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Chapter 13 – I’d Like a Beer

"You want to go where?" Howie asked incredulously as he followed Cheyanne into the living room. "A bar?"

"You know, Howie. One of those places that has karaoke and this long counter and they serve drinks? And sometimes they have jukeboxes and pool tables," Cheyanne teased, dropping onto the couch. "Austi!" she called out the open door. "Y'all wanna go to a bar and have some fun?"

“Bar?” Austin chirped with excitement, dragging Kevin into the living room with a squeal. He looked almost as bewildered as Howie did at the suggestion, but she didn’t care. Her dark eyes glittered with excitement at the suggestion, ready for a little rowdiness in the night. Not that she didn’t love spending time at the campsite, but sometimes a little trouble offered her a thrill, not to mention extra spunk with Kevin in the bedroom. “The Brass Rail?” she guessed, knowing Cheyanne’s thought patterns too well. And, when she received a nod, she squealed again, tugging Kevin toward the bedroom. “We need to get changed! Hurry! Drinks go on sale soon!”

“Why do you want to go to a bar?” Howie lamented yet again as Kevin’s bedroom door slammed closed again, obviously the couple wanting to help one another with wardrobe. Not that he didn’t enjoy a club scene, but he worried how different it would be in the country. What if he didn’t fit in? More importantly, what if he didn’t fit into Cheyanne’s life?

“Because it’s a lot of fun,” Cheyanne answered, hopping over the back of the couch so she could travel into Howie’s bedroom. Most of her things had been moved in there because she couldn’t deny the pleasure of sleeping with Howie every night. Leaning against the drawer Howie had provided her, she started to sift through her clothing, noticing Howie lingering at the door. “Why are you so worried? It’s not that smoky and everyone is really nice. The dancing is fantastic.”

"I'm not worried," Howie replied, watching her pull out clothes. "Is it a decent bar? I mean, there isn't going to be a bunch of drunk hillbillies--"

"Hillbillies? Howie!" Cheyanne admonished, pelting him with a shirt. "Come on, aren't you going to change?" she asked. "You can't go to The Brass Rail in that."

“What am I supposed to wear?” Howie teased, matching the horror in her voice, though he was smiling as he inhaled the soft scent of her favorite perfume lingering in her shirt.

“Not that,” Cheyanne laughed, moving toward Howie’s drawer as she rolled her eyes at his baggy, track pants and snug wifebeater. He would be demolished if he stepped into the bar wearing that, not to mention some of his other sorts of clothing. Orlando, Florida seemed like a world away compared to the little country towns of North Carolina when Cheyanne surveyed his clothing. Though, luckily, she found a pair of loose, comfortable jeans and a simple, red, button down shirt that he could wear over the wifebeater. She smiled as she tossed them toward Howie, moving back to select her tank top and ripped, faded, flared jeans. Turning her back to face him, she peeled off her shirt, reaching for the tank top. “Those will work nicely.”

Across the hall, Austin plucked a green flannel shirt off a hanger. "This," she told Kevin, holding it out to him. "And those skin tight jeans you were wearing the other day." Flashing him a smile, even though he rolled his eyes, she dug into her suitcase that lay in the corner, contents spilling over the sides. She hadn't found time to truly unpack anything yet. Seemed every time she set foot in the room, he--

"Skin tight jeans? Princess, I hate to break your heart, but I don't own any skin tight jeans," Kevin drawled as he peeled off his t-shirt. "You're the one who's been stuffing yourself into denim like a sausage." Smirking when she shot him a glare, he opened a drawer, looking for the jeans she spoke of. "Not that I'm complaining…"

“Just shut up, Pretty Boy, and wear what I tell you,” Austin warned, stooping into her suitcase. She loved dressing to go to the bars, because the atmosphere was so laid back. What Kevin would typically wear in the city would be laughed right out of the bar. So, she was quite pleased with herself when she pulled out a pair of snug jeans and a beautiful, silk, royal blue cami. She wasted no time stripping out of her previous clothing, unable to be bashful in front of a man who’s name she constantly screamed throughout the day. Though, she had to admit she liked watching him dress more than concentrating on her own needs. “I love when Chey wants to go out.”

"Does she want to go out often?" he queried softly, watching her sit on the edge of the bed to pull on her high-heeled boots. Lowering himself next to her, he slowly buttoned up his shirt, his eyes on her as she moved to brush her hair. "She doesn't seem like much of a party girl."

“She is nothing like a party girl. She’s much happier staying home and watching movies… Which I don’t mind at all, because she’s great to cuddle up next to, but I love when we go out. She’s so cute dancing,” Austin laughed wistfully, pushing her dark, auburn locks behind her shoulders. She stood to smooth the jeans over her somewhat spiked boots, glancing up to see Kevin concentrating intently on her. “No way. She only takes ten minutes to get ready, Pretty Boy. And I ain’t letting her change her mind.”

Opening his mouth to inform her that ten minutes would suffice for the time being, Kevin muttered a curse when he heard a knock on the door, followed by Cheyanne's chirpy voice. "We're ready!"

"Just a minute!" Austin called, turning in front of the mirror. "Alright, Pretty Boy," she said as he pulled on his jeans. "Get your sexy ass in gear before we leave you." Blowing him a kiss, she stepped out into the hallway. Cheyanne was talking excitedly in the living room, asking Howie where the keys were. Turning, she leaned in the door and watched Kevin tucking his shirt in. "You're just going to take your sweet time aren't you?" she teased.

“If you would have given me what I wanted, I would have been a lot faster,” Kevin muttered, yelping in surprise when Austin grasped his hands and yanked him to the hallway. Without warning, her lips feverishly pressed against his, slipping her tongue hotly against his as her hands traveled the length of his front side. He could hardly hide the moan of enjoyment as she pulled away just as quickly. He winced at the bulge in his jeans starting to grow. “Damnit, Princess!”

"You'll live," Austin tossed over her shoulder as she went down the hall, adding an extra sway to her hips. "After all, we can't spend all our time in bed, can we?" Smirking, she grabbed her jacket off the back of the couch and slipped it on. "What happened to the two lovebirds?"

“We’re waiting outside for you!” Cheyanne called, popping inside the sliding doors with a Cheshire smile. She was fully prepared to step inside, until Howie’s arms snaked around her waist. She squealed softly in surprise as she was yanked backward, allowing Kevin and Austin to step outside on the porch. Kevin had to chuckle when he assessed Cheyanne’s outfit, deciding she was far too adorable for words. She had decided on a light lavender racer-back tank top which ended a few inches above her belly button to compliment the faded hip hugging, flared jeans with tears in the knees, and matched with her favorite pair of cowboy boots and cowboy hat topped over her spiral honey curls.

"I'll drive," Kevin offered, reaching for the keys Cheyanne held.

"Oh no you won't," Cheyanne said, stepping away from him. "I'm the designated driver tonight." Giving him a brilliant smile, she hooked an arm through Austin's and the two of them headed for the Escape.

"Off to the Brass Rail!" Austin shouted triumphantly.

"Why is it, when she says it, it sounds like some dim roadside dive without a clean bathroom?" Howie asked worriedly.

"Probably because it is," Kevin said with a chuckle. "Come on, before they leave us."


“So, do you think this is still some two-bit dive filled with drunken rednecks?” Cheyanne questioned with a playful smile, fiddling with the black straw in her sweaty Pepsi as she glanced sideways to Howie. They had spent at least a half hour in the bar and Howie had yet to move from his barstool. Instead, he just nursed his beer, watching all the couples on the dance floor, moving to southern twang that he had never been properly introduced to. He felt so out of place as he heard Austin’s distinct laugh, watching Kevin twirl her in a circle while they both balanced drinks in their hands. Kevin had been born in Kentucky and raised on this music. He fit so perfectly into Austin’s life, compared to how out of place Howie felt.

"I wouldn't say drunken rednecks," Howie murmured, picking at the label on his beer bottle. Cheyanne had removed her hat, balancing it on her knee as she sat next to him. That had been a small comfort. She'd taken a turn around the dance floor with Kevin, and he'd sat with a rambunctious Austin, who'd tried to talk him into a dance. He didn't even know how to dance like that…

“You’re not having a good time, are you?” Cheyanne sighed as she turned in her chair to lean back on the bar. Her foot tapped softly against the metal bar of her chair, obviously keep with the beats of her favorite songs. But she felt guilty leaving Howie by himself, even when Kevin had asked for a dance. She had suggested the bar on the off chance that Howie would enjoy himself. She knew Orlando was all hustle and bustle, so she wanted to show him that the country had its own night life. But she had failed miserably.

"I am, Honey, I always have a good time when I'm with you." Turning to face her, he took a sip of his beer as Austin's laugh reached them again. "I just don't fit in with this sort of crowd. I'm not rough and ready, work with my hands from sunup until sundown, stop at the bar and have a few with the boys on the way home. I never have been, Honey. But honest, I'm having fun, just being with you." Placing his hand on her arm, he gave her a smile.

Cheyanne playfully rolled her sapphire eyes as she leaned over to gently kiss his ear. “You are a terrible liar, Howie…” Only, before she could anticipate his reaction, she felt cool air hit the open knee of her jeans where her hat had been resting. Glancing up in surprise, she met a pair of dark navy eyes, which twinkled at her as a somewhat rough-skinned hand plopped the hat back onto her head. He was tall and somewhat thick, obviously well toned from years of working on his Daddy’s farm. He wore a light, plaid flannel shirt with a pair of faded blue-jeans and somewhat monstrous belt buckle. His deliciously white teeth seemed glow brilliantly. Even in the darkness of the dimly lit bar.

“What’s a pretty little lady doing sitting at the bar when she should be dancing?” he drawled with southern comfort that made Howie’s stomach knot in disgust.

“Enjoying the view?” Cheyanne guessed softly, far too nice to turn the man away as he tugged playfully on her black cowboy hat.

"Whaddya say you come dance with me and everyone else can enjoy the view?" he asked with a grin. "Something tells me a cute little thang like you knows how to move."

Cheyanne flashed him a sweet smile. "You don't mind, do you Howie?" she asked, glancing at him worriedly. He had just said he didn't feel comfortable here, and she didn't want him to think that she would just up and leave him.

“No, no, no,” Howie hurriedly replied, not wanting Cheyanne to think he was possessive. He wanted her to know that he trusted her completely. That he knew she would never break his heart -- But the burly man didn’t give Howie time to even assure himself as he grasped her hand, whisking her to the floor. So, pathetically, Howie watched as the love of his life twirled into the arms of another man. She didn’t even seem to notice how disappointed he was, only laughing sweetly when the man dipped her, easily leading them both into the line of intricate dancers. Though, unfortunately, Howie hadn’t given her any reason to stay. He should have said something. Anything… Damn, he needed another beer.

"Billy! Another beer!" Austin called over the music, climbing onto the stool vacated by Cheyanne. "Where'd Chey go?" she asked Howie as a cold beer was placed in front of her. Digging into her pocket for cash, she raised a brow when Howie placed a twenty on the table.

"Me, too," he said morosely, glancing over to see Cheyanne being dipped once again. Damn. He could be doing that to her. He knew how to dance. He could easily show her a few moves he was certain Bubba had never seen before. Damn.

“Howie?” Austin called again, watching him slug at least half the contents of the frosty bottle before gesturing haphazardly to the dance floor. Turning in the stool with her beer, she scanned the dancers, though it only took her a few moments to find her friend. Cheyanne was dynamic on dance floor. Something about her enthusiasm for life sparked within her personality, drawing everyone toward her. And, tonight was no different. She looked quite entertained as she danced with the cumbersome cowboy, laughing in surprise when he grasped her hips to pull her close, moving them as a single unit. She didn’t realize that the man was close to taking advantage of her, causing Austin to whirl in her seat with a sour look for Howie. “Do you not understand the concept of double dating?”

"I didn't want to stand in her way. She wanted to dance," Howie said defensively, taking another slug of his beer.

“You mean you were chicken shit and didn’t have the balls to ask her to show you even the simplest of steps?” Austin guessed coolly, hopping off the bar stool. “Just because this wasn’t your idea doesn’t mean that you can’t at least try to enjoy yourself. Chey hardly ever likes to come out to the bars and when she does, she just wants to dance. Is that too much to ask? Or are you too proud to make yourself look like an ass, too?”

"Austin," Howie grumbled, shaking his head. He wasn't in the mood for her attitude now.

"The guy asked her to dance. She asked if it was okay with me. I said go ahead. What's it matter? As long as Chey has fun, why do you care who she dances with?" Draining the rest of his beer, he slammed the bottle down on the bar before heading to the bathroom.

“What the Hell did you do to him, Princess?” Kevin asked in awe as he passed Howie, who purposely shoved hard into his friend’s shoulder in order to pass. He stumbled a few steps from the blow, immediately reaching to protect his upper arm while taking a seat next to Austin. “And where’s Angel?”

"She's dancing with some hick, and he has a stick up his ass because I told him what I thought about it," Austin replied, reaching for her beer. Leaning over, she rested her head on his shoulder. "Is the men's room decent?" she asked suggestively, watching Cheyanne and her partner coming off the dance floor as the song ended.

“It’s decent enough for what you want to do,” Kevin promised, slipping a kiss to her forehead as he watched the stranger loop his arm around Cheyanne’s waist, drawing her close. Instantly, Kevin became defensive of the gesture, noticing how tense Cheyanne became because of it. Not to mention the thoughts of Howie’s confessions about loving Cheyanne played within the background of his head. Howie was just too damn nice to do anything about the situation, much like Cheyanne. She was far too proper to say anything as the man practically pushed her against the bar, ordering two beers though she tried to nicely decline the offer. Annoyed, Kevin motioned toward Cheyanne which caused Austin to straighten. Freed from his love, he turned in his stool, narrowing his eyes at the man who was just a few inches shorter than him and spoke in a thickly coated southern drawl. “Would you like to tell me what the Hell you think you’re doing buying my pregnant wife a drink?”

Cheyanne's mouth dropped open at this, even as the man with her stumbled away, dumbfounded. "I had no idea, buddy," he stammered, tipping his hat at Cheyanne. "Thanks for the dance, ma'am." Swallowing hard, he quickly moved away.

Cheyanne murmured her drink order to the bartender, who turned to fix her another Pepsi. Shielding her blushing face from Kevin and Austin, she sat on a stool, mortified. Surely he didn't know? There was no feasible way he could have any idea. After all, it wasn't as though… "Where did Howie go?" she asked suddenly.

“He was too chicken shit--”

“He went to the bathroom for a few minutes. He promised he’d be right back,” Kevin immediately interrupted Austin, giving her a somewhat stern glance that told her not to be too harsh on the man. He was unfazed by Cheyanne’s somberness, oblivious to the truth about his statement. Especially as he ordered another drink, well, two more drinks when Austin signaled she was ready for another round. “He might have been a bit jealous about you dancing with that backwards hick.”

“Jealous?” Cheyanne wrinkled her nose in confusion as she kept her eyes locked on her new drink, taking several deep breaths to calm her nerves when Austin said nothing about Kevin’s ‘pregnancy’ comment. “I asked if he minded…”

"And he should have said yes," Austin muttered, rolling her eyes when Kevin gave her another stern look. "What? Would you let some hillbilly whisk me off for a dance without so much as a by-your-leave?" she asked seriously, propping one elbow on the bar.

Cheyanne snorted at this. "I can't believe you just said 'by-your-leave', Austi," she remarked with a giggle.

“She better just stick to drinking beer,” Kevin humored dryly, pushing his bottle towards her when he realized hers was almost half empty. He had to laugh when Austin smacked his shoulder, but refused to give the bottle back. Shrugging, Kevin motioned toward Cheyanne as he continued. “Howie’s a really sweet guy, but he’s probably three times over just as insecure with himself. He’s not going to stand up and say he’s jealous, because he worries what you’ll think. Just like he had a heart attack singing that song the other night. He just wants things to be perfect for you, Angel. Just like I want things to be perfect for Princess, though she makes it so difficult to do so.”

"Like you don't," Austin muttered, lifting the beer to her lips.

"Howie…" Cheyanne smiled slightly at the thought that he wanted everything perfect for her. Didn't he already know that having him in her life was perfection enough? Taking her drink with a smile, she slid from her stool. "Thank you, Kevvy," she cooed, leaning up to kiss his cheek before going in search of Howie.

“See? I am the man, despite what you try to say after some good loving,” Kevin tormented Austin, receiving a sharp slap on the shoulder in the process.

Cheyanne took a sip of her drink as she heard the sharp slap echo over the twangs of the music, trying not to laugh so the bubbles wouldn’t fizz uncomfortably in her nose. Austin and Kevin were definitely quite the pair when it came to romantic relationships. They way they interacted with one another was horrid to say the least, but the love that glimmered impishly within their eyes was unmistakable. Cheyanne was just relieved that she had finally found someone who could handle Austin’s temper, especially as she pulled her black cowboy hat low over her face while making her way to the restrooms. Leaning on the warm jukebox, she watched as Howie practically burst from the bathroom, quite agitated with the world. Immediately, she stood and walked over to offer him a sip of her cold soda. “I think I’d rather have my city boy than some hick working sunup till sundown and then taking off for a few drinks with his buddies.”

Howie gave her a dumbfounded look. "Huh?" Handing her soda back, he saw her sapphire eyes sparkling with a warmth that made his heart sing. "You mean…"

Cheyanne wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing kisses against his lips. "Like I'd ever want some hick over you," she murmured.

“Now, I’ll show you why they call me Cupid,” Kevin smiled with approval as he watched Howie easily embrace Cheyanne, exchanging her kisses for some of his own. Whistling, Kevin finished the last of his beer and grasped Austin’s hand. Weaving their way through the crowds, Kevin located the somewhat rickety piano, jumping onto the stage as he motioned for Austin to stop the juke box. Some of the crowd got a little disturbed, but Kevin instantly started to tickle the ivories to deliver a sweet, slow melody that Howie could surely dance to.

"Would you like to dance?" Howie asked softly, moving his hands to Cheyanne's hips, silently sending a prayer of thanks up above for such a wonderful friend as Kevin.
"With you, Howie? I'd love to," Cheyanne murmured, drawing him towards the middle of the dance floor.

Austin watched Kevin's long fingers played the ivory keys, his eyes downcast. She could tell by the placid look on his face that he was in his element, as though he belonged at a piano in a redneck bar in the middle of nowhere. No, she though with a slight smile as he began to play, he belonged on a stage. The song was unrecognizable to her, but it was slow and peaceful, taking over her senses as she perched on a stool at the bar. She couldn't help but admire him from her vantage point, the way his fingers easily brought the tune forth from the instrument. His head was bowed, as though in prayer, his eyes closed, long black lashes curling against his tanned cheeks. His lips parted slightly as he played, the tip of his tongue darting over them in a movement that was so erotic Austin nearly moaned.

And, when he was done creating a romantic mood for Howie, Austin dragged him into the men’s bathroom for their own ceremony.


“If either of them start choking on the other’s tongue… Am I obligated to stop the car in order to perform the Heimlich maneuver and CPR because I’m officially a Registered Nurse?” Cheyanne mused softly as she glanced into the rear view mirror to check for any cars so she could move into the opposite lane, but her view became unavoidably blocked by two fused heads. After a night at the bar, it was easy to say that both Kevin and Austin were overly inebriated. Probably to the point of alcohol poisoning. But, neither much cared as Austin straddled Kevin’s lap roughly, attacking his mouth with sloppy, heated kisses that were actually starting to make Cheyanne’s stomach churn. The moans, grunts, and growls from the backseat were unanimous between the two drunken fools, having already consummated such passion in the men’s bathroom before deciding it was time to take the show on the road. Cheyanne could only shake her head in disbelief, praying that no clothing would fly into the front and block her view of the road.

"Seeing as how Kevin's helping me pay for our vacation, I'd appreciate it if you did," Howie replied with a chuckle. "Austin, however…" his voice trailing, he patted her thigh lightly.

"I heard that," Austin mumbled from the backseat.

"Yeah?" Howie returned, shaking his head.

"If I didn't have Kevin's hand down my pants right now, I'd--"

“Yeah! Princess! Back to putting your pants down my hands--”

“Don’t even correct him,” Howie quickly warned, moving to adjust the mirror so Cheyanne wouldn’t have to see what was happening in the backseat as she pulled into the dirt road of their resort. He even made sure to avert his own eyes from any of the mirrors in the car, reaching instead to rest his hand on Cheyanne’s upper thigh. In all his years, he never thought he’d ever see the day when Kevin became hornier than Nick and AJ combined.

“Despite this drive home… Did you at least have fun?” Cheyanne questioned Howie softly, reaching to turn the radio a bit higher as Austin released a sharp squeal. Cheyanne could only imagine what Austin had found on Kevin as she reached to run her fingers against the back of Howie’s hand, able to steer the car with her opposite hand.

Smiling, Howie enjoyed the feel of her fingers on him. "Well, after I loosened up and we had our dance, I had fun. And watching those two act like morons was enjoyable as well," he added with a shake of his head.

"Princess!" Kevin exploded from the backseat, immediately followed by the sound of tussling. "You little--"

"Oh, good Lord," Cheyanne muttered, pulling up at the cabin.

“Would you two please get dressed, we’re back at the cabin!” Howie ordered as if he were directing children, watching Cheyanne immediately hopping out of the driver’s side to get away from the scene. He felt his heart drop, thinking she was going to run up the stairs and leave him with the drunken fools, but she coyly pulled open his door. He must have looked panicked, because she giggled.

“Did you think I was leaving you to lug them both in by yourself?” she mused.

"The thought crossed my mind," he admitted, climbing out. "You get her, I'll get him?"
"I can get out of the damn car by myself!" Kevin insisted, flinging the door open. "I'm not a child!" Setting one foot on the ground, he made an adjustment to his jeans as Austin slipped over him to get out, falling against Howie in the process. "Princess, watch it, you--fuck!" he exclaimed before falling to the ground.

"Not a child? Good thing, or we'd have to wash your mouth out," Cheyanne teased.

Kevin spat the dirt from his mouth, coughing heavily at the disgusting taste, but still managed to look up at Cheyanne with disdain. “I’ll wash your mouth out with my di--”
“Whooo,” Howie breathed, reaching down to help his large friend off the ground. He watched as Cheyanne easily coaxed her friend into taking a piggyback ride, hurrying up the stairs in attempts to get rid of Austin even faster. Howie knew he’d probably have a difficult time giving Kevin a piggyback ride, thinking maybe he should have taken Austin instead of his plastered pal. “Time to get you to bed, Kev.”

“Whoooooo!” Kevin hollered loudly as he flung his arms over Howie’s shoulders, slobbering the side of his face with kisses. Suddenly, he burst into a round of laughter, finding something hilarious that Howie would never know about. “Bed!”

“Not with me, that’s for sure,” Howie breathed, cringing at the wetness running down his cheek as he stumbled with Kevin to the stairs.

"Where's my Princess? What has Angel done to my Princess?" Kevin asked loudly as he stumbled through the door. "I need my Princess in my bed before I--"

"For God's sake, she's right there!" Cheyanne cried, coming from the kitchen with a cold soda. "Do you have to be so loud?"

"I'm just--whoooooo!" Kevin exclaimed, leaning against Howie for support.

"Kev, are you drunk?" Howie asked with a smirk, wiping his face on his friend's shirt.

"Of course!"

“Would you just put him in--”

“I’VE DECIDED!” Austin declared quite loudly, sitting straight up on the couch that she had previously been slumping on in a death-like mask. She held her index finger up in the air as she had stroked a brilliant idea like some intelligent inventor. Her dark auburn locks were wild from her stirring passion in the back seat of the Escape, but she cared not as she forced her dark eyes wide as if that would cause the room to stop spinning. “I’d like a beer and I’d like to see something naked!”

“You don’t need another beer, trust me,” Howie groaned as he crossed in front of her as he pushed Kevin onto the couch beside Austin.

“OH! NOT THAT! NOT THAT!” Austin moaned loudly, falling off the couch in attempts to hide her cherry-red face so she wouldn’t have to see Howie’s naked form.

“I vote for Cheyanne to be the naked one!” Kevin suddenly announced out of no where.

"No! Cheyanne will not be getting naked for you!" Howie shouted, taking the cold soda from Cheyanne and shoving it into Kevin's hands. "That will never happen, Kev. Believe me. Now drink this and then you two seriously need to go to bed."

"For someone who cringed at the thought of us sleeping together a few days ago, Howie Bear sure likes to tell us to do it," Austin commented with a slight yawn.

"Alright! No Angel being naked. Got it!" Kevin said with a dramatic wave of his hand. Examining his fingers, he wiggled them in the air, as though suddenly transfixed by the notion he could move them. "Then I'll get naked!"

"Whooooo!" Austin hooted, sitting up straight.

“Kevin, I’m not joking--”

“I’m too sexy for my shirt… I’m too sexy for my shirt…” Kevin started singing in a loud baritone voice, so far off key that Cheyanne thought animals would start to scatter from the forest. But, she couldn’t resist laughing in sheer disbelief as he started to remove his shirt. Fumbling with the buttons as he rocked his pelvis in a peculiar manner, he soon realized that there was no way that the shirt would fit over his head. Grumbling, he just yanked it off, buttons going everywhere as Austin screamed for someone to find her purse for some dollar bills. Kevin seemed fueled by the energy, yanking haphazardly on his pants to drop them to the floor. Only he couldn’t kick them off as he stumbled. “I’m too sexy for my pa—I’m too sexy for—my—D, can you help me with my sexy pants?”

“C’mon, Kevin, I’ll help you with your sexy pants,” Cheyanne interrupted before Howie could loose his temper with sheer exasperation. Much like she was taking care of a mentally ill patient, she helped support his heavy weight on her tiny frame, leading him back to the bedroom.

“Angel’s too sexy for her shirt--”

“If you can get it off me, Kevvy,” Cheyanne laughed from the hallway.

“Angel… I swear to drunk I’m not God…” Kevin stated with the utmost seriousness.

"Oh my God," Howie moaned, shaking his head in utter disbelief. Never, in all the years he'd known Kevin, had he ever witnessed such lunacy. This was definitely not something to write home about. Though, he mused with a chuckle, this was surely something he'd have to tell AJ about. "What are you doing?" he asked incredulously.

Austin peered up at him from her spot on the floor, one leg of her jeans pulled to her knee as she struggled with the zipper of her boots. "Pretty Boy's nearly naked," she stated simply, wrenching her boot off as though it were the most logical explanation. "Howie," she moaned plaintively, waving one arm crazily as though to get his attention, "I've fallen and I can't get up!”

“Oh, Austin,” Howie sighed, leaning down to toss her over his shoulder as if she were a sack of potatoes. She immediately giggled loudly at the change in posture, actually playing a rhythm of drums on Howie’s backside as he moved down the hallway. He tried to act as if it didn’t faze him, hurrying into Kevin’s bedroom to toss her into the free side of the bed. Somehow, Cheyanne had already managed to get Kevin underneath the covers, snoring loudly with Cheyanne’s lavender tank top cuddled to his face, leaving her topless with just her favorite lavender bra hugging her.

“Don’t ask,” Cheyanne sighed as Austin continued to giggle loudly, moving to help her friend just as she had helped Kevin. Though, she stopped halfway with Austin’s boot, glancing back to Howie. “I can finish this. You can go get ready for bed.”

"Are you sure?" Howie pressed, already backing into the hall. "I'd be more than willing to help--"

"He just wants to see me naked," Austin whispered loudly.

"Austi, lay back okay? There will be no getting naked for you tonight, I assure you," Cheyanne said gently, tugging her boot off. "Go on, Howie. I've got it."

Howie followed Cheyanne’s instructions with a nod of his head, knowing there was a good possibility that if he stayed, he’d be seeing one too many inches of Austin’s naked flesh than he wanted. Though, as he traveled into his bedroom, he couldn’t help but laugh. Drawing off his own clothing and tossing it to a feeble pile toward the corner of the room, he collapsed face first into the soft bedding. He was exhausted. This night had been completely insane and Kevin probably wouldn’t remember a mere second of it when he awoke the next morning. That is, if he ever awoke.

“Never again,” Cheyanne’s voice projected out of no where, though Howie felt her body on top of his a few moments later. She had pressed her face into the warmth of his back, unable to resist offering just the touch of kisses to his flesh, lightly poking with her tongue. She honestly loved the taste of him. Then as quickly as she had offered the kisses, she drew away to get changed. “Thank God I had a mental health rotation though, otherwise…”

Lifting himself onto his elbows, Howie watched her move around the dimly lit room, a smile touching his lips as she pulled on a Mickey Mouse nightshirt. Rolling over, he gazed at her, patting the mattress invitingly as she ran a brush through her hair. "I can truthfully say that, after that ordeal with those two, I definitely don't want children," he said as she walked over to join him.

“No children?” Cheyanne questioned in surprise, stopping hard in the middle of pulling down the covers for both of them. Instantly, she dropped the covers from her hands and covered her abdomen as if she were protecting her child from Howie’s vision. She felt so sick to her stomach, unable to find a note of teasing in his voice nor a hint of a sarcastic smile. She hadn’t exactly planned on telling Howie about neither her pregnancy nor what any type of future would be like with him. In fact, for once, she had just been living in the moment of their romance. But his words yanked her from that carefree world, dousing her with the chilliness of her life’s decisions.

"Only ours," he said with a sweet smile, patting the mattress again. "Besides, were we to have kids, surely they wouldn't be that bad," he assured her. "Now come here, I want to hold you."

“Only ours? As in mine and yours?” Cheyanne questioned as Howie reached to pull her onto the bed. She didn’t feel any better than she had before. Were we to have kids

"Would you rather have Kevin's kids?" he teased lightly, wrapping his arms around her. Lying back with her, he nuzzled her neck. "Who else's kids would I be referring to?"

“Kevin did get my shirt to sleep with for the night…” Cheyanne trailed in attempts to rouse the joke, trying to ward off her ill willed feelings. Holding a breath to keep the emotional tears from falling, she snuggled down into Howie’s embrace. Lightly, she traced her fingers over his muscular arm, releasing the shakiness of her breath slowly. She had hoped she’d feel the warmth she had felt before. But now she just felt cold. So very cold.

Howie felt the tenseness of her body as he held her. "Honey? What did I say?" he asked worriedly, smoothing her hair. "I was just teasing about Kevin, you know that, right? Sweetheart… Talk to me. Tell me what's wrong?" Tracing her cheek with his finger, he urged her to look up at him.

“Nothing’s wrong,” Cheyanne instantly promised, biting down on her bottom lip as she glanced into his dark eyes. She could feel the tears threatening to fall, but she rubbed her face furiously to keep them away. She curled closer to his body, pulling the covers tightly around them to keep from shivering. Softly, she pressed shy kisses to his chest, just over his heart. “I love you so much, Howie…”

"I love you too, Chey… You wouldn't lie to me, would you?" Howie murmured, lightly rubbing her back through the nightshirt. Kissing the top of her head, he pulled her as close as possible and felt her shiver slightly. "Honey…"

“I wouldn’t lie to you,” Cheyanne promised, rubbing her fingers over the kiss she placed on his heart. She hated to offer that white lie, but there was no other choice. Howie would never accept the child growing in her womb, but she didn’t want to think about that. She didn’t want to think about anything. She just wanted to feel him. “Howie… Will you make love to me tonight?”

Pulling her over him, Howie captured her lips in a soft kiss, running his hands down her sides. "You bet, Honey. Just… you're wearing too many clothes," he whispered, teasing her bottom lip with his tongue. "I love you, Chey…"

“I love you, Howie, so much…” Cheyanne promised, drowning herself in the sensations instead of her worries. At least, for tonight.