Melissa sat in the kitchen, quietly sipping her coffee as she gazed out the window at the spectacular view of Lance's back yard. Living in New York City for most of her life, she was used to the urban setting, concrete everywhere and only a few trees with green grass being almost nonexistent. Even now that she had moved to Florida, she lived in a apartment and had no yard to speak of. Lance had a lovely home; he was raised in the country and when he was off, he liked to be surrounded by that beauty again and looking at the view, Melissa understood why.
"Morning, lady." The deep voice drew Melissa from her reverie. "Where's Josh?"
Melissa turned from the window to see Lance crossing the kitchen. "Mornin', Lance. He's still sleeping, I hope," Melissa said, as she watched him pour himself a cup of coffee. "He looked so sweet, I couldn't stand to wake him up."
"Yeah, but then he'll wake up and ruin it," Lance said, smiling as he sat down in the seat across from her. "Mmm, this is great ... tastes good and I didn't have to fix it."
"While in college, you learn that coffee is your friend," she laughed, passing him the creamer.
"True. You learn the same thing when you're on the road," Lance said, nodding a 'thank you' in her direction. "It just sucks when you're always the first up, and have to fix it for everybody."
"Well, sleep in, stupid!" she laughed, standing and going to the counter to freshen her own cup.
"Oh, yeah, I can just see that!" Lance laughed, shaking his head. "Chris or Joey would be the next ones up and if you want something edible, they aren't the ones you call. Well, I take that back ... Joey can cook, but you don't cook coffee. I've been trying to get him to understand that for years."
"Oh, God ... the five of you, well six, counting Steve, without your morning coffee. At least Justin would be okay if he got his cereal." Lance looked at her with an arched eyebrow. "Sorry 'Tiger Beat moment'," Melissa said, shaking her head.
"You got that right," Lance said, nodding. "There's not a cereal out yet with enough sugar to get him going without caffeine."
The two laughed, then sat for a moment just enjoying the stillness of the morning. "Thanks," Melissa said, breaking into the comfortable silence.
"Hmm?" Lance said, turning to face her.
"Thanks for last night ... for the robe, for being there ... for everything," Melissa said, with a warm smile.
Lance reached forward and took her hand, squeezing it. "I'm just glad you two are okay."
"How did you know that we're okay?" Melissa asked, giving him a questioning look. Lance blushed, then turn slightly toward the window, "It would have been hard to miss."
Melissa allowed her mouth to drop open in an exaggerated expression of shock. "You little...."
"You moving in on my girlfriend there, Scoop?" JC said, then yawned as he entered the kitchen. He moved over to wrap his arms around Melissa, then leaned down to kiss her. "Okay, what'd I miss?"
"Seems someone was eavesdropping last night," Melissa said, nodding toward Lance.
JC gave Lance a comical look, somewhere between shock and satisfaction. "Learn anything?" he said, with an evil grin.
Releasing Melissa's hand, Lance shot him a look of disgust, "Yeah, that my walls are too thin ... and it's hard to breath with you head under a pillow. All the way across the freakin' hall and I could still hear y'all!"
It was JC's turn to blush, as he buried his face in Melissa's neck and shoulder. "Man ... I'm sorry Lance."
"Naw, bro, I was glad to hear things worked out," Lance told him, smiling. He scrunched his eyes for a moment, then said, "Wait, let me rephrase that ... I was glad that things worked out, not that I heard them. Oh, and y'all can just keep that robe ... I'm afraid to find out what y'all did on that thing."
They all shared a laugh, before JC said, "We were good, I took it off and threw it on the chair."
JC stuck his tongue out at Lance, gaining himself a smack from Melissa, "Be nice to your host, he could've kicked us out!"
"True," JC said, kissing her. "Guess it's a good thing we stayed over here. I could just imagine the look on Lynn's face!" They shared another laugh, then Josh added, "I'm sure Justin and Mac were making enough noise of their own."
"I wonder how things went," Lance said. "You know, I haven't seen that look from him in a long time."
"I know," JC said, "the guy's got it bad. Lew's evil, I would have loved to have seen the look on Jus' face when he saw Mac."
"That yell was priceless anyway," Melissa said. "We ought to be nice, cause I know exactly how he feels when you go off for months at a time." JC kissed her once more before pulling out the chair next to her and having a seat.
"You guys want some breakfast?" Lance asked, getting up and walking over to the refrigerator to survey its contents.
"Yeah, sounds good to me," JC said. He laughed as his stomach grumbled a bit, seconding his opinion.
Hearing it as well, Melissa laughed, then said, "Yes, feed him please!" Lance smiled and shook his head at the two love birds. "Need some help?" Melissa asked.
"Depends on how fancy a meal y'all want," Lance said, smiling. "Toast and juice, nah ... bacon and eggs, maybe ... if we're wantin' omelettes, y'all can help me chop the ingredients."
"For one of your omelettes," JC said, "we'll both
"Breakfast." It was a distant call, lost in that haze between sleep and waking. He felt someone sitting on the side of the bed. They touched his arm, trying to rouse him, but he snuggled back under the covers. "Justin, honey, breakfast will be ready in a little while."
With a groan, Justin rolled over and opened his eyes just a crack. "What time is it?"
"A little after nine. Come on, baby, you need to get a move on," Lynn smiled, as she remembered all the times during his life that she had replayed this same scene. Sometimes it was hard to remember that he was a grown man, and not the little boy he had been.
"How'd you know that I was alone in here?" Justin asked, with a sleepy grin.
"Because I passed the guest room and the door was open and the bed was slept in," Lynn said, popping Justin's hand.
"He could have just messed it up for show, or only stayed there part of the night," Justin suggested, smiling up at her.
"I also heard the shower running," Lynn said, smiling back, "but I did knock and peek a little before I opened the door all the way."
Justin sat up in the bed, adjusting the blankets around his waist, before rubbing his eyes. "We didn't do anything last night. He slept in the guest room," he said, staring dazedly across the room. Though he wasn't totally awake, he felt the need to reassure his mom, though what he was reassuring her about he didn't know.
"Did I say anything?" Lynn asked, brushing the hair from his forehead. "I wouldn't have said anything if he had slept in here, you never see one another. It's understandable that you would want to be together as much as you can."
Justin looked at her, a disbelieving expression on his face. "Are you sure about that?"
Lynn considered a moment before a slight blush crept into her face, "I said slept. Hey, at least I'm trying!" Taking his hand, she said, "I know you love him, that much is more than obvious." He smiled crookedly at her and she grinned back. "I also know that you're an adult ... and that it wouldn't be your first time." It was Justin's turn to blush now. Lynn's smile widened, then she caressed his cheek. "You're my baby, though ... you'll always be my little boy, even if you do grow up."
"I know," he said, reaching over to pull her into a hug. "I love you, mom," Justin said, then kissed her on the cheek. "Thanks for being so great."
"You're pretty great yourself," she told him, returning his kiss. "You should get up and get dressed. Go tell that man of yours that breakfast will be ready in about fifteen or twenty minutes."
"Fifteen or twenty..." Justin said, a smile slowly easing over his lips, "does that mean you're making some of your famous biscuits?" He rubbed his hands together in anticipation of a delicious breakfast.
"Well, I want to make a good impression," she said, grinning at him.
"Don't worry about that, he loves you, mom," Justin said, taking her hand. "Besides he's trying just as hard to make one on you, too."
"Did I scare him with all the questions last night?" Lynn asked, frowning.
"Nah, he understood," Justin told her reassuringly. "He and I both know that you were just trying to look out for your baby. You know you could have been a little more ... well ... less direct in the way you asked some of it, though."
"And just how would you know, mister?" she asked, as she glared at him playfully. "What have I told you about eavesdropping?"
"You were giving my boyfriend the third degree," Justin said, grinning. "C'mon, did you really think it was gonna take me that long to take his bags upstairs?"
"Of course not," Lynn told him, "actually, I was wondering what took you so long." They shared another laugh, then she stood and started for the door. "See you downstairs."
"'Kay, mom," Justin said, giving her a wave. "You know
I'm not missing your biscuits."
Justin threw on some sweats over his boxer briefs, before going to check his hair in the mirror. Tucked or untucked, he debated as he played with the hem of his wife-beater. Justin, you're just going to tell him breakfast'll be ready soon, damn! Almost satisfied with his appearance, Justin headed for the door. He stepped out into the hall and listened for a moment. The sound of the running water from the bathroom had ceased, so Justin figured that Mac was done with his shower. He walked down the hall to the guest room, and stopped at the door. Once there, he looked inside to find the room empty. Oh well, guess he's not done yet, Justin thought as he shrugged. "Guess I'll just wait," Justin said, turning to head back to his room.
"Wait for what?" asked Mac, who was virtually nose to nose with Justin as he turned.
"Um, wait for you," Justin said, smiling as he stepped back a little. Justin's eyes traveled down Mac's form, beginning at his wet hair and continuing on to his glistening, bare chest. Lower still, his eyes encountered the towel wrapped securely around Mac's waist. Justin's breath caught in his throat at the sight. Trying to regain control over his wayward senses, he concentrated on other things, unfortunately, he glanced up just then to meet Mac's eyes. Instantly, he was lost in the deep, green pools.
"Well, here I am," Mac said, smiling. "Jus?" he said, waving his hand before Justin's face. "Were you looking for me for anything in particular?" Oh, this has potential, Mac thought to himself at the bemused expression on Justin's face.
Justin blinked a couple of times before returning to the present, "Um, no." Justin shook his head, "I mean, yeah. Uh ... breakfast will be ready in fifteen minutes or so."
Mac tried to hide his knowing grin from Justin as he turned toward the door to the guest room, "Guess I should get dressed then, huh?
"Not on my account," Justin said, barely above a whisper, as he stepped aside to allow Mac to pass.
"What?" Mac asked, turning as he stood at the threshold.
"Uh, nothing," Justin told him, blushing slightly. Mac grinned crookedly, biting his inner jaw to keep from laughing at Justin's reaction. "Mom's making her famous biscuits for breakfast, so you don't wanna miss those."
"Oh? Sounds great," Mac said, "I can't wait." Justin started for the stairs, but stopped as Mac called him once more. "Jus ... I'm glad I was able to be here with you," he said, leaning on the door frame.
"So am I," Justin said, smiling broadly.
"See ya downstairs," Mac said, pulling away from the door.
Justin nodded and said, "Yup, meet ya down there." As
Mac pulled away from the door, the towel tied around his waist dropped
to the floor. Justin's eyes grew wide as he momentarily caught sight of
the naked skin along Mac's hip just before the door closed. Daymn!
Justin thought, his jaw dropping. He slowly turned, then continued down
"Did you see Mac, honey?" Lynn asked Justin as he entered the kitchen. Leaning over, she opened the oven and checked the biscuits before turning her attention back to the skillet.
"Oh, yeah," Justin said, a dopey grin on his lips. Leaning against the doorframe, he crossed his arms over his chest and crossed his ankles.
Lynn glanced over her shoulder and caught sight of the grin. Giving him a questioning look, Lynn asked, "Are you okay?"
"Huh?" Justin said, shaking his head to clear the images from his thoughts. "Oh ... yeah, I'm fine. Yeah, I saw him and told him that breakfast would be waitin' when he was dressed ... I mean when he gets down here. Mmm, something sure smells good," he said, breathing deeply through his nose. Knowing his mother's sharp mind, Justin knew he needed to change the subject, or she would have every last bit of information from him before Mac came down.
Turning back toward the stove, Lynn giggled quietly at her son. She was unsure that she was ready for Justin to grow up, but she was glad to see him so happy. Lynn glanced over her shoulder at him again. He seemed to be floating, something she had not seen since the first time he had heard one of the boys songs on the radio, or learned that their first record had gone platinum. She smiled outright at the sight.
"What?" he asked, returning her smile. It, too, was one laced with unconscious bliss.
"Nothing, honey," she said. "Could you go set the table?" she asked, then turned back to her task at the stove.
"Sure," Justin replied, cheerfully. Pushing away from the doorframe, he grabbed some plates and silverware, then headed for the dining room. After placing the stack of plates on the table, he stood and considered the seating arrangements. Mom at the end, of course, but where to put Mac? Across from him, so that he could look at him ... beside him, touching would be an option that way. The latter sounded much more appealing, but in the end Justin decided against it. Looking at him caused enough distraction, and they were eating with his mom. Justin quickly spread the plates around the table, then arranged the utensils around them. Turning from the table, he found Mac standing in the doorway.
"Hey, you," Mac said warmly, as he moved closer. Having watched Justin bending over the table, Mac wanted to pull him into his embrace. Mac's mind automatically checked that idea when he heard Lynn moving around in the kitchen.
"You know, I could get used to this," Justin said, returning the smile. He walked over to the end of the table and leaned against it so that only a couple of feet separated the two of them.
"Used to what?" Mac said, reaching out to stroke Justin's arm.
"Turning around and finding you there," Justin said. Reaching out, Justin caught Mac by his arms and pulled him into a hug, deftly changing Mac's thoughts on getting caught.
"I know what you mean," Mac said, "I could, too." He leaned down and kiss Justin tenderly.
After a few moments of shared bliss, Justin pulled back. "That was really cheeky," Justin said, giving Mac a stern look.
"What?" Mac asked. "I thought you liked my kisses." In the first few seconds after Justin's statement, Mac had no idea what Justin was talking about, then the scene in the hallway came back to his mind.
"You know exactly what I mean, you tease," Justin said, arching his eyebrow. "I saw that towel before, and it was very firmly attached."
"It must have gotten caught on the doorframe or something," Mac said, shrugging and giving him and innocent look. The expression of innocence slowly dissolved into one of devilish satisfaction, as he wiggled his eyebrows at Justin. Justin responded by playfully smacking him on the butt.
"Justin Randall," Lynn said, entering the room with a large bowl of scrambled eggs and plate of sausage and bacon. "You know better than to sit on the table."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, lifting himself off the table as Mac stepped back and out of his arms. Turning, Justin wrapped his arm around Mac's waist, then led him over to his seat.
"Good morning, Mac," Lynn said, after depositing her load in the center of the table. She leaned down to stir the eggs slightly. "Did you sleep well?"
"Yes, ma'am, quite well thanks" Mac responded. Well, when my body figured out that nothing else was going to be happening, Mac thought to himself. Coughing slightly, he glanced at Justin who seemed to understand what he had been thinking.
"I'm glad to hear it," Lynn said. "I've just got a few more things to get out here to the table, and the biscuits should be ready by then." she said, turning back for the kitchen. She stopped at the doorway and turn back toward them. "Justin, honey, why don't you see what Mac wants to drink? We have coffee, milk, and plenty of juices. There are sodas as well if you'd rather have one of those."
Justin happily did as he was asked. Once Lynn's biscuits were ready, the three of them sat down to the wonderful meal she had prepared. After a few bites, Mac complimented her on her culinary skills, and they settled into a conversation about their plans for the day.
"I don't know what we're gonna do," Justin said. He took a drink of his milk, then placed the glass back on the table. "We haven't really had a chance to talk about it yet." Glancing over at Mac, Justin winked at him, then asked, "What do you think?"
"I think that's kind of why she asked," Mac said, giving Lynn a conspiratorial grin. Lynn chuckled, then innocently went back to her meal.
Justin glared menacingly at him, then rolled his eyes. "I should've known," he said. "She likes him better than me!" Using his patented pouting face, Justin looked over to his mom, silently asking her to refute what he had said.
Lynn and Mac laughed at him for a moment before Mac asked, "So what are we gonna do?"
Sighing at them as if he were the adult and they the children, Justin said, "Well there's Disney and all the parks." His lip curled a bit at the thought of spending another day there. He'd been there so many times that it was getting old. "I would suggest the beach, but it's a little cold for that." Shrugging, he said, "You're the guest, is there anything special you had in mind?"
"Well, why don't we do something with the guys, if they don't already have plans that is?" Mac said. "I mean, they're you're best friends and I've ... seen them twice now, but never actually met them." Mac was always a stickler when it came to manners, and the idea of having breezed by Justin's best friends made him feel a bit uncomfortable.
Justin looked at him strangely, then chuckled, "What's to meeting them? There a bunch of bozos? Why on earth would you wanna spend the day with them if you didn't have to?"
"Justin!" Lynn said, laughing. "Be nice." Justin shot her a look that said louder than words, 'Who me?'
"Nut!" Mac said, laughing as he kicked at Justin under the table. "I don't know. I can't help it. I feel like I'm being rude ... like I'm hoarding you or something."
"As far as I'm concerned, you can hoard me all you want," Justin said, grinning wickedly. Holding his arms out as if presenting himself as a sacrifice, he said, "I'm all yours!"
Mac's eyes heated for a moment, stealing the laughter from Justin's own. Both men knew what Mac was thinking, and Lynn was sure she understood that look as well. Calmly clearing her throat, Lynn said, "Not at the table, Justin. As I've told you a million times before, tables are for glasses, not my babies' asses."
Mac and Justin looked at Lynn, then burst out laughing. When Justin could speak again, he wiped his eyes and said, "Well, now that my mom has shot down the best thing we could have done, let's figure out something else that might be fun."
The ringing of the phone broke into their conversation, and Lynn pushed back from the table to answer it. As she stood, Mac also stood, making Justin feel like a cad for not standing as well. "Why do you have to do that?" Justin asked, petulantly.
"Do what?" Mac asked, as he sat down.
"Why do you have to be so proper? I get the feeling that I'm an uncouth kid when you do that." Justin was only joking, but when he saw Mac hadn't understood it, he got up and went to hug his boyfriend. "I'm sorry," Justin said quietly into Mac's ear. "I was only joking."
Mac turned in his chair so he could hold Justin closer, then whispered into Justin's ear, "It's okay, cause ya see there's a good side to our very minor misunderstanding."
"And what would that be?" Justin asked, still in Mac's arms.
"It would be, being able to do this," Mac said, then kissed Justin's neck just below his ear. "And this...." Mac opened his mouth and lightly touched Justin's skin with the tip of his tongue. A shudder raced up Justin's spine and he trembled slightly as a small moan came from his open mouth. "Now, you better get back in your seat before your mom comes back and catches us," Mac said, reluctantly pushing Justin away.
"Do you really wanna go out with the guys?" Justin asked, as he said down in his chair. Feeling a little overheated, he grabbed his glass of milk and downed a long swallow, while Mac shrugged. "I'm not sure I wanna share you right now," Justin said, a slight blush coloring his cheeks.
Mac smiled as he nodded, "I know exactly what you mean, but considering that I plan on being around you for a long time to come, I want to do my best to make them my friends, too."
Feeling better than he had all morning, Justin grinned his surrender. "Okay, we'll call around and see who's doin' what. Hey, why don't we see if Lew will give us a tour? Get a real behind the scenes thing goin'," Justin said, getting into the idea of a day out with the guys. "I know Lance would love it ... that space freak!"
"Oh, I always jump at a chance to bug Lew, besides there are a lot of things there that I've wanted to take a look at," Mac said. Both men looked toward the doorway as Lynn came back from the living room. Smiling a greeting, the gentlemen stood while Lynn took her seat.
"Okay, Mac, what have you done with my son?" she asked, then laughed at the hurt look on Justin's face. Grasping Justin's hand, Lynn said, "Aw honey, you know I didn't mean anything by that. Actually, I was quite flattered ... it's not often that I have gentlemen stand in my presence."
"I know, Mom," Justin said, then raised her hand and placed a kiss on it. After releasing it, Justin asked, "Who was that on the phone?"
Issuing a long-suffering sigh, Lynn related the call. "That was Rachel from the office. Seems there is a major problem that only I ... in my infinite wisdom ... can handle." Lynn rolled her eyes and shared an understanding grin with her son.
Looking over at Mac, Justin explained, "See, Rachel is always worried about one thing or another and she never seems to be able to handle anything unless my mom is right there with her." Turning back to Lynn, he asked, "Why do you keep her on anyway, mom? She seems pretty flighty."
Lynn shook her head at Justin, "Rachel may have her faults, but she is very good at her job. Though, I admit she can be trying at times. Anyway, it all comes down to me having to spend the next few days at the office instead of being here to spend some time with you two." Lynn sighed once more, then asked, "So, what have the two of you decided to do with your day?"
"Justin had a great idea about getting Lew to give us a behind the scenes tour," Mac said, gesturing toward Justin with his fork. Even though Mac had been distracted from his food time and again, the aroma always brought him back. "Lynn, you made a real fine meal here," Mac said, before going on. "We figured we'd call the guys and see if any of them wanted to go."
"I'm sure Lance would love to go ... he loves that kind of stuff," Lynn said, then jumped when Mac and Justin started laughing. Sending a questioning look around the table, Lynn asked, "Okay, what's so funny?"
"That's almost exactly what Justin said," Mac said, controlling his mirth.
Justin's laughter abruptly subsided when a realization hit him, "Hold up ... Mom, you said you're gonna be gone for a few days. Does that mean you're gonna miss my birthday?" Being on the road so much had made Justin appreciate the special times he spent with his family all the more, and missing out on a birthday together was a letdown.
"Yes, baby, it does ... I'm sorry," Lynn said. Her eyes spoke of how much it hurt her to miss out on one of their special occasions, but there was no way she could do anything to change what had to be done.
The conversation turned to lighter topics while they finished their meal, then Justin went to call the guys. Mac stayed behind to help Lynn clear the table and he took the opportunity to speak with her. "Since you aren't going to be able to be here for Justin's birthday, would it be alright if I ... uh ... set up something for him?" Mac asked. He knew he wouldn't have much time to spend with Justin, but he wanted to make some wonderful memories for the two of them to share.
Lynn looked over her shoulder at him as he followed her into the kitchen, dishes in hand. "What kind of something did you have in mind?" she asked, grinning mischievously at Mac. "Anything I can help with before I have to leave?"
Mac laughed at the look of devilment in her eyes and assured her that he would be more than grateful for any and all help she could provide. Quickly, he outlined a plan that had come to him while he was eating.
A little while later, Justin walked into the kitchen to find Mac and Lynn sitting at the kitchen table, both examining what seemed to be a sheet of paper on the tabletop. The two were so engrossed in what they were doing that neither noticed Justin's approach until he pulled out one of the remaining chairs. "Well, I've talked to the guys, but only Lance is going to be able to make it. I knew he wouldn't pass up a chance to check out Kennedy," Justin said, laughing as he recalled the excitement in Lance's voice before they hung up. Before sitting down, Justin went to the refrigerator to grab a drink.
While Justin was at the frig, Mac and Lynn both requested drinks, giving them enough time to get the paper folded and hidden before Justin came back. Justin passed out the drinks, then sat down with a quizzical look at the table. "Weren't you two lookin' at somethin' when I came in?" he asked, wondering if he had imagined the paper.
"Huh?" Lynn asked, as if she had no idea what he was talking about. Under the table, Mac handed her the folded piece of paper and she casually shoved it in her pocket.
"Nevermind," Justin said, putting it out of his mind. "Mom, when's Paul supposed to be home? I thought he was gonna be here for my vacation."
"He really wanted to be, but everything seemed to fall apart and he had to be there to pick up the pieces," Lynn said. Paul had been called out of town, much the same as Lynn was being called now, and she couldn't help but feel sorry for her son. Though, now that she and Mac had gotten the opportunity to discuss his plans, things were definitely looking up for her baby's birthday.
"Man, everybody's gonna be gone on my birthday," Justin said.
"I guess that means I'm nobody?" Mac asked. He glanced at Lynn who shared a quick grin with him while Justin stumbled through an apology.
"I'm sorry, baby, I didn't mean it like it sounded," Justin said apologetically. "You know I love the idea of having you here to spend my birthday with me."
Mac reached over and took Justin's hand, "I know ... I was only playin' with ya."
"Well, while you two sit here making eyes at each other," Lynn said, "I've got some things to get done before I have to go." Getting up from the table, Lynn gripped Mac's shoulder a moment before going over to hug Justin. "You two have a great time today. I don't know if I'll still be here when you get home, so just in case I'm not ... I love you, baby," she said, then kissed him on the cheek.
Justin hugged her back, saying, "I love you, too."
Turning to give Mac a quick hug, Lynn said, "And Mac, you take good care of my son. I'm really glad that I've gotten to meet you. I'm beginning to think my son has good taste after all."