"Hey, Zac. What are you doing out here all by yourself?" Elizabeth Morgan said as she crept up behind Zac and wrapped her arms around his stomach.
"Hmmm. Oh, hey Elise. Beautiful night, isn't it?" Zac said as he placed his hands on top of hers.
"Is something wrong? I didn't see you inside and came out to see if everything was okay." Elise turned Zac around to face her as he drew her into a big bear hug.
"No, nothing's wrong. I just wanted to have a little time to myself before we hit the road tomorrow night." Zac ran his fingers through her shoulder-length brunette locks as he kissed the tip of her forehead.
"Good. I'm glad to hear that everything is okay. Did you want me to leave you alone or did you want to go back inside?" Elise said as she nestled her head onto his chest.
"Nah, I want to stay out here. C'mon, let's go up on the roof and talk." Zac climbed the railing of the patio, reaching for her hand after he had situated his body on the cool tile roof.
"So, are you excited about tomorrow night? Do you have those butterflies in your stomach?" Elise asked as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder where she rested her head between his shoulder blade and chest.
"In a way yes, and in a way no. I have the butterflies in my stomach, but I think it's only because it's been three years since our last album came out and we have a different fan base. Some so-called fans have left and new ones have joined. It makes it easier knowing that we have the fans from when we first came out. It's an awesome experience growing up with the fans. Also, some pressure is added playing smaller venues because I know other fans want to see us and we want to do all that we can, but being that our album isn't selling as well as Middle of Nowhere, we have to get out on the road and boost it with ticket sales. I think as soon as I get on stage tomorrow night everything will be fine. Tay and Ike and I have been itching to tour, and we finally have the opportunity. We want to make every show different from the last and blow the roof off the venues." Zac grinned as he stared up into the star-lit heavens.
"I know you guys will kick some butt when you tour. I'm so sick of the pop phenomenon. I'm glad that you guys are still going strong. Don't worry, everything will be fine." Elise said as she ran her fingers over his t-shirt. A tiny giggle slipped out of her mouth and before she knew it, her whole body shook with laughter.
"What's so funny?" Zac questioned as he propped himself up into a sitting position, watching Elise try to hold her body back from her giggles.
"I remember watching you for the first time at May Fest. All three of you had the same crew cut and adorable matching outfits. I remember hearing Ike's impressions on "Summertime Blues" and I fell in love with your music instantly. You've grown up right before my eyes. It seemed just like yesterday you were complaining about how girls had cooties." Elise said in between giggles. Her hands roamed once again over his chest as it came to rest on his forming six-pack.
"Yeah, it does seem just like yesterday. You've always been there for us. I don't know what I'd do without you." Zac's voice was barely above a whisper as he tilted her chin upward and gazed into the shadows of her eyes. Quickly, he turned his head away as he lay back down on the tile.
"I don't know what I'm doing. I like Elise, but the last thing I want to do is tag her emotions along the night before I go on tour."
"Zac?" Elise's voice pierced through the fog of his emotions.
"Hmmm?" Zac croaked as he felt like a ton of sawdust had been dumped on his tongue.
"Will you keep in touch with me while you're on tour?" Her eyes searched his face, hoping that he would say 'yes'.
"Duh! You think I would just leave you stranded while I'm gone for a good three of four months? I'm hurt! Make sure you give me a call tomorrow afternoon and when you come over before we leave for the sound check I'll have the front row passes and the all-access tickets for you. Geez Elise, how long have we been friends?" Zac pretended to pout but instead his infectious smile shone through.
"Since you were ten." Her hands stole into his hair as she gently twisted a loose strand around her index finger. "I like your hair this long; it's a good length for head-banging."
"Well, you and I both know that I'm the only one that can make long hair look good on guys. Ike's hair always frizzed out like Carrot Top's, while Taylor's was mistaken for being the girl in the band." Both of them burst into a fit of laughter.
"Will you let me pull it back into a pony-tail before you leave for your sound check tomorrow?" Her left hand loosened from his locks as it splayed across his chest, hugging his body closer to hers.
"Of course. Just as long as you don't rip out every strand like that make-up beautician on the set of the This Time Around video. Man, she was like a beast!"
Elise's eyes grew as big as golf balls as she covered her mouth to stifle the laugh that emitted from her throat.
"Zac, what's so special about lying here on the roof? I remember when you guys were looking for a new house and your only request was an easy access to the roof; why's that?" Elise whispered as her hand roamed freely over his black 'Black Hole Sun' t-shirt.
"I guess it all happened when I was a kid. One day back at the old house Ike, Tay, and I were climbing the old oak tree next to the roof. As soon as I scrambled across the branch closest to the roof, it gave way on me and I tumbled to the ground below. When I woke up, this beautiful angel had broken my fall. She had gently laid me on the twigs and golden leaves that softened the impact. When I asked her for her name she gently put a finger to her lips and stroked my cheek. Ike and Tay had run into the house to get some help, but when I turned my head back in her direction, she was gone. I try to climb up here almost every night to just thank her and God. I know there have been many situations where I should have been injured seriously, but I know she's out there somewhere looking out for me." Zac's mocha-brown eyes searched the midnight sky hoping for any sign of his guardian angel.
"Wow. That's some experience. What would you say to her if she appeared to you again?" Elise said as Zac's right hand tenderly journeyed through her brunette strands.
"I would like to know what her name is and I would thank her for always being there one step behind me, ready to catch me when I fall." A small breeze swept in their path as Zac finished his sentence.
"Did you hear that? I could have sworn I heard a voice." Zac straightened up as his ears strained to hear the voice again. Elise sat up also, as she hugged her knees to her chin.
"No. Maybe it's just the wind. C'mon Zac, let's go back inside before the party is over. This is after all your party. Have a little fun before you have to cram yourself in that miniscule bunk on your tour bus." Elise said as they carefully stepped over to the extended patio and strolled into the warm family room.
"My name is Melody. It's okay Zac, I know that you're thankful." Melanie whispered crouched in a little corner, inches away from where Zac had been. With the twinkle of an eye, she disappeared into the star-lit night.
Last night I held Aladdin's Lamp
So I wished that I could stay
But before the thing could answer me
Well someone went and took the lamp away
I looked around, lousy candle was all I found
Well you don't know what we can find
Why don't you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
You don't know what we can see
Why don't you tell your dreams to me
Fantasy will set you free
Steppenwolf jammed in the background as teenagers mingled in the Hanson house.
"I heard that you'll be playing this song in concert. Are there any other covers that you'll be playing?" Elise asked Zac as she leaned her back up against his knees on the floor of their living room couch.
"Now why would I tell you that when you'll be hearing it tomorrow night?" Zac smirked as Elise stuck out her tongue.
"Well, I didn't care anyway." Elise grinned devishly as she pretended to walk away, but Zac grabbed her hand and tugged her into his lap.
"Stay here. Don't leave me by myself. I need you." Zac's voice croaked as he brushed her hair to the side that dared to cover her chocolate eyes, and planted a butterfly kiss to her forehead. Elise closed her eyes as she let his arms envelop her into his warm body. She breathed in deeply the scent of his faint cologne as her lips came to rest on his slender neck. Her arms instantly wrapped around his broad frame as a shaky sigh spilled from her lips.
"Zac, I will never leave you. I'll always be here for you." Elise whispered against his neck as she planted a soft kiss on his tan skin. Zac's breath caught in his throat as her hot breath sent goose bumps over every inch of his body. Without warning, Zac gently pushed Elise's body away as he jumped up from the couch. Her eyes questioned his action, but his infectious smile put her at ease as he grabbed her hand and led her to their newly furnished in-home studio. His hand softly twisted the doorknob closed as he strode over to the mixing table and popped in a cd. After slumping his body into a nearby leather couch, he motioned his left index finger for Elise to join him. A devilled grin on her face, her body molded into his lap as he laid her back up against his 5' 10" frame. His tongue tortured her neck and earlobe as he whispered his emotions for her. Elise's heart soared to the heavens as she felt the thickness of his words. His arm enclosed around her waist as they talked for what seemed like hours. When their eyes closed, they drifted into a blissful sleep.
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