about the whole Illinois thing."

"Look. It's cool," he said.

"Can I call you later and maybe get together for dinner?" She knew that she should try and reschedule it so that she could try to make amends with him.

"Yeah."

"Lance, I was getting ready to call you so we could go out. You have to believe that." It was a little white lie, but nothing that would really hurt anyone in the end.

"It's not a matter of believing you," he said, "You don't really even sound upset about canceling."

"Lance I don't have time to debate with you over this." She stammered out as the stress level began to rise. "I can call you later or not. It's up to you."

"Fine," he said with a defeated sound. "Call my cell when you get out of the meeting."

"Don't do me any favors," she said and hung up the phone.

Leaving the house, Kara slammed the door shut behind her and rushed down to the curb. She jumped in her car and sped over to the compound. They'd been there the day before when the whole crew had been dropped off by an airport service so that everyone could go their separate ways, luckily she'd been paying attention; she wouldn't want to get lost on her way over.

Kelsey met her at the front door after she'd gone through the security gate and had parked next to a line of cars in front of the house.

"So what's going on that's so important that I need to be here?" Kara asked.

"You had to cancel with Lance didn't you?" Kelsey asked.

Kara nodded, "It doesn't matter. So what's up?"

"We’ve got a little work to do today."

They went into the house and into a conference room. Johnny waved to her to sit down then stared at her for a moment. She wondered why he looked at her so long, but she figured it was just because she probably looked so out of sorts.

***

Kara rolled her head around and tried to stretch her neck. It was almost dark outside as she sat on the step and watched the others get into their cars and leave. She felt horrible, not only because she'd just spent almost eight hours in a boring meeting, but also because she knew that she should call Lance and she hated the feeling of dread that came along with that action.

"You gonna sit on the porch all night or are you going to call him?" Johnny asked from behind her.

"Huh?" she said. It was becoming her favorite word these days.

She'd sat down on the steps of the house to rest for a minute before she drove home, but hadn't expected that anyone would bother her considering that almost everyone else was on their way home.

"Call up Lance and go meet up with him." Johnny's commanding voice had taken a softer tone. It surprised her to think that he was that involved. He always seemed a little distant around the crew on the road as if he had to keep up his I-am-the-manager profile.

"What are you talking about?"

"You know what? I may be a little older than you, but I'm not completely blind. I know that my policy is usually not to have my staff and my artists date, but since you were dating before you became a lifer I think that I can handle the two of you…that is…if you'll call him and stop the drama between the two of you."

Johnny sat down and handed her the phone.

"So how much do you know about the two of us?"

"I was there when he said goodbye to you when you left to come home a while ago," he said. "And I saw the look on your face when he said I love you."

Kara shivered.

"What?" Johnny asked, "It's not that cold."

"It's not the cold," she took a breath, "It's the fact that everyone that's around me is putting so much effort to keeping Lance and me together."

"And that's a bad thing?"

"No," she said, "It's just strange."

"Strange?" Johnny asked.

"Yeah, that people care that much."

Johnny stared at her. "So what happened that caused you to be so negative."

"Nothing," she said, "It's just so…" She turned and faced him fully. "I fell into this nice little world, with this nice little family and it's…"

"Overwhelming?" he supplied for her.

"Yeah," she shivered again.

"Look, all I know is that you need to work this out. I don't like to see my guys upset and I know that if you and he can't get it together I'm going to lose one of the best PR people I've ever met."

She blushed hearing that he liked her work.

Johnny patted her on the back. "Go ahead and stay on the line as long as you like. I'll be inside when you're done."

"That's ok," she said handing the phone back. "I'll call him on the cell."

"That's my girl." He patted her on the back and disappeared into the house a few moments later.

Kara stood up from the steps of the porch and reached for her cell phone. She dialed the number and as she walked to the car she listened to the line ring.

"Hello?" a sleepy voice said.

"Lance?" She took a deep breath.

"Kara?" he said, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she said, "I think we should talk."

"You wanna meet up somewhere?" he asked.

"Can I come over?" she asked.

"You know the way?" he asked.

"I'm over at Johnny's," she said, "I'll be over there in about a half hour."

***

Forty minutes later, after stalling as long as she could, Kara pulled into Lance's driveway. She sat in the car for a moment and tried to think of how to first apologize and second explain how much pain she was in.

She felt ridiculous after a few minutes and decided that she couldn't pull out of the driveway, which meant she had to go into the house.

She knocked and held her breath.

Lance pulled the door open. He wore nylon running pants that were low on his hips along with a sloppy looking T-shirt. He was in sleepwear, she could see that which made her feel even worse. He should have been asleep, not dealing with her.

"Come on in, you," he said softly. She'd expected him to be angry, not only for her tardiness, but also for the way that they'd spoken to each other the last time they'd talked.

Kara couldn't move. She stood and practically trembled.

"Kara?" he asked.

She looked up and through teary eyes mumbled out the words, "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry."

THE END