Chapter 8

“Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you

Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you

But in your dreams whatever they be

Dream a little dream of me.”

            -“Dream a Little Dream of Me”




            An hour later everyone involved in the tour left the hotel and boarded the buses already waiting outside. The morning air was unusually crisp, and Lillian shivered a bit, dressed only in a thin t-shirt and cotton pants. The weather reminded her of the climes common at MIT, and she felt a bit homesick. Or more appropriately, dorm-sick.

            As she headed to her bus, she felt a hard nudge from another person in her back. Turning her head to see who it was, she spotted Elaine swinging her heavy bag on her shoulder as she strutted past, flipping her hair with a snobbish air.

            Lillian rolled her eyes at the sight. Sometimes she felt badly for Elaine. Once she had been in their hotel room, and she could hear Elaine crying in the bathroom, trying to disguise the noise by turning on the hairdryer. She remembered Justin had brushed her off earlier that day, in front of some of her friends. She occasionally regretted that they hadn’t been able to become friends, but then Elaine would do something spiteful for no reason, and all her good intentions flew out the window.

            She got on her bus and settled into one of the seats, preparing herself for the ride to the next stop on the tour. The buses had barely reached the highway when her cell phone rang. She had bought one at the insistence of the tour programmers, but she usually turned it off. No one ever called her. She must have forgotten to turn it off today in the rush of packing her bags.

            “Hello?” she asked, curious about who would call her. And how they got her number in the first place.

            “What are you doing?!” came the screamed reply.

            “Hi, Joey. I’m not doing anything,” she answered.

            On the group’s bus Joey rolled his eyes. “Come on, Lilypad! Don’t you get it? ‘What are you doing!’ From the commercial!”

            Silence was her only reaction.

            “Never mind,” he drew out, exasperated. “Jeez, girl, we have to get you out more. Considering all the TV you watch, it would make sense that you would have all the commercials memorized. But noooo.”

            “Sorry,” she said, not sounding the least bit remorseful.

            Joey laughed, then pushed an insistent Chris away from him. “Wait your turn,” he mouthed, before turning back to his conversation.

            “So what are you guys up to?” she asked.

            “JC’s sleeping, Chris is clawing at my leg, and Lance is laughing.”

            “What about Justin?”

            He grinned at her attempt to disguise her interest in his friend. “I think he’s in the back talking to his mom,” he explained.

            “Oh. That’s sweet,” she replied. He could hear the smile in her voice.

            “Shucks, ain’t it though?” he said, imitating a brain-dead Southerner.

            “Yes, it is, Cletus,” she shot back, calling him one of the characters from the “Simpsons.”

            Joey glanced up as Justin came back up to the front of the bus. “Anyway, Lilypad, I think Chris wants to talk to you, so I’ll see you later,” he said as he handed the phone off to Chris, who grabbed it excitedly and began babbling to Lillian.

            Justin saw that his friends were having fun talking to Lillian, and he momentarily recalled what happened that morning in Lance’s room. I don’t want to think of this right now.

            He flipped open his cell again and called the one person who was random enough to take all serious thoughts from his mind.

            “Hey, Elaine, it’s me.”

            He held the phone away from his ear as she squealed her greeting, grimacing at the high-pitched noise.

            Justy! What’s up, baby?”

            Rolling his eyes at his nickname, he responded, “Nothing much, you know. Same old stuff as always.”

            “That’s great! Okay, so today I borrowed Marissa’s hair mascara. Guess what color?”

            “I don’t know, lime green,” he answered, already bored with the exchange. He lied down on the couch with a sigh, attempting to ignore the sound of Chris’ conversation that carried through the bus.

            “Well, that was close. Fuchsia Blue!”

            “Is that even a real color?” Justin wondered aloud, examining his nails.

            “Probably. It’s mad cool. You’ve got to see it. Maybe you can try some too! Like, there are these little streaks that Marissa taught me to do. Not overboard or anything like that. Hey, that reminds me-“

            “Listen, I gotta go now,” he cut her off, mid-sentence. This is like intellectual suicide or something. “See ya later, baby.”

            He quickly ended the call even though he could still hear her protesting. He looked over at Lance, who was now taking his turn talking to Lillian. His friend was laughing wildly and seemed to be enjoying the conversation, occasionally relaying a message to Chris and Joey.

            Screw what happened this morning. It’s not like she knows about it anyway. Ignoring the curious looks of his friends, he reached over and grabbed the phone away from Lance.

            “It’s my turn now,” he explained, not caring about Lance’s warning glance and the shocked expressions on the faces of the other two.

            “Hi, Lillian,” he greeted.

            “Justin? I thought you were talking with Elaine.”

            “Oh. No, not anymore,” he said, not bothering to explain why.

            “I see. Did Lance tell you about the video?” she asked excitedly after a pause.

            “No, what video?”

            “Okay, well you know how you use that word sometimes? ‘Crunk?’”

            “Yeah, that’s my word, yo!” he exclaimed, slipping into his homeboy act.

            “Great, Vanilla Ice. So I was browsing the cable channels yesterday, and lo and behold, it was,” she paused, letting her voice drop ominously, “the Video.”

            “The Video?” Justin repeated, confused. The other guys listened with rapt attention to his side of the conversation.

            “Yes, the Video. The rap video showing on BET. Care to take a guess of what the title of the song was?”

            “Um, why don’t you tell me,” he suggested.

            “It was called ‘Get Crunked Up!’” she said, bursting into laughter, before imitating the chorus of the song. “Get crunked up, get crunked up.”

            Justin couldn’t help but laugh at her horrible impression of a hardcore rapper.

            “Interesting . . .” he drawled, still laughing.

            “I thought so too,” she replied, suddenly serious. “I mean, here’s this scary, intimidating black rap star, using the same exact vocabulary as a southern white boy-band pop singer. What is this world coming to?!” she exclaimed in mock-horror.

            “Oh, haha, smartass,” he retorted. “Actually, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s using my word. It is an exceptional word. ‘Crunk.’ It’s just got the best sound to it. ‘Crunk.’

            Chris overheard him repeating the hated word and immediately sprang into action, jumping on Justin’s back and rubbing his knuckles into his scalp.

            “Ow! Owww!” Justin howled. “Get off me! You’re crazy!”

            “Nuh uh,” refused Chris. “I told you again and again. Never say that word. Never!”

            Justin dropped the phone and turned all his efforts into getting his friend off his back and away from his head. “I told you to get off of me!” he shouted before flipping him over his shoulder and onto the couch. Then he pounced on him and returned the rough treatment, ten fold.

            “Give me a noogie, huh? Let’s see how you can take it, old man!” he hollered, stuffing Chris’ face into the cushions and climbing onto his back.

            Lillian tried to stifle her giggles at hearing the commotion at the other end of the phone. Now Chris was the one pleading for Justin to leave him alone, and she picked up sounds of Lance and Joey cracking up in the background.

            After waiting five more minutes, she realized that they wouldn’t be finished anytime soon. With a small shake of her head, she closed her cell phone and settled down to get a quick nap before they reached the hotel.


*                       *                       *                       *                       *


            She slowly woke up, realizing that the buses weren’t moving anymore. Shoot, are we already at the hotel? Why didn’t anyone wake me? Quickly taking a glance at her watch, she realized that they were an hour ahead of schedule.

            The bus rocked as someone climbed aboard the steps. She sat up and hurriedly fixed her clothes and hair. A dark head came into view, and she smiled.

            “Hey, Chris,” she called out.

            “Lily! Come on, we stopped for some gas, so everyone’s hanging around outside,” he informed her, grabbing her hand and pulling her behind him off the bus.

            “We already need gas? But we’ve only been driving for less than an hour!” she protested, though she allowed him to lead her across the parking lot of the rest stop.

            “Well, we were getting really bored on the buses. Joey forgot to pack his tapes in his carry-on bag, so we convinced the head honchos to stop for a while. We’re moving way ahead of schedule, anyway.”

            They approached the second bus to find Joey rooting through the various bags and luggage stored under the body of the vehicle, throwing things haphazardly over his shoulder and onto the street. He emerged a second later, holding up a large plastic bag.

            “Yes! I’ve found some entertainment for the next hour!” he grinned, holding the bag open for Lillian and Chris to examine.

            “Hmm,” Lillian mused, reading through the movie titles. “Sounds pretty good. A lot more interesting than what will be happening on my bus.”

            “Well, that can be fixed,” Joey said. “Just sneak onto our bus.”

            Chris nodded, agreeing with the idea.

            “But guys!” she argued, grabbing the items on the ground and putting them back into the storage compartment. “I can’t just go onto ‘N Sync’s bus! That’s breaking the rules. We have to stay where we’re assigned.”

            Chris and Joey turned to stare at each other, before promptly cracking up simultaneously.

            They both snagged onto one of her arms and dragged her up the steps into their bus.

            “Man, Lilypad, you can be so funny sometimes. ‘Breaking the rules!’ That’s classic, it really is,” Joey snickered.

            “I could get in trouble!” she maintained. “You guys can’t be kicked off this tour, but I can, remember?”

            “Fine, fine,” Chris sighed. “We’ll clear you with security. That way you won’t be charged with breaking onto the bus and trying to steal our boxers.”


            “Shut up, Lily. We’re already moving,” Joey cut her off as the bus pulled out of the parking lot. “And now . . . we can finally have some fun!” he said excitedly as he pulled out his tapes, one by one, displaying each proudly.

            “Nah,” disagreed Lance, joining them. “Let’s save the movies for later. We only have an hour, anyway. Tune in to MTV.”

            “Okay,” Joey consented. “I am in the mood for seeing my face,” he joked.

            “Whatever, Joseph. They never focus on your mug, they only do close-ups on the moderately attractive singers,” JC laughed, coming from the back room of the bus. He took a pillow and saw down next to Lillian on the fold-out couch.

            Justin followed him out a moment later, and he nodded to Lillian before lying down on the floor with his back against the couch. She blushed at his presence. He was dressed very casually with only a wife-beater and track pants on. The white shirt outlined his contoured chest. Lillian, stop acting like a silly schoolgirl around him! Be more mature. Quickly, she turned away from him and stared at the images playing across the television screen.

            Justin had felt her dark-eyed gaze on him, and he shifted, stretching his muscles leisurely. When he joined his friends, he noticed that she had been blushing. Why does she always seem so uncomfortable around me?! Am I scaring her or something?

            He saw Lance rise from his seat and motion to Lillian. Quickly reading his expression she also got up and trailed behind him as he headed to the back room.

            And where are they going? he wondered, staring after them fixedly.

            “J, what’s wrong?” asked JC, noticing his preoccupation.

            “What’s wrong?” he whispered. He gestured towards the back room. “That is what’s wrong!”

            “I don’t follow you.”

            “How do you not follow me! It’s so obvious! Lillian likes Lance. Lance likes Lillian. They are involved,” he stressed, not understanding how JC could be so obtuse.

            The others turned to stare at him before laughing in his face.

            “Wow, Justin, are we talking about the same Lillian and Lance?” Chris snorted.

            “How is this funny?!” Justin asked, exasperated with them all.

            “Trust us, those two are not together, and they will never be together. At least not as anything more than simple friends,” Joey supported. All of them, except for Justin, knew that Lillian had feelings for only one blonde singer.

            “But they just went into the bedroom together. Alone! Am I the only one who’s noticing this?”

            “Why does it matter if they are together, which, may I add, they are definitely not,” JC inquired.

            Justin paused to think about that. Why does it matter?  




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