For complete disclaimers see part 1.

If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at:



Kim Pritekel

Part 4

Willow and Rachel stood in a dimly lit hallway, lined with large, black cases that would hold the band's equipment.

"What are we supposed to do?" Rachel whispered, looking around, seeing the door behind them that she knew would lead to the now empty auditorium.

"I haven't a clue," the blonde said, resting against the cool, cinderblock wall. The security guard had told them to wait there, so that's what they were doing, and had been for about five minutes.

"Ladies," both nurses turned, startled by the sudden appearance of a very large man, bald and dressed in black with an I.D. hanging from his neck. We waved them with his fingers. "Follow me."

As he led them down the hall, they stuck together, nervous. Closed doors began to appear in the wall to their right, various signs marking their purpose- Electrical Room, Storage, Props, and then Private.

The Mr. Clean look-a-like stopped at that door, holding it open for them. "Go on in," he said, the door closing behind them, the large man gone.

They were in another hallway, this one well lit. Noise could be heard further down where the light from various open doors could be seen. There was laughter, and whooping before conversation. People, all dressed like Mr. Clean, swarmed from room to room, talking amongst themselves, some barking out orders for the removal of equipment, the breaking down of the stage flats. None paid a lick of attention to the women.

Willow felt uncertain, in a strange world that she didn't understand. She had no idea where they were supposed to go or what they were supposed to do. She felt like an encroacher.

Finally a familiar face appeared out of the closest room, which the nurse was beginning to realize were dressing rooms. He had been playing guitar, his long, blonde hair back into a ponytail, as it had been down and free during the show.

"Hey. Are you the nurse?" he asked, walking over to them, a half-drank bottle of water in his hand.

"Yes. Willow Bowman," she said, holding out her hand.

"Hey. Nice to finally meet you. I'm Joey Manning." He grinned at both women, charm oozing from him. "Come on, I'll take you to Chris." He turned to head back down the hall, Willow and Rachel following. The redhead's eyes were fixed firmly to his leather-clad butt, fanning herself.

Christine held her hands in tights fists, willing them to stay put. She watched as Bob went through her makeup kit, tossing tubes and compacts to the floor.

"These colors don't work for you," he muttered, opening a tube of lipstick, grimacing at the color.

"Be glad I wear the shit at all, Bob," she growled. She hadn't expected him anywhere on the tour. He usually stayed back in California making more deals on her behalf.

"And what the hell is this shit?" he walked over to her, leaving his mess on the vanity counter and floor. He snapped the white tank top she'd changed into mid-show. "This isn't what you were fitted for." He looked into her eyes, on level with his, dark and dangerous.

"It's called a shirt, Bob," Christine stared back with just as much intensity. "And I told you back in L.A. that I wasn't going to dress like a whore."

He moved in closer, nose to nose with her. "And I told you to wear it." It was a battle of the wills as they stared each other down. Robert Knowles could tell his ingénue wasn't going to back down. Seems she'd turned into a downright diva. Fine. He knew how to deal with her and nip the problem in the bud. "Don't fuck with me, Christine," he murmured, looking her face over. "What would the world say if they knew their hero was a two-bit whore with a drug problem?"

Christine was trembling, hatred seething through her at an alarming pace. Her nostrils flared, pulse racing in her temples and neck.

The spell and thoughts of homicide were broken by the clearing of a throat. Blue eyes tore from brown and saw Joey standing in the doorway

"Chris, you've got some visitors," the guitarist said quietly, moving aside to reveal Willow and Rachel.

"You enjoy your little nurse," Bob said, bringing the singer's attention back to him. He took a step back, bringing his hands up to brush non-existent lint from Christine's shoulders. "We'll continue this later." Turning, about to leave, he stopped. "Oh, and if you play that bullshit that you did during your encore again, I'll pull your song-writing rights." With that, he was gone.

The manager eyed the two women as he passed them in the doorway, stopping for a brief moment.

"Mrs. Bowman, nice to see you again." He gave her a toothy grin, his skin as smooth and tanned as she remembered.

"Mr. Knowles." The blonde smiled, but she felt suddenly nauseous. Something about the well dressed man made her nervous and feel covered in slime once he'd oozed by.

Christine took several deep breaths, knowing she had to calm herself. She really wanted to meet and speak with Willow Bowman, but didn't want to be completely keyed up with she did.

She'd have to give Joey a hug and kiss later on- he was keeping the women occupied, showing them around Christine's dressing room, explaining things to them and making them laugh with various little stories of being on the road.

Finally getting herself under control, Christine put a smile on her face and turned to the trio.

"Oh, don't lie, Joey. You set that fire in the Ritz, not Wade." The guitarist looked at the singer, relieved. He was running out of off the top of his head stories. She turned her winning smile to the two nurses. "Welcome, ladies."

"I'll leave you three be now." Joey grinned once more at Willow and Rachel, winking at the redhead, making her swoon.

The singer looked at the woman who had saved her life, really able to see her for the first time. She was a small woman, petit yet didn't look frail in the least. Her green gaze was strong and steady, though from the flushed skin of her face, Christine could tell the nurse was nervous. She wore jeans that hugged narrow hips, and showed off muscular thighs. A fitted baby doll tee set off the outfit.

"I must say," she said quietly, a soft smile grazing her lips. "You look a lot different minus the creepy clown makeup."

The blonde smiled shyly, looking down for a moment before pinning her with those beautiful eyes.

"It's really nice to see you, Miss Gray, to know that you're alright." Willow said softly, meaning every word.

"Please call me Christine." Blue eyes turned to the redhead. "I don't think we've met. Hi, I'm Christine Gray, midnight scuba diver."

Rachel was surprised at the way the singer poked fun at herself. She smiled, taking the hand extended to her. "Rachel Dodge. I'm a nurse in the Mercy ER."

"I thought you looked familiar. Thank you ladies so much for coming. I hope you had a good time?" Raising a dark brow, she looked from one to the other.

"You were wonderful," Willow said with reverence. "I've never been to such an amazing show,"

"It was fantastic," Rachel agreed, all smiles.

"I'm so pleased," Christine was surprised to feel the heat of embarrassment ride up her neck, and the need to say, "Aw, garsh, thanks." Instead, she turned to Willow and said, "I hope you don't mind, but there's something I've been wanting to do for six months."

"Sure," the nurse looked expectantly at her, stunned when the tall, beautiful singer opened her arms, and grabbed her in a tight embrace.

Willow was stiff at the unexpected physical contact, but then found herself leaning into the warm embrace, tentatively wrapping her arms around the singer's back. The hug was brief, but ended with a firm squeeze.

Christine pulled away, but kept her hands on the blonde's shoulder as she looked down into her eyes.

"Thank you, Willow. Those words seem so puny for the depth of my gratitude, but I can't quiet think of anything else to say."

Willow was stunned yet again. The singer didn't have to say a thing- she could see it in those bright, clear blue eyes. She nodded, hoping that Christine could see her acceptance of the gratitude.

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat," she finally managed.

"I have no doubt." They shared a smile, then Christine broke the spell. "So, did you ladies meet the band?"

"Just Joey," Rachel said quickly, then blushed furiously. Both Willow and Christine grinned.

"Well, come on. I'll introduce you to the rest of the boys."

As they followed her out of the room, Willow was lost in thought. She was amazed at how warm and generous Christine Gray was, as well as drop dead gorgeous. None of the singer's pictures or commercials could do her justice. She was by far the most beautiful woman the blonde had ever seen.

She thought back to that cold, frightening night six months earlier. Christine had been ghostly pale, eyes sunken in, her body so thin she looked as though she could be snapped in half if not handled with care. In short, she had looked sick.

Now, green eyes wondered over the form ahead of her. She was tanned and vivacious, filled with life. It was a rare thing for Willow to see patients once they'd left the hospital, and to see this magnificent turn around filled the nurse with an unending gratitude to be able to do what she did, and have the knowledge to help Christine that night. It made it all worth while.

"What are you grinning at?" Rachel asked, brow raised.

"I don't know. I guess it's just an amazing thing for me to be able to see her, you know? After that night, I don't know," she shivered at the memory.

"That really got to you, didn't it?" the nurse whispered, eyeing the singer to make sure she couldn't hear them. The blonde nodded.


"Guys, I'd like you to meet two very special women." Christine walked into Eli's dressing room where the band had gathered, beers already cracked open. Three sets of eyes turned to look at Willow and Rachel. The singer brought both woman to her sides, a hand on both their outer shoulders. "This is Rachel, one of the nurses who helped to bring my sorry ass back to the world of the living, and this is Willow Bowman. She saved my life."

Willow blushed, unsure what to do with the round of applause she got from the band. Finally able to meet their eyes, she whispers a thank you.

"Ladies, the guy standing over there, as you know, is Joey, better known to his mother as Joseph Howard Dillon. Joey's up there with his idol and mentor Eddie Van Halen. Greatest guitarist in the world. Sitting with beer in hand, Eli Stein, drummer extraordinaire, and finally Davis Washington. Keyboards and bass."

"Nice to meet you two fine looking ladies." Davis grinned, teeth blinding against his dark skin.

"Hello," Willow said shyly with a small wave.

"You guys were fantastic," Rachel's eyes were huge as she took in the guitars laying around, drum sticks on the vanity counter, and the atmosphere that radiated from those guys. They were rockers, musicians. That was something she'd always been drawn to. When she was a teenager she'd told her mother she wanted to be a groupie for Bon Jovi when she got older.

If only she weren't with Connor. She sighed at the lost opportunity. She'd certainly love to be a groupie for Joey Dillon. His long, blonde hair, bright blue eyes …

Rachel shook herself out of her less than pure thoughts, seeing smiling green eyes studying her. She glared at her friend, feeling embarrassed.

"Hey, Chris, we were all about to grab something to eat. You commin'?" Joey asked, standing next to the singer, eyeing Rachel with an appreciative gaze.

Christine turned to her guests with questioning eyes. "You guys want to come?"

"Oh, we can't," Rachel said, true regret coloring her words. "I have to work tonight and get this one back home." She put her arm around Willow's waist.

"Do you work tonight, Willow?" Christine asked, leaning her shoulder against the doorframe, arms crossed over her chest.

"No," the blonde said slowly, noting the smile that spread across the singer's face.

"Then how about this, Rachel you go on to work, and I'll personally make sure Willow gets home before curfew." The brunette grinned.


"Your band mates are pretty crazy." Willow glanced over at the woman who sat next to her in the very back of the stretched limo. Christine chuckled.

"You have no idea." She met the smiling green eyes. "Thanks for coming to dinner with us. I hope we didn't scare you too badly."

"No. Not too bad." They shared a shy smile. "No, in all honesty, it was fun. You guys are so fun to watch together."

"Well, most of us have been together for many years. Eli is our newest member."

"When did he join?"

"Three years ago," Christine said quietly. Willow studied the singer's profile, feeling the sadness that roiled off her. Then it hit her.

"After the accident."

Christine nodded. "Yeah."

"I'm sorry." Willow remembered reading about it when she'd done research on Christine Gray. Three years ago original band member Frances Ray, or Frankie, had been killed in a horrible motorcycle accident.

They were both silent, the long car turning onto the private road that led to Willow's ranch, driving under the wrought iron arches. Glad for the reprieve, Christine leaned toward the window, watching the dark scenery pass by. Unfortunately she wasn't able to see much, but she had the feeling the ranch was something to see come daylight.

"You live here, huh?" she said, her voice wistful.

"Yeah." Willow couldn't take the pride from her voice. "My grandparents made this place special."

The singer looked at the blonde, moved by the reverence she heard in her voice and saw in her posture.

The limo came to a stop in front of the farm house, and Willow turned to Christine. "Want a midnight tour?"

At the question, Christine was poised to happily accept, but then realized just what a time crunch she was in. Smiling apologetically at the nurse she said, "I really would love to, Willow, but I can't. We need to get moving."

"Oh, of course." Willow smiled, feeling silly for even offering it. Why on earth would this woman, famous, rich, talented beyond all belief, want to see what the simple people do? She wanted to melt into the car mat.

The door was suddenly opened, the driver extending a hand to help the blonde out. She took it, surprised to find Christine following her out. She looked up at the singer uncertainly.

"Thank you for coming, Willow," Christine said. "It meant a lot."

"Oh," Willow was stunned by how genuine those words were. "It was truly my pleasure, Miss Gray."


"Christine." Willow smiled sheepishly.

"Good. Here," Willow found something placed in her hand, and realized it was a small slip of paper. "If you ever need anything, please don't hesitate to call." At the stunned look, Christine suddenly knew she could trust this woman with the personal information she'd just given her. It wasn't just anyone she gave a path of contact to.

"Thank you," Willow said with awe, having noticed a phone number on the paper she pocketed. She then found herself wrapped up in a warm hug.

"It was nice to see you, Willow," Christine said, releasing the smaller woman.

"You, too. Please, please take care of yourself." The blonde looked up into blue eyes, her own pleading. The singer smiled with a nod.

"I promise."

With that she was gone.

Willow watched as the red taillights of the limo disappeared into the darkness, a buzzing soaring through her body. She was filled with adrenaline as she fully realized what her evening had been.

"Hey, babe," Kevin called out from the living room as Willow headed toward the stairs.

"Hey," she answered, voice in a daze. Kevin's brow drew, leaning back in the couch, trying to get a glimpse of his wife. "Did you have fun?"


"Long concert,"

"We went to dinner after." Willow tossed her keys and wallet to the small table at the foot.

"But I thought Rachel had to work tonight?" Kevin said, standing in the archway between the living room and small foyer where his wife stood, foot on the bottom step.

"She did." With that quiet response, the blonde headed up to bed. She was exhausted from all the excitement of the night. Kevin watched her go, shaking his head as he turned back to the living room and ESPN.

Willow headed out of the bathroom, soft flushing behind her, and grabbed her shirt from the hem, pulling it off in one fluid movement. Tossing it to the laundry basket at the foot of the bed, she emptied her pockets, pulling out change, Chap Stik and the folded piece of paper. Looking at it, she shook her head in disbelief.

"I can't believe she gave me her number," she muttered, tucking the paper into her jewelry box.


Christine sat back against the soft, leather seat of the long car. She sighed happily, thinking over the evening. Willow was everything she expected someone so generous to be. She could sense a level of compassion in the nurse that she'd never seen before.

Such a beautiful woman. She hoped to see her again.

The ride back to the hotel was quiet, Christine so lost in her thoughts that before she knew it, they were pulling into the circular drive, and her door was being opened.

"Have a nice night, miss," the man in the chauffeur uniform said, tipping his hat. "Thank you." He bowed slightly at the money given him as a tip

"Good evening, Miss Gray," the doorman said, opening the tinted glass door at the front of the hotel.

"Good evening to you, too. Thank you." She passed through with a smile, hurrying to the elevator banks. She had a lot to do tonight, and didn't want to be sidetracked by fans or the press. Truth be told, she was exhausted and just wanted to rest in a real bed. Not to be.

Light flashing green, Christine removed her keycard and pushed the door to her suite open. She groaned when she saw the lone figure sitting in a chair, legs gracefully crossed and a well manicured hand casually holding a tumbler filled with amber fluid.

"What are you doing in here, Bob?" she sighed, headed toward her bedroom. She'd changed clothes after the show, but was craving a hot shower.

"I told you we weren't finished with our conversation." He downed the rest of his drink, setting the glass on the glass and wrought iron table next to him.

"What's to talk about?" Christine called from the bedroom, digging through her suitcase until she found a comfortable pair of jeans and tank top to change into after her shower.


The singer turned, seeing her manager standing in the doorway of the room, noting his perfectly tailored slacks with a white button up shirt tucked into them, sleeves rolled up to mid-forearm. That was his 'sloppy' look.

"Such as?" Tired of this, the singer turned to him, hand on hip.

"Such as what was that garbage you pull out of your ass during the encore? That was not on the roster, Christine." Arms folded across his chest, he took an aggressive stance.

"I wrote that song, Bob. I wanted to try it out on a live audience, and it worked. They loved it." She turned back to her mission, tossing a thong and pair of socks onto the bed next to the jeans and tank.

"You sitting at a piano, spotlight on you, singing some bullshit song about love is not you, and it will never be you. Got me?"

Christine gasped, Bob's voice suddenly directly behind her. She quickly moved away from him, putting the bed between them.

"Are you threatening me?" she asked, anger building.

"I'm simply telling you how it is. I've not steered you wrong in almost twenty years, and I'm not about to start now." Bob leaned against the dresser behind him.

"I'm a big girl now, Bob. I'm not some naïve kid off the streets," Christine pointed out.

"You think you can take care of yourself?" he asked, dark brow raising, as was his voice, though still under careful control. "Then why the fuck were you in rehab not six months ago?"

Jaw muscles jumping in frantic beats, she made her way around the bed in a second, mere inches from Knowles.

"Don't kid yourself, Bob," she growled. "My problems are my own, but know that you're at the root of many of them. You're only going to push me so far and then that'll be it. Got me?"

Bob stared at her, will power alone keeping his jaw from dropping. IN all his years as Christine Gray's manager, she'd never spoken back to him, or outright threatened him. He was at loss for words. The singer used that to her advantage.

"Now get out of here so I can get ready to go." She grabbed her clothes then headed into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.

Robert Knowles stood there in the empty room, blinking rapidly. Swallowing his anger down, he glanced down at the bed, not two feet in front of him. Reaching out, his fingers made contact with the soft, silky material of one of Christine's shirts. Sighing sadly, he gently tucked the shirt back into the suitcase and left the suite.


"This is Christine Gray. Christine, Dr. Wayne Pollani." Fourteen years old, I'm left by the door as the two men consulted. "Wayne, I was every part of her checked. I want to know anything she has, sexual diseases, birth defects, every and anything. Even if she has lice, I need to know."

"You've got it, Bobby," the doctor said, slapping the manager on the shoulder. The door to the large office opened, almost knocking me on my ass. I growl.

"Oh, sorry, hon." A young woman wearing scrubs smiles, holding a gown in her arms. "I need you to go across the hall and put this on, okay? I need everything gone, panties, bra and all jewelry. Alright?"

I nod dumbly, not sure what to do. I was overwhelmed, suddenly finding more people in the room as a man and a woman entered pushing a table of equipment and covered tools. With a smile, Robert Knowles leaves, leaving me alone with these people. I go to change. Not sure what to do with my only pair of jeans, and one of three shirts, I fold them and leave them in the curtained cubicle.

In bare feet, and trying to not let my ass show, I go back across the hall to the office where it's just the doc and that nurse chick. I swallow, uncertainty flowing through me in very unwelcome waves.

"Come over here, Christine, honey," the nurse grabs me by the arm and leads me to the scale where my weight and height are written down, Dr. Pollani and the nurse muttering amongst themselves. God damn, I feel so exposed! Maybe that's cause the doc is telling me to lay on the table and put my legs in the cold, metal stirrups.

I have never in my life been so humiliated as he sits on a stool between my legs looking into my twat, the nurse standing behind him scribbling in my chart whatever he says.

I stare up at the ceiling, trying to forget what's happening to me. I could go out and fuck ten guys and not feel nearly as exposed.

I cringe as I feel something cold and metal inserted inside me, making me feel as if I'm being fucked by the Terminator or something.

Vaginal and anal rape, at least it feels like it, finished, and I was sat up, asked a ton of questions, then finally the doc gets around look into my eyes, my nose my ears.

Like a day later, okay, so about two hours later, the doc is done and I'm finally allowed to get dressed.

In a whirlwind flurry I'm whisked off into a town car with darkly tinted windows, then up into the hills of Beverly Hills, through locked gates and on up to a mansion, the likes I've only seen in People magazine.

I'm so tired and just want a bed. My body hurts from being almost ripped apart by that damn doctor.

The house is chaos as I'm ushered in, people flying around everywhere, barking orders, following orders, all of them ignoring me.

"Tonya, take her." Knowles shoves me toward a young Hispanic woman who takes hold of my hand, wordlessly leading me toward the massive staircase.

"Where am I?" I ask, looking frantically around as we hurry past a hall of closed doors, the one at the very end being opened by a key Tonya slides in the lock.

"You're at Mr. Bob's house, and this will be your room while you're here." The door opens to a large room with a bed, two dressers and two huge windows. A closed door off to the left is what I assume is a bathroom.

"How long-" the door closes and Tonya is gone. "Great fucking hospitality," I mutter, heading over to the closed door. Yep, bathroom, claw-footed tub, toilet and oval mirror. Very basic. "Jesus. Feel like I'm in a fucking hospital."

The room is just as basic, though nice. Certainly nicer than where I've been. Looking out one of the windows I see the sun is high, the grass green and flowers in bloom.

"So this is California." Before this joker showed up I never even flew before. Don't like it. There's just something unnatural about being thirty-five thousand feet in the air when God didn't give us wings.

Sleep came quick. It wasn't anything new for me to sleep in a strange place, but this time it was nice for it to actually be clean. Man, some of those motels got nasty!

I don't remember the last time I'd had sheets that felt or smelled so good. I stretched my body out, luxuriating in the feel against my naked skin. Maybe this wouldn't be such a bad deal after all.


"Whoa, baby. That a girl." The horse pulled up to the fence, Willow swinging off her back. "That's my Star. Good girl," the horse snorted, nudging the blonde with her nose. "How about an apple, huh?" Heading over to the bucket on the porch, she grabbed a nice, juicy Granny Smith and headed back to rail fence that Star leaned her head over. "Here, baby."

The horse took the treat, the hairs on her nose tickling Willow's palm. She smiled, running her hand down the mare's nose, fingering the white star pattern.

"Hey, babe?" Kevin called out from the garage.


"Have you seen my fishing gear?"

Willow glanced toward the large structure, hearing things being moved around, then a crash.

"I'm fine!" the man called out, making Willow dread what she'd find. As she got to the garage, Kevin came out, fishing pole and tackle box in hand. Showing her the rod with a victorious grin, then loaded them into the back of his truck.

"Do you have everything?" she asked, peeking over the side of the large truck, seeing the tent in its bag and sleeping bag. The cooler filled with food they'd bought four days before, and now the rod and tackle box.

"I think so." He grinned, his fishing vest in place, which the blonde knew would be accompanied by that horrible fishing hat he loved so much.

"You guys have fun, and no falling into the river this time," she poked him.

"Yeah, yeah." Leaning down, he kissed his wife, savoring her feel and flavor. "See you Tuesday night."

"Okay." Giving him one last squeeze, Willow let him go, watching as he climbed into the truck cab. With a last wave, he started up the engine and headed out.

Willow took care of Star, then headed toward the house. Kevin and his three brothers were going fishing for the next four days, leaving her by herself. She relished the time, almost skipping to the porch.

Walking into the quiet house, Willow trailed her fingers over the walls of the entry hall, meaning to change the wallpaper, yet so hesitant. It had been her grandma's favorite, and she was loathe to lose it, even though she loathed it.

Peeking into the kitchen, she saw the dishes still drying in the rack by the sink, the newspaper folded neatly at the edge of the table in the breakfast nook. All was quiet.

Not sure what she wanted to do, she hurried up the stairs, which squeaked all the way. Once reaching the bedroom she shared with Kevin, she decided to take a long, hot bath in their Jacuzzi. She striped down, walking around nude to get a little friend from the top drawer of her bedside table. Tucking the small toy in her palm, she noticed her jewelry box out of the corner of her eye.

The paper was cool between her fingers.


Eyes closed, her fingers raced over the keys, Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata filling the large room and her soul. The smooth feel of the ivory, slickness of the black keys.

Eyes closed, head swaying, she found peace.

The song ended, the final note uttered with such love, such care, slowly dying out in the space.

Christine's head turned at the soft knock on her music room door.

"Yeah, Millie?"

"You've got a call, Christine." The older woman walked into the room, cell phone in hand.

"Who is it?" the singer turned on the slick wood bench to give her house keeper her full attention.

"Willow Bowman," Millie said, a twinkle in her dark eyes.

"Oh. Thank you." Christine smiled, taking the phone. The older woman nodded, then hurried out, softly closing the door behind her. "Willow?" There was a slight pause.

"Um, hi." The blonde sounded so nervous.

"Are you okay? Do you need anything?" Christine sat forward on the piano bench, worry suddenly filling her. She heard the soft laugh on the other end of the line.

"I'm fine, Christine. I just, I don't know, just wanted to say hi, I guess." Willow leaned back against the headboard, tucking the phone beneath her cheek and shoulder.

"Oh," the singer covered her eyes with her hand, feeling silly. "Hi. Sorry, just got worried for a second."

"It's no problem. How are you doing? I hear your tour was an all around success. Working on anything new?"

"Yeah, I was pleased with the tour. Glad it's over for now, though," Christine smiled, finger tracing one of the piano keys. "No, I'm taking a break right now, writing some new songs. Oh, and I'm fine."

Willow smiled then took a deep breath to gather her courage. "Listen, Christine, um, I'm glad to hear that you're taking some time off because uh, well, to be honest I do have a slightly ulterior motive for calling."

"Oh?" Truly intrigued, the singer leaned back, bracing her weight on her hand.

"Yes. Um, well, see Kevin is out fishing with his brothers over the weekend, and I have some time off, and I was wondering if maybe, well, if perhaps, you might want that tour now." She squeezed her eyes shut, grimacing as she waited for the answer.

"Yes." Christine said, not even thinking. She surprised herself with such a spontaneous reaction, but didn't regret it.

Willow shot up. "Yes?"

"Yes. I'll come."

"Oh," the blonde let out her held breath, a smile spreading. "Oh. Great."

"When would you like me to come?" Christine stood, heading out of the room to write a note for Millie to start on the arrangements.

"Well, uh, whenever it's feasible for you."

"Well, let's see," the singer glanced over at the wall clock. "It's ten-thirty a.m. here, about a four hour flight, give or take, how about I get there around three?"

Blink, blink. "Yeah, okay!"

"Great!" Christine grinned. "See you then."

"Kay," Willow hit the off button on her phone, a grin plastered to her face. Then, "Oh my god!"

Jumping up from the bed, the blonde began to run around the house cleaning like she'd never cleaned before, changing sheets on every single bed in the house, not knowing if Christine Gray would be staying for the weekend or if she'd don her cape and fly back home that night.

She quickly took a shower, making sure her little buddy was safely put away back in the bedside table. There was no way she could do that then face Christine Gray. She'd melt from embarrassment, thinking that perhaps the singer would be able to look into her immediate past and see what she'd been up to that afternoon.

Pushing those thoughts from her mind, she quickly took care of the animals, then waited. Impatiently. Her eyes strayed to the clock above the kitchen sink for the fifth time in fifteen minutes.

"A watched pot will not boil. A watched pot will not boil." Willow gasped, eyes opening wide when the sound of gravel crunching under tires hit her ears. Taking a deep breath and wiping sweaty palms on her denim-clad thighs, Willow ran a hand through her hair and headed to the front door. Through the screen door she saw the flicker of red as a car came up the drive, then the whole thing. A red Jeep Wrangler.

The jeep pulled to a stop in front of the small yard, the woman behind the wheel wind-blown and wild looking. She glanced over at the nurse, smiling with a wave. Willow waved back.


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