Chapter 36 - Totally Taylor

"Zac!"

Zac’s head shot up. He had climbed into the treehouse earlier, intent on spending the morning catching up on his comic reading without being disturbed by any nosy brothers or sisters. However the moment he had settled himself on Taylor’s old red flannel sleeping bag, the jet lag set in and his eyelids felt as though a ton of bricks were weighing them down. Discarding his reading for later, Zac had snuggled on the sleeping bag, and drifted into a peaceful sleep. He’d been up there for about an hour, when Marie’s shout burst through his fog. He rubbed at his eyes and mumbled, "Huh, wha.......?" His speech slightly slurred. He noted that he had crawled inside the bag during his sleep and with a yawn, slid out, re-situating himself on top of his crumpled, makeshift bed.

Marie burst into the treehouse, took one look at the disorientated Zac -- his eyes half closed, blond hair sticking up every which way, clothes rumpled, one shoe on, one shoe lost in the depths of the sleeping bag, his foot only covered by a sock with a gaping hole in the toe -- and began laughing.

Zac absently swiped at his hair, in a half hearted attempt to smooth it down. He looked up at Marie through sleep blurred eyes and muttered, "Well let’s just see how great you look when you first wake up."

Marie stifled her laughter and plopped next to Zac on the sleeping bag. Her eyes were lit and she gave Zac a huge grin. "Hey, you’re back." She announced happily.

"Yuh huh. I’m back," Zac said. He scratched his head and gave her the once over. "You look nice," he informed her.

Marie tugged at her tight fitting baby tee and sighed. "Zac, you’re not still hung up on this whole clothes thing, are you? Cause that is so lame and....."

Zac placed his hand over her mouth. "I meant it. Okay?" He removed his hand and reached it into the sleeping bag, trying to retrieve his lost shoe.

"Well, thank you." Marie smiled. "So how was it?"

"Food sucked, plane ride was too long, I got sick, they made me go on some water plane, I got sick on that. My dad was obsessed with half naked women, and I blew a performance in Tokyo. Other than that, the trip went just swell," Zac sighed and leaned against the treehouse wall, abandoning his search for the moment.

"Wow, is that all?" Marie gave him an amused look.

"Let’s not talk about it okay? Suffice to say, it wasn’t a good ole’ time in Hanson history."

"Okay, we won’t talk about it." Marie reached out and lightly patted Zac’s knee. "So, I missed you, ya know. Even though I was really pissed by your behavior before you left."

"What?" Zac raised his eyebrows. "What did I do?"

Marie shook her head. "You know what you did."

Zac sighed. "I’m sorry I got a little mental on you, all right? I just didn’t like the idea of you going around showing your stuff to every guy at the mall."

"Zac, you make me sound like some kind of slut or something. My God, I was wearing shorts and a tank top. That’s more than some girls wear."

Zac leaned over and rested his head on Marie’s shoulder. "I said I was sorry, okay? I’m too tired to have an argument. All I’ve been doing lately is going from one fight to the next with my family. Let’s just drop it okay?" His caramel eyes gave her a pleading look.

"Okay," Marie whispered.

"You have nice lips. I’m going to kiss them now," Zac suddenly announced, bringing his lips to rest on Marie’s for a minute.

She gently pushed him away and smiled. "Nice lips huh? Is that all?"

Zac’s gaze shifted over her body for a moment. "No, that’s not all but I’m not going to go into a long perverted list of all the parts of you that I like. Let’s just say that I think this whole thing," he waved his hands in front of her body, "Is just pretty rad."

Marie giggled. "Well I think you’re pretty rad too. Even if you are a real pain in my butt."

"Hey! I’m not a pain!" Zac gave her a puppy dog face.

"So you missed my birthday. I’m twelve now, you know," Marie gave him a sly look.

"I know. I haven’t forgotten your birthday. I got you some gifts and stuff from the trip. What makes you bring it up?"

Marie just whistled. "No reason. Just thought I would mention it." She shifted closer to him and as she did, he head a crumple from her shorts pocket.

"What’s that?" Zac asked.

"I almost forgot!" Marie stood and looked down at Zac. "Guess what I have," she sang.

"What?"

"Well guess!"

Zac shook his head, still a little tired. "I don’t know. A million dollars."

"Zac!" Marie gave him an exasperated look. "Come on, be serious."

Zac tossed his hands in the air. "Well, I don’t know! How am I supposed to guess."

"You’re no fun," Marie pouted.

"Sorry," Zac muttered. He was starting to feel just a tad bit crabby.

"All right, forget guessing. I’ll just tell you. As a matter of fact, I’ll show you." Marie walked to the treehouse door and glanced out, making sure none of the Hanson’s pulled a surprise guest appearance. "Okay, look at what I have," she said delightedly. From her shorts pocket, she withdrew a crumpled package and joined Zac on the sleeping bag once again.



Taylor stood on the Halloran’s front porch, slowly becoming more frustrated as the minutes ticked by. He felt as though he had been pounding on the door for eons, and still no sign of Gretchen. He was just about to devise a plan to break down the front door when it was suddenly opened.

Taylor frowned. "Meredith? What are you doing here?"

The two girls had barely spoken since that day at Rite Aid when Meredith had slapped Gretchen, and even though they were family, Taylor was shocked that Meredith would be over visiting.

"Well it’s nice to see you too," Meredith laughed. "I was just leaving anyway." She turned and called into the house. "Gretchen! Your boyfriend is here!"

"I know!"

Taylor could hear Gretchen calling from somewhere towards the back of her house.

"Well, I’m leaving. You guys have fun, okay? Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do." Meredith laughed again as she stepped past Taylor and walked away.

"Umm, bye?" Taylor called after her, throughly puzzeled by her behavior. He shook his head, and was about to go inside Gretchen’s house, when suddenly she appeared in the doorway.

"Hi!" She said, her face lighting up into a huge smile.

Taylor just stared. He was subconcsiencely aware that his mouth had dropped open and he was gaping, but paid no heed. "Whoa," he whispered, his voice barely audible.

Gretchen stood before him in her usual jeans and shirt, but that didn’t matter. Taylor was mesmerized by the cascade of dark brown hair that fell around her shoulders in soft waves. Even when though he had never seen it down, Taylor had always loved Gretchen’s hair, and now to see it down, shining, and framing her round face, he felt breathless.

Gretchen’s smile faded. "You don’t like it," she said, nervously pushing her hair behind her ears. "I told Meredith that this was a stupid idea, I'm going to go back in and....."

"NO!" Taylor suddenly found his voice, and interrupted Gretchen. "You will do no such thing. Wow......I’m just.....I’m speechless." He stepped closer to her and smiled. "I’ve always told you that you have beautiful hair. I’ve been waiting for a day when you would wear it down." He pulled Gretchen to him and hugged her. "You look really pretty Gretchen," he whispered in her ear as they embraced.

Gretchen grinned and looked down at the porch stairs, her cheeks flushing with embbarressment. "Really?"

Taylor nodded. "Really. It looks great."

"Meredith did it," Gretchen said. She pulled away and blushed. "Meredith tried to get me to wear make up, but I refused. Baby steps I told her."

Suddenly Taylor frowned. "I thought you guys hated each other. Especially after that day in the drugstore when she hit you. So what’s with the buddy buddy act all the sudden?"

Gretchen smiled. "Well, get this. One day I got a phone call, and low and behold it was my ever so pleasant cousin. She called and apologized, saying she was way out of line, blah, blah, blah, you know how she can talk your ear off."

Taylor nodded. "Believe me, I know."

"So anyway, it turns out that she is way over you. Hanson is a thing of the past she says. Now she’s in love with Nick Carter."

Taylor racked his brain. The name sounded so familiar. "Nick Carter. Didn’t he play hockey? No, wait, he goes to Muncie doesn’t he?"

Gretchen laughed. "No, silly. Nick Carter. Of the Backstreet Boys. You know, that manufactured white boy band? Him. She gushes about him all the time. Has all the Bop pin ups in her room. She’s determined to meet him."

Taylor snickered. "The Backstreet Boys?"

Gretchen threw her hands in the air. "Don’t ask me." She smiled again and shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans. "Well, you ready to go?"

"Definitely," Taylor said.



"Cigarettes?" Zac raised his eyebrows skeptically.

Marie nodded. "Yeah, I swiped them from my dad. He’ll never notice that they’re gone. Wanna try ‘em?" She held the pack of Marlboro’s out to Zac.

He took the package uncertainly. "I don’t know I mean........"

"Come on Zac, don’t be a baby. It’s not like we’re going to smoke the whole pack. I just figured we could try it."

Zac tossed the pack of cigarettes back and forth in his hands, a look of doubt plastered on his face. "I guess you’re right," he said with a shrug. "I mean there’s no way just one can kill you." Zac nodded. His conclusion made him feel a little better about the situation.

"Right, and I mean we’ll probably hate it anyway," Marie added. "So what’s the harm of trying just one?"

"Exactly," Zac agreed. "Heck I know tons of grown ups who smoke. And kids too. I mean maybe it’ll make us look older or something." This was just what Zac was looking for. Isaac and Taylor couldn’t call him a baby anymore once they knew he had tried something as adult as smoking. Zac shook a cigarette from the pack and deftly put it in his mouth. "Do you have a lighter or something?"

"Yeah, here." Marie extracted a book of match’s with the Chi Chi’s emblem emblazoned on the front.

Zac grabbed the matches and pulled one from the book. He closed the cover carefully and stuck the match, jumping slightly as it’s red head flared, lighting up the dim treehouse in its small blaze. The Marlboro trembling slightly on his lips, Zac brought the match close and tried to light the jumping end of his cigarette.

"I think you have to suck," Marie helpfully told him.

"I am sucking," Zac muttered. Finally the cigarette was lit and Zac hurriedly put out the match before it burned his fingers.

Marie took a cigarette for herself, and the two children sat back to enjoy this new experience. Neither said a word but for the occasional cough.

After a few more puffs, Zac sighed. He was beginning to feel very light headed. His throat hurt and his breakfast was churning in his stomach, but he continued to take drags off the Marlboro, for fear Marie would call him a baby again. How can something that’s supposed to make you look so cook, makes you feel like crap, he wondered to himself. His eyes were watering and he angrily swiped at the tears, hoping Marie didn’t notice.

Glancing over Zac was pleased to note that Marie looked just about as good as he felt. In fact she looked a little green.

"Zac, I don’t feel so hot," She groaned, tossing her cigarette aside, and going into a fit of coughs.

Zac put his cigarette out as well, and cleared his throat. "So maybe this wasn’t the best idea," he muttered.

"No I would have to agree," Marie quietly answered. "Look, I really don’t feel good. I’m going to go home, okay? I’ll come back over later. Are you going to be home?"

Zac nodded. "Yeah, I’ll be around."

Marie got up, tugging Zac along with her. She leaned forward and gave him a quick kiss. "I’ll be back in a little while." With that she slowly walked out of the treehouse, heading towards home.

Zac sat back down on the old sleeping bag, and leaned against the wall. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the pack of Marlboro’s. He leaned over and picked up the crumpled package. There was still four cigarettes left in the pack. He frowned, then without thinking , shoved them into his pocket.

"Maybe they taste better the second time," he said aloud.



"Taylor, stop it." Gretchen pushed him away. "I’m trying to watch the movie."

"Gretchen, come on. I just got back. I missed you." Taylor whined.

"Well you should have thought of that before you brought me to a movie then, especially one you knew I wanted to see."

Taylor rolled his eyes and sighed, but none the less sat back to watch the movie. After about ten minutes of listening to some lady babble on about her life, Taylor decided that Gretchen was just going to have to come see the movie with someone else if she wanted to watch it.

He leaned over and deeply inhaled the orange sent of her long hair. He ran his fingers through it, and breathed in again, exhaling in slow, choppy segments.

"Oh no you don’t," Gretchen warned him, her eyes still glued to the big screen, but a smile played on her lips. She knew what he was trying to do and it wasn’t going to work.

"Oh Gretchen," he whispered and gently began to kiss the small rim of her ear lobe. Gretchen sighed as his lips worked their way down her neck.

"Taylor you’re missing the movie," she hissed, despite the fact that she’d stopped paying attention to the film herself. So maybe it was working.

"So what?" he mumbled. "I missed you, I haven’t seen you for so long."

Gretchen again rolled her eyes, but did nothing to stop Taylor when he put his arm around her and pulled her closer to him. She turned to face him, and gave him a harsh look. "Just one kiss, okay? Then will you let me watch the movie?"

Taylor smiled, pleased that she was willing to warrent him a kiss. Not wanting the moment to slip by, he responded by lightly kissing her lips.

He started to pull away, but Gretchen pushed her lips to his again, longer this time. Certainly willing to go along with the new game plan, Taylor returned her kiss, deepening it. Slowly Gretchen opened her mouth and allowed his tongue to find it’s way inside. Discarding any idea of watching the movie, the two continued to kiss, long, deep kisses, only parting for one or the other to grab a quick breath of air, before returning their lips in the passionate embraces.

Without thinking, Gretchen put her left hand behind Taylor’s head, grabbing sections of his hair, and rest her right hand on his knee. Taking her initiative, Taylor slipped one of his hands under the front of her tee shirt and began rubbing it along her stomach. He placed his other hand gently on top of her right, guiding it higher up his leg. Much to his pleasure Gretchen did not yank it away and allowed him to slide it all the way to the top of his leg.

While holding her hand in place there, Taylor began using his other hand to move higher up under her shirt. Upon reaching her bra, Gretchen didn’t pull away, but instead, let out a small moan, and kissed Taylor even harder. He was taken aback by her aggression and found he really rather enjoyed it, especially when she took it upon herself to begin and move her hand from the top of his leg, to in between them.

Suddenly a bright light shone in their faces.

"What the heck?" Taylor mumbled, and looked up to see some teenage boy shinning a flashlight into their eyes. Taylor quickly yanked his hand out of Gretchen’s shirt and sat up straight.

"I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you two to leave," the boy informed them.

"Why?" Taylor asked. "We paid for our tickets."

"Yes, but you don’t seem to be watching the film, and your little kissing game may be disturbing those around you. Now please leave before I’m forced to make a scene."

"Come on Taylor, let’s just go," Gretchen grabbed his hand.

Taylor quickly looked around and realized that the whole five other people in the theater seemed oblivious to the small encounter, and if they failed to notice the theater usher and his stupid flashlight, Taylor very much doubted that they noticed him kissing his girlfriend. But none the less, he clasped Gretchen’s hand and walked out of the theater with her.



"Ike telephone!" Mrs. Hanson called from the kitchen.

Isaac clicked off the TV and made his way into the kitchen, retrieving the phone off the counter. " ‘Lo?"

"Isaac, hi." A female voice on the other end greeted him. "It’s Claire."

"Hey, long time no speak," Isaac smiled. "So when did you get back? We just got in last night."

"Well, I’m not exactly back." Claire paused. "That’s what I’m calling to talk to you about."

"Why? What’s up?" Isaac pulled a chair out and sat at the kitchen table. "Where are you?"

"Toronto."

"I thought you were supposed to be back a couple of weeks ago. I had tried to call you in Toronto but could never get a hold of you." Isaac began to drum his fingers on the smooth table top. "How come you’re still there?"

Claire waited a few seconds. "So how was your trip?"

"Actually not that great thank you, but let's not talk about it now. How come you aren't back in Tulsa?"

Claire sighed before offering an explanation. "Look, Isaac...........Nana had a stroke.

"Oh," Isaac replied. "That’s horrible. Is she okay?"

"Not really....that’s the problem," Claire took a deep breath. "Nana can’t walk on her own anymore, and certainly can no longer look after herself."

"Oh my goodness," Isaac muttered. "I’m so sorry."

"Thanks, really."

"So when are you coming back?" Isaac asked.

"Well you see, that’s just it........I’m not."

"Why not?" Isaac practically shouted into the phone.

"Nana is staying here with my parents so we can look after her. So now that she’s here, there’s no one in Tulsa for me," Claire explained. "I’m going to stay in Toronto with my parents and Nana."

"What do you mean no one’s here?" Isaac demanded. "I’m here!"

"Isaac be rational. Listen to yourself," Claire was taken back by his outburst. "My family needs me here and sure I’m going to miss you but it makes no sense for me to go back to Oklahoma. Where would I stay? Nana was my only family there."

"So when am I going to see you?"

"Well, I mean if you ever come to Toronto, I’m sure we could get together," Claire answered.

"What about what we had going?" Isaac asked.

"Isaac, I really like you. But a long distance relationship is rather improbable seeing as how I’m in a different country and don’t plan on returning to Tulsa."

"Yeah, but...." Isaac paused. "This really isn’t fair."

"You’re right," Claire agreed. "Nana never hurt anyone and she certainly didn’t deserve to have a stoke."

"I know......it’s just that I was really looking forward to seeing you," Isaac sighed.

"I know.......what I mean is I was really looking forward to seeing you too. But just because I moved doesn’t mean we can’t keep in touch."

"I guess," Isaac muttered, the disappointment evident in his voice.

"Look, I better go," Claire quietly said. "I’ll write you and we both have phones so......"

"Yeah, okay." Isaac took a deep breath. "Good bye Claire."

"Bye Isaac."

Isaac stood and hung up the phone. He then returned to the kitchen chair and plopped himself down in it, burying his face in his hands.



"I have never been so humiliated in my whole life!" Gretchen exclaimed as they stepped out of the theater and into the mall."

"Aww, come on. It wasn’t that big of a deal. No one in the stupid theater even noticed."

"Maybe not for you, but I don’t particularly enjoy having a light shined in my face and then being ushered from the theater for making out!"

"Okay, okay, calm down." Taylor took a quick glance at the surrounding stores. "I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you let me buy you something to make up for this."

Gretchen sighed. "Taylor, I don’t want anything."

"No, no, I insist. Look there’s a nice store. Let’s go in here," Taylor suggested and led her across the walkway.

"Uhh, Taylor, this would be Victoria’s Secret. All they sell is underwear, pajamas and some smelly body stuff."

"Yeah so?" Taylor just looked at her. He personally liked the store very much.

"What do you mean so?" Gretchen laughed. "I’m not about to let you buy me anything in there."

"Oh come on." Taylor pulled her into the store. "Look, I bet this would look really nice on you." He pulled a little red nightie off a rack.

"Give me a break," Gretchen tried not to laugh.

"Okay, well how about this?"

Gretchen just raised her eyebrows at the see through white teddy Taylor held up.

"Okay fine, why don’t you pick out something," he said, exasperated.

Gretchen looked around. "Here," she held up a pair of fuzzy slippers. "You could buy me these."

"I’m not buying you house shoes in Victoria’s Secret!"

"Then how about you don’t buy me anything from here at all, and we leave now," Gretchen stated, heading for the exit.

"No, now just wait a minute." Taylor grabbed her arm and pulled her back. He studied the racks carefully before making his next decision. "Here, how about these?" He held up a plaid bra and panty set.

"Actually, those aren’t half bad," Gretchen admitted.

"Great," Taylor beamed. "Let’s go try them on."

"What do you mean, "let’s"? Are you going to try on a pair too?"

Taylor shook his head. "No, but if I’m buying them, then I think I should get to see them. Now what size do you wear?" he asked, searching through the rack.

"I’m not going to tell you!" Gretchen exclaimed.

"Would you like me to measure you?" A feminine voice asked from behind.

"Yeah, why don’t you do that." Taylor smiled at the sales lady.

"No thank you," Gretchen took a step back. "I’m quite sure I know what size bra I wear."

"Well you know, many times young girls think they know what size they wear, but in actuality they wear bras a size or two, to large or even to small," the lady informed them.

"That’s great, really. Now if you would excuse us.."

Taylor looked at the sales lady and whispered loudly, "I think she’s a little embarrassed."

The lady just smiled. "Well, okay, but if you two need any help, just let me know."

Gretchen quickly grabbed the right size, after the woman walked away, and went over to an empty dressing room. Taylor began to follow her inside.

"Just where do you think you’re going?" She demanded.

"I won’t look while you’re changing. I promise." Taylor gave her a pleading look, and she reluctantly allowed him to follow her into the room.

Taylor sat on the tiny pink cushioned stool, while Gretchen began to slide her tee shirt over her head.

"Close your eyes," she hissed at him.

"It’s not like I haven’t seen it before," he said.

"Taylor Hanson, you close your eyes or this is as far as I’m going."

Taylor sighed, and reluctantly shut his eyes.

After a minute she exclaimed, "Well?"

Taylor opened his eyes and frowned. "How come you don’t have the panties on?"

"You actually think I’m going to try those on in front of you?"

"Well, yeah I was hoping you would," he admitted.

"Taylor," Gretchen groaned. She walked over and sat on his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck and looking into his eyes. Suddenly she bit her bottom lip and smirked. "Ooops. Maybe sitting on your lap wasn’t such a good idea after all. You seem to be enjoying it a bit to much. Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

"Uhh, yeah. That’s a really, really lame joke," Taylor muttered, slightly embarrassed by Gretchen’s observation.

Gretchen noticed an unusual amount of ruddiness in Taylor’s complexion. She could not remember ever seeing him look so uncomfortable. This had a strange effect on her. She felt bad for the guy, but at the same time it somewhat excited her. She suddenly realized what Taylor was insinuating that day under the tree when he had gone on about her hair. She pulled him towards her and as their lips locked, she could feel him slightly squirming beneath her.

As they kissed, she realized he had his hands on her waist and was gently trying to push her off.

"Gretchen," he half moaned, half whispered. "Please....I don’t think this was such a good idea."

Gretchen looked into his eyes, which averted away from her stare. She couldn’t believe that Taylor Hanson, the boy who had taken it upon himself to give her a make out lesson, was uncomfortable.

Instead of getting off his lap, she moved closer and pressed her body even more against his.

Taylor closed his eyes, and sucked in a deep breath, moaning slightly as she pushed against him. He wondered how he had allowed himself to get into such a predicament. He wondered why Gretchen insisted on teasing him like this when he knew full well she wasn’t going to finish what she started and would most likely refuse to touch him, especially where he right then most wanted her to touch him. He needed to think of a way to remedy the situation without too much embarrassment, because walking around the mall looking like he had a couple pairs of socks stuffed in his pants, was most certainly not his idea of a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Gretchen, trying not to notice the way Taylor continued to shift uncomfortably underneath her, opened his mouth and slid her tongue inside it. A surge of pleasure ran through Taylor’s body, and he reached up, cupping one of her breasts in his hand. However, he soon realized that this was not helping his situation, and once again tried to move from beneath her.

"Taylor," Gretchen breathed into his ear. "Just relax. I’m not going to hurt you." She almost smiled and thought how nice it was for the shoe to be on the other foot for a change.

Taylor swallowed and took a deep breath, unable to control his increased, and irregular breathing rate. His heart felt like it was going to pound straight out of his chest. "I can’t relax," he said, almost to quiet for her to hear.

Gretchen, feeling more daring then she ever had before, slowly placed one hand between his legs, and stroked the outside of his pants, only to very quickly return the hand to its’ original position behind his neck.

"Oh God," he moaned and buried his face into her long hair, breathing in the familiar scent of oranges. Taylor turned his head and began kissing and licking her neck.

Gretchen held one hand behind his neck and slid her other one slowly down his chest. She let it rest a few seconds at the waist of his worn corduroys, before once again moving it between his legs. She began to rub him on top of his pants, a little longer this time, but once again withdrew her hand. She began to slide it back up his chest when he let out another pitiful moan.

"Please Gretchen," he whispered, as he kissed and nibbled behind her ear.

Slowly Gretchen got off his lap and stood up looking at him.

"Gretchen, come on. Please......you can’t do this to me." Taylor barely managed to get the words out.

"You wanted me to try on the panties, didn’t you?" she innocently asked.

"Well, yeah, but not now." Taylor reached one arm out towards her but it was too late. She moved away from his reach and slipped out of her jeans. She quickly looked around the small room, in search of the plaid panties. She spotted them under her tee shirt.

Taylor didn’t think he could take this much longer, and out of desperation, he squirmed on the stool. "I can’t take this," he moaned and reached for the button of his pants.

Gretchen, out of the corner of her eye, noticed what Taylor was doing. "Oh no you don’t," she commanded.

Taylor’s head shot up, and he flushed, even more embarrassed then before. He couldn’t believe he had actually been about to take matters into his own hands, literally, in front of Gretchen, in a Victoria’s Secret dressing room no less. But he was getting desperate.

Gretchen clasped both of his hands, and sat on him once again, this time straddling his body between her legs.

Taylor loudly moaned, and leaned back against the wall. Gretchen took this opportunity to press herself more closely against him.

"Please Gretchen," Taylor whimpered. His breathing was off the wall and he felt he might explode at any second.

Enjoying this much more than she would ever like to admit, Gretchen leaned in closer to him. "Taylor honey, what exactly do you want me to do?" She asked sweetly before licking his ear.

"I think you know what I want," Taylor gasped.

Gretchen breathed heavily into his ear. "I’ll do whatever you tell me to, but I won’t do anything without you asking for it first," she informed him.

"Gretchen, please. Don’t make me do this," Taylor quietly moaned.

"Well, all right. That’s too bad, I guess," she said. She started to pull away from him, but he grabbed her back and pressed his lips to hers.

"Please," Taylor managed to breath when they broke apart. "Please.....t-touch me."

Gretchen smiled. "Okay. Where do you want me to touch you?" she teased him.

Taylor looked into her eyes before again pushing his lips to hers. He clasped one of her hands and brought it down between his legs. Gently, he placed her hand against him.

"Please Gretchen," he moaned. "Please."

Gretchen looked into his blue eyes, which seemed very desperate. Slowly she began to rub her hand against the outside of his pants, and kneaded the back of his neck with her other hand. Taylor slid one of her bra straps down and kissed her bare shoulder, while using his other hand to bring hers up from in between his legs to the button on his cords.

Gretchen realized she wanted nothing more then to please Taylor at that moment, and maybe even have him touch her in return. Her face burned at the thought. She took another glance at Taylor, his cheeks flushed, sweat trickling in thin streams down the side of his face. Deciding that she had forced him to beg enough, Gretchen unfastened the button on his pants and slid down the zipper.

"Oh Gretchen," Taylor rather loudly moaned, but she paid no attention. He ran his hands up and down her bare thighs, as she slipped her hand inside his pants, and rather un-surely began to touch him on the outside of his boxers. Taylor let out a very loud groan, and in order to keep him quiet, Gretchen placed her free hand over his mouth. She watched with interest, his expressions while she touched him. The sudden pain came out of nowhere, and Gretchen jumped slightly because of it. Hot tears sprung to her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. She gave Taylor a confused and shocked look as he pushed her hand that was touching him away roughly. It was then that she realized Taylor had bit down rather hard on her hand to keep from moaning to loudly as he came. Gretchen bit her lip, her chin trembling. She stared at Taylor with a hurt expression. She didn’t understand why he had pushed her away. She had done exactly what he asked of her. Taylor looked up, his eyes half closed, trying to catch his breath which burst forth in short, sharp gasps. He loosly wrapped her arms around Gretchen, pulling her towards him in a tight embrace. Gretchen simply leaned against him, trying to ignore the sharp pain in her hand, the area now turning black and blue from where Taylor’s teeth had actually pierced her skin.

"Gretchen.........oh Gretchen," Taylor whimpered into her ear, as he attampted to regain a normal breathing rate. He laid his head on her shoulder and shut his eyes again. Gretchen timidly wrapped her arms around him, hopeing he wouldn’t suddenly grab her and throw her off the chair or something. His behavior was shocking, and Gretchen simply didn’t know what to do.

A few seconds later, Taylor looked into her eyes and offered her a tiny smile, the corners of his mouth twitching as he attempted to hold back the large, sloppy grin which threated to over take his whole face. He raised his hand and gently stroked her cheek. "What’s the matter," Taylor whispered, noticing Gretchen’s tears and hurt expression.

"I don’t understand," she answered, her voice thick with emotion. "I thought I was doing what you wanted me to, but..."

"You did," Taylor interrupted. "You did exaclty what I wanted you to."

"Then why did you shove me away?" She asked. "And on top of that you bit me........hard."

"I bit you?" He gave her a confused expression.

Gretchen nodded her head and held up her hand, displaying the deep teeth marks, that were tinted with a slight tinge of blood, from where the skin had been broken.

"Oh my God," Taylor whispered, taking her hand. "I’m sorry. I didn’t meant to. I......" Taylor raised her hand to his lips and began kissing her sore palm.

"Taylor," Gretchen quietly said in a hurt voice. "I don’t understand. Why did you do......all that? Why did you push me away?"

"Well," Taylor looked into her eyes. "You know why."

"No, Taylor" Gretchen tried to avoid his gaze. "I don’t know why. I thought you were enjoying it."

"I was," Taylor assured her and turned her head to face his. "I probably liked it a little bit too much if you know what I mean."

Gretchen looked down, but Taylor raised her head back to eye level. "Gretchen, I...." Taylor blushed, his already flushed face growing redder as he tried to explain his actions with the least amount of embarressment possible. "I umm.......I didn’t want to get it all over your hand. That’s why I grabbed it and pushed you away. As for biting, well I didn’t mean to do that. I really didn’t. But umm......sometimes when that happens you don’t really notice what you’re doing, and I guess I did bite it. I’m sorry."

"So I didn’t do anything wrong?" Gretchen looked at him for more reassurance.

"No," Taylor whispered and raised his lips towards hers.

As they were in the middle of a soft, gentle kiss they heard a loud knock on the dressing room door. The two teenagers looked at each other with guilty expressions plastered on each of their faces.

"Is everything all right in there?" The sales woman who had earlier wanted to measure Gretchen’s chest, asked her rather cautious question.

"Umm, yeah everything’s fine," Gretchen called, her eyes wide.

Gretchen waited until she heard the sales girl walk away before standing. She grabbed her jeans and pulled them on while Taylor re-fastened his pants.

"Do you want me to close my eyes again?" He asked when he saw her reach for the clasp on the plaid bra.

"After what we just did, I hardly think you seeing me without a bra on is anything to worry about, Gretchen answered.

Taylor smiled. "I only asked out of respect," he informed her.

Gretchen leaned over and lightly kissed his lips. "That’s sweet." She fumbled with the clasp on the bra for a moment before muttering, "Shoot," to herself. "Can you unfasten this for me?" she asked Taylor.

"I don’t know. It might not be such a good idea to get me started again. We may never make it out of the dressing room at this rate," Taylor joked before moving over and unclasping the back of the bra for her.

Gretchen quickly redressed, then turned to look at Taylor. "Ummm, Taylor?" She tried not to laugh as she motioned for him to look down.

"What?" Taylor followed her gaze. "Oh," was all he could say when he noticed the wet spot that had formed in a rather incriminating spot on the outside of his cords.

Gretchen, try as she might could no longer hold in the giggles. "It looks like you wet your pants."

"Cute," Taylor muttered. "You’re just the comedian today, aren’t you? Great. What am I going to do about this." He glanced around the dressing room, and spotted a piece of pink and gold tissue paper in a wadded ball on the floor. He picked it up and swiped it across the front of his pants. "Shoot. This isn’t working."

"Just tie your shirt around your waist," Gretchen suggested, indicating to the long sleeved blue shirt Taylor was wearing over a white Adidas tee.

"Good idea."

After Taylor was satisfied that the shirt covered everything, the two walked out of the dressing room, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible under the circumstances. Taylor tried his best to hide the huge smile which was plastered on his face.

The saleslady gave them a look of disapproval, and they both instantly realized that she was fully aware of what had gone on behind the oh so thick walls of the dressing room.

After purchasing the underwear for Gretchen, the two made their way back into the mall.



Zac wandered into the kitchen, his hand absently scratching at his still mussed blond head. He yawned and slowly walked over to the refrigerator. He pulled open the freezer door and let the cold air pour from the machine onto his face. His brown eyes closed and he took a deep breath, letting the cool air rush through his system. It was a relief from the heat outside, mixed with the aftertaste of the cigarette. He inhaled a few more deep gasps, before opening his eyes. He closed the freezer and opened the fridge door, not quite sure what he was looking for. Zac’s eyes lit up when he spotted the frosty bottle of Evian and greedily pulled it from the fridge. He opened the cap, and not even bothering to get a glass, began to gulp straight out of the bottle.

"That’s gross. Other people like to drink that water too you know," Isaac mumbled from his position at the kitchen table.

His older brother’s voice startled, him and Zac nearly choked on the water. "How long have you been in here."

"Long enough to see you drinking enough water to fill a small ocean. Thirsty much?"

Zac shrugged. "Yeah well it’s hot out," he muttered. Zac walked over and grabbed a clean glass from the dish drainer, filling it to the brim with water. He took another drink and watched his brother from over the top of his cup. Isaac looked like a ton of bricks had hit him. He had a look of utter despair on his face, and he kept running his hands through his hair, which due to the heat, was looking impossibly curly. "What’s your problem?" Zac asked after he downed his glass and proceeded to pour another one.

"Nothing," Isaac snapped.

Zac made a face. "Whatever," he said, gulping down his second glass just as quick as the first. Zac wasn't going to press the subject. He knew with Isaac that wasn’t necessary. Taylor you had to poke and prod in all the right directions to make him talk. But Isaac would eventually sit and spew his guts to anyone who was willing to listen to him gripe and moan. Zac poured a third glass, set the empty water bottle on the kitchen counter to be recycled, and took a seat across from Isaac at the table. He watched his older brother carefully and when he saw Isaac take a deep breath, he knew his brother was about to pour forth his "woe is me" story.

"So I’m watching TV minding my own business," Isaac began. "When mom says I have a phone call. I go and pick up the phone and it’s Claire."

"So, that should be good, right?" Zac asked rubbing his eye and taking another drink.

"Weeeeeeel, I thought so at first. But no. Claire tells me her grandmother had a stroke and she is moving back to Toronto with her parents."

"Oh man, that’s terrible," Zac said sympathetically.

"Yeah I know," Isaac moaned. "Now we aren’t going to be able to see each other anymore."

Zac frowned. "Ike, I was talking about her grandmother. Not the fact that one of only two girls in the world stupid enough to go out with you won’t be coming back here."

Isaac narrowed his eyes. "See I knew you wouldn’t understand."

"Well, it sucks that she isn’t coming home, but I mean come on. Her grandma had a stroke, what do you expect?"

"Zac, you aren’t making me feel any better," Isaac informed his brother.

Zac rolled his eyes. "So sorry. But if you ask me you’re being just a tad bit selfish. I mean, it seems like you’re only thinking about how this is effecting you. Think about poor Claire."

"Me? Selfish? What?" Isaac gave an accusing glare to his younger brother. "I am not selfish."

Zac shook his head, and stood up. "Fine, you aren’t selfish. Whatever." He placed his empty glass in the sink and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Isaac muttering to himself about just what a giving, caring, unselfish person he really was.



Neither Taylor nor Gretchen said much as they browsed through a few innocent stores like Pacific Sunwear, Gadzooks, and Waldenbooks.

"Hey Gretchen," Taylor called her over to the "Fine Arts" section in the book store. "Look at this," he exclaimed holding up a copy of "Taylor Hanson: Totally Taylor".

"Oh my God, someone actually wrote a book on you? Who’d be bored enough to do something like that? And look they put a stupid red heart around your face! How lame is that?"

"Well, I don’t see any books written about you, Gretchen," Taylor said.

"Well, I don’t want any stupid books written about me, thank you very much, especially if it included stuff like what just occurred."

Taylor was silent for a moment. "Yeah, well.........I doubt that’s in here." He leafed through the book. "I think I’m just gonna have to get it."

"You have got to be kidding me! You’re going to buy a book about yourself?" Gretchen burst out laughing.

"Yeah, so? You never know, I might just learn a thing or two. You probably could too," Taylor smiled and went to the check out line.

Gretchen stood next to him, silently praying the cashier wouldn’t recognize him. Or maybe it would be better if she did, otherwise it would look like she was shopping with a boy who was buying a book on Taylor Hanson.

"Excuse me," A woman tapped Taylor on the shoulder. "Is that a Hanson book?"

"Why yes it is," Taylor turned to face a the woman who had a copy of their official biography clutched in her hand.

"Well, do you know a lot about the group?"

Taylor gave the woman a look of bewilderment. "Yeah, I’d say I know a thing or two."

Gretchen just rolled her eyes.

"Well, which book do you recommend? You see, my daughter really likes the group," the woman explained.

"Oh, well, I’d definitely get her the official biography. It’s about the whole band and has pretty accurate information. This book," he held "Totally Taylor" up. "Is about only one member of the band. However it’s the guy that most of the girls like." Taylor gave her a smug smile.

"Oh," the woman nodded her head. "You know, you kind of look like this boy," she pointed to a picture of Taylor.

"Yeah, I get that a lot," he commented. "I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m a distant relative."

"I see," the woman smiled.

"Can I help the next person?" The cashier tried to get Taylor’s attention.

After purchasing the book about himself, Taylor and Gretchen made their way to the front of the mall to wait for Mr. Hanson who was going to pick them up.

"So, why did you tell her to get the biography and not just the book about you?" Gretchen asked as they sat on a bench outside the front entrance to the mall.

"The biography is authorized, which means we get royalties on each one purchased," he explained smiling. "Which reminds me, Gretchen, have you purchased your copy of "Middle of Nowhere" yet?"

"Very funny. Do you seriously think I’m going to buy that?"

"Well why not? Don’t you want to hear your boyfriend sing?"

"Not in particular, no. Besides, I think I’ve heard you moan enough for one day," Gretchen joked.



"You didn’t!" Zac stared at Marie wide eyed. They both lay on his bedroom floor, next to his bed.

Marie rolled over onto her stomach and looked at Zac. "I did. All over my mother’s carpet. Oh she was so mad."

Zac laughed. "What did you tell her?" She moved onto his side, and propped himself up on one elbow, so that he was facing Marie.

"I just told her it was because I was running and it was hot out and I ate too fast. She bought it, cause I’m here aren’t I?" Marie buried her face in her arms.

Zac watched her for a moment, his eyes resting on the small hollow of her back, which was exposed by her short waisted tee shirt. He bit his lip and blinked trying to get the urge to touch her back, which showed traces of a summer tan, out of his mind. Finally unable to take it anymore, Zac reached over and gently laid his hand on her back, lightly rubbing his hand up and down the exposed area. "Well I didn’t get sick," Zac said, trying to make his voice sound normal, "but I sure felt like I was going to."

Marie sighed. "Scratch my back while you’re doing that," she said without raising her head.

Zac nodded in compliance, even though she couldn’t see him, and began to lightly scratch her back with his short, stubby nails.

"Higher," Marie commanded.

Zac moved his hand up higher. He reached under her shirt and scratched the middle of her back. He felt daring and began to move his hand higher when suddenly he froze. Quickly he snatched his hand away and flushed.

Marie looked up at him. "What’s the matter?" She asked.

"Noth....nothing. Why?" Zac stuttered.

Marie gave him a knowing look. "Zac, it was just the back of my bra. No big deal."

Zac took a deep breath. Marie might not think so, but to him it was a very big deal. Boys did not wear bras. Girls wore bras. Bras meant........breasts. The thought made Zac jump slightly. Touching a bra meant being that much closer to touching breasts and well, he just wasn’t quite so sure he wanted to deal with that yet. Trying to clear his head, Zac leaned back against his bed, and closed his eyes. He felt something over him and opened his eyes to see Marie staring at him. She smiled at his beet red cheeks.

"You’re so cute when you’re embarrassed." She said.

Zac made a face. "I’m not embarrassed. It’s just warm in here, that’s all."

"Oh, okay," Marie said, her voice showing full well that she didn’t believe him.

She leaned in even closer and whispered into his ear "If you want to touch me, I’ll let you."

Zac’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. "Umm, no I don’t think so." He muttered.

Marie scootched over and leaned against him. "What’s the difference between this and doctor?" She asked.

"Well," Zac took a deep breath. "Doctor is just a game. This wouldn’t be a game, you know?"

"So pretend it’s a game," Marie told him.

Zac shook his head. "It’s not that easy. I mean in a game if you mess up, so what. It’s just a game. But this is real life. If you mess up that’s it. You can’t take it back."

Marie frowned. "How can you mess this up?"

"Knowing me? Pretty big," Zac muttered. "Look, I’ve always wanted to do more with you, but......" Zac looked down into Marie’s big blue eyes. "I just......" She batted her lashes at him. "I mean I......." She licked her lips and stared up at him, her mouth turned into a cute pout. "I want......forget it," he muttered as he pressed his lips to hers. He pulled her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her waist. Marie broke the kiss, and moved her lips to his forehead, eyelids, cheeks, chin, and slowly down his neck, her kisses unsure and naive. Zac closed his eyes, and enjoyed the new sensations running through him. Marie’s hot breath on his neck felt amazing and he sighed in pleasure. Tentativly he raised his hand and put it on top of her shirt, but then quickly pulled it away.

"What’s the matter?" Marie asked again, tearing her lips from his neck.

"One thing at a time, okay? One thing at a time. I don’t want to hurt you, and I just don’t feel comfortable, you know......touching you in that way yet. Because this isn’t a game."

Marie stared at Zac thoughtfully. She then leaned forward and kissed him again. "Thank you," She whispered in his ear when they broke apart. "Thank you for caring."



Mr. Hanson picked the two up and dropped Gretchen off in front of her house.

"I’ll just walk home dad," Taylor volunteered, and walked Gretchen to her porch without waiting for his father’s answer.

"Do you want to come in for a little bit?" Gretchen asked?

"Is your mother home?"

"Yeah, probably."

"Uhh," Taylor just looked down at his feet.

"Oh come on. She won’t say anything to horrible about you until after you leave," Gretchen promised.

"Wow, that makes me feel a whole lot better," Taylor smiled.

Gretchen returned his smile and opened the door. Taylor followed her down the hall to her room. While Gretchen put on a CD, Taylor let himself into her closet.

"Oh my God, would you look at this!" He exclaimed. "You actually own skirts. Who would have thought?"

"Oh get out of there," Gretchen pleaded.

"No way, I’m very curious now," Taylor pulled out a little plaid skirt. "You need to show more leg girly."

"What’ s with you and plaid today?" Was Gretchen’s only answer to his statement.

"OH, I bet you’d look hot in this." Taylor returned the plaid skirt and pulled out a short black one.

"Taylor! That’s so ugly!"

"Then why do you own it?" he asked. "Come on put it on."

Gretchen rolled her eyes, but eventually put on the short skirt.

"I look horrible in this!" she exclaimed.

"Well it helps if you take off your jeans," Taylor suggested.

Gretchen stuck out her tongue and pulled her jeans off, now standing in just the short black skirt and her tee shirt.

"See, I told you I look horrible."

"No you don’t, you look cute." Taylor walked over to her.

"It shows off how chubby my legs are!"

"So? Chubby legs are cute," he assured her.

Gretchen just gave him a dirty look and flopped into the small easy chair in a corner of her room. Taylor followed her and kneeling down on the floor in front of her, began to gently run his hands up and down her legs.

"You have really nice legs. I like to see them," he explained.

Just as Gretchen began to really enjoy Taylor stroking her legs, Mrs. Halloran burst into the room.

"Mom!" Gretchen exclaimed, jumping up. "Have you ever heard of knocking?"

"Apparently not," Taylor mumbled under his breath.

"Young man, it’s about time you get home." Gretchen’s mother pointed to the door.

Slowly, Taylor sighed, and taking one last look at Gretchen, began to make his way home.

.

Chapter 37 - The Odessa Mobile

Taylor and his friend, Jedidiah Rush were rollerblading down South Union Avenue, enjoying the warm, sunny day.

"Seriously, I think my brother is going to have a mental breakdown without his women," Taylor was joking.

"Wait a second here. I thought he was like, doing two girls." Jedidiah skated slightly ahead of Taylor and called over his shoulder.

"Well, I don’t know if Miss Perfect Claire let him down her pants or not, but Juliet found out about her and now he ain’t got nobody. It’s really quite comical," Taylor laughed at his brother’s misfortune.

"Ladies of Tulsa beware--Isaac Hanson is a single man." Jedidiah snickered at his own joke and kept skating, not realizing that Taylor had stopped and was blatantly open mouthed staring at a black BMW convertible.

Jedidiah skated back over to his friend.

"Oh my God," Taylor muttered to himself.

Jed gave his friend a weird look. "Yeah, it’s a nice car but you don’t have to drool over it. Come on."

Taylor didn’t move, and only continued to repeat ‘oh my God’ over and over.

"Tay, come on," Jedidiah urged.

"Oh my God! I have to go," Taylor finally broke from his trance and started to skate away.

"Now?" Jedidiah stared at Taylor with a confused look plastered on his face. "Why?"

Taylor stopped skating and turned to look at his friend. "It’s the Odessa mobile! I have to tell Isaac." With that Taylor resumed skating in the direction of 78th street.

A dumbfounded Jedidiah stood on the sidewalk. "An Odessa-mobile? What the hell is that?"

"I’ll call you later," Taylor shouted as he rounded the corner onto W. 81st.

"Great," Jedidiah mumbled, and with a shake of his head, he began to head home.

"Isaac! Ike! IKE!" Taylor ran into the house and forgetting the rollerblades on his feet, attempted to make his way up the stairs. Just as he reached the top of the staircase one of his skates slipped from under him and sent him cascading down the stairwell. Once he had managed to stop his fall, Taylor began groping each step, crawling towards the top, still shouting his older brother’s name.

"Taylor," his mother, carrying a laundry basket, passed him on the steps. "What is all the racket about?"

"I have to talk to Isaac. Could you please move out of my way?"

"Well, excuse me. And by the way young man what about the no rollerblades in the house rule?"

"Mom," Taylor whined. "I don’t have time for stupid rules. This information cannot be contained for a second longer."

"I don’t care if you have if you have top secret information for the government. You do not take another step without first taking off those skates."

"Fine mom." Taylor waited until his mother had rounded the corner, and then ignoring her order, clambered the rest of the way up the steps and skated down the hallway. Failing to notice Zac lying in front of the doorway, Taylor tripped over him and proceeded to somersault into the room ending up in a pile at Isaac’s feet, who merely stared down at his brother, as if such an entrance was not a bit out of the ordinary.

"What’s up Tay?" Isaac asked.

"Didn’t you hear me calling you?" Taylor snapped ignoring Zac who was giving him a dirty look and telling him to watch it.

"Yeah, but I figured if it was really important you’d rollerblade into the room, somersault over our younger brother and lie in a pile at my feet. And what do you know, that’s exactly what you did." Isaac laughed at himself. "So what’s really important? Let me guess--the newest fashion reviews just announced that skin tight clothes are in and you’re at the top of their best dressed list."

"Isaac," Taylor did not have time for his brother’s immaturity. "I’m being serious here." Taylor sat up and looked his brother in the eyes in order to give him the full effect of this announcement. "You will not believe what I saw today."

"What did you see today?" Isaac decided to humor his little brother.

"Well Jedidiah and I went rollerblading in the West Highlands today and you know where it splits into two trails? Well we took the trail by the nature conservatory, but that had a lot of horse manure on it and we got sick of having to jump over the piles. So we skipped through the woods and jumped onto the other trail, only to have to dodge joggers every five seconds. And these weren’t the fast joggers mind you. Oh no, these were the slow ones who buy the five hundred dollar jogging suits and then run for all of five minutes then blah with their buddies the rest of the time. So needless the say we decided to ditch the park."

Isaac rolled his eyes, not sure if his brother would ever get to the point, if he was even able to remember what the point was by the time he finished blabbing away.

"So, we just decided to skate around the neighborhood. First we went down the street where all the old people live, then we hopped over to the road grandma used to live on. So to make a long story short...."

Isaac raised his eyebrows.

"We ended up on South Union." Taylor paused so that this information could sink in.

Isaac just stared at him. "Yeah, and your point is?"

"Ike, I saw it," Taylor’s blue eyes widened. "It was right there in front of me."

"That’s great Tay. What in the world are you talking about?"

"Ike," Taylor paused. "You may want to sit down for this."

"I am sitting Taylor."

"Oh yeah. Well don’t get up. I saw the Odessa-mobile."

Isaac’s jaw dropped. "You’re kidding me!" He no longer cared it took his brother ten minutes to describe something which would have taken any normal person ten seconds. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I saw it with my own two eyes. Black BMW convertible, license plate SLM 960."

"Well I’ll be...........she’s home."

"What are you guys talking about?" Zac spoke up from his position on the floor.

"Regan Odessa is home from college," Isaac breathlessly stated. He then look at Taylor. "Take me to it."



Within a matter of seconds Taylor’s rollerblades were replaced by Doc Martens and the two boys were whizzing towards South Union in their father’s Honda Accord.

"See Ike, there it is." Taylor pointed to the BMW.

Isaac, after putting the car in park, just sat and stared.

Suddenly the front door opened.

"Look Tay, there she is," Isaac breathed.

"Oh my God," Taylor muttered, his eyes glued to Regan Odessa.

"She’s getting into the car. Would you look at what she’s wearing," Isaac continued.

"Oh my God."

"She’s starting the car."

"Oh my God."

"The car is backing out of the driveway," Isaac narrated as if his brother was blind.

"Oh my God."

"She’s driving down the street in her car."

"Oh my God."

"Let’s follow her," Isaac suggested.

"Oh my God."

Isaac took that as a yes and began to follow the BMW down the road.



For as long as Isaac and Taylor could remember Regan Odessa had been the lust of every boy in Tulsa. When Regan got her first bra, the entire population knew within an hour. When she broke up with her boyfriend of three years, tiny, secret parties were held in nearly every teenage boy’s bedroom. When it was announced the she’d been accepted to Cornell, black became a predominate color worn by the young local males. To them it did not seem fair that a state such as New York, especially a city with the horrendous name of Ithaca, would get what rightfully belonged to Tulsa.

From the time Taylor was eleven years old and began to see girls in a slightly different fashion other than cootie containing animals, he and Isaac had taken it upon themselves to look out for everything and anything that had to do with Regan Odessa. It was not unusual for them to take it upon themselves to "insoncpiciously" follow her from place to place. They assured themselves that it was not their hormones which were driving them, but their concern for a fellow human beings safety, because as everyone knows Tulsa is filled to the brim with hardened criminals and they had to make sure she got to where ever she was going safely. Granted this had been difficult in the early days for neither at them had a drivers license and catching up with a car on rollerblades proved to be rather difficult. However they became quite good at it and their perseverance paid off for the boys became the well rounded skaters which everyone knows them as today. It is a little known fact that the skills showcased in the "MMMBop" video were a direct result of their early adventures with Regan.

Every boy in Tulsa will attest to the fact that is was not just her thick, long blond hair, nor her bright blue eyes, slender 5’7" body frame with a well endowed chest, plus naturally tan skin to boot, which held their attention. Oh no, it was her charming personality, amazing wit, and astounding intelligence which kept them captivated. Countless times the phrase, ‘I like her for her mind, not her body’ was heard, and each time it was followed by uproarious laughter for they all knew it was complete bs. But it sounded good, and few would admit to spending hours lusting after a body they would most likely never get to enjoy.



"She’s turning into the parking lot of Drug Mart," Isaac continued his play by play.

"Oh my God."

"Don’t look, but she’s parking the car."

"Oh my God."

"Hey! She parked in the handicapped spot." Isaac was shocked.

"Oh my God."

"Hey, maybe she’ll get towed and we would have to give her a ride home," Isaac’s eyes lit up at his own idea.

"OH.........MY..........GOD!"

"Taylor, can you say anything else?"

Taylor merely nodded his head at Isaac.

"Hey, she’s getting out of the Odessa-mobile."

"Oh my goodness."

Isaac rolled his eyes, but continued to narrate. "She’s entering the store."

"Oh my goodness."

"Should we go in and see what she buys?"

"Umm.....yeah. We don’t want the cashier to rip her off or anything."

"Right, I mean because the Drug Mart cashiers normally rip people off," Isaac gave Taylor a weird look.

"Oh well, I don’t know.......you know what I mean." Only even Taylor himself had no clue what he was getting at.

"Oh my God, Taylor, she’s leaving the store," Isaac interrupted his brother.

"Bye Ike." Taylor leapt out of the car. "Hey Regan!" Taylor jogged over to Regan’s car. "Did they give you the right change?" he asked breathlessly. "Because last time I was in there the cashier short changed me ten cents."

"Oh hi Taylor. Well, I paid with a credit card, so I don’t have to worry about that. But thanks for your concern."

At that moment Taylor wished he worked as a cashier so as to touch the plastic card which bore her inscribed name.

"I see you boys have a car now," Regan indicated to the Accord. "Must be easier to keep up." She put her purchases in the back seat of her car.

"Whatever do you mean?" Taylor flashed her an innocent smile.

Regan reached over and touched his shoulder. "You’re a sweet boy. I’ll see you around."

Regan got into her car, started the ignition, and drove away.

In a daze, Taylor returned to the Honda, not being able to recall the last time his shoulder had felt so good.

"She touched me," he said, practically falling into the front seat.

"That was only after you made a complete moron of yourself," Isaac pointed out.

"What are you talking about? We had a very nice conversation."

"Oh yeah Tay, okay."

"You’re just jealous because I’ve gotten further with Regan than you have," Taylor informed his brother.

"I hardly classify being touched on the shoulder by Regan as getting anywhere with her, and besides, remember the time I bumped into her at the ice cream store? We had full body contact." Isaac sighed at the memory.

"Yeah, well that was an accident. I doubt she wanted to run into you. But she purposely touched me. She wanted to touch me." Taylor smiled and blushed, secretly hoping that one day she’d touch more than his shoulder.

"I know what you’re thinking. Stop being perverted. We’re going home." Isaac registered the dreamy look in Taylor’s eyes, and realized his brother would be in his own little paradise the remainder of the day.



Zac sat outside the 7/11 about eight blocks from his house, waiting for a respectable, yet sort of sleazy looking teenager to walk by. He sighed and glanced down at his watch. His parents would start to wonder soon. He had said he was only going down to the drug store to buy a pop. It was nearing suppertime and he had been waiting nearly half an hour. His efforts to find someone to help him out were proving fruitless. So far only old women and moms dragging along young children had been going into the store.

If only I were eighteen, Zac thought to himself. Then things would be so much easier.

Zac nervously fiddled with a string hanging from the hem of his tee shirt. He had half smoked, half choked over the remaining four cigarettes Marie had left with him. By the fourth one he had actually felt like he was getting the hang of it. But the thought still plagued him......why was he even going through all this trouble. He really didn’t even like the taste of cigarettes that much. In fact it sort of repulsed him. So why am I doing this? he asked himself. His mind was a blank. There was no real reason. He just wanted to.

Zac was about to give up and go home when suddenly the sound of pounding bass broke his thoughts.

The black CRX pulled into a parking space and the radio was silenced. Zac watched as the door to the car opened. The boy looked to be about eighteen or nineteen. A jangling noise seemed to follow him and Zac then saw the wallet chain that hung nearly to the ground from the back of his overly baggy JNCO jeans. His baggy silverchair tee shirt was covered by a unzipped ADIDAS warm up jacket. Zac stared at the boy who had at least four earrings in each ear, one in his nose, and two in his left eyebrow.

The boy looked a good a candidate as any, and Zac stood, uneasily approaching the boy as he walked towards the doors of the store.

"Excuse me mister." Zac glanced up at the teen, who was a good half foot taller than himself and took a deep breath. "I was wondering if you could help me."

The boy looked down at Zac, an amused expression crossing his face at the word mister. "Sure, what do you have in mind kid?"

"If I gave you some money," Zac looked towards the dusty, littered sidewalk. "Do you think you could buy me a pack of cigarettes?"

"Aren’t you a little bit young to be smoking?" The boy laughed.

"Yeah," Zac looked up at him. "That’s kind of the problem."

"Oh," The boy smiled. "I get it."

"So, will you do it?" Zac gave him a hopeful look.

"Yeah." The boy held his head up high. "It’s my duty."

Zac gave him a bewildered look. "Your duty?" Zac doubted that this boy’s sole purpose on earth was to buy him cigarettes, so he really was rather curious as to what the teen meant by duty.

"Sure. It’s truly an injustice that the youth of America, a FREE country mind you, are not allowed to purchase anything and everything they desire. Age restrictions are pointless and only discriminate against the younger population."

Zac couldn’t figure out if the kid was being serious, or just trying to come out looking like some type of hero.

"Hey, wait a second." The boy glanced into the store’s glass door and took a long look at the magazine rack. "Aren’t you one of those Hanson kids?" He pointed to a teen magazine situated right in view.

"No," Zac said quickly. He usually enjoyed being recognized, but not like this. If it somehow got around that he was smoking, it could spell disaster for the band’s image. Not to mention his life if his parents found out. "I actually hate their music," he lied again and handed the boy a wadded up five dollar bill. "Can you get me a Dr. Pepper too?"

"Sure. My name’s Dallas," The boy said as he took Zac’s money.

"I’m Zac," Zac smiled.

"But not Zac Hanson?" Dallas gave him a questioning stare.

"No," Zac lied yet again. "Actually I don’t have any brothers or sisters and that Hanson kid has like five."

"Okay," Dallas seemed a bit confused as to why Zac offered that bit of information, but didn’t press the subject. "Do you have a preference?"

"Umm, no. I like them all." Zac didn’t want to admit that he really didn’t know what brands were out there, other than Marlboro’s and he couldn’t pronounce that one, so he avoided embarrassment and just prayed Dallas wouldn’t ask any more questions.

"All righty." Dallas walked into the store.

Through the windows, Zac watched as Dallas stopped at the magazine rack, grabbed one, and then went over to the refrigerators. A few minutes later he emerged with a small paper bag.

"Here," Dallas tossed a pack of Merit’s and the Dr. Pepper at Zac.

"Thanks." Zac caught both, and examined the small pack of cigarettes.

"And don’t worry Zac," Dallas smiled. "I won’t tell anyone."

"Huh?" Zac glanced up at him.

Dallas pulled an issue of Bop from the small bag. Zac saw himself and his brothers smiling on the cover. "My sister is a big fan," Dallas explained. "Anyway she’s sick so I came here to get her a magazine and some juice."

"Oh," Zac stuffed the pack into one of the pockets of his cargo pants. "I hope she feels better soon.....and thanks."

"No problem," Dallas said. He smiled once more and then headed for his car.



"Ike, I can’t believe you’re up there," Taylor exclaimed, pacing back and forth on the Odessa’s lawn.

"I can’t believe you’re missing this," Isaac replied from his position high in the branches of the tall Sycamore tree. "You can see right into her bedroom. Why didn’t we ever think of this before?"

"God you’re sick!" Taylor rolled his eyes at his brother. "Unlike you I do not have a tendency towards voyeurism. I don’t want to see into her bedroom."

"Ah don’t give me that. Aren’t you the least bit curious?"

"Well, yeah but I’m not perverted enough to climb up in a tree and look into her bedroom window! I think you’re just desperate or something!"

"I’m not desperate," Isaac stood up for himself. "Okay.........well maybe.........NO NO. I’m not desperate. I just have umm......and appreciation for the interior design of some of these old houses in Tulsa."

"Oh give me a break, you’re just a pervert," Taylor looked up at his brother who was partially hidden amongst the leaves. "Now get down from there! I think they have laws against what you’re doing!"

"Tay, I...........Oh my God. Tay, she has just entered the bedroom."

"Are you kidding me?" Taylor’s stomach flip-flopped.

"No, and it looks like she just got out of the shower or something. Wait, she’s.........she’s.........pulling out clothes. I think she might change."

Those were the last words Taylor needed to hear. In a flash he was climbing up the tree and soon joined his brother on the very sturdy branch, muttering how he couldn’t believe he was doing this. However when Regan Odessa came into view, all he could do was whisper, "Oh Isaac, she’s so beautiful."

Both boys stared wide eyed as Regan took off her bathrobe and slipped a pale blue pajama top over her head. She then stepped into a pair of white panties and the matching soft blue pajama bottom.

Taylor softly moaned to himself, and Isaac had trouble breathing normally. It didn’t matter that Regan hadn’t touched either of the boys -- just watching her get dressed proved to be a very pleasurable experience. They continued to spy as she began to run a comb through her long blond hair. As she combed, she approached the window and looked out. She crawled onto the window seat and gazed into the starry night. Suddenly something caught her eye.

"Uh oh.......oh my God. Ike, I think she saw us," Taylor muttered.

"Just stay calm," Isaac hissed. "If you don’t move, maybe we’ll blend in and she’ll assume she was just seeing things." Isaac nodded his head as if this solved their problem.

They watched, without moving as Regan stood and left her room. Finally deciding it was safe, Taylor began his descent down the tree. Just as he was a quarter of the way down, a very large man carrying a shot gun emerged from the front door.

"Just stay where you are," he bellowed, pointing the gun towards the two brothers, who remained frozen n the tree. "Just what in the hell do you think you were doing, watching my baby in her room?"

"Umm, I’m sure this looks bad, but really there is a reasonable explanation for all of this. You see......." But Isaac was unable to finish his sentence.

"Shut up! There are laws in this town, and you two perverts are going to jail! I’ve already called the police!" Mr. Odessa shouted.

"Oh my God! Ike, mom and dad are going to kill us! Do something!" Taylor demanded.

"Listen, maybe if we could talk about this," Isaac began.

"Talk about what? Why you were watching my daughter get dressed?"

"Oh, come on Mr. Odessa! Don’t you remember what it was like to be sixteen?" Isaac tried to use the "were just normal teenagers" logic.

"Yes, and I never climbed up in trees to spy on girls. You two peeping Toms deserve what’s coming to you!" Mr. Odessa yelled, waving the gun.

Isaac opened his mouth, but Taylor motioned for him to be quiet.

"We can’t get him any madder then he is. He could snap and blow our heads off. Did you see the way he was waving that thing?" Taylor whispered.

Just as Taylor’s heartbeat began to slow down, the sound of sirens could be heard in the distance.

"Oh my God! He did call the cops! He wasn’t joking!" Taylor was in complete shock. "Ike I can’t go to jail! I’ll be some bad boys girlfriend! I saw the Shawshank Redemption, and I’m a hell of a lot cuter then Tim Robbins!" Taylor’s normally ruddy complexion was drained of all color.

Isaac, realizing the seriousness of the situation, could only nod at his brother’s and his own misfortune.

"Okay boys. Slowly come out of the tree. When you get down, put your hands in the air where we can see them!" A police officer called up to the trembling boys.

Isaac and Taylor emerged from the Sycamore with their arms held high.

Two officers went behind them and placed handcuffs around their wrists.

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney....."

Taylor glared at Isaac as the officer continued to read them their Miranda Rights. His eyes swelled with tears, and try as he might, he was far to scared, upset, and ashamed of what they had done, and what was about to come, to hold them back. Once he let a tear escape from his eyes, another followed and soon he was silently crying like a young child.

Isaac, not yet fully grasping what was happening, began to plead his case. "Officer, do you know who my father is? Do you know who I am? Do you know who WE are?"

"Boy, I don’t care if you’re President Clinton. Now be quiet and follow me." The officer turned and pointed to Taylor. "And you, stop that crying. You’re not a little girl are you?" The cop grabbed Isaac and Taylor’s elbows and began to lead then into a patrol car.



Once at the station, the boys were allowed to make their single phone call. Taylor, still upset and crying, was certainly in no position to make the call, and Isaac took over.

Isaac, dreading the thought of who might pick up, slowly dialed the seven digits, with his stomach sinking as he pushed each number.

"Hello? Hanson residence. Mackie Hanson speaking," Mackie chimed after the fourth ring.

"Mac, go get mom or dad," Isaac demanded.

"Okie dokie, going to find mommy and daddy." With that, Mackie dropped the phone.

Isaac could hear faintly hear him calling for his parents, but as the minutes ticked by, no one came to the phone.

"MOM! DAD!" Isaac began to shout into the receiver.

"Hello? Who is this," A young voice asked.

"Avie, it’s Ike. Go get mom and dad, preferable mom, now!" Isaac shouted.

"Ikey you are in big, big trouble!"

"No shit! Now go get mom on the phone!" Isaac’s patience with his siblings was wearing very thin.

"Ohhhhh, you said a potty word! I’m gonna tell mommy!"

Isaac once again heard the phone drop. He was about ready to give up and just put the phone down, when he heard his mother’s voice.

"Ike? I can’t believe you call here almost an hour after your curfew and then have the nerve to swear at your little sister!" Mrs. Hanson snapped once she picked up the phone.

"Mom, I want you to just calm down, sit in a chair and listen to what I have to say. But you have to promise not to get mad, okay?"

"I’m not making any promises young man. Where are you? And where’s your brother?" She yelled.

"See, now that’s the funny part mom. Are you sitting down?"

"Isaac, don’t play games with me. Did something happen to your brother?"

"No, Tay is fine. He’s right here."

"Put him on the phone," Mrs. Hanson demanded.

"Mom, maybe you should listen to me first." Isaac desperately wanted to calm his mother down before she spoke to the sobbing Taylor.

"No, you put your brother on the phone!"

Isaac sighed. "Tay," he covered the mouthpiece. "She wants to talk to you. Now stop crying and don’t say anything stupid. I’m going to try and explain the whole situation to her. Got it?"

Taylor took a deep breath and nodded.

Isaac handed him the phone, silently praying Taylor wouldn’t do anything lame brained and make the situation worse before he had a chance to tell his side.

"Mommy?" Taylor began crying the minute the word left his mouth.

"Tay, honey, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?" Mrs. Hanson was suddenly very concerned.

"Ike got us arrested! We’re in jail and I’m probably going to be raped before the night’s over!"

"Dammit Taylor!" Isaac exclaimed, snatching the phone away. "Mom, just calm down. This really is not as bad as it sounds."

"You have five seconds to explain to me just what in the world is going on with you boys!" Mrs. Hanson snapped.

Isaac groaned inwardly and made a mental note to slap Taylor the minute they found a way out of this situation.

"Walker, our sons are in jail!" Isaac could hear his mother calling to their father.

"Okay, this had better be good," Mrs. Hanson returned her attention back to the phone.

"Well, umm..." Isaac began. He was about to purge the whole story when Taylor suddenly grabbed the phone from his grasp.

"Please come get us! I can feel the prisoners eyeing me!"

"Taylor! We’re in an office for crying out loud! There isn’t a single prisoner around! Now give me the phone!" Isaac demanded.

The cops and receptionists in the office were trying hard to stifle laughs. Normally phone calls weren’t allowed to last this long, but this was far to amusing to interrupt.

"Mom," Isaac took the phone back. "I think you’re gonna have to come bail us out or something."

"What did you boys do that got you arrested?"

"Mom, it was such a small, itty-bitty, little, teenie-tiny, minute thing, it’s hardly worth mentioning....."

"It can’t have been that small if your butts are in jail for it!" Mrs. Hanson interrupted her oldest son.

Isaac sighed, defeated. "Would you please just come down and get us? I’ll explain everything once you get here."

After Isaac finished the phone call, and officer approached the boys. "Okay fellas, we’re going to have to put you in a holding cell until you’re parents come for you," he explained and began to lead Isaac and Taylor down a narrow, dimly lit hallway.

"No! Please don’t do this to us!" Taylor shrieked in a very high pitched voice. "Please, I beg of you! I’m a virgin! I can’t lose it tonight! Not like this!"

The officer looked over at the trembling boy, slightly amused. This kid’s seen one to many movies, he laughed to himself. "Son........number one, we’re putting you in a holding cell in the juvenile division, which means the two of you will be alone. So number two, unless your brother is planing on raping you, I assure you, there’s nothing to worry about." The officer patted Taylor on the shoulder. He couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the two peeping toms.



Zac stood by and watched with an amused expression as his mother ran frantically around the house.

It wasn’t until Zac coughed that Mrs. Hanson turned to look at her son.

"Zachary Walker Hanson where in the world have you been?"

Zac frowned. "At the store. I told you." He held up his half empty Dr. Pepper bottle as proof.

"Well, you need to stay here and watch your sisters and brother. You’re father and I have to go downtown."

"What for? And why can’t Ike or Tay do it?" Zac didn’t like the prospect of being stuck with his younger siblings for half the night. Especially when he had the pack of cigarettes. He had planned on sneaking out to the treehouse for a quick smoke.

"Because your stupid older brothers are in jail! That’s why not. Don’t argue with me, Zac. I am not going to deal with you right now."

Zac nearly choked on his Dr. Pepper and had to spit it out. "Jail?" He said with disbelief.

"Yes, jail. WALKER LET’S GO!"

Zac watched as his parents rushed to the car and sped away. He shook his head and sighed.

Absently he walked to the TV room. Jessica and Avery were watching the Disney Channel. Zac trodded over and plopped next to them on the large sofa. "Where’s Mac?" He asked, surprised he wasn’t getting attacked by his little brother to play cars or something.

"Bed," Jessica replied. "After mommy got off the phone with Ike, she put Mackie to bed. That was before she started crying. Then she just got mad and was yelling at Daddy."

Zac bit his lip. "You guys know what happened?"

Jessica shook her head. "Nope. Mommy just said something about Tay and Ike being in jail and having to go bail them out. Daddy started yelling about money and how much it was going to cost." Jessica turned to Zac, her eyes wide. "Then he said that Taylor and Ike’s asses were grass when they got home. That’s when you got here."

"Whoa." Zac sat back on the sofa. The possibilities as to what his idiotic brothers could have done to get them arrested were endless. This was going to be good. Zac watched the Brotherly Love rerun playing for a few minutes, before he stood up. "Look, guys? Can you just sit here and be good for like ten minutes? I have to go do something."

"Sure, we’re just gonna watch TV anyway." Jessica waved Zac away.

"Avie? Can you be good?"

Avery gave her older brother a doe eyed glance. "Of course." She told him with a smile.

"Good. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Don’t move." Zac grabbed his windbreaker and stepped out the back door. He made his way across the lawn towards the treehouse. Once inside, he retrieved the pack of cigarettes from his pants pocket, and uncovered the lighter he had found and kept hidden under a loose board on the floor of the treehouse. He packed the cigarettes as he had seen other people do, by pounding the small box on the palm of his hand a few times before opening it. Carefully he took a cigarette from the pack and lit it. He took a small drag and made a face. The Merits tasted horrible. But beggars couldn’t be choosers, so he sat back against the wall and closed his eyes.

Not more than a minute later his eyes flew open at the sound of footsteps approaching the treehouse.

"Shit," he muttered. Quickly he put the cigarette out and hid it under the floor board along with the lighter. He quickly stuck the pack back into his pocket, and frantically waved his hand, hoping to disburse some of the smoke hanging in the air.

"Zac?"

Avery.

Zac rolled his eyes. "Avie, I told you to stay inside. What are you doing out here?"

Avery climbed into the treehouse and looked down at her brother. "I wanted to see what you were doing. What are you doing?"

Zac frowned. "None of your business. Go back inside."

Avery stamped her foot. "NO!"

Zac stood up and glared down at his sister. "Avie, I’ll tell mommy and daddy you were bad. Then they might send you away just like they did.............nevermind."

Zac sat back down and leaned against the wall again.

Avery sat down next to Zac, Indian style. "What did mommy and daddy do?"

Zac looked over at Avery and gave her his best sinister glance. "Well, I shouldn’t be telling you this. I mean we were sworn to secrecy and........"

"Zac! Tell me!" Avery pleaded.

Zac glanced around, as though he were looking for spy’s and when he was sure the coast was clear, he leaned in close to his little sister. "See, when you were born, well......you had a twin. They named her Amanda. You’re too young to remember, but Amanda was always being bad. Getting into things. Disobeying mommy and daddy. So one day she was especially bad, and mom and dad snapped. They sent her to a school far far away in Turkey for bad kids."

Avery’s eyes widened. "They make her live inside a Turkey?"

Zac rolled his eyes. "No dum, dum. She lives in Turkey. It’s a country where they send all the bad kids in the whole world. So if I were you, I’d go back inside and leave me alone, because if not I’ll tell mom and dad you were bad and they’ll send you off to live with Amanda."

"No, don’t Zaccy, I’ll be good," Avery whimpered.

Zac smiled. "Promise?"

Avery nodded, her eyes damp. "I promise," she whispered.

"Okay, I wont tell, but you have to go back inside now."

Without another word, Avery stood and took off for the house.

Zac watched to make sure she was in the house before returning to the treehouse. He grabbed the pack and lit another cigarette, the gray smoke curling up in droopy tendrils in the darkness.



Isaac absent mindly stared out the window of the family van, as his father ranted about having to spend five hundred dollars to get his two oldest children out of jail. Isaac really wasn’t paying that much attention to what his father was saying. Instead he was debating whether seeing Regan Odessa naked was worth getting arrested for. After taking into consideration that the whole incident wouldn’t appear on his permanent record, and Regan had decided not to press charges, he came to the conclusion that getting arrested and going to jail was well worth the opportunity to witness Regan Odessa in all her splendid glory. His life would no longer be the same, he imagined. Sure he’d seen Juliet with no clothes on, but a fourteen year old soccer player just somehow didn’t compare to a twenty year old woman.

Taylor on the other hand, felt that seeing any woman naked was not worth going to jail and running the risk of becoming a sex toy for some man named Bubba. An officer had even taken him aside, and Taylor wasn’t quite sure whether the man was only playing off his fears and messing with his head a bit, or being truly serious, but either way the cop had felt the need to inform Taylor that with his slightly feminine looks, it would be in his best interest to try and stay out of jail from now on. Suddenly the realization that Isaac had seen him crying like a baby sunk in. And Regan had seen him crying, and well at least half the Tulsa Police Department. What if somehow one of his friends found out? Would he be able to live this down? He knew Jason and Neal would never let up on him about it, and once they knew, it was a pretty sure bet the rest of the city would know before the day was up. As he contemplated this an even worse thought crossed his mind. What if Gretchen found out that he had been arrested? Or worse yet, if she found out the reason she was in the slammer was because he was up in a tree watching Regan Odessa strip? He seriously doubted that her, we can see other people comment applied to getting arrested for voyeurism.

"You two are permanently punished. You’re punished even after you die!" Mr. Hanson was shouting from the drivers seat.

Taylor and Isaac both sighed and slumped against their seats. It was gonna be a long life.



"Well, well, what do you know. It’s my two, older, mature brothers back from the slammer," Zac said the minute Isaac and Taylor were escorted in the front door by their parents.

"Zac, go to your room," Mr. Hanson loudly suggested.

Zac drew in a sharp breath. "Ooooh, I don’t know dad. I don’t like the idea of sharing the same bedroom with hardened criminals," he joked.

"Zachary," Mr. Hanson warned.

"All right, all right, I’m going. Man you’d think I was the one who was stupid enough to get arrested," Zac muttered as he turned and raced up the steps toward his room. He wondered whether or not his father would kill his brothers before the night was up. Suddenly the thought of being the oldest Hanson didn’t seem half bad. Zac smiled to himself, and began deciding what he would do with all the extra space, once he had the bedroom all to himself. For once, he was actually glad that his brothers left him out of something.

.

Chapter 38 - Zac Hanson Superstar

Mr. Hanson’s threat of a life long grounding ended up not holding much water, and after a little over one month, Taylor and Isaac were released from their captivity. Much to their dismay the last days of summer vacation had somehow slipped by them and their punishment ended just in time for the school year to begin. They had spent their last days of freedom sweating in their tiny bedroom, while Zac was free to run off and do as he pleased. Naturally being the young, considerate gentleman that he was, Zac took full advantage of every opportunity which presented itself in order to rub this fact into his older brothers’ faces.

Though Taylor and Isaac had their doubts, they both had managed to survive the ordeal without going completely insane. As a matter of fact they had learned from the experience and as a result emerged from it as mature young men; at least that was the conclusion their father had come to. However Isaac and Taylor both suspected that if he had any clue as to what they talked about during those endless hours, he would have developed a completely different theory.

Taylor had finally come clean about all his various plans to kill Isaac which he had concocted when he first discovered that his brother was sleeping with Juliet. In turn Isaac eventually spilled the beans on the areas of sex which he had previously attempted to shelter his younger brother from. And this time he managed to talk about the act without making any far fetched food analogies.

The two grew closer as a result of this punishment, and if any one conclusion was reached by the end of their sentence, it was that they were going to get back at Zac. Granted he did not get them grounded, but he sure as hell hadn’t made the punishment any more bearable. They had lost count after the first day so to how many times he rubbed the fact that he was not punished in their faces. In Isaac’s mind it was a miracle in itself that neither he nor Taylor had snapped and simply killed Zac in his sleep in order to shut him up. They couldn’t do anything to Zac while they were grounded, but now they were free men and all is fair in brotherhood.



"Taylor, why in the world did you say the crucifixion was your favorite Bible story? Are you morbid or something?" Isaac stared at his brother who was pacing around the boys bedroom.

"How was I supposed to know we’d be forced to do some project based on the story? I just said the first thing that came to my mind. Since when did Sunday School assign homework anyway? I mean what’s with that?" Taylor threw his hands in the air, exasperated.

Yes indeed with the return of the school year, came the return of Monday night youth group meetings. During class on Sunday, their youth group leader would tell them what was to be done for the meeting that Monday. While the boys normally didn’t mind the weekly gathering held by Paster Uhle, the fact that their group leader assigned them something as vile as a project was not sitting well.

"Ha-ha, I don’t have any homework from Sunday School," Zac chanted, dancing around the bedroom.

"You little snot head! Shut up!" Isaac exclaimed. He had had just about enough of Zac prancing around exclaiming his good fortune.

"Ha-ha-ha-ha!" Zac was loving life. First his brothers had been grounded for a whole month and now they were stuck doing a Sunday school project on a beautiful day. Could his luck possibly get any better?

"Well, Ike we better think of something pretty soon. We have to turn this stupid thing in at our meeting tomorrow," Taylor reminded him.

"Maybe if someone would have picked a better topic, we wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with," Isaac looked at Taylor. "How hard would the first communion have been? I mean we could have brought in bread and wine and everyone would be happy!" Isaac sat on the edge of his bed, grumbling on how Taylor always had to make everything harder than necessary.

"Don’t blame me! I was pressured, okay? I wasn’t paying attention and when Paster Uhle asked me, I just took a wild stab!" Taylor threw himself on Isaac’s bed. "You know maybe if you would stop blaming me for picking a horrible subject and start thinking of ideas, we could get this project over with!"

"I can’t believe you two have to do homework!" Zac continued to laugh.

"It’s not homework. It’s a project," Taylor tried to make the assignment sound more appealing to his little brother, as well as to himself.

"Project, homework, same difference," Zac snorted. "And you two have to do it and I don’t!" Zac ran out of the room screaming at the top of his lungs about how he had no projects to do, no homework to do, life was wonderful, his brothers were suckers, la-la.

"We’re going to get that kid back," Taylor threatened, looking at Isaac. "Oh yes, we will get him back. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but his time will come, and when it does he will be so sorry that he ever messed with us."

"I know what," Isaac laughed. "We could just crucify Zac and make everyone happy. We’d get our project done and be rid of him. Kills two birds with one stone."

"Isaac! You’re a complete genius!" Taylor exclaimed, jumping off the bed.

When Isaac saw the all to familiar gleam in his brother’s eyes he held his hand up. "Whoa, Tay. I was only joking. We can’t do that."

"Yes we can, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do! What a brilliant idea. Ike, your mind never ceases to amaze me," Taylor flashed him a mischievous grin.

Isaac trailed his brother out of the room. "Tay....Taylor.....you’re just kidding right?"

"Zac!" Taylor ran down the hall after his little brother. "Isaac grab the video camera," Taylor commanded. He ran into the living room where Zac had flopped on the ground, amusing Mackie by making stupid faces. "Zac would you please come outside with us for a minute."

"Why?" Zac squinted and looked up at Taylor. He too noticed that familiar gleam in the blue eyes.

"We want you to help us a little with our project," Isaac helped, coming into the room carrying the video camera.

"Oh no. I don’t have to do a project, remember?"

"Zac, this is for church," Taylor reminded him. "Mom and Dad will get mad if they find out we asked you to help us with our church project, and you refused." Taylor emphasized the word "church".

Zac sighed and stood up. "Okay fine. What do I have to do?"

Taylor gave his brother a huge smile. "Nothing to major," he assured Zac. "Just follow us."



The three oldest Hanson children stood in front of a large oak tree in their back yard with the video camera, a boombox, and some rope.

"What are you guys planning on doing?" Zac cautiously asked, already dreading the answer.

"You’ll see," Taylor patted his brother on his silky blond head.

"I don’t think this is such a good idea," Zac began and cautiously stepped away from Taylor.

"What? You don’t even know what it is yet!" Taylor exclaimed, grabbing Zac’s arm before he had the chance to make a get away.

"Well......I’m not so sure about anything that involves rope, a camera, and a boombox," Zac explained, eyeing the equipment set out on the ground.

"You always said you wanted to act Zac. This is your golden opportunity. It’s the role of a lifetime," Taylor, once again marveled over Isaac’s genius and wished he had thought of the whole idea himself.

"Just tell me what I have to do," Zac demanded, realizing he was defeated.

"Okay, stand up against the tree and hold your arms out straight," Taylor instructed.

Zac did as he was told and watched his older brothers as they analyzed the situation.

"Okay, Ike.......you hold him. I’ll use the rope."

"Wait, what are you going to do with the rope? Guys? What’s going on?" Zac stared wide eyed as Isaac held him up against the tree and Taylor began to wrap the rope around a branch and Zac’s wrist.

"Zac, this would be a lot easier if you didn’t struggle," Isaac suggested.

"Guys! This isn’t funny! Put me down! What are you doing?" Zac demanded. He tried to see exactly what Taylor was up to, but had to squint because the sun was in his eyes. He could feel the rope being wrapped tighter around his wrist and Zac had a sneaky feeling that he was not going to enjoy being a part of their little church project.

"It’s very simple, Zac," Taylor said as he began to wrap the other wrist. "You are Jesus, and we are crucifying you."

"Um, guys! I umm.......well......no. This is a bad, bad idea!" Zac’s caramel eyes pleaded with his brothers. "I mean come on. Who’s going to buy this? I don’t look like Jesus and he was much older when he died and........"

"Does anyone actually know what Jesus looked like?" Isaac asked his younger brother. "Remember that movie we saw, "Jesus Christ Superstar"? Did that actor look like Jesus?"

"Ike, you forgot the music," Taylor suddenly scolded, growing sick of Isaac’s attempt to be some Biblical scholar. He flipped on the boombox, which began blaring "Pure Massacre" by silverchair.

"Who’s CD is this?" Isaac asked, knowing full well Taylor would never buy a CD with this type of music himself.

"I borrowed it from Gretchen. It’s actually pretty good," Taylor smiled, thinking about how different his and Gretchen’s musical tastes were.

Zac, who had had just about enough of this torture, began to scream. Isaac simply placed his palm over Zac’s mouth and continued his questioning. "Think I could borrow it when you’re done?"

Taylor shrugged as he wrapped rope around Zac’s waist. "Sure I don’t see why not," he answered, tightening the knot behind the tree.

"OUCH! Hey, the little brat bit me!" Isaac exclaimed, withdrawing his sore hand.

"Hmm, so let’s gag him," Taylor matter of factly stated as if that was the most obvious solution.

"With what?" Isaac asked, examining his palm which now showed an outline of his brother’s teeth.

"Here," Taylor pulled his worn, red handkerchief from his back pocket. "I always have that around for emergencies," he explained when he saw the weird look Isaac shot him.

"Whatever," Isaac said, and tied the cloth around Zac’s mouth. "This better not get infected," he muttered, shooting Zac an evil look.

Taylor grabbed his brothers palm and examined it. "He didn’t even break the skin, Ike" he said, ever the expert on human bites. "Now hang on one minute." Taylor took off for the house. He re-emerged carrying a pink sparkly dress up crown. "Jesus wore a crown of thorns, but we’ll have to make do with Jessica’s pink tiara. Put this on his head, then get the camera while I make sure these ropes don’t slip."

After a few minutes, Isaac and Taylor stepped back to look at their creation, which was still slightly squirming and kicking it’s feet.

"Ike," Taylor studied his "crucified" brother. "For some reason I suspect Jesus didn’t wear bright yellow Doc Marten boots."

"I believe you’re right," Isaac agreed. "As a matter of fact, I don’t think he wore any clothes at all."

Zac’s eyes got wide and the boys could hear his muffled scream though the handkerchief as he thrashed wildly, trying to break free from the ropes.

"Don’t worry. We really don’t want to see you naked," Isaac assured his brother.

"However," Taylor began. "The boots must go."

Isaac and Taylor each grabbed a foot, and began to untie the bright yellow footwear.

As Isaac attempted to remove the boot, his hand slipped and Zac was able to land a good solid kick right in the middle of his face.

"Oww! I think he broke my nose!" Isaac held his hands up to his nose.

"Let me see," Taylor said. "Ike, you’re not even bleeding," he informed his brother, growing tired of Isaac’s whining. "Now get his shoe."

Isaac gave Zac a light punch in the leg before returning to his original task of stealing Zac’s boot. "Why’d you do that?"

"Gee, I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t enjoy our little project or something," Taylor sarcastically said, rolling his eyes.

"Well this was your brilliant idea Taylor."

"Oh no it wasn’t. I specifically recall an Isaac Hanson saying ‘Hey why don’t we just crucify Zac. Kill two birds with one stone’." Taylor removed the second boot. "Here throw me some more rope so I can tie his feet against the tree."

After Zac was fully tied, and both boots removed, Isaac and Taylor stood back to take in the scene.

"What a work of art," Taylor breathed. "Did you get it all on camera?"

"Yeah, it’s all on film" Isaac replied.

"Well, I do believe our project is done," Taylor stepped towards the tree as if to untie his brother. Zac began to vigorously nod his head yes. Suddenly Taylor stopped. "Ike, why don’t we do something with those boots while he’s still up there!"

Zac’s head shot up and he began shaking no furiously.

"We could donate them to good will," Taylor went on, ignoring Zac’s frantic movements.

"I don’t think they’d take them. Even the unfortunate have some sort of dignity," Isaac commented, eyeing the bright boats. Even the uncut green lawn failed to hide them and Isaac suspected that the neighbors would probably be able to see the shoes as well if they looked out their window. Maybe even the neighbors neighbors. Heck the whole neighborhood would most likely be able to spot them.

"Well, we can still do something with them, come on." Taylor grabbed the boombox in one hand, and the bright yellow boots in the other.

Zac stared wide eyed as his brothers ran into the house and left him hanging helplessly from the large oak with no shoes on.



Each passing minute seemed like eons to Zac. He hoped his brothers would return to take him down, but deep down he doubted that was part of their agenda.

What seemed like five hours later, but in actuality was more like twenty five minutes, Zac managed to work the gag free and began screaming when he saw his neighbors in their back yard out of the corner of his eye.

"MR. DAVIS! MRS. DAVIS! OVER HERE! HELP ME! HELP ME!" He screamed.

"Zachary, just what in the world are you doing up in that tree?" Mrs. Davis asked as she approached the struggling boy.

"I’m supposed to be Jesus and my brothers crucified me," Zac babbled. "Could you please undo the ropes?"

"Wait until your mother hears about this," Mrs. Davis scolded and began to walk towards the Hanson house with her husband.

"Where are you going?" Zac shrieked. "Come back! I’m still here!"

Taylor could hear a pounding on the back door as he poured himself a glass of milk. His eyes narrowed as he saw his next door neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Davis, out the kitchen window. Mrs. Davis was one of those old women who thought that her flower garden was the most important thing in the world, and how were they to know that picking the flowers would kill them. She held grudges against Taylor and his brother's from when they were little kids who didn't know any better than to cut right through her flower beds. Taylor caught a glance of Zac from the kitchen window, and prayed his mother wouldn't come into the room. Isaac and himself had decided to see how long it would take for their mother to notice Zac was missing and when she finally did say something, they would race out and untie him before she could see. Sure Zac would tell her what they did, but it was two against one and who was going to believe Zac when Taylor and Isaac both denied everything. So far it had been nearly half an hour since they had left Zac in the backyard and their mother hadn't noticed. Taylor was glad his mother did her housework with the stereo on loud so as to drown out any noise Zac might have made.

"Sue, Don, what a pleasant surprise. I haven’t seen you in ages," Mrs. Hanson greeted her neighbors. After she turned the stereo down and opened the door.

"Diana, are you aware one of your sons is hanging from a tree without any shoes on?" Mrs. Davis asked.

"Hanging?" Mrs. Hanson questioned. "Who? Why?"

"Well, actually he’s tied to the tree and he thinks he’s Jesus. He claims he’s been crucified or some nonsense like that," Mr. Davis added.

Taylor nearly choked on his milk. What snitches he thought. Mrs. Davis was determined to ruin all their plans he could see. He ran out of the kitchen calling, "Ike! Weren’t you supposed to take me somewhere?"

"Huh?" Isaac looked up from the television.

"Never mind. I’d get out of here if I was you though," Taylor suggested grabbing the video camera and running out the front door.

Isaac, taking notice of the nosy neighbors talking with his mother, followed Taylor’s lead, and quickly left the house before any questions were asked.



Isaac stopped running, took a few deep breaths, and began walking at a brisk pace. He looked up at the once clear sky which was now starting to cloud over, and realized he had no clue as to where he was going. However at the time that really didn’t’ seem important to him. All he had to do was stay away from the house long enough for his mother to get over the shock of finding Zac tied to the tree. She would need some time to cool of and Isaac was more than willing to give her all the time she needed.

As he turned the corner he decided to walk towards Kamm’s Corner. As he entered the plaza he could immediately smell the potato soup from Gene’s Place, a small family owned restaurant which was always filled to the brim with customers. Isaac liked eating there because it had good "home cooked" meals which for some reason always tasted better than the ones his mother fixed. He also enjoyed looking at all the pictures of old movie stars hanging on the walls. He could remember one time his family went there and Taylor had actually asked the waitress if they could have the large table by all the Marilyn Monroe pictures because he thought she was one of the most beautiful women ever. More surprising than his brother’s request, was the fact that the restaurant actually granted it and they were able to study old movie pictures of the actress while they dined.

As a child Isaac had always loved coming to this plaza with his brothers because it had the largest video arcade in Tulsa. However the building that it was in changed owners a few years back and the arcade was converted into a used book store. Isaac was debating about going in and looking for a copy of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning around he discovered a girl with short, slightly tousled blond hair behind him.

"Do you have a quarter I could borrow?" she asked.

Isaac dug into the pockets of his cords and pulled out a few coins. "Yeah, here you go," he handed her the twenty five cent piece.

"Thanks." The girl made eye contact and smiled.

Isaac was taken back both by her eyes and her smile. Her eyes were lavender, a color Isaac had never before seen on a person, and he suspected they were probably the result of contacts. Her smile totally blew him away, it lit up her whole face in the cutest way Isaac had ever seen. That smile convinced him that he had just met the person who was to be his next girlfriend.

"What’s it for?" he asked pointing to the quarter. As soon as he asked the question, he felt like a complete moron.

"I have to make a phone call," The girl replied and walked over to the nearby phone booth.

Of course she has to make a phone call, Isaac thought to himself. How stupid can you be? What else would she need a quarter for.

Isaac watched as the girl chatted on the phone. He walked a little closer in order to get a better view, but was careful not to get too close, lest he make the fact that he was checking her out obvious. She had a slim build and was a few inches shorter than himself. Her bell bottom jeans and black top nicely showed off her figure. As she tilted her head backwards, Isaac realized that her blond hair was probably about as natural as her lavender eyes, for her dark roots stood out like a sore thumb.

Isaac looked on in wonder as she hung up the phone, glanced around, and went to sit on a set of cement blocks which surrounded a flower garden. Without giving it a second thought, he began to walk in that direction.

"Hey." Isaac sat down next to her. He thought he noticed her rolling her eyes, but figured he was just seeing things. "So were you able to get a hold of whoever it was you wanted to?"

"Yeah," she answered, without turning to look at him.

"That’s good," I Isaac nodded his head as if to add emphasis. "Hey," he tapped the girl on her shoulder. "My name is Isaac."

She turned and offered him a small smile. "Jordan."

"Excuse me?" Isaac could barely spit the words out. Had he heard her right?

"My name is Jordan," she repeated, rolling her eyes.

Isaac just gave her a look of bewilderment. How could this be? He finally meets another amazing girl and she has the same first name as one of his brothers.

"What’s that look for?" Jordan demanded. "I know it’s a boys name, and yes I realize it’s also the name of Angela Chase’s crush object on My So-Called Life. Trust me I have people informing me of those things everyday, but I can’t help it. I didn’t choose my name."

"Is it?" Isaac asked. "I used to watch the show, but I forgot all the characters names," he lied.

"Yeah, well my actual name is Jordan Faith." She paused. "Jordan Faith Lieberfrau."

"Well seeing as how you are admitting this, I might as well come clean too," Isaac ignored her confused look. "My first name is actually Clarke. I am Clarke Isaac Hanson."

He expected her to say something about him or ask him if he was in that Hanson band, but instead she simply said she could not blame him for going by Isaac. Clarke was one of the most hideous names she had ever heard.

"So who did you call?" Isaac felt they had finished with the introductions and it was time to move onto more serious matters, namely whether or not she had a boyfriend.

"I doubt you would know her," Jordan began to brush some tiny leaves off the block she was sitting on.

"So try me." Isaac was determined to get to know this Jordan girl.

"How old are you?" Jordan suddenly asked.

"What does that have to do with anything?" He exclaimed.

"Just tell me!"

"Sixteen," Isaac answered, a little confused by the turn the conversation had taken.

"That’s what I figured," Jordan said, and turned to look towards the nearby parking lot.

"Have you lived in Tulsa long? And how old are you?" Isaac was not about to let this conversation get cut short.

Jordan let out a deep sigh and turned to face him again. "I don’t live here. I’m from a small farming community in Iowa, however I was given a scholarship to a university here. But trust me when I graduate I am going out east and as far away from these hick towns as possible."

"Hey, I resent that," Isaac joked. "So what are you studying?"

"Why do you care? Aren’t you meeting someone or something? Or don’t you have something better to do?"

Isaac could not believe how rude this girl was being. Was he not the person who had given her a quarter out of the kindness of his heart? The least she could do was humor him with a decent conversation.

"You know since you’re new here I could show you around sometime. That way at least you’ll know where some of the more exciting, non-hick site are," He said, choosing to ignore her rude outburst.

"Listen Isaac," Jordan once again rolled her eyes. "This is my fourth year here. I am a 21 year old senior, fashion design major. I know this place is not exactly the Mecca of the fashion industry, but both of my parents are farmers and I had to take what I could get."

"There’s nothing wrong with farming." Isaac defended the profession. "My Uncle John had a huge farm and it really is a lot of work without much pay."

Isaac pulled a piece of scrap paper from his pocket and the handy dandy 007 bullet pen he kept with him at all times. He quickly wrote his name and phone number on it.

"Here, why don’t you call me sometime and we can get together," he suggested, handing Jordan the slip of paper.

"Isaac," Jordan laughed as she took the paper. "Did you listen to anything I said?"

"I heard every word," Isaac whispered in his best ‘I’m trying to be sexy’ voice.

"No you couldn’t have," Jordan tilted her head and Isaac admired the way her roots shone through. "I am 21 and you are 16. Far too young to be hitting on and trying to pick up someone like myself."

"Do you have a boyfriend?" Isaac asked.

"No, but that is hardly the point," Jordan replied. "I’m five years older than you."

"So? Why should age matter?" Isaac sighed, giving her his best puppy dog eyes.

Jordan glanced up as a car pulled to the curb. "Look my friend is here. Good bye Isaac. And thanks for the quarter." Jordan stood and walked over to the green Saturn, climbing in the passenger side.

Isaac noticed she had started smiling more towards the end of their conversation and figured his charm must have been working. Then, despite her conviction that they could not see each other, he noticed that Jordan had slipped the paper with his number on it into the front pocket of her blue jeans. The fact that she did not simply throw it on the ground or into the trashcan she passed on her way to the car had to be a good sign.

Isaac got off the cement block, stretched, and began a very slow trek home. He was no longer concerned about his mom’s reaction to finding Zac. He had just met an amazing older woman, who despite her attempts to hide it, was obviously attracted to him. So what if she had the same first name as Taylor and Angela Chase’s crush object. She had a far bigger vocabulary than Mr. Catalano, and was much cuter than his brother. Plus she was five years older than him. What could be better than making it with and experienced older woman?

Ignoring the storm clouds which had begun to take control of the sky and hide the sun’s light, Isaac decided to take the longer route home. He had a smile on his face and a skip to his walk as he began to hum Simon and Garfunkel’s "Mrs. Robinson" as he set off towards his house.



"Taylor?" Gretchen opened the large French doors. "What are you doing here?" She stared intently at her boyfriend, who was red faced and panting on her doorstep. "And what is with the video camera?"

Taylor took a deep breath. "You have to see this!" He exclaimed once he was able to talk. He pushed his way past Gretchen, and stood in her foyer.

Gretchen crinkled her brow, just a bit confused, closed the doors, and once again gave Taylor a strange look. "What do I have to see?" She asked.

Taylor snickered. "In all my years of practical jokes, this is by far one of the best." He beamed at Gretchen, puffing his chest with pride.

Gretchen raised her eyebrows. "Do I want to know what this is?"

"Sure you do," Taylor grinned. "Let’s go use the VCR in your room." He headed down the hallway towards Gretchen’s bedroom. Halfway down the hall, he turned and motioned for Gretchen to follow him.

Gretchen shook her head, and walked towards her bedroom, not quite certain if she wanted to know what Taylor was up to.

Once in Gretchen’s bedroom, Taylor flipped on the TV, removed the cassette from the camera and placed it in the VCR. He punched a button and waited as his masterpiece rewound. When a click signaled the VCR’s stop, Taylor eagerly pushed play.

Quickly he walked over and joined Gretchen, who had taken refuge on her bed, to watch the video. As the screen came to life, Taylor burst out laughing, watching his and his brother’s antics. He laughed through the whole seven minutes and thirty four seconds of footage. When it finally stopped, he bounced off the bed and removed the tape from the VCR, placing it back in the camera.

Gretchen merely started at Taylor for a moment before exclaiming, "You guys are so cruel."

"What? Come on that was pretty funny, you have to admit."

Gretchen bit her lip to keep from smiling. "I admit nothing. I didn’t find it one bit amusing."

"Liar," Taylor accused. "You wish you would have been there to help us." He fiddled with a few buttons on the camera for a second. Then almost as an after thought, he placed the camera on one of Gretchen’s dressers, facing her bed. He adjusted the focus and was able to get a clear view of his girlfriend in the lens. She was leafing through a magazine she found on her nightstand, oblivious to Taylor’s actions. Without saying a word, Taylor pressed record and with an evil grin, joined Gretchen on her bed.

"Whatever inspired you to do that at Victoria’s Secret that one day?" he innocently asked. They had fooled around many times since then, but nothing as intense as what happened that day in the dressing room.

Not looking up from her magazine, Gretchen merely said, "I don’t know. You look cute when you’re all embarrassed and uncomfortable."

"I wasn’t embarrassed," Taylor defended.

"Yes you were, don’t even lie to me!"

Taylor shrugged. "Yeah, well believe what you want." He sighed and then gave Gretchen a playful smile. "So, you wearing my gift?" He had yet to see the plaid underwear set he bought Gretchen gracing her body.

Gretchen gave him a confused look, but before she could answer, Taylor had grabbed her magazine and began unbuttoning her blue Tiki lounge shirt to check out the situation.

"Hmm," He mumbled after a moment. "I don’t believe I bought you that," Taylor commented after revealing a light blue silk bra," But I’m pretty sure that I like it."

Gretchen smiled. "It was a gift from my mom."

"So, do you have the underwear to match it?" he asked, his heart rate beginning to pick up.

"Maybe," Gretchen playfully grinned and began to re-button her shirt.

"Wait!" Taylor commanded. "I’m not done looking yet."

"Taylor........" Gretchen began, but he pressed his lips against hers before she could finish. As they kissed Taylor undid the rest of the buttons and took the shirt off.

"You know, lately I’ve been wearing less and less clothes, and you haven’t shed a single shoe," Gretchen commented when they came up for air.

"Oh, well okay," Taylor said and kicked off his shoes. "Are you happy now?"

Gretchen rolled her eyes. "Why did I see that coming? Here, lift up your arms," she instructed.

Taylor did as he was told and Gretchen pulled his red and white striped sweater over his head. After tossing it to the floor she began to move her hands up and down his chest. "God you are so skinny. I feel like a blimp next to you." She said.

"Oh come on, don’t give me that," Taylor replied. "How much do you weigh?"

Gretchen’s eyes widened. "None of your business, you jerk!"

"Sorry!" Taylor exclaimed. "Guess I hit a sensitive area there, huh?"

Gretchen shook her head. "Well I weigh more than your scrawny fifty pounds of skin and bones, that’s for sure."

Taylor made a face. "I am much more than skin and bones thank you very much."

"Yeah this hideous rat tail probably adds at least a pound," Gretchen said, giving his tail a tug.

"Ow.......that hurt," Taylor pouted, taking his hair back.

Gretchen just smiled at his puppy dog face. "Okay, sorry. I’ll leave your hair alone."

"Good," Taylor said smugly. "Now where were we?" He gently pushed Gretchen back down on the bed and began kissing her again. He moved his hand and gently began to knead her stomach.

"Hey, stop playing with my fat," Gretchen laughed.

"Its not fat,’ Taylor said, planting a kiss on her stomach. "It’s fluffy-ness. I like fluffy-ness."

"Yeah, well to bad you don’t have any of your own. You can have some of mine if you like it so much."

"I wouldn’t like to play with my fluffy-ness as much as I like playing with yours," Taylor smiled, kissing her again.

After a few minutes of heavy kissing, Taylor reached down and began to unfasten Gretchen’s jeans. Once her zipper was down he slid his hand inside her pants and began to rub it against the outside of her silky underwear.

Gretchen wanted to say something, but only a soft moan was able to escape her mouth. She wrapped her arms around Taylor and pulled him closer to her. Taylor gently massaged Gretchen outside her underwear. The fact that she was letting him touch her, in such a private spot, got Taylor excited.

Both teens began to moan in-between kisses. Taylor, becoming more daring with each passing moment, wrapped one of his legs around Gretchen’s.

"Oh Taylor," She whispered as he kissed her neck and buried his face in her hair. He trailed his lips up her cheek and brought them against hers once again.

As she began to play with his tongue, Gretchen used one of her hands to fiddle it the buttons on his jeans. Taylor groaned as she slowly brushed her hand against the outside of his boxers.

With her other hand, Gretchen ran her fingers through sections of Taylor’s silky hair, Their kissing was getting out of control and both teenagers slowly became aware of what all this was leading up to.

After awhile of this Taylor, ignoring the voice of conscience in the back of his head, realized that he wanted something more. He decided to see just how far Gretchen would let him go that day and rolled on top of her. He began to fiddle with her bra, finding it far more difficult than he had ever imagined to get the clasp undone.

"Umm, Taylor?" Gretchen suddenly whispered. "I think that we’ve gone far enough."

"Oh, come on. Just a little bit more," Taylor pleaded. Those were the last words he wanted to hear come out of her mouth just then.

"Slick, I think you’ve had enough," Gretchen attempted to joke, but the sentence came out in gasps.

Taylor continued to fiddle with her bra clasp. "How in the world do you work this stupid contraption. This is a weird bra. Are all of them like this?" He asked, utterly confused as to how a girl could actually manage to get one of those things on and off on a daily basis.

"That’s not for you to find out today," Gretchen said, and pushed him off of her.

The two laid side by side on her bed, and attempted to catch their breath. Taylor, looking up at the ceiling, noticed Gretchen had those glow in the dark star things stuck to the part of her ceiling above the bed. He had never before noticed that and wondered if she was into astronomy or if she just liked the stars.

"I never realized you had those star things on your ceiling," Taylor commented, pointing in their direction.

"Yeah," Gretchen sighed. "I always used to go to the planetarium with my dad. On clear night he would take me outside with his telescope and we’d look at the stars. Then one night he put these up in my room and said to always remember him when I saw the stars. He left me and my mom that night."

"Oh, I’m sorry." Taylor really didn’t know what to say after that. He suddenly realized how lucky he was to have the type of family he did, even if it seemed too big for his liking at times. "Do you think about him a lot?"

"I’d rather not talk about it," Gretchen whispered.

"Okay." Taylor looked over at Gretchen for a moment. Her eyes were staring off into space, and he felt a pang of guilt for asking about her father. Trying to make her forget her family troubles, Taylor decided it was now or never to ask the question which had been plaguing his mind for sometime. He looked back up at her ceiling, and tentatively asked, "Gretchen? Do you think we’ll ever have sex?"

He heard her sigh and felt her place her arm across his chest, her fingertips grazing the bottom of his chin, gently. "Sure, but not now," She answered. "Don’t worry Taylor I predict that sex will be in our future."

"When?"

"Hmm, you know those stars?" Gretchen pointed to her ceiling.

"Yeah."

"See how far away they are?"

"Yeah," Taylor was not following her point.

"Well pretend there’s a road from my bed to those stars," She instructed him.

"Okay." Taylor gave her a strange look. "Gretchen, I’m not sure I’m following all this."

"Well, shut up and let me finish," she laughed. "So there is a road from my bed to the group of stars in the shape of the big dipper," Gretchen pointed out the group.

"Okay, I know what ones you’re talking about," Taylor played along, hoping she would just tell him the answer to his question.

"So those stars represent the end of the road. When we reach them, it will be time for us to have sex," Gretchen smiled.

"I think if I stood up on your bed and jumped with my arms in the air I could reach them now," Taylor pointed out.

Gretchen rolled her eyes. "I don’t mean when you can literally touch them, stupid. Picture the road," she instructed.

Taylor nodded his head.

Gretchen sat on her knees and extended her hand slightly above Taylor’s head. "Right now we’re about here on the road," She waved her hand. "So as you can see we still have quite a bit of distance to travel before sex comes into the picture."

Taylor couldn’t help himself and burst out laughing at Gretchen’s analogy.

"What’s so funny?" She joined in his laughter and collapsed on her bed. She then rolled on her side and planted a gentle kiss on Taylor’s lips. "I’m trying to say that I really want to sleep with you, but I’m not ready yet and if you are totally honest with yourself I think you’ll realize that you’re not either," She whispered.

"I know," Taylor agreed, and kissed her back. As he kissed her Taylor noticed that Gretchen sort of started fidgeting. "What’s wrong?" He asked, hoping he hadn’t done anything wrong.

"Nothing. This bra just itches is all. Right in that spot between my shoulder blades." Gretchen told him.

"Here, sit up," Taylor commanded. "I’ll scratch it for you."

Gretchen sat up and smiled, enjoying the feeling of having her boyfriend run his hands lightly up and down her back. As she faced forward, something caught her eye. Gretchen suddenly frowned turned her head to the side so she could see Taylor. "Taylor, what does the red flashing light on your video camera mean?"

"Oh, umm that means the camera is recording," Taylor answered, not really comprehending what he was saying.

"Recording!" Gretchen shrieked. "You just recorded us?"

"What are you talking about?" Taylor stopped scratching her back. "Oh," he said, remembering that he had pressed record. "I guess so." He paused and then grinned. "Think we should watch it?"

"Ummm, no! I think you should turn it off and destroy the tape."

"But I can’t!" Taylor exclaimed. "It has the crucifixion on it and I have to show that to my youth group."

"Oh no you don’t!" Gretchen shouted. "I don’t want anyone seeing us........do that."

"No one will see that part," Taylor attempted to reassure her. "But I have to show the crucifixion for my project."

"Well, go turn it off," Gretchen demanded, grabbing her shirt and putting it back on.

Taylor rolled his eyes. "I really think it would be healthy for our relationship if we watched it together."

"Taylor, you’re a singer not a sex therapist .," Gretchen reminded him as she re-buttoned her top.

"Why are you putting that back on?" Taylor asked, turning around.

"Taylor, my mother is going to be home soon and I don’t’ think she’d like seeing me in my bra, even if it was a gift from her," Gretchen smiled and tossed Taylor’s sweater at him.

"Well, I should probably get going if your mom is coming back soon," Taylor mumbled, pulling his sweater over his head.

"Probably," Gretchen agreed. She slid off her bed and walked over to Taylor. "And Taylor? Promise me you won’t show anyone the tape."

"I said I wouldn’t. But I still think we should watch it together. For educational purposes."

"Taylor, I don’t know what subjects you study in that little home schooling deal, but how to feel someone up 101 has yet to be added to my educational curriculum." Gretchen laughed.

Taylor stuck his tongue out, and grabbed his shoes. As he tied them he looked up at Gretchen. "How come your mother hates me so much?" he asked.

"What?" Gretchen was taken back by his question. His eyes had a hurt look in them and he was pouting again.

"Your mother. How come she hates me?" He had trouble looking her in the eyes when he asked this. But the fact that Gretchen’s mother disliked him so much had been bothering him for some time. After all, he was a nice guy. One of the nicest he knew and Taylor just couldn’t figure out why a grown-up, other than Mr. and Mrs. Davis and now probably Regan Odessa’s father, would not like him. "I mean what did I ever do to her?"

"It’s not that she hates you," Gretchen thought for a minute. "She just doesn’t like you."

Taylor sighed. Dislike or hate, either why she was not fond of him. "Okay, fine, why doesn’t she like me then? I mean that really bugs me. I’m a nice guy," Taylor nodded his head for emphasis.

"She doesn’t like the fact that you like me I guess. I mean she.....well.........she doesn’t.........she’s just uncomfortable with the fact that I have a boyfriend. Especially one as good looking as you."

"You think I’m good looking?" Taylor asked with a smile. He didn’t think Gretchen had ever told him that before.

"Well, duh Taylor. I mean a lot of girls do. My mom always says that the good looking ones are trouble. She says, ‘Gretchen, those boys just use you up then throw you aside. You’re just going to get hurt.’ She tells me that every time she sees you." Gretchen shrugged. "I think she’s just bitter about my dad leaving us. Or something. I think she does it because she doesn’t want to see me hurt."

Taylor stood up and wrapped his arm around Gretchen’s waist. " A girl like you deserves a good looking guy, and I promise I won’t hurt you," he whispered, kissing her.

"Gretchen are you in here?" Mrs. Halloran opened the door and found the two teens embracing one another. "Oh Gretchen," she sighed, disgusted.

"Mom," Gretchen mumbled, and untangled herself from Taylor.

Mrs. Halloran eyed he two children. "What exactly were you two doing in here?"

"I was just showing Gretchen this movie I made with my brothers for Sunday School," Taylor explained, praying she wouldn’t ask to see the film. Somehow as soon as the half honest answer escaped his mouth, Taylor realized it probably sounded as believable as his ‘we were playing basketball’ answer he gave the first time Mrs. Halloran caught them in Gretchen’s bedroom.

"Well if you’re done watching it I think you should run along home to your family before it gets much later." Mrs. Halloran gave Taylor a look only a mother who did not like one of her child’s friends could give.

"Well, maybe Taylor could stay for dinner," Gretchen suggested.

"I don’t know. I really didn’t set out a lot of food. Maybe some other time," Mrs. Halloran firmly stated.

Despite her last sentence, the look on her face clearly told Taylor not to be making any plans to join her family for dinner in the near future.

"Fine," Gretchen snapped. "Taylor I’ll walk you to the door," she said, her voice softer.

Taylor grabbed his video camera and took Gretchen’s hand as they walked out of her room.

Mrs. Halloran followed the two to the front door and once Gretchen was certain that her mother was watching, she grabbed the front of Taylor’s sweater and gave him a long, deep, French kiss.

After they parted, Taylor licked his lips and gave her a slightly shocked look. "Umm, well I’ll see you later, Gretchen," he managed to say. He turned towards Gretchen’s mother and sweetly called out, "I’ll see you later Mrs. Halloran."

With that, Taylor left and prayed his mother had gotten over the shock of finding one of her sons crucified in the back yard.

.

Chapter 39 - The 21-year-old Fashion Design Major

Taylor stood motionless in his front lawn, clutching the incriminating video in his right hand, the video camera hanging loosely from his left. It was inevitable......he had to go inside. There was no way he could live on the streets, he was only fourteen after all. Not to mention the field day the media would have with it, and he doubted it would look good for publicity. Taylor Hanson damned to live on the streets for crucifying his younger brother. He crinkled his nose and was about to walk towards the porch when he looked into the living room window. He could clearly see Zac standing in front of the huge picture window, a triumphant grin on his face. As Taylor took a closer look he noticed his mother standing off to the side, her hands on her hips, shaking her head. Her brow was furrowed and her mouth was turned in an unpleasant scowl. This was not a good sign.

He began to think that perhaps he should remain outside until Isaac came home, it had been Isaac's idea after all. Isaac had thought of the whole thing, and he had been the one to video tape it, so if anyone was going to get in trouble it should be him. That was when Taylor noticed his older brother sitting on the couch, a very distant expression painted on his face. It looked as if he was off in his own little world, not noticing anyone else in the room.

Just as Taylor was considering turning around and walking to Jedidiah’s house, his father’s car pulled into the driveway. Zac obviously noticed this as well, for he started jumping up and down in front of the window and pointing to Isaac.

"Tay? What are you doing out here?" Mr. Hanson got out of his car and looked at his son.

"Why didn’t you go in the back?" Taylor meekly asked his father, clutching the video tighter.

"Umm, because I saw you standing out front?" Mr. Hanson started walking towards the house, expecting Taylor to follow suit. When he noticed his son failed to budge an inch, he turned around. "Are you coming in?"

"Actually I thought I’d stay our here a while longer," Taylor said, trying to smile.

"All right Tay, what’s up?" Mr. Hanson walked towards his son.

"Nothing." Taylor took a defensive step backwards.

"What do you have there?" Mr. Hanson pointed to the video tape.

"Nothing." Taylor hid the tape behind his back.

"Nothing?" Mr. Hanson cocked his head. "Well, it looks like a video tape to me."

"Oh, well yeah." Taylor shrugged his shoulders. "I guess it technically would be a video tape, but uhhh.....you see.....there’s nothing on it. It’s blank, so it’s really nothing at all."

"I see." Mr. Hanson shook his head, and started back towards the door. He turned around once again. "You sure you don’t want to come in?"

"Oh, in a minute." Taylor smiled.

Mr. Hanson gave him a curious look and continued towards the house.

"Dad!" Taylor suddenly shrieked. "Wait up." He jogged over and joined his father. "Before you go in the house I just want to let you know that it was all Ike’s idea."

Mr. Hanson frowned. "What was?"

"All of it. I had no part. Well, technically I did, but it was so small........so minor......it was practically nonexistent." Taylor tried his best to look innocent.

"Taylor, inside......NOW." Mr. Hanson opened the front door.

"Walker come in here!" Mrs. Hanson yelled from the living room when she heard her husband come into the house.

Taylor’s stomach twisted into a knot as he slowly followed his father into the room.

Mrs. Hanson was now leaning against the wall, her arms crossed over her chest, a tired expression on her face. "You will never believe what YOUR sons did."

"Oh, try me." Mr. Hanson glanced from Zac to Isaac who still sat motionless on the couch, and last to Taylor was had trailed in slowly behind him.

"They," Mrs. Hanson pointed to the two eldest. "Took Zac outside, tied him to a tree, told him he was Jesus, and left him there to hang. If Sue and Don hadn’t seen him he might still be there."

Silence fell over the room. Zac studied his father’s face. What punishment would he deal out for all the pain they forced me to endure, he wondered. The suffering, and humiliation. Not to mention the loss of circulation in his hands and feet. Yep this is going to be good.

Fours pairs of eyes were focused on Mr. Hanson waiting for his reaction. Well actually three sets. Isaac still seemed to be a little out of it and looked to be staring at nothing in particular.

Mr. Hanson bit his lower lip. The sound which next escaped him sort of resembled that of a pig’s snort. Diana looked at her husband as he covered his mouth and glanced towards the floor. He tried to look upset. He really did. But he just couldn’t hold it in any longer. Mr. Hanson burst out laughing. A few chuckles turned into big, heart felt laughs and he actually had to grab onto Taylor’s shoulders to keep from losing his balance.

"Walker!" Diana snapped. "This is serious."

"DAD! I don’t find this at all funny. Not one bit!" Zac, a bit shocked by the way his father handled the news of his torture, looked at him wide eyed. "I fail to see any humor. And it gets worse! They video taped it and want to show it to their Sunday School class."

Well that was just too much for Mr. Hanson to handle. He clutched his stomach and bent over laughing as if it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.

"Dad," Zac whined. "Don’t you realize the pain and suffering they put me through? And if they sow it to the class......well how am I supposed to live that one down? I’ll be scarred for life! No longer will I be the fun, playful, zany, witty Zac that everyone knows and loves." Zac lowered his eyes and tried to look as pitiful as possible. "I’ll be this depressed messed up kid. A shell of what Zac Hanson used to be. The Zac that you know and love will only live on in your memories. You’ll......"

"Zac, stop rambling, jeez. You won’t turn into a depressed psychopath at this rate. You’ll only become another Ike." Taylor pointed to his older brother who looked as if he had not heard a word of which had been said.

"Walker," Mrs. Hanson warned. "If you don’t pull yourself together......"

Taylor glanced at his father who now had tears rolling down his face from laughing so hard.

"Diana, I’m sorry," Mr. Hanson managed to get out. "But you have to admit it was pretty funny. Ingenious actually. Man, I wish I would have thought of something like that when I was younger."

"Well, what do you suggest we do about it?" Mrs. Hanson demanded, glaring at her husband.

"Ground them," Zac spoke up. "Yeah, until they’re eighty. Maybe longer, I’m not sure if that will even be enough to cover all the emotional distress they caused me."

"Zac," Mr. Hanson began to regain his composure. "I think you’re being slightly mellow dramatic."

"Walker, what they did was wrong," Mrs. Hanson pointed out.

"Well, yeah, but it was also pretty funny."

"Walker, can I please see you in the next room?" Mrs. Hanson walked past him and out of the living room.

"All right, mom’s on the job," Zac gleefully exclaimed as his father left the room. "You guys are toast."

Taylor walked over and sat on the couch next to Isaac. "What’s up with you?"

"Oh nothing." Isaac did not seem to notice who had even asked him the question. "Not a thing."

"You look like you’re in some sort of trance or something." Taylor noted, sitting back on the sofa.

Before Isaac was able to respond, Mr. and Mrs. Hanson returned, and faced their two oldest children.

"Dishes duty for two weeks."

"Dad!" Zac screamed. "Come on! How fair is that? They already have to do the dishes. I mean, I said one cuss word and was grounded for nearly a week!"

"Zac, I’m the father here," Mr. Hanson reminded him. "When you have kids of your own, you can decide what punishments fit the crime, but until then you don’t have a say in the matter."

"But I don’t understand your reasoning, I mean......"

Mr. Hanson interrupted him. "That’s because you’re the kid, and I’m the adult."

With that Mr. Hanson walked out of the room, mumbling to himself about what a classic idea that had been and how he wished he had been home to see it.



"Isaac, what has been up with you?" Taylor asked as he climbed into his bed.

"In case you failed to noticed, I haven’t said anything since Dad stabbed me in the back and sided with you guys," Zac spoke up from his bed.

"So?" Taylor turned on his bedside lamp.

"Well I thought you should know that I’m not talking to you," Zac pulled his covers up to his neck.

"Then shut up!" Taylor rolled his eyes. "You not talking will be a nice, peaceful change."

"Taylor you...." Zac began. "You make me......"

"I thought you weren’t speaking to me," Taylor interrupted. "Quit your whining and go to bed. Now back to the original subject at hand........Ike, why are you acting so stupid?"

"I met the most amazing person today," Isaac laid on his back and stared at the ceiling a dreamy look on his face.

"Who?" Taylor turned on his side in order to face his brother.

"Jordan."

"How many times have I told you not to call me that," Taylor shook his head. "I hate that name."

"Not you dum dum. The girl," Isaac didn’t move.

"What girl?"

"Jordan."

"IKE! Just tell me!" Taylor was getting confused.

"The girls name is Jordan." Isaac finally turned to face his brother. "And she likes me."

"And you know this after meeting her one time?" Taylor was a little skeptical at his brother’s over confidence in his Don Juan status. "And since when is Jordan a girl’s name?"

"Oh Taylor," Isaac shook his head. "Jordan is a beautiful girls name. And for your information she is a 21 year old fashion design major."

"Oh really?" Taylor tried not to laugh. "And she likes you?"

"Of course. It was so apparently obvious to me," Isaac smiled. "She wants me so bad."

"A 21 year old fashion design major?"

"Yeah."

"Why would a 21 year old fashion design major want anything to do with you?" Taylor bit his lip to keep from laughing.

"Isn’t it obvious?" Isaac asked.

"Actually no. I’m a little stumped on this one," Taylor admitted. "Please enlighten me."

"Taylor," Isaac spoke in a tone which implied that his little brother had so much to learn. "She realizes that I can offer her something that other men can’t."

"Like what?" Taylor made no attempts to stop laughing this time.

"My dear, uneducated brother," Isaac began. "You are just too young, too naive to understand anything, especially about 21 year old fashion design majors."

"Oh and you’re a regular expert," Taylor snorted. "No actually I understand all right. She wants to use you as a guinea pig in her fashion experiments and......you know that may not be such a bad idea. It’s not like you couldn’t use the help."

"Oh Taylor," Isaac looked into his brother’s eyes. "I really feel for you. There is so much about women that you have yet to understand."

Taylor rolled his eyes and thought about pointing out that he, unlike Isaac, still had a girlfriend, but before he could say anything, Isaac continued.

"Anyway, I expect a call any day now. I mean she practically begged me for my phone number," Isaac smiled at his only slightly skewed memory.

"I’ll tell you what Ike," Taylor turned off his light. "If that girl actually calls you , I’ll do your half of the dishes for these two weeks."

"Taylor, you will live to regret the night you said those words. You will be sorry my dear brother." Isaac closed his eyes.

"Yeah, well you know what? I think you’re both stupid!" Zac yelled from his bed. "And girls are stupid to be calling either of you and....."

"SHUT UP ZAC!" Taylor and Isaac yelled at the same time.

After Taylor finished his nightly prayer, he reached under his pillow with his hand to make sure the video tape was still safely stored beneath. As he fell into a deep slumber, Taylor made a mental note to remember to shut off the tape as soon as the crucifixion was finished. No need for all of his friends to see exactly how are he and Gretchen had come in their relationship, much less his pastor who was going to be sitting in on the class in order to see the projects.



"Guys, this is your last chance," Zac faced his older brothers in the church’s lobby. "In a few minutes you will find yourselves in your Sunday School class with our pastor and you will be faced with a decision. To show or not to show the tape."

"Zac, is there a point to this?" Taylor gave his younger brother an uninterested look.

"This is your final opportunity to redeem yourselves," Zac held out his hand. "Give me that tape now and you won’t be harmed. I’ll forget it ever happened and we will be able to go on with our lives. I mean come on. All your friends are going to laugh at me."

"Forget it, this is our project," Taylor stared his brother down. "Besides, all our friends hate you already anyway. Come on Ike, we don’t want to be late."

"All right," Zac stepped in front of his brothers. "Obviously you two are not going to be men about this situation, so I’m prepared to cut a deal. I’m offering this weeks allowance."

"That’s tempting," Isaac admitted.

"Ike, don’t let your little brother lead you astray and into the path of temptation," Taylor attempted to quote idea’s from a sermon a few weeks earlier. "Zac, all the money in the world, let alone ten bucks, would not be enough to make up for the laughs we are going to get. Those will be priceless."

"Fine! Be jerks than!" Zac yelled and stomped towards the front door.

"Funny, I thought his class was in the other direction," Taylor commented.

"Don’t worry about him," Isaac looked at his watch. "If we don’t get into the library soon, we’re going to be in big trouble."

Taylor and Isaac ran up a flight of stairs, down the hall and into the library where the senior high class was awaiting the arrival of Pastor Uhle.



Zac silently cursed under his breath and kicked at stray stones as he made his way to the back of the parish house. Once safely behind the house, he leaned against it, and began digging in the pocket of his dress pants for the crumpled pack of Marlboros. After trying various brands of cigarettes, he had decided that those were his favorite, although he didn’t know why, for they all tasted like crap. Sighing, Zac put the cigarette between his lips and brought the lighter to the end. Once it was lit, Zac took a long drag and slowly exhaled.

"When did you start?" A male voice off to the side asked.

Zac, unaware that anyone else was behind the house, jumped at the sound of the voice. "Oh, hey Mr. Sparks." Zac tried to hide the lit cigarette behind his back.

Mr. Sparks had been the organist at Bethany Church for as long as Zac could remember, although he had never heard the man speak until just then. In fact, Zac knew nothing about Mr. Sparks, save for the fact that he left during the sermon every Sunday. Granted the congregation was unable to see his exit for he left through a back door, but Zac had witnessed the exit that Taylor and Isaac had spoke of a few weeks back when he acolyted for the first time.

"We need to do away with Sunday School," Mr. Sparks muttered, taking a drag off his own cigarette.

"Huh?" Zac gave him a confused look.

"It only causes us to have an hour break in between the two services. What a waste. They should just be back to back. The morning would go so much faster. Besides none of the kids like it, so it’s basically just a waste."

"Some kids like it," Zac defend the program.

"You don’t."

"Why do you say that?" Zac asked. For having never spoken to him before, Mr. Sparks was sure making quite a few assumptions about him.

"You’re not there are you?" Mr. Sparks gave him an I told you so stare.

"Well, no but......" Zac couldn’t seem to find the words to defend a program which had caused his brothers to hang him from a tree the day before.

"If you don’t smoke that thing it’s going to burn away......or burn your fingers," Mr. Sparks dropped his cigarette to the ground and crushed it beneath his foot.

"Oh, yeah." Zac slowly brought the cigarette in front of him, avoiding Mr. Sparks gaze. "I don’t usually smoke, I just sort of found this and thought it might be cool to try. But I was wrong."

"I’m not going to tell anyone," Mr. Sparks took a deep breath. "So don’t worry about me going to your parents or what not."

"Thanks," Zac took a small drag from the nearly burnt out Marlboro.

"Anyway, I don’t actually know who you are, so I wouldn’t know who to go to if I wanted to," Mr. Sparks admitted.

"Why thank you Mr. Sparks," Zac laughed. "That really makes me feel better.

Mr. Sparks just shrugged his shoulders. "I’m just here to do my job. I play the organ and go."

"And a mighty fine organist you are," Zac smiled. "Even if you don’t hang around for the sermons."

Mr. Sparks simply shrugged his shoulders again and walked away.

As he left, Zac prayed that he was telling the truth, and that he wouldn’t go blabbing to the congregation about what had just taken place.



The senior high class was rolling with laughter as they watched Zac struggling to break free from the ropes which held him to the tree. Taylor was crouched by the VCR, his finger on the stop button, ready to grab the tape as soon as the scene ended. He wasn’t going to take any chances of letting the tape play too long. He had to smile when he saw how much everyone was enjoying watching his brother get "crucified". As soon as the mini movie ended, Taylor pressed STOP, EJECT, and yanked the tape out of the player before returning to his seat.

"Well, boys," Pastor Uhle smiled. "That was inventive to say the least."

"Did you leave him up there?" Jedidiah whispered to Taylor.

"Yeah, but our neighbors saw him and tattled on us to our mother," Taylor quietly answered. "Were were prepared to leave him up there, for three days even so he could rise again, but no!" Taylor joked. "However we did get those yellow boots."

"I bet your mom was pissed. Sucks to be you," Jedidiah replied.

Before Taylor could inform him as to how cool his father’s reaction to the ordeal was, Pastor Uhle informed Jedidiah it was his turn to present his project.

"I did the last supper." Jedidiah got up and pulled a loaf of Wonderbread and a plastic bottle of grape juice out of his back pack. "Enjoy."

"I told you that would have been easier," Isaac hissed at Taylor.

"Yeah, but when those doors open and we’re released.......who’s project are they going to remember?" Taylor’s face was glowing. "Face it Ike, we made Sunday School history."



It had been nearly a week since Zac’s reputation in the senior high class had been tarnished by the showing of the video tape, and Zac still had no clue as to how he was going to get revenge on his brothers. Life however, had continued as normal in the Hanson household, except for the fact that Isaac had spent countless hours staring at the phone as if he expected it to get up and dance or something. The whole time he could be heard mumbling, ‘She will call. I know she will. She likes me, of course she’ll call.’

Zac stared around the empty bedroom trying to find something to use on his brothers. His parents were playing an ever exciting game of Chutes and Ladders with Jessica, Avery, and Mac. Isaac was at his position by the silent phone and Taylor was at Gretchen’s. Zac couldn’t help but to notice that Taylor had been spending an awful lot of time at her house lately. He began to wonder just what those two were up to. He knew for a fact that Isaac had no qualms about fooling around. Why should Taylor be any different? As far as Zac could tell, Taylor was about as wound up as a 14 year old could be.

Suddenly the lightbulb went on above Zac’s head. Get Taylor’s journal and read the juicy parts. Then make copies and post them all over the house. Hand them out to Taylor’s friends. Fans at their concerts. Publish it in the church’s newsletter. Send a copy to Garrett for Hansonhitz. And finally give one to his new buddy Mr. Sparks. Zac almost squealed with excitement about his sudden inspiration.

"Now, if I was a journal, where would I be?" Zac asked aloud. Thinking back on all the "Full House" episodes, he had been "forced" to watch with his mother, Zac remembered that Stephanie often found DJ’s diary under the mattress of her bed. Diary, journal, same difference. Zac figured it was worth a shot and lifted up Taylor’s mattress.

No luck.....just a box of bed springs. As he let the mattress fall back into place, Zac noticed something drop to the floor. He walked over to the head of the bed and picked up the unlabeled video cassette.

"Why would he keep this under his pillow?" Zac wondered out loud. "There must be something good on it."

Zac walked over the the television in a corner of the boys room and flipped it on. He pushed the tape into the VCR. As Zac pressed play, he realized that he was thirsty and decided to go to the kitchen and grab a Dr. Pepper before sitting down to view Taylor’s mystery tape.

.

Chapter 40 - Sex Lies and Videotape...Well, OK, Not Quite, But...

Zac was not sure how long the tape had been playing while he went to grab a pop, but what he saw being played out on the television screen when he returned to the room was shocking to say the least. His jaw dropped to the floor as he quickly closed the bedroom door. Zac plopped himself down in front of the screen, knowing full well he should not be watching it.

"I’m such a pervert," Zac whispered to himself. "I should not be watching this. I’m going to turn it off right now."

Zac got up to stop the tape, but was unable to bring himself to press the tiny, rectangular button. "Oh my Lord, where did Taylor just put his hand? Gross!" Zac sat back down.

He continued watching the tape with a mixture of disgust, horror, and just a tad bit more interest. "I can’t believe Gretchen is letting him do that," Zac mumbled. "Whoa, did her hand just go where I think it did?"

Zac had known that Taylor and Gretchen were boyfriend and girlfriend or whatever, but for some reason he had never really realized just how much they were into this whole touchy feely thing. True he had caught them kissing a few times, but this? Why would anyone want to do that stuff with his brother? He could understand someone wanting to do it with Gretchen because she was kind of cute, Zac guessed, but Taylor? Ugh, the thought just truly sickened him.

When the tape went blank, Zac just sat here motionless, staring at the blue screen, trying to fully grasp what he had just witnessed. His first thought was to tell his parents about the home made video, get Taylor in trouble, and enjoy revenge on at least one of his brothers. But after giving it some more thought, Zac realized that was the cheap way out. This tape could really be used to his advantage in more ways than one. He would be able to get Taylor to do virtually anything. Oh yes, the possibilities were endless.

Suddenly Zac heard footsteps walking down the hallway and knew he had to act quick in case someone entered the room. He turned of the television and grabbed the tape out of the VCR. After placing the tape back into its cover, Zac hastily stuffed it under Taylor’s pillow and took a flying leap onto his own bed, trying to appear as casual as possible when the door opened.

As Taylor and Gretchen entered the room, loaded down with school books, Zac tried to look as if he hardly noticed them. He could feel himself beginning to blush, and refused to look in their direction.

"Get out punk," Taylor commanded, dropping a load of books on his bed. "We have stuff to do."

"Oh, okay," Zac slowly stated, trying not to laugh. "I understand. You have STUFF to do."

"Yeah, Taylor gave him a weird look, wondering what in the heck his brother was talking about. "Now get out."

"Okay," Zac got up and began backing up towards the door. "I think you guys might want some privacy to do your stuff. So I’ll just leave you alone.........to do your stuff."

"Zac, just get lost!" Taylor was beginning to get irritated. "We’re going to do some homework. Now get out!" He gave his brother a slight push out the doorway.

"Homework?" Zac gave him a questioning glance. "Ahhh, I get it." Zac nodded his head and gave his brother a big smile. "Homework, research, uh huh, I get it."

"Huh? ZAC GO AWAY!" Taylor yelled and slammed the door shut in his younger brother’s face.



Isaac had been sitting in the living room next to the silent phone for the past hour. This had become nearly a ritual for him, and he was actually beginning to find it sort of relaxing. Just as he began drifting off into a tiny nap the phone rang, and Isaac jumped nearly ten feet in the air.

"Oh my God," he exclaimed. "The phone is ringing........the phone is ringing!!! Wait, wait, don’t get the hopes up, the phone rings a lot around here. Calm down. Be natural Isaac. Natural is the key."

Isaac picked up the phone and spoke into it using what he presumed was a very deep, sexy voice. "Hello, this is the Hanson residence. Who is this and with whom do you wish to speak?"

"Umm, this is Jordan," the voice on the other line replied. "Could I please talk to Isaac."

Isaac’s eyes nearly popped straight out of the poor boys skull. Oh my Lord, I just made a complete ass out of myself over the phone to Jordan. Regaining his composure, he brought the phone back to his ear. "Hold on a minute please," he responded in the voice he had used just a moment before.

Isaac set the phone down, ran a few feet away and then ran back to pick up the phone. "Hey Jordan," he said in his normal voice.

"Hi," she responded, sounding as sweet as ever.

"Don’t mind my brother who picked up the phone. He doesn’t get out much," Isaac laughed at his own joke.

"All right, look." Jordan cut straight to the chase. "I was supposed to go out with one of my sisters on Friday, but she decided to go home for the weekend. So anyway I was thinking that maybe if you weren’t too busy, we could get together or something."

Isaac held in the screams which wanted to escape his lips. "Well, I did have plans," he lied in an attempt not to seem too desperate. "But I suppose I could rearrange my schedule."

"Well, if it’s going to be a hassle....."

"Oh no!" Isaac interrupted her. "It’s really not a problem. Where do you live? When should I pick you up?"

"How about we meet somewhere," Jordan suggested. "I was thinking maybe the famous fountain at the Avenue in Skiatook."

"All the way up in Skiatook?" Isaac was a little surprised at that suggestion. Neither Juliet, nor Claire had ever asked him to go that far away. But then again neither of them were a 21 year old fashion design major. "Isn’t that a bit far? I mean we have malls right here in Tulsa."

"Don’t you have a car?" Jordan asked.

"Well, yeah but....." Isaac just did not see the need to drive so far away.

"Isaac, do you want to meet me at the mall at 5:00 in Skiatook or not?" Jordan demanded. "Because if you don’t I can find someone else. Believe me, I’m not desperate."

"Okay, fine," Isaac gave in. "Skiatook it is."

"I’ll see you then." Jordan hung up the phone.

Isaac replace his in the cradle and was slightly flattered at how Jordan was playing hard to get. He then got a huge grin on his face and took off running through the house screaming, "TAY! You have dishes for the next week! SUCKER!"



"UGH!" Gretchen disgustedly threw her pencil down on Taylor’s desk and over dramatically buried her face in her hands.

Taylor, sprawled across his bed, looked up from the science book he had been reading. "What’s wrong?"

"I hte Enish," Gretchen mumbled into the palms of her hands.

Taylor absent mindedly looked at the clock as he tried to translate the words she had just mumbled. "So what are you working on anyway? Whatever it is you’ve been doing it for over an hour."

"English!" Gretchen snapped and turned in the chair to face him. "Didn’t you hear what I said?"

Taylor rolled his eyes. "I heard you say something, but you talked right into your hands. How was I supposed to understand that?"

"I simply said that I hate English. I don’t see the point of it. Whoever invented it was pretty stupid." Gretchen turned back to the book on the desk.

"Well I don’t know about you, but actually I’m pretty thankful for it. I mean it’s the language I speak and if it was never invented I don’t know what I’d do." Taylor closed his science book and leaned back against his pillows.

"Gee, I don’t know. Maybe you’d speak another language," Gretchen smirked.

"Yeah, but I dread the thought of what Ike would sound like rambling on in a different tongue," Taylor joked. Much to his dismay, Gretchen didn’t laugh at what he considered to be a very humorous slam on his older brother. But he didn’t dwell on this long and figured Zac just had a better appreciation for Isaac humor than his girlfriend did. "So what exactly are you working on?" he continued. "Shouldn’t you be about done by now?" Quite frankly, homework was beginning to bore him.

Instead of answering him, Gretchen just stared at the nearly blank assignment sheet in front of her. Taylor had invited her to come over after school, but she almost refused because the English assignment she had been putting off all week was due the next day and she doubted how much actual work she would get done with Taylor around. However he did not see having to do homework as a good excuse not to come, and suggested she bring it with her, for she could work just as easily at his house as she could at hers. Gretchen was still skeptical, but there was something she really had to ask Taylor, and he seemed pretty sincere about the only doing homework bit, so she had gone to the Hanson’s as soon as school let out, and she and Taylor had been busy with their respective studies ever since.

"Do you mind if I put on some music?" Taylor asked as he placed a CD in his player. He pressed play before Gretchen had the chance to answer him. "So what is this assignment that’s driving you crazy about?"

"Shakespeare," Gretchen pointed to an open book. "I hate him. I really don’t see why people think he was so awesome. I can barely understand a word of it. And to make matters worse...........what in the world are we listening to?"

"It’s the soundtrack to "Cabaret’," Taylor picked the book up off his desk. "This is ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Come on Gretchen don’t even try to tell me you don’t understand this story. It’s only the easiest Shakespeare out there."

"It sucks!" Gretchen shook her head.

"What?" Taylor gave her a look of surprise. "I thought you liked it."

"Whatever gave you that idea?" Gretchen gave him a confused look.

"Well I can hardly count the number of times you made me watch the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in it," Taylor shook his head. "I could have suggested about a million different movies, as a matter of fact I did, but you insisted on seeing it and now you claim to hate it."

"I never said I hated it, I said it sucked," Gretchen corrected him. "Besides I wasn’t talking about the movie, but about your choice in music, Honestly Taylor, you need to develop some half way decent taste in tunes."

"This happens to be a very famous play which won many awards on Broadway and was made into a film which won several Oscars," Taylor rattled off the little Broadway knowledge that he had. "Do you even know what it’s about?"

Gretchen just rolled her eyes and wondered when Taylor had developed this sudden appreciation for the theater.

"Well, it’s about a sleazy night club in Germany, just before World War 2. It’s actually pretty deep, I mean it really makes you think. Plus most of the female cabaret dancers hardly have any clothes on," Taylor blushed a little as he admitted this last fact.

"Ah, so the real reason you like it shines through," Gretchen laughed. "Honestly sometimes I can’t decide if you’re a pervert, or just a normal guy."

Taylor gave her a strange look. "Whatever. I actually watched the movie with my mom because she’s a huge Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli fan. Anyway, she forgot all about the sexual references in it and when he sang some song about sleeping with two women at the same time, she proceeded to give me a lecture on how people do not do that. It was the closest my mom and I ever came to having a "real" sex talk."

"Oh isn’t that sweet," Gretchen snickered. "Listen are you just going to hold my book, or are you going to help me with this?" She pointed to her assignment sheet.

"I still can’t believe you don’t know this story........they fall in love and kill themselves."

"I know the story," Gretchen yelled, grabbing the book out of Taylor’s hands. "I’m not stupid!"

"Hey," Taylor’s voice got much softer as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "I know you’re not stupid. I didn’t mean to insinuate that."

"I know," Gretchen whispered. "It really is a dumb story though if you think about it. I mean how many sane people would kill themselves just because their parents did not want them to date someone. I for one would never kill myself over a boy." She looked up into Taylor’s eyes. "And that includes you."

Taylor gave her a strange look. "When was the last time I asked you to stab yourself? Sheesh."

"Anyway," Gretchen continued. "I just can’t figure out how to answer these questions."

"Hmm," Taylor knelt on the floor, next to Gretchen in the chair. "Let me see the worksheet."

She handed the list of unanswered questions to Taylor and looked on as he scanned the sheet. "Your room smells different," she suddenly commented.

"Huh?" Taylor raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah," Gretchen sniffed the air. "Can’t you smell it? It’s sort of a mix between smoke and cheap incense."

"Oh," Taylor sniffed but figured Gretchen was either smelling things, or she just had a much more sensitive nose than himself. "Well there are three boys living here. It’s not exactly going to smell like roses."

"True," Gretchen agreed, but Taylor could tell by the look in her eyes that she was still contemplating whatever it was she thought was in the air.

"Hey," he elbowed her in the arm. "We can analyze the scents in my room later. I think I can help you answer most of these questions." He set down the paper and the two set to work picking apart the most famous love story of all time, while listening to Joel Grey sing about how he shares his bed with two women.



"Zac why do we have to go behind my shed?" Marie demanded. "I want to stay on the swing."

"Fine stay there!" Zac snapped. "See if I care. But I’m going back here for a few minutes."

"Fine, crabby." Marie watched Zac stomp off behind the shed. After a moment she sighed, and resigned herself to join him. She jumped off the swing and slowly walked behind the shed just as Zac was lighting a cigarette. "What are you doing?"

"What does it look like I’m doing?" Zac shot back, taking a deep drag on the cigarette.

"It looks like you’re being an idiot," Marie put her hands on her hips.

"What’s your problem?" Zac demanded, waving the cigarette in the air. "Need I remind you whose idea it was to try it in the first place."

"Well, yeah I wanted to try it that one time," Marie admitted. "But that was just to see what it was like. I had no idea you d’ keep doing it!"

"So what are you saying?" Zac said as he blew a cloud of smoke into the air.

"I’m saying you look stupid with that thing." She pointed to the cigarette. "Not to mention ruining your lungs and who knows what else."

"Oh shut up!" Zac yelled louder than he intended. "You’re not my mother."

Marie took a step closer to him. "If you put that down, I’ll give you something else to put in your mouth."

Zac raised his eyebrows. "Oh really?"

"Come-on," she took the cigarette away from Zac and stomped it out with her foot.

"So, what are you going to give me to put in my mouth?" Zac began to get excited, remembering the video tape he had watched earlier.

Marie got right up next to Zac and gave him a seductive stare. She reached into her pocket and pulled a pack of Doublemint gum out. Her smile faded and she glared at Zac. "Here, you need this."

Zac have her a very confused and disappointed look.

"What? Your breath stinks," Marie laughed. "I’m certainly not going to kiss you if you smell and taste like a yuckky old chimney."

Zac sighed and popped the gum into his mouth. Marie began to walk away and Zac called out, "Where you going?"

"Back to the swings," She said, disappearing around the corner.

"Gum," Zac muttered. "I can’t believe she put out a perfectly good cigarette for a piece of lousy gum."



"Well, that’s the last question," Gretchen announced, closing her notebook.

"Thank God! I don’t know if I could have handled anymore," Taylor dramatically flopped himself face first onto his bed.

"So Taylor," Gretchen slowly stated, putting the books into her backpack. "Do you remember about a week ago?"

"Uh huh," Taylor mumbled into his comforter.

"You never did tell me how showing the tape in your Sunday School went. And I was kind of wondering what you did with the tape afterwards," She walked over and sat on the edge of his bed. "I’m hopeing you destroyed it, burnt it, jumped on it till there was nothing left."

"Nope," Taylor rolled over and patted his pillow, a grin on his face. "I got it right here."

"Oh," Gretchen’s face fell. "Taylor, you do understand that if anyone finds that tape we could get into trouble."

"Gretchen, no one’s going to find it," Taylor smiled. "You have nothing to worry about."

"Yeah, but......" Gretchen’s voice trailed off.

In order to comfort her, Taylor reached underneath his pillow and pulled the tape out. he removed it from the sleeve and waved it in front of her face. "See? It’s here. No one is going to mess with it. Not a thing to worry...........ummm.......nothing to worry about," Taylor tried to cover up the surprise in his voice and on his face. He knew for a fact he had rewound the tape. But as he looked he could clearly see that a quarter of the tape was around the second spool. Someone had seen it, but he wasn’t about to let Gretchen know that. He quickly shoved it back under his pillow and prayed she had not noticed the change in his expressions.

"Well, good. Make sure you keep it that way," She demanded.

"Okay," Taylor avoided her stare.

"Hey, listen." Gretchen used a much sweeter voice and scooted closer to Taylor on the bed. She gently placed her hand on his knee and looked into his blue eyes. "I have something to ask you. But you can say no. It’s just a small favor. And it’s not even really for me. Well in a way it is and in a way it isn’t. I mean it is for me, but you can say no. I promise I won’t be mad."

"Well, what is it?" Taylor asked, placing his hand over hers and linking their fingers.

"You see," Gretchen took a deep breath. "This girl I know," She cleared her throat, coughed into her hand and mumbled, "Meredith." Continuing in her normal voice she added, "See, she has these three tickets to this concert on Friday, but the two people she was supposed to go with backed out. So she asked me to go and I’m asking you to come with us. But you can say no."

"Hey, that’s all right," Taylor smiled. "I haven’t been to a concert where I haven’t been the one performing in a long time."

"Oh, that’s sweet," Gretchen’s smiled quickly faded. "And here’s the other part."

"What there’s more?"

Gretchen moved even closer to Taylor and lightly kissed his fingers before continuing. "You see, Meredith, she bought the tickets and the other girls never paid her for them, so she sort of wants the money for them."

"Well, no problem," Taylor gave her a confused look. "That only sounds fair, so we’ll give her the money or whatever."

"Well, you see.........that’s the other part," Gretchen gave him a shy smile. "They’re a bit pricey, and I told her I wasn’t sure if we could come up with the money for them."

"Hey," Taylor stroked Gretchen’s hair. "If you want me to pay for you ticket, that’s fine. No problem."

"Well, that’s sweet too," Gretchen gently kissed his cheek. "But listen, like I said before the tickets are kind of pricey......."

"Listen, Gretchen," Taylor smiled at her. "Don’t worry about it. I’ll pay for our tickets. Besides, I haven’t treated you to anything in a while. So how much are they?"

Gretchen avoided his gaze, and quickly mumbled something that sounded like $31.50.

"$31.50?" Taylor asked. "For two tickets, that’s not bad at all."

Gretchen looked at him and smiled. "Yeah, you’re right that wouldn’t be too bad. But the thing is they’re sort of $31.50 a piece."

"Oh," Taylor bit his lip. "But they’re really good seats, right?"

"One would think that, wouldn’t they?" Gretchen grinned. "I would think that. You would think that. It would be a logical assumption."

"Gretchen, where are the seats?" Taylor was beginning to have doubts about this concert which was going to cost him $63.00, not to mention anything Gretchen wanted him to buy while at the show.

"Well, it’s sort of funny really," Gretchen faked a laugh. "We don’t exactly have seats."

"What do you mean we don’t have seats," Taylor slowly asked. "I thought you just said that Meredith had tickets."

"Oh she does," Gretchen assured him. "But you see..........they’re sort of for the lawn." She took a deep breath. "But you can say no!"

Taylor shook his head. "No, it’s fine. I already told you I’d get your ticket. Tell Meredith we’ll go."

"Okay," Gretchen smiled. "Thank you. Oh dear me, would you look at the time! I have to get going." Gretchen took her hand away from Taylor, grabbed her backpack, and booked it for the front door.

Taylor trailed after her and grabbed her arm, just as she was about to leave. "Hey, you never told me what concert this was."

"Didn’t I though?" Gretchen acted surprised. "I could have sworn I told you."

"Nope. No you didn’t," Taylor told her. "And seeing as how I’m spending $63.00 bucks, for lawn seats mind you, I’d kind of like to know who I’m going to see."

"Hmm, I guess you would, wouldn’t you." Gretchen acted as if everything she had just heard made complete sense.

"Yeah, I’d kind of like to know."

"Oh Taylor." Gretchen gave him a big hug, kissed him on the lips, and offered him a sweet smile. "Backstreet Boys. Later!" And with that Gretchen took off running down the street.