Chapter 11

Blaire

"ANNNNNNNNNNNNDREW! GET THE PHONE!" I yelled. "Good God, boy, are you deaf?"

It was Saturday night, and once again I was desperately searching my closet for something to wear.

The whole day had gone bad, starting this morning when Andrew ate all the cereal. Is it too much to ask for a bowl of Fruit Loops in the morning? I think not. It went downhill from there. A racehorse had fallen and shattered it's leg, so Christian and I had an hour and a half of surgery. Once I got home, I found that Andrew had used all the hot water so I was forced to take a cold shower. And now I can't find anything to wear, Andrew won't answer the phone, and I want my mom.

"ANDREW WHITNEY, GET THAT PHONE BEFORE I SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!"

"UP YOURS, BLAIRE!" he yelled.

The ringing stopped, and I attacked my closet again.

"Aha!" I muttered to myself. I pulled out my vinyl silver pants and waved them around my head. I laughed to myself.

"Yo, Blaire!" Andrew yelled. "The phone is for YOU!"

I threw the pants over my shoulder and went out to the living room. I grabbed the phone out of his hand and smirked at him.

"Hope you weren't planning to wear those," he said, wrinkling his nose.

"You know what, Andrew? You suck." I said crossly. Not to mature, but what can you do. "Hello?"

"Hey Blaire," a Hanson voice said.

"Zac?"

"Zac?! ZAC!? You think I'm ZAC?!"

Oops. "Sorry Taylor."

"That's better," he said, sounding a bit miffed. "And just so you know, my voice is much deeper than Zac's."

I rolled my eyes. "Of course, Taylor. Does it strike a nerve that little brother has a manly voice?"

"Hey, can I tell you why I called, or do you want to keep insulting me?"

"Oh, but this is so much fun!"

Taylor sighed. "We're fixing to leave the club and come get you. It'll take about 30 minutes. You ready, or do you want us to wait?"

'30 minutes? Panic! There is no way you can be ready in 30 minutes, say no, say no, say no!'

"Yeah, I'm about ready."

'Why do I even bother?'

"Great! I'm on my way then."

"Oh, take your time."

He laughed. "Bye, Blaire."

"Bye."

I pressed the off button as calmly as I could and handed the phone back to Andrew. "Well, I hope you're happy."

"What are you talking about? I didn't do anything. Hey, are you PMSing or something?" That's Andrew, Mr. Sensitivity personified.

"NO, I AM NOT PMSING! But thanks to you and your 45-minute shower habit..."

"Excuse me if I'm hygienic! It will never happen again."

I whipped the towel that was holding my hair up and threw it at the general direction of his head. "I am THIS close to coming after you with a dull razor and cutting out your vital organs."

"Oh loving sister of mine, how I adore these family bonding moments we have. But look at it this way. With the dim lighting in the club, maybe Taylor won't notice your clothes. And with your luck, he's colorblind. That's a perfect match for you!"

I scowled at him, and yanked my pants off the chair I had thrown them on. "There is nothing wrong with these pants. NOTHING!" I yelled as I stomped off to my bedroom.

"Sure...if you're a baked potato," I heard him mutter.

Great. I have the world's hottest eligible bachelor coming to pick me up in 30 minutes and Andrew and I have launched World War 3. I decided to solve my clothes problem real quick. I closed my eyes, reached in my closet, and pulled out the first thing I felt. Well, maybe not the first thing. The first few things were really ugly.

I ended up with a black halter-top looking thing. You can tell I'm quite the fashion buff, right? Black and silver. Very Y2K-esque of me. Just add some shoes and I'm set.

"Now was that so hard?" Andrew asked from outside my door.

I threw my shoe at the door and sighed. I really wish I was an only child.

.

Chapter 12

Taylor

"Hey Taylor! Good show, man. Thanks!"

I grunted as I worked on untangling the wires of a microphone. Who was he kidding? We sucked ass. Kyle, Ike's friend who owned the club, was just trying to be nice so we'd come back and play here again. Pssh. I won't be back. Our harmonies and instruments were way off, and for the last two songs Zac's microphone would shut on and off. Not my idea of a good show. Then, as soon as we were done, Ike ran off to Jill, and Zac went off somewhere with his usual mob of friends, leaving me to pack up our equipment so it didn't get stolen and talk to the people walking by who commented on our set. Blaire probably thinks I'm avoiding her. As soon as we get home, I'm going to kill them.

I growled under my breath as a group of 5 teenage-looking women giggled their way towards me. I ducked my head and squeezed my eyes shut, hoping they wouldn't see me.

"Excuse me...sir?"

Sir? They called me sir? Break out the Geritol, folks, I'm officially a sir.

I looked up and bared my teeth in what I hoped looked like a smile. "Yes?"

One of them squealed. I winced. Here it comes.

"Oh my God! You're...Taylor Hanson!" She whispered my name as if it was sacred, or it would break if she said it to loud. Great.

"Why are you packing up the equipment? Don't roadies do that?" another asked, twirling a lock of hair around her finger.

I narrowed my eyes. I really need a drink. "We aren't really on tour right now. Just doing this as a favor to a friend, so we don't have roadies or good equipment." Or brothers who pack up their own shit. I should give Zac's drums to these girls.

"Oh. Well...can you sign this for me?" Pieces of paper were thrust toward me.

"Sure." Anything to get them away from me. I ran my fingers through my longish hair and scrawled my name on them. "Issac and Zac are somewhere over there."

"Thank you Taylor! It was nice meeting you!"

"Yeah," I said watching them walk away. Too bad they're fans. That one has a nice ass. I threw more stuff in the boxes, hoping something of Ike's or Zac's broke. Just a little crack.

"Don't tell me...Taylor Hanson?"

I rolled my eyes. "Dear God, if you have any mercy you will kill me now," I muttered as I turned around.

Blaire was standing there, a slight smile on her lips.

Or not.

"Want some help there, big boy?"

"Sure, now that I'm almost done."

She laughed. "Then what do you say we leave the rest for Ike and Zac and you come with me."

"We could do that." She grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the stage.

"Don't beat yourself up over the set, Taylor. It wasn't that bad."

"Wasn't that bad? Blaire, it was worse than bad. Everything was off, Zac's microphone was screwed."

"At least you didn't have to play 'MMMBop'."

"We were actually considering it, but Zac was convinced that if we played it we'd get jumped."

"Taylor!" someone called out my name. I mentally slapped my head. Where can a guy go to get some privacy around this place?

I turned to see Zac waving at me from across the club. I thought evil thoughts in his direction.

"Yo Tay!" he yelled again. Yo? Where does he think he is? "Over here!"

"Yes, Mouth, I hear you," I muttered, turning my back to him, and facing Blaire, who had a smirk on her face.

"I think Zac's trying to get your attention."

"Really? Whatever gave you that idea? I don't hear anything. Zac who?"

"Just go see what he wants."

"Fine," I sighed. I pushed my hair out of my face and headed toward Zac, Blaire's hand still clasped in mine.

"What do you want?"

"Did all the stuff get packed up?"

Well, that burned me. Forget thanking me for picking up his, well, most of his stuff. No, it's just, 'Did all my stuff get picked up, because you know how helpless I am and I can't be bothered to pick up my own crap.'

"Well, my stuff got picked up. Did you get yours?"

Zac's jaw dropped. "I thought you had it. You left it up there. All of it. In the open."

"I'm not Mom or Dad, Z. Or your personal maid. If you didn't get your drums and mics, then it hasn't gotten put away yet."

Zac slammed his drink on the table beside him, and I felt my face flush. "Dammit, Tay! People probably took off with it. Why the hell didn't you take care of it? You were up there! Are you suddenly to good to pack up?"

Blaire shifted beside me.

"Well I didn't take care of it. So you better get it."

Zac glared at me, then pushed me as he past. A wave of heat washed over me. The dance music pounded in my head, and the dancing bodies around me swirled as I staggered dizzily.

I've got to get out of here, I thought.

"Taylor? Are you okay?" Blaire's voice whispered in my ear, moving closer to me.

"I...I need to go...air," I murmured.

I pushed desperately through the crowd of people, forgetting my coat, and ran out of the building. Gulping the cold night air, I collapsed on the bench by the door, my head in my hands.

The years of smothering fans, hands thrown in my face, mobs of people following us wherever we went, and the earpiercing screams that accompanied it all had taken its toll on me. I get anxiety attacks, sudden bouts of claustrophobia. It's been getting better now that we've been slowly shifting out of the spotlight. There are pills I take when it gets really bad that help suppress it. But there were times that I would sit in a corner in a dressing room backstage, hyperventilating with my eyes clenched shut, my hands clawing at my ears, and tears streaming down my cheeks, trying to get away from the fans screaming that they love me, that they want to marry me, that we're destined to be together. If they really loved me, they'd back off. I guess the heat in the club, the amount of bodies moving, and the argument with Zac brought that attack on.

I drew in a shaky breath and tried to stop my hands from trembling.

.

Chapter 13

Blaire

I pushed the door of the club open, wrapping my arms around me and hugging my coat closer to me as I stepped out into the cold night air. I sighed as I saw Taylor sitting on a bench, knees pulled up to his chin and shivering.

After he ran away from me, I had no idea where he had gone. It must be some kind of record, to be deserted by a guy after he had an argument with his brother. But these aren't normal circumstances; Taylor Hanson is definitely not a normal guy.

Jill had come rushing towards me, babbling about how she had seen Taylor run outside, and what did I do to him, and what did I say to him, and did I know if he was okay. I had just stared at her. What did I look like to her? I simply ignored her and sent her off to Zac, and I headed to the door.

I didn't know what I was going to say to Taylor. I've never known anyone with a life this complex, with problems and emotions like his. I grew up in a very sheltered environment. I was always with happy people, no one was ever sad, no one had panic attacks. I was the Sarcasm Queen, but I had a pretty good feeling that sarcasm wouldn't do here.

I also didn't know that much about Taylor. Sure, I read articles about him in the magazines and newspapers. I can tell you his birthplace, favorite color, and favorite drink. But I can't tell you what makes him happy, or what makes him sad, or how I should comfort him after he's had one of these attacks. I guess I was just hoping that he's had enough time to sort of cool down.

I slowly approached Taylor. I was treating him like I would a fragile creature, like a deer or a rabbit, and if I moved to quickly he would sprint away.

"Taylor?" I said quietly, gently placing my hand on his back, noticing he flinched at my touch.

He looked up at me. The baby-blue eyes that I've always seen in photographs as blue pools of nothingness were red-rimmed; his usually rosy cheeks were pale with traces of tear tracks; and his normally perfectly coiffed hair was disheveled and blowing slightly in the wind. Just seeing him made my heart wrench with pain. I wanted to gather him close and hold him until I healed all his hurt.

"I'm...I'm sorry," he whispered, staring back at the ground.

"For what?" I asked, slowly lowering myself on the bench, leaving plenty of space between the two of us.

"For leaving you in there. I have these attacks, and I...I haven't had one in a while, and...Zac...he's been under stress...we all have...I'm so, so sorry..."

"It's okay," I stopped him. "No really. It's fine. I understand. You don't have to apoligize for something you can't control." I paused, watching him watch two leaves swirling together down the street in the wind. "Are you okay?"

"I will be."

"Do you want to be alone? Because I can go..." I said, getting up.

Taylor held my hand. "Don't go. I...I don't want to be alone," he whispered.

I sat back down, a little closer this time. Part of it was for security, part of it was for warmth. It was pretty dadgummed cold outside. Taylor shivered and I noticed his bare arms.

"Aren't you cold?"

"A little...I guess..."

I gently wrapped my arms around him. He leaned against me and sighed.

"I've really been missing this," he said.

"Missing what?"

"This. Being with a girl on a date. I haven't had a date in a long time."

"I find that very hard to believe."

"It's true. I'm supposed to be taking a break from girls for a while."

How am I supposed to reply to that? "Oh?"

"I'm sure you read about my little scare in a newspaper. A girl I had dated died of AIDS. So Ike and Zac made me chill for a while."

"I do remember reading about that somewhere." Why is this conversation making me uncomfortable? I liked you a lot better when you were suffering, Taylor. Why aren't you suffering?

"So I haven't really been on any dates. I kind of miss the feeling of having someone's arms around me."

I silently tightened my grip on him.

"I really like you, though," he said quietly.

My eyes shot open. Did he just say what I think he said? Oh my god...breathe, Blaire, breathe...

"Um...what?"

"I said I really like you," he said mumbled.

"I...I really like you, too."

He sat up and turned to me. He leaned forward and gently kissed me.

I now know what all the books and movies mean when they say that they saw fireworks. My entire body tingled with that one kiss. It suddenly wasn't as cold as it used to be.

.

Chapter 14

Taylor

"Taylor? Taaaaaaaylor..."

"Wha?" I mumbled. I pulled my blanket down from over my eyes and stared blearily at my doorway, where Zoe was standing in a dress, hands on her hips, and hair in two Pippi-esque braids.

"Zoe, what do you want?" I asked, sitting up and rubbing my eyes.

"Mom says that if you don't hurry up and get dressed for church, we're going to be late."

"Church? Late?" I glanced at the Day-Glo alarm clock on my bedside table. It was 8:30. 8...freakin...30. I stumbled out of bed and followed Zoe downstairs.

"Woo, Taylor! Sexy legs!"

I glanced down at my pajamas, boxers and one of the wifebeaters I grew fond of wearing, then back at the sister who was antagonizing me.

"Avery...it's early. I'm tired. Don't make me hurt you."

"Are you planning on wearing that to church?"

"I'm not planning on going to church." I glanced back at her, then did a quick double take. "Are you planning on wearing THAT to church?" She was wearing a short skirt and a tube top. The priest would either have a coronary or a hard-on when he saw her.

She shrugged. "I sure am going to try." She moved past me to the hall bathroom. I shook my head and continued my trek downstairs.

"Kids today," I mumbled. "No respect."

"Good morning sleepyhead!" My mother's voice met me on the stairs cheerfully. I found her in the kitchen, buttering toast.

"Mother, what is this I hear about going to church at 8:30 in the morning?"

"Whatever do you mean?" she said innocently. "We've always gone to church at this time, Taylor. Don't tell me you guys have been neglecting church out in Los Angeles?"

I rubbed my eyes and sat down on the counter stool. "No, never."

She eyed me, and smoothed her dress. "Lucky for you Father Joseph is here."

"What?"

"Father Joseph, Taylor, is the priest who's been at our church since it was built. The one who preaches about temptation and things like that. You should know a thing or two about that subject, huh?" Jessica said, elbowing me in the side. Enter Jess, the loving, compassionate sister.

I scowled at her. "And who's the one who has guys with her when-" Jess threw her hand over my mouth.

"What? Guys? Where are these guys? Jessica Grace Hanson, what is he talking about?" Mom said in her Mom-voice.

I smirked at her. I love being an older brother.

Jess gave me a smoldering look. "Nothing. He's just tired. Right Taylor?"

"Right. I was daydreaming. What guy would ever date Jess?"

"Well at least I don't-"

"Stop it! I don't need to hear this. Jessica, go get ready for church. You too, Taylor."

"I'm not going," I said matter-of-factly, crossing my arms over my chest.

"Excuse me?"

"I don't want to go to church."

"It doesn't matter if you want to go or not. You are going."

"I'm 25, Mom. You can't make me go to church."



Well, it seems that Mom can still make me go to church. The entire Hanson family was sitting in the pews of the Tulsa Catholic Church, listening to Father Joseph preach about the evils of the world. I wasn't paying attention. I was thinking about what had happened last night.

I do really like Blaire. I've felt well, I wouldn't call it a crush, but an attraction to her since the first time I saw her. It only intensified last night. There's something special about her. She's not like any of the other girls I've ever been with. I never had a meaningful relationship with any of them, just one night stands. My girlfriends have always been there for one purpose, to fulfill the sexual needs my hand couldn't satisfy.

But Blaire...I can't explain it, but I think she really might be the one. I know I've only known her for a week, but for that week I haven't been able to concentrate on anything but her.

A sharp elbow in my side interrupted my Blaire-induced thoughts.

"Hey! What?"

"Pay attention, Taylor!" my mother hissed.

"I am!"

"No you're not. You're staring off into space."

I rolled my eyes. "I'll be back," I said, hoisting myself out of the wooden pew.

"Where are you going?"

"To the bathroom." I turned and walked down the aisle, smiling sheepishly at the people watching me. I pushed open the double doors and walked down the hall to the outdoors. I took a deep breath of the fresh air and loosened my tie as I sat on the ground, leaning against the brick wall. I looked down at my black suit with disgust.

I hate going to church. I know it's really sacrilegious of me, but I've always hated it. All the eyes of the congregation staring at you, like they know your darkest secrets. And the priest going on and promising hellfire and brimstone and shouting about us embracing the Lord and repenting for our sins just frightens me. I used to have nightmares about things Father Joseph said would happen if we sinned.

I heard the door swing open and heard the crunch of dress shoes stepping on gravel. Zac threw himself on the ground beside me, loosening his tie on the way down.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"About yesterday..."

"Yeah?"

"I'm sorry."

"'S okay."

"No really, I'm sorry. I don't know what got into me. I just kinda directed all my anger towards you or something, I don't know." He paused. "Luke told me that Sarah's pregnant."

"Your Sarah?"

"Yeah."

Sarah Johnson was Zac's girlfriend for three years. They broke up when he was 20, because he wanted to move out to LA to be with me and Isaac and the record company, and she wanted him to be here. She made him choose between him and us. It was a really stressful time. We thought for a while that he was going to run to Nebraska and elope or something.

"I'm sorry, man."

"Yeah. He told me last night, after we were done playing. And then you came down and told me my stuff was still up there, and..." He shrugged.

"Does she know whose it is?"

"No."

We sat in silence together, just thinking for a while.

"What are you going to do?"

He shrugged again. "I don't know. It's not mine, that's for god-damned sure." He gave a bitter laugh. "When we were going out, she was all for saving herself for marriage. That lasted long."

"Are you going to help her out?"

"I...really don't know yet. I guess it depends. On if she comes to me, if she asks me." He exhaled loudly. "I could really use a cigarette."

"Mom would kill you if she sees you smoking in a 50 mile radius of the church."

"Too true, too true."

I laughed softly to myself. She'd kill him if she saw him smoking period, forget on the churchgrounds.

"So are we okay?"

"Of course we're okay. We're always okay. Even when you are a dick."

"And you have your male PMS."

We grinned at each other.

"We better go in. Mom's going to come looking for us."

"Yeah."

We fixed our ties, and walked nonchalantly back into the church. I smiled at a woman who looked at me patronizingly. You don't know nothin, lady.

.

Chapter 15

Blaire

"Dr. Whitney, here's the order form for the�child, what are you wearing?"

I looked up from Niveus Hanson's limp body and down at the camouflage cargo pants I had found at the back of my closet this morning. "What? They're comfy!"

Lola shook her head. "The order forms from the supply store came in." She threw a packet of papers on the counter and gave my pants one last look.

"Stop it. I like these pants. Leave me alone. Go file something." I looked back at Niv, who was breathing peacefully from the tubes. "Okay, kitty...let's rock and roll."

I ran my gloved hand over her newly shaved abdomen and carefully made the first cut.

"Blaire!" Christian yelled from the hall.

"Hmm?" I called, concentrating on finding the fallopian tubes.

"Here you are. Where are the supply forms? Nice pants."

"What is wrong with these pants?"

"No offense Blaire, but a homeless guy on the streets dresses better than you do most of the time."

I smirked at him. "Christian...sweetie...I have a scalpel in my hand, and I know how to use it."

"Ooo, violence. Very nice. Forms. Where? Thank you," he said, grabbing them off the counter and leaving. Thank god.

"And my pants aren't that bad!" I looked at the empty doorway. "You're just jealous."

"HA!" Will, one of the assistants, yelled at me.

"And disgruntled employees don't count. Aha! There you are you naughty fallopian tubes you," I muttered.

"Talking to the uterus again, Blaire?" Muffin asked, passing the open doorway.

"Fallopian tubes. That uterus talks your ear off."

"Yeah, I feel your pain. Love your pants by the way."

"Really?"

"No."

I rolled my eyes. As I snipped and tied at Niv's innards, I hummed one of the songs Hanson had performed on Saturday that had been stuck in my head ever since. Which had me thinking about Taylor. For about the 2,079,123rd time since he kissed me.

I like Taylor. A lot. Everything from the way he casually pushes locks of hair from his eyes, to the way he can't say anything without wildly waving his hands, to the way he watches his sisters when they're out. Everything is just going so fast. Two weeks ago, I was just another fan, just another faceless person in the million plus people who listen to Hanson's music, which is making me wonder if this is all real. If I truly do have feelings for him and it's not just me trying to fulfill a teenage fantasy. You are talking to the woman who's liked Hanson since 14, who used to write stories about them, and lay awake at night imagining that Taylor was lying beside me, that I could feel the heat radiating from his skin, see him looking at me with those beautiful pools of blue nothingness, have the gentle pressure of his hand squeezing mine. All of that has happened, and I'm suddenly wondering what to do next. Its not like I can just freeze time and sit down to think what I should do. I'm just pinching myself to make sure that my emotions, the emotions that have me longing for him at odd parts of the day, are sincere. And buddy, they better be. Or I will be very pissed.

I carefully finished stitching Niv, and gently carried her over to the hot pad. She would be out of anesthesia pretty soon. I whistled as I collected the instruments and threw them in the soapy water in the sink. I started my menial task of wiping down the table when my heart stopped as a pair of arms wrapped around my waist and a pair of lips gently kissed my neck.

"ACK!"

"Did you just say...ack?"

I swiveled my head and met a pair of blue eyes that made my heart speed up rapidly. Taylor is going to kill me.

"No one says 'ack'," he continued.

"Wha...what are you doing here?"

"Way to make a man feel welcome." He released my waist and leaned against the counter. "Muffin called and said that Niv would be ready. I came to pick her up, so I could surprise Zoe. She told me you were back here."

"I just finished with Niv...she won't be awake and ready for at least a few hours."

"Oh." We shared an awkward silence. This is not at all how I envisioned our next meeting. Somehow, this wasn't quite matching the sweeps-me-off-my-feet vision I had going on. I stared down at my hands.

"Well...since I'm already out...and you know...moving..."

"Yeah..."

"I really don't want to go back to the house and then have to come back later...Zoe really isn't worth all that extra gas..."

"Taylor. Just spit it out."

"I need to get Christmas presents for my sisters. And maybe Mom. I don't know, something nice and...girly."

"Girly...right."

"I'm kind of...lacking in the femininity department..."

"I don't know about that. I think you'd make a nice girl."

"Hey. That's about enough of that. I do not look like a girl, okay? You're ruining thousands of dollars in therapy, you and your insults." He playfully pushed my shoulder, making my entire arm tingle with a single touch.

"So you. Me. Mall. Now?"

"Sure. I'd love to be your girl." Did I just say that? Freudian slip, I suppose. I felt my cheeks redden.

"Great. I'd love to have you as my girl." He rubbed his hands together. "And as an extra bonus...I've got Isaac's credit card." He threw an arm over my shoulders and pulled me close to him. I felt my breath hitch in my throat as the Taylor smell overwhelmed me, a mixture of cologne and soap, which gave me a wonderful image of Taylor soapy in a shower. God bless my vivid imagination.