Hi Everyone!

I’m sorry that it’s taken me forever to get this part out. Needless to say, real life has gotten in the way--again.

Just a quick thanks to everyone who has sent me email over the past few months, asking me if I’m going to continue on with MSR. I really appreciate the support. Thank you.

Short and sweet this time: A big thank you to Tony (who writes The Maze of Moments--go check it out after you read mine! Hee.) for the beta, to Sarah and Steph for the read-through and the support. As always, a big hug goes to my wonderful Val for putting up with me for all this time (::hug!::), and lastly, this chapter is for Brian. Thanks :-)

A copy of this story is also up on my site: Sweetheart Stories. Go check it out after you read ;-)

And this is where I shut up. Feedback is always appreciated at blissful_confusion@yahoo.com.

Thanks for reading!


My Surprise Romance

Chapter 55

All I Want is You

So maybe Lance and I were meant to be together.

As I lay in the cot that Diane had put in Lance’s bedroom for me, I watched as he slept, as he breathed-- I knew we were.

And that was the best feeling in the world.


The next morning Lance woke me up.

“Stephen...Stephen...” Even through my groggy state of sleep, I could hear a hint of a giggle lurking in his voice. “Sleepy, sleepy Stephen...wake up...”

“Whhhaatt?” I croaked as I opened my eyes, although I couldn’t help but smile when I saw Lance hovering over me, his eyes staring down into mine.

“Mornin’,” he said happily. “Good morning.”

“And good morning to you too, Lance,” I grumbled as I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the cot. Rubbing my tired eyes, I felt Lance plop down next to me.

“You sleep well?” he asked while gently rubbing my back in small circles. “I mean a cot’s not the best place to sleep all night. Especially since you’re so tall.”

“Hey, I’m not complaining,” I smiled. “I’m surprised your mom let me sleep in your room last night. I was sure I was going to be banned to the guest bedroom again.” We laughed at that one, and then grew silent as Lance slid his hand into mine.

“So,” he began, biting his lip in a child-like fashion. “Are you, like, planning to go back home today? Or are you gonna hang around for awhile?”

I shrugged. “Don’t know,” I said off handedly. “If you want me here, then I’ll stay. If you want me to hightail my butt back to New York, I’ll do that too.”

He blushed while grinning slyly. “I’d love it if your butt would stay here, Mr. Peterson. After all, we did miss out on a lot of time together.” His expression grew serious and he squeezed my hand. “And, you know. I missed you.”

“I missed you too,” I echoed softly, as I gazed at his still puffy eyelids and somewhat downcast expression. “A lot.”

We sat there, holding hands, when Lance suddenly rested his head on my shoulder.

“Question?” he asked quietly.


Lifting his head, Lance looked into my eyes and I couldn’t help but notice the sadness lurking in them. It broke my heart, but I didn’t say anything. I just kept my mouth shut. I had done enough damage already by saying stupid things.

“I was wondering if you wanted to take a trip down to my house this afternoon?” Lance said slowly, his words leaving his mouth like molasses. “ It’s only a couple of minutes away and you know...I’d really love to show you around the place.”

I looked at him questioningly. “So...Mr. Pop Star owns more than one house?” I teased. “Mr. Moneybags, huh?”

Lance gave me a wan smile--not the reaction that I exactly wanted. I felt a heavy, sinking feeling in my heart. I was worried that our fight had ruined something between us for good. I wanted things to return to normal--some semblance of what we had, but I knew that wouldn’t happen. Not so soon, at least.

Impulsively, I poked at Lance’s sides, gently running my fingers across his waist, just like I had done so many times before. I tickled him in hopes that it would bring a smile to his face.

It worked--a little.

“Stephen,” Lance gasped as a tiny grin flashed across his lips. “Don’t. Do. That!”

“Why not?” I laughed as my boyfriend squirmed away from me, rolling backwards on the cot and onto the floor. “Why can’t I tickle you? Is there some kind of law against it? Because I sure haven’t heard of the anti-tickling Lance Bass law, have you?”

“Oh Stephen!” Lance giggled, his body convulsing with laughter as I mercilessly continued to tickle his sides. Tears began to stream down his cheeks as he writhered around on the wooden floor. Trying to keep him still, I opted to straddle his hips with my thighs.

He continued to shriek with laughter, batting at my arms in a vain attempt to stop me, but by this time, we were both giggling like lunatics who belonged in the loony bin. If I kept it up any longer, I think my heart would burst with happiness--well, my bladder too, because I hadn’t gone to the bathroom that morning--but that was something that could be overlooked. Something like that seemed so inconsequential compared to how happy Lance and I were at that moment.

I slid my hands underneath his shirt. “Stephen!” Lance gasped. “Please! Stop it already!”

“Make me!”

“Please? Pretty please? I’ll be good!” He batted his eyelashes at me, but I wasn’t buying that act.


It was the sound of another voice--a female one--that broke my concentration.

“Good morning, boys.”

Lance continued to giggle as my fingertips came to a halt. Obviously, he hadn’t heard his mother’s morning greeting. Slowly, I craned my neck backwards, while a very uncomfortable expression settled on my face.

Diane was standing in the doorway. Her arms were crossed over her chest, but she didn’t look that upset. She did look slightly uncomfortable watching the sight of her son being pinned down and tickled by his boyfriend, but hey, what could she do? At least we had our clothes on.

“Whoops,” I muttered hastily while rolling off of Lance’s hips. As I wiped away tears from my eyes, Lance looked at me, confusion written all over his face.

“Why’d you stop?” he asked blankly. Pointedly, I looked at Diane and Lance followed my gaze, blushing a bright red when he realized that his mother was standing there, staring at the ceiling and looking as though she wanted to drop through the floor.

“Oh.” Lance swallowed and pulled his shirt down. “Hi, mom.”

“Hi.” Looking away briefly, Diane cleared her throat before looking back at us. Much to our surprise, she was smiling. A tad uneasily, but smiling nonetheless. My nerves calmed down a bit as she began to speak. “I thought I’d come to see if you guys would like something for breakfast--” Her face reddened slightly. “--I figured since Stephen flew in late last night and everything.”

“Uh...” Lance propped himself on his elbows and looked at me. “Sure, breakfast--that sounds great. You got anything in mind, Stephen?”

“Um...” I racked my brain. I didn’t want to cause Diane any inconvenience with my silly breakfast requests. “Well, how about some eggs? Scrambled? Is that okay?”

She nodded politely. “Okay, eggs for Stephen. How about you, Lance?”

He pretended to think, but judging from the mischievous look in his eyes, I already knew what Lance was going to ask for. “French toast, please?” he pleaded, his green eyes begging. “Not like that stale crap they serve to us in hotels. I hate that stuff. You make the best French toast in the world, mom. And you know--” he grinned. “--Powdered sugar too? Please?”

Diane laughed. “Flattery will get you everywhere.” She looked at us again, and the smile faded slightly. I could tell by the expression in her eyes that she really didn’t want to leave Lance and I alone to our own devices, but there was nothing else she could do, short of bringing the stove up to Lance’s bedroom and making breakfast there. “Eggs and French toast,” she said with a nod. “It’ll be done in about a half hour, guys. I’ll call you when it’s ready.”

“Okay,” Lance and I said in unison, both of us still sprawled out on the floor, watching as Diane began to turn away. Suddenly, she spun back around on her heel and immediately, I thought we were going to get some sort of lecture.

But I was wrong. “Stephen? Your cousin called early this morning. Cynthia? She wanted to make sure you got down here alright. When you have the chance, could you please call her back? You can call. I won’t mind.” She laughed. “One more phone call won’t matter on the bill.”

“Thanks,” I answered with a grateful nod of my head. “Thanks a lot.”

Giving the two of us another shaky smile, Diane then left the room, while and Lance and I listened to the sound of her footsteps fading away as she walked downstairs. We both lay on the floor, propped up on our elbows and staring at the ceiling in embarrassment.

Wait--scratch that--maybe I was the only one embarrassed that Diane had found me on top of her son.

“Dear God!” Lance muttered, slapping a hand to his forehead. “Why, why, why God?”

Okay, so Lance had been just as embarrassed as I had been. Maybe even more. After all, it was his mother.

“Why does she always find us in some kind of compromising situation?” Lance shook his head. “It’s almost as though we can’t keep our hands off each other.”

“Maybe because we can’t?” I retorted playfully. “You know, it gets kind of boring touching yourself after awhile.” With a groan, Lance reached over and gently slapped my belly.

“You be quiet.” He stuck his tongue out at me before pulling himself into a standing position. Looking down at me, Lance reached out for my hand and pulled me off the floor. “And besides, Stephen--you’d only know that from experience.”

“Ha ha ha. Very funny.” I tried to shoot him my angriest look, but it only came off as a lopsided grin. I couldn’t help but smile and neither could Lance, I thought as I caught him biting the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning.

“Well,” Lance finally said, glancing at the floor underneath before looking up and meeting my eyes. “I guess we should go and get ready and stuff, right?” I noticed that Lance’s gaze seemed to burn holes right through me. I couldn’t explain it. There was something about the look in his eyes that made me feel very shy and almost insecure. Maybe it was the intensity of the look he was giving me. Or maybe it was because we were trying to both find our footing with each other again.

Whatever it was though, it rendered me unintelligible and speechless. “R-r-right,” I finally stammered, turning my head to the side and hoping that Lance wouldn’t see how badly I was blushing. I couldn’t understand my sudden hesitation with him--I mean, this was Lance--the person who had seen me at my best, my worst and my in-between.

So why was I feeling this way?

As my mind went through the motions of thinking, I didn’t notice as a set of fingertips brushed against my forearm. It was only when I looked back up, that I noticed Lance was slowly running his hand up and down my arm, while moving closer towards me. There was a hint of a smile on his lips and just as I was about to say something, Lance slid up to me, wrapped his hand around the back of my neck and pressed his lips against mine.

The air around us was filled with silence as we kissed. I felt the tip of his tongue gently slip between my lips, his hands pulling me closer to his body. I tried to hold back a sigh of happiness, but it was almost useless to try.

Reaching up, Lance slid his hands through my hair before resting them on the sides of my face. He was holding on to me as though he didn’t want to let go. But I couldn’t blame him, because I didn’t want to let go either.

He may have mumbled an “I love you” into our kiss. Or maybe I did. I wasn’t sure, but it really didn’t matter. Time seemed to have stopped and nothing existed in the world except Lance and I.

There was no way I could explain how I felt at that moment.


After Lance and I had showered (Separately, of course. I could just imagine the look on Diane’s face if she found Lance and I in the shower together. Good God) and dressed, we clamored downstairs, guided into the kitchen by the scent of breakfast. My stomach growled. I was surprised to find that I was starving.

“Morning, mom.” Lance walked over to his mom, where she was stirring scrambled eggs in a large skillet. He placed a kiss on her cheek and I held back a smile as I watched. When Lance was with his mom, there was something so different about him. He looked almost angelic; sweet and innocent and I almost felt like a peeping Tom standing there and watching them.

As Lance sat down at the kitchen table, he picked up a copy of that morning’s paper while I sniffed at the air. “Mmmm, something smells good,” I said absentmindedly before taking a seat next to Lance.

“It’s your breakfast,” Diane laughed, flashing us a wide smile that was all teeth. “Eggs for you and French toast for Lance. I also made a package of bacon if either of you want some.”

My stomach rumbled again. I was more than starving--I was ravenous. Hearing the odd sound, Lance looked at me and grinned before flipping the newspaper open.

“Where’s dad?” he asked over the rustling of the paper.

“He went to work early,” Diane said as she shut off the burners and walked over to the cupboards. “Something about an early meeting.” She made a clucking sound with her tongue. “You know I don’t get into your father’s business, Lance.”

I watched as Diane opened the cupboard doors and without thinking, I jumped up from my seat.

“Need any help?” I offered as I stood next to her and took a set of plates from her hands. Diane stared at me as though I had grown a second head, her brown eyes wide with shock.

“Sure,” Diane finally answered after blinking a few times. “Um...set these out.” She smiled as she opened a drawer and dropped some silverware on top of the plates. “Thank you, Stephen.”

With a nod of my head, I headed back to the table to put out the plates and while I did this, I avoided Lance’s gaze. Setting his plate in front of him, Lance reached for my hand.

“Stephen,” he hissed, his voice low so the two of us could only hear. “You don’t have to do this. My mom likes you already. You don’t have to impress her.”

“I know,” I shot back, grinning as I laid out his silverware. “I’m just trying to help her out.”

Lance laughed softly. “You make me look bad,” he said as he folded up the paper and watched me set the table. Resting his chin on top of his hand, Lance watched my every movement with glowing chartreuse eyes, almost as though he were proud of me.

After I set out the rest of the plates and flatware, I looked at Lance. Seeing the loving expression on his face, I resisted the sudden urge to lean over and plant a kiss on his forehead. Instead, I gently swiped my index finger across the tip of his nose, which caused him to laugh. Grinning, I pulled away just in time as Diane approached the table with a heavy skillet of scrambled eggs in her hands.

Setting them down in the center of the table, Diane eyed us both for a second, taking in the goofy smiles that were plastered on our faces. She looked at her son and then at me and then back at Lance again. I thought she was going to say something, but she didn’t. Instead, she gave us a pleasant smile and then headed back to the stove for the French toast.

Giving each other furtive glances, Lance and I shrugged our shoulders in confusion. We had both seen the look on Diane’s face, but we weren’t sure what it meant. Was it good? Bad? Neither of us had time to think about this though as Diane brought over a platter filled with warm French toast.

“Mmmmm,” Lance murmured as he speared a slice and put it on his plate. “Nothing like homemade.” Reaching for the shaker of powdered sugar that Diane had just set down next to him, Lance sprinkled it over his French toast before cutting off a piece and popping it into his mouth.

As I watched him, I couldn’t help but smile as I noticed that some of the powdered sugar smeared across his lower lip. There was a part of me that was dying to lean over and lick it off and if Lance and I were alone, there was no doubt that I would have done it. But I restrained myself--I had to.

For the next few seconds, the three of us busied ourselves with eating the breakfast Diane had just made us. The first bite of scrambled eggs only reaffirmed the fact that Lance had an excellent cook for a mother, and suddenly, I realized why Lance had such a great ass. All that food over the years...

As I placed a forkful of eggs into my mouth, I realized that I needed ketchup on them. My father had always eaten ketchup on his eggs, and whether it was because I tried to emulate him or simply because I liked the taste, ketchup on scrambled eggs was something I was accustomed to since I was a child.

“Diane?” I asked politely as I looked up from my food. “Do you have any ketchup?”

She looked at me oddly but nodded yes. “Uh-huh. Let me get it for you,” she added hastily after seeing me rise halfway from my seat.

As she headed towards the refrigerator, I noticed the strange look Lance was giving me. “It’s for my eggs,” I explained somewhat apologetically. “I eat ketchup on my eggs.”

“Oh,” Lance said shortly, before twisting his face into a horrible expression. “Oh. You have got to be kidding me. Ketchup? On eggs?”

Flashing me a smile that made me more nervous than before, Diane placed a half-full bottle of ketchup next to my plate. “Yeah,” I answered defensively as I flipped open the cap and squirted dollops of the tomato condiment over my eggs. “Got a problem with it, Bass?” I asked mockingly, grinning to offset my words.

“Yeah, I do,” Lance shot back, his eyes glowing. “That’s just....gross.”

“Tough,” I scoffed as I mixed the eggs and ketchup together. “What are you gonna do to stop me?”

Arching an eyebrow seductively, Lance smiled slyly. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Stephen. I’m just gonna give you a spank--” He stopped abruptly in mid sentence when he realized that his mother--his mother--was sitting at the table with us, taking a sip of her coffee.

I dropped my fork to the plate, hoping that the clatter would cover up Lance’s words. Choking, Diane neatly set her coffee cup on the table and quickly picked up her fork, scooping up her eggs and taking a bite.

Snapping his mouth shut, Lance looked down at his plate. I noticed a dark red blush creeping up his neck and sweeping over his cheeks. A similar colored flush was spreading across my face as well, so I just shut up and hastily shoved another forkful of eggs into my mouth.

I’ll give you credit--Diane just sat there, acting as though she hadn’t heard Lance’s words--even though we both knew that she had and for the next few seconds, the sounds of eating and drinking and silverware clattering against plates filled the room. I was grateful for those everyday noises. They kept the embarrassing thoughts out of my mind--sort of.

“So,” Diane said a few seconds later, her voice bright with fake enthusiasm. “What are you two planning for today?”

“I’m gonna take Stephen down to my house,” Lance said gruffly, as he shoved a piece of French toast into his mouth. “Show him around the place. Stuff like that.” He cleared his throat, trying to make his words sound as innocent possible.

“Oh,” Diane said as she cut off a corner of her toast. “Sounds good. Stacey was down there the other day, checking over the place for you. She said that the hot tub you bought a few months ago was finally installed.”

“Really?” Lance asked happily, the blush slowly fading away. “That’s great! I completely forgot about that. Thanks Mom.”

Suddenly, he kicked me underneath the table and the tip of his sneaker hit my shin.

“Ow!” I exclaimed, nearly spitting out a full mouthful of food.

“Stephen?” Diane asked as she rose from the table. “Are you okay?”

I looked over at Lance and saw that he was grinning.

“I’m fine,” I muttered, reaching down to rub my sore leg through my jeans. “Everything is okay.”

As she walked to the refrigerator, Lance quickly pointed his fork at me and mouthed the words, “You.” He turned the fork back towards him. “Me.” He grinned devilishly. “Hot tub.” He wiggled his eyebrows seductively.

Almost instantly, I felt the blood leave my face and rush to another part of my body.

Oh, crap,’ I thought as I began to shuffle my feet back and forth, hoping that the blood would move to my limbs, but the image of Lance and I his new hottub, kissing and doing...ah...other things, was permanently melded into my mind and driving me absolutely insane.

The rest of our breakfast passed by in a blur. I remember Diane asking me about school and how I was doing in my courses. I managed to answer her with a choked and forced, “It’s going fine, thanks.” before shoveling more food into my mouth as though it were going out of style. I hated thinking about school, only because it reminded me of all my missed classes and England and Marianne. I didn’t want to be reminded of that. Not now.

As I continued to eat my food, I fell into my own world while Lance and Diane talked about things--the rest of the tour, the beefed up security around the stage--but I didn’t pay attention to a word of it. Instead, I watched Lance out of the corner of my eye. I memorized the movements of his lips and the way he blinked every few seconds. There was a line of stubble running along his jawline that was just begging to be licked.

I was momentarily struck by how beautiful Lance was. He was more than just a pin up or some pop star to me. He was a person--someone that I cared deeply for--and at that moment, I realized how much I loved him.

It was almost overwhelming.

I wanted to let out a sigh. I wanted to do something; kiss him or touch his face or just wrap my arms around his waist and rest my cheek against his back. I felt extremely romantic at that moment and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it because Diane was sitting there.


I tapped my fork gently against the edge of the plate and stared off into space. I couldn’t wait to be alone with Lance again, even though things were still a little shaky between us.

“Stephen? Hey, Stephen?”

I mean, it would get better, right? The only reason we were a little uncomfortable with each other was because of our fight. But I needed reassurance--I needed it now. The idea of permanent discomfort between Lance and I nearly broke my heart. As crazy as it sounded, there were times in my life when I thought Lance was the only one who understood me.


Lance’s voice. I blinked and shook myself out of my self-induced fog, only to find my boyfriend and his mother staring at me with similar curious expressions, although Lance’s was more amused than worried.

“Huh?” I said as I dropped my fork onto my plate, trying to act as though my mind was on Planet Earth and not on Mars. “Were you talking to me?”

Diane and Lance exchanged bemused smiles and I couldn’t help but blush. Diane must have thought I was the biggest space case to walk the Earth.

Lance laughed a little and gave me a sweet smile, his eyes bright as he spoke. “I said--’Are you done with breakfast’? I’ve only asked that five times already, Stephen.”

“Oh.” I blinked and then laughed a little self-depricating laugh. Diane did the same, but that only caused me to blush an even deeper shade of red. “Yeah, I’m all done,” I answered sheepishly as I took a final sip of coffee.

Diane rose from her seat then, clearing the table of the dirty dishes, and when her back was turned, Lance gave me a mischievous smile before nodding his head towards his bedroom.

“Upstairs,” Lance mouthed as he rose from his seat, the legs of the chair scraping loudly against the tile floor and causing both of us to wince.

“Mom?” he called out, ready to leave the kitchen and head upstairs. “Stephen and I are going to get ready, okay?”

“Sure, honey,” Diane answered, turning around just in time to see Lance and I walking out of the room. She furrowed her eyebrows and then gave me a pointed look. “Um, Stephen? Can I talk to you for a moment? In private.” She added as though it were an afterthought.

I froze in mid-step while a swirl of nausea overcame me.

“Uh...sure.” I nervously shuffled my weight from foot to foot. Lance looked at me and I could see that his eyes were filled with a new sense of panic and worry. Discreetly, he brushed his fingertips against my own, before turning on his heel and slowly heading upstairs.

Being alone with Diane shouldn’t have made me feel nervous, but it did. All I could focus on was the comment Lance had made about spankings. I had a bad feeling about this.

‘I’ll kill him,’ I thought as I watched Diane walk back to the table and take a seat. Looking up, Diane gave me a thin smile and motioned towards the empty chair perpendicular to where she sat.

I took the seat as quickly as possible, wanting to sit down before my knees gave way and I passed out cold. I waited for her to talk.

“Stephen,” Diane began slowly. “I’m taking that things are better between you and Lance. Am I right?”

I nodded and looked into her eyes. “Yup,” I answered, feeling only slightly weird about talking to Diane about Lance. “We made up last night.”

And I cringed when I said that, because I didn’t want her to think that “making up” equaled “we had sex”, because we didn’t. We had made out a little, groped and then retreated to our separate beds, because no matter how much I wanted to love Lance last night, I couldn’t. The situation between us was still hindered by that horrible post-fight uncomfortableness. You know what I’m talking about. It’s where you watch what you say just so you don’t get into another meaningless fight. Things are a little tense. You’re walking on eggshells. It lasts for awhile and then things slip back into a normal groove; it takes time though.

She smiled. “Is school going okay for you? I mean, you did come down here pretty quickly, Stephen.” Diane frowned slightly. “I don’t want you getting into trouble in your classes.”

I shifted in my seat. Diane was getting a little too close to touchy subjects for me. I had managed to push school and England out of my mind and now I was being forced to think about those topics all over again.

“Uh...they’re okay.” I drummed my fingertips nervously against my kneecap. “I mean, school could be better, but who likes school?” I tried to make a joke, but judging from Diane’s weak laugh, I knew it had fallen flat. There was concern in her eyes that I had never seen before and suddenly, I knew that she didn’t want to talk to me about school. This was just small talk; she had more serious questions in mind. After all, I was dating her son, and I knew that regardless of my gender, Diane was the type of parent who got involved in her son’s life.

I braced myself. Hindsight plays an important part here. If I only knew what she was about to ask me, I probably would have came better prepared. Preferably with knockout drops for myself afterwards.

“Stephen,” she began, looking out the kitchen window before meeting my eyes. “I just have a few questions for you. I--I don’t want you to think that I’m butting my two cents in where it doesn’t belong, but I’m Lance’s mother. I feel I have to ask these things. He’s my son, you know.” She smiled a proud, motherly smile. “I worry about Lance. I know he’s 21, but he’s the only son I’ll ever have.”

I nodded. “I understand. Ask away, Diane,” I said. “I don’t mind.”

“Stephen...” Her words trailed off as a look of discomfort appeared on her face. “I was just wondering...ah...I’m assuming that you and Lance...” A very prominent blush began to creep up her neck. “You and Lance...you...have...relations, right?”

I suddenly fought off the urge to crawl under the table and die. Why hadn’t anyone given me a handbook about talking to your boyfriend’s mother? Why?

Oh, that’s right. Because there wasn’t one.

I felt my palms sweat and my throat grow dry. I didn’t know how to answer her.


“I mean, I did catch both of you...” She closed her eyes briefly and it was more of a prolonged blink than anything else. “Your back, Stephen. Remember?”

I flushed straight to the roots of my hair.

“Um, yes,” I muttered, looking down at my sneakers and thinking of the moment she was talking about. “I remember.”

“So I was just wondering...” Diane coughed and looked at her hands before meeting my eyes once more. “When you and my son...” She coughed again and stared, her serious expression completely unnerving me. “Have relations...do you...”

“Do we what?” I wiped my palms against the rough fabric of my jeans. Tiny beads of sweat had popped out on my forehead. I knew what she was about to ask next. I just knew.

“Do you two use...” She paused, almost as though it was killing her to ask. “Do you use protection of any sort?”

We sat there for a few seconds and the silence between us grew more than uncomfortable--it was downright unbearable. I had no idea what to say, because I knew what my answer was. A big fat “no”. We never did. I never felt like we had to use protection with each other, and apparently, Lance didn’t either. Neither of us had brought the idea up.

I thought back to the very first night that Lance and I slept together. He had taken charge of the whole situation. I couldn’t even have gotten ready if I wanted to, because the sex that night had just happened. It was spontaneous. In fact, our whole relationship had been based on spontaneity.

“Uh...” I stammered, feeling almost as though I were about to faint. Clearly the answer Diane wanted was the honest one. And if I told her the honest one, I knew that she’d be horrified, or at least angry and disappointed at both of us.

I searched my mind and wished that someone, anyone, would have given me pointers on this topic, because I was at a total loss. I could either tell her the truth or lie. And the last thing I wanted to do was lie to Diane. Not when she had been so wonderful to me, accepting me and even going to extremes to get her son and I back together after we fought.

So I closed my eyes and wound up humiliating myself.

“Diane...when Lance and I first met...” I could feel the blush on my cheeks turning crimson, while a drop or two of sweat rolled down my neck. I was so nervous. The air seemed to be too hot and stuffy and to cap it all off, Diane’s eyes were boring holes into me as she waited for the answer.

“Um.” I swallowed. “Diane, I was a...” I heard my voice falter, and I could barely get the next word out. “Virgin. I, uh, never slept with anyone else. And I, uh, never fooled around either. As impossible as it sounds, I was practically a saint before I met your son.”

I closed my eyes, praying that I would just drop dead on the spot. It took all of my composure not to fall to the floor and crumple up into a little ball. Not only had I just revealed something about myself that was too much information, but I had made it sound like Lance had corrupted me into something...well, evil. I made it sound as though her son was a nymphomaniac. And, well, yes, Lance and I were sexually active, very much so. But his mother didn’t have to know. That was just...wrong.

I don’t think I’ve been so humiliated in my entire life. And I still hadn’t answered her question. But I think the ‘virgin’ answer was a pretty clear ‘no’--at least to me it was.

By this time, I refused to look at Diane, focusing all the attention to my hands as though they were the most important things in the world.

“Oh...” I heard Diane say, and when I finally gained enough courage to look at her, I saw that her face was as red as mine. Her line of vision was focused somewhere on the wall over my head.

‘Well she asked,’ I thought rudely, shifting in my seat and wishing that I could disappear into thin air or at least transport myself upstairs to Lance’s bedroom. ‘She wanted to know and I told her the truth. At least I didn’t lie.’

“Um, Stephen?”


She cleared her throat and reached over, placing her hand on my forearm. “If you want to go upstairs and get ready to leave, you can. I won’t mind.”

“Thank you.” I sighed, relieved that I could finally get out of this uncomfortable situation. As I stood up and began to walk out of the kitchen, Diane suddenly clutched my arm and stopped me in my tracks.

‘Oh great,’ I thought, trying not to wince. ‘What’s next? Is she going to ask me how many times Lance and I have sex?’

“Stephen?” Her words were tentative and judging from the look in her eyes, it looked as though she was trying to find the right words to say. “Thank you for being honest with me.” She smiled a smile that wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it was there and it was genuine. “It really does mean a lot.”

Despite the fact that I wished the floor would open up and swallow me, I felt myself smile shakily.

“You’re welcome,” I answered, blinking in amazement, feeling as though my mind wasn’t there, but my body was. How many mothers would put up with their son’s boyfriend like she had? Not many, I’m sure. There was this part of me that wanted to reach out and give Diane a hug, just as a small way to thank her for being so understanding.

So I did.

I think I took her by surprise when I wrapped my arms around her small frame. I felt her hug me back and before she pulled away, Diane placed a small kiss on my cheek. My smile turned into a grin as I pulled away and looked at her briefly. I was blushing again, but this time it was one of happiness and not embarrassment.

Wordlessly, I turned around and headed upstairs to where Lance was waiting for me. I felt different. That was for sure.


“She what?” Lance asked in disbelief as he crammed a few toiletries into a knapsack. “She asked you what?”

“Lance, it’s your mother,” I sighed, fixing the clothes in my suitcase so that they would lay better. I didn’t want them to get crushed and wrinkled. It was quite a change from my days of wearing clothes that were crumpled beyond belief. “She’s your mom, dope. Of course she’s going to worry about you. And of course she’s going to want to know about the men you’re dating.”

Man.” Lance corrected firmly as he zipped up his knapsack. He walked over to where I was standing and wrapped his arms around my waist, dropping his chin on my shoulder. “The man I’m dating.” He pulled our bodies closer and I felt as Lance sighed into my neck. “I’m only seeing one person.” He maneuvered my body somehow, twirling it around, so that before I knew what was happening, Lance and I were face to face.

“Joey, right?” I cracked lightly, only to watch Lance roll his eyes in disbelief.

“I can’t believe I put up with you sometimes,” he sighed, kissing me on the nose before walking away and slinging his bag over his shoulder. “You’re such a dork. Remind me why I love you so much?” He gave me a sly grin. “Give me one good reason why I should love you.”

I waggled my eyebrows. “Because I’m good in bed?”

Lance snorted. “Modest, aren’t we?” He smiled to take the edge off his comment, letting me know that he was only joking around. “But, yeah, I guess you are.” He grinned. “Plus you do that cute thing when you’re about to come.”

“What cute thing?”

Giving a short laugh, I watched as Lance walked back towards me, his eyes lighting up as he reached out and traced a fingertip across my cheekbone. As he did this, I was reminded why I had fallen in love with Lance. Not only was he cute and funny and incredibly sexy, but he was a wonderful person inside as well.

Plus, he had a terrific sense of humor, which, when dating me, I think you need to have. Sometimes I think I’m the least funniest person on the Earth, completely void of humor. I was glad to see that Lance could put up with that.

He laughed again and looked at my messy suitcase, which I was still struggling to pack. “You do this cute thing,” Lance explained as he began reorganizing my clothing so it fit better inside my suitcase. “It’s kinda hard to explain, because you...ah...can’t see yourself at that moment.” He looked at me and blushed. “Your eyes...they...kinda half close right when you’re about to....” He cleared his throat. “You know.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said, leaning over to give him a quick kiss. “You’re adorable when you blush, you know that?”

“Shut up,” Lance mumbled bashfully as he fit the rest of my belongings in the small spaces and then stepped back with a flourish. “There! All done.” He grinned at me. “Everything’s all organized and we should be ready to go in a few minutes.”

I looked down at the neatly packed suitcase before me and shook my head. “Amazing,” I mumbled under my breath. “How come I can never pack like this? Have you ever thought of going into the suitcase packing business?”

Lance laughed and a smile came to my lips. There was something about his laugh that never failed to make me smile. “Stephen, you do not spend five years on the road and not learn how to pack a suitcase. Don’t you know? They teach you that at rock star school.” He struck an odd pose then, one hand on his hip while the other flailed out in the air, which caused me to laugh this time.

“And you say I’m the dork,” I chuckled as I closed up my suitcase. “Now give me one good reason why I should put up with you.”

I really wasn’t expecting anything serious. The conversation we were having was light and funny, but I guess my words had touched something inside of Lance. Whatever it was, his face turned serious and the laughter disappeared from his eyes. It was replaced with something else--something I couldn’t put my finger on. There was a softness lurking in them that only appeared when he was deep in thought.

“Because I love you.” Lance said softly, his words more of a statement than a question. He placed his hands on my shoulders and moved his body slightly closer to mine. “I love you a lot?”

My heartbeat quickened as Lance leaned in for another kiss, and this time, it was soft and sweet. Short, but absolutely wonderful. The instant his lips touched mine, I felt myself falling into something that was indescribable. It happened everytime we kissed. It was as though part of me had found another place, one that I could only go to whenever Lance and I were together.

And when we parted, I saw that look swimming in his eyes. The one that mirrored what I feeling at that exact moment.

“Love you,” Lance whispered as we parted. “I love you a lot, Stephen.”

“I know,” I sighed as I rested my forehead against his and looked into deep into his eyes. Staring into them, I wondered how I had gotten so lucky, but I couldn’t find the answer. So I said the only thing that made sense to me at that moment.

“I love you too.”


After saying good bye to Diane, Lance and I got into his 4 Runner that he kept in his parents garage, (‘So no one steals it,’ Lance explained as he started up the engine. ‘An unattended SUV? I might as well have a big sign that says, ‘Steal me’ on it.’) we began the trip to his Mississippi home.

“What’s with these houses?” I teased Lance as he pulled onto the highway, and suddenly I felt an odd sense of Deja Vu, almost as though I had relived this event before. “Isn’t one house good enough for you, Mr. Rock Star?”

Laughing, Lance pressed his foot to the accelerator, causing his 4 Runner to lurch forward and the needle of the speedometer to rise. I felt my breakfast swirl around in my stomach. Words could not even express how much I hated his driving.

“Oh, is that my new nickname?” Lance said teasingly, as he joined the sea of vehicles on the thruway. “Mr. Rock Star? I mean I did go to rock star school, right?” He looked over at me, a radiant grin stretched across his lips as he waited for an answer, when a car suddenly honked at him. Whipping his head back towards the road, Lance noticed that his 4 Runner was about to veer into the left lane. Swerving the wheel to the right, we were back in our lane as the sound of my heart pounded in my ears like a jackhammer.

“Yeah. Sure,” I swallowed nervously as my fingernails sunk into the vinyl of the passenger door. “Whatever you want to me to call you. Whatever. Just pay attention to the road.”

Lance laughed and I swear to God, I could have reached over and smacked him upside the head. I loved him, but no amount of love could make up for his lousy driving. He scared me when he drove. He was reckless, taking his eyes off the road to fiddle with the CD player or to play around with the air vents.

“No one likes a nervous passenger, Stephen,” Lance said in a singsong voice as he pressed his foot harder on the gas pedal. “I’m not that bad of a driver.”

Looking over at me, Lance grinned at my visible nervousness. And to prove some kind of twisted point, he was so busy looking at me, Lance never noticed that the cars in front of him were coming to a stop.

“Lance?” I croaked out, pointing ahead. “Um--”

He looked forward and his face twisted into a mask of horror as he realized he was thisclose to smashing into the bumper of the car in front of him. Lance slammed on the brakes and we lurched forward. My hands hit the dashboard in a vain attempt to steady myself.

I nearly saw my breakfast once more, except this time, it would be in liquid form.

“Oops,” Lance said sheepishly as he noticed my hands shakily pressed against the dashboard. “Maybe I should pay attention to the road?”

“Yeah.” I placed a hand against my heart and felt the thump-thump through the thin material of my shirt. “Maybe you should.” I rested back in my seat and closed my eyes, trying to calm myself down. But even with my eyes closed, I could feel Lance staring at me.

I looked over and found Lance giving me a mischievous smile, even though his cheeks were pink with embarrassment.

“Sorry,” Lance finally said as he reached out to brush his fingertips against my cheek. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I know,” I answered with my best poker face, but found that was useless. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I looked at Lance--he just made me that happy. “I know, you jerk. Just wait until we get to your house.” I waggled my eyebrows at him. “Just wait.”

With a wide grin on his face, Lance turned forward and kept his eyes glued to the road for the reminder of the ride, while I tried my best not to freak out at my boyfriend’s bad driving.


We got to his house about twenty minutes later, and it was only when Lance put the car into park and cut the engine, that I finally let out the breath I had been holding in.

“That nervous, eh?” Lance remarked as he pulled the keys out of the ignition.

“With you driving, yeah,” I shot back as I pushed the passenger door open and stepped out of the 4 Runner. “You suck at driving, Bass.”

“Thanks a lot,” I heard him say as I walked around to his side of the car. As he pulled out his knapsack, Lance slammed his door shut and looked at me, lips curved into a mock pout. “You are the meanest boyfriend on the face of the Earth.”

“Sure, Lance. Whatever you say.” I waved off his comment with a flip of my hand.

“You are!”

I took a good, long look at his house before walking up the winding sidewalk that lead to the front door. Like his Florida home, his Mississippi one was spacious and almost majestic looking, but different all at once. I couldn’t place my finger on what it was though. As we made our way up the steps, Lance and I continued our mock bickering. I watched as he unlocked the front door before turning around and moving his face only inches away from mine.

“Keep talking like that and I’m not showing you the new hottub,” he teased, his deep voice lowering to an almost seductive whisper. He pressed his forehead against mine and blinked a few times, his green eyes darkening as his gaze pierced mine. The effect was powerful. I felt as though someone had knocked me in the head.

“Pffffft,” I managed to say with a hint of laughter in my voice as Lance pulled away. I noticed the sly grin on his lips as he noticed the shaky tone of my words. “Hot tub, schmotub,” I said rather unconvincingly. “What fun is it by yourself anyway?” I asked, walking into the corridor as Lance locked the door behind me. “I mean, really...”

“Hey, I can have fun by myself,” Lance bragged, dropping his bag next to the door and then, in the blink of an eye, he suddenly pressed me up against the wall. His eyes were twinkling brightly as he took in the surprised expression on my face.

“You could watch me?” he offered softly, his eyes tracing over every inch of my face, before leaning in and pressing his lips against mine as though we hadn’t kissed in forever and a day.

It was a nice kiss--scratch that--it was better than nice: It was wonderful. His lips closed over mine, softly, before the tip of his tongue worked its way into my mouth. Shocks danced throughout my body and the suitcase in my hand fell to the floor with a loud boom.

I could feel his breath against my lips. He hadn’t shaved that morning and the roughness of his stubble pleasantly scratched against my face. We kissed for a few more seconds and when Lance finally pulled away, I’m surprised the ends of my hair weren’t sticking straight up on end.

He stared at me for a few seconds, smiling at what I’m sure was an awed expression on my face. And then with a slight laugh, Lance reached out and tugged at the hem of my shirt.

“Come on,” he grinned as he pulled me along. “Let me show you around this place. I mean, that’s the polite thing to do.” And with that, Lance led me into the living room.

“This is the living room,” he said, gesturing quickly with his hand before leading me up the spiral staircase. “And our next stop on ‘ze tour,” Lance said slyly, arching an eyebrow at me while mimicking a bad French accent. “Iz ‘ze bedroom. Which I’m sure ve are verrry intervested in zeeing?”

I managed to keep a straight face for about two seconds. “Oh puh-leeze!” I laughed, as Lance looked at me with hurt puppy dog eyes. “So this was your plan all along? To get me to the bedroom?”

“Yup,” he nodded enthusiastically, leaning over and kissing me on the nose. “How did you guess?”

“Because I know how your mind works, Mr. Bass. You sneaky devil, you.”

“Me? Sneaky?” Lance pointed at his chest and smiled so sweetly, I’m surprised a halo didn’t pop over his head while a chorus of singing angels surrounded him. “There’s no law against wanting to get your boyfriend into bed, is it?”

I rolled my eyes as Lance lead me up the spiral staircase to his bedroom, still talking in that phony French accent. When we got upstairs, he began tugging impatiently on my arm. I guess he really wanted to get to the bedroom.

We reached a room and Lance gave me an ear-to-ear grin as he opened up the door. As it swung open and he pulled me inside, my mouth dropped straight to the floor.

His bedroom was the size of my apartment, times two. Okay, so maybe I was exaggerating just a little, but I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed. His bed looked like two king sized mattresses pushed together and covered with yards and yards of royal blue material.

“Pretty impressive, eh?” he said proudly as he cocked his head to the side and looked around, before turning back to me and taking in my expression. Regaining my composure, I managed to nod my head, walking aimlessly around the room and examining the decor.

“Hey Lance,” I began as I turned to where I heard him moving around. “Where did you get this--”

I stopped in mid-sentence and much to my surprise, Lance was lying on the bed. His shirt was off and carelessly tossed to the side. He was propped up on his elbows and staring at me with that old familiar look I had seen so many times before.

Normally, I would have loved to see that look in his eyes. But now? Right now? So soon after we had fought?

It just felt--I found myself searching for the right word--It felt...wrong.

“Lance...” I heard myself say nervously as I played with the hem of my shirt. I had thought the whole getting-me-up-to-the bedroom was a joke. I was hoping that we would at least talk a little before falling into bed with each other. Not that I hadn’t thought about it, but...you know. Twenty-four hours ago, I was on a plane to Mississippi, detouring my life in hopes that the two of us would reconcile. And we had.

And now I was staring at Lance with wide eyes, watching as he pulled himself on his knees and crawled towards me. He ran his tongue over his lips while gently brushing his hand across his chest.

“What’s wrong, Stephen?” he asked softly, peering at me with concern. Even though I didn’t want to get intimate with him, I couldn’t help but walk closer to the bed. It was almost like Lance had some kind of gravitational pull on me.

“You look like you’re worrying,” Lance gently chided before sliding his hands over my chest and resting them on my shoulders. “Stop worrying and come to bed.” With a smile that bordered between shy and seductive, Lance straightened his body into an upright position and nuzzled my neck with his lips, placing a kiss here and there.

I closed my eyes at the touch, wanting to give into the temptation right in front of me. Shivers ran up and down my spine. With each kiss Lance placed on my neck. he ran his hands down my arms and along my back, before sliding into my pants. I bit my lower lip to keep quiet. As much as I wanted to say that I wasn’t enjoying this, I knew that was a flat out lie. Lance touching me felt good. Very good.

But something felt wrong between us. Everything between us felt forced--his movements, my reaction--everything. I needed to stop it.

Gently, I reached up and placed my palms against his chest, giving Lance a slight push and creating a gap between us. He looked at me with a shocked expression on his face. Gritting my teeth, I pushed Lance a little more and the space between us grew even wider.

He stared at me with big, round eyes, blinking a few times in confusion. “Stephen?” he asked worriedly, looking as though I had slapped him. “What’s...”

Without answering, I turned away and tried to catch my breath. The image of my half-naked boyfriend was still fresh in my mind. It was hard to ignore him, especially when Lance and I were in the same room and only inches away from each other.

Taking a deep breath, I turned back around, only to find Lance sitting on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands. I panicked. I thought he was angry, because I had made him angry. A familiar feeling of worry overcame me and I stood there, staring at Lance, curling my fingers into fists next to my hips, my fingernails digging into my skin.

‘No. Not now. Not when we just made up and everything was okay between us,’ the voice in my head spoke up. Or maybe I had been fooling myself because it was easier to fool yourself with happy thoughts than to face reality.

I had never had a major blow up with Lance before. We had our fights before, but nothing like what had happened between us. I knew that it took time for wounds to heal, but what I was most unsure of was how long did it take?

“Lance?” I said softly, taking a seat on the bed next to him and nearly falling backwards as I did so. The mattress was extremely soft and plush and only then did I realize that one of the perks of being rich and famous was the ability to buy an expensive, top notch mattress.

Without thinking, I placed a hand on his small of his back and shivered slightly as out skin came into contact. Lance’s body was soft and warm and the more seductive part of my brain wanted me to push him onto the bed, so that his chest was pressed against the sheets, allowing me to lick a path down the middle of his back and along his spine.

He looked at me from the corner of his eye. “What?” His voice was low and nondescript in tone and if anything, that made me more nervous than before.

I took a deep breath. “Lance...don’t be mad at me...for not wanting to...”

He looked up at me, his green eyes clear and much to my surprise, they weren’t filled with hurt, like I had expected them to be. Instead there was an almost wistful look lingering in them, replacing previous lustful one.

“It’s not you, Stephen,” Lance said slowly, pearling his thumbs over his kneecaps. “It’s me. I don’t know...I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I wasn’t thinking.”

We sat in silence for what seemed like hours, unsure of what to say next. The mood between us was strange. I didn’t like that. In the few months we had dated, Lance and I had plenty of weird moments, but none quite like this. For the first time in our relationship, I really didn’t know what to say or do. Nothing felt right to me.

Wordlessly, Lance slipped his hand into mine and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“You know I love you, right?” he asked, looking into my eyes and holding my gaze until I nodded in approval. When I did that, Lance turned away and crawled to the top of the bed, where he stretched out and folded his hands over his stomach. He stared at the ceiling with an almost heartbroken look on his face.

My heart ached.

“Lance.” I crawled over to his side and laid out next to him, propped up on one elbow so I could look at him.


“Talk to me.”

I looked at my boyfriend. My eyes swept over his face, past his neck and over his broad chest and arms and I smiled thinly. I knew I was lucky by having him in my life; I just didn’t want to do or say anything stupid that would mess it up. Lance was still avoiding my gaze, so I stared at him until he met my eyes. His expression was serious.

“Come on,” I said lightly, running my fingertips over his skin. “Talk.”

Finally a wan smile slowly appeared on his face. “Okay.” Lance nodded, his voice cracking as he spoke. “Although I’m not sure what you want me to talk about, Stephen.”

“Just tell me what you’re thinking about? We’ve always done that, Lance.”

He let out a short laugh before rolling onto his side, leaning on his elbow so he could look at me. “Yeah, I know,” Lance smiled as he brushed a stray lock of hair out of my eyes. “Like when I was in Japan and we’d stay up all night talking on the phone.”

“Yeah,” I smiled fondly at the memory. “Just like that. Talk to me.”

“Alright.” I watched as the smile on his face faded while his eyes grew out of focus. “Stephen...I...don’t know how to say this. I want to love you--” He looked at me. “You know, love love...” He coughed and mumbled a lone word: “Sex.”

I nodded and ran a fingertip over his shoulder. “I know.”

“But I just think about the last time we were together and what happened after--I don’t want it to happen again.”

I stared at Lance for a few seconds, not quite understanding what he was saying. I searched through my brain, recalling the words of our post-fight talk. “You mean losing control?” I blurted out. “Is that what you mean?”

He shook his head and looked off to the side, almost as though it hurt to look at me. “No, I mean...I don’twanttogethurtagain.” He rushed through the words as though he really didn’t want to say them, but if he didn’t, they would continue to eat him up inside. “And I know you wouldn’t hurt me on purpose, but there was something inside of me that was screaming stop, even when I was kissing you.” He paused and looked down at his hands.

“All I can think is that we’re going to have this incredible time together and then something bad is going to happen to us and we’re gonna be broken apart again, Stephen. And I don’t want that to happen.”

Lance finally looked at me then, the green of his eyes round and wide and heartbreakingly honest as he stared at me, waiting for an answer.

I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say.

The only thing I knew was that I was angry at myself for saying something so stupid and idiotic. It had impacted our relationship so badly, we couldn’t even kiss each other without it hanging over our heads like a big, black cloud.

“I...” I tried to speak, but nothing would come out. Noticing this, Lance gave me a crooked grin and placed his fingertips over my mouth.

“Shhh,” he said in a low voice. “Don’t worry about it. I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.” Much to my surprise, he flashed me a shaky grin. “And Stephen, about the losing control thing--”


“--I could care about losing control with you,” Lance said with a sly grin. “It’s just...I kinda” He blushed an adorable shade of light pink. “I get, um, horny around you. That’s why, I, uh--” He gestured at his partial nudity. “You know. Tried to, um...seduce you a few minutes ago. And you know, how could I not be when you’re around?”

It was my turn to blush now. “Heh. Thanks for the compliment. I think.” I scratched my head only because I needed to do something with my hands. Even though Lance had made me smile, his words still rang in my head, clear as a bell. He didn’t want to get hurt because of me. My heart ached at the thought.

While I was thinking, Lance began to play with a lock of hair that fell into my eyes, but he pulled away before I could say anything. The smile on his face was gentle and understanding. “So.” Lance smiled gently. “There’s something bothering you. Am I right?”

I nodded wordlessly. “How could you tell?” I asked dryly after finding my voice. “Was it because I pushed you away?”

He laughed softly. “Kinda, I guess. And it kinda hurt my feelings, Stephen. Here I was, kissing you and stuff and you push me away,” he pouted, but the twinkle in his eye told me he was teasing. “That’s not nice at all.”

I looked down at the bedspread underneath us. I bet that thing cost more than my monthly rent. There was this small voice in the back of my head. It spoke volumes. It said that I didn’t deserve Lance and that maybe things would never return to normal between us, simply because we came from two different worlds.

I shushed the voice in my head and spoke. “I don’t know. It wasn’t that I didn’t like you kissing me, because I did. But it’s just...” I let my voice trail off. “I don’t know. It just felt weird to...you know, kiss and make out and stuff so soon after our...fight. And it’s so weird,” I lamented, rolling onto my back and folding my hands over my stomach, much like Lance had done before. “Because we’ve had make up sex before. We’ve, you know, had our spats and then we’ve done it a few seconds after. Today...” I added nervously, not daring to look over at him. “I don’t know. I can’t explain it, Lance.”

My words hung in the air between us. The room was filled with a silence that fell somewhere halfway between discomfort and differentiating. In all the months we had dated, I never felt this way before.

With another sigh, I unfolded my hands and rested them next to my sides. A few seconds later, suddenly felt the warmth of Lance’s hand slip snugly into mine.

“It’s okay, you know,” he whispered into the silence. “I understand.”

With that, Lance rolled over and laid his head on my chest, resting his ear directly over my heart. He looked up at me and curved his lips into a barely there smile, his green eyes bright as he slipped his hand underneath my shirt. I felt the warmth of his skin press against my own. There was something comforting about that simple touch, but loving as well.

As we lay there, I listened to the sound of his breathing. I heard him sigh once.

We didn’t say anything after that.


Apparently, Lance and I had fallen asleep after our talk, because the next thing I knew, I was waking up in an almost pitch black bedroom, while a terrible pain throbbed in my temples.

I blinked a few times and licked at my dry lips. For a few seconds, I had no clue where I was and why I was lying in a strange bed. I was always a little disorientated when I woke up and this time was no exception. It was only when I looked down and saw a dark blonde head resting on my chest that it all came flooding back.

I was in Mississippi with Lance when I should have been at school.

Groaning inwardly and trying to forget about my own waning responsibilities, I attempted to roll onto my side, but was stopped when I realized that Lance had somehow wound his arms around my neck, much like a snake wrapping itself around its prey. The only difference was that waking up with Lance was much, much, more romantic. In the dimness of the room, I could make out a small smile on his lips, while the rest of his face relaxed into a peaceful expression that made me want to sigh out loud.

But I didn’t. There was something so sweet about the way Lance was lying there, I just didn’t have the heart to wake him.

I did need to go to the bathroom though and as much as I usually enjoyed the weight of Lance’s groin resting against my own, right now it was more of a nuisance than a pleasure.

Somehow I untangled Lance’s arms from around my neck and rolled his body onto his side of the bed. Surprisingly, he was fast asleep. Usually Lance slept lightly and the slightest noise or movement would wake him up.

‘He must be tired,’ I thought as I crept to the door, trying to keep my movements as quiet as possible. On tiptoes, I made it to the door and rested my hand on the knob. Slowly, I turned it.


I cursed at the sound of his voice. For some odd reason, I wanted to be alone. That was the real reason I was sneaking around his bedroom, trying not to wake Lance up. I just wanted a little quiet time to myself. You’d think after our separation, that would be more than enough quiet time.

But it wasn’t. I just needed to be alone so I could digest what we had said to each other before we dozed off.

Even in the darkness, I could see the bright green of Lance’s eyes glowing in my direction. Almost cat-like.

“Hey,” I said softly, walking towards the bed and sitting on its edge. “You’re up.”

“Yeah,” Lance muttered groggily as he leaned over and flipped on the light sitting on the nightstand. We both groaned out loud and blinked rapidly at the sudden infusion of 60 watt light. “I could hear you walking to the door.”

“Hear me?” I asked teasingly. “It’s not like I was tap dancing.”

He crawled over to me until we were almost touching noses. Staring into my eyes, Lance grinned as he reached up and brushed some hair away from my forehead. “I know that,” he said, leaning over and touching the tip of his nose to mine. “I could just...feel you walking.” He frowned slightly. “You know?”

I nodded. “I know.” I would have loved to continue the Eskimo kiss we were involved in, but not only did it tickle, I still had to go to the bathroom. “Lance?”

He smiled at me, stars for eyes. “Yes?”

“Where’s your bathroom?”

The smile on his face disappeared as he pulled away from me. “It’s....” He sighed disappointedly and ran a hand through his unruly hair. “Come on, I’ll show you it.” Wordlessly, Lance got up from the bed, taking my hand in his and pulled me off the mattress.

“Come on,” Lance smiled as we walked to the door, hand in hand. “You might as well know...I mean...especially if we’re gonna be hanging around here for awhile. I don’t want you peeing in my Dr. Seuss room.”

“Dr. Seuss room?” I asked in surprise. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“Me? Kid?” Lance laughed. “Nah, I got a Dr. Seuss room. I had the designer come up with one for me. Love Dr. Seuss.” We walked into the hallway, still holding hands, as he lead me down the hall. “It’s really cool, Stephen. You have to see it.”

“Yeah,” I agreed as Lance smiled at me, before stopping at a door. “Here you go. Bathroom. And hurry up,” he said, opening the door and practically shoving me inside. “I have to go too.”

“You weren’t in such a hurry before,” I called over my shoulder. “You seemed pretty content to stay in that bed.”

“Awww, shut up,” Lance said sheepishly as I started to close the door behind me. “Just hurry.”

I grinned. “Make me.” And with that, I shut the door right in Lance’s face.

While I went about my business, I looked around his bathroom and did my best to keep my jaw from dropping open. His bathroom was about the size of my apartment. It was cream colored with blue accenting and marble and glass and just...I was in shock at how elegant and beautiful it looked.

And for a split second, I began to wonder if Lance and I really were meant to be together. Clearly we came from two opposite ends of the spectrum--I was poor, he was rich. Even with the money from my mother’s will, there was no way I had even close to what Lance had.

I tried to shake those thoughts out of my head as I zipped up my pants and walked over to the sink and washed my hands. I wondered how Lance kept this place so clean while he was gone. He probably has a maid, I lamented as I lathered up my hands with the fancy smelling liquid soap and then rinsed them clean. I wondered if the maid lived there or if they came in on off days. I wonder if they knew that Lance was gay and that I was his boyfriend.

I walked to the door, chuckling under my breath while thinking about the awkward scenario that would play out, should the maid walk in while Lance and I were having sex.

‘That is,’ I thought as I paused in mid-step, ‘if Lance and I would ever sleep together again.’

I rested my hand on the doorknob, but didn’t turn it. Instead, I stood there, allowing my mind to wander off into some far off corner of my psyche where it was all dusty and weird thoughts occurred every second. I thought about everything that had happened to Lance and I in the past week or so and every insecurity and fear that I had managed to push away, suddenly came flooding back.

I don’t know what brought it on. My own self-doubt maybe. Or maybe it was Lance’s words that were echoing through my mind. The fact that I had hurt him. I couldn’t shake that yet. Mostly because I never thought I was capable of hurting someone to the point where they thought about it everytime they looked at me.

I never thought I was the type to do something like that. I thought I was better than that. And especially when it concerned Lance...

Looking around at the expensive furnishings that surrounded me, I wondered if maybe Lance and I were just too different to be together. And maybe this is how relationships end. The end comes gradually--not immediately after some kind of big blow out--but slowly, only because you can think about the mistakes that you’ve made with each other. And then they eat away at you and your mind and your soul.

I wish I weren’t so insecure at times. I wish that I were stronger or that I had more relationship experience. Even with a girl. The amount of experience I had dating could fit on one hand and most of it I learned with Lance.

I think I would have stayed there all night, thinking and going through my thoughts with a fine tooth comb, but the sudden pounding on the door brought me back to reality.

“Come on, Peterson!” Lance hollered. “What do you want me to do? Go in my pants or something?” He banged his fists on the door, just as I was opening it up, which caused him to pound on my chest instead of the wood.

“OW!” I exclaimed as Lance hit my chest--hard. “Impatient much?”

Lance blushed. “Whoops,” he said, pulling his fists away from my chest. “Sorry, Stephen. I thought maybe you passed out in there or...” He gave me a sly look. “Maybe you were thinking of me and couldn’t keep your hands off yourself?” With that, Lance raised his hand and stroked a path down the side of my cheek with his thumb. “I mean...it’s okay...”

“Ewww, gross,” I said in mock disgust, laughing as I pushed his hand away. “That’s it, Bass. I’m calling the teeny magazines and telling them what you just said.”

Pushing past me, Lance rolled his eyes. “Sure, Stephen. What are you gonna do? You have the number of J-14 and Bop on you or something.” And before I could answer him, Lance gave me a playful smile, slammed the door behind him and began singing at the top of his lungs.

I stood outside the door and listened to him sing some country song I didn’t recognize. “You suck, Bass!” I screamed as I headed down the hallway.

“Only when I’m on my knees!” Lance called through the door and I couldn’t help but laugh at that one. As I walked towards the staircase, I chuckled to myself and shook my head, pleased by how happy Lance seemed. Maybe I was overanalyzing everything. Maybe I was putting too much thought into it all.

I was about to walk down the stairs and wait for Lance in his living room, when my hand slid over the banister. It was extremely smooth and shiny and just begging to be slid down on.

I stopped myself. “Are you insane?” I muttered under my breath, walking down two of the steps and holding onto the railing. “You’re 21 years old--no sliding down railings for you.”

I wasn’t very convincing though and in no time flat, I had jogged back up the few steps I had just walked down. Straining my ears, I could hear the sound of Lance finishing up in the bathroom and before I lost my nerve, I straddled the banister, my long legs dangling over the sides.

Taking a deep breath, I let go of the railing and began an alarmingly fast ride down the railing, while my heart began pounded in my ears.

“Wheee!” I exclaimed, feeling like a little kid as I rushed down the banister. But soon enough my glee turned into panic as the ride ended faster than I expected and I came to the bottom of the railing. It was bumpy, to say the least, as I flew off the banister and into the air, landing on the hard wooden floor with a loud thump.

I landed on my side. And I was in pain. Not like the pain when you, let’s say, break your arm, but pain as though I had accidentally fallen off a ladder.

Just trust me--it hurt.

I may have called out “Owwwwww! Lanceeeeee!” or I may have not. I curled my knees into my chest as I moaned in pain. My elbow hurt--I think I had brushburned it or bruised it--maybe both.

“Stephen?” I heard Lance call out my name, somewhat frantically, followed by the clattering of his footsteps down the carpeted staircase. “Stephen? What happened?” He rushed over to where I lay in a fetal position. His sneakers were right next to my face.

I looked up at Lance, noticing the look of concern on his face as he knelt down next to me.

“You should have a safety requirement on that banister,” I croaked out as I managed to sit up. “Really, Lance. Or a pillow at the bottom for a nice safe landing.”

He stared blankly at me, placing a hand on the small of my back as he helped me off the floor.

“Safety requirements?” Lance repeated before looking back at the staircase and then back at me. “Stephen...did you ride the banister?” he asked, a bemused smile appearing on his lips. “Please tell me you didn’t?”

A hot blush spread across my face. “Um....yeah, I did,” I admitted, watching as Lance bit his bottom lip to keep from laughing. “Um...I’m sorry.”

And suddenly, Lance burst out laughing. He doubled over and when he bent up straight, I noticed there were tears streaming down his face

“Oh Stephen,” he managed to say, wiping the tears away. “I can’t...I can’t believe you rode down the banister. Oh my God...” He looked up at me, his eyes wet and filled with happiness. “You’re such a dork. I can’t...Oh....” Lance gasped for a breath of air, only to break down in a fit of laughter once more. “Stephen...”

“Very funny,” I said, trying my best to frown at Lance. But it was hard to. Especially when he was so happy and there was a big huge smile plastered on his face. “I even hurt my elbow,” I complained, bending my arm so that Lance and I could both see it. I had brushburned it a little, but nothing too serious.

“Awww,” Lance cooed, lifting up my arm so he could get a better look at it. He met my eyes and grinned. “Poor baby. How about if I kiss it and make it all better?” And before I could say yes, Lance bent his head down and placed a soft kiss against the hot, bruised spot. I felt something inside of me snap as his lips touched my skin.

“Better?” Lance asked softly as he raised his head and met my eyes. “Because if it’s not, I could kiss it again, Stephen.”

Blushing at his offer, I just shook my head no and swallowed thickly. I couldn’t believe how his kiss had affected me. It wasn’t as though this was Lance’s fist gesture of affection towards me or anything. No, I was just being so silly and goofy and that wasn’t like me. It almost felt as though Lance and I were completely different people and we were starting over fresh.

“Nah,” I managed to squeak out as I rubbed at the spot that Lance had just kissed. “I think I’ll live.”

“Good.” Our gazes locked together and it felt like his eyes were looking right through me. He gently tickled me under the chin and then blushed. “Just promise me no more banister Olympics? Okay?”

“I promise.” Just as I crossed my heart with my index finger, Lance suddenly leaned forward, wrapped an arm around my waist, while the other slid around the back of my neck. He stared into my eyes for a second and then leaned forward and kissed me.

I felt his hand slide through my hair, pulling me deeper into the kiss. I lost track of time and sense and the room around me. There was nothing except Lance and I--the two of us--standing there in the living room, holding each other and melting into that one simple kiss.

To my disappointment, it ended much too soon and before I could react, Lance pulled away, giving me a sly look. The green of his eyes were filled with so much emotion, I could barely breathe.

He smiled.

“Now I know why I fell in love with you,” Lance said softly as he took my hands and began walking backwards into the kitchen.

“Why?” I asked, swallowing and needing to know as though my life depended on it. “Tell me.”

But the odd thing was that Lance never answered my question. Instead, he placed a fingertip to his lips, silently instructing me to be quiet as he continued to lead me into the kitchen.

He never did answer my question.


“You have a really beautiful house,” I told Lance as he walked onto the patio, a bunch of flatware and paper napkins in his hands. A few hours had passed since the banister incident, and Lance and I decided to order dinner from a take out restaurant a few blocks away. After the call had been made and we were waiting for our order, Lance decided to give me a real impromptu tour of his house. He showed me every room--from the special Dr. Seuss one to the big movie screening room to the basement.

And now, I was sitting at a table on the patio, hidden away from view by the branches of trees and other shrubbery. ‘This is nice’, I thought as I watched Lance walk towards me. “I’d like a house like this,” I said out loud, thinking of what my future would be like once I was out of college.

Immediately thoughts of England entered my mind. I managed to push them out as soon as they entered. I didn’t need to think of that offer. Not now.

Lance smiled. “Yeah? You like my place?”

I laughed as he took a seat next to me. “Like?” I shook my head wistfully and pulled my take-out container of in front of me. “Lance, it’s a beautiful place. I love it.”

He blushed and flipped open his container, the smell of Mexican food wafting into the air. “Thanks, Stephen. That means a lot coming from you.”

“Well, shucks,” I feigned bashfulness and grabbed for a fork. “I didn’t know my opinion mattered so much.”

Lance shoved a forkful of food into his mouth and chewed for a few seconds. “Well it does,” he said after he swallowed. “I mean...yeah, I like the house. But you’re my boyfriend. And--” he slid closer towards me. “--You’re an artist, so your opinion matters a lot to me. In fact...” He scooted even closer. “I was kinda nervous bringing you over here.”

I looked at him curiously. “Why?”

He wrinkled his nose and rested his elbows on the table. “Don’t know. Thought you’d think this place was tacky or something. Especially the Dr. Seuss room. I thought you might laugh at me.”

“Why would I laugh at you?” I set my fork down and turned towards Lance. “Have I ever laughed at you before?”

He pressed his lips together in thought. “’Don’t know...just...insecure I guess.” He lowered his head for the briefest of seconds and then looked back up at me. “Sometimes, I guess I just need to be brought back down to Earth. It’s just gets weird after awhile. You get treated to the best things on Earth and people are real nice to you just because you’re famous. And then you get the best things in the world and you think they’re great just because of that.” He looked down at his hands. “So sometimes...I’m not too sure if I’m just tricking myself into thinking things are great because people tell me they are.”

I stared at Lance. Sometimes I wished I could get inside his head just to see exactly what was going on in that mind of his.

“Lance...” I began slowly, pushing around my chicken quesadilia with the tins of my fork. “I love you...you know that. And I love your house--but even if I didn’t like it, that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It’s what you like.” I gave him a thin smile, not exactly understanding what was going on. “You know? I mean...just...you know?”

I could tell he was deep in thought, by the way he arched his eyebrow and how the tip of his tongue was pressed against the back of his teeth. He looked up at me a few second later.

“Yeah...I know,” he said, looking relieved. “Sorry about that. Just sometimes, I get into my moods and stuff and...” he trailed off.


“And...” He shot me a sneaky smile and peered at my take out container. “It looks like they gave you more cornbread that me.” And with that, he scooped up a forkful of cornbread out of my container and shoved it into his mouth.

“Hey! That’s not fair!” I protested, ignoring the fact that he had changed the subject. “Give it back!”

He stuck his tongue out at me and I groaned. “Ewwwww, Lance...”

“Well, you asked,” he shot back with a sneaky grin. I was just about to lean towards his take out container and steal some of his food, when the sudden, shrill sound of Lance’s cell phone went off.

“Oops,” Lance blushed, fumbling around in his pockets for the device. “I thought I turned this thing off for the night.” He gave me an apologetic look and moved his chair back to where it was before. “I’m sorry, Stephen.”

I shrugged. “Doesn’t bother me,” I said honestly, turning back to my own container. I listened as he answered the phone.

“Hello? Yes, this is Mr. Bass--”

I snorted when I heard that and was rewarded with a poke in the ribs. “Hey!” I cried out, rubbing at the spot where the tins of his fork had dug me.

With a knowing smirk, Lance resumed his conversation and the serious business side of my boyfriend took over. “Uh huh...uh huh...yeah? Oh that would be great!” Upon his exclamation, I watched his face light up with happiness. “I’d love to and I’m positive Meredith would love the experience as well. Thank you so much...yes. Yes. Oh....really? That would be great too. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yes! We’ll be in touch. Bye!”

Pressing a button on the phone, Lance turned to me with an excited gleam in his eyes. “Stephen, you’ll never believe this. That was one of the producers for the CMA’s--”


“Yeah.” Lance nodded empathetically. “Country Music Awards. They asked if I’d like to present an award and bring along Meredith--”

“Meredith?” I gave feigned a look of suspicion. “You been cheating around on me, Bass?”

“Yeah.” He snickered and patted my shoulder gently. “With a girl. I’ve been cheating on you with an underage girl. Oh Stephen...” He slapped a hand to his forehead mockingly and then laughed. “No, Meredith. Meredith Edwards? Country singer. She’s the first client on FreeLance, you know...my label?”

I rolled my eyes teasingly. “Yes, Lance, I know about FreeLance. Duh. That’s good news though, right?”

Lance grinned. “Yup! Great news cause not only did they ask me to give out an award, they asked me to bring Meredith for the press junkets before and after the show. It’ll be great publicity for her.”

“And for you too,” I added before eating another forkful of Spanish rice. “Right?”

“Well, yeah...” I watched Lance run a hand through his hair in an almost nervous manner. “Of course it’s publicity for me. But I did them the year before too and that was singing with the other guys. This time, I’m on my own. It’s a little nerve wracking.”

“Yeah?” I leaned back in my chair and stretched out my legs, careful not to jostle the table. “It shouldn’t be that bad.”

“Nah.” With a shrug of his shoulders, Lance tilted his head upwards and searched the stars above us with downcast eyes. “But you know, it’s still a little odd to break out on your own. The first time you do it, it’s scary.” He frowned and the happiness was completely gone. “And then each time after, it gets a little easier. But it’s still nerve wracking.”

“I’ll bet.”

We fell silent again and I sat back up in my chair, pushing around the food in my take out container from one side to the other. I really wasn’t hungry, as delicious as the food was. I just wasn’t in the mood to eat.

And apparently, neither was Lance. I watched as he pushed his container away and folded his arms over his chest. It surprised me, because he was the one who was so adamant about getting Mexican take out. I would have been happy with a pizza, but he had insisted that the food was wonderful and so I agreed.

“Lance?” I leaned forward so I could look at his face. “Are you okay?”

He looked at me blankly. “I’m fine.” His answer was curt and short, almost as though he was angry or bothered by something.

I didn’t know when to quit though. I pressed on. “Do you feel sick? Are you--”

“I said I’m fine,” Lance snapped as though I were bothering him. “Jesus, Stephen, if I said I was fine before, that means I’m fine now. God.” And with that, Lance turned away from me, so I couldn’t look at his face.

I fell back into my seat feeling as though he had punched me in the gut. This was insane. We had gone from having a great time to cat fighting in a matter of seconds. I had no idea what to make of Lance’s behavior.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

I slammed my fork down on the table and watched as the sudden noise caused Lance’s body to jerk wildly, practically jumping straight into the air.

“Stephen, what the--”

“Jesus Christ,” I huffed, cutting him off in mid sentence. “What the hell is your problem? You’re sitting around here and acting strange and--” I stopped in mid sentence when I saw the shocked expression on Lance’s face. His eyes were wide with disbelief, almost as though he couldn’t believe I had just screamed at him.

And I couldn’t blame him. I couldn’t believe I screamed at him either.

“I’m--I’m sorry,” I said quietly, avoiding his gaze and looking down at the table in front of me. “I didn’t mean to yell at you, Lance. It’s just that you’re acting kinda...well...”


I looked up to see Lance facing in my direction, his green eyes focused and almost calm. I expected them to be cold, to be filled with disgust and hate, but they weren’t. If anything, his eyes just looked sad and it broke my heart.



I pulled my chair closer to him. “Just talk to me. What’s going on with you? One second, we’re really happy and the next...I don’t know. It’s almost as though you’re on and off and on--”

“Like a light switch,” he interrupted, muttering the words under his breath and looking away from me.

Ignoring his comment, I continued. “I thought we were okay after we woke up, but you look....you look...”

“Sad?” Lance offered bitterly. “Maybe because I am.” He scowled. “You think a nap is going to make everything better, Stephen?”

“N-no,” I stammered, blown away by how angry Lance seemed. “I just...I know what you said before Lance--when we were lying in bed together. All that stuff about me hurting you--I didn’t mean to. I don’t want to hurt you. You know I love you.”

“I know,” Lance sighed, closing his eyes and leaning back in his chair. “It’s just...I think about all these things and I start to worry like crazy. You’d never guess that I worry about stupid things and all that, but I do. And all the stuff I think, it’s...it’s...” He shook his head almost as though he were amused. “It’s so stupid, you’d never even guess that I was capable of thinking it.”

“Try me.” I reached for Lance’s hand, hoping that would comfort him a little. “Just come on. I’m not as stupid as I look.”

He looked at me and sighed. “Stephen, don’t say things like that...”

“And don’t change the subject.”

“Fine.” Lance sat there as he stared off into space. His eyes were trained on a spot somewhere above my head and I watched as his lips finally parted and he began to talk.

“Stephen...do you ever think we live in different worlds?”

At first I thought he had flipped. I felt as my face twisted into a look of bewilderment. “Huh? Different worlds?”

“Yeah...different worlds,” he said softly, as though he had been thinking about this forever. “It’s almost like we come from these two different places. We’ve experienced life so differently, that...we’re both accustomed to different things. And that causes us to act in completely opposite ways.”

He took a deep breath and shook his head. “Oh God, I don’t even know what I’m saying,” he sighed, rubbing at his tired eyes. “Just...I don’t know. I guess, what I’m trying to say is that I’m afraid we’re going to break up.”

‘Break up?’ I thought as I broke out into a cold sweat. ‘Does that mean he wants to break up with me?’

And as though he was reading my mind, Lance looked into my eyes with a slight smile on his lips. “Stephen, I didn’t say I wanted to break up--so don’t think I mean that. It’s just that I have so much on my mind since our stupid...stupid...” He hesitated. “Our stupid fight. It just brought out all these weird little insecurities in me that I never even thought I had, but I guess I do.”

I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t. It was almost as though I was frozen in my seat.

“It’s just so complicated. I don’t want to break up with you. That’s the last thing in the world that I want to do, Stephen. I just think...well, if I’m so afraid of getting hurt after we have sex, then maybe it would be best if I never had sex again--with anyone. But that doesn’t make sense to me, because I want to--especially with you.”

I watched as Lance closed his eyes and tightened his hands into fists out of sheer nervousness. “Or like, a few minutes ago, when I started saying all that stuff about being famous--there were nights when we were apart, I wondered if ordinary people have trouble with their relationships. And I start to wonder if maybe that’s the problem--It’s because I’m famous. That’s why we have all this trouble and you have to sneak around and then we fight...” He opened his eyes, just briefly, and even then I could see all the pain that lingered in them, but then he closed them, shutting himself off from me once more. “I know it makes no sense, Stephen and I know I sound insane...”

“No,” I said, my voice barely audible as I reached for his hand, but before I could do so, he crossed his arms over his chest and looked down at his lap, so I couldn’t look into his eyes.

“I know I sound insane,” he repeated. “And I don’t mean to. I just...” He sighed a long, almost dejected sigh that broke my heart. “I just want things to be normal again, Stephen. I want...” Lance looked up at me, his eyes bright with wetness. He looked so vulnerable and sad, I wanted to do nothing more than wrap my arms around him and hold him forever.

“What?” I asked softly, staring into his eyes. “What do you want Lance?”

I watched as Lance gingerly licked at his dry lips and swallowed, causing his adam’s apple to bob up and down and for a second, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to give him what he wanted. And then it hit me: what if I could never, ever give Lance what he wanted? Maybe I wasn’t the right person for him.

That thought scared me more than anything else in the world. I waited for him to speak wishing that Lance would just say something--anything.

And then he did.

“I want you to tell me that everything will be okay between us.” His gaze never faltered. “And I want...I want you to tell me that you’ll love me no matter what stupid things I do. And...” He closed his eyes and then opened them again. “I just want you, Stephen.”

Silence filled the air as Lance uncrossed his arms and rested his hands on his knees, waiting for an answer from me. He didn’t look away--instead, he stared into my eyes, waiting for me to speak, but I couldn’t.

I didn’t know what to say.

Intuition kicked in and before I knew what I was doing, I stood up and pulled Lance into my arms, holding him tightly.

“I never want to let you go,” I whispered. “I love you so much, Lance...I don’t even know what to say.”

There was a pause. “You mean it?”

“I mean it,” I whispered back, placing a soft kiss behind his earlobe. “I love you, Lance.”

I heard as he let out a sigh of relief and it was at that moment where I realized something had just happened between us. All along, I thought I needed Lance more than anything else in the world. I always thought I was the insecure one; the one who always needed to be reassured because I worried that Lance would move on and find someone better than me.

And now the opposite was true.

I held Lance for what seemed like forever and a day, but I didn’t mind at all. I wanted to hold him, because at that moment there was nothing better than that.

Much to my surprise, I felt Lance begin to cry into my shoulder, his body wracking with sobs. He wrapped his arms around me, almost as though I was about to run away and leave him, even though there was no chance in hell that was going to happen. I nuzzled his neck while rubbing the small of his back, trying to comfort him.

Soon enough, Lance’s tears subsided and he pulled away, looking at me with red rimmed eyes. But they were sparkling as well. They were bright with a happiness that I hadn’t seen all day. As I stared at Lance, I realized that there were no words that could adequately describe how I felt then.

“Stephen,” Lance whispered, leaning forward so that our foreheads were touching and so we were staring into each other’s eyes. “I love you.” He smiled bashfully, causing my heart to beat faster. There was nothing more beautiful than the sight of my boyfriend at that moment. “Thank you.”

My first instinct was to say, “You’re welcome”, but I didn’t, because sometimes you don’t need to say anything at all.

Instead, I reached up and gently closed Lance’s eyelids, watching as a soft smile appeared on his face as my fingertips touched his skin.

And then, without a moment’s hesitation, I leaned forward and kissed him--because sometimes a kiss is the only thing you need.


Thanks for reading!