Hi everyone.

Whoa. It’s been a long time since the last update of MSR, and for that I’m really sorry. It’s definitely not because I’ve lost interest--far from it--but life has gotten so hectic lately, that it takes me next to forever to update!

But first off, I want to thank everyone who voted for me in the Nifty Boyband Awards. I won a heck of a lot of awards, and I was completely shocked when I found out! Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who both nominated and voted for me. Thank you for the honor :)

Second, thank you to everyone who has been sending me emails, telling me how much they’ve been enjoying MSR so far, and to everyone who’s asked me to update! Really, emails are appreciated. Since the last chapter posted, I’ve changed my email address from the old sweetheart stories one to blissful_confusion@yahoo.com. I’ve just checked the old email address, and if you’ve sent mail there, I haven’t answered it at all, and I’m sorry about that. I will be getting to the emails soon, I promise.

And lastly, I just want to thank my “crew” who’s stuck by me, and supported me and everything. There are so many great people out there, I can’t list them all. I get a bunch of wonderful email that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thank you. I do want to thank Sarah and Steph for their support and read throughs, Val for being my coffee-lovin’, English sitcom watchin’, twin on the other side of the ocean, Tony for all his help and the fabulous beta readin’ (psst, go check out his story, The Maze of Moments, after you’ve read mine!), and to Brian for being Mr. Continuity and for supplying me with endless ideas and support and just...yeah.

Also, big ol’ thanks to the Friday Night Club for the friendship, love and support. I don’t know what I’d do without you guys to keep me sane and grounded. Love you guys :)

I have a site: Sweetheart Stories, and it’s moved since it’s last posting. Go visit (shameless self-promotion here). I also host the wonderful sites of my friends as well. Chapters of MSR are posted there before they hit Nifty. I also seem to have a strange fascination with Lance. Go figure ;)

Lastly, a small thing here: this past Tuesday, the US saw the worst case of terrorism in its history. My heart goes out to each and everyone one of the victims and families. I’ve been glued to the tv for the past few days, horrified by the horrible events. Please, if you find it in your heart, take time out to pray or keep everyone in your thoughts. Thanks.

Disclaimer: I don’t know Lance Bass or his momma, Diane. If I did, I’d be figuring out a way to have hot monkey sex with him and not writing this story. If you’re reading this, you gotta be 18/21 depending on where in this world you live. I don’t want to be corrupting people or anything like that, and I don’t want to go to prison, thanks. And this story is fake! Fake, fake, fake! Now go read.


My Surprise Romance

People Change

Chapter 54

Break Your Heart

“Lance?” Knocking on the bathroom door, I waited for a response. Knowing that he had locked the bathroom door since the words, “nothing special” had slipped out of my mouth, a sense of panic had begun to spiral throughout me. I felt sick to my stomach. And I was scared.

A few seconds passed by. I could hear the sound of water running as though Lance were taking a shower. Resting my forehead against the door, I took a few deep breaths, desperately trying to calm myself down, but to tell you the truth, it wasn’t working one bit. I felt nervous. Shaky. And ready to throw up.

How could I have said that? How could I have said that Lance was nothing special? Didn’t he know I had just said that to protect him from Marianne (who of course had picked the worst time ever to show up)? And thinking back to those last moments, I still couldn’t understand why he had gotten so snippy with me.

Actually, I could understand. I don’t think I would have been too happy myself if Lance said I was, “nothing special”. But I would have taken in the circumstances, and realized that those were just words and what we had was more important than two silly words.

But I wasn’t Lance. And I would have killed to know what was going on in that head of his.

Slumping to the floor, I cradled my head in my hands, losing myself in my thoughts. I couldn’t take it anymore. The sound of the water running and the silence from inside. Usually, Lance sang country songs in the shower. Was he crying? Did he even care? I wouldn’t know since Lance had locked the bathroom door and for some bizarre reason, getting the key to the bathroom door and unlocking it was blind to me. I knew we needed to be alone, if only for a couple of minutes. We needed to clear our heads.

I was so lost in my thought, that I never noticed the bathroom door opening, and the small drops water that hit the floor and splashed onto my skin.


Looking up, I saw Lance standing there. His hair was still wet from the shower and drops of moisture slid down his body, soaked up by the towel that was snugly wrapped around his waist.

I was caught off guard by the smile that was lighting up his face.

“Lance?” I asked tentatively, not sure why his smile seemed so bright and happy. We had just been fighting a few minutes ago and now...he was smiling?

I watched as he nodded his head, motioning for me to stand up. Scrambling from my place on the floor, I stood up in a flash, as Lance took me in his arms and began to kiss me. His lips brushed over my forehead, my eyelids and he murmured the words, “I love you” over and over.

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, as our lips finally met. “So sorry, Lance...”

“I know,” Lance smiled, his hands sliding down my body before pulling me closer to him. The wetness from his skin soaked my clothing, but I could have cared less. Resting my head against his chest, I could hear each breath he took. And so when he spoke my name, I didn’t hesitate in looking up at him.

“Stephen...” I looked deep into his beautifully light eyes.


“Why didn’t you finish your sculpture?”

I stared at Lance for a second, unclear to why he had just spoken those words. “What?” I asked carefully, not wanting to upset him more than I already had. “Lance...”

“Your sculpture,” he repeated, pronouncing the words carefully, the pitch and tone of his voice growing higher and higher. “Why didn’t you finish off your project? Didn’t Professor Bell ask you to have it done by today?”

“Huh?” I blinked. Once. Twice. Maybe a few more times.

“I said, ‘Why didn’t you finish your project, Stephen?’” His deep voice had turned high pitched, almost whiny in tone. “Aren’t you listening to me?”

“Huh?” I repeated, blinking through a sudden haze of tears. “What?”

It suddenly hit me then, that I was not in fact, standing in Lance’s arms, but sitting on one of the stools in my watercolor class and that the persistent voice asking about my project was not that of my boyfriend, but in fact, that of Marianne’s. She was staring at me, chin resting on the palm of her hand, aqua eyes staring at me expectantly.

‘Fuck’, I thought taking a deep breath, trying to calm down my frazzled nerves. I had been daydreaming--again. I had been drifting in and out of a semiconscious state because whenever I reverted into my daydreams, I kept thinking about Lance. I kept thinking that he and I had made up, when in fact...we hadn’t.

I kept replaying the moments before he left. When Lance had emerged from the bathroom, he had been fully dressed and his hair was still damp.

I had tried to talk to him, but all he did was push me to the side, storming into my bedroom and slamming the door in my face.

He locked me out of my own bedroom, which managed to anger and sadden me all at once.

While he had showered, I had planned my whole apology speech out, from the first word to the last word that was going to leave my mouth, I *knew* what I was going to say. I knew how I was going to apologize. If I had to get on my goddamn knees and beg for forgiveness, I would have.

It didn’t matter though, because a few seconds later, my bedroom door flew open and Lance reemerged, suitcase in hand and jacket already on.

“Lance--” I began, placing a hand on his shoulder, but he just shook it off, not even giving me a backwards glance as he made his way through the hall and into the living room.

I followed him, trying my damnest not to cry. I had a lump in my throat the size of Mexico and I wanted to say something, blurt out an, ‘I love you and I’m sorry’, but I didn’t have the chance to.

The last I saw of Lance was the sleeve of his jacket, as it disappeared through the door, slamming shut behind him.

He was gone.

“Stephen?” I looked up at Marianne, and while part of me wanted to smack her in the face for coming over that afternoon, the other part of me knew that the separation between Lance and I, was 100% my fault. Completely. And I hated that. I hated the fact that I had let those stupid words slip from my mouth.

Marianne was still staring at me, her aqua eyes curious and boring holes into me. And I couldn’t take that scrutinizing gaze anymore. Not when all the thoughts in my mind consisted of Lance and what he was doing at that moment? How did he feel? Did he miss me?

Because I missed him. A lot.

Without answering Marianne, I stood up from my stool and walked out of the room, the men’s room in mind. I had to get away from everyone, because if I didn’t, there was a good chance that I would snap. And so with hurried steps, I began my walk to the men’s room nested at the other end of the arts and humanities building.

I needed to be alone.


Maybe coming to school the day after Lance left wasn’t such a bright idea. But I had thought that maybe getting away from where we spent our last few minutes together would have been good for me. You know, cleansing of the soul and all that. Therapeutic, in a sense.

I was wrong.

If anything, I had thought about Lance more than ever. And that’s saying a lot, since my boyfriend (could I still call him that?) was normally the person who took up most of my thoughts. I lived, breathed and slept Lance, but it wasn’t like I was obsessed with him.

I just loved him.

So as I stood in that men’s room on what felt like the other side of the world, I stared out a window because there was nothing else to do. I felt blank. Indescribable. And so sad. I was a country song, whose lyrics were waiting to be written, but you’d have to switch the genders into something sellable before publishing.

But the worst part of the whole situation, was that I felt as though I was wearing my heart on my sleeve. It was clear as day for anyone who wanted to know how I was feeling at that moment. I’m sure the expression on my face was apparent, and even in my eyes, but if someone would ask me, “Hey, Stephen, you okay?” I would have just given them a blank smile and nodded.

It was none of their business.

I felt like half a person without Lance. And the fact that he had left without saying goodbye killed me much more than it should have.

I felt terrible. I hate fighting with people, especially when that person is my boyfriend, the one person that I loved with my whole heart and soul. I would have done anything for him.

Sighing under my breath, I walked to the row of sinks and stared at myself in the mirror. You could barely tell that I had been crying. Sure my eyes were a little red-rimmed, but if anyone asked, I could always have lied and said I had been smoking pot or something.

Okay. Maybe that wasn’t the brightest excuse in the world. But it was something. And it was certainly more than I had with Lance at the moment.


When I had gotten home that night, the first thing I did was check my answering machine, hoping that there would be a bright red, blinking number on the display because someone had left me a message.

The only thing I was greeted with was a bright red zero.

My heart sank deeper into my stomach and I felt sick. He hadn’t called. And for some reason, I thought he would have. Maybe I thought he would have forgotten about my silly comment and forgiven me, calling to tell me that everything was okay between us. And he hadn’t.

I spent that night sitting next to the telephone, hoping that it would ring.

It never did.


I woke up the next morning, a crick in my neck after spending an uncomfortable night sleeping on the futon. There was no way I could go back into that bedroom. I hadn’t cleaned up in there, so when I did walk into my room, the first thing my eyes were greeted with, was the sight of chocolate and strawberry stained sheets.

So the futon was the obvious choice, because I certainly didn’t feel like cleaning that mess up. And as I lay on the lumpy cushions, I stared at the ceiling for a few seconds, before rolling over onto my side and spotting a sheet of loose leaf paper lying on the wooden floor.

Staring at it, an idea began to form in my brain and I wondered if I was losing my mind.

And before anything could squash it, I sat up and swiped the sheet of paper off the floor. Finding a pen, I began to scrawl down a few words. And then a few more. Soon enough, they began to form into sentences that made up a letter.

The words seem to flow from the ink, subconsciously, as though I had been thinking them all along:

Dear Lance,

Sorry for sending this note.   Trash it if you want, but I had to try.

I know you left without saying good-bye. I know you were mad at me.  I respect and understand that, because I would have been angry too.  But, I just had to do something or slowly go mad waiting to hear from you.

I wanted so much to explain to you, why I said what I said.   Unfortunately, the words wouldn't form in my mouth.   I wasn't even sure if you would listen to me explain then or not.  I just stood there and watched you walk away.  It nearly killed me when you did.

I know I hurt you, deeply.  Nothing I do or say is going to ever change that. And I know that.  I just hope there's room in your heart to forgive me.  You will always be in mine, forever.

Love always,

I stared at the note for a few seconds, and I didn’t realize I was crying until a tear fell onto the paper, smearing the ink in the process. Brushing away the wetness, only made things worse. The words were now unintelligible and barely readable through the smeared ink stains.

And without thinking, I crumpled up the paper. What did it matter anyway? I had no idea where to sent it, and even if I did, there would be a good chance Lance wouldn’t read it anyway.

Would he?

I’d never know as I threw it in the direction of the wastebasket, only to watch it land on the floor instead.


I didn’t go to school that day, opting instead to sit in my living room and drink. I twisted off the top of my fourth beer and stared at the space in front of me, trying to find a word that summed up the way I felt.

‘Blank’, I finally thought as I tipped the beer to my lips. ‘I feel blank.’

While I drank I put on some country music. Old stuff. Patsy Cline. I played it so loudly, the lone window overlooking the city rattled and my next door neighbor pounded on the thin wall that separated our apartments, screaming for me to “turn that shit off”.

I somehow found the energy to scream, “oh fuck off!”, right back at her, but my heart really wasn’t in it. Reaching over to turn the music down, I accidentally fell off the futon and landed on the floor, the beer falling from my hands and spilling all over me instead.

‘I must be drunk,’ I thought hazily as I stared at the liquid seeping across the hardwood floor. ‘That’s not good.’ Part of my brain, contemplating lying on the floor for the rest of the afternoon.

And then I heard a key in the lock, and the sound of the door to my apartment opening.

Call me a fool, but as my heart stopped beating, I really and truly thought that those heavy footsteps crossing to where I lay belonged to Lance.

I was wrong.

Turning my head to the side, I saw a pair of black clogs, and unless Lance had started wearing women’s shoes, those most certainly weren’t his feet.

I looked up, right into the violet eyes of my dear cousin.

“Stevie?” she asked, eyes widening in disbelief as she took in the sight of my body stretched out on the floor. “Are....I mean...uh....” Her words trailed off into silence as her lower lip dropped open, and she continued to stand there and stare at me.

Cynthia was speechless. I had rendered my cousin speechless and it was only then that I realized I must have looked like hell. Lying there. In clothes that I had worn yesterday and then slept in. The two day old stubble on my face itched like mad. My eyes felt like someone had scratched a pad of sandpaper over them. And let’s not forget that , currently, I was shit faced beyond belief.

At eleven a.m. no less. Even better, huh?

I mumbled something under my breath and tried to pick myself off the floor, only to fall back down.

“Stevie...oh God...” I heard Cynthia murmur as she slid her hands under my arms and pulled me off the floor. Standing on wobbly legs, she helped me back to the futon.

I watched as she walked over to the stereo and hit the power button, before crossing the room and taking a seat next to me. I watched her motions: neatly crossing one leg over the other and then brushing a lock of light brown hair out of her eyes.

“Stevie...” Cynthia began nervously, almost as though she were afraid to talk. “Why the hell are you drunk so early in the morning? What happened?” She gazed around the apartment, eyes darting, almost as though she were looking for someone. “Where’s Lance? I thought he was supposed to come back home with you?” And with one of her sly smiles, Cynthia insensitively commented, “I was almost afraid to come in here, you know. I figured you two would be naked and twisted in some kinky position.”

It wasn’t her fault, because she had no idea at what was going on, but at the mention of Lance’s name, I felt my face crumble and to my horror, I began to cry. It was as almost like Cynthia had turned on a faucet. I didn’t want to cry--I didn’t. But I was drunk. My mind wasn’t working well.

And I didn’t need to hear Cynthia’s commentary on what she thought Lance and I would have been doing. I didn’t need to hear a reminder of the way things were supposed to have been, because if Lance and I hadn’t fought, we probably would have been in some kind of kinky position. I wanted to smile at that thought, but I couldn’t. It seemed impossible to do so.

“Stevie!” Cynthia exclaimed, moving closer to me. She wiped at my face with her hand, trying to dry some of the tears. I felt horribly ashamed. Here I was, 21 years old and bawling like a little girl. She studied my face for a few seconds and suddenly the realization came over her face.

Cynthia took a deep breath. “Did you and Lance have a fight?” she asked softly, cradling my cheek in her hand.

I nodded, not daring to even open my mouth.

“Shit,” she muttered, low and almost unintelligible under her breath. “Stevie...if you don’t mind...what happened?”

I counted to ten, trying to sit up like a normal person and not tip over like a wilted flower. I felt sick, but I knew it wasn’t because of the beer. It was because I was thinking of Lance. I kept replaying those last moments in my mind, over and over, and that had to be one of the worst moments of my life. I kept seeing him walk out of my apartment, the angry expression on his face, his jaw set while the disgust loomed in his eyes.

As we sat there, side by side on the futon, I somehow managed to tell Cynthia what happened, leaving out the events of the night before. What Lance and I did in bed together was none of her business, although if she walked into the bedroom and looked at the bed and the sheets, she would have probably known right off the bat. Cynthia was always one step ahead of everything.

I closed my eyes as I recalled our last moments together, and feeling completely numb, I said the two words that managed to break Lance and I apart, sending an unpleasant chill down my spine.

“You said that Lance was nothing special?” my cousin recoiled in horror, sucking in a sharp intake of air. “You. Of all people? You told him that?”

I nodded miserably, reaching for the second to last bottle of beer, only to have Cynthia slap my hand away.

“No more alcohol for you, Stevie,” she said sternly, moving the six-pack out of reach. “Even I know when to quit.” I would have laughed at that one, except that I wasn’t too coherent to do so.

“I just can’t believe that you said that. I’m just...” Cynthia continued, shaking her head as strands hair moved around her face. “Shocked, I guess.”

“I was only trying to protect him,” I snapped, slowly sobering up as the seconds ticked by. “Marianne had come over to see why I hadn’t come to school that day, and Lance walked out of the bedroom in nothing but his boxers. And what was I going to say to her? Do you really think I was going to tell her that Lance was my boyfriend?”

Cynthia sat there, blinking rapidly as though she was trying to digest this information as quickly as possible.

“Well...” she began smartly, and I refrained from groaning. Great, I was going to get a Cynthia lecture. Wonderful.

But I didn’t. Instead, she just blinked again, looking pensive as she played with the hem of her shirt. “Stevie...you did what you thought was best...” She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “It wasn’t. I...I don’t know what I would have done in your shoes.”

She bit her lip, causing some of her dark red lipstick to smear on her teeth. “It’s okay for someone to catch me with Josh, you know?” Cynthia began, a dazed look in her eyes as she spoke. “Everyone knows I’m dating him. But you? And Lance? That’s...it’s not wrong. But it’s not...something you tell everyone everyday, you know?”

I sat there, staring at Cynthia as though she had grown another head. This was the last thing I expected her to say. I thought she would have slapped me around a little, ranted and then ordered me to call Lance up immediately.

“I...I can’t blame you for trying to protect him. I just can’t believe that he stormed out of here like that.” She shook her head again and then looked at me. “That’s not like Lance. Not at all. He’s the sane half.”

We sat on the futon in silence and feeling woozy, I laid down, resting my head in my cousin’s lap and hooking my legs over the armrest. Looking down at me, Cynthia gave a soft smile, stroking my hair away from my eyes.

And then I realized that my cousin was here. Instead of with Josh. Don’t tell me they...

“Hey,” I blurted. “What’s with you? I thought you and Josh were supposed to be in Vegas? Did you guys have a fight?”

Cynthia smiled wryly and shook her head. “Nah. But Josh got sick. Like, throwing up, puking sick...” She rolled her eyes. “He went back to Florida and I came back here. I--” She paused and blushed. “I came for my stuff, Stevie. I’m moving in with him.”

My eyes widened. “Moving in, eh?” I smiled, even though the simple movement made my head pound. “That’s serious stuff.”

She nodded. “I know, I know. But I want to. So much.” Her cheeks flushed a little bit. “Josh asked me before he boarded his plane in the airport. He wants me to live with him.” The excitement on her face faded a little. “I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or a bad one, but Stevie...I want to move in with him. I really want to.” She ducked her head a little, and placed a hand over her mouth, as though she were trying to contain her giggles. “I love him so much. And sometimes, it’s scares me....but I do. He’s my match.”

Despite the pain in my head, I smiled, and if I had the strength in my arms, I would have hugged her. And then I thought of Lance and my smile faded.

At least one of us had a good relationship going.


A little while later, I headed back into my bedroom and began to clean the remnants from the night before.

Quickly, I bunched up the syrup stained sheets and threw them into a garbage bag. With a clean sweep, the bowl from the pineapple and the empty jars soon followed and before I knew it, my bed was clean, nary a trace of that night to be seen.

My heart felt empty, and as I twist tied the garbage bag, I flopped back on the bed. Silently counting to ten, I reached for the nightstand drawer and took out the framed photo that Lance had sent me from Japan.

We were looking into the camera. Smiling. And thinking back, I could remember the way Lance’s hand felt on the small on my back and the way we kissed after the flash bulb popped in our eyes.

We looked so happy.

I stared at the picture for a few more seconds, before drawing an invisible line down the center of the glass, almost as though I was splitting Lance and I up.

Maybe this is how relationships end.

Choking on the sobs that were gathering in my throat, I threw the picture back in the drawer and stood up, grabbing for the garbage bag. I walked out of my room, slamming the door behind me.


Later that evening, I headed into the guest bedroom, where Cynthia was lying on the bed, cordless phone glued to her ear. There was a big smile on her face, violet eyes shining as a peal of happy laughter escaped her lips.

“Josh...” she sighed, waving to me as I walked into the room. “That’s so sweet. You’re so sweet, you know that?” She paused for a second and then laughed again, and part of me wanted to take that phone from her and break it into a million bits. I didn’t need to hear that happy laughter, almost as though she were subconsciously mocking my broken relationship.

I moved around the room. She had asked me earlier if I would help her pack up, and I wanted to do anything that would take my mind off Lance. I had tried to do my homework for my Government and Natural Science classes, but I found myself doodling Lance’s name in the margins of my notebooks. It was useless.

So now I found myself lifting the hangers off the rack, pulling Cynthia’s clothing off and then folding it neatly so that it wouldn’t crush. I didn’t want to eavesdrop on her conversation, but I couldn’t help myself.

“Hmmm...you don’t say...” The giggly tone of her voice had diminished, and a serious one had taken over. “Yeah. Uh...yeah....really? Oh....my...yeah. Yeah. Uh-huh.” She paused and I snapped my head around to where Cynthia was now sitting, Indian style on the bed. Catching my gaze, she averted my eyes as not to look at me.

‘What the fuck,’ I thought as I continued to fold clothes and stack them into piles. And then the light bulb clicked on. She was talking about Lance. Josh and her were talking about my boyfriend. They had to be.

“Oh...uh...he’s okay, I guess...um, hold on.” I watched as Cynthia placed a hand over the mouthpiece and stood up. Giving me a regretful look, she walked out of the room and closed the door behind her.

They had been talking about Lance and I.

I put down the velvet shirt I was holding, and walked to the door. Placing my ear against the cool wood, I could only make out bits and pieces of their conversation.

“He’s not too good....drinking....him too? Wow.....mirror each other...crying? Wow. Yeah...wow.....Stephen....found him passed out....Weird marks on his neck.....Lance too?” She laughed merrily. “....guess we know what they were doing...”

I sighed and walked away from the door. I didn’t need to hear Cynthia talking. I didn’t need to know that other people were talking about my love life (or lack of one, now). Picking up the velvet shirt once more, I resumed my folding and stacking (I would have made an excellent salesgirl at the Gap), until the door opened and Cynthia walked back into the room.

“Hey,” she said shortly, flipping her brown hair out of her eyes and pulling it into a ponytail. Taking a seat on the bed, she watched me, violet eyes curious as I continued to fold and stack her clothes.

“Hey,” I said evenly, pulling a pair of cigarette pants off a hanger. “What’s up?”

“Nothin’.” She fiddled around with the magazines splayed out on her bed, as though the glossy covers were the most interesting thing in the world. “Hey...Stevie?”

Looking at my cousin, I saw her eyes and her nervous gaze shot right through me.


“Um...what would you do if I talked about Lance?”

I felt my body stiffen, even though I knew she was going to bring the subject of Lance up. I knew. After all, she had just gotten off the phone with Josh, and clearly from what I had heard, they had been discussing our breakup, split, separation--whatever you wanted to call it.

“I’d stand here, fold your clothes and listen,” I answered dryly, as I added the pair of pants on top of the pile. “What do you want me to do, Cynth? Run out of here screaming or something?”

She looked taken aback by my comment and shuffled her body around on the bed, so that she was sitting Indian style.

“Nooo.” She shook her head. “It’s just that Josh and I were talking about you and Lance and...you know...I know...” She paused. “Stuff.” She cleared her throat.


“Yeah...just, he’s drinking again.” She cleared her throat nervously. “That seems to be what he does when you two fight. He drinks. And so do you.”

“It makes you forget about things,” I said through gritted teeth as a drunken image of my (ex?)boyfriend popped into my mind. I took a skirt off a hanger. “You know--problems, Cynth? If I’m not mistaken, someone--” I looked at Cynthia pointedly. “ --seems to have a drinking problem herself at times, so don’t go around accusing others when you’re just as guilty.”

Cynthia looked dumbfounded, as though I had slapped her in the face and she narrowed her eyes into thin slits. “Don’t get all hissy with me,” she spat out, rising from her place on the bed. “Just because you and your boyfriend had a fight, doesn’t mean that you have to treat me like dirt. I was merely telling you that Lance was drinking.” She took a deep breath and cocked her head back. “That’s all, Stephen.”

Whoa. Full name. She was serious.

Quickly, I finished folding her skirt and looked at Cynthia, dead in the eyes. “Look, I’m not getting hissy with you. I...I just don’t want to hear that about Lance.” I swallowed hard, walking over to the bed. My mind was such a mess, and as I sunk down onto the mattress, I cradled my head in my hands, trying not to cry again. “I don’t like to think that I’m the one causing him to...to...drink.”

My cousin took a seat next to me, gently rubbing my back in small circles. “But he’s doing the same to you too. Why feel guilty?”

“I know.” I sighed and ran my hands nervously through my hair. “I know he is. I miss him.” Looking up at Cynthia, I noticed that she was staring at me with seriousness in her eyes. “Did Josh say where he was?”

She hesitated for a second, pulling away from me as though I had spoken some kind of magic word. “Uh...I’m not at liberty to discuss that with you, Stevie,” she breathed, standing up and walking away from the bed, before turning back to face me. “Mainly because Lance...kinda...left.”

“What?!” I exclaimed, standing up, fists next to my hips. “What do you mean, he left?”

She shrugged helplessly, trying to look disconcerted, but judging from the look in her violet eyes, I knew she was worried too. “I don’t know. Josh told me that Lance had flown down to Florida. He was staying at Joey’s place and drinking a lot, and then one day--” She wrung her hands nervously. “Joey woke up and Lance was gone. They were all freaking out--they know that you two had some kind of fight--”

“I have to go find him,” I blurted out, but Cynthia placed a hand on my chest.

“Stevie, he’s fine,” she said softly. “Lance called up Joey the next day, and told him that he was safe and not to worry.” She sighed. “They don’t know where he went off to, but he’s okay. He calls Joey every day to tell him. Josh went over the other day and talked to him to, hoping that he’d have some kind of news to tell me, so that I could tell you.” Cynthia smiled wryly. “But Lance is being secretive. He won’t tell anyone where he’s shacked up.”

I sat back down on the bed and stared off into space for a few more seconds, my eyes focused on the space in front of me. I wanted to know where Lance was. I needed to know, even if he didn’t want me to find out.

I felt restless. More restless than I had felt in the past two days, since this nightmare began.

I just wanted Lance back.

The trouble was, I had no idea where he was.


I woke up the next morning, and found that someone had left that morning’s mail on the foot of my bed.

Bleary eyed, I sifted through the envelopes, only to find a padded, manila package at the bottom of the pile. It was heavy and the object inside slid from one end to the other when I tipped it from side to side.

The handwriting looked familiar to my eyes, and it only took a second for me to realize that it was Lance’s handwriting that was decorating the packaging.

Hurriedly, I ripped it open, but my fingers seemed almost to be too slow in doing so. It was as though my mind was foggy, unable to work clearly.

Tearing off the end of the package, I soon got my answer to what was inside, when the silver ID bracelet slid out of the envelope and onto the mattress.

I felt a lump form in my throat as I threw the package down and picked the piece of jewelry up and held it in my hands.

It was the bracelet I had given him.

Instantly, I felt tears come to my eyes and for some reason, I picked up the package and looked inside. A sheet of loose leaf paper was tucked inside and with trembling fingers, I pulled it out and opened it up.

“Because I’m nothing special to you.”

Those were the only words written on the page.

I looked back and forth, from the note to the bracelet, and felt as though my heart were about to burst out of my chest. Tears streamed down my face, when very suddenly, I woke up.

I think I might have screamed, but I wasn’t too sure. All I know is that I had jolted upright in my bed, streams of wetness running down my cheeks, moonlight surrounding me, filling up my bedroom with odd misshapen shadows that were scaring the living hell out of me.

‘Holy shit,’ I thought, taking in shaky breaths of air as I looked around for the package that I had opened up in my nightmare. I found that there was no package. There was nothing on that bed, save for my bedsheets and I.

I wiped the tears from my face with the back of my hand, but they refused to stop falling from my eyes. The dream had stung me deeply. My heart ached and I began to worry that it was a premonition for the future.

I sat there for a few minutes, drawing my knees to my chest and trying to control my heartbeat. Words and phrases floated through my mind and I could hear my last words to Lance, intermingled with all the times we had told each other, “I love you.”

I cried for a few more minutes. I needed to.

And when I had stopped crying, I lay back down, resting my head on my pillow after coming to a conclusion.

I had to find Lance. And I had to tell him I was sorry. Even if he didn’t accept my apology, I had to do that.

I wouldn’t be able to rest until I did.


Life is odd sometimes. You have those moments of good and bad and what-the-hell-was-I-thinking and everything else that falls in between. I knew that this was part of life and learning, but did it really have to hurt so much?

As I laid in bed the next morning, completely ignoring the fact that I should have been in class, I stared at the ceiling because there seemed to be nothing better to do. The offer that I had gotten to England seemed like a distant memory, and had slipped out of the top five things to worry about. Lance had taken every available slot there. I just kept wondering where my boyfriend was and where he was staying. I missed him so much.

Turning over in my bed, I noticed that it was damp and gray and rainy outside and I couldn't help but think how perfect the weather fit my mood. Adjusting the pillow underneath my head, I sighed, closing my eyes for a second and seeing an image of Lance swim before my eyes. And when I opened them, the image of Lance disappeared and I was back in my room, feeling nothing but the heaviness of my heart.

I rolled over again and stared at the ceiling. My mind started working overtime, wanting to think of something besides Lance.

For some odd reason, I began to think of my mother and this saying that she would always tell me whenever things seemed hopelessly bad in my life.

“It’s always darkest before dawn.”

Sometimes it would be true and sometimes they were just words spoken to soothe my soul.

Lying in the bed, I heard the phone ring and the clatter of Cynthia’s shoes against the hardwood floor as she ran to get it. I heard her scream, “I’ll get it!” because I knew that she thought it was Josh calling.

We were both wrong.

There was silence, and not the squeal of “Joooosshhh!!” that I was expecting, and part of me wondered who was calling, when suddenly, my cousin appeared in the doorway of my bedroom, pushing open the door and walking inside.

“Stevie?” she said, pushing her hair back with one hand. “It’s for you. It’s Lance’s mom.”

I felt my heart leap into my throat, immediately thinking that something bad had happened. All I could think was that Lance had been in some kind of an accident, or that he was in the hospital or that someone had hurt him.

I don’t remember taking the phone from Cynthia.

“Hello?” I spat out frantically. “Hello? Mrs. Bass?”

“Stephen? Is that you, dear?”

“Yes! It is. Is Lance okay? Is he hurt?”

(Cynthia later told me that I sounded hysterical, almost as though I had lost my mind and that if I could have jumped through the telephone, I would have.)

“No, no...” she said softly, taking a breath before speaking again. “Um...Stephen?”


“Did you and Lance have a fight?”

Her question caught me completely off guard, and it took me a few seconds to catch my breath. Of all the things Diane Bass could have spoken, that was the one thing I never expected her to ask.


She took another breath, almost sounding nervous to ask again. “Did you and Lance have a fight? An argument? Something?”

“Well...uh...” I felt a blush sweep across my face. For some reason, no one ever coached me on talking about relationships with your boyfriend’s mother. “Um, yes we did. Why?”

“Because he’s back home, Stephen...” Her voice faltered for a second and I could hear the pain and worry in her voice. “I...I asked him about you and he just brushed off the topic. He came home, which I don’t understand, since he has his own place a couple of minutes away from here. ” She paused again. “But the odd thing is that he’s shut himself off from us. Except for meals or when someone speaks directly to him, Lance just remains silent. And he’s not like that, Stephen. I know my son. I’ve known him for twenty-one years.”

As she spoke, I just sat there, listening to her words. I knew the Lance she was talking about, because that was the person I had fallen in love with. Silent, I was unable to say a word. Knowing I had hurt him so badly broke my heart. I didn’t know what to say next.

“I...I...” I didn’t know what to say. There was no way I could tell her why Lance and I had fought. What? Tell her that Lance and I had extremely hot sex, and then the next morning, when introducing him to a friend of mine, I had said he was nothing special? Not only would Diane think we were nymphomaniacs, she would probably agree with Lance and tell me never to speak to her son again.

Much to my surprise, Diane spoke up again and her Southern tinged voice was soft with emotion.

“Stephen...I don’t know what happened to you two, but Lance...he looks...so...sad.” Her voice cracked. “I don’t know what to even say. I don’t know if you two broke up...”

“I don’t think we did,” I said, trying to hold my tears back. “Can’t I talk to him? Please?”

“No. He’s not accepting any phone calls from anyone. Not from his friends, not from the guys...no one. And I don’t think he’d appreciate the fact that I’ve called you up. He’d say I was ‘butting into his business’. Jim has told me to leave him alone, and eventually, he’ll come around. Lance is headstrong like that.” She laughed the laughter that nervous people laugh, before continuing on. “He just locks himself in his bedroom and stays there, until he’s forced to come out.”

“Oh.” I took a deep breath. “What if I came down there?”

I could tell I had shocked her. “What?”

Swallowing, I repeated my sentence. “What if I came down to Mississippi and talked to Lance? Mrs. Bas--”

“Diane, Stephen.”

“Diane,” I corrected, before plunging forth. “I think Lance and I had a misunderstanding before he left...I...said something accidentally. It slipped out.” I felt my face flush and as I looked forward, I saw Cynthia standing in the doorway. Waving a hand for her to get lost, she stuck her tongue out at me and flounced out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

‘Well, tough,’ I thought, not caring about my cousin one way or the other. All I cared about at that moment was getting on a plane and seeing Lance. I needed to clear our fight up. Even if we ended breaking up, I needed to lay our argument to rest, move on with my life.

“I don’t know, Stephen. I mean...” she trailed off, before quickly adding, “I think it’s a wonderful idea. I’ve always been a firm supporter in talking things out, but I know my son as well. I know he’s a stubborn sort--he gets it from his father. And I just don’t want you to get upset if he chooses not to see you.”

“I know.” I closed my eyes. “I’m willing to take that chance though.” I tried to hold my emotions back, but the words left my mouth. “I love Lance...I’d..I’d do anything for him.”

There was an embarrassed silence for a second. “Stephen,” Diane said quickly. “Um...how soon do you think you can come down to Mississippi?”

“Later this afternoon, by dusk at least,” I answered immediately. “I’ll take the next flight out.”

She seemed a bit caught off guard by my eagerness, but agreed to meet me at the airport once my flight arrived. And after saying goodbye, I hung up the phone and closed my eyes.

I was going to see Lance.


I don’t think I had ever called up and made flight reservations so quickly in my entire life. Cynthia watched as I hurriedly crammed clothing and shoes and underwear into a suitcase.

“You hate flying,” she said pointedly, leaning against the door frame and sticking her lower lip out. “Besides, I was going to leave tomorrow.”

“Cynthia...” I said, as I stuffed a few pairs of boxers into a small, empty spot in the suitcase. “Don’t remind me about the flying, okay? I’m trying to forget about that aspect of the whole, going to see Lance thing. And besides, what’s one or two more days of hanging around here? You’ll have run of the place.”

She shrugged. “Yeah, I know. But I want to see Josh. I miss him.” Her voice was quickly taking on a whiny tone, one that never failed to grate my nerves. Slamming the suitcase shut and sitting on top of it , I looked at my cousin’s dismayed face.

“Cynthia,” I said through clenched teeth, while flicking down the locks. “Is there one time in your life that you stop thinking about Cynthia and start thinking about other’s and their feelings?”

I watched her jaw dropped open, knowing that I had offended her.


“You heard me. You know Lance is the most important thing in my life--and I’m just trying to fix what I fucked up, okay? Staying a few more days away from your boyfriend isn’t going to kill you, Miss-I-Have-a-Perfect Relationship.” By that time I had walked over to where Cynthia stood, and looked down into her furious violet eyes.


“Just don’t start with me, Cynth. I have a short, short fuse right now,” I managed through say, before walking back to the bed. As I collected my suitcase and corduroy jacket, I realized that her relationship with Josh bothered me more than I admitted. Maybe it was because I was used to having a semi-perfect relationship with Lance, while Josh and Cynthia went through their various stages of self-destruction.

Brushing past my cousin, I strode into the living room purposefully. A man on a mission, if you will. I was trying to forget about my little fight with Cynthia, by chanting the words, “I will not be afraid of flying. I will not be afraid of flying”, under my breath.

As I unlocked the door, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Looking backwards, I saw Cynthia standing there, an apologetic look on her face.

“Stevie?” she said softly, a flicker of a smile playing on her lips. “I’m sorry for what happened back there. And for what I said.” Standing on her tiptoes, she placed a kiss on my cheek. “Have a safe flight. Call me when you’re down there and...tell Lance I said ‘hi’, okay?”

My steely demeanor melted and I placed my suitcase down to give Cynthia a hug. “Sorry for shouting at you back there,” I whispered in her ear, as she squeezed her arms around my waist.

“Hey...we all have our mood swings,” she laughed, pulling away from me. Giving me a swat on the rear end, she pointed at the door, a mock stern look on her face. “Now go! Get your boyfriend back. Don’t make me come down there and do it!”

Laughing, I picked up my suitcase and walked down the hallway, a nervous feeling running through my veins and it wasn’t from the fear of flying.

‘Lance,’ I thought, a sad smile breaking on my lips. ‘I’m coming...and there’s nothing you can do about it.’


The flight down to Mississippi was pretty uneventful at most, despite the fact that butterflies danced in my stomach every time the plane seemed to dip or shake. I hate flying. I hate it with a passion that most people will never understand.

But it was the fastest way I could see Lance, so I kept most of my complaints tucked away inside my brain. Lance was the most important thing to me, and for a little thing like flying to keep me away from him? Pshaw.

Once I did step off the plane however, I resisted from falling on my knees and kissing the ground beneath. Besides, when I walked out of the terminal, I immediately saw Diane standing there, waiting for me, and if I would have kissed the ground, that probably would have looked silly, right?

“Stephen!” she called out when she saw me, waving me over and wrapping me into a hug when I got close enough.

“Hey,” I said, almost embarrassed as Lance’s mother greeted me. “How are you?”

“Me? I’m good,” she said, pulling away. “How was your flight?”

I shrugged. “Okay. I’m not a big fan of airplanes and flying, but I’m here in one piece.” Chuckling under her breath, Diane shook her head as we began walking towards the entrance.

Diane and I made small talk for a few more minutes, avoiding the real reason why I had flown down to Mississippi at the drop of a hat. As we left the airport and walked towards the car, both of us grew silent.

It wasn’t until we were driving back to the Bass residence that Diane began to talk about Lance.

“He’s not expecting you, Stephen,” she said quietly, her voice barely audible over the hum of the engine. “I told him that I was running out to the grocery store for milk, and he just nodded and disappeared into his bedroom.” Frowning, she turned onto a side street. “I’ve never seen him act like this. Lance has always talked about what’s bothering him...”

I held my breath. I had this feeling that Diane was going to ask me a big question and I was right.

“Stephen...what happened between you and my son?” Her voice was firm, almost demanding. I knew she wasn’t mad, but merely curious. I know if I were in her shoes, I would have been too. “I know it’s none of my business...but...Lance.” She sighed. “I remember a few months ago, my Lance was ready to disown his sister for you and now he walks away when I mention your name. What happened?”

I swallowed, trying to think of what I could tell her. Somehow lying to her seemed incredibly dishonest. I couldn’t lie to Diane--not after she had treated me with such respect--even though I knew that the idea of her son in a relationship with another man, was, well...still wrong to her. She had come to accept us, yes, but she’d always be a little uncomfortable with it.

“We had a fight,” I said softly. “I introduced him to a friend of mine, and I was caught off guard. So I downplayed his appearance much more than I should have. I said something that hurt him. And he left.” I rested my forehead against the cool glass, watching as the fields of kudzu blurred before my eyes. “I feel so stupid. I was only trying to protect his identity...trying to make it look as though we weren’t together.”

I looked over at Diane as the car stopped at a red light. “I didn’t mean to hurt him, Diane. I did it because...I love him. I didn’t want anyone finding out and then running off to the news or something. I care about him more than anything in the world. ” I felt a blush sweep across my face. “But he got mad at me and left. I didn’t mean to hurt him. I didn’t.” I felt my eyes fill with tears as the memory of Lance walking out of my apartment filled my mind. Blinking rapidly to hold them back, I tried to talk again, but it only came out as a choked up mess.

“He left. I never said goodbye. I...love Lance. I do. And I would never hurt him like that. Never.”

There. I had managed to tell her the truth, minus the hot sex part.

“Oh.” Silence filled the air between us and I could tell that my words had made her a bit uncomfortable. Diane continued to drive, navigating the car down a few more streets until we pulled into the driveway of the Bass residence. Pulling the transmission into ‘park’, Diane turned to me, a sad smile on her face as her brown eyes met mine.

“You know Lance cares about you a lot, Stephen. Right?”

I wasn’t expecting her to say that. To be honest with you, I didn’t know what I was expecting.

“R-r-right,” I answered shakily, fidgeting in my seat. “I know he does.”

“He talks about you whenever he calls me...he...loves you.” She looked at the steering wheel in front of her. “I’d hate for your relationship to be ruined with one slip up like this. I know you care about him, Stephen. I know you do. Talk to him. I know my son has a hot temper--I’ve seen more flare ups in my life than I’ve wished.” She sighed, a slight laugh peppering her words. “Just...talk to him.”

There was something wonderful about what Diane had just said, and it struck me as odd that his mother was even rooting for us to get back together.

“I will,” I answered around the lump that had formed in my throat. And before I could say anything else, I opened the passenger door and got out of the car, ready to see my boyfriend for the first time since the argument.


Once we were back in the house, Diane led me up the stairs, placing a finger to her lips as we walked up to Lance’s bedroom. Once we were on the second floor, I placed my suitcase at the top of the steps and with Diane, I walked to Lance’s bedroom door.

I watched as Diane gently rapped her knuckles against it. “Sweetie,” she called out. “There’s someone here to see you.”

Quiet. And then I heard his voice. “Tell them to go away. I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone, right now, ma.”

I closed my eyes. Just the sound of his voice was enough for me to fall apart. But I couldn’t. I had to stay reasonably together. I had to. So I blinked back the tears that were forming in my eyes, and looked at Diane, who was already looking at me with a worried expression.

“Lance,” she began again. “I really think you should see one of your friends, okay? They traveled a long way to come here.”

“If it’s one of the guys,” Lance shouted back. “Tell them that I’ll see ‘em later this week at the meeting.”

Looking at each other once more, Diane shrugged helplessly. “Lance. Come on. Just...talk to one of your friends. I think you’ll feel better once you do.”

Even through the thick door, I heard him let out a disgusted sigh, and I knew he was only agreeing to make his mother happy. “Fine,” I could hear as he huffed. “Send them in.”

Smiling at me, Diane reached out and turned the knob. The door was unlocked. She gently pushed it open and patted me gently on my back. I looked at her one last time, and she winked at me, mouthing the words, “good luck” as I walked into Lance’s bedroom.

The room was dimly lit, and the first thing I saw was Lance, standing by the windows, looking down onto the street below.

Just seeing the outline of his back made my heart leap in my chest. It took every bit of composure not to just run over and wrap my arms around his waist and kiss him until my lips felt as though they would fall off.

Resisting that urge and choosing to block out the sound of my heart beating wildly in my ears, I gently called out his name instead. “Lance?”

I watched as he slowly turned around, his shoulders rising as he let out a disgusted sigh and then our eyes met. I saw the flash of clear green, mingled with bloodshot white. His skin was sallow and there was faint traces of bags underneath his eyes, while the corners of his mouth were turned downwards.

He looked so sad.

Lance stared at me for a second, and his eyebrows furrowed and I think he wanted to look angry, but he just couldn’t muster up that expression. A few seconds passed and finally he spoke.

“Stephen,” he said softly, taking a step towards me. “What are you doing here?”

“I...I...” I wanted to say, “I came to talk to you,” but my throat refused to speak those words. And to my horror, I felt my eyes filling with tears, because just seeing Lance, standing right there in front of me. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many emotions were swirling throughout me at that moment.

“I....I...” I felt like an idiot, stammering and completely mesmerized at the sight of my boyfriend. I was frozen. I was happy.

I was scared.

And before I could say a single word, Lance took another step towards me and in the blink of an eye, fell into my arms.

I caught him, wrapping my arms around his body and nearly laughed with happiness at the way he felt in my arms. I could feel as he sobbed into my shoulder, and after a few more seconds of crying, Lance pulled away, looking up at me with tears in his eyes.

“I can’t believe you came down here. Missed you. So much,” he sniffled, smiling from ear to ear. “I just...I...” And instead of finishing off his sentence, Lance responded by burying his face into my chest.

I didn’t know what to say, since this reaction was the last thing I had expected. I thought we would have fought. I thought we would have screamed some unfavorable words at each other, and then fought some more. I thought that this was the end of Stephen and Lance, and that maybe it was time to move on.

I hadn’t expected Lance to collapse into my arms and cry and tell me how much he had missed me. Not after what I had said to him.

I held onto my boyfriend for a few more seconds, until he looked back up at me, a sweet smile on his lips. I wanted to say, “Wanna talk?” but Lance never gave me a chance, because the next thing I knew, our lips were pressed together, and he was running his hands through my hair and murmuring, “I love you, I love you, I love you” into the kiss and holding onto me as though he never wanted to let me go.

I think we were going to be alright.


At first, Lance and I made our way to his bed, falling onto it, placing messy kisses here and there, beyond happy that we were back together. That was until we realized were in his parents house, where one of them could walk into the room at any moment. And I think the last thing either of them needed to see, was their son and his boyfriend all over each other.

Besides, I wanted to talk and even though kissing Lance felt very, very good, I knew we had to stop. We needed to talk about what happened before anything else.

“Stephen,” Lance breathed as we parted and I grazed my thumb over his soft lips, smiling at how good it felt to touch him so intimately again. “I can’t believe you came down here.” He shook his head, dumbfounded at the idea. “I just...what about school?” He narrowed his now-puffy eyes at me. “You’re not skipping out on school again, are you?”

I blushed, still not understanding how Lance could hit the nail so perfectly on the head. “I plead the fifth on that one, Mr. Bass.”

“You are!” he exclaimed, sniffling as he propped himself on his elbows. “I can’t believe you!” He gave me a goofy smile. “Oh well. But you’re here...and right now, I’m not so worried about school.” Stretching his neck upwards, he pressed his lips to mine, sending shivers throughout my body.

Pulling him into my arms, Lance and I lay there, staring at the ceiling. Reaching up, I stroked his damp hair away from his forehead, before he shifted his body and rested his head on my chest. I listened to the sound of our breaths, mingled together and closed my eyes, praying that we would always be this comfortable with each other. Placing his ear against my chest, I could feel, through the thin stuff of my shirt, how warm his skin felt. Wrapping my arms even tighter around him, I reveled in the silence that hung between us. I could have laid like that all night.

But I knew we had to talk. We had to.

I was petrified of what would be said between us. Closing my eyes, I could see our reunion all messed up if I said something stupid. I didn’t want to get into another fight with Lance. Not after we had just made up.

And while making up is usually the sweetest part of fighting, there’s also a part of me that knows it’s also the time when a relationship is at it’s shakiest and most unstable. You’re just trying to heal the wounds, and anything that can be taken out of context, usually will be. You’re just trying to make up with that person, but they’re still hurting and it just makes it harder to heal that gap.

I didn’t want to hurt Lance again. I didn’t want to accidentally say something stupid. I had already done that and looked what happened to us.

And now that Lance was lying in my arms, I just wanted everything to be normal again.

‘Maybe you should take the first step,’ the voice in my head spoke up. I took a deep breath and let a few more seconds pass between us. And then I finally opened my mouth and said what needed to be said.

“Lance?” I whispered, gently running my hand up and down his arm. “I’m sorry for what I said.”

He didn’t answer me immediately, and instead reached up, tracing his fingertips over my shirt. “I know. I know you are,” he said, his voice low as he kept his eyes focused on a space in front of him. “I knew you were sorry when I walked out of the bedroom and you were standing there, waiting for me to come out.”

“You did?” I wasn’t expecting to hear that. Lance was just full of surprises, wasn’t he? “Really?”

“Really.” Lance looked at me, his green eyes glowing under the dim bedroom lights. “I just...I had to be alone, Stephen. I needed to leave.”

We stared at each other for a few more seconds.


“Because,” Lance answered simply, as though it were the most obvious answer in the world. “I needed to.”

And before I could say anything, he sat up and kneeled on the bed, an almost desperate look roaming in his eyes. “Stephen,” Lance said evenly, motioning for me to sit up. “I don’t know...I don’t think you know what I’ve been through in the past few weeks, do you?”

Propping myself on my elbows, I looked at him. “What do you mean?”

“I mean...” Pulling his knees to his chest, Lance rested his forehead on them before looking back up at me again. “I...Stephen.” His eyes turned glassy for a second, as though he were about to cry, but he blinked and the glassy look disappeared. He took a deep breath.

“I told you how I felt when...I was shot at.” He cringed. “I was almost killed and I thought of you.” He paused. “You were the only thing I could think about. How do you think that makes me feel?” Lance looked away for a second, and an uncomfortable look passed over his face. “I didn’t think of my mom or dad or Stacy or even the guys--I thought of you.”

“I know.”

“So then we get a break while Chris recoups,” Lance continued grimly, nervously biting at his bottom lip. “And where do I decide to spend my week off? Your apartment. Not back home. Not at one of my houses--I go to your house, because I want to be with you.” He tipped his head upwards, looking at the ceiling before looking into my eyes, and a trace of a smile danced over his lips. “And so I get my wish. I stay at your place and...and...”

“What?” I reached out for his hand. “What, Lance?”

“And we have this...incredible...sex.” He blushed adorably, as though he had never had sex before. “I mean...just...yeah.” He gave me a goofy smile. “I can’t even tell you how--” he paused, blushing furiously. “--How hot I thought we were that night.”

“We were, silly,” I said as I moved closer to him, overwhelmed by the feeling of wanting to hold him. I wasn’t sure where Lance was taking this, but I knew that I needed to hold him.

Lance surprised me though, when he held his hand out, stopping me in mid-movement. I’m sure the bewildered expression on my face spoke volumes as Lance placed a hand on my chest, pushing me backwards so I landed on my bottom.

“Not yet, Stephen,” Lance said as his eyes turned dark. “Just...let me talk.”


I waited.

And after taking a few more deep breaths, and squeezing his hands into tight fists, Lance finally spoke. I can’t say that I wasn’t afraid at what he was about to say next, because I was. I was so worried that Lance wanted to break up with me, or that was about to tell me that he needed a breather from our relationship. And I got scared, nervous--I needed Lance. I didn’t want to break up.

My mind works too quickly sometimes. Sometimes, I should just listen instead of thinking so much.

“Look.” He took another deep breath. “When we were in bed...we...we...” He grinned nervously. “We got kinda wild. I got wrapped up in the whole situation.” Reaching out, Lance touched my chin, tipping it up so he looked into my eyes. “And, just...something inside of me...broke.”


“Broke.” He nodded firmly, letting go of my chin. “Stephen...I’ve never given myself, lost control of a situation like I did that night.” Looking away, I watched as tears began to slip down his face, rolling onto his pale cheeks and down his neck. I could tell that he wanted to look embarrassed, but he couldn’t do it, because there was nothing to be embarrassed about.

“And when we fell asleep and I woke up the next morning, I looked over at you and just...loved you so much. I can’t even explain how much I loved you at that moment, because only you could bring that out in me.” Hastily, he wiped the tears away. “I just...I don’t know. Maybe I’m insane. Maybe I’m crazy.” Lance shrugged. “Maybe that shooting fucked up my head or something. Because when I heard you tell Marianne that I was nothing special...”

He looked away again, and when Lance looked back at me, I saw that the tears were falling fast. Onto his shirt. His legs. But he didn’t care, and the words left his lips fast.

“I could have died, Stephen. Hearing that was like some kind of horrible shock. I don’t know...it just hurt so bad, like you told me you didn’t love me anymore.” He paused, looking back down at the mattress. “And I’ve never been like that. I always thought I could stand on my own feet.” He paused again. “Maybe I’m too sensitive for my own good.”


“Let me finish,” Lance pleaded, moving closer towards me. “I just think that after the shooting, my mind hasn’t been totally coherent. Totally there. I wanted us to be perfect.” He laughed bitterly. “I thought we were perfect, Stephen. But we’re not. We’ll never be perfect, no matter how many candlelight dinners we have and how many slow songs that we dance to. We’re not perfect. We’re...we’re human.” By this time, Lance was crying, and not caring about even wiping his tears away. He was just staring into my eyes and looking at me as though he was having a epiphany right there. I felt tears come to my eyes. How could I have put him through this? What kind of horrible person was I, to hurt someone I loved so badly?

“And I guess,” he whispered. “I guess when I found out you weren’t perfect...I...I snapped.” His face crumpled, and a choked sob escaped his throat as he leaned into me, wrapping his arms desperately around my neck.

“Oh Lance,” I breathed as he sobbed into my chest. I was crying like a baby and I was so grateful that we were alone. I had no idea what to say, because I never thought Lance would say something like that. I never knew he had though so much of me.

I had broken his heart.

By this time, Lance and I were both crying, just letting go and holding onto each other. We were all we had. And as we lay there, I suddenly realized that all those myths about how men weren’t supposed to cry, were false.

I felt so terrible and I knew it wasn’t Lance’s intention to make me feel like that. I knew it wasn’t. He had told me the truth. And it hurt, but I knew that not being with Lance would have hurt so much more.

Finally our sobs died down, and I looked down at my boyfriend. He was resting there, staring off into space and when he must have sensed I was looking at him, Lance looked up and smiled sadly at me.

“You still wanna be with me?”

“Hell yeah,” I whispered as he shifted his body upwards, so that his face was next to mine. “Of course I do. I love you.”

“I know you do,” Lance said, lacing his fingers with mine. “I love you too.”

The glint of my father’s ID bracelet suddenly caught my eye, and my memory was jolted as I thought of that dream I had.

“I had this dream,” I closed my eyes. “That you sent this back to me. I woke up crying,” I said as my eyes flew open. I reached out to finger the silver bracelet that was snugly encircled around his wrist. “There was a note inside the envelope that said, ‘Because I’m nothing special to you.’”

Lance stared at me incrediously as he took my words. “You really think I’d do something like that?”

I shrugged. “People do stupid things when they’re mad,” I sighed.

“Stephen, I was mad, but I didn’t want to break your heart,” Lance whispered, as he kissed my earlobe. “I would never do something like that. Besides,” he added, trying to lighten the mood. “I already gave this back to you when we had our first fight. This time it’s mine forever.”

“Forever, eh?” I raised an eyebrow at him.

“Yeah.” He looked down at the bracelet for a second, before looking back up at me. “Stephen?”


“I’m sorry for walking out on you. I missed you this week.”

“I missed you too, Lance. And I’m sorry for what I said. So sorry.”

“Shhh...” he shushed as he rolled his body over mine. “Stephen, I’m just so happy you came down here.”

“I kno--”

“Shhh.” He smiled at me. “Love you.”

“Love you too, Lance.”

And because there was nothing else to say, we kissed. We weren’t perfect, but we were together. And that was good enough for me.

::end chapter 54::

Thanks for reading! Gabriella.