good or bad is needed.
The good feed back, strokes our ego. The bad feed back, strokes
the delete key. <grin>
This story can also be found on my web site at:
The next morning Marc and Lynn had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. It was a working breakfast, going over schedules and correspondence. Two hours later, they had finished their meeting and were crossing the lobby heading to the elevators.
"Lynn! Lynn," a lady across the Lobby called.
Lynn turned to see who was calling her name. Then her face lit up, "Paula! What are you doing in Baltimore?"
Paula came over to Lynn and Marc, followed by a rather good-looking younger man. Exchanging hugs, the two starting talking a mile-a- minute.
Feeling a little awkward with not being introduced, Marc smiled at the new arrival. "Hi, my name is Marc, Marc Newman," Marc said while offering his hand to the stranger.
"Hi Marc. My name is Howie, Howie Dorough," the young man said as he shook Marc's hand.
Lynn finally noticed Marc and Howie standing nearby. "Howie, honey, I didn't see you. Have you two met?"
Howie went up to Lynn and gave her a hug. "We just met. The way you two were going at it, it would have been days before you noticed us."
"We're not that bad," Paula said.
"Yes you are. Mom, when you and Lynn get together nothing else around you exists," Howie said with a smile.
Marc started to laugh when Lynn said, "Paula, this young man is Marc Newman. A very talented composer , musician and my newest client."
"I'm glad to meet you, Mrs. Dorough," Marc said as he shook her hand.
"So you're a musician. What do you play?" Paula asked.
"Mainly percussion, keyboards, and brass. But I'm also proficient in all string and woodwinds," Marc said.
"My, my, you are quite talented. Are you in a band?" Paula asked.
"I kind of freelance. Right now I'm filling in for Nsync's band members. I will be appearing with the Boston Pops on the 4th of July and the New York Symphony in September," Marc said.
Mrs. Dorough got a perplexed look on her face. Howie started to laugh at his mom's expression. "Mom, I believe Marc will be guest conducting the Boston Pops and the New York Symphony," Howie said.
"Conducting? Are you someone famous?" she asked.
"No," Marc said with a blush rising.
"Marc has been named one of the top 10 new composers in the country. Just three weeks ago he appeared on a PBS special conducting two of his own works," said Lynn proudly.
Marc's face grew redder.
Howie took pity on Marc. "How about you two catch up while I take Marc out and see some of this town?"
"That sounds like a good idea," Lynn agreed. "You two boys have a good time."
Marc and Howie got on the elevator. Marc pushed the button to his floor as the doors closed.
"I can't believe she did that to me. How embarrassing," Marc said, still red in the face.
Howie contuned chuckling at Marc when he said, "I know how you feel. My mom has done it to me hundreds of times."
Getting off on the 10th floor, Marc said to Howie, "I just need to drop these files in my room and we should be able to go."
As Marc opened the door, he could hear his cell phone ringing. Rushing to the desk to answer his cell, it stopped ringing just as he was about to pick it up.
"Don't you just hate it when that happens," Howie said.
"Yeah, you always seem to be two steps away when it stops ringing," Marc said while looking at his caller ID. Seeing who called Marc dialed the number. "Hey, JC buddy. What's up? Sure I've got it. Where are you all now? Is anyone on line? Is he talking to Angel again? I'll get it to you as soon as I can. Bye, Josh."
"Even when you're not with them, you can't get away from them. They must be a real pain at times," Howie said.
Marc looked at Howie for a minute, thinking Howie had no idea about the connection between them. "Howie, downstairs how did you know I would be conducting the Pops?"
"Last week I was in Johnny Wright' office for a meeting and saw your picture on his wall with post-it notes all around it," Howie said.
Marc looked puzzled.
"It was a picture of you making a face," Howie said.
"Oh! My ID picture," Marc said finally understanding.
"It had memos and post-it notes all around it," Howie said. "There were a few from the legal department complaining about you rewriting some documents. Some from Pete about your concert. One I think about you joining the band."
"It seems Johnny has a little more interest in me than I thought," Marc said.
"I've seen a tape of your concert. What I can't figure out is what are you doing with Nsync?" Howie asked.
Marc smiled. "I ran into them while they were on vacation. The brakes on my bike gave out coming down a hill and their van just happen to be at the bottom of the hill when I ran into the side of them," Marc said.
"Ouch! That had to hurt," Howie said with a pained expression.
"Not until I landed on the other side of the van. But, I was lucky. Some bruises and a cut on my head. They took me to the hospital for some stitches.
"Afterward they offered to take me out to get something to eat. But I was a mess and didn't think other diners would appreciate my bloody shirt. I suggested they come back to my place for a cookout. While they were at my place, they got the idea I was a fan," Marc said.
"I take it you are."
"Yeah, a big one. They spent the rest of their vacation with me. While their van was being repaired, we took a road trip and did the tourist bit. It was a good week for all of us. I spent a week getting to know them and we became friends."
"How did you end up on tour with them?" Howie asked.
"Their last day was a hard one for me. I had just gotten to know five of the greatest people I've ever known and the next day they were going to drive out of my life, going back to being celebrities."
"It sounds like you did become close."
"Yeah. I didn't realize how close until that night. Joey found me down by the lake and told me about having to share rooms and he was stuck with a room to himself."
"We have the same problem. We fight over who gets the room."
"Joey didn't want the room to himself. He asked me if I would go on tour with him and be his roommate."
"Yeah, I told him that I didn't think it was a bit funny, and I didn't appreciate his joke. But the other four were standing behind us and said it was no joke. They all wanted me to go with them in the morning. It appears each of them had called their management separately asking if they could take me on tour."
"Wow! Did they know about you musical interest?"
"Yeah, some. They knew I'm a music major at the University of Wisconsin, and that I wrote music. But they didn't know about the PBS Special. After they were to leave, I had already scheduled rehearsals with the Madison Symphony that week. I had tickets to their concert on Friday and my concert was the next night."
"When they asked you to come with them, it must have messed up the schedule."
"No, not really. When I got there, Pete offered me a job as web master. He had seen some of my work on the net and felt it would give me a purpose for being there. I told Pete what I had in the works and he agreed to help me out."
"When did Lynn come into the picture?" Howie asked.
"During that week together, I gave Lance a folder of some songs I had written. I told him if there was anything they liked they could use them."
"Just like that?"
"Yeah. It turns out they like all six songs. But they felt I didn't understand how things worked with the record company and that I needed someone to protect my interest. They contacted Justin's mom and told her about my music and me. I got a phone call from her that day and we talked quite a while. I agreed to let her help me and we were to meet the day of their concert. She didn't know what she was getting herself into. She was there with Pete when we arrived and she found out at that meeting with Pete all of what I was into."
Smiling, Howie said, "She didn't know you were a classical musician did she?"
"No. But she is a fast learner. She just has to look at things a little different."
"When did the guys find out about your concert?"
"I kept it a secret all week. I told them I had a prior project I was committed to and that I would tell them after sound check on Friday."
"How did that go over?"
"Not too well. Justin had the hardest time with it. But he came around after seeing how important it was to me. He kept asking about the project hoping I would let something slip. But he gave up after a couple days."
"How did you tell them?"
"On Friday, after their sound check they were taken to another part of the theater. They were shown to seats in the symphony rehearsal hall. Each seat had the score to Winters End. I simply walked out and conducted the orchestra through the piece. "
"What was their reaction?"
"A little stunned. I don't think some of them quite grasped what was going on. I explained to them that I had been rehearsing with the symphony all week and that we were to appear on a PBS Special the next night. Management had made arrangements for them to be able to attend the performance."
"Did they know about your second number?"
"Jubilation? No, I didn't tell them about it. We had only added it two days before and only Lynn knew about it."
"I noticed in your dedication, you dedicated Winters End to you're father and sister and Jubilation to you're brothers?"
Smiling at the memory, Marc said, "My adopted brothers, Justin, Chris, JC, Joey and Lance. In the short time we have known each other we became very close. I don't know how to explain it we just seemed to fit together so well. Pardon the pun, but we were in sync from the beginning."
"How did your family take to your new brothers?"
"When Sara, my sister, asked me on the night before they were to leave how I was doing. I asked her if she thought Dad wouldn't mind adopting five more kids."
"Adopting, more?" Howie asked.
"Sara and her dad are not my real family. A little over three years ago, I awoke from a coma in St. John's Hospital in Big Bear Lake, Wisconsin. Sara was my nurse and her dad, Tom Morgan, was my doctor. I had suffered head trauma and I now suffer from amnesia."
"I don't remember anything about myself before the time I woke up. The two of them became my support group. Helped my through the rough times and has always been there for me. We kind of became a family. And in August, after we complete this tour, we will make it official when we sign the adoption papers."
"But your musical ability. It had to come from somewhere."
"It was there when I woke up. I just had to discover it. And what wasn't, it just took some hard work."
"Oh, now I understand. Sorry about calling them pain in the ass," Howie said.
Laughing, Marc said, "At times they can be a pain in the ass."
"Yeah, when their picture got into the newspaper," Howie giggled.
"Oh especially that. I caught so much flack over that. Pete chewed me a new ass hole that morning," Marc said cringing.
"Why did he do that?"
"When I came on tour, one of my jobs was to be Pete's assistant. And as his assistant it was my job to keep them out of trouble. I didn't think too much about it until the one night they wanted to go clubbing and Justin couldn't get into the clubs. Justin was going to spend the night alone at the hotel so Lance and I kidnapped him and the three of us went out."
"And the others went clubbing I take it?"
"Yeah, I should have known there was trouble when they returned to the hotel drunk. But it wasn't until the next morning when the shit hit the fan."
"And Pete blamed you?"
"Yeah partly, it was my job to keep them out of trouble. Then Pete dropped the whole thing in my lap. It was now up to me to `handle the problem'," Marc said.
"How did you handle it?"
"I yelled at them, bitched at them, then went to my room and felt bad. They are my friends and I felt like shit. In the end they said they were sorry for putting me in the position and they would do what ever punishment I came up with."
"What did you come up with?"
"If we go out, we go out as a group. And on free nights there will be prearranged activities," Marc said.
Howie had a confused expression on his face.
"Two nights ago we held a 50's sock hop for all the Nsync staff. We set up a malt shop at one end of the ballroom for the food. There was a costume contest, and a talent show. And of course dancing."
Smiling, Howie asked, "How did it go?"
"It went well. Johnny Wright and Lou Pearlman showed up with Lynn the day of the dance. Johnny said he wanted to meet me and see how I was spending his money. The show the next night turned out to be the best yet. Johnny saw that it pays to not have a crew with hangovers the next day. He gave the ok for four more parties."
"Let me see. You're web master, Pete's assistant, baby sitter, member of their band, and social director. Did I miss anything?" Howie asked.
Smiling, Marc added, "I also fill in for the backup dancers and I'm also their friend."
Shaking his head, Howie said, "I hope Johnny is paying you well for all that."
"Pay! You mean you get paid for having fun," Marc said with a grin. "Let me e-mail the file JC wanted to Lance. Then we can get out of here."
"Now let's see if Lance is still on line," Marc said as he typed away.
Phoenix Rising to Not an Angel:
Not an Angel:
"Colonel?" Howie asked.
"Colonel is Lance."
Not an Angel:
Not an Angel:
Not an Angel:
Not an Angel:
"Smooth is JC, right?" Howie asked.
"Correct," Marc answered.
Not an Angel:
"I need to remember to e-mail Angel about her growing nose," Marc said.
"Who is Angel?" Howie asked.
"A friend of mine. We have been cyber pals for a couple years. She knows whom I'm with, but no one except me knows who she is. Lance has been online with her off-and-on for the last week. She likes being the mysterious woman in my life."
"What's this about her nose growing?" Howie asked.
"She told Lance they had never met," Marc said with a smile.
"And they have met?"
"Yeah, they worked together on a project earlier in the year. But Lance hasn't made the connection yet," Marc said as he closed down his laptop.
"What do you want to do?" Howie asked.
"You're the one who knows this town. I'm placing myself in your hands," Marc said with a smile. But he added, "Just be gentle."
Getting a big grin, Howie said. "Now this could be fun," as he looked Marc up and down. "Is there anything you're not into?"
"I'll try anything as long as it doesn't hurt. And forget about tattoos! They've already tried talking me into that and I'll have nothing to do with it," Marc said firmly.
"Darn! That shoots down plan A. Well, on to plan B," Howie said with a chuckle.
"And, what is plan B?" Marc asked a little hesitantly.
"The Mall," Howie said with a grin.
Howie and Marc were a little surprised to find the Mall had very few customers.
"Wonder what's going on? There's hardly anyone around," Howie said looking around.
"It's Monday. People are at work and the kids won't hit the mall until this afternoon," Marc observed.
Looking over a map of the mall Howie asked, "What kind of stores do you want to hit?"
Looking over Howie's shoulder, Marc said, "What else, music stores."
"CD's or instruments?" Howie asked.
"Both, if they have them," Marc said as he looked over the listings. "Yeah, Sam Goodie and Yamaha both at the other end of the mall."
"Any place else?"
"I need to find a birthday gift for JC. This is the only time I'll have to shop for him without him being around," Marc said.
"What are you thinking of getting him?" Howie asked.
"I don't know. If I don't find anything, I just may get him a phone card for his cell," Marc said.
"Why a phone card?" Howie inquired.
"JC has been on the phone a awful lot lately. He and my sister have gotten close and it seems every time he gets a free minute he has his cell stuck to his ear," Marc said.
"Are you sure he's talking to your sister all the time?"
"Yeah, every time I try to call her I get a busy signal. I just hunt JC down and ask to talk to her or have him give her a message. It's gotten so bad that when he see me, he offers me the phone without asking," Marc chuckled.
They walked leisurely through the mall, stopping at shops that looked promising. One shop they found specialized in memorabilia, particularly TV, Hollywood, and Broadway costumes and props.
After a few minutes of just looking around, Marc spotted a sales clerk approach. Marc had noticed her watching them and as she approached she kept an eye on Howie. Oh damn! She thinks she recognizes Howie. I need to throw her off; hope he catches on quickly, Marc thought.
Touching Howie' arm lightly, Marc said clearly, "Hey, Eddie, we should be able to find something here for Tony's birthday."
Howie looked up at Marc not quite sure what was going on and noticed Marc's eyes shifting toward the approaching clerk. Smiling his understanding, he answered, "I think we should be able to find something here."
A deflated sales clerk greeted them, "Good morning. Can I help you find something?"
"Yes, I'm looking for something special. What do you have in sunglasses? Do you have anything that belonged to Elton John?" Marc asked.
Laughing as they exited the shop Howie said, "I don't believe you bought all this stuff."
"Well I managed to cover three birthdays and four Christmas presents. I think I did real good," Marc said with a grin.
"Joey is going to flip when he gets the Superman Cape. I can't believe you talked her down two hundred dollars on that cape," said Howie shaking his head.
"It was from the lowest grossing movie, and I knew it was overpriced. Anyway, they made it up on the other things I bought," Marc said. "And good job picking up on my name change. I thought she had you made for sure."
"Yeah, that was close. How did you come up with the idea so fast?"
"We used the same name switch while the guys while on vacation. I even had shirts made with their new names on them. It worked until one of them would use their charge card, giving away their identity," Marc said as they walked.
"We've had the same problem. But what can you do?"
"When I joined the tour I talked to Pete about the problem, pointed out how stupid it was to put their real names on company credit cards with their pictures on them. They've now been issued generic cards with matching ID," Marc said as they entered Sam Goodies.
"I wish you would come work for us on our tour," Howie whispered as they looked over the racks of CD's.
"In a way we both do work for the same company. You may be with a different record company, but in the end, the signature at the bottom of our pay check is still the same, Johnny Wright," Marc pointed out.
At Sam Goodies, they headed for the CD's. While Marc was looking over the rock section Howie wandered off to look through the videos. Marc had found several CD's he wanted. As he was starting to look over the classical section Howie came up next to him. "Find anything?" Howie asked.
"Yeah, a couple," Marc said showing Howie his choices.
Looking at Marc's choices, Howie gave Marc a questioning look. "Haven't you heard that one?"
"I have your US release of Millennium, but this is the Japanese import, it has two new songs," Marc said.
"You know you don't have to buy that. I can get you a copy," Howie whispered.
"If Chris found out you gave me one of your CD's he would freak. But if I buy it for myself, he will just think I have bad taste," Marc said with a smile.
"So how many of our CD's do you own?" Howie asked.
"Just Millennium on CD. But I have Millennium and Backstreet Boys on tape. They're in rotation in my car's tape deck," Marc said.
" Whom else do you listen to?" Howie asked.
"Of course Nsync, 98 Degrees, LeAnn Rimes, Ricky Martin, and Dolly Parton," Marc said.
"I thought you were into the classical stuff," Howie said.
"I am. But I like most all kinds of music. What did you find?" Marc asked.
"Just a CD and video," Howie said as he showed Marc his finds.
"No way!" Marc almost shouted. Howie had placed Marc's CD and video of the PBS special in front of him.
"Not so loud! I take it you haven't seen these yet," Howie quietly said.
"No. This is the first chance I've had to shop since I started the tour. Do they have any more?" Marc asked.
"Yeah they have a whole display setup at the end of the aisle," Howie said.
Going around to the display, Marc grinned. Picking up two videos and twelve CD's, Marc turned to Howie and said, "I'm ready."
Laughing, Howie asked, "What are you going to do with all those?"
"Gifts for my family and friends," Marc answered with a grin.
"You know if you asked the record company they would give you all the copies you need and it wouldn't cost you anything," Howie pointed out.
Shaking his head Marc said, "The profits from these go to charity. This is the only way to get credit."
"Oh, I get it now," Howie said.
"You go check out first. You may not be recognized if you're not standing there when I pay for your CD,"
Howie paid for his purchase without any problem. And as he waited outside the store, he watched Marc's purchase get rung up. Marc handed the clerk his charge card. The sales clerk looked at the card, then at Marc, then at the stack of CD's. Howie moved in closer trying to listen to what was happening.
"Excuse me, Mr. Newman. I need to have my supervisor to approve the sale," the clerk said.
Signaling to the store manager, the clerk showed the manager the charge card and then indicated the stack of CD's. "I'm sorry for the delay, Mr. Newman," the manager said. "But do you have another form of identification?"
"Yes, I do," Marc said a little confused as he handed the manager his driver's license.
"You are Marc Newman of Big Bear Lake, Wisconsin?" the manager asked.
"Yes, I am. Is there some sort of problem?" Marc asked.
"No. No problem at all. Just one more question if I may. Are you the same Marc Newman that performs on these CD's?" the manager asked as he motioned to the stack of CD's
"Yes. I am the same person," Marc said with a little reluctance.
The manager smiled, "May I congratulate you on a super piece of art."
"Thank you," Marc said a little relieved. "How are they selling?"
"Real good. We've only had it a week, but it was our fourth best seller last week," the manager said.
"Wow!" Marc said as he looked at the store entrance, seeing Howie with a big grin on his face.
"If you wouldn't mind signing a couple CD's. The Mall holds a charity auction next month and all the proceeds goes to the Children's Home," the manager asked.
"Sure, I'd love to," Marc answered with a smile.
The sales clerk got two more CD's and Marc signed them along with his charge slip.
Joining up with Howie outside the store, Marc said, "And I was worried you would be the one recognized."
"Get used to it Marc," Howie said with a laugh.
At the other music store, Marc was looking over a display of keyboards when the sales clerk approached. "Good afternoon, gentlemen, can I show you anything?"
"Yes, I'm looking for a small keyboard with a computer interface. It must be easy to transport and I would prefer something with a hard case. I will be doing a lot of traveling and it must be able to take some rough handling," Marc said.
"I think I may have what you're looking for," the clerk said while indicating a display to his right. "I take it you wanted a full size keyboard?"
"Yes, please," Marc answered.
"This one is lightweight, only 5 pounds. Has USB interface, with headphone jack and stereo output jacks to hook up to a sound system," the clerk said.
"May I?" Marc asked.
"Of course you may,"
Marc turned on the power and ran through the scales. Then, closing his eyes for a second, he started to play. Starting out with a little Brahms, then threw in Beethoven and ended with a couple short pieces from the Beetles.
The clerk was grinning at Marc when he had finished. "By any chance you wouldn't be Marc Newman?" he asked.
"Yes. Have we met?"
"No. But I did attend the NAPOE conference last fall," the clerk said.
"NAPOE?" Howie quizzed.
"National Association of Pipe Organ Enthusiasts," Marc told Howie. "We're a group of people who love the sound of church and theater organs."
"I heard your concert at St. Anthony's last fall and found it inspiring."
"Thank you,Bill, is it?" Marc said as he read the clerk's name badge.
"Yes, Bill Moore," he said offering his hand.
"Glad to meet you, Bill. This is my friend Howie Dorough," Marc said while shaking hands.
Marc bought the keyboard and arranged to have it delivered to the hotel, and then he and Howie went to lunch. After lunch Howie asked, "What do you want to do now?"
"I don't know," Marc said.
"I think I know where the theater Bill told us about is at. Want to go check it out?" Howie asked.
"Can we? I'd like that," Marc said with a big grin.
Howie found the theater with no problem. The theater manager had been alerted by Bill that he may have visitors. Howie was treated to his own private concert. Marc played several pieces by Bach and Brahms then threw in two of his own compositions.
Marc and Howie were loaded with shopping bags as they entered the hotel. They met Lynn and Paula coming off the elevator. "Hi boys, looks like you had a good day shopping," Lynn said.
"Yeah, we had a good time," Marc said. "Where are you two headed?"
"I'm going with Paula to the bachelorette party," Lynn said.
"Ok, have fun," Marc said. "Behave yourself, I don't want to get any phone calls wanting me to come bail you out of jail because you all got out of hand with the stripper."
"That reminds me. I need to stop and get some money," Lynn said with a sly grin. "What are you two doing tonight?"
"I kind of want to stay in tonight. Justin said he would call when they get to the hotel." Marc said.
"How about we just order room service and watch some movies," Howie suggested.
"Yeah, that should work," Marc said.
"Well you two enjoy yourselves. Give Justin my love when you talk to him. Don't wait up, we may be late," Lynn said as she turned to leave.
Howie met Marc in Marc's room an hour later, having showered and changed into more comfortable clothes. They ordered room service and decided on watching the Matrix on pay-per-view.
After the movie ended, Marc excused himself to go to the bathroom. Marc's cell started to ring. "Howie, will you get that?" Marc called out from the bathroom.
Picking up the cell phone, Howie answered
it. "Hello." But there was no answer.
"I, I'm sorry I must have dialed the wrong number," Chris said.
Recognizing Chris' voice, Howie said. "Hi, Chris, did you want to talk to Marc?"
Finally recognizing the voice, Chris asked, "Howie? Howie D. what are you doing there?"
"Answering the phone," Howie said with a laugh. "I'm in town with my mom. We're here for a wedding of a close friend of my mom's. You know how it is when our moms get together. Marc and I spent the day exploring the town while Lynn and my mom visited."
Marc came out of the bathroom and sat back down.
"Marc's back. Catch you later, Chris," Howie said then handed the phone to Marc.
"What's up, Chris?" Marc asked.
"He's not trying to steal you away is he?" Chris asked.
"Ah, he did say something about wishing I would come work for them on their tour,"
"Relax, Chris. You should know I would never leave you guys to work for more money," Marc said with a grin while giving Howie a wink.
"Shit! How much more?" Chris asked.
Laughing, Marc said, "Just kidding, Chris. You do know where my loyalties lies. What's going on? Who's shouting?"
"Oh, Justin and Joey have been arguing all afternoon. I think JC just got fed up with their antics and just laid into them," Chris said.
"Oh, can you put JC on?" Marc asked.
"Sure," Chris said.
Marc could hear Chris call to Josh. "Hey, JC, phone."
"Here's JC, remember Marc you're ours!" Chris said.
Chuckling, Marc said, "I will, Chris. Talk to you later."
"Hey, Marc," Josh said.
"Hi, Josh, did you get the file from Lance?"
"Yeah. Marc, is it alright if I use your arrangement?"
"Sure. It's not that much different from the one you were working on."
"Yeah, but you already have all the musical parts written. All I need to do is divide up who sings what."
"Ok, Josh, what was all the yelling about?"
"Just and Joe have been acting like five-year-olds all afternoon. I wish you were here to yell at them."
"I don't have to be there to yell at them. Put Justin on," Marc said.
"Justin! Marc wants to talk to you," Marc could hear JC call out.
"Hi, big brother, what's up?" Justin said.
"Justin, what's going on? Why are you fighting with Joey?" Marc asked.
"He beat me playing video games. And he keeps rubbing it in. He won't let up," Justin said.
"Don't let him get to you. The more you react, the more he will keep it up. Don't let him pull your chain," Marc suggested.
"Yeah, I see what you mean. Thanks, bro."
"That's what I'm here for. Your mom's out on the town with Howie's mom tonight. She said to give you her love," Marc said.
"Thanks, Marc. Tell her I will see her in a few days."
"Ok. Now put Joey on, will you."
"Sure, love you, bro."
"You too, Justin."
"Yo, Marc," Joey said.
"Don't yo me. What's the problem between you and Justin?" Marc said curtly
"Ah, there's no problem really,"
Joey said a little surprised at Marc's demeanor.
"Joey, I can understand how you feel. But don't you think you're overdoing it?" Marc asked.
"It's not all my fault! He's been a shit head all day," Joey said in his defense.
"Joey, this is not like you. How much sleep did you all get?" Marc asked.
"I got a couple hours," Joey replied.
"And I take it Justin didn't get much more. If I remember right, you have a gym and pool on your floor," Marc said.
"Yeah, that's what we've been told," Joey said.
"Why don't both of you go and sit in the hot tub for about twenty minutes. It will relax you and both of you get a good night's sleep," Marc suggested.
"Ok," Joey said.
"Don't just say ok. Do it. Remember I have my spies, and if you two don't stop acting like little kids, I will have both of you're asses when you get here," Marc said sternly.
"Yes, daddy," Joey said meekly.
With a sigh, Marc softly said, "Joe, just cut him a little slack. And try to get some rest. Ok?"
"Yeah, I will. Marc, I miss you not being here," Joe said softly.
"I know. But it's only for two more days," Marc said.
"By any chance, you wouldn't be interested in talking to Lance would you?" Joey asked as he looked up at an impatient Lance holding out his hand for the phone.
"Yes, I would," Marc said.
"Ok, here he is. Good night, Marc."
"Good night, Joe," Marc said.
"Hi," Lance said softly.
"Hi," Marc said.
"Can you talk?"
"Ah, no," Marc said hesitantly. "Did you get any rest?"
"Yeah, I slept. I usually sleep pretty well on the bus. I just missed not having you to cuddle up to."
"I've had the same problem lately."
"How long is Howie going to be there?"
"I don't know."
"After you get rid of him give me a call. I'm all alone. Your call won't disturb anyone."
" You poor baby," Marc said with a chuckle.
"Marc, I do need to talk to you. Call me no matter what time it is," Lance said rather firmly.
"Ok. Will do."
"I love you, Marc," Lance said softly.
"Dido. Talk to you later. Bye," Marc said almost in a whisper.
Marc hung up the phone and looked over to Howie. He was watching TV, but he had a large grin on his face.
Looking at Marc, Howie said, "You know I must have heard that same conversation a hundred times. Plug in Nick, AJ, Brian, Kevin and me in to that conversation and it would be the same."
"I guess there is not that much difference between the two groups," Marc said.
Turning to look at Marc, Howie pondered for a second. "Marc, may I ask you something?"
"Sure," Marc answered.
"Are you and Lance together?" Howie asked.
"Ah, I, I, ah, " Marc stammered.
Smiling Howie reached out and touched Marc's arm. "Marc, I know about Lance. Remember we have the same management. And as much as we may not get along as groups, that subject will never be used to hurt each other.
"What gave it away?" Marc asked.
Smiling, Howie answered, "The way you talked to each of them. From what I picked up on from this end Chris is the one you like to joke with. JC seems to be your musical equal, Justin you seem to protect. Joey, seems to be the instigator, he gives you the most trouble, but you seem to have a special spot in you're heart for him."
"Damn, you're good."
"When you talked to Lance, you did not say his name. Your voice got soft and loving. And your eyes sparkled. Yep! All the signs of a man in love."
"I fell in love with Lance the first day we met. We kind of flirted around the first two weeks. Neither of us sure about the other. We were too scared of rejection to make any moves," Marc said remembering.
"After my concert I was too wound up to sleep. Not wanting to wake Joe, I went out into the living room of the suite and was standing at the door to the balcony when Lance came out to sleep on the couch. Chris's snoring had driven him out of their room. He was half asleep when he came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me and hugged me."
"He had never hugged you before?"
"Yeah, we've hugged before, a social, friendly type of hug. This hug was different. And when Lance became fully aware of what he was doing he started to pull away. But I told him I liked it when he held me and not to pull away. He relaxed and held me for a long time."
"You didn't talk?"
"No, not at first. I turned around to look into his eyes and then I told him I loved him. I figured I didn't have anything else to loose so I went all the way and kissed him."
"I take it he didn't mind."
"No not at all. We sat down and talked about our situation and what it was going to do to our friendship with the others."
"Was there a problem?"
"No. JC had overheard our conversation and came out to assure us there would be no problem. It seems the other guys had been betting on how long it was going to take for us to get together."
"They figured it out?" Howie asked with a grin.
"Yeah, they figured it out before we did. It seems we weren't too careful with our flirting," Marc said.
"It's hard. Having to watch everything you do and say when you're in the public eye. Simple things like smiling at each other can give you away," Howie said.
Marc looked at Howie for a second. "It sounds like you're talking from experience."
With a sheepish smile, "Yeah, I am."
"Someone in your group or outside?" Marc asked
"Both, I had a fling with one of our dancers while on tour. It didn't last long. I was depressed after we broke up. Brian kept asking what was wrong. I finally told him I liked guys."
"What was his reaction?" Marc asked.
"He listened to my story without making any comments. When I was finished he surprised my by pulling me into a hug and held me," Howie said.
"You never forget that first hug do you."
"No, never. He finally told me he knew how I felt. Then he kissed me so softly," Howie said with a slight smile.
"How long have you two been together?" Marc asked.
"Almost two years. It's been shaky but we've worked it out," Howie said.
"And the others, how did they react?" Marc asked.
"Nick was cool with it. Kevin couldn't accept his cousin was gay, but after several long heart-to-heart talks he began to understand and accept it. AJ has been a total asshole. He finally said he didn't care what we did in our room but he didn't want any of it around him."
"That's not good."
"No it wasn't. We couldn't be ourselves around AJ. It got to the point we would avoid AJ. Which made AJ mad and a bigger asshole."
"Did you ever work it out?" Marc asked.
"We decided this couldn't continue without affecting the group. So Kevin arranged for us to have to bus to a concert. A twelve-hour trip. And AJ couldn't walk out. We just acted as ourselves, no hiding anything from anyone. No watching what we said to each other."
"What did AJ do?"
"He sat off by himself, but we wouldn't let him be alone. We would include him in the conversations. He wouldn't join in at first, but as time passed he started to join in. He finally realized how much his stubbornness was causing him to miss out on time with his friends. By the end of the trip he was the same old AJ we all loved," Howie said.
"I realize now how lucky Lance and I have been. We've had the support of our friends from the very beginning," Marc said.
Stretching, Howie said, "It's getting late. I'm going to head to my room. I think we both have someone to call before we get to sleep."
"Yeah, I do have a call to make. Howie, thank you for today. I didn't know how I was going to handle this time away from the guys. But you saved me from a miserable day. And I gained a new friend. Give me a call in the morning and we will go have breakfast," Marc said.
"I'll give you a call around eight if that is not too early?"
"That will be great. Have a good night," Marc said as he pulled Howie into a hug.
Marc got ready for bed. He crawled into bed with his cell phone and he dialed a very familiar number.
"Who else. Sorry it's so late."
"That's alright. I'm missing you so much."
"James, what's wrong. When we talked earlier, you sounded upset. It isn't because I spent the day with Howie is it?"
"No it's not that. It's just I've misplaced something," Lance said sadly.
"No, you didn't," Marc said with a grin.
"Misplace you're white coat. I have it," Marc said.
"You do! Great. I was afraid I lost it. Why do you have it?"
"I threw it into my bag at the last minute. I wanted to have a little bit of you with me. It has your scent on it. Whenever I start missing you, I just sit with my nose buried in it and I smell you. I'm sorry I didn't tell you I had it," Marc said.
"I'm just glad I didn't lose it, Marc. How did your day go? And what do you think about Howie?" Lance asked.
"We had a good time today. And I think I've made a good friend. Did you know. . . . "
The next morning Marc and Lynn joined Paula and Howie for breakfast. The boys asked about the party. But Lynn would change the subject quickly.
Howie promised to give Marc a call when they got back from the wedding.
Getting off the elevator, Marc and Lynn were walking toward their rooms when Lynn asked, "What are you going to do today?"
"I bought a new keyboard yesterday. I need to get some practice time in," Marc said. As they reached Lynn's room door, her phone could be heard through the door.
"Hun, give me a call later and we can go
have lunch," Lynn said as she rushed to answer her phone.
Marc had set up the keyboard and hooked his laptop to it. Logging on to the internet, Marc went to one of his storage sites and brought up a song he had been working on but had never completed. Marc had been working for over an hour, putting finishing touches on his new song when the phone rang.
"Hello," Marc said.
"Hello, may I speak to Marc Newman please," a very pleasant female voice said.
"This is Marc Newman, how may I help you?"
"Marc, this is Diane Bass, Lance's mother."
"Hello, Mrs. Bass, if you're looking for Lance, he's not here. He's in Toronto today. They have a concert tonight, and are not expected here until late tomorrow afternoon," Marc said.
"Actually, Marc, it's you I want to talk to," she said. "I just want to know what are your intentions are toward my son."
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