~ Chapter 1 ~
Zac sat in a room in the studio doing the Algebra work his mom had just assigned him.
A piano was being played in the next room and Ike and Tay's voices floated through the walls.
He sighed. He was the only one of Hanson that was still "in school."
Oh sure, he had four younger siblings that had to do schooling too. But while his two older brothers got to work on songs, he was stuck in here, doing boring Algebra.
He used to love doing schoolwork, especially math. But that was before Ike and Tay "graduated." Even when Ike was done, he still had Tay there.
And what made things even worse, he was only a junior (by high school standards). He was nowhere near graduating. He wanted to spend all this time, doing music with his brothers, not doing schoolwork by himself.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Diana came into the room to see her son once again staring off into space, instead of doing his schoolwork. She knew it wasn't because he was lazy, he was just lonely.
He wants to be with his brothers, she thought.
But he also needs to be around kids his own age.
"Zac," she said.
"Zac," she repeated.
He shook his head and looked up at her.
"Oh hey mom."
"Are you done with your work yet?"
He looked down at his half finished Algebra problems, and sighed,"No."
Diana thought for a minute, then replied,"How about you finish them later. Your mind isn't on Algebra anyway."
Zac grinned. He stood up and hugged her,"Thanks mom."
Then he ran into the next room to join his brothers.
Someone Ch. 2
The next day, while Zac, Tay, and Ike were taking a break from working on their documentary, Diana and Walker came in.
"Zac, we need to talk to you," Walker said.
Uh-oh, Zac thought. It's probably about me spacing out when I do my schoolwork.
He braced himself for a lecture, and possibly a punishment.
"For quite awhile now, you just haven't been concentrating on your work your father and I assign you," Diana started.
Zac glanced over to see Tay and Ike exchange looks.
"Your mother and I have talked this over and have agreed that the reason you're not concentrating is because you're alone and need to be around other students in a high school environment," Walker continued," Since everything is mostly done and you guys are taking a break before touring, we've decided to send you to a regular high school."
A tumble of emotions surged through Zac. He didn't want to leave his family, but on the other hand, he'd always wanted to go to a real high school and now seemed a good of time as any.
"Which high school will I be going to?" he asked after a minute.
"We figured we'd let you choose," Diana replied.
"Wait a minute, he can go to school anywhere? Like with our fans that will mob him?" Tay interjected.
"The school would keep everything under control," Walker said calmly.
"What about if he chooses a school in another state? He'll be there by himself," Ike said, starting to get upset.
"We've thought about that and decided that you, Tay, or both of you could go with him. And if neither of you want to go, your father or I will," Diana replied.
Zac had been quiet, listening to this conversation and seeing his brothers getting upset. Was it jealousy that he got to do this and they never did? Or was it that if they didn't go with him they would truly miss him? He didn't know. But what he did know was that he couldn't wait to start a REAL high school.
"How long do I have to choose?" he asked, breaking into what had become an argument between his parents and brothers.
"Well we were hoping you'd find one within a week so it'll give us some time to find you a place to live, and so you don't miss too much of the school year. We want to have you settled in and in school by around your birthday," Diana told her son.
His birthday was only three weeks away.
"Um, ok. I'll start looking for a school right away. I'm gonna search online," he said getting up.
Diana smiled,"Ok, let us know if you need any help."
"I will." Then he walked out of the room to go find the laptop.
~ Chapter 3 ~
"Which school?.....So many," Zac mumbled to himself an hour later, still searching online.
He wanted to go somewhere that not a lot of Hanson's fans would be. So it had to be in a small town or just so it wasn't in a big city. But he did want a few fans there.
"Decisions, decisions," Tay commented, coming into the room where Zac was.
"I never realized how hard it was to choose a school," Zac replied.
"You need any help?"
"Nah. At least not right now."
"Well considering I'm going with you, I think I should get a say in where you go."
"You're coming?" Zac was surprised.
"Yep. I can't have you running off without me little bro."
"Is Ike coming?"
Tay shrugged,"I have no idea."
They sat in silence for a couple minutes. Zac continued searching for a school, while Tay watched the computer screen.
"Who knows, maybe you'll find a decent fan that you can talk to," Tay pondered out loud.
Zac chuckled,"Maybe. But I doubt it."
"Remember though, they have rabies."
And they both busted up laughing.
That had always been a joke that Hanson shared. Because their fans were so crazy.
Then they drew back into silence again....
"We should come up with a new nickname for our fans," Zac commented suddenly.
"Yeah," Tay replied thoughtfully,"We've been calling them 'The Scream Squad' for so long.....All three of us will have to get together and brainstorm."
"Brainstorm for what?" Ike questioned, coming into the room.
"For a new nickname for our fans. 'The Scream Squad' is getting old," Tay said.
"That's not a bad idea actually," Ike said.
"They'll probably go all crazy when we announce a new name for them," Zac commented and laughed.
"I wouldn't be surprised; we have some crazy fans after all," Ike grinned.
Then they drifted into their own thoughts; while Zac continued searching.
~ Chapter 4~
They had finished eating dinner about a half hour ago and Zac still hadn't found a school.
All three Hanson brothers were in the living room that separated their hotel rooms. Zac was getting frustrated.
Ike and Tay were reading some letters from their fans.
"Hey guys," Tay said,"Listen to this one. It's different from most of the letters."
Ike and Zac gave Tay their full attention.
"Dear Ike, Tay, Zac," it began,"How have you guys been doing? Since I know I most likely won't get an answer, I hope you are all well.
I have written five letters to Tay before, but never to all three of you. And I hope Tay never read those letters. I am so embarrassed by them! I was all like,"I love you!"
I have changed a lot since then. And you guys have been the main influence on that change.
I have loved you guys since March 30, 1997. I think your songs are awesome and I hope you'll continue to make such great music.
You have influenced me to follow my dream of becoming a singer. I have started singing in front of people (I was too shy before) and I have learned how to play the piano/keyboards and drums. And recently I've started learning guitar.
I've written a bunch of songs that people say are really good.
You have also urged me to take a look at myself and think about what I truly want in life.
You guys are such a big part of my life and your music has helped me in so many ways. When I feel down, I just listen to your songs and they tell me that everything will be okay. Also, I've been going through some difficult times and your music has been helping me get through it.
I hope someday I can meet you guys and tell you in person how much you and your music means to me. But for now, this letter will have to do.
If you guys ever want to talk to one of your fans that isn't psychotic, feel free to e-mail me: ITZPoisonIvy@hanson.net
Well, I'd better end. This letter has become longer than I intended it to be.
Thanks for your music! Rock on!
"Wow. That left me speechless," Ike commented after an awed silence.
"Did you say she has hanson.net?" Zac asked suddenly.
Tay looked back in the letter,"Uh...yeah. Why?"
Zac grinned mischievously, "Then I may have found which school I'm going to."
"Huh? What are you talking about? You don't know what school she goes to," Ike said, confused.
"That's why I asked if she had hanson.net," Zac explained, as if he were talking to a child,"Let's just say she's gonna be getting an instant message from an anonymous guy. Well anonymous, at least for now."
"Oh," Ike said, getting what Zac was implying,"That letter must have made quite an impression on you if it persuaded your decision of what school to go to."
"Oh, it definitely did," Zac replied, typing in Jade's screen name to see if she was online.
~ Chapter 5 ~
As it turned out, Jade wasn't online and Zac even surfed the net for a half hour to wait for her to get on. She never did, so Zac ended up e-mailing her from his one screen name that he used when he didn't want people to know who he was.
Zac sighed, disappointed, then signed off so Ike could get on.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Two hours after Zac surrendered the laptop to Ike, Jade signed on. She clicked on her mail.
An e-mail from a site she subscribed to, her Tay-A-Day and Hanson-A-Day pix,
"I'll download those later," she mumbled to herself.
The last e-mail was from a screen name she didn't recognize: WackyDude@hanson.net
'I found your e-mail online while searching' was the subject.
She clicked on it, a short message came up:
Yo. Wazzup? I was searching through hanson.net screen names and yours looked interesting. So I checked your profile. In it you said you're from Pennsylvania, I'll be visiting there soon. I was wondering what school you go to and what grade are you in? Maybe we could get together sometime.
Later. - WackyDude
She thought a minute and decided this guy was for real, so she wrote back:
Hey. Thanks for the e-mail. I'm glad you think my screen name is interesting. It took me awhile to come up with it.
I go to GJCTC (Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center) I'm a junior.
Yeah, that'd be cool to get together sometime.
Ttyl. ~ Jade
"Jade," her mother called from downstairs,"We're leaving in five minutes."
She clicked send, signed off, grabbed her purse, and ran downstairs.
~ Chapter 6 ~
Zac jumped up and ran to find his parents. He had just read Jade's e-mail and had decided what school he was going to.
He found his mom and dad in their hotel room. When he ran into the room, they looked up, startled. Diana had been writing a letter and Walker had been going over the beginning of the tour plans.
"Zachary! What on earth?!" Diana exclaimed.
"I just found what school I'm going to," he said excitedly.
"Alright, calm down and tell us where," Walker replied.
~ * ~ * ~ A half hour later after Zac explained what school he wanted to go to and they had found a phone number for it, his parents called and made arrangements for Zac to start there October 21st.
GJCTC, they found out, was a special kind of high school where you take a shop besides taking academic classes.
They made arrangements for him to make his schedule on October 14th.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Later that day, Zac got back online. He had some 'work' to do. He wanted to know what Jade's schedule was and he knew he could find it in the school's database. He was very good with breaking codes and even though he knew he shouldn't have, he went into the school's system and finally found her schedule:
1st-3rd periods: Commercial Art
7th: Honors English
8th: Algebra 2
"What is that?" Tay asked right behind Zac.
Zac jumped a foot in the air,"Why'd you sneak up on me?!"
Tay was laughing so hard he couldn't answer right away.
"I...just...couldn't...resist," he finally got out.
Zac gave Tay a look, then turned back to the laptop. "It's Jade's schedule, if you must know," he replied, pretending to be mad.
"Awe, my little bro is infatuated with a girl he doesn't know," Tay teased. Then he caught sight of the words 'Commercial Art' on the schedule,"Hmm, she must like to draw. Seems like her and I have something in common."
"She's too young for you."
"How do you know?"
"Well, let's see...she's only a junior in high school - which makes her 16 or 17 - and you're 19. She's a minor and you're an adult."
"Yes. But if she's at least 16 - which as you said, she most likely is - she can date someone up to four years older than her. And since the age 19 is only three years older, she'd be able to go out with me," Tay grinned.
By this time Zac was furious,"Why do you always have to take the few girls I like that might actually like me?!"
"If I do recall correctly, she said in her letter that she had written a bunch of letters TO ME before."
"So what? That doesn't mean anything. (pause) Besides, now that you're married, she's most likely given up on you,"
Zac replied triumphantly.
"Zac you know very well that next year Natalie and I will be getting divorced and I will be single again."
"NEXT YEAR. Those are the keywords. She might not like you as much by then."
"Every girl likes me little bro."
"Would you two quit fighting? I've been listening to this stupid conversation outside the door and you two need to grow up," Ike scolded, coming into the room.
"Well, tell that to Tay. He's the one who started it," Zac replied angrily.
"I can't help it that all the girls like me better than you," Tay replied just as angry.
"Stop it!" Ike yelled,"There are plenty of girls out there.....Tay you may be divorcing Natalie next year, but that's awhile away. You shouldn't be thinking about all the other girls, until then. (Zac gave Tay a triumphant look) And Zac, you need to stop letting Tay get the best of you. (pause) Now can we all just get along?"
"Fine," Tay and Zac said at the same time and glared at each other.
Ike sighed, exasperated,"Oh help."
~ Chapter 7 ~
"Hey little bro," Tay said coming into the room,"Can I talk to you?"
It was a couple hours later and Zac was still mad at Tay from the fight before. "Sure," he said shortly,"Make it quick. I don't want to talk to someone who is a backstabber."
Tay sighed as he sat down in the chair next to Zac. "Look Zac, I'm...sorry. I...just am jealous, I guess. I want to be free to like a girl without thinking that it could be cheating on...my wife," he got out the last two words with difficulty. He ran a hand through his short blondish, brownish hair and continued,"I wish I could have the freedom with girls that you and Ike do. It may not seem like a big deal but when you don't have that freedom anymore, its like the most important thing. I guess I was just taking my anger out about it on you. Cause I know you can date who you want, and I'm stuck with...her," he finished bitterly.
Zac gave a sigh of surrender,"It's alright Tay. I guess that would be a horrible situation to be in."
Tay grinned,"Thanks little bro. I knew you'd understand."
Zac grinned back,"Just don't do that again!"
Tay laughed,"I won't."
"Mom and Dad said to tell you two that we'll be leaving for Pennsylvania in five days, so start packing,"Ike said, coming into the room.
Tay and Zac both looked up,"Ok."
"Don't tell me you guys are still fighting."
"Nope," they said at the same time.
"Stop doing that!"
"Doing what?" Tay and Zac asked innocently.
"Talking at the same time!" Ike replied exasperated.
Zac got up and walked over to Ike and patted his arm,"You need to calm down big bro. Take a chill pill."
"You should be thankful that we're just picking on you and not having a battle," Tay said laughing.
Ike ran a hand through his short blond hair,"Yeah. But it's still annoying."
"Boy Ike, we just can't please you today," Zac teased.
"Nope," he laughed. (pause) "I'm leaving. Make sure you two start packing," he said, exiting the room.
"Worrywart," Zac mumbled.
~ Chapter 8 ~
Zac, Tay, Ike, and Walker arrived in Pennsylvania about a week later. They had made reservations at Days Inn until Zac, Tay, and Ike could find a place to stay. Walker had accompanied his three oldest sons to help them to make arrangements. Then once they were all settled, he would leave them in the care of their bodyguard, Luke (you can't be too careful) and return to his wife and four other kids.
The day for Zac to make his schedule came. Walker accompanied him, while Tay and Ike decided to take advantage of the unusual break and lounge around their hotel room. They agreed to meet for lunch, then search for a place to live.
Three days later they had found a house to rent and the next day they "moved in." It was furnished. It had three bedrooms, so they each got their own room, which was a luxury. Zac had the weekend and then he would start a real high school.
He lay in bed that night wondering how people would react to him going there. He knew that the students had been told earlier that week that he would start GJCTC the following Monday, but still...
He propped his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. But for some reason, sleep just wouldn't come.
He thought of Jade. He had never e-mailed her back in all that time. He supposed though that she would forgive him when she found out that she was the reason he was going to the same high school as her. He smiled to himself and drifted off to sleep, with thoughts of this girl that he didn't even know, in his head.
~ Chapter 9 ~
Jade checked her e-mail for the last time that weekend, hoping to get an e-mail from that guy. But he never replied. She sighed as she climbed into bed. School tomorrow. And it was also Zac Hanson's 17th birthday. She gave a rueful grin as memories floated behind her closed eyes. Memories of Zac when he was an 11 year old ball of energy. It seemed so long ago. But it was really only five short years. He had grown up into a hot guy. He had lost some of his wackiness, but he was still Zac.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Zac's alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. He groaned, fumbling to shut it off. Then he fell back to sleep.
Fifteen minutes later, Taylor came into the room dressed in his boxers and a T-shirt.
"Zac," he said still half asleep,"Get up."
Tay ambled over to Zac's bed trying to wake up, and gently shook his brother.
Zac groaned,"Go away."
"Come on, you have to get up. You need to take a shower and it's already 5:47."
Zac slowly stumbled out of his nice warm bed. He made his way past Tay, out into the hall, and into the bathroom.
By the time he came downstairs all clean and dressed for school, it was 6:20.
Tay was sitting at the table, eating some cereal. He had gotten dressed while Zac was in the shower, and was now sporting a pair of baggy jeans (that he hadn't worn for a long time) and a blue long-sleeved shirt. "Morning sleepyhead," he said, looking up as Zac came in.
"Morning," Zac half mumbled. He pulled a bowl, spoon, and glass from the cupboard and sat down. He pulled the cereal box over and poured some into the bowl. Then he grabbed the orange juice and poured a glassful.
The two brothers ate in silence. Munching away at their breakfast.
At 7:10 they climbed into Tay's car and made their way to Zac's new school.
They went to the office to meet with the principal. Zac got his schedule and said goodbye to Tay.
"See ya at 2:30 little bro."
~ Chapter 10 ~
Jade had just exited her school bus and was waiting for her best friend, Liliana. Her bus had pulled in a minute after Jade's.
Liliana speed walked up to Jade and gave her friend a bear hug.
"Whoa! What was that for?!" Jade exclaimed with a grin, caught off guard.
"Since I can't give your Zaccie a big hug for his birthday today, I'm giving it to you. After all, if you could you'd find him and surgically join yourself to him by the hip," she teased, referring to her best friend's huge crush on the youngest of the three Hanson brothers.
Jade laughed,"Uh, thanks. I think."
They had just calmed down when Liliana spotted a car that was parked by the school. She could tell someone was in it, for even though the windows were tinted, she could see the outline of, what she guessed was a guy by how tall he seemed to be, in the driver's seat. He seemed to be watching them.
"Don't look now,"she whispered,"but I think we're being watched."
Jade followed the direction Liliana's eyes were looking in, and indeed someone was watching them.
The first bell rang, making the two girls start and rush inside so they wouldn't be late.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Taylor, after going back to his car, was just about ready to pull out of his parking space when he noticed two girls lingering outside. He had watched as previously the one girl had ran up to the other and hugged her. The other girl was obviously surprised, by the expression on her face.
He had rolled down his window a crack to hear their conversation. the girl had said that a guy named Zac had his birthday today and concluded that it was his own brother they were referring to.
"Two of our fans," he mumbled to himself with a grin.
He heard the girl that had hugged the other say 'Jade'. He wondered if this was the infamous Jade Zac had come to this school for.
He decided it was. He never did find out the other girl's name, but was intrigued with her all the same. She was different. He could tell by the way she carried herself that she wasn't exactly popular, but was an individual. Both girls, he concluded, didn't care what people thought of them. The one called Jade was dressed in a punk/goth style with her baggy black jeans and a black short-sleeved shirt with some sort of picture on it.
The other girl was more to his liking though. She was dressed in sort of baggy jeans with laces up the sides of the legs to the knees. Her shirt was a crumple blue shirt. She was not skinny, but certainly not fat. The jeans rode just below her belly button, obviously a bit too big for her, but she wore no belt. And the shirt just fell short of the waistline of the jeans. So he could see a bit of her stomach. She had a little to her, no big deal. though he never dated any girl but a skinny one, he didn't care. She was pretty, although you could see sometimes her smiled faltered when no one was looking.
Then he heard the bell ring and the two girls dashed inside. He sighed. He'd definitely be spending time here. He was allowed to keep check with his younger brother if he wanted, or so he and Ike had been told by the principal. At the time, he had no desire. Not really anyway. But now he had a change of heart. Tomorrow though.
He pulled out and drove home.
~ Chapter 11 ~
Jade and Liliana walked into their first period class, Commercial Art. They both had exactly the same schedule. Liliana was ahead of Jade and gasped when she saw who was talking to their teacher.
"What?" Jade asked. Her friend had stopped, blocking the doorway.
Liliana felt Jade give her a push and she continued walking into the room.
When Jade saw why her friend had gasped earlier, she nearly fainted. "I'm hallucinating," she mumbled to herself.
Liliana, who had recovered, laughed,"Well then that makes two of us. But I think our vision is quite clear."
Liliana grinned,"Yeah, I must admit he has a nice butt."
Jade shook her head,"No! I meant...it can't be. That can't be who I think it is."
"Oh, but I do think it is."
Liliana had put her things on her desk and her book bag below it. "Would you quit staring?" she whispered,"You don't want him to think you're a crazed fan. And would you close your mouth?!"
Jade manually closed her mouth because she couldn't do it otherwise. Her best friend had sat down, and Jade felt stupid standing, so she sat too. Students began to file into the room, with two minutes to go until the late bell rang.
~ * ~ * ~
Zac had very well heard the conversation between the two girls. But he acted as if he hadn't.
'I think I've found Jade,' he thought to himself and smiled.
When the bell rang the teacher told him to take a seat and they would talk later. His seat, as it happened to be, was in the back of the room. Where Jade and her friend's seats also were.
All through Commercial Art, which was three periods long, he stared at Jade. She was quite different than what he thought she would be like, but he liked that.
he had, of course, arranged his schedule to be the same as Jade's. He had influence.
When the bell to end third period rang, he gathered up his things and walked slowly, waiting inconspicuously for Jade and her friend, Liliana to catch up.
When they were beside him in the hallway, he turned to them and asked where his next class was, showing them his schedule. They both seemed shocked at first, and Liliana visibly bumped Jade back to this realm for her to answer him.
As it turned out, they were all headed to the same class, to the two girls' surprise. So Zac walked along with them.
By lunch, they had started talking and he had gotten to know these two girls. They offered for him to sit with them in the cafeteria, since he had no place to sit. He gratefully accepted. Jade went to get in the lunch line. Liliana had packed her lunch and, at Zac's request, accompanied him to the vending machines so he could get his lunch.
She wrinkled her nose,"Junk food for lunch?"
"Yeah. What's wrong with that?"
She half smiled,"Nothing I guess. I have to admit it's better than what the school serves. I'm just watching what I've been eating lately. Trying to lose some of this fat." She patted her stomach for effect.
Zac grinned,"You don't need to lose weight... But whatever floats your boat."
Liliana blushed. Her lunch consisted of a ham sandwich, diet mountain dew, and a granola bar.
"Is that all you're eating?"
"Yep. My body doesn't need as much food as before. Just gotta eat the right things. I've already lost ten pounds, so I know it's working."
Zac gazed surprised at her,"But don't you ever crave regular food? like junk food?"
She shrugged,"yeah, sometimes. But You have to not give in. I still have ice cream once in awhile. It's just, I used to eat A LOT. I was bored. But now I find things to occupy my time."
"I must admit, that's some willpower you got."
He looked down at his own midsection,"I should lose a few pounds."
"Zac you're fine just the way you are."
"I could say the same about you."
She blushed again. 'A lot like Tay,' he thought.
"You can pull it off Zac. You're...hot. Me, I don't have a choice."
He started to say something, but stopped when Jade approached.
For the rest of the lunch period, Liliana only nibbled on her food and hardly said anything. Not like the outgoing person she is. He figured her weight was a touchy subject and it showed her low self-esteem.
The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch and they all went to their next class together.
~ Chapter 12 ~
Tay saw Zac walk out of school that afternoon with the same two girls he had been interested in that morning. He climbed out of his car and attempted to walk casually towards Zac.
Zac grinned,"Hey bro."
Tay grinned back,"Hey. How was school?"
Zac shrugged,"Good. Definitely different from homeschooling."
The girl Tay had been thinking of that morning said quietly,"We better be going Zac. Our buses will leave without us."
Although it seemed to Tay, she really didn't want to leave. He noticed she kept sneaking looks at him. He laughed inwardly. 'She must like me,' he thought.
"Well, if you girls would like, I'd be more than happy to take you home. That way you guys can talk more," he offered.
Jade and Liliana glanced at each other.
"Well..." Jade began,"we live a half hour from each other."
Tay shrugged,"Doesn't matter."
"My mom will wonder where I am and I'll be in trouble," Liliana said hesitatingly.
Just then, the buses started pulling out.
"I guess you guys really don't have a choice now," Zac observed.
They started walking to Tay's car. "You two can use my cellphone to call your parents," Tay offered.
When they had let their parents know where they were and that they would be home later, they settled into their seats as Tay drove towards the Hanson brothers' house. They would hang there awhile, then Tay would drive them home.
Liliana sat up front in the passenger seat, while Zac and Jade sat in the back talking quietly. Liliana saw that she had lost her friend for the moment and probably wouldn't gain her back until she was away from Zac. She sighed inwardly and stared out the window. Surprisingly, they were driving through Windber, where she happened to live. A couple minutes later they pull up to a nice looking house. They all climbed out of the car and started walking toward the door. Tay jangled his keys in his hand. He unlocked the door and held it open for Liliana. Zac and Jade were still by the car talking.
"Hey you two," Tay called.
They looked up.
"Are you coming or what?"
"We thought we'd take a walk," Zac replied.
Tay frowned a sec, not sure if it was such a good idea. Liliana saw the look on Tay's face. "They'll be alright... There really isn't many Hanson fans around here. In fact, I don't know of any besides myself in Windber," Liliana said to him.
"Oh, alright," he said to Zac,"but don't be out too long."
Zac bowed,"Yes master." Then he and Jade started strolling down the sidewalk.
Liliana was smiling when Tay turned around.
"That's the first smile I've seen on your face since I met you," Tay grinned.
Tay led the way into the living room and sat down on the couch. He patted next to him,"Have a seat."
She hesitated, then sat.
He's a married man...he's a married man...
It kept repeating in Liliana's head.
Which made her sad. She really liked him. Oh, ok, she loved him. With the whole of her entire being and would do anything for him, but she wasn't about to let him know that. He'd probably think she was crazy anyway.
"I guess we're stuck with each other," she commented.
Tay donned a hurt expression,"Stuck? Am I that bad?" Then he grinned.
She laughed,"...No. Quite the contrary. I just figured you wouldn't want to hang out with a sixteen year old girl."
"Why would you think that?"
She shrugged,"I don't know...It's...just..."
"Well, it's just, you're married. Why would you want to hang out with someone you know nothing about when you could be with your wife?"
Tay sighed,"Cause I would like to be friends with you. My wife is not what I revolve around. (he saw her looking...) And no, she's not here. She's back in Oklahoma."
Liliana was quite surprised. For obvious reasons.
There were so many things Liliana wanted to ask about Tay's marriage, but dared not ask. She didn't want to be on bad terms with him.
Tay saw she was having an inner struggle and guessed she was dying to ask things about his marriage, but figured she wasn't about to.
'At least she respects my privacy'
He drew a deep breath,"Yes, Natalie is pregnant and a lot of those rumors you've heard are true. Such as, what I was doing the night before my wedding. And yes, I'm divorcing her after a year."
She stared at him in surprise. It was like he had read her mind.
"And if you tell ANYONE I told you any of this, you'll have me to deal with and I can get mean on rare occasions such as if you betray my trust," he finished, but she could tell he was sort of joking on that last part.
"Don't worry, I'd never betray your trust," she almost whispered.
~ Chapter 13 ~
After a silence, Tay and Liliana started talking and found out they had a lot in common. They both loved music. Liliana wanted to learn the keyboards and drums but didn't have the money for lessons or even to get an instrument.
"Well, I could teach you. If you're interested in writing songs, it'd be best to learn the keyboards," Tay offered.
"I couldn't take up your time. I'm sure it'd take awhile," Liliana replied reluctantly.
Tay smiled,"Hey, I don't have anything to do. I'm on a break. And I find there isn't much to do in this town. (Liliana laughed) I'd like to teach you."
"Exactly how often would you teach me?"
Tay thought a minute,"Well, it'd be best if it'd be every day, or at least every other day."
Liliana opened her mouth to protest to something else, but Tay quickly answered,"I can pick you up form school and then take you home when we're done."
Liliana looked at him in amazement,"How'd you know that's what I was gonna say?"
"I can read your mind," he grinned.
"Yeah...uh huh," she looked at him skeptically.
"So what do ya say?" 'yes,' he was hoping
"Well...I would like to learn...and you'd be a perfect teacher, considering you do it for a living..."
Tay looked at her expectantly.
"I guess so," she smiled.
Tay broke into a grin,"Great."
"So...when do we start?"
"Do you feel up to it now?"
She laughed,"Why not?"
He stood up,"My keyboard's upstairs in the extra room, come on."
She got up and followed him.
Liliana couldn't believe it! She'd be spending a lot of time with him and he actually wanted to teach her! Her life was definitely getting better.
"He's a married man," something told her.
"Shut up. It's just music lessons," she replied silently.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Zac and Jade had started walking around town after Tay gave them his "permission." Zac knew his brother was just looking out for him. Tay didn't want to see him in a predicament such as a mob of fans. He was grateful to Liliana for persuading Tay to let him and Jade walk by themselves. He wanted to spend some time outside of school with Jade.
"I take it Liliana lives around here, considering she knew it was safe for me to walk around without Luke."
"Yeah she lives actually pretty close to where you guys do....Who's Luke?"
"Oh. Cool. Where is he anyway?"
Zac shrugged,"Probably at his apartment. He insisted on getting his own place while we're here."
Jade laughed,"He probably gets enough of you guys. That's why he didn't want to live in the same house as you."
Zac grinned,"I think that might be the reason. But I also think it's because he's 29 and the oldest of us only 21. He probably wants to hang with people around his own age."
"That could be too."
"...Exactly how close does Liliana live from here?"
"Uh...well I don't even know this place that well, but you go back up past you guys house until you hit a side street somewhere, turn down it, travel until you hit the highway, not sure how far that is, and then drive until you come to a street and turn onto it and she lives right by the entrance to it. It's the only street extending from the right side of the higway. I don't know how long it takes to get there from your house," she explained.
"It doesn't sound too far."
"Yeah, I don't think it is," she smiled.
"Tay will be very happy to know she lives so close."
"Because I can tell he likes her."
"And how do ya know that?"
"Trust me. He wouldn't hang out with a girl as long as this, unless he liked her. Plus I saw the way he was looking at her when she wasn't paying attention."
"I'm glad to hear that. Maybe she'll be happy again," Jade replied wistfully.
"Again? Wasn't she happy before?"
"No. She had never been completely happy. At least not after September 1996, when her grandma died."
"Oh. I know what itz like to lose your grandma."
Jade smiled,"I know. I read about it."
"Yeah, that's right. We did say about her."
"...You know, something else made her even unhappier later on?"
"Well....when Tay got married she drew into herself. Wouldn't talk to anyone. Even shut me, her best friend, out. She was so hurt. She truly loves him Zac. She cried all the time. In fact, when she met Tay today, it was the first time I'd seen her smile, genuinely anyway, since before she heard about Tay and Natalie."
"Oh wow. I had no idea."
"No one but me does. And I know no one else will ever find out...Except you."
"Tay would want to know Liliana truly loves him."
"NO! He can't find out unless Liliana herself tells him."
"Because she doesn't want him to think she's just obsessed or something. That would hurt her even worse. Please Zac...don't say anything to Tay."
"I promise," Zac was concerned,"But he should know."
Jade sighed,"I know."
"Tay wouldn't think she's crazy, obsessed, or whatever."
"HE CAN'T FIND OUT."
Zac sighed too,"Ok. My mouth is shut."
Jade smiled,"Thank you."
Zac shrugged,"No prob."
They walked in silence for a couple minutes, each in their own thoughts, then Zac spoke.
"So, if Tay is Liliana's favorite out of us, who's yours?" Zac grinned slyly.
"UH...no comment," Jade looked away before he could she the smile that was coming to her lips.
"It's Ike. The older guy. All girls like guys that are like twice their age."
"He is not twice my age! He's only 6 years older than me! And not even that actually."
"So are you saying you like him? " Zac teased.
"Uh....I like him as a friend, but not like a boyfriend."
"Then it's me!" Zac jumped up and down,"I knew it!"
Jade could feel the redness creeping up in her cheeks,"So what if you are?"
"What is it you like about me the most? Let's see...my hot body. my powerful muscles."
Jade grinned sheepishly,"that's part of it." Then her voice got soft,"But I love your smile and your eyes. I love how you could always make me laugh when I was down when I watched you on tv. I love how amazing your voice is and how caring and how sweet you are."
Zac could only stare in embarrassment and...love,"Wow....I think you like me more than you were letting on."
Jade stared into his eyes,"You have no idea how much."
~ Chapter 14 ~
When Zac and Jade got back to the house an hour and a half later, they heard someone tentatively playing the keyboard.
"Tay is teaching Liliana to play," Zac said matter-of-factly.
"How do you know?" Jade asked curiously, although she had guessed that much also.
"Well, taking into consideration that Tay likes Liliana, so he'd want to spend a lot of time with her, and teaching her to play the keyboards would be time consuming, but itz innocent in the viewpoint that he's not cheating on Natalie. Plus Ike can play better than that, and of course Tay is an awesome keyboardist, that's the only conclusion," Zac grinned.
Jade laughed,"Interesting and true."
They walked into the living room to find Ike sitting in a chair writing in his notebook. He looked up when they came in,"Hey Zac, I wondered where you got to."
"Just taking a walk....this is Jade."
Ike smiled,"Hey Jade. Nice to meet you."
She smiled back,"Hey. Likewise."
Zac and Jade sat down on the couch.
"How long have they been up there?" Zac asked his older brother.
Ike shrugged,"I got home about forty-five minutes ago and they were at it then... I'm guessing she's your friend," he directed the last part to Jade.
"Yep. Her name's Liliana."
"She hates it," Jade laughed,"but I love it."
While they were talking, the keyboards had stopped and Tay and Liliana came downstairs.
When Tay saw that Jade and Zac were back, he grinned,"Good. I'm glad you two are here. We were getting ready to go find you guys to take Jade and Liliana home."
"Yeah," Liliana confirmed,"It's getting late."
They all said bye to Ike and climbed in the car (the seating arrangements were as before). They dropped Liliana off first, much to Tay's unhappiness, then drove and left Jade at her house.
Zac jumped in the front passenger seat after Jade got out,"So, did ya get her digits?"
Tay was deep in thought,"Huh? What are you talking about?"
Zac grinned,"You know exactly what I mean. You got it bad for Liliana. Did you get her number?"
Tay, who was hoping Zac wouldn't have figured out that he liked Liliana, grinned,"If you must know, yes."
"I knew it!" Zac said triumphantly.
"How about you?"
They drove in silence for a couple minutes, then Zac asked,"Do you think she'll wait for you?"
"If you're not getting divorced until next year, all you and Liliana can be is friends right now. Do you think she'll wait that long?"
Tay got a sad expression on his face,"I honestly don't know. I hope so. I'll tell ya something Zac. I've only known her for less than a day, but I think I...."
"love her," Zac finished.
Tay nodded, then sighed,"yeah."
"I know how ya feel. I think I might love Jade."
Tay gave Zac a surpised look,"A girl actually managed to capture the untameable Zac's heart? She must be pretty special."
"She definitely is."
~ Chapter 15 ~
Two weeks went by and Jade and Liliana became very good friends with Ike, Tay, and Zac. It started snowing one night and by morning it was freezing.
Liliana's alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. She fumbled around to shut it off, then dove back under her nice warm covers. She knew she should get up. She had to go to school and her mother would be furious if she skipped. "I'll just sleep for a half hour more," she mumbled to herself and fell back asleep.
Fifteen minutes later the phone ringing interrupted her 'half hour more'
Her phone was across her room beside the computer. It looked so far away. Slowly, she got up, wrapped her comforter around her and dashed across the cold floor. She snatched the receiver off the cradle on the seventh ring and dashed back to her bed as she answered,"Hello?"
"Hey Liliana," Tay's sweet voice said,"I was just about to hang up."
Liliana was fully awake by now. Waking up to Taylor's voice was what she'd always dreamed of. Oh, ok, so he wasn't there with her, but still....it was awesome anyway.
"Hey Tay! Sorry it took so long. I was...." she trailed off cause she didn't want him to think she was lazy.
"Sleeping," he finished for her and laughed,"I'm still not used to being able to sleep in much. I'm used to getting up early. Otherwise I'd still be asleep too."
Liliana relaxed a bit,"It's just so cold and I didn't want to get out of my nice warm bed."
Tay snickered,"I know what ya mean. I've been up for a half hour and I'm just now starting to get warm."
"Oh thanks for the reassurance that I'll get warm quick," she laughed.
"No problem.....Actually, the cold is sort of why I called."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Well, I figured since it's so cold out and I know you'd have to wait for awhile out at your bus stop, that you might like a ride to school."
"Oh yes I would!" she said as soon as the offer got out of his mouth.
Tay laughed,"Ok! I'll pick you up in about a half hour? I thought we could get some cappuccinos or something before I took you to school."
"That sounds great. I'll see ya then."
As soon as Liliana hung up, she scrambled out of bed and rummaged around in her closet for something to wear. She decided on her flare jeans with the jewels around the waist and legs, a white long-sleeved shirt, and over that, her short-sleeved tye-dye shirt. She hurriedly got dressed and did her make-up and hair. By that time it was 6:25. She gathered her books and put them in her bookbag and went downstairs. As soon as she got into the living room, someone knocked on the door. She set her bookbag on the couch and went to open the door.
There stood Tay. His cheeks were all flushed from the brief time outside. He had on a blue and black winter coat. The only other clothing you could see were another pair of his baggy jeans that he hadn't worn for so long. He grinned when she opened the door,"Hey."
She smiled,"Hey. Come in, it's freezing out there." She opened the door wide enough for him to step inside, then hurriedly shut it against the winter wind,"I just have to get my coat and shoes on."
Tay sat down on the couch and Liliana sat next to him to put her shoes on.
As she was tying her laces, Tay said,"When Zac started high school here, Ike and I were told by the principal that we were allowed to go with him. We could sit in his classes and watch. We, of course, never actually intended to. But I'm gonna start today."
Liliana was surprised,"Why start now? It's been over two weeks."
Tay shrugged,"I suppose it's partly because Zac seems to enjoy it so much. I want to see why a real high school is better for him than homeschooling. I also want to see what I missed since I didn't go to a regular high school." Plus I want to be with you more, he added silently.
Liliana laughed,"Trust me, you're not missing much."
Tay grinned,"Well, I'd like to judge for myself."
Liliana smiled,"Whatever floats your boat."
By this time, they were sitting in Tay's car. He turned the key in the ignition and the car came to life.
"So when are you coming to school with Zac?"
"Oh. Did you inform the principal?"
"Yep. Did it Friday when I picked you, Zac, and Jade up from school. I came a little early."
"Oh. Cool....Where is Zac anyway?"
"He bought a car for himself. He got sick of me taking him everywhere. Plus I'm pretty sure he wanted to spend more time alone with Jade. He called her to see if she wanted a ride to school."
They pulled into Sheetz and got their cappuccinos. Then they drove onto Vo-Tech.
Liliana was so happy Tay was 'going to school' too. She'd get to see him even more. And him being there would make her look forward to school instead of dreading it.
~ Chapter 16 ~
Jade and Zac made a mad dash for Zac's car through the storm that had blown up while Zac was in Jade's house. Zac fumbled for his keys while Jade stood shivering at the front passenger door.
"Aha!" Zac exclaimed, jamming the car key into the lock. He quickly pressed the unlock button and both of them jumped in the car and slammed their doors. Zac blasted the heat. Jade was still shivering. She didn't have gloves on. He took her hands into his. They were ice cold, even from the brief time outside. He rubbed his hands over hers in a vain attempt to get them warm. Eventually the car started to get warm and Jade wasn't as cold.
Zac drove slowly to school with the roads getting even worse.
"Look how bad the highway is already," Jade mumbled.
"I know," Zac replied,"I can barely see the road."
It only takes about fifteen minutes to drive from Windber to Vo-Tech, but that morning it took Zac a half hour to get to school. They had seven minutes to spare as Zac parked the car. The got out and ran for the entrance.
Once inside, they slowed down a bit and walked to Commercial Art.
They found Tay and Liliana talking back by Liliana's desk. They looked up when Zac and Jade walked up to them.
"Hey," Jade said, taking off her coat and stashing it in her bookbag.
"Hey," Tay and Liliana said at the same time, then looked at each other and laughed.
"Hey! When I'm makin' my movie baby. You keep sayin' all my lines," Zac said, dancing in front of his desk.
Jade, Liliana, and Tay cracked up at this.
Zac grinned,"I couldn't help it."
"That's something Liliana does," Jade said after she had calmed down.
"Quote our lyrics? Really Liliana?" Zac gave her a stern look, with a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"Me? What are you talking about Jade?" LIliana replied in all innocence.
"Yeah. You." Jade was trying not to laugh.
"Couldn't be," Tay put in.
"Then who?" Zac completed the rhyme and all four of them started laughing again.
It was a wonder they were all in such good moods considering the weather outside.
They talked until the bell rang to END homeroom and for Commercial Art to began and even then they continued talking.
~ Chapter 17 ~
Their last class of the day was gym. Liliana hated gym cause she sucked at sports. Now Tay was there and she really hated gym.
Hers was co-ed gym and Jade and Liliana were in the girl's locker room with the other girls in their gym class. The two best friends had just finished changing and Jade was braiding Liliana's long hair so it wouldn't be in her face for gym class.
"Is that tight enough?" Jade asked, halfway through with the braid.
"Uh huh," Liliana replied distantly.
Jade knew something was bothering her friend, she tried again,"I wish Zac hadn't cut his hair. I'd love to braid it into little braids the way he used to have his hair."
"Yeah, that'd be interesting," Liliana said still staring off into space.
Jade had one more idea,"Tay told Zac he wants to have sex with you."
"That's cool." (3, 2,1 Jade counted in her head) Suddenly Liliana spun around to face Jade, it finally dawning on her what her friend had just said,"HE said what?!"
Jade started laughing,"I knew that'd get ya." Liliana glared at her. "Well, sorry girl. But you were totally spacing out on me. I had to get you off of Mars."
Liliana sighed,"Sorry. I'm just preoccupied."
"I noticed. What were you thinking about?"
"Tay. I suck at gym and now he gets to see how retarded I am at sports. And he's an awesome athlete. Itz not fair. I'm gonna make an ass out of myself in front of the guy I love."
"I felt the same way when I found out Zac was in our gym class."
"But you're a great athlete. You had nothing to worry about.....and when Zac came I was thinking that too. Only I just didn't want to make an idiot out of myself in front of him. He's a decent guy. Those are hard to find. Plus we've all become friends."
Jade sighed,"I know. But if Tay is truly your friend, it shouldn't matter if you're good or bad at sports. Plus you're not as bad as you think. Zac said you're pretty good. Especially at basketball. And all three Hanson brothers have the same mind set mainly, so I doubt Tay's gonna care."
"I hope so."
Then they followed the rest of the girls down to the gym where Zac and Tay stood with the guys.
"Hey you two. Guess what? Tay talked Mr. Harrigan ands Ms. Tinnick into letting him play gym when he's here," Zac told Jade and Liliana as they walked up to him and his brother.
"That's awesome," Liliana said, trying to sound enthusiastic.
"What are we playing today anyway?" Jade asked.
"We're starting volleyball. Just partnering up and practicing serving and stuff," Tay answered.
"Awesome! I love volleyball!" Jade and Zac went over to grab a ball and spaced themsleves from Tay and Liliana so no one would get hit on the head with a volleyball.
As Tay went to get a ball Liliana thought,'Great. The sport I suck at the most. And Tay gets to see.'
Tay came back over throwing the ball between his hands. "I haven't played volleyball since in 2000 when we were at the beach and we had time between the record and surfing."
"Jade and I play it sometimes. She has a volleyball net in her backyard. That's the only time I like playing it," Liliana said glumly.
"It seems you don't like it much, why?"
"Cause I suck at it. I suck at any sport really. I do like sports though. But only when Jade and I play, cause she knows I'm not that good and she knows it's just fun. No winning or losing."
"I really don't care about winning or losing. It's the fun you have playing."
"I wish everyone in this gym class felt that way," Liliana sighed.
Tay put an arm around her,"Don't let what people think get you down. Be yourself and have fun doing things. A lot of people are just stupid."
"I know. I just can't help it." She saw the gym teachers eying her and Tay cause they were just standing there. "We'd better practice. We're getting looks from the teachers."
"So? I don't like to flaunt it, but I do have influence. Trust me, you won't get in trouble."
"Thanks," she gave a weak smile.
They did serve the ball back and forth a couple times. Before they knew it, it was time to go back up to the locker rooms.
"I"ll meet you at the end of the hall," Tay said.
"Ok. See ya in a couple minutes."
~ Chapter 18 ~
Jade and Liliana parted ways at Tay and Zac's cars.
Once in his car Tay said,"You know, if you want I could teach you to be better at serving in volleyball. You're just not hitting the ball right. That's why it only goes halfway to the net."
"I take up enough of your time Taylor."
"You don't take up my time. I enjoy being with you. So quit making it sound like I'm forced to spend time with you."
Tay drove in silence to his house.
'I probably just made him mad,' Liliana thought. She was on the verge of crying. But she held her tears in. She didn't want Tay to think she was a cry baby. The truth was, it hurt to be with him. Cause a voice in her head kept saying 'he's a married man'
"You should just take me home Tay," her voice cracked and a tear slid down her cheek. She hurriedly wiped it away before he could see and looked out the window.
Liliana sighed. She didn't know how she'd hold in her tears for two hours. Two more tears slid out of her eyes. She quickly wiped them away.
Tay had been watching her out of the corner of his eye. He saw tears falling down her cheeks. He pulled up to his house. Ike and Zac's cars were nowhere in sight.
They got out of the car. Liliana tried desperately to stop crying. But she just couldn't.
Tay grabbed her hand and slid his fingers between hers. She looked at him in surprise.
He opened the door with his free hand. He led her upstairs. But instead of going in the room where his keyboard was, he led her into his bedroom.
He sat on his bed and pulled her down next to him. He still held her hand.
Liliana didn't like this. She had never been in his room and she was just fine with that. She sat tentatively on the edge of his bed. But he pulled her toward him and put his arm around her and stared straight into her eyes.
"Now," he said,"tell me why you've been crying."
"I can't. You'd just laugh." She tried to look away from those beautiful blue eyes.
"No I wouldn't. I want to know what's wrong. Don't push me away. I know you do that to most people. Even Jade. Please let me be here for you," his crystal eyes were filled with concern.
"You wouldn't believe me."
"Give me a chance."
"I...I love you," her eyes looked downward. She didn't want to see what he thought. She knew what his reaction would be. And that made her start crying again.
Tay put his finger under her chin and made her look in his eyes,"I love you too."
Liliana stared at him in disbelief.
~ Chapter 19 ~
Liliana thought he was just saying that to make her feel better but she knew he didn't lie. She knew he was telling the truth when she looked into his eyes and saw they were filled with sincerity and love.
She tore her eyes away from him,"It doesn't matter even if you really do...love me. Nothing can come of it."
"Why not?" he held her tighter, like he was afraid she was gonna try to get away.
"You're," her voice caught,"you're...married. And as much as I don't like Natalie I don't want you to cheat on her. If you'd cheat on her, then how do I know that once we'd be together for real, and if you found another girl, that you wouldn't cheat on me? I wouldn't be able to go through the only guy...I'll...I'll ever...love cheat on me," another tear slid down her cheek. He wiped it away,"Because what I feel for you is love. For Natalie it was only lust. All this time. I could never truly love her. The way I love you. I promise you, Liliana, that if you'd go along with this, I would NEVER cheat on you. Some people just know when they've found their soul mate. And I'm one of them. And it's YOU. I could never hurt you. Although I'm sure that you've cried a lot of tears for me already."
"Every night," she tried to keep her voice from cracking. She looked up at him and it looked like some one had just slapped him. The look of pain on his face was more than she could bear,"I...I didn't mean to hurt you Taylor. I was just...confirming what you had said. I could never hurt you on purpose."
He caressed her cheek with his thumb,"I didn't realize....Tell me...how much I hurt you. By marrying Natalie and whatever else I've done to cause you pain."
"No way. I'm not putting you on a guilt trip or making you hurt even more than I just did."
"Please. I need to know. So I know how much I need to let you know how much I love you."
"Just love me Taylor. In fact, you've already taken some of the pain away with letting me know that you do love me. A lot of the pain I've felt was when I thought you'd never even want to just be my friend. Then that you'd never love me."
"But I need to know how much I've hurt you. What you've been feeling. Please. Let me know how much pain you're going through cause of me. So I can make all of it go away. So I can make up to you all I've already done to you."
Liliana started to protest again, but Tay silenced her with putting his index finger to her lips,"Please."
She sighed,"Oh, alright. If that's what you really want (Tay nodded). But I don't want to hurt you. And I know you're gonna be hurt."
"Don't let anything out. Make the pain as vivid as you can."
She gave him a pleading look, but he "stood his ground". She leaned against him; she'd need his support through this. He pulled her as close as he possibly could, then she began.
~ Chapter 20 ~
"I don't know how start, so I'll just say what I can think of," she felt him squeeze her. "The pain...is indescribable. I suppose it was the worst when I heard that you got married," she paused," no...actually it was the first time I saw one of the wedding pictures. Something squeezed at my heart and it hasn't let go since."
"Why didn't it really hurt that much before the pictures?" he asked quietly.
She was going to start crying again, she could feel the tears welling up behind her eyes now. She drew a deep breath,"I suppose it's because before I saw the pictures I could pretend it wasn't real. Like it was all some type of a joke or something. I mean deep down I knew it was for real, but as long as I didn't see pictures I could pretend it was a nightmare or something."
"Oh," his voice was already full of pain," continue." He rubbed his thumb back and forth across the palm of her right hand.
"I"m hurting you."
"Go on," his voice was stern, but not in a mean way.
She sighed,"Once I saw more and more pictures and especially when YOU announced it. That was when all the real pain began. I figured that was it. Any chance with you was over. The feeling was awful. A feeling of hopelessness, emptiness. It was all starting to scare me. I had had a tough life before all this and that just about pushed me over the edge. I...I tried countless times to...commit suicide. (she felt him tense) I carved designs on my arms. Ironicly it was the Hanson symbol and your name. Each carving would start bleeding cause I cut so deep. I...still...have the scars from it all."
He picked up her left arm and turned it over towards the inside and there were many scars healed to what she had said,"You were gonna die with my looking at my name," he whispered.
"And I had pictures of you around me too," she said almost inaudible.
He was silent. Studying the designs, gently running his finger over them. Tracing his name, the symbol.
Two tears fell form her eyes. The tears she had been trying to keep back finally broke free,"You probably think I'm crazy. I wouldn't be surprised if you hated me now."
He turned her toward him,"NO! Don't you ever say that again! You were in a lot of pain. You couldn't take it. But DON'T you EVER try that again! I can't lose you! I love you."
"Until forever is through," she whispered, more to herself than him. It made her cry even more,"I can never be with you Taylor."
"Because you deserve way better than me. Plus you'll never divorce Natalie....I can't picture you divorced anyway. You have a child on the way. Once you hold him or her in your arms it won't matter if you do love me and you don't love her. You'll stay with her for the sake of that baby. And you SHOULD. That baby will need to grow up in a real family. I know what itz like to grow up with a family that wasn't normal, wasn't complete. YOu CAN'T do that to your baby. It'll need BOTH itz parents there. I only hope that child grows up to look and be like you. And not her." She yanked out of the shelter of his arms and ran downstairs. Zac had just come in the door after taking Jade home.
'Why are you crying?" he asked concerned.
"Can...can you take me home?"
"UH...sure. Come on."
Tay had been frozen to his bed until he heard a car start. He jumped up and ran to his window. He saw Zac pulling out with Liliana in the front passenger seat.
Zac pulled up to Lilana's house,"Here we are," he said quietly.
Liliana had calmed down a little,"Thanks Zac. Thanks for bringing me home and not asking any questions."
He gave her a hug,"No problem. I'm here to talk though. If you ever need to."
She pulled away,"I'll keep that in mind. Thanks again." Then she climbed out of the car, went into her house and upstairs, locked herself in her room and cried herself to sleep.
~ Chapter 21 ~
On the way back home, Zac grabbed his cell phone off the dashboard of his car and dailed Jade's number.
She answered on the third ring,"Hello?"
"Hey Jade. It's Zac."
"Oh hey! What's up?"
"Uh, Jade. I just took Liliana home. She was crying, but I didn't want to pry. I figured she might need her best friend to talk to."
"I'll call her right away! I wonder what's wrong."
"I have no idea. But she was really upset. It must have to do with Tay, considering she just didn't get a ride home from him."
Jade sighed,"Yeah. Lately itz been Tay when she cries. But it was before she met him."
"Well, I'm just pulling into our driveway. I'm going to have a little talk with Tay. Maybe I can find out what's wrong.
Although he can be stubborn when he wants to be."
"Yeah. That's exactly like Liliana too. I'll talk to ya later Zac."
"Ok. Bye Jade."
Zac hung up and speed walked into the house. Most likely Tay would be in his room. And that's exactly where Zac found him; standing at the window staring out it.
"Alright, why was Liliana crying and got me to take her home instead of you?"
"It's none of your business Zac," Tay replied quietly, half lost in thought.
"She's my friend you know. And I'm the one who just took her home. What was it all about?"
Tay walked over and sat on his bed in a sort of daze. "It all happened so fast. One minute she was right here, the next she was running downstairs. It felt like I was glued to the spot. I couldn't move to catch her. What she said made sense, but it hurts. She may not have wanted to hurt me, but she did. A lot,"he had been staring at the bed, but right then he looked up,"And I deserve it. God knows I deserve it."
Zac sat down on Tay's desk chair, exasperated,"What are you talking about? Tay, you're not making any sense."
"It's a real...situation her and I are in. But I will figure a way out. A way that her and I can be together. Zac, she cares about my unborn child. A child whose mother she hates. I saw in her eyes love, for a child that's not hers, that's not born. And I love her all the more for it. She's THE GIRL I'm supposed to be with. Not Natalie."
"I could've told you that bro."
"I had to learn it for myself......I don't know what I'm gonna do, but I'll tell you one thing Zac. I REFUSE to give my soul mate up. I refuse to let the girl I truly love slip away from me."
Zac, for once in his life, was speechless.
~ Chapter 22 ~
Jade tried for a half hour to get hold of Liliana after she said goodbye to Zac. No one answered. She started to get worried. Liliana had tried killing herself before, but never succeeded at more than bleeding from cuts. Jade knew it was because deep down Liliana didn't truely want to die, but now Jade wasn't so sure.
She pressed the button for the dial tone for the thirtieth time, then dialed Hanson's home phone number.
Zac picked up on the fifth ring,"hello?"
"Zac! It's Jade."
"Oh hey. Did you get hold of Liliana?"
"That's why I'm calling! I've been trying and trying, but there's no answer. I'm afraid she...hurt herself."
Tay had picked up the extension to listen in when Zac said it was Jade. He knew she was gonna talk to Liliana. When Jade said Liliana might have hurt herself, he had a pretty good idea of how bad Lilana might have hurt herself. He slammed the phone back down on the cradle, grabbed his coat, and headed for the door.
"Tay! Where are you going?!"
Tay glanced back,"To Liliana's. I think she might have..." he trailed off.
"Might have what?!"
But Tay walked out the door. He couldn't bear to think, let alone say, what Liliana might have done.
He was a good driver, but that night all he cared about was getting to see that Liliana was alright. Something grabbed at his heart. If she.......did what he thought she did, he would die himself.
Five minutes later he pulled up to her house. He ran up to her porch..and then it occurred to him that he didn't have a key to get in and obviously her mother wasn't home. He tried the door anyway and found it to be unlocked and open a crack.
"She must have been really upset..to not even close the door," he muttered to himself.
He let himself in and ran upstairs. He stopped at her door and found THAT was locked.
He knocked on the door for a full minute with no answer.
~ Chapter 23 ~
The door flew open, scaring the hell out of Tay. And there stood Liliana, sleep rumpled, but living and breathing. He couldn't contain himself. He picked up her up and swung her around in the hall.
Liliana, still trying to get fully awake, was surprised to see Tay there. She didn't know whether to be happy or sad. She could never be with him. And it hurt. She hung onto his neck though, until he put her down. She had a smile on her face depsite herself.
"Oh thank God you're alright!" he said, still holding onto her waist,"I thought you...killed yourself."
"I was sleeping."
"And crying," he observed from her tear-stained cheeks.
"Yeah, I was."
He led her into her bedroom and they sat on the bed. Tay took both her hands in his,"Liliana, I PROMISE I will figure this out. We WILL be together."
"I'm sure you've heard some rumors about the baby too."
"I....I heard it might not even be yours."
Tay sighed,"Yes. It's a possiblity."
"Would...would you be happy if it wasn't yours?"
"Yes..and no. I would love to have a child and be a father...but I'm still young. Would you prefer if it wasn't mine?" he looked into her eyes.
"I don't know. It would make things a lot easier if it wasn't, but....I know you'd be a good father."
There was a silence. Tay was trying to weigh something in his mind. To decide if......,"Liliana, would you believe and trust me if I promised you I'd NEVER cheat on you if we went out?"
She looked down,"I...don't know. I'd want to and, yes, most likely I would trust and believe you. (she looked up then) I love you Taylor. I wouldn't have any other choice."
He squeezed her hand, "Well then, would you....go along with what I'm about to ask?"
She sighed,"I know what you're gonna say and as much as I think it's wrong, yes, I would go along with it. But please Taylor (she said pleading) DON'T hurt me. I wouldn't be able to take it. Now I'm not trying to confine you to a relationship or anything, but if you find someone else, let me go first."
He pulled her to him,"I'll never find anyone else. you're the one I'm supposed to be with. And I'll never let go."
"Be careful what you promise Taylor. after all, look at the vows you made to Natalie and you're breaking them."
"I didn't mean those vows when I said them....but if it would have been you beside me that day, I would've meant them with everything I am."
A tear trickled out of Liliana's eye. A tear of happiness.
~ Chapter 24 ~
When Jade and Zac didn't get a call back from Tay or Liliana, they imagined Tay's fear. They ran to Liliana's house. no one was there. So they drove to to Zac's house.
Jade almost fainted from relief when she saw her best friend sitting on the couch across from Ike. Jade ran over and gave Liliana a bone-crushing hug,"I thought you hurt yourself!"
Liliana gently disentangled herself from Jade's arms,"I"m fine. I was just sleeping. I was just tired from all the tears I shed this afternoon."
Everyone turned to look at Ike.
"Don't ever think a situation is so bad that nothing can be done to save how bad you feel. Tay felt hopeless when he found out Natalie was pregnant and he had to marry her. But he didn't give up."
Liliana was surprised,"He...he didn't want to marry Natalie?"
"Damn right I didn't," Tay said coming into the room,"I was too young to get married in my opinion. I might have liked Natalie enough to go out with her, but I certainly do not love her. In fact, I can hardly stand her now. She was so sweet at first until she had me where I couldn't leave her." he sat down on the couch next to Liliana.
"Sounds like your one poem Liliana that you wrote with Tay in mind," Jade spoke up leaning against Zac by the window.
"What poem?" Tay asked.
"Oh, just a poem I wrote about the situation from things I've heard," Liliana replied.
"I'd like to see it."
"It's on her online diary," Jade volunteered.
"Jade, be quiet!"
"You have an online diary?"
He got up and started pulling her towards the stairs,"You're going to show me."
Liliana glanced back at Jade and said,"You're gonna pay for this!"
Jade laughed,"I know I will, somehow."
~ Chapter 25 ~
Tay lead her up to his bedroom for the second time that day. He sat her down at his desk and opened his laptop.
"Now," he said,"Get online and show me the poem...You can go under my Hanson.net account." he typed in his password and waited while Liliana hesitatingly typed in the web address and signed into her diary. She searched until she found the entry where she had put three poems dated two weeks after the wedding.
She sighed she scrolled to the second of the three, which was the one Jade had been referring to.
"What's those other two?
"Just two other poems I wrote about the whole wedding thing."
"I want to read all three, scroll back up."
She did as he wanted,"I really wish Jade wouldn't have said anything. I didn't want you to see these. I think they're stupid anyway."
She scooted over so Tay could see the screen to read. He read them ou tloud, which made Liliana all the more uncomfortable:
~You Broke My Heart Today ~
You broke my heart today
You took my love and threw it away
You went to her instead of me
She made you blind so you couldn't see
What she was up to
Why she wanted you
I don't know what to do
How to help you
She unfolded a plan to force you to stay with her
This pain that I see in your eyes cannot be endured
You need to be free
To find your true love; me
I can't stop loving you, believe me, I've tried
For you, so many tears I have cried
I hope one day soon, you will see the light
Then our lives will finally be set right
Until then, I will wait for you
I hope you will find me and see just how much I luv you
My love for you is true
I hope you'll love me too
~ * ~ * ~
She's going to hurt you
I know it's true
She's going to cause you so much pain
Your tears will fall down like the rain
It hurts me so bad
To see you so sad
She's going to ruin your life
Starting the day you make her your wife
Why are you so blind to her plans
She's going to hurt you in every way she can
Then she's going to leave you alone
With no heart to call your own
But I'll be there for you when you fall
The one that has seen this all
I've known all her plans since the very first day
I've heard all the things she's had to say
Everyday I've wanted to tell you all this
That there's no love in her kiss
But I know you wouldn't believe me
I know you'd become so angry
Our friendship would end
And I can't bear to lose my best friend
So I'll stand by
I won't let you see me cry
Cause then you'll know something's not right
And I won't be able to make you see the light
My love for you is strong
It's been growing for so long
Just remember I'll be there when she tells you goodbye
Just remember I'll never make you cry
~ * ~ * ~
~If I Had The Choice ~
Sometimes we win
Sometimes we lose
Sometimes we choose
Our paths through life
Many people pass us by
Of all the things I've suffered and endured
I know I'd never go back and give up my love for him if I had the choice
And I wouldn't trade how I feel about him for anything
To truly love him is an honor and I will cherish it always
Even though he will never know
So even though my heart will never allow me to say goodbye to him
And right now I can't bring myself to move on
I know the way I feel about him will never be gone
~ * ~ * ~
"Wow," Tay said when he was done,"Those...are so awesome....Do....you mean what you said in the last one? That even if you had the choice to stop loving me and get rid of that pain that you wouldn't?" he had tears glistening in his beautiful blue eyes.
She smiled,"Yes Taylor. I mean every word. It's an honor to love you and that's something special in itself. I would never give that up."
~ Chapter 26 ~
Jade had a devilish smile on her face as Tay lead Liliana upstairs.
"I think you better just stay with me for awhile," Zac said.
"Because she's gonna kill you the first chance she gets. All she has to do is get you alone," Zac grinned mischieviously,"If you're here, in my room would be the best place, I can protect you."
"Uh...huh. That's all right, I think I'll take my chances. I'd do better against Liliana anyway, compared to you against you."
Ike snickered,"Jade, you don't know how right you are."
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
"I wouldn't stand a chance against you and your male...ambitions," Jade started laughing.
Zac just sat with a hurt expression on his face, then grinned,"You may be right...I wouldn't be able to contain myself alone with you in my room." he started coming after her.
Jade screamed and ran behind Ike's chair,"Help!"
Zac had a devilish smile on his face and Jade didn't like that. Zac dodged for her on one side of the chair and she ran around the other side. Ike just sat there watching this hilarious scene and laughed.
"A lot of help you are!" Jade said to him as she again avoided Zac.
"Sorry Jade," Ike said,"I'm not on Zac's side but I think you should learn how to handle him on your own."
Right then she tripped over the table leg and fell right into Zac. He put his arms around her, in a backwards sort of hug, which trapped Jade. "Let me go!" she said laughing.
Zac grinned,"Nope." the he sat down on the couch and pulled Jade down with him which forced her to sit in his lap. He let go her arms and grabbed her hands so she couldn't get away. She gave Ike a look.
"Sorry Jade, you have to get out of this yourself,"Ike laughed,"Zac won't go too hard on you though."
"You're not sitting in the position to know."
When Zac got the meaning of that he turned beat red,"I don't think Ike needed to know that."
Jade was laughing,"Couldn't resist. It IS true though. And uncomfortable. Let me up! I'm not THAT kind of girl. I intend to wait until I'm married!"
Ike groaned,"Oh geez Jade. You shouldn't know about that kind of stuff."
"I've known about it since I was like 11! Besides, I'm 17. That's old enough. And I swear," she said looking at Zac who was still preventing her from getting up,"If you attempt to try something with me.....I'll karate chop you."
"Hey! That's my line! I'll karate chop you for taking it!"
"I just borrowed it.....indefinitely," she grinned.
"That's it!" he started tickling her.
"AAHH!! Stop!" she got out between gasps. She tried to get out of his grasp but he was too strong,"Zac! I swear! When I get my breath back......!!!"
"Awe Zac, you swept her off her feet so hard that she lost her breath," Ike teased.
"Isaac!!!!!!! When I get my hands on you!!!!!"
"Well, that's not going to be for awhile, considering the position you're in," he snickered. He looked at his watch,"And I've got to be going." He got up and left.
"Isaac!!!!!! You're going to get it!!!" he heard her scream as he shut the front door. He laughed as he got in his car and drove away.
~ Chapter 27 ~
Isaac really didn't have any place to be, but he knew better than to stay when Jade got free.
It was hard also, both his brothers had someone to hang with, but he had no one. He drove around town, then got bored and drove to the mall. He really should've taken Luke, their bodyguard, but he just wanted to be by himself. He parked and walked into the mall. He wandered around, not familiar with the place he was in. He ended up in the book store and looked through the sci-fi section. He had started a sci-fi book back in 1997, but never finished it. He didn't even know what happened to it.
Across from the sci-fi books was the magazine racks. There were two girls standing there. The one was searching for something in particular, he could tell by the way she looked through each magazine. Intent on finding something. The other was looking absently at an Eminem magazine.
"I can't believe there's another article on that marriage," the first said, sort of annoyed,"that was like five months ago!"
The second shrugged,"So? I'm just amazed that loser group is still around."
The first sighed,"They're not losers! They're three awesome talented guys!"
"But why does every girl have to concentrate on Taylor? There ARE two other guys in that group."
"Oh, like you have room to talk. You were smitten with Taylor at first."
"Yeah. But that was at first. But then I saw that Ike and Zac made up the group too and I started to look at them. I'm just one of the lucky fans that realized Tay wasn't the only in that group."
"Yeah, then you had to be stupid and fall in love with the oldest. What's his name?....Oh, that's right..Ike."
"I can't control my feelings you know. You have no idea how much it hurts to love a guy that doesn't even know you exist. And even if he did, he would never believe that I really do love him."
"Uh, yeah...look, I have to go meet my friends that are actually smart enough to not like such a loser group. Bye."
The mean girl walked away leaving the other one there flipping through the pages of a magazine.
Ike decided to give it a chance. He walked up to her,"Hey."
She looked up from the magazine,"Uh, hi."
"I couldn't help overhearing your conversation with that girl."
"Oh, don't mind her. She's just caught up in wanting to be popular. I don't care about that. I'm myself and don't care what people think."
"That's a very good perspective." He knew she was starting to recognize him but couldn't figure exactly who he was yet. He still had his sunglasses on, hiding the last clue to his identity, besides his hair anyway, which was hidden by a hat.
He decided to risk it...,"I'm Ike." he said extending his hand to shake hers.
He saw recognition dawn in her eyes,"I'm Callie."
"So, Callie. I'm guessing you're a fan? Considering your earlier conversation."
"Uh, yeah. I'm a big fan."
"Well that's cool. It's always great to meet our fans."
She smiled,"And it's awesome to meet you. I always figured I'd meet you at a concert though."
"So you could scream when we met?"
She laughed,"At least I'd have a reason and wouldn't be the only one screaming. I very well can't do that here."
Ike laughed too,"That's why I'd rather meet the fans outside of a concert. They're a bit calmer."
"Just a bit."
"....So, would you like to go sit down and talk?"
"Sure! That'd be cool."
So they sat down on a bench and started to get to know each other. Although Ike had a disadvantage because Callie already knew so much about him and he knew next to nothing about her.
~ Chapter 28 ~
"Zac! Please! I....Really...can't...breathe..anymore!" Jade gasped. She felt like she was gonna faint from lack of oxygen.
Zac saw she was running out of energy to fight back, so he stopped.
She slumped against him, trying to get her strength back. After a minute she was feeling better. "Thanks for having sympathy when I was just about to pass out,"she joked, when she could speak again.
Zac grinned,"No problem."
She lightly punched him,"Stupid male."
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
"Just what I said," Jade sat up and smiled sweetly,"What would you have done if I would've passed out?"
"CPR,"Zac grinned devilishly,"It'd be a perfect reason to kiss you."
"CPR isn't kissing."
"So? Just my kiss would wake you up."
"I'm not Sleeping Beauty!" Jade laughed,"And you're certainly NOT a prince!"
"And how do you know I'm not?"
"A prince would dress better."
Zac gave a hurt expression,"Well thanks a lot....And you're right. You're not Sleeping Beauty. Cause princesses dress better than THAT."
"I like how I dress! I'm an individual."
"And I like how I dress. I'm a musician."
"Great. Now that we've concluded that we like how we dress and what we are, let's move on to more challenging subjects,"Jade joked.
Zac laughed,"Alright. Give me 'are you a good kisser?' for 200."
Jade blushed slightly,"I don't know. Not many guys have been in the position to tell me."
Zac leaned over and kissed her lightly on the lips,"I can't tell. Just let me...." Then he bent her over in a sort of dip and kissed her more deeply.
Jade was in shock.
Zac grinned,"That'd be a yes."
~ Chapter 29 ~
That night after Zac had taken Jade home and Tay had taken Liliana home and Ike and Callie had said goodbye at the mall after exchanging phone numbers and addresses, everyone was off in their own world.
Jade was curled up on her window seat staring out at the stars. The events of the past day were racing through her mind. She couldn't believe Zac had kissed her. She touched her fingertip to her lips; his kiss still burned there. She never thought Zac would actually like her. As much as she loved him she always figured she'd be lucky to even meet him.
Zac and her weren't even officially going out. It was amazing. She had been in a sort of daze the rest of the day. No one knew though. Unless Zac had told his brothers once he had got back home. She couldn't bear it any longer, she picked up the phone and dialed Liliana's number.
"Hello?" she picked up on the third ring.
"Zac kissed me!"
"Huh?! Are you for real?!"
"Yeah! He kissed me! The first time was just a light kiss and the second time was like a really deep kiss!"
"Oh my god! That is so awesome! So that's why you were in a daze earlier!"
"Yep. I'm still sort of in shock."
"I would be too."
"Hey can I ask ya something?"
"What's up with you and Tay? I mean you two seem like more than friends, but I know you well enough to know you'd probably be in a bigger daze than me if he would've kissed you."
"Uh...well....we're just really good friends. We're trying to sort stuff out."
"Sorry I really can't tell ya more. Itz all confusing for me. I wouldn't be able to explain it."
"It's ok. I hope it works out for you guys. I can just imagine how hard it must be with him being married and....it just must be awful."
Liliana sighed,"It is. We're...still trying to work through it....I..have to go. My mom needs the phone. I'll see ya tomorrow in school, k?"
"Ok. See ya."
Liliana hung up the phone and sat down on her bed. She started singing 'Never Let Go' from memory. It was how she felt about Tay.
He said he'd find a way for them to be together, but she had a feeling things just wouldn't work out. She pushed it aside. "Of course things will work out. Tay loves me and I love him. He doesn't even love Natalie. He's getting divorced next year and then we can truly be together," she said confidently.
Little did she know that the future held things that neither her or Tay could control.
~ Chapter 30 ~
The next day Zac officially asked Jade to be his girlfriend. She, of course, said yes.
Tay and Liliana were still working through their situation. They sat in "the music room" in Hanson's house. That's what they called the extra room because that's where all the instruments were.
They were sitting on the piano bench. Tay had come up with a new melody and was playing it to see what Liliana thought.
She watched Tay's fingers glide effortlessly over the keys. She didn't think she'd ever be that good.
He has such perfect hands, she thought. She remembered what it was like to have those hands hold hers.
She looked up at Tay. He was lost in his own world as he played. Liliana listened intently to what Taylor was playing. It was a slow melody. If words were put to it, it'd be a ballad.
He finished and turned to look at her,"So, what do you think?"
"It's awesome! You should definitely play it for Ike and Zac and write lyrics for it!"
Tay grinned,"I'm glad you like it. I'll have to get together with my brothers and work on it. Get the guitar riff worked in and the drums."
"Well Taylor. I've loved every song I've ever heard of you guys'," she laughed,"...You could probably put the guitar and drums to it yourself. You play all those instruments."
He snickered,"Yes, I know. But working with my brothers is awesome. And lately we don't talk that much cause of Natalie. So it's another way to spend time with them...Like before..."
"...I miss the old days too. When you guys weren't adults and Hanson was the best group. You couldn't turn on the radio without hearing Mmmbop. So much has changed," she sighed.
Tay put his arm around her,"I know what you mean. But some change IS good. Such as, if things never changed, Zac wouldn't have come here and neither would I. You and I would've never met and we wouldn't be sitting here right now. Change can be bad, but it can also be good. In this life, you have to take the bad with the good."
Liliana smiled,"I know.....You know Tay, you may have changed in looks but your heart is still the same."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I thought you changed personality-wise too. That Natalie had changed you. That you weren't the sweet old Taylor that you used to be before. But once I met you, I saw I was wrong. You still look for the good in things. You just got older."
Tay smiled,"Oh. Well, I'm glad you found that out."
She laughed,"Me too......you know, also by the way you guys had been acting last year since you got married, it seemed like you three didn't love your fans anymore."
"What?! We would never stop loving our fans!"
"I know. It just seemed like you guys didn't care about the fans anymore. I'm glad I was wrong about that too."
Tay sighed,"I suppose we haven't been showing our appreciation lately. With the new album we'll make it a point to show we still love our fans."
Liliana smiled,"Good....I was starting to feel unloved by you guys."
Tay laughed and gave her a hug,"Well you don't have to worry about that, especially with me."
~ Chapter 31 ~
Ike and Callie got together two days later. He picked her up and brought her back to his place. They sat down on the couch in the living room.
Ike knew they'd have the house to themselves until that night. Zac had taken Jade to the movies and then they were going to Rock 'n' Glow Bowling that night, which lasted until 3:00 in the morning.
Tay and Liliana went to the movies (a different one than Zac and Jade) then they were going for two sessions of ice skating, which lasted until midnight.
So there wouldn't be any interruptions for him and Callie.
"I can't believe you guys have been only twenty minutes from where I live since October and I didn't hear anything about it!"
Ike chuckled,"We've been keeping a low profile."
Callie grinned,"You definitely have....so where are Zac and Tay anyway? If you don't mind me asking, that is."
"They're out with their friends." Friends is a huge understatement, Ike thought.
"That's cool..." she looked around the room,"This is a nice house from what I can see."
"Yeah it is pretty cool. We liked it. But on short notice, we couldn't be too picky."
"Would you like to see the rest of it?"
"In through there is the kitchen. You can pretty much see it from here. We'll probably end up there later. If you're still here for lunch that is."
"It depends. Can you cook?"
Ike snickered,"Yep. I'll whip us something up later."
Callie smiled,"Works for me....oh, just for the record, I can cook too."
"Gotcha." He led her upstairs,"This is what we call the music room."
"Ooooh, I wonder why."
He showed her Tay, Zac, and his rooms then they went back downstairs.
"You are such a good tour guide," Callie teased.
"Why thank you," Ike bowed, causing Callie to laugh.
Ike's stomach growled. He looked at his watch,"It's 12:00. You ready to eat?"
"Yeah, I am a bit hungry."
Callie helped Ike make French toast and then she poured two glasses of milk. They sat down at the table and started munching away.
"It feels weird to eat french toast for lunch. On the rare occasions I actually make it, it's for breakfast," Callie commented after taking a drink of milk.
Ike grinned,"It's not weird for me. My brothers and I always eat foods at the wrong meal times. You hang around with us, you'll get in that habit too."
"Oh joy. I can be just like Hanson," Callie laughed.
"We're the best people to be like."
"Oh sure.....Well actually I do have to agree. I act like you guys sometimes without even realizing it. I creep my friends out. It's funny."
"You must watch our videos a lot to do that."
"Yep. And I'm proud. Need my daily dose of Hanson after all. Although now that I know one of them, I might not need to watch my tapes everyday. I can get my 'Hanson pointers' personally from you."
"I am here to teach you how to be a clone," Ike joked.
As they finished their lunch they talked about random things. Whatever popped into their heads. It was definitely an interesting day for Ike and Callie, who seemed like they were meant for each other. But looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to a certain type of fan. Ike had learned to look out for that type and a couple others, but he would've never guessed what Callie was really like. He would soon find out though.
~ Chapter 32 ~
A couple days later Liliana called 'the Hanson house." No one answered, which was weird. Tay had told her a while ago that if she couldn't get hold of them and it was because they had to go back to Oklahoma or go somewhere else suddenly, that he would leave her a note in the mailbox. So she speed-walked over to find the house deserted. Well, not completely. Tay's, Zac's, and Ike's cars were in the driveway, but the house was dark. She felt in the mailbox, and sure enough there was a note.
I'm sorry I had to leave without telling you. Natalie called saying that she hadn't been feeling too well, and I had recognized the symptoms from when my mom was pregnant with Avery, Mackie, and Zoe. Plus it's close to the day that Natalie is due. Only a week and a half away.
Ike, Zac, and I are flying back to Tulsa.
I PROMISE YOU I will be back. I won't ever leave you for good. But if this is my child, I can't not be there for its birth. I will see you soon.
Liliana started crying. She knew her feeling was right. Tay would come back, but when he did it would just be to get his stuff. He would hold that baby in his arms and know he could never leave Natalie. She slowly walked back to her house. When she got home she collapsed on her bed and cried herself to sleep, grasping the scrawled note from Tay.
~ Chapter 33 ~
Taylor sat in the hospital holding his infant son, Jordan Ezra Hanson. Natalie and Ezra would be able to go home the next day. As soon as Tay had got home Natalie had went into labor. She was rushed to the hospital where hours later she gave birth to a healthy bouncing baby boy.
Ezra curled his small hand around his father's index finger. Taylor was amazed that he and Natalie had created this small wonder in his arms. He thought Natalie had not looked anymore beautiful than she did as she gave birth to their son. As he held Ezra, he knew he wanted many more children. Ezra would be the eldest of many.
Ike walked over and watched Taylor rock his son. "Oh Taylor," he whispered,"What have you done to Liliana?"
Tay looked up,"What are you talking about?"
"You were just leading that poor girl on. Just a distraction until this baby was born."
Anger flashed in Taylor's eyes,"That's not true."
Ike sighed,"You just wanted to get your mind off that bitch. You have it backwards. It's lust with Liliana and love with Natalie. You led that innocent and soon to be heartbroken girl on. How could you? She doesn't deserve it."
Zac had been watching and listening,"Ike's right Tay. I see how you look at Natalie now that Ezra is born. It's different. And you're going to just dump Liliana in the mud because you needed a fling."
"You two are lucky I'm holding Ezra or I'd punch you."
"We're not afraid of you Taylor and you know it.," Zac replied quietly.
"Liliana was so emotionally fragile to begin with. This may very well kill her. Couldn't you have found a stonger girl to play your games with?" Ike said.
"If you had to play your sick games at all," Zac folded his arms across his chest.
"You two are mental. I'm not like that," Tay said trying to stay under control.
"Whatever Taylor," Zac said, disgusted. Then he and Ike walked away.
~ Chapter 34 ~
Ike and Zac wanted to get back to Windber. Zac wanted to see Jade. Ike wanted to see Callie. Both wanted to be there for Liliana. They knew that she had figured that Tay wasn't going to follow through with that promise he made in that note. They wanted to comfort her. Jade wouldn't be able to do it on her own.
Unfortunately their parents insisted they stay awhile to visit with Natalie and their new nephew. Even Zac's constant reminder that he had to get back to school didn't help. They just phoned the school and that was that. He didn't need to return for as long as necessary.
Zac sat in his and Ike's room, his shoulders slumped. He had the laptop on his outstretched crossed legs and was propped up against the headboard of his bed. He signed online hoping to catch Jade or Liliana. He was never on at the same time as either of them. But luck was on his side that time. Jade signed on a minute after he did.
"Jade," he typed,"How are you?"
"I'm fine. I miss you though," came the immediate response.
"I miss you too. I'm sorry I had to leave so suddenly. I e-mailed you the first chance I got to let you know where I went."
"I know. When are you coming back?"
"We just got plane tickets today. We're flying back in three days."
"Good. Is Taylor coming with you and Ike?"
"Cause I know what he did to Liliana. She guessed it first. I think she always knew this was going to happen. I want to give him a piece of my mind."
"Ike and I already talked to him. We're giving him the cold shoulder."
"Good. I used to think Tay was so sweet. I just can't believe him!"
"How is Liliana taking it?"
"Not good. She is in terrible shape. She won't go to school. Everytime I go to visit her, she is just staring off into space. When she actually talks, which is very rare, it's just to cry for Taylor or to say her life is almost done. And her mom says she hasn't eaten since the day she found that note. Her mom doesn't know why she's like this and I'm not about to tell her. She wouldn't understand. Liliana tried before to make her believe but she didn't. So we both gave up."
"That was three weeks ago though! She hasn't moved since then?"
"Nope. I'm worried Zac. She's gonna die. I mean, just from not eating alone she's had to lose AT LEAST thirty pounds by now. It's really noticeable."
Just then Ike came in,"Who are you talking to?"
Zac stopped typing and looked up,"Jade. Come here. Read this."
Ike turned the laptop towards him and read the whole converation,"Oh God. I'm going to tell Mom and Dad we have to get back sooner." Then he ran downstairs.
"Ike just read our convo," Zac typed,"he's going to persuade our parents for us to come back sooner."
"Good. I need you here Zac. I don't know what to do."
"It's alright baby. I'll be there as soon as I can."
"I hope so. Maybe you or Ike can talk some sense into Liliana. I don't want to lose her. She's my best friend!"
"I know, baby, I know. Just hold on for a little longer."
There was silence on Jade's end. No message came through for several minutes. Then,"I just thought of something. If Tay has a son now, he isn't going to stay in Pennsylvania, is he? He's just gonna come and get his stuff!"
Zac typed slowly,"I'm afraid so. He's coming back to Tulsa to be with his wife and son."
"That bastard! How could he do this to Liliana?! She is such a sweet girl that has been through so much! She doesn't deserve any of this!"
Zac sighed,"I agree. I am so angry at him. So is Ike. That's another reason we're coming back. To help her and you through this. You're probably sick with worry."
Ike came back,"We're leaving in four hours. Get your stuff together." Then he started throwing some clothes into his duffle bag.
"I got to go. We're leaving soon. I'll see you. Hang in there."
"Ok. Bye Zac."
Then he signed off and started grabbing clothes and throwing them into his backpack.
~ Chapter 35 ~
When Zac and his brothers arrived back in Pennsylvania, they hurried back to their house. Zac and Ike just wanted to get to Liliana. Jade was there. She let them in. They walked into Liliana's room. All the life had gone out of her. Or so it seemed. Her beautiful brown eyes were empty but yet full of pain at the same time. Her usually rosy cheeks were so pale. Her lips, that had once been in a smile, were white and held an unreadable expression. Ike kneeled beside her bed and took her hand. "Liliana," he whispered,"It's Ike."
Liliana's eyes, that had been staring into space, flickered recognition as she look at his face. Her lips turned up into a weak smile,"Ike. I'm glad to see you."
Jade, Ike, and Zac all sighed with relief. She wasn't totally lost.
Ike grinned and rubbed his thumb back and forth across the back of her right hand.
Zac hadn't been able to speak past the lump of joy in his throat. But then he croaked out as he came around to stand by Ike,"Liliana. I'm here too."
Liliana's eyes moved to Zac's face and once again her lips made an attempt at a smile,"Zac. Wow. I feel so loved. I have my three best friends all here."
Zac grinned,"I'm sorry we didn't come sooner."
"We wanted to come back a long time ago, but our parents wouldn't let us," Ike added.
"It's alright. I'm just glad that you cared enough to even think about coming back," then her expression turned solemn,"Tay's..not here, is he?"
Ike, Jade, and Zac exchanged glances.
"No Liliana. He 's not," Ike answered.
"He's getting his stuff, then he'll go back to Tulsa," she said, not as a question, but as a statement.
"Yes," Zac whispered.
Just then someone knocked on the door. "I'll be back," Jade said, then made her way downstairs.
There was silence, then Zac burst out, "Why did you have to love him? Why not Ike or me?"
She looked at Zac with what looked like amusement in her eyes,"Because I had to be an idiot and fall in Love with Tay."
"You're not an idiot for falling in love with me,"said a masculine voice in the doorway.
Liliana shifted to look at Taylor. Her eyes glanced at him, then she moved back to face Ike and Zac. She said nothing but looked at peace.
Tay walked over to stand beside his brothers.
"Don't you think you've done enough damage already?" Zac asked, not moving so Tay could be closer to Liliana.
"Zac, don't," Liliana said softly, then she looked at the man she was doomed to love,"Why are you here Taylor? Go home. Back to your wife and son and leave me in peace for my remaining days."
Tay pushed Zac and Ike out of the way,"No! I love you! I said I'd come back for you and that's what I'm doing!"
Tears shimmered in Liliana's eyes,"I've layed here for three weeks trying to forget you. I asked God to give me the power to forgive you. I've accepted we could never be. I even told you from the beginning that we would never work. I know you want many more children. And you'll never leave Natalie. And like I said before, you can't leave her and your son. I will never love anyone but you Taylor. But we're not meant to be. Go home and forget me." Then she looked at Ike and Zac but she still talked to Tay,"I love your brothers you know. Not like I love you, but I feel so close to them. They and Jade will be here for me. Even though I know I'm a huge burden."
"You are not!" Jade protested through the tears she had been crying.
Liliana smiled,"Yes I am. But you guys are here all the same. I couldn't ask for more. I was so concentrated on what I had lost, the only guy I'll ever love. That I didn't realize all that I'm blessed with."
"You didn't lose me," Tay whispered.
"No, I didn't," she agreed,"Cause I never had you to begin with." She looked into his eyes and saw pain,"Why are you sad Taylor? You have a great life. You've got everything you need."
"But I don't have you."
Liliana laughed quietly,"You're doing the same thing I do. Saying song lyrics. That's a very good song. And itz quite true in some parts for me. I take things for granted."
"I want to be with you."
"No, you just don't want to hurt me. And that's very sweet of you. But you hurt me long before you even knew me. Besides, what would people say if you divorced Natalie? A lot of rumors are already going around about you, don't need anymore."
"I don't care about what other people think or say!" he said standing up suddenly," I love you and I swear to God we will be together!" Then he stormed out of her room.
Liliana sighed and looked at Ike and Zac. The next words she said hurt her,"Don't let him near me again if you can help it."
"Alright," Zac whispered,"he'll never see you again."
~ Chapter 36 ~
Tay drove to his, Zac, and Ike's Pennsylvania home. He stormed inside. He was hurting so bad and he couldn't believe what Liliana had said. She looked so different. Not awful. She could never look anything but beautiful to him. But she had shadows under her eyes and the sparkle that was her, was gone. He would find a way to prove to her and to everyone else who doubted him, that he did love Liliana and they would be together. He didn't love Natalie. He knew what he was feeling. Sure, she had given him his first child, if it was his that is. But he didn't love her. He had been tricked into that marriage. And he regretted ever meeting that bitch that had cost him his real soul mate.
~ * ~
Zac and Ike didn't want to leave Liliana, but she insisted they couldn't stay there all the time. After she promised to eat something, they gave in and left. They would visit her early the next morning.
When they got home, Tay was sitting in his room staring into space. Although you could see the wheels turning in his head as he was thinking. "Did Jade leave?" he asked as he heard them walk in his room.
"Yes," Ike said.
Tay jumped up,"Good. I'm going to see Liliana then."
Ike and Zac blocked the doorway. "You're never to see her again," Zac said grimly.
Tay tried to shove past but his brothers wouldn't budge,"Says who?!"
"Liliana," Ike replied.
Tay seethed,"You're lying!"
"She gave us strict orders that you're never to have contact with her again. She doesn't want to see you," Zac threw back.
Tay's face went white and he stumbled back to his bed and sat down hard,"No. Why?"
Ike folded his arms,"Because you cause her too much pain."
Tay looked up at his brothers that were glaring at him,"I never meant to cause her pain. I...I love her. So much."
"Give it up Taylor. Go home to Natalie," Zac almost spit out the name, "Leave our friend alone. She needs to get over you."
"I'm divorcing Natalie," Tay said grimly.
"You won't," Ike said surely.
"I will! Damn it! I WILL NOT stay away from the girl I love! NO ONE will stop me!"
"Wrong again Taylor,"Ike said with death in his voice,"You will NEVER see her again."
Then Zac and Ike walked out of the room. They heard Taylor swear as they walked away.
~ Chapter 37 ~
Taylor had a plan. He'd wait until his brothers were asleep, then sneak out. He waited until one in the morning. He made his way downstairs quickly and quietly. What he hadn't been counting on was one of his brothers keeping watch in the living room.
"I suggest you turn around Taylor and go back upstairs and to sleep," Ike said grimly from the couch, where he was sprawled out.
"Damn," Tay muttered,"You ARE NOT my boss Isaac! I have a right to see the girl I love!"
Ike sat up,"Not when that certain girl wants nothing to do with you."
"But why?!" he ran a hand through his hair,"She told me she loved me and then she doesn't want to see me. It doesn't make sense!"
"She didn't tell us why Taylor, but I'd guess it's because you hurt her. She knew all along you two could never be."
Tay sighed,"I wouldn't ever hurt her on purpose. I love her. You have to believe me Isaac."
"I believe....that you have feelings for her that are strong, but it could all just be lust or something."
"It's not lust! I love her!"
"I don't know about that Taylor. But I do know you're not going to see her. So just go get some sleep."
Tay turned and went back upstairs, but he only slept for five hours. He set his alarm for 6:30. When it went off he had already been up. He dressed quietly and snuck out of the house.
When he got to Liliana's house, the front door was open. Her mom was just leaving.
"Hello Taylor," she smiled.
He smiled back,"Uh hey. I know it's early, but I came to see Liliana. If it's alright with you I mean."
"Go ahead. Just make sure you shut the door behind you," then she walked to her car and started it.
Taylor made his way into the house and up to Liliana's room. He stopped at her door and heard her crying. He slipped into the room and saw she had her face buried in a pillow. He walked over to her and pulled her into his arms. She didn't resist him, but instead held onto him like she was afraid he'd disappear. She cried for a few more minutes, then managed to say,"Everytime I cry I wish you'd just come and comfort me, and finally this time you're here."
He held her tight. Right then and there he vowed to himself that no matter what it took, they would be together. "I wish I could've been here all those other times," he said.
"I'm just glad you're here now. I need you more than ever."
"I need you too. More than I ever thought I would."
He let her cry until she had calmed down. Then as she leaned against him, he asked,"Liliana, why did tell Ike and Zac to never let me see you again?"
She looked up into his eyes and saw hurt from what she had done,"I figured it'd be easier. But I just can't live without you. And the pain is just too unbearable."
He pulled her close. "I know," he whispered,"I can't imagine not being with you."
She stiffened in his arms,"We won't be together Taylor. As much as it hurts, we will never be together."
"Yes we will."
"It's all too complicated. If we wouldn't have met your life would be so much easier."
"No. If we hadn't met I'd be miserable. I'm not happy with Natalie. But when I'm with you," he took her chin in his hand and drew it close to his face,"everything is ok." Then he kissed her softly.
Liliana was speechless, but happy. He pulled her to him and they sat like that, just happy to be with each other. Until Ike and Zac burst into the room.
~ Chapter 38 ~
Liliana tried to pull away from Taylor but he held onto her tight.
"What the hell?!" Zac yelled angrily.
"Calm down Zac," Ike said, then turned to Liliana,"you tell us to keep Tay away from you but yet we find you in his arms. Why?"
Liliana sighed,"Because I'm confused. I love him but I thought it'd be better for us never to see each other again. But when he came today I was crying and I'd always wished that he'd be here when I needed him the most and for the first time in all those times, he came. Please understand," she pleaded,"although I wouldn't blame you for being mad at me."
It was Zac's turn to sigh,"We're not mad. We just want what's best for you and if you and Taylor can't be together there is no point in seeing each other."
Liliana made another attempt to get up but Tay wouldn't let her. "Let me go," she said to him and pulled free. She stood up and hugged Zac, then Ike. "Thanks," she whispered,"I know this all all frustrating and you guys are caught in it and you shouldn't be."
"We want to help,"Ike said,"but I do agree with Zac.....we have to all sit down and figure this out. Taylor do you have any intention at all of staying with Natalie?"
"Do you think you'd ever stop loving Liliana?"
"No. I'll love her forever."
"We need to find out if Ezra is really yours Taylor. Natalie could have trapped you in that marriage for nothing," Zac spoke up.
Tay nodded,"I agree."
"Taylor," Liliana started,"You HAVE to agree to something no matter what."
"Just promise you'll agree first."
"Taylor, do it," Ike interrupted.
He sighed,"Alright. Whatever it is I'll agree to it no matter what."
Liliana was satisfied,"Good."
"Now what did I just agree to?"
"That if Ezra is yours you'll stay with Natalie and not break up that family for your son and that you'll forget about me.'
Tay jumped to his feet,"What?! No way!"
"You already agreed to it Taylor," Zac reminded him.
"But I can't! Liliana how could you ask that of me?!"
"I just did," she said calmly,"I'm only thinking of Ezra. I don't want him to have a broken home...Now, I want you to go back and get a paternity test done and don't come back until you have the results."
"What if he is mine?" he asked resigned.
"Then you will stay there and raise him with Natalie and have many more children and forget about me."
Tay looked at her in astonishment. "Impossible," he whispered.
"Not if I lose contact with you," she replied.
~ Chapter 39 ~
Tay looked like he was about to blow a fuse after Liliana's announcement, but right then Ike's cell phone rang.
"Ike!" Callie's voice said on the other end,"Hi!"
Ike's lips curved into a sort of smile,"Hey Callie. What's up?"
"Oh nothing really..."
"Well then I don't mean to sound rude but I'm kind of busy so I can't talk right now."
"You don't have a girlfriend," Callie pouted," do you?"
Ike sighed,"No. But I can't tell you what it is."
"Well then Ikey! I was just wondering if we could maybe go to the movies tonight? I have two friends that want to hook up with Zac and Tay, so I thought it'd be perfect."
Ike winced,"Uh....Zac is...taken. And you know Tay is married..."
"OH! I didn't mean as a date for Tay silly! But it is a problem if Zaccie is already...attached! Well we could still go! I've been DYING to see 8 Mile! And I thought we could go see it together."
"Well I suppose that it'd be okay. But I really have to go now."
"Alright then! Pick me up at eight sugar! Later!"
Ike winced again but this time he was in pain. He didn't want to see 8 Mile, but he'd get through it. Callie had changed. She hadn't been so....peppy when they first met. He was starting to get uneasy around her.
"Well? Who was that?" Zac asked, annoyed.
"Oh, just that girl Callie I told you guys about. I'm sorry about the interruption."
Taylor turned back to stare at Liliana, "You wouldn't do that."
"Yes I would. It would make your life a lot easier."
"Don't tell me how to live my life!" he said exasperated,"I want to be with you and there's no changing that!"
"I could refuse to talk to you. Besides, you already promised. You wouldn't go back on your word would you? I never took you for a liar Taylor."
"I...that's...but," he stuttered, and was at a loss for words.
Liliana crossed her arms.
"Oh fine!" he exclaimed,"I give up! You are impossible and stubborn!"
She grinned,"I know. Don't ya just love me?"
Tay just glared at her.
Zac snickered for Liliana getting the best of Taylor, which was something hardly anyone could do. They were definitely a perfect match.
~ Chapter 40 ~
Tay and Liliana stood at the airport two days later. Ike and Zac had gone to get something to eat, or so they had said. It was really just to give their brother and friend some privacy. They knew that it might be the last time Tay and Liliana ever saw each other.
They sat on a bench. Tay had his arm around her and she had her head on his shoulder, both were staring into the crowd. "I don't want to leave you. I may never see you again," Tay said.
Liliana sighed,"I know. But it's all for the best."
"Why couldn't I have met you before Natalie?"
"Because this is the way things were meant to be."
"Flight 48 now boarding," came the announcement.
"Well that's my flight," Tay said reluctantly.
They stood up. Liliana grabbed hold of Taylor and hugged him hard. She had a feeling it was the last chance she'd ever get.
Tay hugged her back, not wanting to let go. They stood like that for five minutes. Neither wanting to move.
"Last call for Flight 48."
They reluctantly pulled apart. Tay kissed Liliana then left before his willpower was gone.
Liliana stood there long after the plane had departed. Watching, but not really seeing anything. Then one tear after another started to fall. She sat down on the bench where only a little while before Tay had held her for the last time. This made her cry even harder.
Zac and Ike came back. They sat down on either side of her. They didn't know what to do but Ike couldn't take it anymore and pulled her to him. She cried into his shoulder. Her tears soaking his shirt. Finally she couldn't cry anymore.
"It'll be alright Liliana," Zac whispered as Ike let her go,"I know Taylor does really love you. You'll always have that comfort."
"Yes," Ike agreed,"and we're still here."
She looked at both of them and smiled,"I'm sorry guys. I feel horrible. Of course I have you guys." Then she hugged Zac, then Ike.
They took her back to their place. She didn't want to be alone more than she had to. They played basketball in the backyard until it was pitch dark, then they took her home. She sighed when Ike pulled up to her house,"I really don't want to be here. My mom doesn't understand and I'll be alone with my thoughts. Thanks guys for today. It was great to hang with you."
As she started to get out of the car Ike said,"Liliana wait."
She sat back down,"huh?"
"Well, if it's alright with your mom, you could stay the weekend. You...could take Tay's room if you want or we could make a bed on the couch for you if....it'd hurt too much to stay in his room."
Liliana looked at Ike, then Zac,"Are...are you sure it's okay? I don't want to be a nuisance."
"You? A nuisance? Nah," Zac grinned," We can party."
Liliana laughed,"Well...alright. Let me just go see." She got out of the car.
"We should come with you to let your mom know that our...intentions aren't bad," Ike said suddenly.
Liliana stopped and thought that over,"You're right. You better come."
So all three walked up to her house.
~ Chapter 41 ~
Five minutes later Zac and Ike were sitting on Liliana's bed as she put together a bag for the weekend.
"Shorts, shirts, jeans, brush," she mumbled to herself hurrying around the room, throwing things in her bag as she went. Then she turned to her friends,"uh, guys...."
"Yeah?" Zac asked.
"Could you...uh..turn around? I gotta get some personal things," she started blushing.
The brothers laughed and turned away. Liliana quickly shoved the stuff into her bag.
"Alright," she said, half to herself,"I think that's it." she checked her bag one last time then they all went outside and into Ike's car. Ten minutes later they were walking into their house.
"So, what do you think? Tay's room or would you feel more comfortable on the couch?" Ike asked.
She hesitated,"Uh...I'll just take Tay's room. I don't like sleeping on a couch."
Zac grinned,"Alright. Whatever works for you."
They all walked upstairs and Liliana sat her bag on the bed.
"So what would you like to do?" Ike asked as they came out of the room.
Liliana shrugged,"Doesn't matter to me. Whatever you guys want."
"Well then. How about video games? I want to see how good you are," Zac said, pulling her towards the living room.
Two hours later Liliana had beat Zac three times and Ike two times. Altough the brother's had managed to beat her twice each.
"Geez! I didn't know you were this good!" Zac exclaimed, as Liliana beat him again.
She laughed,"I'm just lucky I guess."
"Well guys," Ike said getting up,"I'm gonna go get a shower. I'll be back in a bit."
"K," they said at the same time. They looked at each other and laughed.
Later that night, after all three had gotten their showers, they were sitting in "Liliana's room" just hanging out. Liliana had on a pair of shorts and a shirt. Zac and Ike, who usually just slept in their boxers, each had on a shirt and pair of shorts because Liliana was there.
They talked for a half hour more and by that time it was one in the morning. Liliana stretched and yawned.
Ike smiled," I think we'd all better get some sleep."
Zac, who normally would've objected to Ike spoiling the fun, just nodded and got up,"Goodnight Liliana."
"Night," she replied.
Ike shut the door behind him as he walked into the hall.
~ Chapter 42 ~
Liliana lay in bed after she woke up around ten the next morning. She rolled over onto her stomach and breathed in the smell of Taylor. She missed him so much. She sighed, they were just never meant to be.
A couple minutes later came a knock on the door. She rolled onto her back again and half sat up. "Come in," she called.
Ike walked in and grinned,"Good morning."
He sat down on the edge of her bed,"Jade's here. Zac thought we could all hang out today."
A pang of guilt hit Liliana. She hadn't talked to her best friend for quite awhile. She felt awful. "Good. We can have a fun time."
"Yeah, but first you need to get dressed." For the first time Liliana noticed that Ike was no longer in his night gear. She jumped out of bed, and after shooing the eldest Hanson brother out and closing the door, she quickly got dressed.
She came downstairs ten minutes later clad in jeans and a shirt with long sleeves that widened towards the end.
Ike, Zac, and Jade were eating breakfast. Jade pulled out the seat next to her. "Sit down," she said,"I haven't talked to you in forever."
Liliana smiled,"I know. I've missed you."
"Girl emotions. Gag me," Zac whispered to Ike.
Jade eyed Zac,"We heard that."
"I think Zac wants to be beat up by two girls," Liliana laughed.
Zac grinned,"Come attack me." He had a mischievious gleam in his eyes.
"You'd make his dreams come true," Ike snickered,"being attacked by girls."
"But he gets that a lot anyway," Jade said.
"Yeah, but you two actually know him."
"Oh," Jade laughed.
"On the otherhand I'd rather not," Liliana stated.
Zac looked disappointed,"It's not nice to get my hopes up then crash them."
Liliana and Jade glanced at each other and just smiled. "That's what we're here for," Jade shrugged.
Ike laughed as Zac glared at them. Then Zac went back to eating his breakfast. He'd get those two girls later, he promised himself.
~ Chapter 43 ~
When everyone was almost done with breakfast Ike's cell phone rang. "Hello?" he answered.
"Isaac!" came Callie's angry voice,"I've been trying to get hold of you for three days! Where were you Wednesday night?!"
"Uh..hanging with my brothers, why?" Ike asked confused.
"You were supposed to pick me up for our date! I've never been stood up in my life Isaac! How could you?!" she shrieked.
"Oh my God Callie, I completely forgot."
"Well that's obvious! I swear you'll pay for this Mr. Big Shot Hanson who thinks he's too good for a fan!" then she slammed the phone down on the cradle.
Isaac slowly shut his phone off and layed it on the table. When he looked up everyone was just staring at him.
"Callie," Zac stated.
"Yeah, how did you know?"
"We could hear her loud and clear."
"I don't want to get involved with your personal life Ike," Jade started,"but she sounds like a bitch."
"Wait a minute," Liliana said suddenly,"Did you say her name was Callie?"
"Yeah, why?" Ike replied.
Liliana turned to Jade,"We know her! She's that girl who every guy knows very well...."
Jade thought a minute. "Oh my God! You're right! She's that one that likes to ruin guy's reputations!" she exclaimed.
Jade looked at Isaac,"If I'd have known it was her I'd have warned you. You don't want ANYTHING to do with her! She's very bad news!"
Ike was shocked,"She seemed like such a nice girl."
"That's all part of her act," Liliana replied,"That's how she traps guys."
"Oh my God Ike," Jade said,"You're in trouble."
"She knows you enough to ruin you. And because you're a celebrity she can get you ten times as bad!"
"What can she possibly do?"
"Go around telling everyone that you two slept together or that you raped her. You'd be totally ruined," Jade was starting to get scared for Isaac's sake.
Ike went white,"How can a person be that bad?"
'Trust me, SHE can," Liliana said quietly,"I've seen a lot of good guys get ruined by her."
"You're just lucky that you didn't go on that date," Jade said.
'Because she would've tried for you to get her pregnant so she could get a ton of money off of you," she replied.
"Oh God. Talk about a lose-lose situation," Zac put in,"You didn't go with her, she gets back at you, and if you would've went with her it would've been worse yet."
"So what am I gonna do?" Ike half asked himself.
"I don't know. But we'll help you any way we can," Liliana said concerned.
"Yeah," Jade agreed,"we won't let that bitch hurt you."
~ Chapter 44 ~
Sunday night Liliana went back home, although she really didn't want to. The next day was Monday and back to school. It was two weeks before Christmas vacation and everyone was starting to get in a rush to have everything finished and the teachers were working the students twice as hard to fit in what they had neglected to teach before.
Liliana , Zac, and Jade were sitting in Physics listening to a lecture on Heat and Temperature. Liliana kept looking to the desk beside her, where Taylor used to sit. She felt tears stab her eyes. But she refused to give into them.
At lunch, they all could finally breathe. Liliana just picked at her lunch. She mostly just stared off into space.
~ * ~
Back in Tulsa, Taylor went to have a test done to see if Ezra was really his. He had no one to support him. Everyone thought it was stupid to think that he wasn't Ezra's father. So he went alone.
A bit later the doctor came back,"Mr. Hanson?"
Tay looked up,"That's me."
"We have the results of your paternity test..."
~ * ~
Callie was in Jade, Liliana, and Zac's gym class. She sauntered over to Zac and grinned,"Hey Zaccie. My, how you've....developed. Such strong arms and look how tall you are...."
"Callie I'm not playing your games," Zac said grimly,"Stay away from me and my brothers."
Callie's friendly expression turned into a glare,"I suggest you just go along with me, or I'll make you and your brother's lives miserable."
"And we'll make yours even worse if you don't leave me the hell alone," he said fiercely.
"Oh, that;'s right. You're dating,"she looked to Jade,"this slut."
Zac looked like he was about to slap her.
"Zac don't stoop to her level," Jade said, trying to stay under control herself.
Callie put her hands on her hips and glared,"And what is that supposed to mean?"
Jade glared back," You're not worth getting in trouble over. And I do believe you were referring to yourself when you said who the slut was." And with that she turned and strode away.
Liliana, who had been watching this scene, sighed,"Come on Zac."
"Oh, what? I'm not good enough to talk to now?" Callie scowled.
Liliana spoke with a blank expression on her face,"Honestly? No." Then she and Zac walked away.
Callie stood there shaking with rage. "I'll get you all. Just wait," she called, then spun on her heel and walked in the opposite direction.
"Zac, how can you make it worse for her if she does something to you or one of your brothers?" Liliana asked after a silence.
"Restraining order. Possibly harrassment charges. Considering she was just threatening us. We may have to have our lawyers protect you and Jade too," Zac replied calmly.
"Could it get that bad?" Jade asked, half afraid.
"My brothers and I have dealt with girls way worse than her and we've had to get our lawyers involved. Also, if it gets really out of hand you two may need bodyguards. No telling what will happen," He added.
Liliana and Jade both went white.
He put an arm around each of them. "Don't worry. Everything will be alright," he said squeezing them.
They gave weak smiles.
~ Chapter 45 ~
To be truthful, Jade, who was usually pretty strong, felt like she just wanted to hide until it was over. She was scared to death. If stuff could get that bad, she didn't know how she'd handle it. She leaned against Zac to feel his strength. It flowed into her and she felt a little better.
~ * ~
The girls were just glad to rest later that day after school in Ike and Zac's house. Jade collapsed on the couch and Liliana collapsed in a chair.
Zac sat next to Jade and reached for the phone. He dialed the number for he and his brothers' lawyer.
He spoke for a minute to the receptionest and then was put through. "Hello Nick."
"Yeah, This is Zac Hanson...
I'm as good as possible at the moment...
Yeah, I have a very good reason why I'm calling you.....You see there's this girl at school that's been threatening my friends and I....."
Fifteen minutes later everything had been set out. A restraining order was to be put against Callie and if she violated it, she would be in juvenile detention. And a bodyguard was to be assigned for Jade and Liliana and Zac and his brothers would have their bodyguard Luke.
The next day Callie was none too happy. She kept glaring at Zac, Jade, and Liliana, but she kept her distance. And so the next couple days went smoothly.
~ * ~
On Thursday Taylor sat in his house with Ezra. Natalie was upstairs taking a well-needed nap. He looked down at his son. His hand was shaking as he picked up the phone and dialed.
~ * ~
Liliana and Jade were at their friends' house, as usual, when the phone rang. Zac picked up the receiver,"Hello?"
"Hey Zac," Taylor said.
"Uh hi. How are you?"
"Not too good Zac. Is..uh...is Liliana there?"
"Can you..put..her on?"
"Sure, hold on."
"It's Tay," he said as he handed the receiver to Liliana.
She shakily took it,"Hi Tay."
Oh how he missed hearing her voice,"Hi baby. How are you?"
"I...I miss you Tay."
"I miss you too. So much."
A tear slipped out of Liliana's eye,"So...I guess I know why you're calling..."
Taylor took a deep breath,"Yes. Liliana. He's mine. Ezra is my son."
Liliana couldn't hold back her tears then,"I'm glad. You'll be a wonderful father. Have a great life Taylor. I love you." Then she handed the phone to Zac and buried her face in her hands.
"So Ezra's yours," Zac stated.
Taylor was crying openly now,"Oh Zac! Isn't there some way?! This is not fair!"
Zac sighed,"You know what you promised Liliana. We'll see you when we get back. I suppose I'll have to go back to homeschooling in the next couple months. I need to go see if Liliana's alright."
"She's crying isn't she?"
"Yes. I'll talk to you later."
Taylor was defeated,"See ya Zac. Tell Ike I said Hi."
Then Zac went to Liliana where Jade and Ike were trying to comfort her. Liliana's whole body shook with every sob.
Ike put his arms around her. She leaned against him and cried into his shirt.
~ Chapter 46 ~
They all got on with their lives. Eventually.
The next week Callie threatened Zac again and she was thrown into the detention center where she would remain until Zac and Ike left town. They decided it was for the best to go back to Tulsa after Christmas.
Liliana had lost fifteen more pounds. She ate, but had not the appetite that she used to. Her and Jade spent most of their time over at Zac and Ike's.
It was a couple days before Christmas and they were all outside playing in the snow, like they were little kids again. Jade snuck up behind Zac and slipped snow down the back fo his shirt.
"Hey!" he yelled in surprise and spun around.
Jade grinned and made a dash behind Liliana.
"Don't hide behind me!" she cried,"I don't want a snowball thrown at me!" and she ran out of the way as Zac threw snow in her direction. It hit Jade and she screamed,"Zachary Hanson!"
"Hey, you started it," he laughed and tackled her to the ground.
"Don't go too hard on her," Tay's voice came from behind Liliana.
She spun around and felt tears struggle to fall. She subconsciously backed away. "Taylor. What are you doing here?"
"But you're not supposed to be here. You promised."
"I promised not to come see you. I'm allowed to visit my brothers," he said nonchalantly.
Suddenly a cry rang out from the backseat of his car and he strode over to open it and lift up his infant son into his arms. "Shh," he calmed the baby and rocked him.
Ike came up and put his arm around Liliana as she was about to fall.
"I don't know what Taylor is trying to pull, but I'll help you get through this," he whispered to her.
She just nodded as she continued to stare at the man she loved, the man she could never have. She leaned against Ike, because she could no longer hold herself up without support.
Taylor walked toward them with Ezra.
"Go away," Liliana whispered as a tear spilled down her cheek,"Just go away."
"Liliana I just thought you might like to see my son. I've told him all about you," he said seriously.
Liliana started to shake her head,"No. Taylor how could you?"
Zac and Jade had come over to stand next to Ike and Liliana.
Jade could see the affect this was having on her best friend,"Taylor, can't you see how much you're hurting her? Damn you! Leave her alone so her heart can heal!"
The tears flowed freely down Liliana's cheeks now. And she couldn't stand it. She ran into the house.
Everyone followed. Jade hugged her friend and rocked her,"It's alright girl. Let it all out."
Zac and Ike were having a word with their brother. "What the hell were you thinking?!" exclaimed Zac.
"She was starting to heal and then you came back," Ike was just as angry.
"Guys, you don't understand. I wanted to see you all and I wanted you to see Ezra," he looked down at the infant in his arms,"I talked Natalie into letting me have him for a few days." Then he walked over to Liliana who had calmed down,"and I wanted to show you Ezra."
Liliana looked up at him, then at the baby in his arms. She stood up and walked closer to Tay. After a silence she asked,"Can...can I hold him?"
Taylor smiled,"Sure." Then he layed his son in Liliana's waiting arms. She was a natural. She held him and rocked him and he just stared up at her and smiled. She looked at this wonder in her arms. The miracle of life. He fell asleep almost immediately after.
"Damn you," she whispered to Taylor,"he looks like his father."
Taylor grinned,"I know."
Later that day Ike, Jade, and Zac had left Liliana and Taylor alone to talk.
They sat in his room. "Thank you," Liliana said.
"You're welcome," Taylor replied.
For Taylor knew that Liliana holding Ezra would help her heart to really start healing and let them forge a friendship and nothing more.
~ * ~ END ~ * ~