Chapter 11

"Miles?!" My voice rose, I recognized his typical all black ensemble, a black Sandman shirt with black jeans, and his fifth pair of black All Stars lowtops. I had tried to get his last pair every time he got new ones, but to this day, I still didn't have a pair of the comfy, worn in, and cherished sneakers. His hair was a little shorter than the last time I had seen him, he used to have it the same, almost boring length through high school, then he and Mac formed their band, and from then on he had grown it in a couple inches, a considerable crush on my part followed, but I held it back. I wanted to have him around for longer than that. "Lane, where the fuck have you been?!" He grabbed me in a tight hug that felt good, his warm smell was of clove cigarettes, and his hair smelled washed and soapy. His voice was mad, but from his smile I could tell he was just as happy to see me as I was to see him. He rarely stayed mad at me for very long, even when we'd argued over something for an hour.

"Out." I smiled and stayed in his arms for a moment longer. I looked in his mint green eyes, "I want you to meet someone." I gestured to Taylor, who was leaning against the hotel wall and looked a bit amused. "Miles, this is Taylor."

"Hey, how's it going'?" Miles was friendly and smiled.

"Pretty good, yourself?"

"Pretty crappy, I've been looking all over for you missy." Miles looked at me with a stern look.

"Well, why?" I opened the door to my suite, which already had clothes strewn all over the place. The place was one of the nicest I'd ever stayed at, my publisher, Rachel, had really done me up here. The wallpaper was a deep navy blue, almost satiny to touch, the carpet was a creamy white, thick as whipped cream, I kicked off my shoes and sank my toes into the softness. There were a couple loveseats, forest green in color, and in the center of the room a grand piano. The piano was what had pulled me in, I couldn't play that well, but I loved to plink whatever I could. It was the only piece of furniture that didn't have an article of clothing on it. Adjoining the main room was a bedroom, I had a huge carved wood bed, a green comforter was strewn on it in a million angles. A couple prints of Monet graced the walls, complimenting the dark colors of the room. Miles had held his tongue to check the place out, and after expressing a couple surprised remarks, he turned back to me. Taylor followed in tow and sat down to the piano, checking it out.

"Well I need to get to the book signing thing early, the magazine wants a quick interview with Neil, so I gotta get there an hour or so early." Miles' other love besides rock was journalism. He worked for a local magazine, which, although he complained about a lot, loved. He mostly wrote music reviews or band bios, but he had the best background with knowing this event's history, so that was why he was assigned to do it.

"Well, when did you want to go?" I looked longingly at my bed, then at Taylor. Miles noted the reaction.

"In two hours, hey you look pretty tired. What's up?" He looked concerned, and I flopped down on a loveseat, next to Taylor.

"I had a concussion yesterday, I can't go to sleep till seven tonight. I'm wiped, I'm cranky, and I want to write."

"Well, you can come late, I'll bring in any of the stuff you want to get signed. I'll leave you alone if you don't feel like doing anything. That's totally okay, I'll be working anyways." I began to protest, I had come off too strong on him. He shook his head, and looked me in the eye, his mint seemed strict and definite, "You stay here and relax, I'll met you around noon? The only reason you're getting out of this is because we have a gig tomorrow night, you're coming."My eyes must've widened a bit, because he shhed me. "You can't run away from Mac forever, I'm not going to have two friends not seeing each other in a civilized manner. I don't care how many postcards you send him, they're so damn fake. Yeah, I know, don't look at me that way. He doesn't know it, but you know what? I do, and there is NO reason why you can't at least talk, I'm not asking anything more than that, and in fact, I'm not asking." I glared at him. Taylor was just tapping his fingers on the loveseat, and looking away, feeling embarrassed probably.

"Miles, that's none of your damn business what I send to Mac, and whether I talk to him."

"It is." His tone softened. "I like you both too much to see one of you keep on hurting." He looked out of a large window into downtown London. "Mac's moved on, and I think I'm right in saying that you have to, so can you guys just be normal and make up?" His large eyes looked at me with an almost childish plea, like some kid who wants his divorced parents to talk instead of scream for once. I remembered that look from one night in our senior year when we had planned to go out and get wasted, but Mac had been grounded, and since he had the liqueur, Miles and I spent the night talking. It had been the only time he had spoken to me about his parent's divorce. I held him through most of that night, now the same look of pain was there in his eyes.

"I'll stop by." I murmured. "See you at the signing." Miles nodded to Taylor, then slipped out the door.

I stared out of the same window that Miles had. I just wanted to leave, right then and there. But instead I got up and walked to the bathroom and got out some prozac, I hadn't used since yesterday, and if I didn't get some in my system soon, I would have a serious comedown. I looked at it skeptically, for once in my life, I didn't know what to with it. Taylor had followed me in, and I looked up at the bathroom mirror and saw him. I turned around and he grabbed me in a tight embrace, I let myself sag in his arms, crying. The sobs came out so hard, my whole body shook with pain. Taylor didn't say anything, he just held me, smoothing back my hair. He quietly took the small orange container of pills from my limp fingers and put them on the counter. After feeling my sobs slow down, then stop he held me for a bit longer, then, without letting me go grabbed a rag from the shiny brass rack of towels and wet it with cold water. He wiped my red cheeks, then produced a couple white tissues for my runny nose. I started to say something, not sure of what though, but Taylor shhed me.

"Rough day, huh?" He whispered. I simply nodded, there was a lot I hadn't told him, I knew it had to come out sometime, but as much as I knew I should tell him, I didn't want to. He didn't care, he'd have to be totally unaware not to guess that something else had gone on. "You're staying put with me tonight, that's it." I didn't have any energy to protest, and I didn't want to anyway, I needed my medication.

.

Chapter 12

After my breathing came naturally, and I wasn't gasping for oxygen I fell from Taylor's arms sat down on the deliciously cool bathroom tiles. Then I felt familiar wetness that only women feel. I felt as if this was the final blow, I raised myself with weak legs and stumbled to my suitcase for a tampon. Taylor followed me in, just a step away, then closed the bathroom door after me. My mind felt fuzzy and numb as I inserted the playtex and put a towel around my waist, my pants needed to be soaked in ice water, the stain had gone right through. My back thumped against the wall, then slid down to the cooling tile again. Low, pounding aches in my lower back began a steady, painful rhythm. I lowered myself to the floor, not caring what my towel showed , as my touched the achingly cold floor, a moment of relief came. A few more tears came, but they were from physical, not emotional pain. My eyes caught a bright orange flash as I rolled my head with the hopes of relaxation. I crawled over to the sink and stupidly stared, then with a small struggle, opened the small container and swallowed two chalky pills without any water.

As Taylor closed the white bathroom door, he felt a slight pull to go inside, but he didn't know how to help her. He felt the cold brass doorknob become slippery with his wet palm. He rubbed his hands on his pants, but the leather didn't absorb any of the wetness. The pants suddenly felt uncomfortable and binding. He loved the tight, sexy feeling they gave him, but after twenty four hours of wear, they became binding. He looked at the bedroom a bit more closely, then focused on the suitcase she had left open.

He walked over, and noticed some clothes peeking out of the rim. He kicked off his uncomfortable Doc Martins and looked through her case. To his surprise she had it filled with pants, mostly cargo ones, and khaki, but a couple pairs of jeans, and most importantly, two huge pairs of adidas pants. He sucked in his breath and wriggled out of the confining leather and into the smooth adidas material. They were a little small, but still decently fit him. He threw this old pants on the bed, then went back to the suitcase. Her suitcase, in addition to the pants, which weren't folded, and still had numerous tags attached covered a couple videos. He smiled, thinking of his younger siblings, as he went through 'Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory', 'Alice and Wonderland', 'Willow', and 'The Little Mermaid.' She had some ancient copies of 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein', 'Henry the Fifth', 'The Crow', and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' All of which he had never seen, save some of 'Henry the Fifth'.

The girl confused him. She obviously adored her fans but he couldn't believe how nice she would act when they were in the middle of having their first real conversation. Taylor flopped back on the kind sized bed. Her friends seemed weird, the first one at least. He reminded Taylor of a goth freak from neck down, but he didn't act like one. He and Lane seemed to go back pretty far. Why did he want her and Mac to talk so desperately? It made no sense whatsover, just like 'Alice and Wonderland'. He smiled, at least she knew what movies to watch. He sat up, the bathroom door was closed still. All he knew was that when he had a stomach virus, he wanted to be left alone, period. He chuckled, no pun intended. He looked across the room, at the large grand piano, it wasn't a great one, mostly there for decoration. He walked over to the overly stuffed red velvet seat and sat down gingerly. He couldn't remember the last time he had played a real piano. He had learned on a keyboard, right from the beginning, he had never really tried to pursue acoustics like Ike did. His hands raised and began to touch the ivory.

I doubled over with pain, clutching my stomach. The floor was ice against my cheek, a small drop of spit fell out of my parted lips. I closed my eyes and swallowed, the pain was sharp and dull and continuous. I knew I'd lose him if I kept on seeing other guys. I had to face that I was set for life, Mac and I were supposed to live together, he was supposed to be my husband. What I didn't tell Taylor was that I had said yes. I was pregnant, I didn't tell anyone, I didn't even know myself. I only had the baby for two months, I only knew for a month. Then I had lost it, I knew I'd be okay as a mom, I hadn't been afraid. Mac's eyes were so hurt when I told him, the hazel orbs had been desolate and dead, unfocused. He didn't want it. Lucky for him it decided it didn't want to come, no one knew in the first place, except for Ruth, my best friend. After the miscarriage I left him, later that month I met up with an old high school friend and had a one night stand. The sex had been good, but I felt like a whore. I went through about six lovers in that month, and I made sure that Mac knew about every single one. I hated him. My fingernails became short and bloody with my constant picking and biting, I knew I was in trouble. I joked about killing myself to Miles one morning. That night Miles ended up telling me that we'd go out clubbing and then drove up to a friend's father's office. He made me talk to the psychiatrist, and he held me through it all. I thought my life had ended, I had just thrown away a four year relationship, an engagement, a baby, and I wanted to cut myself up. I felt like a total failure at 17, I was seventeen for Christ's sake, I hated the fact that I was tied down, hated the fact that I had moved out of my parent's house because I could, not because I wanted to. The psychiatrist, Dr. Doloures, talked to me till 3 am, and I realized, by talking to her that I wouldn't have been happy with Mac. I felt like a stone had been lifted from my aching shoulders. I threw myself into writing, and had a book deal immediately. The light in the tunnel had become brighter, and I toured, talking to Dr. Doloures all the way. The larger the crowds were, the bigger my confidence had grown, soon I was dubbed the resurrector of poetry. People were listening to the poets again, and I was the start of the ripple. My tour was a huge success, at my eighteenth birthday all of my closest friends packed into the small reserved section of the auditorium, surprising me. I began crying as soon as I saw Kristen, my blond gone brunette nut scream "Happy Birthday you forgetful guss!!" I got presents and a huge chocolate cookie, in addition to the edible underwear. From then on my life was rolling, my month back with Mac hurt even more than I had thought, we tried to patch things up, but it was impossible. I was already on Prozac, but I took a couple weeks off to get back on my feet. My breakdowns lessened, and while I was still not happy, I had come over to Europe to immerse myself in work. Then Taylor had come, and changed everything.

Softly, and slowly I heard music come from the hotel room. It was calming, soothing, my cramps lessened. I breathed in quick, hot breaths, the pain lessened even more, I felt as if I could get up. I washed my sweat drenched face in the sink and looked at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. My own green eyes stared right back, and for a moment, I stared at myself. I needed a haircut, I never wore any makeup, so I was a little pale compared to the rest of Brits. The dark marks under my eyes lessened, and my eyes had begun to clear the crying redness. I smiled, I liked myself, my high cheekbones were a little envied my friends, but I would never be a model. When I saw myself in the Rolling Stone, I was surprised, I looked so sophisticated in all the makeup they had layered on, and with my funny grin it almost looked ironic. I placed my palms on the sink and raised my body, leaning to the mirror. I uttered a small frantic sound, I had forgotten my contacts! I quickly took them out and cleaned them, I put on my green wire glasses, they were small, the colour of copper rust. I glanced to my watched, it was 11:30, I needed to get going, I had just touched the bottom of the pool, I could only go up now.

I left the towel on, I would take the tampon out later, I realized that I was supposed to take the train to the store to get more supplies, that's why I was there. I cautiously opened the door and stepped out to the creamy carpet. The piano music grew louder, more passionate, the melody sounded almost familiar. Taylor was so immersed in his playing he didn't notice I was in the room, he had my extra large warmup pants on, he looked pretty comfortable. Just as I was a step away, he stopped the flowing melody and turned around. "You look a lot better."

"Thanks." I looked at my toes, and out the window. "We need to talk."

"Okay." I took his hand and crawled under the piano, propping myself up with my elbows.

"I have to tell you what really happened." He began to speak, but I closed his mouth. "No, you have to listen to me."

.

Chapter 13

Three hours, two orders of pancakes and french fries from room service, and a box of Kleenex later, I finished my story. Taylor listened, as we laid under the black expanse. I stared at the polished black underside of the piano as I spoke, looking over to see his reactions only a few times, in the last hour he propped himself up with his elbows and looked at me. When I finished, he took me in his arms and hugged me so tightly that my ribs hurt. He then let go and we kissed, taking each other in. I cursed the moon for my promptness, and wished that any other day of the month that my blood could have come. I wanted to thank him for his quietness by taking him in again, but that could only happen in the shower now. I pulled off his white undershirt again and his musky boy smell made me mourn the lost opportunity again. Finally I got him to take my warm up pants off, with the consent that I would bare all with the annoying exception of my panties. I joked about dripping all over the place, but I secretly didn't want him to be turned off by the ever present tampon string, for some reason that made me smile, I thought it might traumatize him a bit. It was strange, I had never done anything like this with Mac, I never was very sensual with him, but with Taylor it was different, I still had butterflies in my stomach when I saw him. And I knew they would be here to stay.

I played the piano for him, doing silly songs, like 'Row Row Row your Boat' and easy stuff from 'The Little Mermaid', straddling the piano, imitating Tori Amos, which drove him nuts. Luckily he had never seen her in her early days, and thought I was being totally original. As I began to play 'Trust' from the Cure, his eyes brightened. He knew it. As I played I sang softly, mostly humming, because I didn't want to ruin the song, my voice really is not known for it greatness, as my friends have told me. My hips wriggled on the piano bench, swaying to the music, my eyes either focusing on him or closed. The song was simple, I only used the basic chords, but I managed to keep up with the right timing. I improvised a little bit in the end, trying to hold onto the connection I had with his eyes, with his being. His silky blond mane was pushed back behind his ears, as I finished, I went to him, and freed it a bit, running my hands through the tangled locks. I placed my thighs around his pelvic bone and I heard him moan softly. I lightly kissed his lips, as he brought me closer, our chests together. I felt his immediate excitement, then whispered in his ear to come to the shower. He swallowed, then looked at me and nodded.

I ran to the bathroom, trying to get rid of the tampon, I had it in the garbage the second that he came in and turned on the water. As he began to get in, I held him back. "Wait a minute." He gave me a pleading look, but I went in and cleaned myself, I didn't smell like a daisy, and I needed to wash up. I slowly opened the curtain and smiled a mischievous grin, "Wanna join me?" Taylor grabbed the curtain and forced himself in. I gave him my best smelling shampoo, and he began to suds me up. After a minute, when the tufts of bubbles began to run down my back, he filled his hands with the soap and ran his fingers all over my eager body, while I stood, gasping with pleasure under the steaming water. His hands slide over my back and chest, I could feel a slight pressure from his groin on my back. I rinsed the suds, then handed him the detangler, which he put way too much on, just as he finished I turned around, grabbed a body wash and squirted it on his body. I reached over and lowered the showerhead, so I wouldn't be squirted the whole time, at least not with water and lowered him on top of me, my legs enwrapped him. It was incredible. The soap made our rhythm faster. I could feel his skin much more acutely, his mouth found my own, and an orgasm rocketed through my body, I had never felt this kind of sexuality in my life. When we finished, we were both gasping. I rinsed the detangler and quickly washed his hair, which he loved, I kept my body close to his. Just as I was about to stop the hot water, his hands were on my waist, and before I could protest he was on me again, my legs around him, and another orgasm that was almost a replica of the previous one. He never complained about the blood, in fact, I don't think he even noticed. I got out first and put in another tampon, then dried him off.

"Lane?" I was rubbing his collarbone lightly.

"Hm?"

"Can we do that again, sometime?"

"Sure." He stopped my hand on his thigh and kissed me, growing more insistent by kiss. When we pulled apart, I handed him a new towel. "Your turn."

"Do you work out or something?"

"Why? Yeah, I run or do whatever machines the hotel has. Every morning, you've been messing up my routine lately."

"Well then, my sincere apologies, but it is something that I do not regret."

"Hm, whatever, I don't know about you, but I've got the munchies."

"Room service again?"

"Heck yeah. I want something really extravagant, I mean ridiculous. Seafood."

"Extravagant? For lunch? I just want a burger."

"Suit yourself." I grabbed my bathrobe, just as I was about to tie it, Taylor's hands were on my waist, and his tongue was in my mouth. He let go. "What was that for?" I smiled.

"You look really good." His eyes were serious.

I had started to eat the swordfish, which had just arrived, when Taylor went looking in my bag again. Since we both had older siblings the only natural instinct was to sneak through the other person's stuff. He had told me about how when he was 12 he had found the ultimate prize, a love letter that Ike had written. He laughed, telling me how it ended up in a fountain. Ike had been horrified, he had poured his soul into that letter, to a longtime girlfriend.

Taylor paused then, in the middle of snooping and bitterly smiled "I was horrid to him sometimes, but I was so jealous." I raised my head from my seafood. "Seriously, he was such a favorite, everyone always thought that I was the favorite in the family, just because I got the most letters. Bull." I sat there, chewing the fish, and looked at him expectantly. "I never told this to anyone except a couple people. I didn't think I could trust anyone, hey you gonna eat that roll?" I stared at him, unblinking, frozen in my last bite of the yummy lunch. I swallowed, then nodded. I had finished my story, and if he was going to tell me anything, then I wasn't going to ruin it by babbling out anything that came into my head, like 'how could say that? Your family is so big, big families are always supposed to be happy.' but instead I handed him the roll. I wanted quite badly to have my camera in my hand as he spoke. Black and white film, it would've been perfect. As I stared at him, he began again. "You know I've been with other women." My eyes widened, then I smiled, 'good, that's at least healthy' I thought.

"Tell me about them." I leaned toward him with interest from under the piano where I had taken my delectable meal. He blushed slightly.

"Well my first uh, girlfriend was Becky, she was a girl that lived by us. We kinda got together when I was 13, she's a couple months older than I am. We were best friends, but we, well, I mean, I changed a lot when Middle of Nowhere came out and we went on our publicity tour. We didn't break up till I was 15, it lasted a long time. It wasn't that serious, I mean, my parents are pretty strict when it comes to that stuff, but it was fun, and I really loved her."

"Taylor, let me tell you first hand, if you still have good feelings about your ex, you're pretty damn lucky." He smiled.

"We're still friends, she still comes to concerts, and our parents still do stuff every once and a while. I mean, I don't alienate her or anything." I finished my lunch, and swallowed my last swig of my bottled water. Then burped and giggled.

"Hold on, just sit right there." I said pointing to the piano bench. I jumped over to my bag, and carefully removed my camera from the heavy padding of sweaters. It was a big one, in my senior year of high school I had taken a beginner's class on photography, from there on I was nuts about it. I had hundreds of pictures from all over the US from my first tour. Mac had gotten me the camera for my seventeenth birthday, it had cost him a fortune. Which I actually ended up paying for most of it, since at a gig in a frat party, a drunken partygoer had broken his guitar, and he had to replace it for their next gig in a week. I hadn't minded, it was the thought that counted, right? I loaded the small cylinder of film into the camera, and brought two more rolls in my bathrobe pocket. As I cleaned the lense with an afterthought, I began to hear the faint tinkling of the piano. I had left out a couple sheets of music, mostly classical which I was teaching myself, I had bought the CDs of the suites in a music store last week, because I learned better by ear. The tinkling stopped with a brief rest, then I began to hear a perfect replica of the cd. A little choppy, a bit slow, but it got faster as he went along. He stopped, I could hear a slight rustling of papers, I remembered the other music I had on the stand, some Tori Amos, which I couldn't play at all, and some old love songs. There was a long pause then I heard the chords to my all time favorite song, 'Lovesong' from the Cure. I knew I had left the music out there, it made my heart cry a little to hear it again. But all too soon he stopped, then more rustling. Then came a song I wasn't familiar with, I slowly moved toward the open bedroom door, then I recognized it, the Beatles' 'Yesterday'. I slowly came in, tears came to my eyes, this relationship was going to be so hard to keep afloat, I knew he had to leave tomorrow, his mother didn't say where they were going, for all I knew they could be going back to the states for the rest of their tour. I needed to move on to another date in France, and would then be tramping around the UK for another 4 months. I leaned against the doorway and watched him from behind. He still had his pristine white towel on, as the chords progressed I felt as if he was finishing his improvised intro and was going to sing. I began to take my pictures, using the natural light from the window over the piano as his voice mourned a future loss.

.

Chapter 14

As I circled him, my finger snapping at the eager film, I realized that I had never seen him perform like this. I remembered seeing him behind two sets of keyboards, jumping up and down, yelling crowd pleasers, like 'c'mon' or 'let's go guys', nothing passionate, just, well, fun. I began circling the piano, soaking in his image, music, and presence. His voice became deeper, curling the lower notes, and using his breathing as an instrument. He began to look at the camera. The blue that had brought him to me seared through the camera's lense, my eyes watered. My finger kept on moving. I knew I would treasure these prints until the edges were torn and crumbling beneath my salty hands. I tired to ignore the ocean that I knew I had to cross in order to be with him. I stopped my burning hands, and put the camera down on the piano, shaking.

"This is not going to work." Taylor's face grew twisted and painful.

"No, we can make it, I'll call you, we can visit, just after the touring stops, then we'll get some time off, you can come to Tulsa, and" He voice was shaky, I cut him off.

"No, this is not going to work. We're too young, and you life, your.. Hanson is moving, I'm going on my own. I want to have my own career, this is not going to work with us at two opposite ends of the world. There's nothing left to try, and there's nothing to prove here. I don't want to deal with this, you know what's going to happen." I stood in silence. He sat, staring at the black on white, hands clasped in between his thighs on the thick piano bench.

"God, I don't want to lose you. I don't know how to fix this." I wanted to sit next to him, hold his hand, kiss him, embrace him. But I couldn't, I didn't want to make the loss sting anymore that it had to.

"You knew, you did, that this would never work. Never." I moved to the bedroom, changed into a pair of black jeans, with a turtleneck the color of night. I tugged on my black mod boots, grabbed my coat off the coffee table, and tied my hair up, a couple cornsilk wisps falling out as I moved. I put my wallet in my black bag and walked past Taylor, still sitting on the bench. As I reached for the doorknob, he finally jumped off the seat and grabbed my arm.

"This is not happening, you're not leaving me. I've NEVER felt like this about anyone! Why are you doing this to me? Why can't you come back to Tulsa and stay? Why are you doing this? Why can't you try to come? Why can't we try to make this work? Is this some kind of joke?" He was yelling, tears falling on bright red cheeks, and voice breaking. "I thought you loved me." His voice was a whisper. That threw me off, he had never said it to me, or I to him.

"I do. That's why I'm leaving." I took his cheek in my hand. "You will always be here, do you understand? It's better to end it this way." I pointed to my chest. He nodded, tears spilling onto my hand, he grabbed my wrist and held my hand closer to cheek, cradling it. I stepped toward him, and put my lips to his. His kiss was mourning, deep and sorrowful, I closed my eyes and tried desperately to hold onto that moment. As I moved back, painfully, I held him in a tight embrace. I felt as if my ribs were about to shatter, he loosened his grip and began to moved the loose strands of my hair in between his fingers.

"Don't leave me."

"I have to."

"Why?"

"Because I love you." I turned around and went through the door.

As I made my way down the hall, I was blinded by my tears. I felt my stomach turn over. As soon as I reached the lobby I ran to the ladies room and vomited. I rinsed my mouth with my hands. I looked at myself in the mirror, I couldn't stand it, I was making the biggest mistake of my life, I knew it. My eyes looked puffy and red, to add to the dark marks below them. I ran out of the bathroom and grabbed a cab, sighting the book signing store as my destination. The drive would be about a half hour, so I opened my large black bag and retrieved my discman. I had an old Police cd in, as I put on the large earphones, 'Message in a Bottle' came on random. I held back my tears and bit my lower lip, I dug my nails into the soft flesh of my palms, leaving small half moons in their place. "A hundred Billion castaways, looking for a home/ I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle" Sting's random, punkish guitar work of his earlier days flitted inside my ears, and made me repress my urge to empty my stomach again. I produced a light lip gloss and rubbed some on my dry lips, as my finger touched my lips, I thought of Taylor's last kiss. 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' started, its' piano solo quick, with inertia, as the chorus started, I felt like putting my fist through the cab window. "It's always me that ends up getting wet.."

As the cab slowed, I pulled out cash and a tip, to which the cabbie waved away, saying "Lady, you need some rest, keep it." I made him take the tip, my bottom lip shuddering, and thanked him. The large, soot coloured building was packed with mostly twenty-something fans, most wearing Sandman shirts or DC Comics. I cursed myself for forgetting one of my Tori Amos shirts, her and Neil were good friends, I would've been able to blend in a bit better. Looking around the room, I realized that most people were dressed in Gothic attire, and my black fit in perfectly. My eyes watered, I didn't know how long I could ignore the impossible pain in my chest. I remembered when a close gay friend, Steve, broke up with his boyfriend of six months, he was so in love with him. His boyfriend had spent three weeks in Seattle, when he got back, he'd changed, none of us could tell immeadiately, but it was underneath, he didn't love Steve anymore. The split was so sudden that Steve was at a loss, he barely ate for a week, I stayed with him for a couple days, in a bit more astonished curiosity than pity. He would tell me how much his chest hurt, he said 'Lane, you know that stupid clique, 'My heart is breaking!'?' I nodded. 'It doesn't break, it collapses first, then it falls down to your stomach. It shrivels and is stepped on, you've got a gash down the front. You're bleeding constantly.' I didn't believe him then, I felt horrible for him, but I didn't think the pain could be so physical. Just as I was about to try to find the bathroom, Miles grabbed my arm.

"Hey, where have you been? I waited around for you, then I thought I missed you 'cos I had to interview Neil. You had me worried there girl." He did look worried, his face dropped when he saw my eyes. I looked away, self consciously.

"So, um, has he started yet?" My voice was quiet, almost a whisper.

"Are you upset about what I said before?"

"No Miles, I just, I don't know what's wrong with me sometimes, and I don't think I should be here, in fact I think I should leave. Leave, yes, I should do that. You do not want to be with me right now, I need to go." I murmured that I'd call him, then turned to go.

"What the hell is going on?!" He grabbed my arm roughly. I opened my mouth, surprised out of my skin, he was never this physical. He led me through the crowd, out to a back alley. The afternoon light was grey, the day was overcast and clouds surrounded the sun, leaving it to be a whitish circle in the nondescript sky.

"Fuck you Miles, I don't want to talk. Just leave me alone." I desperately wanted my voice to rise, and sound more angry, but all I heard was pain in my whiny tone.

"Does this have to do with Taylor?" His tone was motherly, tight, but softer.

"Yes, it does, and that's it, I'm not talking anymore. Please, please Miles, just leave me alone now." Hot, betraying tears fell from my red eyes, I used my sleeve to wipe them up from under my glasses. I leaned against the rough brick wall and slid down, sitting with my knees to my chin. I wrapped my arms around my legs, and pushed my forehead into my knees. I felt a slight coolness on my head, then another, a drizzle had started. Despite my want for my tears to stay inside me, they flowed, wetting my jeans. I shook with my sobs. "I left him. I left him, and I wanted him. I wanted him so badly. Jesus Christ Miles, I know the boy for two days, and I want to be with him!" My voice rose to a crescendo, it grew jagged and raged. "I want to see him every morning, I want to live with him, I want to. . . stay. But I can't. He's in Hanson, on tour, in the public's eye, all over the world, with me on the other side dammit! Why did I meet him now? Why?" I started to scream with anger, my pain in my heart grew as my voice did. "This isn't fair, just when I'm fine, he comes along, why? Why can't I treat him like a one night stand?! Why does it hurt so fucking much?" Miles was at my side, holding me, restraining my efforts to get away from him. My body went limp, and I let him hold me, then accepted him, and grabbed at him frantically, using all of my strength. I soaked the shoulder of his black shirt with my salty tears, wailing my loss. He smoothed back my stray hair and kissed the top of my head with pity. As I calmed, I started to tell Miles about the past twenty four hours, he kept quiet, holding me when I needed it. It was a short tale, since some parts would never be spoken of again. When I finished, Miles' eyes had tears in them, ruining the startling contrast of the mint green on white.

"You need to start calming down, and start finding out why you agreed to go with him, when you did." His voice was even toned. I looked up at him, puzzled. I looked up at the rain, took off my foggy glasses and let the cool drops come on my steaming cheeks. I turned to Miles.

"I loved him from the second I saw him. That feeling of loss from Mac, just dissolved in that second, for a moment. I just couldn't believe the way I felt, I knew I had to have him."

"Then you'll meet again, when you've stopped treating yourself like a masochist, and once he is out of his group for a while. I think this is just an appetizer for your main course Lane. If you are meant to be, then you'll meet again. This is just a test, you gotta look at it from that perspective."

"You promise?"

"If you guys are meant to be, then you'll be together. I don't know if that will happen, honest, I don't, but you're doing the right thing. It's not fair to either of you."

"I am doing the right thing?"

"Yes, you are. You're going to go on your tour, and help a lot of people." I raised my hand.

"No, they help themselves, I'm just a little cheerleader on the sidelines, I'm just a friend."

"You still do a lot, I've seen their eyes. You gotta throw yourself into this now. And you've got to do it or you're going to mope over this forever."

"But I want to be with him."

"It's over now." With that sentence my body went numb. I stared at the brick in front of me, unblinking.

"No, this is NEVER going to be over, you hear me? Never Miles. I am going to wait for him, you'll see."

"You have to let other people touch you, not now, but after you've done most of the healing. I mean, obviously you're not going to let go and love, let the gash heal, then we'll see, okay?"

"I'd feel like I was cheating on him if I ever..."

"You left him in your hotel room, this is done." I inhaled a deep breath of the moist London air, held the coolness in, thenlet it go in a quick rush.

"I got snot on your shirt." I smiled.

"Well thanks loads, ew." He smiled back at me, and stood up. "God dammit Lane, my ass is numb from sitting so long, hope you're happy." I felt like crying again, but I held it in.

"Thank you." I dropped my eyes and grew serious.

"If you actually thought I was going to leave you like that, you're on some seriously strong crack there girl." I giggled, sniffling. "C'mon, let's go."

.

Chapter 15

The huge coal black hood of the mustang roared, Taylor knew it was relieved of the small roads of the inner city Tulsa, and wanted to move. He loved this car, it was so fucking huge, driving it was incredible, he felt like he owned the road in it. His parents had hated it from the second he had brought it home. Unsafe, uneconomical, and old, were the exact descriptions they had used. He smiled to himself, thinking of his mother's face the night after he had brought it home and he had taken her for a ride. She was hooked like pure heroin, but she couldn't lead on, his father would've been furious. He just had just been puzzled why he wouldn't want a VW Bug, like Ike. Of course as soon as Ike saw it, he'd been jealous out of his mind. Zac was the only smart one of the bunch, as far as Taylor was concerned, he had immediately asked to be taken out in it, and was a frequent passenger in the newest member in the Hanson garage. That's where they had begun to talk again. It was magic, they would spend hours together, not always talking, but becoming more used to each other's presence either working on the car, or riding in it. Ike had finally moved out, to his parent's dismay and married Sarah, the longtime girlfriend, who'd stuck by him through tour after grueling tour. Taylor liked her, she could be as pure as a pearl with his parents, then an absolute nutcase behind the wheel. She and Ike taught Taylor to drive stick, although their constant teasing of whiplash was a little annoying, they were fun. They belonged together. He liked hanging out with them, but sometimes, just sometimes, Sarah would remind him of Lane. Most recently at the Fourth of July fireworks, he saw her and Ike on a blanket together, faces lit by the bursts of neon color. They were connected in the way that he and Lane were, or had been. Their hands together on an old woolen blanket, when there was a pause in the firework action, Ike would look at Sarah, and her at him. It made Taylor try to imagine what it would be like to have someone like that for more than twenty four hours. He'd moved on, after a couple months. Random girls, no one very special, the only one he'd liked a bit more than the usual date told him that her old boyfriend was begging her to come back after two weeks. He told her go back to him, he knew she's been thinking about him. He'd seen Lane twice, once a year back in New York at a book reading. She was looking good, her hair was longer than he remembered, a little longer than shoulder length. She was wearing a little makeup, but she still looked a little tired, but the tiredness seemed to vanish as soon as she started reading. Her reading voice was more musical than her speaking, and he'd stayed for the whole thing, and was late to a promo performance. He felt a little out of place, he saw people lip synching her writing, like his fans did when he sang. She was in a black tight top, she was a little bit more muscular, with a lavender straight knee length skirt that didn't show much, but still he thought she looked sexy in it. She'd been wearing prom shoes, these gold ones, with small straps and a curved heel that looked strange with the ensemble. As she began to read after telling the crowd about how cool it was to be back in New York, since she loved their accents and their great food. She cracked a couple jokes which people seemed to get, inside ones, that dealt with her writing he found out later. After reading a sonnet on a close friend's abusive boyfriend she suddenly stopped. Looking around the crowd, she said "Someone's here, I can feel him." A fan had yelled to her, the serious look dissolved, and she smiled, "Then it must be you honey." Taylor couldn't believe it, she then proceeded to scan the crowd, giving up after one pass. "I guess I was wrong you guys, I don't think this boy would want to see me anyways. I singlehandedly ripped my and his heart out in one step. But you know, sometimes those things can't work out, but every once and a while you think of that blond over blue, and hmmmm..." She'd put her hand to her heart and swayed lightly, "Some people just get in there and boom, they've staked their claim, but it won't happen again." She went on to her next poem. The next day he checked some of her fan sites on the web and was astonished, they'd all had reports of the incident, not a one had his name connected to it, thank God, but they all seemed to know everything else about her. The second time was two months ago in Vermont, in a concert. She stuck out because she wasn't dancing, she looked furious. He looked at her the whole concert, singing for her. He whispered to Ike in the last encore that he wanted to do something extra, as he ran back out on stage the screaming was there, but she was gone. He played 'Yesterday' hoping that she'd come back, but she never showed. He wanted to scream to her to come back, but it was too late, she'd left him, again. Afterwards he'd thought of emailing her, he'd found her address through a fan website, but then after debating for a week decided against it. After two months of moping, Ike and Zac had both come to him, and demanded to know what was wrong. He told them, feeling hurt and naked, baring all to his brothers. Instead of looks of disapproval, he was met with stubborn looks, and the phrase 'Hanson men never lose women', and 'get off yer ass and find her'. So with the tour finished, and six months off under his belt, he left to find her home in Maryland. He left a note to his parents, gave his fish and apartment to a friend to babysit and took his golden lab, Julian with him. So he was on the road, the longs hours by himself and Julian seemed to help, he thought more about Lane, and almost turned around three times. As he crossed state lines he stayed in various hotels, sneaking Julian into all of them, and managed to only be caught once. He'd started reading more about her, through websites and through libraries that he passed through. Her first European tour had gone well, though a year later, in an interview she confided that she was "in pretty bad shape over a serious loss, but a friend made me go through with it (the tour), and because I did, I started to heal. It hurt every day, but seeing my friend there really helped, he wouldn't let me go falling into any rabbit holes. The sad part was that it was a big press deal, and I was falling apart inside, but outside I had to be on the right track, and on the top of the hill, saying that I was doing quite good. And day by day, although I was writing and thinking about this person, I started to feel as if I had made the right decision. Through writing, I felt a bit more in tune with my inner instrument, and I started to learn my own chords again. Sometimes my fingers would be pretty sore and tired, but I forced myself learn it again. To learn that I had compassion, to learn that the phone can be used for something else than a torture instrument. The torture being that I could call him, yes, I could have. But I didn't, and I used to hate to have to call people because I'd be thinking, I could be hearing his breathing this very second. I didn't talk about the recent loss, I talked about the old one, the one that the book was based on. The wound was a different one, and although I was telling myself that I was talking to these people about a long lost love, I was really crying and talking about the recent one. But once I had a hold on my inner instrument, I was back on the field, and I started to continue with life. I still felt like there was this enormous gap in my bridge to completeness, but I started to deal with it. It's still there, but some things never change." Taylor had made a photocopy of that page, and put it under the vanity mirror in the mustang, it kept him going. The last interview that he found was in a short blurb in Time. 'So, what are you up to now?' "Uh, I'm mooning people, I'm writing my ass off, and I'm kicking some ass too. (laughs)" 'Really? Hey that's interesting' "I try not to bore people, I'm down in the South, Maryland, a couple miles away from Baltimore. I'm by the water, and I'm staring to get back with nature a bit. Emerson's gonna look like a shrimp when I'm done here." 'Sex life good?' "har har har. Do you guys always ask upfront questions? I just broke up with another guy, so no, it's not so good at the moment, but that's okay, my psychic told me that myhoney jar'd be full by the end of the summer. Which is a good thing because it'd gonna be a hot one." 'Another one? Geez, you consult a psychic?' "No. My friend Kristen does Tarot cards, she's hanging out with me." 'Is she your next love interest?' "(laughs) No, I've already used her up, she's as dry as a buttercup, no girls at the moment." 'Well thanks for the interview, who should be on our next cover?' "Me. You should start acknowledging the poets a bit more, I want my parents to get the issue in the mail and start screaming, they don't do that enough." As he drove through Georgia, he started to think that she missed him. She had made little references to the time they'd been together in a couple articles, one, in Seventeen had been huge. "What's your favorite music?" "I really love original stuff, classical, the dreamers, the unpopular if you will. I started to get into Led Zeppelin when I was twelve, but now I'm more into anything experimental. No fake musicians, I hate the actors, ick poo. Though I just went to a Hanson concert, it was a cultural shock. This girl in front of me kept on screaming that Tay was looking at her. I was turned off completely, the music was good though, quite the keyboard player." "Favorite time of day?" "Four a.m knows all my secrets, that's the scariest time. I happen to like ten thirty, I like the stars, the constellations move me. I'm a big Greek Myth girl." 'Favorite food?' "I really like animal crackers and bagels, no junk food! I have pretty rich tastes sometimes, I don't know why." 'Favorite Writer?' "Oh jeez, I dunno, for all the writing I do, you'd think it would be a poet, but no. I grew up sucking on Poppy Z. Brite and Stephen King. They really rocked my world at a very young age, I was lucky that I found them when my style was developing." 'Favorite Hollywood hunk?' "(laughs) Oh man, I dunno, I don't track boys like a I used to, I'm not that young unfortunately. I used to see a boy, and nothing would hold me back. Same goes now, I think. If I want someone, then I'll stake him out, a couple years back, I backed off when I knew it would never work. Now I'm at the point where I'm like 'Okay, I am willing to try anything to be near you, I will give you my heart if you say you missed it.' It's a very dangerous thing to do, I know this, but now I'm so desperate to be near a person, that I'm willing." The article was added to the others kept in the vanity mirror. He felt a little heroic at times, he didn't want to admit to himself the other articles that spoke of her writing, and how she was over all men from her past. He wondered, if she wanted him back, then she would've found him first. He called Ike when he was in Virginia, and about to start to find her by asking locals.

"So, how's it going?" Taylor found his voice to be a little shaky.

"Fine, Sarah says hi. She really thinks it's cool that you went. You know, she really likes her writing. It's funny, but I mentioned her full name, and Sarah got all excited, she wants you to bring her back."

"I have no clue what I'm going to say."

"Then smile and try not to look stupid. Zac says hi."

"Well tell him I said I'm almost there. I still don't know what I'm going to do."

"Hey, one word of advice before I go."

"What?"

"Make it up as you go along." With that Ike said g'night, and was gone.

As I stared into the darkening waters of the Chesapeake bay, I leaned against a dock pillar, looking into the ripples. My face puckered with concentration, a frown upon my face. I hugged the pole, smelling the water, listening to the rhythmic waves. I had made myself be a bit more alone than I was used to ever since I had moved to Maryland. The more alone I was, the more I thought about myself, and that was hard enough. Miles had left a week ago, after sticking around for a week holiday from his London magazine to which he was now the editor. Every once and a while I wished I had married him, he had stuck by my side through so much, but he was engaged to a funny little Londoner, Jess. He'd been with her for two years, and we had hung out a lot together. Mac had great career going, and had married a friend of mine last year. I went to the wedding, but left early. I had never felt so alone in my life in the midst of the small group of friends, mostly Mac's. Miles was busy with Jess, and I was left out, again. I had moved on with other men, nothing special, nothing lasted. I went looking for Taylor in almost every one, then looked for the exact opposite of Taylor. Both varieties proved to be full of faults. I sat on the dock, dipping my toes into the cool water. I had brought the phone out with me, it sat beside me, unmoving. I picked it up, started to dial the area code for Tulsa, then put it back down. He'd have to be nuts to actually consider taking me back. I had only seen him once since I'd left him, around two months ago I heard their tour was coming to Vermont, it was farther away than the Washington DC date, but I felt like a road trip. So I took my trusty four runner up the mountains, and saw him with a fifteenth row, center ticket. I didn't take a friend, I had wished that I had, I had wanted to go to the back and wait for him. To apologize, to try to get him back. Just to change the way I was now. The screaming fans made me realize that little had changed, he loved performing, his delivery was different than I had remembered, nothing like in the hotel room, but more soulful. He found me in the middle of the third song, the look he gave me, made me want to crawl away on my hands and knees. He began to sing to me again, I don't think he saw how hard I crying, or how much a I realized I had missed out on. I began to lightly sway to the rhythm of the water, I felt a touch on my shoulder. Kristen smiled down at me, "How're you doing?"

"Not good."

"What are you thinking about?"

"A person. I need to call Miles." I got up and left Kristen, who was startled.

"Hey, what's up? Lane! YO!"

"I'll tell you when I'm off with Miles." Kristen stopped, then sat down on the dock. I had met her two years ago, we'd immediately connected. She knew about Taylor, but not everything. She was a bit more flamboyant than me, that's why I liked her so much. She had attitude with other people, but with me, she knew how to turn it off. Her reddish brown hair and bright blue eyes were familiar to me, and always dared me to put myself out on a limb. She acted for a living, but mostly sang as a backup singer for signed artists on Maverick records. She decided to take most of the summer off, and spend it in my new house on the bay. I had invited a couple friends to staywith me, so I wouldn't be alone through writing the next book. Most were busy with their own lives, I was in a couple weddings as a bridesmaid. But everyone was moving and doing stuff, like I did when I was away, but when I came home, then everything seems to go at a snails pace. Kristen and lunged at the opportunity to stay with me, and I was thanking the gods the night she called me and said that she'd be able to stay a couple weeks.

I called Miles, but before the phone rang three times, I got an answering machine, so I left a message. Kristen came in from the dock, and headed for the kitchen. I set the phone back on the stand and followed her.

"Wasn't he home?"

"Nope, probably out with Jess."

"Well some people have it good, I can't wait till I'm engaged, then I'll be able to do something every night for the rest of my life."

"Ha. I don't think I'm every going to get to that place, ever."

"You will, just wait and see. You're pretty, ya got money, and you've got people who love you who you don't even know."

"Well thanks, but I don't think any of those are gonna help me." I reached into a creamy colored cupboard and grabbed some hot chocolate mix.

"You'll do fine, even the creator of 'Cathy' got married." She opened the fridge and brought out the milk.

"Sure, when she was fifty." I moved around her and went back into the cupboards for two mugs.

"We need to go man hunting girl." I took the two mixed mugs from her hands and put them in the microwave.

"Tell me about it. I need to get moving here, get out the tarots, we need some mmmmagic!" I loved watching her explain the messages made from the colorful cards.

"You got it, I'll be right back." I opened the microwave and brought out the two steaming cups, and started to mix both. The phone rang.

"Hey Kris! Will you get that?!" I yelled to her, I thought she'd left the cards in the living room, but based on the fact that neither of us cleaned, she could have no clue where they were. But the ringing stopped. She didn't call for me to pick up, so I brought the mugs to the kitchen table and sat down on a stool, slipping the yummy warmth. Kris came in the room with a surprised look on her face. "What's up? Who was that?"

"You have a visitor coming, I suggest you get changed." A smile broke through and lit up her whole face.