As the last notes of the song were heard she held her hands above
her head and bowed at the waist.
When her head was all the way down and she could no longer see the
seats in front of her the smile on her face faded and she took a deep breath.
Her body ached from the run through they'd just finished, but there
was still more to do. She needed to run through things with Justin
for the duet, which she wasn't looking forward to. He'd been distant
the last few days even going to the extreme of sleeping on his bus while
she went on hers. They'd spent the ride from Pheonix to San Antonio
on the same bus, but she'd slept most of the time while he'd been on the
phone and had been doing some programming for his album on his computer.
She'd understood his need to work, but at the same time it didn't
make her feel good to see him working when she thought he should be relaxing,
at least for his own good even if he didn't want to be with her.
A sigh escaped her lips and could be heard in her microphone, but
it was soon covered by more music. Meredith wanted to take a break,
but she knew she couldn't just yet. This was important. She
normally wouldn't have gone through a whole show like that, but something
had happened to the stadium power station and they'd had to reroute everything
so she'd been called in on her day off and had done a run through. It
wasn't that big of a deal. With a set up like they had it would only
take three hours to get the show correctly set up.
The music kept playing and she finally realized why. She turned
to find Justin standing there. He wore jeans and a turtleneck today
chosing to look dressed up compared to the running pants and the tank top
she'd been in after she'd gone to work out for a while that morning. He
had his microphone in one hand and a bottled water in the other and held
it out to her as he began to hum the song a little along with the band.
She took off the microphone that went around her chin and neck and
grabbed up her hand microphone and went to join him.
He handed her the bottle and let her take a drink then waved for her
to hurry up. She didn't understand what his hurry was for. He
didn't have anything scheduled for the rest of the afternoon. It was
her with the meet and greet. He just had to show up around eight thirty
or so to step on stage for one song. She narrowed her eyes and took
a deep breath and moved to set down the bottle before she started her verse.
You walked in the room
and time was standin' still
knew you were my destiny
by the way you made me feel
only you in my life
forever and today
you're everything I ever imagined
my love could be
you for me
They moved through the motions of the song. Justin stood next
to her singing his verses, but didn't move the way he did when he was
on stage. He almost looked bored with what they were doing and when
he started his second verse, the one where he normally would fall to his
knees to sing she watched him sit down on the stage, lay on his back and
close his eyes.
Like the stars, sky
river and rain
like an eagle needs it's wings
and the fire needs it's flames
like the sun it needs the day
and the night needs the moon
like the air that I breathe
that's how I need you
like the air that I breathe
that's how I...
dreamed of you
I dreamed of you
yes I did
Not thinking to care about the consequences Meredith stepped over
his body, dropped her microphone onto the stage and started to walk away.
The music stopped and she shut her eyes as she walked towards the edge
of the stage, knowing the way by heart. She stopped in her tracks
and tried to calm her nerves by counting to ten. She knew that she
wasn't going to get to walk out of there with no reaction and knew she'd
hear something from someone soon.
"Meredith?" she heard Dave's voice.
She turned around and instead of Dave coming after her she saw Justin
coming towards her. She pulled out her ear monitors and pointed
her finger at him. "You stay away from me." She wasn't sure
why Justin had done what he'd done, but it was clear that he was bored with
their song, bored with being there, and probably bored with her too from
the way that he acted. She leaned to the side and looked at Dave,
"I think everything else will be ok with the set up. I need a break."
"Bear what are you doing?" he asked, "We're in the middle of rehearsal."
"WE are not anything," she said, "YOU are in the middle of a nap and
I'M on my way out to the bus."
"Mere?" he called after her.
When he started to follow her she glared at him. "What part of
I'm taking a break didn't you get?"
"This has got to be a PMS thing," he said.
Meredith looked around and saw the band staring at her. She didn't
have her microphone and neither did he, but the fifteen or so people around
the stage all could hear what was going on. Her eyes clouded over
and when he stepped towards her she backed away. "Leave it alone Justin."
She used a warning tone with him and held a hand out to keep him from
coming any closer. "Just leave it alone."
The phone rang across the room and Meredith stared at it. She
had tucked herself into her room and had even covered up with the comforter
hoping that if anyone came to the door that she could close her eyes and
pretend to be asleep. She wanted to be alone for a while because she
sure as hell didn't want to break down and cry in front of the crew, like
she felt she needed to do.
When the ringing sounded again she sighed. She figured it was probably
him calling her since she'd shut herself into the bus and when he'd come
after her had shut herself into the back room of her bus.
"Mere you're phone is ringing," Gritty said at the door.
"I know," she finally called to him and threw the pillow that
she'd been leaning against towards the door. It hit and fell onto
the carpet. "Tell him I'm ignoring him!"
Gritty sighed loudly. "I'm not getting involved in this one. If
he lay a hand on you I'll take up a fight with him, but for the moment I
think you should answer the phone and tell him yourself."
"Why can't you help me out on this one?" she asked.
"Mere are you ok?" he asked.
When the ring filled the air again she grabbed up the phone, saw the first
three numbers to show that it was in incoming Orlando call and flipped the
phone open. "Justin I told you that I was taking a break!"
"Well well well," the husky southern voice on the other side of the
line said, "So my son IS causing trouble out there."
She fumbled with the phone in her hand and switched ears. She didn't
know what was going on, but she might have just said the wrong thing to the
wrong person. "Hello?" she said.
There was a long pause and the calm voice spoke again. "Mere darlin'
you need to calm down."
Meredith closed her eyes and fell back onto the bed wondering who would
be calling her at a time like this. "Who the hell is this?"
"Calm down girl. Its Paul sweetie, not the big bad wolf or my son
as you seemed to be expecting. Lynn was going to call you, but I'm
glad that I did instead. You sound distraught."
Meredith laughed a little and rolled her eyes. "Distraught is not
a strong enough word right now."
"Justin and I got into an argument during rehearsal and he said something
he probably shouldn't have said aloud to the crew that was there."
"Are you doing ok?" he asked.
Meredith moved to sit up and pulled the blankets back around her. She
moved to lay down again and pressed the phone to one ear as she closed her
eyes. "It'll blow over Paul," she said, "Everything is just stressed
right now because I didn't sleep well last night. I think I might be
getting a cold or something."
"If you say so," he said and she heard him moving some paperwork around.
She figured he was at home from the relaxed sound of his voice and
became instantly jealous of his albility to work from home. "Anyway...my
reason for this call is that I have two offers for you."
"Two offers?" she asked praying that one was to come home and never
set foot on stage again. She didn't understand why all of a sudden
she wanted to go home. She was always a fighter, but this was getting
too hard for her. She wanted to be anywhere but there, which wasn't
the way she wanted to spend her time. "What kind of offers?"
"Well I've got an offer from MAC cosmetics to be their new spokesperson."
He sounded happy about this, but all Meredith wanted to do was to hang
up. MAC was a great company and would definitely pay her well, but
at this point she wasn't sure that anyone could pay her enough to stay in
the spotlight how she was. "There's also one from a movie production
company offering you a staring role in a movie, with the bonus of you being
able to do a lot of the music on the soundtrack if things work out."
"Ugh," she sighed out. More work. She was thinking that
everyone was being the publicity around her and thought she was actually
enjoying this. She'd always thought that PR people were horrible, always
saying and doing everything to keep people's images a certain way, but it
seemed that her people were working well for her, even though to her they
were working against her now.
It was the dreaded question for her and she had to bite her lip, literally
to keep from telling him the truth. She knew it was extreme, but since
the week before she'd come to hate everything that went along with touring.
The only time she was happy was when she was actually on stage performing,
but even that had been ruined by Justin's attitude that day. "I'm fine
Paul," she said, "You just brought up decision making issues and at the
moment I'm in need of a vacation, not another work related thing to do.
Can you fax them to Gritty at the hotel and we'll look them over?"
"Of course," he said, "I was already going to do that. How much
time do you need to look them over? No rush, but I just want to give
them kind of an idea."
"At this point tell them that I need a week." She looked out the
window. "I've got a show tonight and then four more days in Texas
before I get another day off. I'll have a decision by next Monday if
that doesn't seem like too long of a time."
"Sure thing princess," he said with a laugh. "If I were you I'd
call Lynn because God knows Justin will call her about you...you know how
those two are...so you might want to warn her or something or you'll get
her out on the road again before you might want her."
"Thanks Paul," she said, "I'll call her in a second. Do you know
where she is?"
"At the grocery story I think. She's been home the last two days,
and she'll be gone again for the weekend then out to see you next week."
"Ok," she said, "If you fax them over I'll look them over and call you
and Lynn with an answer."
"Stay calm for me ok?" he said, "And if Justin gets on your case tell
Lynn and we'll talk to him."
"Thanks Paul," she said finding tears forming in her eyes.
When he had hung up the phone she hung up her end and closed her eyes
for a minute or two hoping to fall asleep, but there wasn't enough time.
Gritty was at the door telling her that it was meet and greet time.
"Justin is outside," Gritty appeared in the doorway then came into the
room and leaned against the food table. He grabbed up a Snickers
bar, his one request for her rider list, and quickly removed the wrapper
and shoved it into his mouth.
"Why doesn't he just come in?" she asked.
"He told me to ask you if it was ok--" He chewed the rest of his
bite then licked his lips and smiled at her with an evil look in his eyes.
"--then he mumbled something about wanting to keep his balls intact."
Meredith smiled. "That just made my day a million times better."
She went over to the mirror and checked her make up, grabbed a glass
and filled it with lemon water then took a sip. "Send him in."
"You sure?" he asked.
He paused before he went back out into the hallway. "You want me
to stay in here or are you gonna be ok alone?"
"I think I can handle him alone right now," she said.
"If I hear a bitch slap from either of you I'll kill him."
Meredith went over and hugged him, acting more girly than ususal. She
kissed his cheek and with a sarcastic tone spoke to him. "I love you
Justin entered the room a few moments later. He seemed calm and
collected, but there was something in his eyes that was brewing, something
that only probably she or his parents or family would be able to see. He
came in and went towards the food table, away from where she'd taken a seat
in the recliner that had been added to her array of furniture.
"Did you need something Justin?" she asked.
"I wanna know what's going on?" he asked, "I know that we've been distant
the last few days, but what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," she quickly assured him and stared down at her shoes.
She untied the left one and retied it.
"Meredith--" He sounded a little angry now. "Quit the bullshit
and tell me."
"Nothing is wrong," she said, "I'm fine. Everything is fine." She
stood up and began to stretch a little, making sure that her legs were ready
to take the punishment of another show. Her eyes avoided him and she
stared at the wall clock. "We're about to go on so I really think that
you should rest your voice and let me get ready. I'm sure Mira and
Trina are around here somewhere."
"Meredith--" This time his voice sounded choked with emotion.
When she looked at him she could tell that he was worried about her. She
knew if she didn't do something now to really reassure him that she was ok
that this was going to snowball into a problem that would be bigger than
the both of them could handle. "BeeDee--" She let out a sigh and
walked over to him and pushed him back so that he could sit on the edge of
the foodtable. She moved his legs so that she could stand between them
and be closer to him. "Look at me baby."
His eyes searched her face. "I talked to Paul today and he--"
"He told me about some work offers and I told him I'd call him back after
looking them over. I wasn't feeling well this afternoon and having
more work on my shoulders wasn't what I needed."
"That's fine," he said, "I wasn't going to mention the offers. I
just thought that it was strange that he and Mamma called me today to ask
me if you were feeling ok."
"They did?" she asked. She sighed. She hadn't called them
like she'd told Paul that she would do and they probably had gotten worried
about her. She smiled, "I'm fine now. I just think my blood
sugar got a little more than low and I got cranky."
"Cranky?" he asked, "You told me to stay away from you. You've never--well
other than the Britney thing--kept yourself away from me."
"I didn't want to say something or do anything to make things worse."
"Worse than what?" he said, "I thought--I think we're doing ok...or that
we were doing ok."
"Justin, I know you want to talk about this, but I have to go on stage
in a minute."
"This is important," he said, "And you're gonna go and get on stage?"
"Yes," she said, "I have a job to do."
She leaned and kissed him. "I'll be offstage and out to the bus
as soon as I can. Meet me there and we'll talk tonight, ok?"
Justin sighed. "Fine."
"BeeDee don't pout," she said and moved away from him. "I'll see
you on stage."
Walking out the door she was met by Mira, Trina and Gritty. Todd
stood watching her for a moment. "He's in there still," she said and
began to walk towards the stage with the girls and Gritty.
When Justin appeared on stage that night he moved slowly towards her.
His footsteps were dilberant and almost calculated as he came towards
her. There had become a rythmn to their performance of the song, but
these steps were towards her and not the crowd and when he reached for her
hand and moved over to the edge of the platform that the band was sitting
on she followed him.
He took a seat and moved her so that she could sit on one knee and half
face him, almost like having her sit on Santa's lap to talk about Christmas
wishes. He held his microphone with his right hand and kept his left
arm around her, holding her around the waist. He sang the lyrics to
her that night, not the crowd. It seemed as if to him they'd all disappeared
and the two of them were left alone there.
Like the stars need the sky
and the river needs it's rain
like an eagle needs it's wings
and the fire needs it's flames
like the sun needs the day
and the night needs the moon
like the air that I breathe
that's how I...
I dreamed of you (and I)
When he sang the next part he stared at her, unblinking, and leaned
towards her so that his head was close to hers. He kept singing, but
there was a deeper message there, deeper than the words that came out of
Our love can't be denied, no no
there's nothing I can do, nothing I can say
my heart always knew
that's how I dreamed of you
Finally the song ended and everything came back into focus. When
the lights went out she was still sitting on his lap for a moment. He
found her in the darkness and kissed her, making sure that their microphones
weren't around he pulled her ear monitor out and pressed his lips to her
ear. "I love you," was said loudly, the only way that he could get
the message across in the noisy room.
Before she knew what was happening he was gone and she was left on stage
to finish the show. It didn't take more than the spotlight being turned
back on her to snap her back into gear. She stared offstage, but her
voice spoke to the crowd, this disconnected message that was now rehearsed
with her. She thanked Justin for the song and told the crowd about
the next song.
• Back • Up • Next •