“I could lose my heart tonight
If you don't turn and walk away.”
-Selena, “I Could Fall In Love”
Lillian was in shock. Her mind was frozen, and only her senses were
registering. His lips were soft, much softer than they appeared. And they were
skilled. It may have been her first kiss, but she knew when the kisser was
experienced. The subtle musk of his cologne mixed with a tinge of alcohol and a
smell that was unique only to him, and it struck her nose delicately. She felt
Justin stopped moving his lips against hers and lifted his head slowly.
He opened his eyes and regarded her. Her eyes were still shut and her face was
lifted expectantly, the expression dreamy.
He shook his head and stepped away abruptly, all of a sudden feeling horribly sober.
she asked dazedly.
He took another step backwards. “I…shoot, I’m sorry. I didn’t
mean to do that.”
“But I don’t-“
“I’m sorry,” he repeated quickly. “I don’t know what-“ The
words halted while he tried to think of an explanation. “Just…damn it!”
He spun around and disappeared through the crowd without another word,
leaving Lillian staring after him.
She raised a finger to her lips, still stunned that the impossible had
just occurred. He had kissed her. It had been positively…What’s a good
word? Delicious. That’s it. Completely delicious.
Slowly she made her way off the dance floor, bumping into people as she
walked. Where had he gone?
Eventually Lillian found herself at the table again. But no Justin.
“Problem?” JC asked, halting his conversation with an excited looking
“I, uh…” She observed their impatient expressions. “No, no
problem. Don’t let me interrupt.” She smiled absentmindedly and left them to
their gossiping, hearing Lance say something about a ‘hot production
Where could he have gone? The bar’s empty, he’s not with his
friends, and the line to the bathroom is a mile long. What other place is left?
She mentally smacked herself. Well, obviously. She hurriedly made
her way around the throngs of people near the restrooms and exited the club
through the back door.
What the hell is wrong with me? Why’d I do that? It was so stupid to
kiss her! Another part of his mind rebelled. But it felt so right.
“No!” Justin exclaimed, the word echoing off the brick walls of the
alley. “Dammit!” In frustration he kicked an empty beer can lying next to
the overflowing dumpster. He watched as it bounced down the alley and clanged
noisily when it hit a wall.
He sighed and crouched down. That bit of physical aggression had helped a
little. But still…I’m an idiot! Such a big moron!
The metal door to the club banged open and he kept his gaze trained on
the pavement. Please be the bartender throwing out some trash. But just
listening to the person’s approaching steps proved his hopes wrong. He knew it
“Justin,” she called out softly. “What are you doing?”
He straightened and turned to look at her. “I’m thinking.”
She stepped closer to him, her pulse racing. It seemed like her romantic
dreams had finally come true. He had kissed her. And not on the cheek or
forehead like he had done before. Oh no, this was right on the lips. That has
to mean something, right?
“What are you thinking about?”
He bit his lip. “What just happened in there. That’s what I’m
Lillian laid her hand on his shoulder, thinking he was nervous.
“Justin, it’s okay,” she encouraged him.
He moved out from under her hand. “Yeah, it is okay, right?
Because I’m just not feeling right tonight. Maybe it was all those shots.”
He nodded hurriedly, the excuse making sense. “I guess I couldn’t handle it
as well as I thought I could.” He let out a laugh, a fake and gratingly loud
But she didn’t notice how hollow it sounded. Her mind was still
digesting the words. ‘Not feeling right…all those shots…’
She shook her head, the haze of desire suddenly dissipating. It added up.
He was intoxicated and had no idea what he was doing. She had seen it before,
and apparently she had just become a naïve and stupid victim of it.
He hadn’t kissed her full on the lips out of love or passion. It was
out of drunkenness. Your first kiss, Lillian, and it’s from someone who’s
Well, she still had a tiny trace of pride to salvage. “Yeah, I guess
so,” she said, laughing weakly. “If that’s settled then…” A minuscule
tinge of hope crept its way into her tone, begging him to differ.
Justin grinned quickly, grateful that their confrontation had been
resolved so easily. “Yup, it’s settled!”
Lillian nodded, feeling empty. “Okay then. Great.” She darted one
last furtive glance at him, but seeing that he was staring blankly at the night
sky she sighed and went back inside.
As soon as the door slammed shut he jerked his head around to look at it.
Yeah. Great. He shook his head and pulled out his cell phone to call
Mike. Maybe he could pick him up early.
Justin groaned, burying his face deeper into the soft pillow.
Chris let out a happy sigh. “Ah, yes. The best part of letting go of
all inhibitions- Hangover City! Everyone’s favorite vacation spot. The plane
ride over is sweet and smooth, but the return trip is hell.”
“Very clever,” Justin muttered, his mouth feeling like it was stuffed
with cotton. He turned over and squeezed his eyelids shut.
Chris strolled around the perimeter of the room, yanking the curtains and
blinds open as he went. He smiled to himself as each ray of the morning sunlight
managed to strike Justin right in the face.
“Stop, man!” Justin complained, quickly clapping the pillow over his
“Stop? But I’m just getting started!” Chris exclaimed in a chipper
voice. “We have lots and lots to do today. First on the agenda is breakfast.
And then it’s time for the ‘Rolling Stone’ photo shoot that got delayed.
Remember that? Next, we have to talk over some pyrotechnic junk with Thompsen,
because JC got the bright idea that today being our last concert and all, we
should go out with a bang…literally. And after that, the fun will really
“Oh Lord, kill me now.”
“You silly sleepyhead,” Chris admonished. “I know what will wake
you up!” He ran over to the door and yanked it wide open. “JC! Lance!
Joey! Guess who needs help getting out of bed?!”
holler reverberated in Justin’s sensitive ears. “My freaking ears!”
He felt something jump onto the bed, jolting his already aching head.
“My freaking head!”
“Maybe his medulla oblongata is making him ornery,” a deep voice
“B-b-but Mama says d-dat all dem teeth and no toothbrush makes him
ornery,” someone else answered in a perfect imitation of Bobby Bouchet.
The pillow was wrenched out of his grasp and the light from the window
hit him in the eyes full on. “My freaking eyes!”
Somebody’s head suddenly appeared and blocked the offending sun.
“Who is that?” he asked, confused and only half awake.
“It’s your freaking friend,” JC said dryly. “Now get outta
Chris, from his position on the bed, shoved Justin off and flopped down
on it. “I claim this bed for the empire of Chris,” he announced.
Justin shook JC’s supporting arm off him and made his way to the
bathroom. He immediately reached for his toothbrush to get that nasty taste out
of his mouth. After scrubbing for ten minutes he decided that it was enough.
“Remind me why none of you are nursing huge hangovers,” he said,
stumbling out of the bathroom and looking for some decent clothes to wear.
“Well, I for one had more than enough drama just seeing you drunk,”
JC replied. “So I kinda stayed clear, except for that one margarita.”
“I was dancing,” Chris explained.
“Too busy flirting,” Joey admitted.
“Checking out a cute production assistant,” Lance said, grinning.
“Great. So I get to be the one with a massive headache on what seems to
be our busiest day since the first day on tour,” Justin remarked. He pulled
out a shiny baby blue jersey and winced, quickly stuffing it back into the bag.
“Blue, blue, blue! Everything in my wardrobe is blue!”
“No, you definitely have some navy shirts somewhere,” Chris assured
“Moron, navy is dark blue,” Joey muttered.
Chris balked at the insult. “Hey, who’s the fashion designer?
That’s right, me! So trust me when I say that navy is apart from the whole
blue color spectrum!”
Lance looked at him oddly. “What?”
Chris paused. “I don’t know what I just said.”
Finally Justin found a gray sweatshirt and a pair of warm-up pants. He
pulled them on hastily. “Okay, let’s head down to the lobby,” he
suggested, leading the way out the room.
“Well he’s pretty eager,” JC noticed.
“Obviously. Where there’s a lobby, there’s some Advil sitting
somewhere nearby,” Lance pointed out.
They followed Justin, snickering as he ran into various potted plants and
corners. JC had filled them in on their friend’s less than stellar behavior at
the club last night, and they figured he had no one to blame but himself. After
all, no one forced all the shots down his throat.
The four of them watched with interest from around the banquet table as
Justin alternately shoveled cereal into his mouth and swallowed Advil. He was
able to finish three bowls in record time.
“Amazing,” Chris commented in an Australian accent. “Here, we’ve
just observed the feeding frenzy of the endangered creature referred to as the
‘Boy-band Boy-toy.’ With just a few left in the world today, they are highly
sought after, but manage to continue astonishing people with their poor
Justin burped, ignoring his friend. As long as he could feel his headache
going away, he’d be fine. And half of the day would be spent outside, away
from the other people on the tour. Which, in his case, was a very good thing.
“Ready to head out?” he asked, standing up.
“My god, it speaks!” Chris exclaimed, still keeping his Crocodile
“Oh, haha,” Justin responded sarcastically. “Everything is
laugh-a-minute around here.”
“You can thank us for it later,” Joey said, grinning. “But for now
we gotta head downtown.”
Chris ran out of the banquet room with Joey trying to tackle him, and JC
and Lance followed at a more sedately pace. Bringing up the rear was Justin,
munching on a handful of Frosted Flakes.
As they passed the elevators, several people stepped off one elevator.
Lillian, staring at the ground, was the last one out. She felt like someone was
watching her and she quickly looked around.
Her searching gaze fell on Justin, frozen in place. Maybe I should say
something. At least wave to him, Lillian! She began to raise her hand
hesitantly but he turned around to catch up with the others before she could
She sighed. So that’s how it was going to be. Well, this was what she
deserved for attempting to protect his feelings, and hers.
“Justin, you’re gonna have to smile sooner or later. You stick out
like a sore thumb right now,” the photographer commented, observing the five
men in front of him.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, obediently putting a fake smile on his face.
The photographer sighed. “Better, I guess. Hold still everyone.”
They let out a collective breath of relief when the last shot was taken.
After thanking the photographer they left the studio and piled into their SUV.
“At least they didn’t make us wear all that glitter, like last
time,” Lance pointed out.
“Still, all the flashes hurt my eyes,” Justin complained. “I feel
my headache coming back.”
“Man, your bitching is giving me a headache,” Chris said. “It’s a
hangover! Get over it. Whose fault is it anyway?”
Justin scowled and turned to look out the window. But he couldn’t deny
the truth of Chris’ words. He had been whining since he woke up. And Jace and
Lillian had tried to warn him about all his drinks.
Lillian. Damn. That morning he had been staring at her in the
lobby. When she’d turned to look at him he just bolted, not wanting to dwell
on what had happened the night before. The only good part was that it seemed
like no one else had noticed the kiss, which he was grateful for. If the guys
had seen him, there would be no end to their questions and curiosity.
Why’d you do it? That’s the first thing they’d ask. And he
didn’t even have an answer for it. He had said that it was because he was
drunk. But he wasn’t that far gone, that he would just kiss one of his
friends who happened to be an attractive girl.
And she was attractive. There was no denying that. He couldn’t believe
he thought she was ugly a few months ago. Since then, his definition of
‘attractive’ had been widened. No more of that blonde, skinny, blue-eyed,
big chest crap. Lately, small dark-eyed brunettes had become more appealing.
Provided they had substance.
Justin paused. Why am I thinking about this anyway? There’s no way
we would ever become a couple.
small part of his mind argued with him. Well, why the hell not?
He frowned. Because we haven’t known each other that long…but it
seems like we have. And my mom hasn’t even heard of her…though my friends
love her. She’s different…but it makes her even more special. She tried to
push me away…only in order to protect me.
Any other person would see the pros and cons and make an obvious
decision. But he just didn’t know.
Lillian listened attentively as Thompsen explained how the mini fireworks
display would be executed that night. They would practice it once and work out
any errors before doing it for sure at the concert.
On the other side of the stage, the band was taking a break from their
rehearsal. Chris had dared Joey to eat a whole box of Krispy Kremes as fast as
he could, and Joey hadn’t been able to refuse the challenge.
“Come on, Joey, only three more left!” Lance exclaimed, egging his
“Here, let me help,” Chris offered. He grabbed one of the donuts and
stuffed it into Joey’s face.
Joey tried to shout at him, but his mouth was full of pastry. He gave
himself a second to swallow the food and compose himself before lashing out at
Chris, who was laughing hysterically.
“Get back here you jerk!” he shouted, beginning to run after Chris.
Then he stopped suddenly and bent down, holding his stomach. “Oh man, that was
not a good idea.”
Lance rolled his eyes and helped Joey sit down. JC snickered at what had
just happened and looked over at Justin, expecting his younger friend to be
But Justin only managed a small smile.
“J, what’s up with you?” he asked. “Usually when Joey makes a
fool out of himself you can’t stop laughing. And don’t tell me you still
have a headache, because you were dancing just fine a minute ago.”
“I was an asshole last night,” Justin answered. “It was your
birthday and everything, and I got drunk and insulted you and Lillian.”
JC shrugged, knowing that these things could happen. “I’m not holding
anything against you. I’ve been a moron after drinking too.”
“I don’t even recall half the things I said,” Justin continued.
“All I remember is-“ He broke off. All he remembered was that he said some
stupid things before kissing Lillian. But he couldn’t tell JC about that last
JC raised an eyebrow, noticing that Justin had trailed off. “Whatever,
that’s in the past now. I’m not mad at you…at least I’m not mad anymore.
As long as you give me a birthday present, I’ll be happy,” he joked.
Justin smiled genuinely for the first time that day. He could always
count on JC. “Thanks, Jace. Don’t worry, you’ll get your present soon.”
“That’s all I ask, man,” JC replied, grinning and pulling him in
for a quick hug.
After breaking away JC looked around, seeing that Joey had turned an odd
shade of green.
“Hey, maybe you should go to the bathroom or something,” he
“Good idea,” Joey moaned.
JC rolled his eyes and went over to help him. “Come on,” he said,
propping Joey against his shoulder. “One step at a time.”
Lance turned to Justin after the two had left. “Feeling better now?”
Justin nodded. “Definitely. When will Joey learn to stop accepting
Lance laughed. “Hopefully never. It’s too funny.” Then he looked at
Justin with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “And soon, you’ll learn not to
mess with me and Chris in the pranks department.”
Justin widened his eyes. “Oh, is that a threat? ‘Cause I don’t
know, I’m not feeling too scared right now.”
“You will. Trust me on that one.” He scanned the people running
around the stadium and spotted Lillian holding some extension cords. He pointed
to her. “And we’ll get that one too.”
“Nah, our pranks were always better than yours,” Justin replied,
staring at her.
“So how’s the L and J connection doing?” Lance asked, observing the
way Justin looked at her.
Justin dragged his eyes away from her as another crew member near her
whispered something in her ear and she laughed. Her smiles and laughter always
lit up her face. “It’s not doing so good,” he said. “Not too good at
Moments after Phillip had stopped by, Lillian was still laughing. He had
joined the tech crew about halfway through the tour, and never failed to make a
wisecrack about Thompsen whenever he saw Lillian.
After plugging the extension cord into a set of fireworks streamer bases,
she headed back to do the same to the four other stations that were set
strategically around the stadium.
Today was the third day left on tour, and the last two were the take-down
days, when all the equipment was packed away and sent to wherever they had
obtained them. The last paycheck would be given out, and after a meeting given
by Tim, everyone would head off to the airports and bus stations and go back to
their normal lives. At least until the next tour.
But she wouldn’t have a next tour. This
internship was a one-time deal. And I guess our friendship was too.