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December 26, 2001 “Well, that’s what happens when dreams come true.” Ashley smiled. We all laughed. “Okay, I’m going to change and I’ll be out.” I explained. Ashley and Dawn walked out and shut the door behind them. As I got dressed, I thought of what our wedding would be like and when and where it would be. I walked out and sat on Lance’s lap, because there weren’t any seats left, and we all talked with my family for a few hours. “Can you all stay for lunch?” My mom asked. “Sure.” Joey smiled. Joey was really sucking up to my mom. Mom walked out of the living room, and into the kitchen to make something for lunch. “Joey, you’re a real suck up.” I laughed. “No I’m not.” Joey whined. “Yes, you are.” Dawn giggled. “I’m just trying to be nice.” Joey chuckled. “Joey is just too nice of a guy.” Chris laughed. “Suck up.” I laughed. “Nice guy.” Joey retorted. “Suck up.” “Nice guy.” “Suck up!” “Nice guy!” Joey and I started shouting at each other. “Suck up!” “Nice guy!” “Kiss my butt!” “He’ll be too busy kissing my butt!” Dawn shouted at the same time that Joey was shouting at me. “Sorry, that’s Lance’s job!” “Whoa!” Ashley half laughed, and half shouted. Lance and I blushed. Everyone looked from me, to Joey, and then to Lance, in total silence. I looked at Joey and held back a smile, until I burst out laughing. Everyone joined in. “I’m sorry Crystal.” Joey smiled. “I’m sorry too Joe.” I smiled back. “I like your piano.” Lance commented, changing the subject. “Thanks. Haven’t you seen it yet?” “I didn’t notice it until now.” Lance laughed. “It’s a digital piano.” I explained, as I walked toward my piano, that was placed in the living room. I turned the piano on and plunked a few notes. “What are all these buttons?!” Chris exclaimed. “They make the piano sound like other things.” I laughed, trying to explain. I pushed one of the buttons that made the piano sound like icicles. “Cool!” J.C. exclaimed. I just giggled. The guys played around with the piano for a while, like they were fascinated with it. “Lunch is ready. I hope you boys like chicken alfredo.” my mom announced with a smile. “Alfredo!” Justin exclaimed, and jumped up from his seat. “Calm down Justin.” I laughed. “Eat, eat, eat.” Justin smiled. “All day long.” I smiled back. “Eat, eat, eat, while I sing this song. Eat, eat, eat, yeah, food tastes real good. Eat, eat, eat, in your neighborhood!” Everyone sang in unison and then laughed. We all walked out to the kitchen/dining room. Joey, Justin, J.C., Chris, Dawn, and Ashley sat at the dining room table, while Lance and I sat at the kitchen counter. We all ate lunch and goofed around for about an hour. “Thanks for lunch Mrs. Dodson.” Lance smiled. “You’re welcome Lance, and call me Connie.” my mom smiled back. “Did you tell her?” Lance whispered to me. “No. We can’t tell her yet.” I whispered back. “Thanks for lunch, it was great.” Justin smiled. “That was the best home-cooked meal I’ve had for at least . . . two years!” Joey smiled. “Suck up.” I giggled. Joey just smiled. “We better get going now. We have more parents to visit.” I smiled. “Be careful and have fun.” my mom smiled. “I will. Bye, love ya.” I gave my mom a quick hug and kiss, and then we all headed out to the limo. “Where to next?” the limo driver asked. “Dawn, Ashley, where do you two want to go?” J.C. asked. “Let’s go to Ashley’s house first.” Dawn suggested. J.C. gave the driver directions to Ashley’s house and we pulled out of my driveway. When we arrived at Ashley’s house, we all walked up to the door to patiently await the surprise on Ashley’s family’s faces. “Hey mom.” Ashley smiled, after Ashley’s mom opened the door. “Hey Ashley, hello everyone.” Ashley’s mom smiled back. “Mom, you know the guys, guys this is my mom, Julie.” Ashley properly introduced them. “We came for a visit.” I announced. “Come on in, sit down, make yourselves at home.” she smiled and let us all in. “Thanks.” Justin smiled. Justin, Joey, Ashley, Dawn, Chris, and J.C. sat on the couch, love seat, and chair, and Lance and I sat on the floor. “I can bring chairs out for you two.” Ashley’s mom offered. “No thanks, we’ll be fine.” Lance smiled. “Dawn, you look really . . . cheerful. You’re really glowing.” Julie laughed. “Thanks . . . I think.” Dawn laughed back. “Nice place ya got here.” Justin smiled as he looked around. Just then I heard footsteps on the stairs. “Oh my gosh.” Amber gasped. Everyone looked toward the voice. Justin got a weird, half-scared, look on his face. “Hey guys. Hey Crystal, Dawn, and Ashley.” Amber said calmly. “Justin, I’m really sorry about the way I acted when I first met you. It was just really . . . surprising. Know what I mean?” “Yeah, that’s all right.” Justin smiled. “Anyone want a drink or a snack or something?” Ashley asked as she stood up. “Do you have any . . .” “Mom, do you have any Dr. Pepper?” Ashley interrupted me, with a giggle. Everyone asked for a drink and Ashley started pouring soda. She carried out glasses of soda and then announced that she only had one glass left. She hadn’t gotten Lance’s or my drink yet, so Lance whispered to me that he wouldn’t mind sharing. “Lance and I can share a glass of Dr. Pepper.” I announced. Chris gave me a weird look so I just gave it right back. Chris laughed and shook his head. “You sure?” Ashley asked. “Yeah.” Lance answered. We sat around for a few hours and talked to Ashley’s family and explained to them about the business until we decided it was time to leave again. “Well, now we’re off to Dawn’s house. We’ll see ya’ll later.” Ashley announced to her family. “Thank you for your hospitality Julie, and it was nice seeing you again Amber.” Justin smiled and then gave Amber a hug. We all thanked Julie, said good bye to Ashley’s family, and went out to the limo. J.C. gave the driver directions to Dawn’s house and we pulled out of Ashley’s driveway. On the way to Dawn’s house, Lance and I somehow got on the subject of what month we wanted the wedding to be, but we didn’t want anyone to hear us. “What are you two whispering about?” Dawn asked. “Nothing.” I smiled. “Yeah, I bet.” “We’re talking about our favorite months of the year.” Lance explained. “Yeah, I didn’t want to tell you because you’d think we’re weird or something.” I giggled. “I don’t think you’re weird.” Dawn laughed. Everyone talked about their favorite months and why they liked them until we got to Dawn’s house. We walked up to the front door and heard a dog barking. “It’s that horse again.” I laughed. I always called Dawn’s dog a horse because he was really big. Dawn’s mom answered the door and welcomed us into the house. “You’re just in time for supper.” Dawn’s mom laughed. “Cool. What are you making?” Dawn asked. “Tacos.” she answered. “Me gusta tacos.” I smiled. “Huh?” Chris asked. “I said that I like tacos.” “Oh, I love tacos.” Chris laughed. “Me too.” Lance smiled. “They’ll be done in about five minutes.” Dawn’s mom announced and walked to the kitchen. “I’m sorry about the whole, speaking Spanish thing. I like being able to speak in a different language.” I smiled. “It’s all right. You just have to translate for us.” Lance smiled back. “My sisters will probably be running down the stairs any minute.” Dawn announced, rolling her eyes. “Lance, Justin, you two might want to take cover.” I laughed. “They aren’t here.” Dawn’s mom announced. “Where are they?” Dawn asked. “At your grandparents’ house and the tacos are ready.” We all sat at the dining room table, munched on tacos, talked, and goofed around. “I feel bad that you’re all alone mom.” Dawn whined. “Don’t worry about me.” she laughed. After about two and a half hours, we announced that we had to leave, told Dawn’s mom good bye, and got back in the limo. “What’s your mom’s name?” Joey asked Dawn, as we pulled out of her drive way. “Tina.” Dawn answered. “Today was a busy day.” I sighed. “It’s not over yet.” Chris smiled. “Why do you say that?” Ashley asked. “You’ll see.” J.C. said with a sly smile. “We have an hour and fifteen minute drive until you can find out.” Lance yawned, and put his arm around my shoulders. I yawned, put my head on Lance’s shoulder, and fell asleep. “Wake-up hun, we’re here.” Lance shook me gently awake. “Where is here?” I asked sleepily, without even opening my eyes. “We’re at my mom’s house.” Chris smiled. I got out of the limo, stretched, and looked around. “Cool. I’ve always wanted to meet your mom.” I giggled, still half asleep. Chris introduced Ashley, Dawn, and me to his mother, Beverly and his three sisters, Molly, Kate, Emily, and Taylor. We talked for a little while and then got back on the road. I fell asleep in the limo again. December 27, 2001 “Gee whiz girl, can you sleep or what?!” Lance laughed as I yawned the next morning, now back at Lance’s house. “Okay, I’d like to know how I slept through the drive, somebody carrying me in, and through the night.” I giggled. “I don’t know, but I’ve never known anyone to sleep that long . . . other than J.C.” Justin laughed. “Oh yeah? Wait until you see how long Ashley can sleep, once she gets back on her regular schedule.” I laughed back. “Sleep, sleep, sleep, all day long.” I sang. Everyone laughed. “So what’s the schedule for today?” I asked. “Calm down girl. We don’t have to be busy all the time.” J.C. laughed. “We can just chill out for today.” Joey explained. “Sounds cool to me.” Dawn smiled at Joey. After talking and watching TV for about two and a half hours, I needed to stand up and stretch. “Do you mind if I go up stairs and play the piano?” I asked Lance. “I don’t mind. You don’t have to ask my permission.” Lance smiled. I smiled back and headed up stairs to the music room. I played through a song or two. “Can we talk?” I turned around to see Lance in the door way. “I was hoping you would come up.” I sighed. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he shut the door behind him and sat down beside me on the piano bench. “I was thinking about our wedding and then I remembered that I’m only sixteen. My mom will freak out and say that I’m too young and then she won’t like you anymore because you’re the one that asked me and I can’t have my mom mad at you and everyone else will be saying that I’m too young and that we rushed too fast and . . . I love you.” “I love you too. The wedding can wait. As long as we’re together, we don’t have to be married.” “I really want to get married, it’s just . . . even I think I’m too young.” “It’s okay, I understand. Maybe I did ask a little early . . . ” “No, everything is going to be ok, because we’ll stay engaged and just have the wedding in however many years.” I smiled and he smiled back in agreement. Lance gently put the palm of his hand on my cheek and then ran his fingers through my hair. Lance stood up and walked out to the balcony, so I followed him. “I keep forgetting that you have a lake!” I giggled. We sat down on the whicker love seat and cuddled up together to watch the birds fly over. “I’m going to go inside. I’m really hot.” I told Lance as I stood up. “Are you hot enough to go swimming?” Lance asked with a smile. “Yeah. Are you talking about going to the lake or swimming in your pool?” “Whatever you want to do.” “I don’t care, whatever you want to do.” “At the lake, we’ll have more privacy and in the pool . . . everyone will see us getting in and want to swim with us.” Lance explained. “Let’s go to the lake.” I smiled. I gave him a quick kiss and we walked back into the house to get our stuff. I walked into Ashley, Dawn, and my room to get all of my stuff together, but when I walked in, Dawn was crying and Ashley was trying to calm her down. “What’s going on?” I asked, as I shut the door. “Remember when Dawn sprained her ankle?” Ashley talked slowly. “Yeah.” “Remember how she looked a little . . . surprised?” “Please, can you get to the point?” “I’m pregnant, okay?!” Dawn snapped and started crying harder. My bottom jaw dropped to the floor and my eyes grew wide. “Whoa . . . and when did this happen?” I asked with astonishment. “The night of Chris’s birthday.” “How did you find that out when all you did was pop your ankle out of place?” “I hadn’t been to the doctor’s office for my last scheduled physical, so they went ahead and did it while they had me there.” “Does Joe know?” “No way. He can’t know until I tell him.” “And when will that be?” Ashley asked. “Later.” Dawn answered. “Well, I think I’ll go now . . . I have to let the news sink in and Lance and I are going somewhere.” “Where?” Ashley asked. “Lake.” I answered as I pulled out my bikini and a light green sun dress. “I’ll see you guys later. Don’t feel way too bad about all this, Dawn. You’ll figure something out.” I sighed. I changed into my suit in the bathroom and met up with Lance in the hall. “Ready?” Lance asked with a smile. I just nodded and we headed toward the door. “Lata.” Lance announced as he opened the door. “Where ya going?” Chris asked from the couch. “The back yard.” Lance laughed. “In other words, the ake.” I giggled. “Have fun kids.” J.C. chuckled. I rolled my eyes, with a smile, and Lance and I walked out the door. We made the short trip to Lance’s ‘back yard’ and walked along the ake, talking. After about an hour, I started sweating. “It’s really hot out today. I’m not used to it being hot in December.” I giggled. “Yeah. It took me a little while to get used to it too.” Lance smiled. “Come on.” I said with a sly smile, and dashed toward the rolling waves. Lance ran right after me. As I ran, I threw off my sun dress. Lance caught up to me just as I reached the water and we both dove into the cool refreshing water. “I wish Justin and I could hook up.” Ashley sighed. “Excuse me, I’m the one with the problem here.” Dawn laughed. “Sorry.” “You should ask him out then!” Dawn squealed. “I can’t.” “Why the heck not?” There was a long silence between them. “I love him too much to ask him and then be rejected because then I’ll feel awful and I’ll have to go home.” Ashley pouted. “You won’t be rejected! I can tell Justin likes you!” “Yeah . . . as a friend.” “No. More.” Ashley just looked at Dawn. “All right . . . I’ll ask him.” Ashley smiled. “Good. Now I wish MY problem would be that easy.” Dawn sighed. After playing around in the water a while, Lance and I laid on a blanket on the dry sand, watching clouds drift by. The hot sun was beating down on us, but we didn’t mind. “What month are we going to have the wedding?” I asked Lance out of the blue. “Doesn’t matter. You pick.” he answered. “I’m thinking in July.” “Sounds great to me. What day?” “Any Saturday of that month.” I giggled. “How many years do you think will be sufficient to wait for the wedding?” I asked. “Whenever you’re ready.” He smiled back. “Two years will feel way to long, but everyone should be able to accept that.” Lance nodded. Just then, there was a faint ringing. We both grabbed for our cell phones and I figured out that it was mine. “Hello?” I answered the ringing. “I want you to come home.” I heard my mom’s voice through the receiver. My mom and I weren’t as close as we used to be before I hit the age of fourteen and since then we’ve been at each other’s throats. I couldn’t stand her and I made her sick to her stomach with my problems. “Sorry. I already have plans.” I told her sternly. “I don’t care! You’re not a legal adult yet and I will call the police to bring you home if you don’t find a way to get back here!” She yelled. “Again, I can’t. I totaled my car and I have a job that is very important to me.” I stayed calm but stern. “What I say goes young lady! I’m still the boss of you because you’re my daughter!” “Well maybe I don’t want to be your daughter!” I screamed into the phone, losing my temper. There was a moment of silence. I calmed back down. “I am my own boss.” I said calmly, and hung up my phone. I looked over at Lance, who was sitting there the whole time, staring at me with confusion and astonishment. “So where were we? Oh yeah, the wedding. How about July twentieth, two-thousand and two?” “But I thought we were going to wait?” “I don’t care what people think, say, or do. I want to get married!” “Wait, is this because of your mom?” “Who? No way! My mom has no control over my decisions!” Lance smiled and gave me a big hug and kiss. “Looks like we’re going to have to start inviting people.” I giggled. “Yeah, and you’ll have to pick your maid of honor and bride’s maids.” Lance smiled back. “The maid of honor will be either Ashley or Dawn. I haven’t decided yet. I just thought of something!” “What?” “I’ve never met your sister!” “I forgot too!” Lance laughed. “I haven’t met any of your family members yet.” We discussed our guest list for about another hour on the warm sand. Joey knocked on the door to the girls’ room. “Who is it?” Ashley questioned. “It’s superman!” Joey exclaimed. “Come in.” Ashley laughed. Joey opened the door and looked at Dawn with a smile. When he saw that she had been crying, his smile quickly turned to a frown. “Why are you crying?” he asked as he sat down on the bed beside Dawn. “I’m going out to watch TV.” Ashley announced as she stood up. “Wait . . . why would you want to watch TV when you could stay in here and talk with us?” Dawn hinted that she didn’t want to be left alone with Joey right then. “Later.” Ashley smiled, walked out, and shut the door behind her. Dawn stared down at the floor. “Well?” Joey asked. Dawn stayed silent. “It’s alright. If you don’t want to talk about it I’ll understand.” Joey smiled and rubbed Dawn’s back. “Joe . . . I’m . . . “ ”How old are you?” Joey interrupted her. “What?” Dawn laughed. “I never found out how old you are. Unless you told me and I forget. Are you about . . . 19?” “No. I’m 16 . . . and going to be a mother.” she sighed and looked back down to the floor. Joey’s heart skipped a few beats as he sat there in astonishment. “Wow. I thought you were older and . . . I don’t know what else to say.” “I didn’t expect you to know what to say or what to do and I didn’t expect you to still love me or even like me . . .” “How could you say that? I know that I’m known for being a big flirt and everything but that doesn’t mean that I can’t love just one person for the rest of my life . . .” Joey exclaimed as he paced and looked down at the floor, then faded off. “I’m gonna be a daddy?” he smiled as he looked up at Dawn. Dawn couldn’t keep from smiling at his adorable face as she nodded. Joey ran up to her and gave her a big hug and kiss. “We’ll keep this to ourselves for a little while.” Joey suggested. Dawn nodded in agreement. After Ashley shut the door, she walked into the living room where Justin, Chris, and J.C. were watching cartoons. “Hey Just . . .” “Shh . . . this is the good part!” Justin whispered as he held his finger to his lips and then laughed. “As I was saying . . . hey Justin, would you like to take a walk with me?” Ashley asked with a cheesy smile. Justin jumped up and over the back of the couch. “Let’s go!” Justin smiled back. They slipped into their sandals and out the door. “So, where do you want to walk to?” Justin asked. “Doesn’t matter . . . I just wanted to walk. Even if we have to walk around Lance’s house a couple times.” Ashley laughed. Justin looked at her and smiled sweetly. “What?” Ashley giggled. “Nothing, it’s just that you have pretty eyes.” “Thanks.” Ashley and Justin continued walking. “I love your curly hair.” Ashley broke the silence. “Thanks.” Justin replied with a smile. Again, they continued walking in silence. ‘I wish he would ask me out.’ Ashley thought to herself. ‘I wish she would ask me out.’ Justin thought to himself. “Ashley . . .” “Justin . . .” They both started at the same time. “Go ahead.” Justin smiled. “No, you go ahead. What I was gonna say isn’t important.” Ashley smiled back. “Um . . . I was wondering if you would . . .” “Yes!” Ashley shouted excitedly, interrupting Justin. “Sorry. I get a little over excited about . . . stuff.” Ashley smiled nervously. “So you wanna go out sometime then?” “I thought you’d never ask.” Ashley sighed, with a smile. “My life is so much like a soap opera.” I giggled, as Lance and I gathered up our stuff. Lance laughed. “Do you know what today’s date is?” I asked. “Um . . . it’s the twenty-seventh . . . yeah. We’ve been engaged for two days.” Lance smiled. I smiled back, gave him a sweet kiss and we started to walk back to his house. “So what are we all doing for New Year’s?” I asked, as we walked. “We’re going to a party in one of my favorite places.” Lance smiled. “You mean Liechtenstein?” I asked. “Well, that’s one of my favorite places, but no. It’s way east.” “Please, no geography.” I giggled. Lance laughed. “Come on! Tell me!” I whined. Chris and J.C. were still watching TV, when Joey and Dawn walked out of the bedroom. J.C. flipped through the channels as Joey and Dawn sat down. “Join us for our spectacular New Year’s celebration!” exclaimed an announcer on TV. “Speaking of New Year’s . . . what are we going to do?” Dawn asked. “We’re going to a party.” Chris smiled. “Where?” Justin and Ashley continued talking about when and where they were going to go. “Well, I’m not sure if we have any shows or any plans. The only time that I know we have plans is on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day.” Justin explained, as they started back toward the house. “Alright. We can just figure it out later, when we know what’s going on.” Ashley smiled. Justin smiled back. “You have a pretty smile.” they both complimented at the same time. They both laughed. “So what are our plans for New Year’s?” Ashley asked. “Well, we’re going to fly to . . .” “We’re going to . . .” Lance smiled. “In . . .” Joey started. “Hawaii.” “Oh my gosh! I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii!” I exclaimed, excitedly. Lance laughed. “I love it there. The swaying palm trees, the gentle breeze blowing, the beautiful beaches, and the fact that you’re on an island.” Lance explained, with a calm look on his face and his eyes closed. I also closed my eyes to imagine what it would be like, in Hawaii, with the man of my dreams. “Oh my gosh!” Dawn exclaimed, excitedly. Joey, J.C., and Chris smiled at her. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?! Do Ashley and Crystal know?! When are we leaving?! How long are we staying?!” Dawn rambled. “Slow down.” Joey laughed. “Sorry.” Dawn giggled back. “Oh my gosh!” Ashley exclaimed, excitedly. “I hope your not afraid of heights.” Justin smiled. Ashley got a frightened look on her face. “Uh oh . . . I guess that means you are, huh?” Ashley nodded. “If Chris can fly, anyone can.” Justin laughed. Ashley giggled. “You girls are going to be our opening act too. That is, if you agree to it.” “I’d be ecstatic and think Dawn and Crystal will be too!” Ashley exclaimed. Ashley saw two people in the distance, walking toward her and Justin. As they walked closer, they realized that it was me and Lance. “Yo!” Ashley yelled. “Ash!” I yelled back. “Wait Crys, stop right there.” Ashley stopped in her tracks. I listened to her and stopped walking. “What?” I giggled. “There’s something different about you.” Ashley looked at me suspiciously. We were about six feet apart by this time. “Um . . . I haven’t changed in the last . . . hour.” I laughed. “Well, then there’s something that I haven’t noticed before.” Ashley continued to look for a difference in my appearance. “I just can’t figure it out!” Ashley exclaimed. “I think you need some sleep Ashley.” Justin chuckled. Ashley rolled her eyes at him with a smile and we walked into Lance’s house. “Hey everybody.” I smiled. “Crystal!” Chris squealed, jumped over the couch, and ran to me to give me a big hug. “You’re squeezing me too tight!” I managed to choke out. Chris left me go and smiled. “It’s not like we were gone very long and we weren’t very far away.” I giggled. Chris just stood there smiling. I smiled back and stepped around him. There was complete silence except for the TV, until Ashley, Dawn, and I, all shouted at the same time. “Do you know where we’re going for New Year’s?!” We all laughed and squealed. “Plus, they’re doing a show with all of us.” Lance announced. “Really? What kind of show?” I asked. “Well, first of all, one of the MTV VJ’s will interview you three, then the same VJ will ask us five, questions about you, and we have to try to answer them correctly. Then, they’ll switch and ask you questions about us.” Joey explained. “That sounds cool!” Dawn replied. “But do you want to know what’s even cooler?” Justin asked and then answered before anyone could guess, “Sandra Bullock is going to co-host!” “No way!” Ashley squealed. I just laughed. We all watched TV and talked for the rest of the day, until around 11:30pm. Chris, J.C., Justin, Joey, Ashley, and Dawn got up and walked off to their bedrooms to sleep, while Lance and I still sat on the love seat. “So when do you think we should tell everyone?” I asked Lance. “It’s up to you hun. We might wanna wait a little longer to tell the public, but we can tell the rest of the guys and Ashley and Dawn when your ready.” Lance explained. “I can’t keep this in. I wanna tell them the great news right now, while they’re still awake.” I giggled, as I stood up. Lance smiled and also stood. I gave him a kiss goodnight and walked into my, Ashley, and Dawn’s room. Ashley and Dawn were already asleep, but I shook Dawn awake. “I have something really important to tell you and Ashley. Wake her up.” I giggled. “Can’t you tell us in the morning?” Dawn yawned. “No!” I scolded. Dawn shook Ashley awake. “Huh? Wha?” Ashley asked sleepily. “Okay, brace yourselves.” I giggled. “Let me guess . . . Lance asked you to marry him!” Dawn exclaimed, sarcastically. Everything was completely silent for a minute. “No way!” Ashley squealed, now wide awake. I ran over to the light switch and turned the light on to show them the ring. “Oh my gosh! . . . I can’t believe . . . Are you fibbing? . . . Dude!” Dawn stuttered. “That’s what I noticed that was different about you today! Congratulations!” Ashley exclaimed. I started crying, uncontrollably. “The man of your dreams just asked you to marry him and you’re crying? What’s wrong?” Dawn asked. “I’m just so happy. I want to thank you guys for always being there for me through good times and bad. You and the guys are the only reason I’m here, on this earth, today and I’m so glad that I had a reason not to take my life because I never would have had all my dreams come true.” I sobbed. They both gave me a hug and we talked for a little while. “When did he propose?” Ashley asked. “How did he ask?” Dawn questioned. “Christmas night, when everyone went to sleep, he sang ‘One Night With You’ to me and then he goes, ‘Crystal, will you spend the rest of your life with me?’ and of course I said yes. Well, actually I just nodded my head, because I was totally speechless.” I sighed and then giggled. We talked for another hour, and then tried to sleep. I was too excited that someone finally knew, and Ashley and Dawn were too excited for me, to sleep. We all decided to go out to the kitchen to get a drink and then to try again to go to sleep. We tiptoed out of our bedroom and towards the kitchen. “Why’s the kitchen light on?” Ashley whispered to me. I shrugged my shoulders. “I’m going to the bathroom, you two can go ahead and go out.” I whispered. I turned back toward the bathroom. “Hey! Look who’s up!” Joey exclaimed, as Dawn and Ashley stepped into the light of the door way to the kitchen. The guys were standing around in the kitchen. Dawn and Ashley rushed over to Lance to give him a hug and congratulate him. I walked out of the bathroom, and into the kitchen where everyone was chatting. “There’s the lucky girl now!” Justin exclaimed. I just giggled. “Group hug!” Chris exclaimed. Chris, J.C., Justin, and Joey, all tried to put their arms around me at the same time. “Thanks everybody.” Lance and I smiled, as he put his arm around my shoulders. “I can’t wait for the bachelor party!” Chris exclaimed. “No dancing girls is all I have to say.” I announced. “Oh, she’s making his decisions for him already!” J.C. exclaimed and everyone laughed. “Party time!” Joey exclaimed. All the guys gave a whoop of excitement and started rummaging through Lance’s cupboards, for snacks. “How old are you three?! We’ve know you for almost a year already and we don’t even know how old you are!” Chris exclaimed, as we all sat down at the dining room table. Lance and Joey already knew how old we were but Justin, J.C., and Chris still weren’t informed of how young we were. “We’re all sixteen.” I hesitated. Justin , J.C., and Chris looked at us in astonishment. “I thought you were older!” J.C. exclaimed. “You definitely don’t look or act sixteen. You look and act at least nineteen or twenty!” Justin squealed. “Thank-you . . . I think.” Ashley giggled. “The only reason you think we act older is because you act younger.” Dawn laughed, and everyone joined her. I looked down at the ground, biting my bottom lip. I wasn’t sure if the guys would still be happy for Lance and me now because I was too young to be able to decide who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. “Aren’t you a little too . . .” “So when’s the wedding?” Chris interrupted J.C. “July fifteenth.” Lance replied, glad that Chris was covering for us. “As I was trying to say . . .” “Where’s it going to be?” Chris interrupted J.C. again. “We don’t have everything figured out yet.” Lance again answered. Chris obviously didn’t want to allow J.C. to say whatever he was going to say and J.C. finally got the hint. We continued munching on snacks and talking about our engagement. About an hour later, Ashley, Dawn, and I went back to sleep, while the guys stayed up. “Why wouldn’t you let me say about Crystal being a little too young to be getting married?” J.C. asked Chris. “Because you goof-ball! It would make her feel bad and then she’d probably call the whole thing off!” Chris exclaimed. “I think she’s mature enough though.” Joey commented. “Yeah, that’s the main thing.” Justin agreed. Lance looked down at the table in complete silence. “Plus she’s marrying the right guy.” Chris smiled and slapped Lance on the back. “Thanks Chris. Ok, this is my side on it.” Lance sighed. “I thought she was a little too young too and I thought about her maturity level and everything. Then I noticed how much I love her and how much I didn’t want to lose her. Marriage was the only thing I could think of that would keep me from losing her.” The rest of the guys just sat there and looked at him. “I’ve never heard you talk like that before, in all the six years I’ve known you.” Chris admitted, with astonishment. “I guess she is old enough maturity-wise and I agree with Chris . . . she’s marrying the right guy.” J.C. smiled. “Thanks. Just don’t tell her what I just said!” Lance chuckled. All the guys laughed and finally decided to get some sleep. December 31, 2001 “Wake-up, Mrs. Bass.” Lance whispered in my ear and then gave me a kiss on the cheek. I smiled and opened my eyes. “I can’t wait to get on a plane for the first time.” I smiled. “You don’t have to wait much longer.” He smiled back. “Okay, okay! Let’s go! Enough of trying to wake her up nicely! It’s time to go!” Dawn exclaimed, then laughed. We had packed the night before, for our big trip to Hawaii. It was going to be a very long flight, so we knew we had to be prepared. We drove to the airport and walked straight to our plane. “Andre (a.k.a. Dre), Wes, Lonnie, Randy, Todd, and Eric are flying in on another plane so don’t worry, we’ll be ok once we get there.” Justin explained. “Ashley’s gonna throw-up before we’re in the air.” I laughed as I looked at Ashley who looked a little ill. Ashley just smiled and continued to walk up the steps of the aircraft. After everyone was on the plane, seated and buckled in, we took off. There were two seats on each side of the aisle. Lance and I sat together, Joey and Dawn sat across the aisle from us, Justin and Ashley sat directly behind us, and Chris and J.C. sat behind Joey and Dawn. Chris kept telling us stories about plane crashes and Ashley would either hold her ears or whine at him. I laughed because it was hilarious how they just kept going back and forth. After about an hour of Ashley and Chris fighting, it was totally silent, which was rare with these guys and Dawn around. It was still early in the morning, 5:28 am to be exact. I figured that everyone was just tired, and I was right, because when I looked around, everybody was sleeping except for Lance, who was staring out the window. “You okay hun?” I asked him. “Yeah. It’s just that when I fly, it gets me thinking.” he replied. “Oh. Well what are you thinking about?” “Us.” he smiled. I smiled back and gave him a kiss. I got comfortable in my seat and started to drift off to sleep, when the plane shook. I sat up straight in my seat. “What happened?” I asked frantically but quietly. “It’ll be alright.” Lance smiled and put his hand on mine. The plane shook again, turning Lance’s sweet smile into a confused frown. “I’ll go see what’s going on.” Lance volunteered as he stood up. “No. Sit down and buckle up.” I refused, and clasped his arm. “I’ll be alright.” he reassured and continued to walk to the cockpit. Just as he got to the door to the cockpit, the plane shook again, causing him to stumble, but he caught himself before he fell. He walked into the cockpit and started talking to the pilot. “We’ll be fine. There are air pockets that are causing us the turbulence. It’s nothing to worry about unless you’re up, walking around. Better go back and buckle up.” the pilot explained. “Alright, thanks.” Lance replied. As he walked back toward his seat, the plane jerked around worse than the other three times. The jerk of the plane caused Lance to fall backward, onto his butt. “Are you okay?!” I asked frantically as I jumped up and ran toward him. “Yeah, go sit down!” he demanded gently. I ignored him and helped him up. After we made it safely back to our seats and buckled up, he told me what the pilot told him. “I’m surprised that the shaking didn’t wake anyone up.” I whispered. Lance nodded his head and looked at me with a smile. “What?” I asked him with a smile. “Nothing. It’s just that you’re so cute when you’re scared.” he smiled and gave me a kiss. “Why thank-you. Maybe I should be scared more often if that’s the case.” I giggled. We cuddled up together and fell asleep. “I can’t believe we’re really in Hawaii!” I heard Dawn exclaim as I started to wake-up. I took a deep breath, stretched out, and opened my eyes. Lance was also just waking up. We had just landed and everyone was up, jumping around, and shouting with joy. I turned my head to look out of the window so I could catch a glimpse of Hawaii, but all I could see was the pavement of the airport and the other plane. “Come on, let’s go!” I exclaimed, wanting to see Hawaii for the first time. Everybody started walking off the plane, and of course the guys were courteous to let Dawn, Ashley, and I walk down the steps first. All three of us gasped as we got our first glimpse of the beautiful island. “Oh my goodness. It’s gorgeous!” I gasped in disbelief. “Especially from where I’m standing.” Lance smiled at me. “Shut up.” I giggled and blushed and elbowed him a little. “You haven’t even seen the half of it.” J.C. smiled. There was a warm breeze blowing constantly and the hot sun was beating down on us. There were swaying palm trees everywhere and clear blue skies. “Where is everybody?” Dawn asked. “Oh believe me, we’ll be seeing the huge crowds soon enough.” Joey laughed. “Not to brag or anything, but we have tons of fans everywhere!” Chris exclaimed. “They always hold the fans back at the airport so we can walk a little bit without being swarmed.” J.C. explained. “Sounds good to me.” Ashley smiled. We all walked toward the airport with Dre, Wes, and Lonnie, but the rest of the guys weren’t very far behind. “Aloha!” a young woman exclaimed as she walked up to us. “Welcome to Hawaii! My name is Hotaru, you can call me Terrie, and I will be your tour guide during your visit. How was your flight?” “It was nice, thank you.” Joey smiled. Then a very nice-looking young man walked towards us. “Aloha.” he smiled at me. “This is my little brother Ethan.” Terrie introduced him. “I’m teaching him how to do my job so when I leave, he can take over for me. I hope you don’t mind if he tags along.” I tried not to look at him but he was so cute. Terrie and Ethan gave us each a lei, which is like a necklace of flowers, and explained to us that the airport was very crowded. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many guys gathered in one place before!” Terrie exclaimed. “Really?” I asked, surprised. “Really, and they’re all here to see you girls.” she replied. “I can see why.” Ethan smiled at me again. I looked down at the pavement. “Oh, I’m Dawn.” Dawn introduced herself to Terrie and Ethan. “I’m Ashley.” “And I’m Crystal.” “Alright, everyone follow us.” Terrie instructed and we continued to walk to the airport building. As we approached the door, Terrie announced, “You better hold your ears!” She swung the doors open and there was an ear piercing scream and then an explosive amount of cheering. “Whoa!” Dawn exclaimed.