ONE LAST CRY
( Parts 1, 2, & 3 )
Leah was about to lock up her office when she heard piano music coming from the main room. She'd packed up most of the things that needed to be put away for the night and had expected to just slip out and go to sleep. She'd been completely exhausted by acting normal the whole night in front of JC, considering that she hadn’t seen him in almost a week since they'd been at the picnic together…
Leah was watching everyone dancing while sipping on her upteenth beer of the night when she noticed some random girl dancing with JC. She was tall with long dark hair and seemed to be flirting with him a little too much. She hadn't seen the girl come in and didn't know who she belonged to, but she knew it wasn't JC. He'd come alone.
"Aren't you going to stop them?" Justin asked from next to her.
"Stop them from what?" Leah asked turning to find Justin looking down at her. She shivered a little from the cool night air on her sleeveless arms and stared at Justin as his face went in and out of focus for a moment.
"You've got the death stare going really good right now," he said, "Just go over and butt in."
"I can't," she said.
"Why not?" he asked.
"It's not that simple Justin."
"God…is that everyone's answer tonight?" he said with a sigh.
Leah looked at him strangely for a moment.
"Look, he's got a really good buzz going and so do you I'm sure, so just go over there and dance with him."
Justin's cell phone rang and he walked away talking, but stopped to wave her towards the crowd that had gathered on the porch.
"One…two…three…" Leah took a deep breath and mumbled, "Here goes nothing."
She walked towards the group that was dancing on the porch. The size of the crowd seemed to have doubled so she went to get another beer, but kept an eye on JC. He had his arm around the girl with a beer in the other hand and they were laughing as Joey and Angela danced next to them along with Chris and Dani.
Leah caught a glimpse of the look on the girl's face who'd now wrapped herself more around JC. She'd had enough of the girl's open display of affection for him and took a breath and literally marched over to where they were dancing. Without a plan to follow Leah grabbed the girl's arm, pulled her away from JC and put herself between the two of them.
"What are you doing?" JC asked finally.
Leah turned around, put an arm around JC and kissed him hard on the mouth. He seemed to be shocked at first, but then settled into the kiss. The couple didn't see the girl's reaction to the event, but when she pulled Leah away from JC, Joey seemed to see the tension between the trio and ushered the other girl away.
It struck her at that moment what she'd done, and thought that JC would realize the strangeness of the situation, but he surprised her by pulling her close again. He kept an arm around her and put his beer down then took hers and they began to dance together again.
As the bass of the song beat out a rythmn for the crowd to follow JC and Leah clung to each other and matched the beat. She watched a smile form on his face as his arms held her close and she wanted to say something to him, but couldn't think of anything that sounded right. So she kept dancing.
When he moved her arm so that it lay over his shoulder so that he could lean and place his face into her neck she smiled at the feeling on his breath on her skin. He mumbled something into her neck then kissed her collarbone then kissed up her neck finally kissing her on the mouth again before he worked his way back down to her collarbone then spoke again into her neck.
"What?" she finally asked after he said something else. She couldn't hear him over the music and with her drunken state she didn't know if she would have been able to understand him if she did actually hear what he'd said in the first place.
"You wanna get out of here?" he said looking into her eyes. His eyes sparkled with an excitement she hadn't seen in a few months. She'd missed that sparkle. She'd seen him on television a few dozen times while they'd been on the road and had seen how sad looking he'd been, but never imagined that it was her that had caused that pain.
"Well…" she said.
"Come on," he said with a smile and a wink.
The wink. He had to use the wink.
JC turned her around then plastered himself to her back as they made their way through the crowd. He had an arm around her and every so often, when they'd stop to side step someone dancing in their way he'd pull her close.
Leaving their beers and the others behind they found an empty seat and he pulled her into his lap. With a giggle she settled herself in sitting across his legs while he held her close and kissed at her neck while letting his hands roam over her.
If she'd been sober he wouldn't have been ok with her to have him act that way, but the mix of alcohol and jealousy because of the other girl was scquing her judgement a little, besides…it felt good. She remembered how great they'd been together physically and had missed that while he'd been on the road. She'd had a hard time with her decision over the last few months, but she'd made it through the time even if she didn't want to…
Snapping back to the present she listened to the piano music and thought about her evening. Justin had been the perfect date for the rehearsal dinner, leaving her with a kiss as he joined his mother, father, and brothers when everyone had left for the evening, although she expected that he would eventually make his way to Patty's. She'd seen the look on Patty's face earlier in the evening when they'd been sitting at the table together. Patty couldn't help but to show her jealousy.
When Justin asked to be her date for the evening she'd thought about the fight that had happened on Valentine's Day and was worried that it would happen again, but somehow they'd made it through the night without an incident.
Now though, she looked forward to spending time with Justin, she really wasn't looking forward to spending another day across the room from JC. She wanted so badly for their fight to be over. Being back in his arms a few nights before had proved that to her. She needed him, not only his touch, but the way he cared about her. Her trouble was just her pride. She didn't want to admit that she'd been wrong and stupid for pushing him away. She'd managed to keep him on the outside of her thoughts, despite being in the same room with him, but now, with the wedding plans being finalized and the ceremony happening the next day it seemed that she could only think of JC when she heard the piano music.
Leah went around the wall that separated the bar from the restaurant and for a moment thought that she was dreaming. JC was sitting there at the piano playing and singing with his eyes closed. He'd taken off the jacket he'd worn at dinner and had his tie undone hanging over his shoulders with the arms of his white collared shirt rolled up onto his forearms as his fingers breezed over the keys. She wondered what he was doing there alone, since he'd arrived to dinner with Patty, but as he started into the second verse of the song she didn't want to stop him from singing to ask.
JC played the music in between the verses from memory, improvising a little and thought about Leah. He'd seen her earlier at the dinner, walking around on Justin's arm and had wanted to kill the kid for inviting her, not that she didn't belong there, but because she didn't belong there with Justin.
He thought that after the fight they'd gotten into on Valentine's Day that he would have known better, but it hadn't seemed to even cross his mind that she should be there with him. He'd wanted to go up to him right then and tell him to get away from her, but he knew he couldn't. Not only would it have caused trouble during Lance and Nicole's celebration, but it would also have pissed off Leah. She didn't want chaos or drama in her life and trying to get Justin away from her would have just caused another fight.
He'd tried to make up with her at Lance's picnic a week before and had just gotten tongue tied. They'd both been drunk and had been kissing when they seemed to both realize what they were doing and stopped. They parted ways that night and hadn't spoken since. He just prayed to God that he could convince her that they could be together.
He took a deep breath and prayed that he wasn't going to start to cry. He'd done enough of that in the last three months to last him a lifetime and while none of the other guys had known about it, he had thought about her every day that they'd been apart. He spent most of his time, behind the headphones of his CD player picturing her at the restaurant or replaying their omelet making experience or the time when he'd danced with her in the morning. He missed stuff like that and couldn't think of doing stuff like that with anyone else.
The words of the song seeped into his conciousness and caught him off guard. He found himself stopping for a moment. He took a breath and started up again. It had been months since he'd played and he needed to practice a little more before he sang at the wedding the next night. Lance had wanted him to play something for their first dance and while the suggestion was a real honor, he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to get through it.
"Don't stop," he heard from behind him and turned to find Leah watching him from over near the bar.
"I should," he said.
Leah made her way over and sat down next to him on the piano bench. "Please play."
Her smile got to him and he relaxed a little. "Any requests?"
"Just play anything," she said.
He thought for a moment and began to play the melody to Jon B.'s Pretty girl, the song he'd danced to with her in the morning a few months before.
She leaned against him with a sigh. "I like this one."
"Good," he said. He twisted and kissed her on the top of the head.
"Josh?" she said after a few minutes of playing.
"Yeah?" he asked smiling at the sound of his own name. She hadn't called him that in a while and he'd forgotten how good it felt to have her say the word.
"Do you think that we can ever make up?" she asked with a little hesitation.
He stopped playing and turned to her and stared.
"I know that I've been really horrible about--"
He put a finger to her lips to quiet her. "Let me say something first," he said, "I've been going over this in my mind for months and I don't want to waste what I have to say."
JC got up and came around and kneeled next to her.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Shhh…" he said taking her hand. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes for a moment and opened his eyes again, "Marry me."
"Marry me. I've realized in the last few months that I can't do this without you…"
"I miss waking up with you…I miss coming home to you…I miss singing you to sleep and playing in the rain…"
"Josh--" He saw her eyes tear up and he wondered if she was really going to cry.
"Think about it Levi," he said, "You and I haven't been ourselves since we broke up. Patty and Justin saw it a long time ago…"
He checked in his pocket for the ring that he'd gotten a few days before and couldn't find it. "Hold on." He got up and retrieved it from his jacket pocket and came back over to her. "Marry me Levi. I love you."
She stared at the ring then at him and for a moment he thought she might refuse his proposal.
He could almost hear her thinking. He saw the emotion on her face change from shock to worry to happiness and back to worry then she opened her mouth.
JC closed his eyes not sure that he could look in her eyes if she said no.
"Yes," she said in a voice so soft that he almost didn't hear her.
"What?" he asked opening his eyes.
"I said yes," she repeated.
JC almost dropped the ring as he moved to hug her. He gave her a huge smile and held her close for a moment before he took the ring out of the box and slid it onto her finger.
"What'cha thinking?" Justin asked as he swayed her to the music. It was one of the last slow songs of the evening before Lance and Nicole would go off to their honeymoon in Hawaii and everything seemed to be peaceful again.
"Nothing really," she said and moved and looked at him with a smile. She reached and undid his tie, letting it hang around his neck and the top button of his shirt.
"Thanks," he said.
"No troubles," she said, "It's been a long day and I figured all those hours in a suit was starting to get to you."
She heard a little laugh next to them and watched Joey dip Angela back. When he pulled her back up they began kissing and Patty couldn't help but to think that the whole night was like the prom. She knew that the five couples of the group were all going to be sneaking away for the night although she wasn't sure what she and Justin would be doing considering that she hadn't arrived at the wedding with him.
"Where are JC and Leah?" she asked.
Justin leaned and kissed her cheek then pointed over into the corner where the couple was dancing. "He proposed to her," Justin said.
"What?" Patty looked at Leah and wanted to kill her for not saying anything.
"Last night," Justin said.
Her mind drifted to the evening before and a smile formed on her face.
The knock at the door sounded just after midnight and when she went to answer it Justin was standing on the porch. He looked like someone straight out of an Armani or Abercrombie and Fitch print ad. He had his suit jacket off, slung over his shoulder in that totally smooth looking way that only he could pull off.
"Can I come in?" he asked with a smile. He looked down as he stepped over thr threshhold and immediately took off his shoes.
"Well I guess I can't say no to that," she said.
He pulled her into his arms, kicked the door shut and held her close. He burried his face in her neck, kissing her before mumbling. "I missed you this week."
"I missed you too," she replied.
He'd been gone for four nights, off filming in Canada, but had called every so often to say hello.
When he'd returned the morning of the rehearsal dinner he'd called to tell her that he was in town, but hadn't been able to come over to visit due to the fact that he had all sorts of Bachelor Party stuff to do with the guys. He'd promised to see her at the dinner and had stolen a quick kiss from her telling her that he'd come over and spend the night with her after he tucked in Jonathan and Bubba at his parents.
She hadn't gone all out in preparation for his arrival, but when she saw him in the doorway she'd wished that she had.
"He and she were at Sweet Pea's and he just popped the question."
"Don't get any ideas," Patty said watching the starry eyed look he had on his face.
"I'm not," he said with a smile and twirled her around. "We're just having fun here."
"I'm having fun," she said.
"Yeah well the nights not over yet," Justin said with a husky voice.
"I've got something up my sleeve," he said.
"Oh really?" she laughed.
He'd missed that while he was in Canada. He'd been gone for four days, working eighteen-hour days to make up for the fact that he'd be leaving back for Florida for the wedding, and had thought of her every moment. She'd agreed to see where things went betweeen them, which was fair, but he was starting to feel something for her, more than just a crush or puppy love.
The highlight of his days on the set were in between takes when he could jump on the phone with her for a few moments. She'd been planning the rehearsal dinner and reception with Leah, but he'd managed to have a few conversations with her in the mean time. He'd still felt bad about having to run off the morning after they'd spent the night together, but he couldn't have helped it. He'd had to get on the plane.
"You'd be surprised," he said.
"Oh really?" she asked, "What'd you have in mind?"
"Nothing too serious," he said, "Although I do have a surprise for you back at your house."
"What?" she said.
There was a group forming near the door and it seemed as if everyone was making their way over. "You'll see later. Come on, I think they're leaving."
They walked over and everyone said their good-byes as the couple made their way out. Nicole had changed out of her wedding dress into a skirt and blouse and Lance had changed into jeans, a T-shirt and one of his over shirts.
When the couple was safely on their way to the airport Justin took her hand and said, "I know that everyone expects us to stick around, but I want you to see your surprise."
She nodded happily and asked, "Should we say good-bye?"
"Nope," he said.
Holding onto her hand he led her out of backyard where they'd been dancing and around to where his Boxter was parked. He slid off his jacket and slid it around her arms then said, "You're driving."
"What?" she asked.
"You said you wanted to drive it, so drive."
"Is this my surprise?" she asked getting in. She was wearing heels and wasn't sure if she'd be able to drive well in them, but it didn't seem to phase Justin as he pulled open the passenger side door and hopped in next to her.
"No," he said. She started up the car and Justin winced. "Just be gentle."
"Oh quit it," she said, "I'll be fine."
They made it to Patty's in record time and as Justin helped her out of the car he let a smile form on his face.
"What did you do?" she asked looking at him strangely.
"Nothing much," he said.
They entered the house to find the place spotless.
"Justin, where's my surprise?"
"Look around," he said.
She turned and finally saw the bouquets of flowers that were on the table.
"That’s not the whole surprise," he said as she walked over to the flowers.
"Oh my god," she said looking around. "The house is spotless."
"I had a cleaning service come in and clean the house today while you were gone."
"Oh my god." She approached him and hugged him.
"And there's more," he said. He took her hand and led her to the bedroom.
Inside her bedroom the whole place had been decorated with flowers and candles. He hadn't thought of that, but had agreed to it when he'd been setting up all the other things in the house.
"Justin, this is great," she said with a wistful tone to her voice.
"It's all for you," he said hugging her.
"Justin," she said looking around, "I love it."
"Mrs. Bass, your plane is ready to board now."
Nicole looked up from the magazine she'd been looking at and saw one of the airline representatives standing next to where she'd sat down. She looked around and found Lance standing a little ways away from her talking on the phone. Lonnie and Mike were sitting across the room playing cards. They were going to escort them to Hawaii before flying off for a week's vacation then they'd be meeting up with them again at the airport on their return to Florida.
"Mrs. Bass, your husband--"
Nicole smiled and finally spoke. "I'm sorry." She shook her head a little and let out a laugh. "I just got married today and for a moment I was looking for my husband's mother."
The woman smiled at her and laughed a little. "Going on your honeymoon?"
"Yes," she said.
"I don't want to impose, but could I get your husband to autograph something for my daughter? She's a huge fan of the group."
Lance had gotten off the phone and was pulling his suitcase back over to her. He had a frown on his face, but seemed to smile when he noticed who was with Nicole.
"Honey, will you sign an autograph for--"
"I'm Laura," she said with a smile, "My daughter is Chelsea."
"Sure," Lance said taking a breath.
"What's wrong?" she asked as the woman pulled out a piece of paper and watched Lance sign the paper.
"In a second," he said. He smiled at the woman and handed over the autograph. "Tell your daughter hello for me."
"Thanks," the woman tucked the paper into her pocket and said, "I believe that your flight is being boarded at the moment. "If you want I think you can make it on before the other passengers."
"Thank you," Lance said.
Lonnie and Mike appeared and the foursome made their way onto the plane.
Once seated, with Mike and Lonnie in back of them, the couple cuddled together. "Honey what's wrong?" she asked, "Who was on the phone?"
"I have to cut our honeymoon short," he said with a sigh.
"What?" she asked, "Why?"
"Meredith got signed with Mercury this morning and I have to go back to sign some papers so the deal can be completed."
"What?" she said in a shocked voice.
"I know. I'm sorry."
"No, Lance that's great!" she said, "Your company is finally a success. FreeLance is on the map."
"You aren't mad?" he asked.
"Well I'll be upset when we have to leave Hawaii early, but if its something like this how can I be upset."
"Lance!" Lonnie said from in front of them. They looked up startled by the intrusion. "Shut up and kiss your wife ok?"
"Ok," Lance said with wide eyes and leaned and kissed Nicole.
"Thank God we only have to fly out there with you then leave. You guys are too much together," Mike said.
An hour later they were still cuddled together. They had a whole night of traveling left ahead of them, but they seemed to already have gotten into the vacation state of mind.
"What are you thinking about Lucy?" Lance asked using her pet name.
"Who would have thought that a little classified ad would get me all this?" she said, "The last year or so has been crazy. I never would have expected to end up like this."
"Yeah well the ride's not over yet," he said softly.
"I know," she said, "Believe me, I know."
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