“Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN.” Lauren panicked. She’d woken up the next morning completely satisfied, in every way possible. She knew Jennifer wouldn’t have been able to stay in her room overnight, but it didn’t matter. She was on such a high; until she looked in the mirror. Love bites. Everywhere. Shit.
“JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!” she shouted again. Jennifer rushed into the bedroom, her hair flying everywhere, her dressing gown flapping around her legs.
“What on Earth is wrong with you?! I was sleeping!” Anyone would think she’d just heard a neighbour get shot.
Lauren slowly turned around, a horrified expression spread across her face. Jennifer’s face dropped.
“You bet your ass ‘oh shit’. I am never going to be able to explain this. Kristian will know. They weren’t there when he went to bed. He leaves us alone. I wake up with this. He’s already caught you with one. Oh God, oh God how could we be so stupid?!” she sounded as though she was about to cry. Jennifer rushed to her side and threw her arms around her for comfort.
“Shhh, please don’t cry, it’s just a few love bites, we can cover them!” Jennifer soothed.
“You… you think- you think they’ll cover?” Lauren sniffled.
“I can try.” Jennifer spent the next 45 minutes trying to conceal the marks. She got most of them, but there was just one stubborn one that wasn’t having any of it.
“Hold still, I’ll put more powder on it.”
“It’s no good, I’m just going to have to hope nobody notices. It’s not that bad, right?”
Jennifer glanced down at her neck and then back to her eyes. She grimaced a little.
“Oh God…” Lauren rested her head on Jennifer’s shoulder in despair.
“I’ve covered it as much as possible. You should be fine, sweetie.” She kissed the girl’s forehead.
“I have to go and, you know, dress. I’ll see you at breakfast?” Lauren nodded and she left the room. Lauren hung her head and buried her face in her hands, soon getting up to get dressed. She draped a thin red scarf around her neck. It didn’t fully cover the marks, but it would have to do. She made her way down to the kitchenette.
Jennifer and Kristian were already there, plated of toast and glasses of juice in front of them. A place had been set for Lauren, and she couldn’t help but smile to herself, knowing that it was Jennifer that had been so thoughtful. She sat herself down in front of the plate and helped herself to some already buttered toast.
The girls kept making sly glances at each other. Jennifer was checking her make-up handiwork, trying to notice any of the marks she’d left from the previous night. She found the big one and looked away, feeling guilty.
“What’s up with you two?” Kristian was the first to break the silence.
“Huh?” Jennifer replied with a mouth full of toast.
“Nothin’? Just had my mouth full is all.” She said, as she swallowed her toast. The girls briefly made eye contact.
“Something’s happened, you’re looking at each other like something happened, and neither of you are talkin’.”
“Nothin’s wrong, Kristian. Promise!” Lauren gave him her best smile. It felt crooked on her face and she stopped.
“Okay…” He didn’t believe them, but just let it drop. It was too early.
“Tour’s over soon…” Lauren said, trying to break the awkward atmosphere. She was going to be sad to stop touring. What would happen to her and Jennifer? Would she even want to be with her anymore? It didn’t even bear thinking about and Lauren put it to the back of her mind, locking it away with an imaginary key.
“As much as I love touring, it’s always nice to get home and relax.” Jennifer said.
“Maybe you could come and stay sometimes, Lauren? My place is big enough and I’d hate to lose touch with you…” Lauren heard the real question hinting in her voice and beamed.
“Yes!” she exclaimed, not bothering to hide her excitement. Kristian just watched them.
Jennifer grinned back and took another bite of toast.
Later that evening, Lauren stood backstage, just out of view, watching Sugarland, or rather, watching Jennifer as she performed. She leaned against the wall and crossed her arms. She loved to watch Jennifer sing. She had so much life, so much energy. Lauren watched in a daze as she moved across the stage, giving it everything she had. She looks so happy.
Her mind drifted back to all the times they’d shared together and how happy Jennifer made her, just by being herself. It was silly, really. How much she was almost in love. She could feel herself falling, just watching her do her thing. She sighed to herself as it hit her that she had no idea what Jennifer really thought of her. Sure, they’d spent those nights together, all of the flirting and the secret caresses when nobody was around. But she didn’t know what it meant. She didn’t even care, as long as she was able to keep seeing Jennifer, it was fine. She could resign herself to a life of just being around the woman she was so desperately in need of.
Sugarland finished their set, and Jennifer came bounding around the corner at full speed.
“How do you have so much energy, all the time?” Lauren asked as Jennifer jumped into her.
“Just lucky I guess!” Jennifer continued bouncing. She was always hyper after shows. Anyone else would be exhausted. Lauren knew she always was, but not Jennifer. Always full of energy. Lauren loved that about her. She resisted the urge to claim Jennifer’s lips with her own. It was always difficult when they were together in public. Both of them wanting to start something, but neither of them able to start it.
“Uhm. Maybe we should just… hug.” Jennifer said, suddenly self-conscious of where they were.
“Er, yeah.” The two hugged quickly. It was hurried and ungainly and they pulled apart.
Kristian followed Jennifer into the kitchenette area of the tour bus the next morning.
“You’re sleeping with Lauren, aren’t you?” Kristian accused her in a serious tone that Jennifer had never heard him use before.
“What?” Jennifer couldn’t think of a thing to say back. There was no point in lying to him. He could and always had been able to read her like a book.
“Jesus Christ, Jen! I thought I noticed something at the dinner before the tour, but I didn’t think much into it.”
“Why would you think that?” Jennifer said. She resembled a deer caught in headlights, her eyes open wide, her mouth clamped shut, almost as if she were afraid she would say something to make the situation worse.
“I can see it. It’s obvious. The constant touching, the smiles, the flirting when you think nobody is paying attention. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that you two are always sneaking off together. You disappear for an hour or two out of the day when you think neither of you will be missed. The fucking club! I even came to find you after the first stop we made and you were cuddled up with her in her bed!
Come to think about it, you two have been all over each other this whole tour, but I didn’t even think about it because I just thought you were trying to make her feel welcome. Bein’ real close in the pool, rubbin’ in your sunblock as far away from other people as possible?
Of course I noticed, I’m pretty sure everyone else has, too. They just don’t know you as well as I do to be able to confront you on it. Fuck, Jen, it’s not even like you’re being discreet about it.”
“I don’t even know what to say, Kristian.”
“Tell me it’s not true.”
“I can’t.” Jennifer started crying.
Kristian breathed out, shaking his head.
“She’s 18, Jen. You do realise that, don’t you?! Please tell me you’re not serious about actually being with her? Fuck, I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that you two are screwing around or the fact that you might actually want a relationship with this girl. I seriously don’t know which is the lesser of the two evils here.”
Jennifer paused and thought to herself. How dare he just think that she’d ever do anything to hurt Lauren?! She was angry, upset, distraught… She didn’t know which to feel first. She closed her eyes and inhaled, choosing her next words carefully.
“I think…” She opened her eyes, they met with Kristian’s.
“What do you think? Because I really can’t wait to hear this.” He was angry. Jennifer had never seen him this angry before. It scared her. He was always the one that was happy, in a good mood. He kept her together.
“I know how it feels to breathe when she’s beside me. This isn’t just fuckin’, Kristian! I think…” She stopped speaking and a sudden realisation hit her. This really isn’t just about the sex, is it?
“I think I love her. “ Tears spilled down her cheeks.
“Oh, shit.” Kristian sat down on the chair at the dining table.
“When did it start? How long has all of this been going on?”
“We started flirtin’ after a few drinks at mine, when we were goin’ over her setlist for the tour. One thing led to another and… here we are.”
“This was before the tour? Jennifer, she was fucking 17!! You got a 17 year old drunk so you could… I can’t…”
Jennifer couldn’t believe what she was hearing. He really thinks that I would…
“Nothin’ happened like that before she turned 18, I swear, Kristian, I would never do that, you know me!”
And then it hit him. The pre-tour dinner. Lauren acting weird all through, and then storming out. Jennifer going after her. Coming back ages later, looking completely worn out.
“The dinner. She wasn’t upset about anything, was she? It was you.”
Jennifer froze on the spot. Technically, she hadn’t done anything, but she’d definitely pushed it. Even she knew that. Kristian wouldn’t see it like that, at all. She sat down opposite him and looked him in the eye. She got ready to twist the truth. She hated doing it, but she had to. For hers and for Lauren’s sake.
“That night, nothing happened, Kristian. We’d been flirting a little, and I was winding her up a bit, but nothing happened. She went into the bathroom for a bit of fresh air,” she stopped at this. Fresh air in the bathroom? Oh, Jen… “I followed her just to make sure she was okay. We kissed. A little bit. But nothing more. I swear.” She held her hand over her chest, her eyes brimming with more tears. This is awful.
Kristian looked at her and nodded.
“I heard you at it. On her 18th.”
Jennifer thought back to that night, and was reminded of everything she felt as Lauren was underneath her. How she knew at that moment that she was falling for her. She closed her eyes and inhaled. She could still remember how Lauren smelled, how she tasted. She’d never forget. She thought back to how she’d heard Lauren scream with pleasure and how she’d commented on how loud she was.
“That was the first time. I didn’t want- We decided to wait. I’m really sorry you heard it…”
Kristian knew Jennifer, she was the most genuine person he’d ever met. He didn’t want to make her feel like this. His expression softened, he felt bad for being so angry. After all, it was none of his business, really.
“Oh, Jennifer…” He reached across and took her hand.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this upset over someone. You really do like her, don’t you?”
Jennifer bit her lip and nodded her head, slowly.
“Yeah.” It was barely audible. She sniffed and wiped her tears with her sleeve.
“I love her, Krist.”
“You love me?”
Right on cue, Lauren appeared in the kitchenette and looked down on them.
Jennifer looked up at her, tears still filling her wide, green eyes. Lauren didn’t know she was crying.
“What’s the matter? Are you hurt? Is everything okay?!” Lauren rushed forward and hugged her, rubbing soothing circles on her back and kissing the side of her head.
Kristian didn’t say anything, he just watched them both embracing, rocking back and forth together and suddenly understood. It really wasn’t about the sex. He saw how worried Lauren was when she walked in. How she’d completely thrown all caution to the wind, just to make sure Jennifer was okay. He smiled to himself. They really did love each other.
“Did you two want me to leave, or…?” Kristian interrupted their ‘moment’, he was starting to feel a bit redundant and awkward. The two broke apart, Lauren kissed Jennifer’s hair and held on to her hand as she sat crouched next to her chair.
“Kristian knows about us.” Jennifer said, matter of fact-ly. She sniffed again.
“Lauren, I’m not angry. Well, I was. I was really angry. You’re so young and I thought Jennifer was just taking advantage and it was this whole huge mess, but I saw the way Jennifer was so upset about the way I felt, and I saw the way you looked at her when you walked through that door. I get it. It doesn’t matter.”
Lauren smiled and hugged Jennifer close to her. “Please stop crying….” She whispered in her ear.
Jennifer squeezed her stood up, still keeping hold of her hand.
“I think I speak for both of us when I say, please don’t publicise this, not yet.” She trusted Kristian not to say anything.
“I won’t say anything, but you two have to be more discreet. I’m pretty sure everyone already knows…”
The girls nodded and Lauren remembered what she’d heard before walking in on the scene.
“Wait, you love me?” she repeated herself, still equally as shocked. Jennifer just looked up at her, still sniffling. She nodded.
“So much, Lauren.” Her voice was small because of the amount of crying she’d just done, but she didn’t mean it any less. Lauren dropped back to her knees and caught Jennifer’s lips with her own.
Kristian looked around the room, awkwardly trying to look anywhere but at the two women in front of him.
“I love you too, Jennifer. I really do. I was just so scared that you didn’t feel the same and I didn’t want to just come out with it in case you just thought I was being silly and oh my God I’m so glad Jen I love you I love you.” She gushed, all in one without pausing for a breath at all. As soon as she’d finished her sentence, she kissed her again.
“Uhm, guys…” Kristian interrupted. The pair looked around at him and gave him apologetic looks.
The last week of the tour went without a hitch. Jennifer and Lauren were happy to be able to act as a couple without having to hide in either of their rooms, although they kept it toned down around Kristian because he was having a little trouble adapting to the fact that his best friend was dating someone so much younger. He just decided that if they were happy, he was happy.
Jennifer pushed the door open to her house, Kristian and Jennifer following closely behind her. Oh God, it’s good to be home.
They’d decided it would just be easier for them all to crash at hers for the night, as they were all so wiped out from the travelling back.
The place was almost immaculate, just the way she’d left it before she went away. She dumped her luggage by the sofa and told Lauren and Kristian to do the same. She went straight upstairs for a shower. She let the hot water pour over her and watched as the day’s dirt washed away down the drain. She stood there for a few minutes, not doing anything but letting the water wash over her. She’d missed her own shower. The one on the bus had been cramped and the water pressure was abysmal. She pushed her hair away from her face and turned to face the door just as Lauren walked through. She jumped, not expecting her to be there.
“Hi!” Lauren closed the door behind her.
“Room for two?” she grinned. Jennifer just nodded, her mouth agape. Lauren undressed and climbed in the shower after her lover.
Oh God, lover? Could I really call her that? We haven’t even had a chat about us. Nothing’s official. Am I allowed to call her that? If she’s not, what is she to me?
“Does Kristian know you’re up here?” Jennifer asked.
“I told him I needed to pee.” Lauren replied.
“And do you?”
“No.” Lauren giggled.
“You know, I don’t think you can be in here. I really don’t trust myself…” Jennifer rambled, but was interrupted as Lauren kissed her gently.
“Or maybe I shouldn’t trust you…” Jennifer laughed and pulled Lauren closer. They kissed for a while, arms slipping over each other under the running water. Lauren dropped to her knees.
“What are you doi-“ Jennifer’s words turned into a gasp as Lauren kissed up her thighs. She gripped the sides of the shower as best as she could to keep herself upright.
Lauren reached Jennifer’s heat and licked with the flat of her tongue. Jennifer’s legs went weak and she gripped harder to the walls.
Lauren carried on with her attack, flicking Jennifer’s clit with the tip of her tongue.
She pushed a finger into her lover and thrust it steadily, adding another as she sped up.
Jennifer’s body convulsed and she screamed her name loudly.
“OH FUCK, LAUREN!” Jennifer’s walls tightened around Lauren’s fingers as she rode out her orgasm. Lauren kissed up Jennifer’s side and up her neck, holding Jennifer close to keep her standing.
“Now who’s loud?” Lauren grinned, placing soft kisses on Jennifer’s neck.
“Where the hell did you learn that?” Jennifer panted.
“Just something I picked up…” Lauren smiled. She turned off the water and stepped out of the shower, Jennifer followed. They got dressed and went back downstairs, their hair still wet. Lauren’s eyeliner trickled slightly down her left cheek.
Kristian sat on the sofa, holding a cup of coffee in one hand and reading a paper with the other.
“You girls were gone ages.” He called after them as they went to the kitchen for a much needed drink, neither of them replying. He didn’t look up from the paper as he spoke, instead just turning the page. He brought his mug to his lips, and drained it.
“OH FUCK, LAUREN!” he called into the kitchen. The girls froze, staring at each other in dismay.
“I ran out of coffee!” he finished, standing up and walking towards the kitchen.
Busted, Jennifer thought to herself.
“Next time, you might want to wait until I’m not here. Or at least keep yourselves quiet.” He poured another cup of coffee, and went back into the living room. He didn’t seem angry, so as soon as he’d sat back down they erupted into peals of laughter, falling into each other.
“Still being loud!” Kristian shouted over his shoulder. They laughed even more.
That night, the two of them lay in bed, snuggled next to each other under the duvet.
“Jennifer…?” She was about to ask the million dollar question, and she was nervous as hell. She was worried about the answer. If it was something she didn’t like, it would crush her into a million little pieces, and she didn’t know if she was ready for that. But she had to know.
“What’s the matter?” she sensed something was troubling her.
“I’ve really enjoyed the time we’ve spent together. It’s made me so unbelievably happy, and I love you, so, so much, but-“
“Are you breaking up with me?” Jennifer tensed her grip around Lauren’s shoulders, bracing herself.
“Oh, God no! Oh Jennifer, no!” she scrambled out of Jennifer’s grip and threw herself on top of the older woman. She kissed her passionately and broke away.
“Well, I don’t know, do I?! It sure sounded like you were.” Jennifer was relieved.
“Jennifer, I have to ask you a question. And I need the most honest answer ever. You’re the only person in the whole wide world that has the power to break me completely with just one sentence, but I’m trusting that you’re not going to.” Lauren poured her heart out, her hands tangling themselves through Jennifer’s hair as she spoke.
“Oh. Okay…” Jennifer was taken aback by what Lauren was saying.
“What are we doing?” Lauren closed her eyes and braced herself.
“I mean, with us. Like, this.” She waved her hand between the little space between them.
“Well. I love you, Lauren. And you love me, right?” Jennifer tried to simplify it.
“Well, of course.” Lauren kissed her again.
“Of course I do. I mean, what are we? Together? Are we what, dating? A relationship? I don’t know.” Lauren found it more and more difficult to get her words out as a heavy feeling settled on her heart. She wasn’t sure if it was from the seriousness of the conversation or just with all the love she felt for the woman she was laying on.
“I don’t know either.” Jennifer said.
“I guess I was just waiting for you to define it, because I’m just awful with stuff like this and I didn’t know what you wanted. You’re so young and I just didn’t want to pressure you into anything. So I didn’t say anything.” Lauren grinned and kissed her cheek.
“I knew you wouldn’t break me.” She said.
“All I know is that I want to be with you. To be yours. Completely. And you mine.”
“Then that’s what we shall be. Relationship here we come!” Jennifer giggled and rolled Lauren off of her, her hand settling on the top of Lauren’s shoulder and absent-mindedly started circling the skin with its fingertips.
“I love you, Lauren Alaina.”
“I love you too.”
They fell asleep and didn’t wake until the next morning.
“WAKE UUUUUPPPP.” Kristian bounded into the bedroom.
“IT’S MOOOOOOORNING.” He shouted, drawing the curtains. Lauren wrapped the duvet around her breasts.
“Kristian what are you doing I’m not wearing anythin’, get out!” Lauren did not like being woken up in the morning.
Jennifer groaned and pushed the covers from over her head.
“What are you doing? There is no reason to get up. Go back to sleep.” She grumbled.
“I’m sorry, Lauren. I really am. But you’ve both forgotten, haven’t you?”
The girls looked at each other, confused.
“Jen, it’s your birthday.”
“What?! Oh shit!” Jennifer shot up from where she lay.
“You didn’t tell me it was your birthday soon?!” Lauren was mortified that she hadn’t gotten her a gift. She made a mental note to make it up to her when she could.
“We made reservations tonight at that posh place you like. It was just going to be you and me, but since you two are… well you know. Maybe it would be better if we called and made it three?”
The three of them exited the cab and walked up the steps to Jennifer’s favourite restaurant.
They were seated in the middle of the room. Jennifer would have preferred something a little more secluded, given that her and Lauren weren’t ‘out’ to the public yet, but that couldn’t be helped.
There didn’t seem to be anybody that really paid any attention to them, so they just got on with it like they would have in any other situation. Jennifer sat next to Kristian, while Lauren sat opposite her new love. Their legs entwined under the table, without even thinking about it.
The candles on the table flickered, casting shadows over the three of them.
They ordered champagne, as it was a special occasion. The waiters new the group from their music and TV, and didn’t question Lauren about her age.
They finished their main course, and had just ordered dessert when Kristian’s phone beeped from his pocket. He checked the caller and told Lauren and Jennifer he had to take it. He excused himself from the table and stood outside, leaving Lauren and Jennifer to talk.
Kristian came back ten minutes later, a sombre expression on his face.
“Look, Jen, I’m really sorry but I have to go. I’ll explain later, when it isn’t your birthday. I’m sorry. Happy birthday.” He kissed the side of her head roughly and left.
“Well that’s weird.” Lauren said when he’d gone.
“We can talk to him tomorrow. If I’m honest, I kind of like this being just us.” She sipped from her glass and smiled.
They flirted over their candlelit dessert, smiling and laughing between them, throwing caution to the wind. Nobody cared who they were anyway.
“Try mine, it’s gorgeous. Seriously, do it!” Lauren giggled, pushing her plate nearer to Jennifer.
“Jennifer picked up her fork and cut off a small bite of Lauren’s cheesecake. She brought it to her lips and let out an “Oh my God this is so good!” as she savoured it. She pushed the plate back.
“Try mine. I’m not sure which I prefer.”
Lauren dipped her fork into Jennifer’s chocolate cake and put it in her mouth.
“No, yours is definitely better!”
“See, I don’t think so!”
“No way is mine better!” Lauren laughed, touching Jennifer’s wrist momentarily.
The two finished their giggles and Jennifer hummed to herself.
“I’m really enjoying tonight. Thank you for making my birthday so special.”
“I’m just bothered that I didn’t get you a present…” Lauren said, embarrassed.
“It’s fine, seriously! I wasn’t expecting anything. I was so wrapped up in you that I didn’t even remember myself. You’re all I need with me.” Lauren gave in and finished the last mouthful of her dessert.
“Did you wanna go stand out back? It’s a nice night, and by the looks of it nobody else is out there.” Lauren agreed. They picked up their glasses and strolled outside onto the patio.
Lauren leaned against the low wall and looked out across the grounds. The scene was perfect. Even the stars were out. Jennifer leaned next to her, standing close.
“It’s beautiful out here.” Lauren commented, drinking more of her champagne.
“Yeah it is.” Jennifer sneaked an arm around Lauren and rested it above her hip.
“What if someone sees?” Lauren questioned.
“They won’t, it’s pretty secluded out here. I could probably kiss you and nobody would ever know.”
Lauren turned to face her, and Jennifer leaned in and gave her a brief kiss before looking back to the sky. Lauren could have lived in this moment forever.
“Did you wanna go back to mine? I mean, you don’t have to. I know you haven’t been home yet. But I just thought-.” She cut herself off.
“It’s your birthday, Jen. Of course I want to go back with you. Which reminds me, I guess we should tell my parents about us tomorrow…” she groaned at the thought.
“Will it be bad? Would you like me to come with you?”
“I think it would be easier if you were with me. I’ll call mom when we get back. She’ll probably invite you for dinner, too. She can see us around each other. It’ll be okay, I think.” She gulped.
“Okay. Come on, you. Let’s go wait out front for a cab.”
They moved through the restaurant, and descended the steps to the curb. Jennifer’s hand hovered around Lauren’s waist, guiding her down. She didn’t even think about it. They got in the first cab they saw and Jennifer gave the driver her address. Their hands clasped together in the back seat as they were driven.
They tumbled into bed, kissing like they thought this was their last, and made love until the early hours.
“Happy birthday, Jennifer.” Lauren whispered as they dozed off.
The next morning was not fun. They were awoken at 7am by Kristian banging on Jennifer’s front door as hard as he could. Jennifer jumped out of bed and threw on her dressing gown, tying it as she raced down the stairs. She opened the door.
“What?!” she wasn’t happy that he’d woken her up two mornings in a row.
“You might want to check the papers.” He said, and handed her one.
“LAUREN!” he shouted up the stairs. She thumped down them moments later, worried about what was so important that he would be banging so hard so early in the morning.
They sat around the kitchen table, the newspaper spread open in front of them.
“Well, looks like we don’t have to worry about telling your folks.” Jennifer groaned.
JENNIFER NETTLES AND LAUREN ALAINA, AN ITEM?!
WHAT HAPPENS ON TOUR, FOLLOWS YOU HOME.
JENNIFER AND LAUREN SHARE CANDLELIT BIRTHDAY BASH.
“What started off as an evening out for Jennifer Nettles, Kristian Bush and Lauren Alaina soon turned sour, as Kristian learns of the two women dating. He has been reported to have made a phone call and to have stormed out of the restaurant in anger, leaving the two lovebirds to enjoy a candlelit meal together. The two were seen locking lips outside of the restaurant.
A customer in the restaurant snapped these pics of the two openly flirting…”
Splashed below the article were multiple cell phone images of the two in compromising positions. One of the two kissing on the patio, another of Jennifer’s hand wavering over Lauren’s hip with the caption “Older Jennifer is possessive of her young girlfriend.” A third picture was of Jennifer’s leg sliding along Lauren’s under the table. The fourth was one of the two giggling and enjoying themselves.
They were too engrossed in each other’s company to have noticed any of the other customers.
“I thought you said the patio was pretty private.” Lauren said, in obvious shock.
“I thought it was…” Jennifer hit her head on the table in front of her.
“I told y’all you’d needed to see this.” Kristian finally spoke.
“What do we do now?” Lauren asked, her voice small.
“Damage control, I guess. I’ll call the Patricia, ask her to sort it. She sorts all of our press. We can both release statements. It’ll be okay. Oh God.”
Kristian hugged Jennifer.
“Look, I still have stuff to sort out from last night, but I’ll come round later and help sort stuff out.”
Jennifer looked at him.
“Oh yeah, what was all that-“
“Don’t worry about it right now. Just sort all this out. I’ll speak to you later, promise.”
“Oh, we’re not here, we’ll be at Lauren’s ma’s for dinner. We’ve got a lot of explainin’ to do.”
Kristian nodded and told them he’d call, and left.
Jennifer took hold of Lauren’s hand. The young girl was nearly crying.
“Hey, sweetie, it’s okay. It was going to get out sooner or later. I’d just rather have had it come from us and not some idiot with a cell phone.” She hugged the girl close and kissed her hair.
“It’ll be okay, I’ll sort it.”
“I’m so embarrassed. There’s going to be so many rumours. They’ve already said horrible things about you. It’s all my fault.” Lauren burst into tears.
“Hey! Hey! Never think that I could ever be ashamed of our relationship. I don’t care that you’re a lot younger than me. The papers can say what they want. It’s nothin’ to do with them. It’s just you and me, okay. Like we said. Just between us.” She wiped Lauren’s tears away with her sleeve and Lauren nodded.
Jennifer picked up the phone and hit a number on speed dial.
“Pat, we’ve got to do some major damage control. Yes. You haven’t read the papers? No? Oh God, okay. Well you’re gonna be shocked. I’m sorry it wasn’t from me. Could you speak to the necessary people to fix this when you’ve seen it? Okay, thank you. Thank you so much, you’re a star.” She put the phone down.
“See? Easy. Now we need to worry about your parents. It’s still early, there may even be a chance they haven’t seen the papers yet. Go and get yourself ready and we’ll leave.
They pulled up outside Lauren’s house and Lauren held her breath.
“I’m sorry for this, Jen. I don’t know what they’ll say, but I don’t think daddy’s gonna be too happy about it.” Lauren kept apologising as they walked up the drive and knocked on the door, hand in hand.
Lauren’s mother opened it and immediately looked down at their joined hands.
“So. It’s true.” She didn’t look pleased.
“Yes, ma, it is. Can we come in? Dinner smells amazin’.” Lauren tried her hardest to sound confident and as normal as she could. Her voice wavered slightly, but she didn’t think anyone noticed.
Lauren’s mother looked at Jennifer.
“Hello, Mrs Suddeth.” She flashed her best smile. It was not returned. Lauren’s mom stepped back into the house.
“J.J. Guess who’s here.” She shouted into a back room.
Lauren looked at Jennifer and her face fell. She gripped her hand tighter as they followed Lauren’s mom into the kitchen.
“Sit down, you two. Lauren you wait ‘til your father gets here. He has a thing of two to say about this… abomination.” She flapped a tea towel at them.
“And you can drop each other’s hands, too. There will be none of that in my kitchen. What meat do you two want with your dinner? Chicken or fish?”
“Chicken, please.” They both said, almost in unison. Lauren’s mom glared at them and turned around to stir a pot.
“I thought I raised you right.” Lauren’s mom muttered as she did dinner.
“You were such a good girl. What was I thinkin’ lettin’ you go off on a bus with two people I barely know. I knew something bad would happen. I told myself…”
Lauren and Jennifer looked at each other.
“I’m sorry.” Lauren mouthed at Jennifer and Jennifer stroked her arm.
“It’s okay.” She mouthed back. She pointed at herself, and then at Lauren.
“Me and you.” She mouthed again.
“What are you two talkin’ about behind my back?” Lauren’s mom sensed them.
“Nothin’, ma. Look, I can explain. We can explain.”
“I don’t wanna hear it. Wait until your father is here and we shall discuss this properly.”
Lauren’s dad walked through the door and sat down at the dinner table. He didn’t say a word.
“So. My daughter. A. Lesbian.” He sounded disappointed. Lauren hated disappointing her daddy, and she let hot tears spill down her cheeks. Jennifer watched, biting her lip in sympathy. She didn’t know whether or not to comfort her.
“Daddy I-“ she choked on her voice and Jennifer threw her arms around her, rocking her back and forth.
“Listen, Mr Suddeth, Lauren and I, we were going to tell you today. We didn’t want it to happen through the papers, I swear.” Jennifer almost pleaded with him, to make him see some sort of sense.
“What you two are is none of my concern. All I want is my little girl to be happy.”
“J.J!” Lauren’s mom turned round incredulously.
“Pipe down a minute, Kristy, please.” He turned back to his daughter and the woman cradling her.
“What you are is none of my concern. But I do not want my little girl made a fool out of publically. I read that article. You know what people are sayin’? They’re sayin’ that my little girl is just attention seeking. They’re saying she’s doing it for publicity. They say she’s just after your money. And I know my Lauren ain’t like that. She’s a good girl. I’m gonna ask you two things, and that will be the end of it.” Lauren looked at her father, her eyes pleasing with him. Jennifer remained calm.
“Ask me anythin’, I’ll tell you anythin’ you need to know.”
“Do you love my girl?” he asked. His eyes bore into Jennifer’s.
“With everything I have.” She replied, not breaking eye contact. Lauren’s dad sat for a minute, thinking over the answer before moving on to the next.
“Did anythin’… you know… happen between you two when my girl was underage?”
Jennifer paused. What does he mean by anythin’? She took it as just sex and played it safe.
“Of course not, Mr Suddeth. I knew of Lauren’s feelings for me, and mine for her, but neither of us acted on them until she was 18. I would never have done that to her.” She maintained eye contact until Lauren’s dad looked away. He saw Jennifer and how Lauren was gazing up at her, clutching onto her for comfort. He nodded his head.
“When’s dinner gonna be ready, Kristy?”
Jennifer cradled Lauren and kissed the top of her head.
“What?! That’s it?! You’re just going to let it drop. The woman is 37, and you think it’s okay for our daughter to be caught up in that?! Who knows what she wants with her! She just wants some sexy, young lil’ thing to show off about. No good will come of this, no good I tell you! Look at the way they were acting in that restaurant.” She said the word restaurant like it was the problem, and not them.
“Touching each other up in public. I ask you.”
Jennifer rarely got angry, but she wasn’t about to sit and be accused of using Lauren. Mother or not, she is not taking that lying down. She stood up.
“Now, wait a minute! Mrs Suddeth, I love your daughter. I would not use her for anythin’! Over the course of the tour, we fell in love. Nobody can stop somethin’ like that. Love just happens. It comes out of nowhere. Neither of us set out for any of this to happen. And I was not touching her up. I was trying to be courteous. Because maybe I do care about your daughter. I care about her more than anything I’ve ever cared about in my life. And I’m sorry if I’m coming across as rude, I’m really not like that. But I had to say my piece.”
Lauren’s mom put down the tea towel and didn’t say anything.
“You really want to be with our daughter? And you’re not joshin’? You promise to take care of her, and make sure she’s happy? You do realise how young she is, right?” Lauren stood up next to Jennifer.
“Mom, really this is just too much. She knows how old I am. I love her, mom. And she loves me. She’s all I want. Age doesn’t matter as long as there’s love. We’re taking care of the press. We are. We’re serious.” She turned to Jennifer and put an arm around her waist. They stood united together.
“Well if that’s what you want, I guess I can’t stop you. Now sit down, dinner’s ready.”
Lauren and Jennifer breathed out and Jennifer rubbed Lauren’s arm.
“I love you.” She whispered.
“I love you too.” Lauren replied, and she knew her mom had heard, and she knew her mom smiled, because as she turned around she tried to hide it.
They chatted over dinner, Jennifer winning Lauren’s parents over with her charm and character, just like Lauren knew she would.
They finished dinner and it hit Lauren that she was meant to be staying at home from now on. The thought stung.
“We’d better go, Lauren, it’s getting late and we need to contact Pat to sort all this paper stuff out. I dread to think what’s going to be in tomorrow’s stories now more people have wind of the situation.
“What’s this? I thought you were home now, Lauren?” Lauren’s mom was flustered. She might have been okay with Lauren staying with Jennifer when she thought everything was platonic, but now she knew what was really happening, she didn’t want her daughter to stay at Jennifer’s where they could have sex.
“Mama, it’s really important to me that I stay with Jennifer for a little while. We need to show people we’re serious. Please don’t fight about it…”
“I am not happy with this arrangement, Lauren Alaina. Not one bit.”
“Mrs Suddeth, I will look after her, you have nothin’ to worry about.” Jennifer said, putting her arm around her girlfriend.
“That’s what I’m worried about.” She said, as she cleaned plates away.
“Oh, let her go, Kristy, ain’t gonna do no harm. We just had a lovely dinner.”
“Thank you, daddy!” Lauren jumped from her chair and hugged him.
“I need to pack some more stuff. I’ll be right back.” Lauren raced up to her bedroom.
“Okay, sweetie.” Jennifer cringed at herself using a term of endearment in front of Lauren’s parents.
“Listen, I really do love your daughter. I promise to you that I will cherish her. I really, really will.”
“You’d better not let us down, Jennifer.” Lauren’s dad replied.
“I won’t. May God strike me down if I do.”
Lauren’s dad nodded, and Jennifer excused herself and stood at the bottom of the stairs.
Lauren rushed back down, an overnight bag overflowing with stuff.
“You ready to go?” Lauren smiled.
“Of course.” Jennifer took Lauren’s hand and stroked her thumb across it.
“It was a really lovely dinner, Mrs Suddeth, thank you so much. And Mr Suddeth, I won’t let you down.”
Lauren’s parents stood in the hallway and kissed Lauren’s head in turn.
“You look after her, now.” Lauren’s mom said as they left the door.
Jennifer turned around and waved. She stopped and took Lauren’s bag from her.
“It looks heavy.” She said, simply. She took Lauren’s hand again and they walked to the car.
“I think she’s gonna be okay, Kristy.” Lauren’s mom sniffed her reply.
The girls got back to Jennifer’s and they settled onto the sofa.
“I’m so glad everything went okay today. Thank you for sticking up for me, Jen. It means so much.” Lauren kissed the hand she was playing with.
“I was going to say the same thing. You were so brave to stand up to your parents, darlin’.”
Lauren shifted down into Jennifer’s body a little more. Jennifer’s phone rang. She answered it.
“Hi, Krist.” She said into the receiver.
“Yes, we’re back from Lauren’s. It went okay, eventually. It was a little emotional, but it’s sorted now. I just need to speak to Pat about everything, but she won’t get back to me until tomorrow. Yes, I’m expecting it. They can say what they want, Krist. I don’t care. This is for real, nothin’ they say is goin’ to break us. Thank you. I know it’s going to be awful. I’m ready for it. We’re ready for it. We’re bracin’ ourselves. Goodnight, Kristian.”
“Is he okay?” Lauren asked.
“He’s fine, just worried about what they’ll be saying tomorrow. It’ll be okay.”
“I’m not worried. They can say what they want. I’m in this, Jen. I’m not goin’ away.”
Jennifer kissed the top of her head.
Jennifer woke the next morning in her own time, before Lauren. There was no Kristian jumping through the room, or thumping on the door. She breathed a sigh of relief and snuggled back down with Lauren, spooning her from behind. Lauren felt the bed shifting the weight and woke up smiling.
“Good morning.” She mumbled, without turning around.
“Mmm, good morning.” Jennifer pulled her in closer.
“Ready to face the press?” Lauren wondered out loud.
“You bet your ass I am.” She tightened her grip and let go, reluctantly getting out of bed.
IS LAUREN JUST LOOKING FOR MONEY?
ALAINETTLES FOOLED AROUND IN CLUB ON TOUR
WHO DO THEY THINK THEY’RE KIDDING?
LAUREN AND JENNIFER ASK KRISTIAN TO JOIN IN KINKY TOUR ANTICS
Jennifer groaned as she read the titles. She genuinely felt so sorry for Kristian. He didn’t ask for any of this. Lauren put a cup of coffee on the table in front of Jennifer and wrapped her arms around her from behind, kissing the top of her back.
“It’s like you said, it will sort out.” She kissed her back again and Jennifer turned around to return the hug. She buried her head in Lauren’s neck.
“I know, but it’s difficult.” Jennifer was muffled by Lauren’s hair. Lauren smoothed circles over Jennifer’s back. Jennifer pulled away and dialled Pat’s number.
“Hi, it’s me. Is anything sorted? It is? Oh good. Okay. What time will that be? Okay, thank you, so much. I’ll email them over as soon as I can, thank you.”
Jennifer put the phone down and sighed.
“We need to write up official statements. Oh, Lord. Okay. We should do that now.”
Two hours later, the pair had jointly written a statement, and Kristian had also written one for more clarification. He had sent it to her through email. Jennifer let her shoulders drop as she clicked ‘send’ on her emails.
“We, Jennifer Nettles and Lauren Alaina can confirm that yes, we are in a relationship. We have been since Lauren’s coming of age. Nothing was ever settled before Lauren’s coming of age, nor did any relations happen prior to it. There were no ‘kinky tour bus’ happenings, and we would like to clarify that Kristian Bush, nor anyone else outside us as a couple, were ever asked to join us in any acts. Kristian Bush has released his own statement regarding the matters. Yes, we, Jennifer Nettles and Lauren Alaina can establish that we are in fact in love, and it is not just a publicity act. Thank you.”
“I, Kristian Bush, can declare that I did not know of any relations between Jennifer Nettles’ and Lauren Alaina before her turning 18. I spent a lot of time with them both, and noticed nothing to make me believe of anything going on prior to this. I was never asked to join either of them in their relations. Thank you.”
“That’s that sorted. Pat told us to just go about our business as normal, now.”
Lauren smiled at her.
“You’re amazin’, you know that?” Jennifer just shook her head with a grin.
“Wanna go upstairs? I’ll help you forget?” Lauren asked, a twinkle in her eye.
“Now, Miss Alaina, why would we go upstairs when we have a perfectly good kitchen table right here?” Jennifer spoke in her poshest voice. She moved the laptop from the table and helped Lauren up onto the edge. Standing between her legs, she undid Lauren’s shirt buttons, kissing the exposed flesh as she did so.
“Mmm, Jennifer.” Lauren tilted her head back.
Jennifer pulled Lauren’s shirt off and flung it across the back of one of the kitchen chairs. She pulled her own top over her head, and pulled down her trousers, kicking them into the wall. She delved her tongue into Lauren’s mouth. She pulled Lauren forward into her and their groins bumped together, surprising them both.
I wonder if she knows how perfect I think she is? Jennifer wondered as her tongue explored Lauren’s.
Her kisses were wet and frantic. It was something Lauren never stopped being hungry for. She could kiss Jennifer all day and night and never tire of it. She loved the way she tasted on her tongue, and the way she touched her like she was the most precious thing on the Earth, but knew exactly when she could be rougher and have it not hurt. Now was one of those times. Jennifer pushed Lauren back on the table and climbed over her, pinning her arms above her head with one hand. She bit into the skin above her collarbones, whispering into her ear.
“You are so hot, Lauren. I could do this all day.” She licked Lauren’s sternum, and dug her nails into Lauren’s wrists.
“Don’t stop, please don’t ever stop.” Lauren couldn’t deny that she loved it when Jennifer was rougher. She could take it. She was addicted to Jennifer and would let her do anything she wanted. She craved Jennifer’s undivided attention; she craved the high she got when Jennifer bit into her skin and took her time.
Lauren shook, all of her muscles tightening. Jennifer reached down and yanked her skirt down her hips until it dropped to the floor.
Jennifer captured Lauren’s mouth with her own once more, pulling away to speak again.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted you on this table. To feel you beneath me, the two of us together.” Her hand let go of Lauren’s wrists for a spilt second before it was pushing them back down against the cool wood.
“I love everything about you. I love how you taste, I love how you move, and I love how you shudder every time I do this.” Jennifer bit down on Lauren’s bottom lip, and pulled it towards her before sharply letting go. Lauren shuddered, just as Jennifer said, and Jennifer grinned, licking across the girl’s jawline.
“I love your voice and how you moan my name.” Jennifer pressed her centre against Lauren’s and they gasped at the contact.
“Jennifer…” Lauren’s voice was hoarse, her throat stripped of moisture as Jennifer took over her body.
“What, Lauren? What do you need?” Jennifer pressed their centres together again.
“Fuck.” Words tumbled from Lauren’s lips.
“I need you, Jennifer. Please.” Jennifer pressed their lips together and pushed her tongue into Lauren’s mouth. She brought their bodies together and ground her hips into Lauren’s core, all the while trapping Lauren down by her wrists. Lauren was close, and Jennifer could tell.
“Do you like that?” Jennifer asked.
“Oh, shit, yes!” Lauren gasped.
“Faster.” Lauren managed to let another word escape from her mouth.
Jennifer ground herself faster into Lauren.
“Oh, God, Jennifer!” Lauren screamed her name, her upper body lifting off the table until Jennifer’s restraints forced it to stop, gravity bringing it back down to the table.
“You’re so fucking beautiful, Lauren.” Jennifer gasped. Lauren lifted her legs and wrapped them around Jennifer’s waist, pushing against her hips, increasing the pressure.
Lauren hurtled into a shattering climax, crying her lover’s name. Jennifer felt Lauren tighten her grip around her body and came seconds after, shouting obscenities. She always was a screamer.
She collapsed on top of the girl underneath her, both of them completely out of breath, a tangle of hot breath and sweat, their hearts beating fast.
“Shit.” Lauren expressed, unable to form a coherent sentence.
“That was the best idea you’ve ever had.” Jennifer said, kissing her girlfriend.
“I love you, Jen. You drive me crazy.”
“I love you too.” Jennifer pushed Lauren’s blonde hair out of her face. There was a knock at the door.
“Shit.” Jennifer scrambled off the table and grabbed at her jeans, pulling them on.
“Take your clothes and go upstairs, quickly!” Lauren sped around the kitchen picking up the clothes strewn across the floor and made her way upstairs. Jennifer pulled her top back over her head, kicking her panties next to the washing machine. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.
“Oh Krist, it’s just you.” Jennifer breathed a sigh of relief.
“Who were you expecting?” he replied, confused.
“I don’t even know. Come in.” Jennifer pushed the door open and walked into the kitchen.
“Are you okay? You’re a bit red.” He sat himself down at the kitchen table and rested his elbows on the spot where she’d just taken Lauren. She watched him and couldn’t help but crack a smile.
“What’s so funny?” Kristian looked confused.
“Oh, nothing, don’t worry!” She laughed again.
“Lauren, it’s just Krist!” she called up the stairs.
Kristian looked at Jennifer, who was still holding back giggles. Lauren bounded into the kitchen, her clothes fresh. She looked at Jennifer, who glanced in Kristian’s direction. Lauren got the hint and both girls broke into giggles.
“What?! What is so funny?!” he looked at the table and at his legs, then back to the girls.
“Honestly, Kristian, it’s nothing. Would you like a coffee?” Lauren tried to change the subject.
“Yes, please.” He was still looking confused but ignored it. He sat at the table and watched Lauren make him a coffee. Jennifer went up behind her and put an arm around her waist, kissing the side of her hair a few times. He spread his hands over the table.
“Jennifer…?” Kristian took his hands off the table, and wiped them on his jeans.
“Uhm, yeah?” Jennifer turned around.
“Why is your table damp?”
“Oh. Erm. I-“ Jennifer gabbled.
“She spilled a drink. Mustn’t have been cleared up properly. Right, Jen?” she whacked her hips into Jennifer’s.
“Er, yes! That’s right. Silly me, so clumsy.” Kristian didn’t look fooled.
“Riiight. And is there a reason there’s a pair of pink panties on the chair?”
Lauren spat her coffee back into her cup.
Realisation hit Kristian and he jumped out of his chair.
“Whoaaaaa. Really?! People eat off of that table!” Lauren and Jennifer looked at each other.
“That’s what you were giggling at, isn’t it? And that’s why you looked so flushed when you answered the door. That’s it, I’m calling next time.” He gabbled on, slightly embarrassed.
“Sorry, Krist. Sorry.” Jennifer apologised.
“Anyway, is there a reason you came by? I’ve gotta say, you look like hell.”
Kristian pulled a chair away from the table and gingerly sat down.
“Well. You know I had to leave on your birthday?” Jennifer nodded.
“It was the kids. Well, Tucker. We had a meningitis scare.”
Lauren and Jennifer’s faces dropped.
“What?! Is he okay? What happened?!”
“It’s okay, he’s fine. Turns out it was just a rash. But it had me worried. Just thought you should know. I didn’t want to worry you on your birthday.”
“Oh, Krist. I’m so glad everything’s okay.” Jennifer bent down by the chair and wrapped her arms around him.
“Thank you, honey.” Lauren put a hand on his arm.
“I didn’t want you to worry, but it’s all okay now. Thanks guys. It just had me worried for a while is all.”
“Well, as long as it’s all over now, that’s all that matters!” Lauren said, patting him on the shoulder.
“Listen, when was the last time you had a proper meal?” Jennifer asked, delicately.
“Uhm, that would be your birthday.” Kristian confessed.
“I mean, I’ve been picking at bits, but I’ve been so worried about Tucker that I just haven’t been able to.”
“How about we go get some food? Pizza?” Jennifer went on to suggest, realising how hungry she was after her encounter with Lauren. Lauren visibly lit up at the idea of going out for food.
“Yeah, that sounds good.” He started to stand up from his chair.
“Oh, wait.” He sat back down again.
“I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but I think that there were cameras following me here. They’ve been tailing me since all this press, and neither of you have left the house.” He glanced over at the table.
“Then, we’ll order in. I’ll get the number.”
45 minutes later, the doorbell rang.
“Pizza!” Lauren sprung from her chair to open the door. Just as suspected, there were a few cameras. Lauren ignored them and handed over the money for the delivery, waving as she shut the door behind her.
“Yep, cameras.” She sighed, as she took the food to the kitchen.
“Uhm, could we maybe, not eat at the table? I’m, still a little… creeped.”
“Sure thing, we’ll eat in the living room.” She grabbed the food and they settled themselves in on the sofas.
Lauren and Jen made themselves comfortable, in their ‘usual’ position, Jennifer propped up against the pillows with Lauren draped over her side. Kristian sat himself in the armchair, his pizza warming his lap through the box.
“Have you guys heard anything about the statements we released yet?” he asked, through chews.
“Nope, not yet. Haven’t heard from Pat since we sent them. Nothing new has even been printed about any of us yet. I’m not going to jinx it, though.” Jennifer took a bite out of her pizza.
“They might just be bored of it already.” Lauren chipped in.
“Ha, if I know the press, something like this won’t slip through the cracks so easily. I’m twice your age, honey.”
“I like it.” Lauren snuggled closer into Jennifer, resting her head on her shoulder.
Kristian rolled his eyes and dropped his crust.
“Pia, she-“ Lauren stopped herself. Pia was her ex from the American Idol show, they’d been each other’s first girlfriends.
“Pia what? Honey, I don’t mind you talking about her, you know. I’m not the jealous type!” Jennifer put an arm around the younger girl and stroked the top of her arm.
“I’m just sayin’, she didn’t know what she wanted. First she was straight, then she was bi, then we were together, and then she was straight again and… Ugh.” Lauren shuddered at what they’d gone through together.
“That’s what I like about you, you know what you want. And I know what I want. You.” She blushed a little, not used to being so soppy in front of Kristian. Speaking of who, Kristian coughed and stood up.
“I’m, er, goin’ to get a drink. Anyone want anythin’?” He wiped his hands on his jeans, looking uncomfortable.
“Juice, please!” The girls said in unison.
“Right.” He walked out. Jennifer giggled through a mouthful of cheese.
“I think we embarrassed him.” She giggled again, and Lauren joined in.
“Ah well, he’ll get used to it.” Lauren finished her last slice of pizza.
“Hey, Lauren?” Jennifer started.
“Mmmhmm?” she hummed a reply, snuggling further into Jennifer’s shoulder.
“Would you be okay with us going on a date soon?”
“What kind of date?”
“A public one? A movie or a restaurant or something…”
“Seriously?!” Lauren moved from Jennifer’s shoulder and beamed.
“Well, why not?!” Jennifer giggled.
“I just don’t want the press to…”
“Oh, Lauren.” Jennifer said, pressing a finger to Lauren’s lips.
“I don’t care.” Jennifer kissed Lauren just as Kristian walked through the door balancing three glasses of juice.
“Sorry if I’m… interrupting.” His discomfort was visible.
“Kristian, please, stop being weirded out. This isn’t goin’ away. Now I love you. Thank you for my juice. Sit down.” She grinned to make sure he understood she said it with love.
“Okay, okay. I’m sorry.” He sat down again, gulping back his drink.
“We should try to get hold of Pat tomorrow, just to see what’s happening. Lauren and I are going out together. Publicly.” Kristian’s eyes widened.
“You sure that’s a good idea? So soon?” He sounded nervous.
“Yeah, completely. People need to see that this isn’t just for publicity.” Jennifer ran her fingers through Lauren’s hair, brushing it away from her face. Lauren closed her eyes and bathed in the attention. She was getting sleepy. She always did have a weakness for having her hair played with.
“You getting’ tired, kitten?” Jennifer tried out a new nickname. She liked it.
“Just a little, I’m okay, though…” Lauren yawned.
“Okay, if you’re sure.” Jennifer continued stroking her hair.
Lauren fell silent, dozing in and out of sleep, while Kristian and Jennifer stayed up and talked about pretty much anything that cropped up.
“Oh, I need to pee.” Jennifer suddenly stiffened.
“Then, pee?” Kristian answered in a sarcastic tone.
“I don’t wanna wake her. She’s so cute when she sleeps. Look at her.” Jennifer smiled down at the girl curled up on her lap.
Kristian sighed and watched them both, the corners of his mouth curling up as he watched the two completely be at peace with one another.
“You’re really serious, huh?” He finally said, after about 30 seconds of watching. It seemed longer.
“Yeah, I really am, Krist.” Jennifer leaned her head back against the pillows.
They sat a little longer in silence, Jennifer watching Lauren breathe steadily in and out as she slept, and Kristian realised that actually, yeah. They were actually pretty perfect together.
“Listen, Jen. It’s late. I’m gonna go, okay?” Kristian picked up his empty glass and pizza boxes.
“Oh, you don’t have to. You’re more than welcome to the sofa. I know it’s a bit late to be bothered to drive back.” She shifted, careful not to move too much.
“No, Jen, really. I’ll see you as soon as I can, and I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay. Come here.” She reached up her free arm and gave him a hug.
“I’m really glad I have you.” She said, as he stooped down.
“You too. I’ll see you soon.” He bent up and left the house.
“Lauren, honey?” Jennifer stroked Lauren’s arm and whispered to wake her.
“Mhmmhm.” Lauren stretched, keeping her eyes closed.
“Bed time, sweetie. Come on.” She lifted Lauren’s head from her lap and stood up, her knees clicking. She took Lauren’s hands and slowly helped her up, wrapping her arms around her for support. She kissed her forehead.
“Come on, let’s get you into bed.”
“Ohh, Jen, I’m way too tired for that can it just-“ Lauren groaned, shuffling towards the stairs, leaning on Jennifer.
“Honey, I meant for sleep. To bed for sleep.” Jennifer couldn’t help but smile.
“Oh. Okay. Sleep is good.”