Flights from Orlando to home always reminded her of Lance. She'd been tempted to try to call him to meet him for lunch, but there had never been the time to actually follow through with the thought. She'd either been too tired to remember or too busy to get her phone out.
As she went through the safety procedures routine she looked around at her small group of first class travelers and smiled. None of them seemed to be causing a fuss just yet and all of them even seemed to be paying attention to the presentation, which was probably a first. It was only then, as she was looking at all of them, that she realized that one of the faces was familiar. She tried to think where she'd seen the blond woman before and it was only when she saw the logo on the woman's visor that she was wearing that she realized who it was.
The safety presentation ended and Colleen started to go through the routine of checking on the passengers and their baggage. She helped two business men stow their briefcases and when she reached the blonde's chair she smiled down at her. "Comfy?" she asked eyeing the pajama like running outfit that Dani was wearing. She wished she could be a passenger for once and slip into pajamas for a night flight instead of wearing regular clothes like everyone else.
Her eyes moved from where she was putting a book flat out into her lap and she stared at her for only a moment before her voice came out in a shocked manner. "Oh my god. It's you."
Colleen looked around with a smile. "Me?"
"The girl from the hotel." She blinked a few times. "Lance's friend," she moved her visor a little.
Colleen couldn't help but to notice the nails that Dani had. She looked pristine and angelic and Colleen wondered what the girl did for a living. Only trophy wives or girlfriends seemed to be as perfect as she seemed. Colleen knew that it wasn't good to prejudge the girl, especially since she'd been so nice in New York, but the idea that a little old flight attendant like herself could be friends with all of them seemed a little out of it. They were in a different class, it was as simple as that.
Dani leaned a little to the side and laughed. "I'm sorry. I forgot your name. I'm usually not that forgetful, but it's been a long day."
"It's ok," she said trying to make sure that Dani didn't feel stupid in her air-headed state. She'd learned long ago that putting yourself at another person's level was the easiest way to ease the tension in any situation. "I've kind of forgotten yours."
"Danielle," she said with a smile. "Dani, I'm Chris's girlfriend--" She stopped and glanced at her finger where an elegant diamond sat in the middle of a silver banded ring. "Fiance actually--" She sighed. "--It sounds so strange to say it. He only proposed a few weeks ago and I haven't gotten used to the idea. Actually I don't even think he proposed properly, but when I asked him what this ring was for he said it was for his fiance and he gave it to me so I guess that makes it official."
Colleen smiled. "Colleen. I'm--"
"It's early," Dani said, "You won't find out your--" She used her fingers to make quote signs. "--your title until later I'm sure. They aren't big on it, but since there is always press coverage about who the boys hang out with I'm sure you'll get a title sooner or later. Probably friend or traveling buddy or whatever will go along with you at first."
"Miss?" she heard from a few seats away.
"Go on," Dani said, "Maybe when everyone falls asleep I'll sneak up and say hello." She motioned towards the kitchen where Colleen would soon go to check on coffee that they'd make. "I bet we have a lot to talk about since CFTC weekend is coming up."
"CFTC?" Colleen said. She vaguely knew that this was the charity event that the group hosted in Florida, but didn't know what it had to do with her. She wasn't expecting to see Lance for a few weeks, if that. He'd only called twice in the week that he'd been gone and the two times that he had called she'd been working and only had been able to listen to his message. It seemed that phone tag was going to be their lives because when she called him back he'd not picked up the line.
Dani shook her head and gave an embarrassed look to Colleen. "I would have assumed that he invited--"
The voice of the other passenger called out again, "Miss?"
Colleen smiled. "I need to go and do my rounds. If you need anything just holler."
Dani smiled and opened up a book, but seemed to be watching her as she moved around the cabin.
Colleen leaned a little to see the man in front of where Dani was sitting. "Can I help you?"
"Can I buy you breakfast?" he asked sleepily.
"You've been--" He looked her up and down. "You look like you could use a good-" His eyes met hers and twinkled, but instead of feeling flattered by the act, she felt like she needed to go and take a shower. "--breakfast."
"That's ok," she said, "I've got another flight to catch." She lied for the pure fact that she didn't want to deal with this guy knowing where she lived in the world. He was the type to follow up on something like that.
"Well where are you going?" he said, "I'll ride along with you."
"Really," she said, "My boyfriend wouldn't appreciate that. He's the only one that makes me breakfast in the morning."
She glanced at Dani for a moment then took a step back. If there isn't anything else I can get you I need to get back to my rounds," she said politely. She looked back at the guy. "Thanks for the offer though."
"No trouble. Sugar." The guy said.
The water beat against his shoulder as he began to move with her. The more sensible part of his brain worried about his feet slipping out from under them and the both of them landing hurt in the shower would have been his worst nightmare, but as he started to feel her body clench against his and her nails dig into his shoulders he let his breathing go normal and focused only on the soft sound of their bodies moving together and the moans that she made when he pressed a little farther into her than the time before.
The choreography of their lovemaking needed no verbal directions and when she started to hold onto him a little tighter and her breath started to catch in her throat, he pressed a little harder and moved a little faster until only the movement of their hips and the sounds of both of their moans filled the room.
His release caused his knees to go week and for an instant he thought he might drop her. As soon as the adrenaline of the moment hit every part of his body he suddenly felt the burning of the muscles in his arms and legs. "Sugar?" He breathed out.
"Hmm?" She moved her hair out of her face and smiled at him.
"I gotta set you down."
She moved her legs and stood in front of him. "You ok?"
"Yeah," he said. He moved a hand and twirled her so that her back was to him and pulled her back against his front. "We need to shower and get to bed."
She nodded and moved her hands around to hug him from behind him. "You gonna stay awake that long?"
"Yeah," he said. He reached over her shoulder and grabbed the shampoo. He put some into his hand and put the bottle back onto the shelf. With both arms around in her front he lathered the shampoo together then moved his hands up to her head. His mouth pressed a kiss to her shoulder before he started to massage the soap into her hair.
"Are you good at everything you do?" she asked.
His hands stopped a moment and he closed his eyes. He froze there and swallowed. There were a few things that he could say that he was horrible at and at the thought of that he moved away from her. "You should wash that out. I'll just tangle it."
She stepped towards the water and Lance left her in the shower. He pulled a towel around his waist and he went into the bedroom and flopped down on the bed.
About five minutes later she came out wrapped in the hotel robe. He let his eyes land on her and he groaned. He sure wasn't making life easier for himself by the way he was handling things. "Are you gonna stay here tonight?" he asked with a nervous edge to his voice.
"That's up to you," she said, "I mean-it's your room and I do have mine uptown or downtown or wherever-" She stopped and looked around for a moment then walked over to her bag. He could see that she was nervous and fidgeting and he didn't blame her. "I know my itinerary is around here somewhere."
"I wasn't asking because I wanted you to leave," he said.
Her fingers shook horribly as she tried to steady herself. She shouldn't have said that. She shouldn't have even mentioned it in front of Dani. It would either cause her to believe that she wasn't available and she'd go and tell Lance that or she might assume that her relationship with Lance was more than it really was, something that could be just as detrimental to their existance. She didn't want it to seem like she was bragging about them.
She turned around and stared at the girl in the doorway. "Dani can I just ask you something girl to girl?" She moved over to the coffee pot and started to find more coffee filters even though she wouldn't need to redo the filters until the flight was landing. "Please don't think I am trying to rope Lance into a relationship or anything... but I just want to know... am I setting myself up to get hurt with this whole thing?"
"What do you mean?" Dani asked.
"Lance seems like a really nice guy and I'd like to get to know him..." She sighed and tried not to let tears come to her eyes. She almost didn't want to know if he liked her back or not. At least NOT knowing let her dream a little about it. "I am just trying to be cautious...I don't want to get my hopes up and have them crash if this is just some fling you know?"
Dani sighed and moved across the space to lean on a piece of paneling that had nothing near it that she might accidentally hit into. "Lance isn't the fling type. He's more of the marrying kind."
She flipped around quickly. "I'm not thinking that I'm gonna marry him or anything... I'm just trying to look out for myself," she said. "I haven't talked to him in about a week and while I know it's totally possible that I could call him and say that I want to see him, I'm not sure if I have that right."
"I'm not thinking that I'm gonna get married soon."
"Why's that?" Meredith asked looking up at him from where she was sitting on the couch with Justin.
"It's too much mushy stuff," he said holding up his beer. "It's a picture Justin. It's not going to change if you stare at it long enough."
"I know," he said and tucked the picture into his wallet and put the wallet on the table between his seat and their seats on the couch.
"I'm turning into quite a bastard these days aren't I?" He looked at his beer then over at them. "I really have. I mean I mess up everything right now don't I?"
"Lance what are you talking about?" Meredith asked.
"I totally met this amazing girl and I'm screwing up at all of it."
"You met someone?" Justin asked sitting up.
"Beedee, don't act so surprised." Meredith moved to get up and had to be pulled up.
Justin sighed. "I didn't mean it like that." He turned towards Lance as she walked away into their kitchen.
"What about Carrah?" Justin said.
"What about Carrah?" he asked angrily. "Carrah is off doing her own thing and isn't talking to me anymore."
"You heard me."
"I thought you guys were going to start dating. After Patty--"
"Don't mention her. Both of them have caused me enough trouble. I'm just gonna be the old man that lives alone in the mountains. I'll just move to Mississippi and--"
"There aren't many mountains in Mississippi."
"Well it's better than living down the street with some cats or something like that whole thing with the old ladies and the cats."
Justin sat back down. "Whatever. "You're the only single one left. If you move to the mountains all the girls are going to come and find your house."
"I know I'm the only single one left," Lance shoved his bottle onto the table and went towards the kitchen. He hugged Meredith. "I'm outta here girl. I need a nap."
"Are you ok?" she asked holding the glass of water that she'd gone to get.
"Yeah," he said, "I'm just tired of traveling and moody and shit. I'll see you in a few days and next time I won't be such an ass."
"No Mere. It's ok."
"Good luck with your new girl," she said.
"Thanks," he said and looked at his watch, "I should go and maybe try and call her. It's getting late out in CA."
"Whatever," Meredith said and hugged him again. "Have fun."
"Colleen. It's me. It's Lance I mean."
She dove for the phone when she heard his voice coming out of the answering machine. It had been a few days since she'd spoken with him, after talking to Dani she wasn't sure that she should even call him again. Dani seemed to be the caring kind of friend that would tell a guy when someone was batty over them. It was scary to think that he would actually call her after how crazy she'd been acting. "Lance?"
"Hey," he said, "I was just gonna leave you a message. I didn't mean to bother you."
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Nothing," he said. She could hear the sound of what she assume was a pen nervously hitting a desktop. "I just--"
"You just what?"
"Nothing," he said letting out his breath. "I was going to tell you something but now that I've got you on the phone it sounds really--" He stopped tapping the pen on the desktop. "--it just seems stupid. I mean it's not really that dumb and I don't even know why I called and--"
"Just spit it out already. That's like telling someone that you have a secret and you can't tell them what it is. Just say it."
"It's dumb I know, but I got to see the first picture of Baby Timberlake."
"Meredith is pregnant and she and Justin are going to get married soon--" He laughed a little. "It's sooo dumb but today while I was over hanging out with them I saw the picture and I was sitting there and I--" He paused. "It's stupid I know, but I got it in my head that I needed to tell you about it."
"Really?" she asked. "You guys must be excited. I know, from hearing in the news and stuff that Joey has kids, but that must be--"
Lance coughed and it sounded like he'd moved away from wherever he'd been sitting. "Anyway I didn't mean to bother you. I should have called Carrah--this is something I always would talk to her about, but she hasn't been around so it's like I have all this stuff I want to say and no one to say it to."
"Why don't you think you can say it to me?" she asked, feeling instantly hurt that he didn't want to tell her things like that.
"Well--I never talk to my girl--girls in my life about stuff like that. It always seems to scare them off."
"Well you can tell me stuff like that," she said, "I'm not one to assume that just because I discuss that with a guy that it means we're going to jump into something more than is already between us...I eventually want to get into something deep and meaningful--" She tried not to sound nervous as she lied to him. "--deep and meaningful is always good, but I know that whenever something like that comes along it'll happen because it's suppose to happen, not because a guy talked me into it and not because I did the same thing to him."
"Well that's good to know--not good, but you know how it goes."
She wasn't sure how to take his relaxed tone. She wanted to yell at him because he was too laid back about things, but at the same time she loved the fact that he wasn't clingy and that he'd basically never asked her to do or be anything that she wasn't already. She'd been forced to the hotel and forced to the concert, but those things were only events that he was trying to share with her, trying to treat her with so that he could know her better.
"It's just amazing that Justin and Mere are going to be parents." She sighed, "I don't know if I'm ready to be a parent just yet. I love to baby-sit kids, but to actually have someone be your total responsibility is something huge."
"It's overwhelming. Everyone down here is really worried for them because Justin is working and Meredith has got some court issues coming up soon because of her exit from the music business."
"I'm sure they are going to be wonderful parents. I've heard a lot of stories about how protective Justin is about his little brothers and now protective he is of her too."
Silence filled the line for only moments before she started to talk again. She hated to feel like she was rambling, but this was the first good conversation she'd had with him, hell, with any man in a long time. "So aside from the big baby news what else is going on out there in Mouse Town?"
"Mouse Town?" He laughed. "Lexi NO."
"Yeah," he said, "My dog decided that now that I'm home she's going to misbehave. She's gotten into the habit of stealing my shoes and running around the house. Thank God she hasn't gotten into pulling the suits off the hangers. I've got some Armani ones in there that I could trade for a car or something they're so expensive."
She laughed. “Must be a retriever.”
“She a mix of lab retriever and hound,” he said, “She’s got the looks of a retriever though.”
"It's nice to know that you're a normal guy with a normal dog."
"Yeah," he said, "Not normal, but it's all good." There was a little noise then he laughed. "That's a good one the Mouse Town thing... Well not too much trying to get a day or two into relax before the next round of The Next Ones stuff starts up. What about you? What have you been up to?"
"Not too much... I have only been doing a few small commuter flights this week so I have actually been able to sleep in my own bed and hang out with Ree."
She heard a sliding glass door open on his end of the line. "Ree? She's your friend right?"
"Yeah Ree is my best friend.” She sighed thinking of her friend. “We have known each other for years. I don't know what I would do without her and Spencer."
She heard a splashing noise for a moment then heard his breath a little harder. She pictured him throwing a ball across his yard so that Lexi could run after it. "Is Spencer another one of your friends?"
"Yeah that's Ree's boyfriend, fiancé, significant other, soul mate-blah blah blah.” She hated to sound so bitter, but sometimes it was hard to deal with someone when they are in a relationship like that. It wasn’t all jealousy that brought her to feel so bad about their relationship—more of envy for not being the lucky one to find someone like that. “They've been together since college and are practically married already."
"So you met them in college?" He sighed, “I started to go to college, but things didn’t work out. I tried to do it on my vacations, but it was like I was so drained from working that it never seemed like a good idea to try to do both. I think I would have liked to live in a dorm and do that whole thing.”
"Ree was my roommate freshman year. It was an instant bond with us. It is funny Ree is my best friend but sometimes she can be more protective than an older brother."
"I don't know about that.” The sound of the sliding glass door came through the line. “Brothers, even younger ones, are pretty damn protective of their sisters. I remember I was even skeptical of Ford before Stacy married him." He opened the refrigerator. “I know I couldn’t have done anything to stop her, but I felt like I had to be protective.”
"Your sisters name is Stacy? That's so funny." She smiled as she walked through the apartment, choosing to go sit on the back porch to talk rather than stay in the stuffy apartment.
"Why is it funny?"
"Ree's real name is Stacey. I guess that is something we have in common then huh?"
"Huh?" He sighed, “I think the heat down here is getting to me. I’m missing something somewhere.”
"We both have sisters named Stacey"
She could tell that Lance was smiling. He had to have been smiling. "You really see her as a sister?"
“The two of us are closer than sisters.” She held her breath for a moment. “I have real family of course, but she has helped me through so much in the last year. Without her I wouldn't be where I am today."
"If this is out of line just tell me but what happened this year?"
"Ever hear the saying you let your heart go to fast? I think that is a large part of it. But of course Ree will tell you that guys are idiots and that not everyone can be as perfect as Spencer."
"That's a true friend for you. One that will stick up for you no matter what.” His voice got softer when he spoke now. “The guys are like that and even Dani, Mere, Farzana and Kelly. I thought that Carrah was like that...but I quickly learned that most people can't deal with my lifestyle and no matter what they tend to disappear after a while. The other guys have it easy because they do mostly just group stuff, but I’ve been doing solo projects on the business side for years now."
"Is Carrah an ex?"
"No god no. We'd kill each other.” He laughed heartily at the thought of them being a couple. “We've known each other since we were babies. She's been there through some rough points for me too. She's just decided this year that she can't take the same road as me. She got herself a boyfriend and rightfully wants to spend time with him. She doesn't need me calling her at all points in the night complaining for one reason or another.”
“You need someone to talk to though.”
Instantly his mood changed. "I have the guys and my family for that. I didn’t mean to make it sound like I have this horrible life or anything.”
“I know you didn’t,” she said.
“So what are your plans for the rest of the weekend?"
"Eh not too much. I think Ree and I might go to the mall and have a chick flick night"
"Gonna watch Say Anything for the millionth time?"
"Nah, sometimes we switch up the John Cusak movies... I think it is Serendipity this week."
"Ahhh I get it. It's not the movie it's the actor that matters?"
"Nah Say Anything will always be my favorite movie. Come on now how much more of a romantic can you get than Lloyd Dobbler." She looked through the glass door and could still see where she’d left the tape cover for the movie.
A laugh came across the line and she tried to picture him standing or sitting in Orlando in some fancy house talking to her. "So he's the perfect man?"
"Nah no one's perfect. People are just perfect for each other. Lloyd Dobbler would be as close as you could get though.” She tapped her heel nervously on the ground. “That whole scene where he is standing outside her window with the boom box blaring is the most romantic movie moment ever."
"I'll take your word for it.” She heard him scratch at his face. “Damn mosquitoes.” She heard a slapping noise. “I don't think we made it to that scene when we watched." There was a short pause, “I need to get this damn yard covered so I don’t have to deal with the bugs.”
She prayed with all her might that she wasn’t about to make the biggest mistake of her life. "So then next time you come out we can watch it again."
"Next time I come out huh? What about you coming to visit me sometime?" The offer was casual enough, but spoke volumes. Seeing him in LA because he happened to be in LA was one thing and seeing him in New York was another, but having a man invite you to visit was a whole other ballgame. "I'm gonna be out in Atlanta next week if you want to meet up with me. I don't know if you fly that route, but if you're in the area or even if you're down in Florida I'll arrange for a flight for you to come up."
"I am sure that could be arranged—“ The knock and doorbell ringing pulled her from her from the conversation. She slipped back inside the apartment, sliding the door closed then went for the front door. “--Damn Ree is here with girls night gear I gotta get going."
"Alright Sugar.” He sighed. “I'll let you and Ree do your girl bonding. I should get Lexi out and take her for walk or something before it gets too dark. Loni will have my ass if I’m out after dusk. Talk to you soon"
She smiled at Stacey as she came in the apartment. "Bye Lance."