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Laura's Story

Chapter 1

Trees flew by the window of their sport utility, another move, a new city. Her mom had told her this one would be different they were gonna stay here, plant roots and make friends. She looked in the backseat where her little brother lay peacefully sleeping.

"Iíll drive mom, if your tired," Elizabeth told her mother who had been up all morning driving.

"No thanks honey maybe after breakfast."

"Just wondering. Tommy must have been really tired, he stayed up late watching hotel cable, youíd think heíd never seen the Disney Channel. So much cheese on one channel though should be outlawed," Elizabeth added laughing.

"Well, Liz, heís only seven and last time I checked someone had to get him hooked. Wouldnít happen to know who, would ya?"

"No, just cause I used to watch it all the time doesnít mean anything, I was fourteen."

"Just giving you a hard time Liz," her mom joked.

Elizabeth had been to four high schools in four years, this would be five. Hoping to finish up her senior year at Davidson High in the one and only Tampa, Florida. A good student, she was number seven in her class at the last school she attended in Nashville, but what she really wanted to do was play basketball. Putting in a year freshman year at Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas had been the highlight of school so far, but since that first move she hadnít shown much interest in sports.

"So dadís coming down in a few days to bring the rest of the stuff?" Liz asked interrupting her own thoughts.

"Sure is kiddo," her mom replied.

"I donít understand why since weíre all going up to Grandmaís in a few days."

"To get settled Lizzy, we are going up there for Christmas but we have to get you two back into school when we get back. Itíll be easier this way, youíll see."

"Okay mom, just wondering."

The car suddenly got quiet and the softly playing music caught Lizís attention.

"Oh no mom, say you are not playing that CD again. Josh does not need that kind of encouragement, his ego is already big enough! Mom!" Liz whined.

"Elizabeth Jo Linsely, donít say a thing like that we should all be very proud of him, heís family. Besides Tommy picked it out," she said smiling.

"Sure mom, tell yourself that but Iím not the one who has two kids and is listening to a boyband."

Completely ignoring Lizís smart allelic remark she continued, "How about breakfast?"

"Sure mom," Liz added.


"Whatever you say mom."

"Wake up your brother, heís had a good nap now itís time to eat. Iím hungry."

"Okay, Tommy-Tommy wake up weíre going to eat now. Come on boy, time to rise and shine."

"Liz, no, Iím dreaminí good," the small blonde boy whined.

"Well dream you little but into McDonaldís cause weíre pulling over now. So get your shoes on," Liz said as her arm reached around her front seat to tickle her brother in the backseat.

Laughter filled the car as her mom pulled the car off the interstate and onto a ramp with McDonaldís in sight.

Having parked the car they all piled out, happy for the much-needed stretch break it provided. A sausage biscuit and a few hashbrowns later they were all back in the car. Only this time it was Liz behind the wheel, her mom in the back sleeping and Tommy was co-piloting.

"Turn there Liz, itís a toy store, I need a new toy. Please! Please!" Tommy begged.

"No way Tom, we gotta go to our new house so we can unpack and still get to Grandmaís by Christmas. Youíll get a new toy there," Liz replied.

"Really? Weíre going to Grandmaís?"

"Yep. Sure are. Why donít we put in a CD and be real quiet so we donít wake up mom. She needs to sleep Tom."

"Only if its cousin JCís Christmas CD!" Tom squealed with delight.

Liz grimaced as he busily reached for it and popped it in the CD player. Happily singing all the words, Liz concentrated on driving straight ahead. She had to admit that JC and his boys did sound pretty good together, but if you had asked if a few years ago if she saw JC doing what he did now she would have said an emphatic "NO." Sure he loved to perform, he had been on a TV show even, but she had never imagined him in the hysteria surrounding him now. To her he would always be the favorite part of family reunions and get-togethers, someone she could talk to and trust. Even through the fame he had managed to keep in touch and called to talk sometimes.

As she drove she looked over to see Tommy curled up in the front passenger seat fast asleep. She thought about reaching over to turn the CD off but decided against it. She loved her cousin, didnít mean she had to love his music but she was getting there.

Meanwhile in Orlando, Florida five sweaty guys were preparing for their upcoming nationwide tour planning to kick off in two months and counting.

"And, five, six, seven, turn, turn, slide. Exactly like that JC. Good job man."

"Choreographerís pet," Chris said under his breathe.

"Only since I practice," JC added laughing.

"Okay guys I think thatís our clue to call this our stopping point," Wade said, "Iíll see you after New Years, have a great holiday guys."

"Right, bye man," Justin said turning to Wade, then back to the mirrors to work on a step.

"See ya," Joey, Lance, and Chris shouted as they made for a quick exits to make it to waiting planes taking them to their homes for Christmas.

JC stood after grabbing his bag and turned to see Justin still practicing.

"Usually, I am the only one who does that, practice afterwards when its not required. Whatís up man? Why arenít you running out of here to catch a plane back to Tennessee. Youíre going home for Christmas right?" JC asked.

"No, man change in plans. The family isnít gonna make it together this year. My momís real sick and dad and my little brothers are staying home. Stuck in Orlando this year I guess. Man didnít this season seem so much different when we were kids?" Justin answered.

"Real bummer, J, hey why donít you come with me and my family?"

"No man, I donít wanna impose. They probably got family stuff planned, Iíll just stay here."

"Absolutely not Justin, youíre coming with me. You are more of a brother than a friend, no excuses. Itíll be fun, its been ages since youíve seen my family. Go home and pack, we leave for Washington at four. Meet me at my place. Go!" JC scolded.

Leaving Justin stunned, he hurried home to pack.

They road had seemed long and the towns they passed only seemed to get smaller. They had decided to take it in two days, making it about six hours a day. They had decided to take it in shifts and her mom had slept along with Tommy most of hersí, so there was lots of time to think. Since they had about three weeks off for the Christmas holiday, they had left that last day of school in fact. Giving them two-day drive down and about three to unpack before the trip, which itself was planned for two full weeks.

Liz was getting excited about the trip, but more so about the airplane ride there. They had arranged to fly into Washington with her Aunt Karen, Uncle Roy, and JC. The plan was to meet at their new house sometime around 4:30 and catch the 5:00 flight to Washington. Heather, who had been away at college, and Tyler, who was doing an internship were to fly in the very next day.

As they approached the outskirts of Orlando, they all seemed to be fully awake. Tommy was playing his gameboy and squealed with delight as he got the bonus to his game.

"Almost there Tom, start wrapping it up," mom announced.


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