Being A Star (Isn't Easy)
Chapter 21 added 29 March 2007
Chapter 22 added 12 April 2007
Chapter 23 added 14 April 2007
Chapter 24 added 15 May 2007
Chapter 25 added 22 May 2007 - Completed
Summary: Ezra Standish is a superstar and ends up requiring the assistance of four bodyguards. Through all of the danger, star obligations, and hostile feelings, he ends up finding a love that he never thought would be possible.
Pairing: E/V, JD/?
Author's Notes: Famous is a new (as far as I know) universe that I created. It will be open, when this story is finished.
This story is dedicated to all of the readers that have provided me with feedback on my other stories, especially Malantha. Thank you for all of your help, on this story, girl!
I don't think they ever mentioned Rain's last name in the series. So, I chose one. If they mentioned one, sorry.
Ezra Standish sat in his apartment, listening to his two good friends try to sell him on the good points of hiring four new bodyguards. His manager, Josiah Sanchez, was like a father to him and he respected his opinion. But new bodyguards? He already had three, how many did the man think he needed? And, John Daniel "J.D." Dunne, his personal assistant was like a younger brother to him. Sometimes an annoying younger brother, he would admit, but he loved them both. And, he was trying to be patient as he heard them out.
"Come on, Ez. Why won't you give it a chance?!" asked an exasperated J.D.
"I already have three bodyguards," replied an equally exasperated Ezra as he held up three fingers on his right hand. "Seriously guys, how many do I need?"
"I've heard great things about these guys, Son. Nothing but glowing recommendations. You have a concert in a week, and to tell you the truth, I'm worried about it. About you."
"Oh, maybe because you were mobbed by a couple hundred fans at your new CD signing a couple days ago. You're lucky you weren't hurt any worse than you were," Josiah replied as he looked at the bruises that still adorned Ezra's face. "Where were your bodyguards, hmm?"
Before Ezra could answer, J.D. butted in, "Not watching your ass is where! If they had been doing their job, those bruises on your face never would've happened."
"And I think something else is going on," Josiah said.
"Like what?" Ezra wanted to know.
"Like, I think that you getting mobbed was too much of a coincidence. Especially considering those letters you have received."
Ezra shook his head, trying not to show how much he was shook up, just talking about the letters. "Those are no big deal. All stars get letters."
"Maybe, but they make me uncomfortable. And, I know they make you more uneasy than you let on. You don't have to put on an act in front of us."
Josiah paused for a moment. "Look, why not just give your regular bodyguards some indefinite time off? Just until we get things cleared up and find out why they weren't watching out for you the other day. Try these guys out, Son. What could it hurt?"
Ezra sighed, "Fine. I'll give them a try."
J.D. and Josiah smiled and Josiah said, "Good. I'll make the call."
"Great," mumbled Ezra.
"Hey, Chris, what's up?" Buck Wilmington asked.
Chris Larabee, owner and founder of Stealth Bodyguards, looked at his long-time friend. He saw Vin Tanner entering behind Buck and said, "I just got off the phone with a potential client." Chris never decided to take on new clients without the input of his other three partners.
"Oh yeah? Who?" asked Vin as he took a seat at the conference table.
"Josiah Sanchez. He's the manager of Ezra Standish. That's who we would be working for."
"Wait a minute. Ezra Standish, the Ezra Standish?" asked Buck.
Chris nodded as Nathan Jackson piped up, "You mean that arrogant bastard that thinks he can act and sing?"
The other three men looked at Nathan Jackson in surprise when they heard the disgust in his voice.
"He probably thinks he can act and sing because he can. Man, I've seen all of his movies and have several of his CDs!" exclaimed Buck.
"Yeah, he is pretty good," chimed in Vin.
"What's the problem, Nathan? You two have some history we don't know about?" demanded Chris.
Nathan shook his head, "Never met the man."
"Then, why such dislike?" Chris wondered.
Nathan shrugged, "Ever since I first saw him on television, he's rubbed me the wrong way."
"Will you have a problem taking this case? Because, if you do, I'll turn it down."
Nathan looked at Chris and knew he'd do just that. But, Nathan couldn't let him do that, he didn't want to be the cause of them losing the biggest client they'd ever had a chance with. Nathan knew that if they accepted the case and it worked out, their reputation would grow, and they would receive more clients.
Nathan sighed and shook his head, "No, Chris. It won't be a problem."
"You're sure?" Chris confirmed.
Nathan nodded, but remained silent.
"So, what's the deal?" asked Vin.
"Mister Sanchez informed me that Mister Standish has received threatening letters. The police haven't been able to find out who has been sending them. And, a couple of days ago, he was at the signing of his new CD and was mobbed by a couple hundred fans. Luckily, all he ended up with were a few bruises on his face, arms, and chest. The bodyguards, according to Mister Sanchez, weren't doing their job. They weren't watching out for him.
"Mister Sanchez said that he had heard that we were good at our job and they want to hire us. Mister Standish has a concert in a week. So, gentlemen, what do I tell him?"
"I say we take the job," said Buck.
"How much are they payin'?" questioned Vin.
"If we take this job, we'll be signing on indefinitely. We'll stay until the job is completed. Mister Sanchez has agreed to four-thousand dollars a week. That's a thousand, a week, for each of us."
Vin whistled, "I'm in."
"Nathan?" questioned Chris.
Nathan nodded, "Me too."
"Alright, then, I'll give him a call and let him know that we accept."
Ezra was sitting in his music studio, that he had had specially built in his house, talking to Josiah. The studio was his favorite place in the house. It had a sound booth, a sound-proofed recording room with a couple of microphones, black leather chairs, a black leather couch sitting against the wall, the walls were done in a light-colored wood siding, and the floor was done in white and black marble. And, it housed two of his most prized possessions. A white Baby Grand piano and a Gibson EDS 1275 Double Neck Electric Guitar, that he had owned for four years, when he had started his career.
"Your new bodyguards should be here shortly," Josiah said.
Ezra sighed. Noticing that J.D. was absent, he asked about his whereabouts. "He's upstairs, waiting for them to show. That way he can bring them down here to meet you. Did you need him for something?"
"Not really, just curious is all."
"You're nervous about meeting these guys, aren't you?"
Ezra sighed, knowing better than to try and lie to Josiah. The man had a sixth sense about that, he could always sense a lie. Ezra shrugged, "You know how it is."
Josiah nodded, "You're the only person I know that can be an entertainer and still be nervous being around new people."
Ezra smirked, "What can I say? I'm original."
Josiah gave him a small smile, "That you are, Son. That you are." Josiah and J.D. knew the real reason behind Ezra's being nervous around new people. It stemmed from his childhood, if it could be called a childhood. But, Ezra hated to talk about it and always did his best to keep it from being revealed to the public. 'Maybe one day, you'll realize that none of that was your fault, Son,' Josiah thought.
Chris, Buck, Vin, and Nathan sat in the back of the black stretch limo that had picked them up at the airport. Their bodyguard agency was in New Jersey, Ezra Standish lived in Atlanta, Georgia. 'I'm gonna have to remember to ask Mister Sanchez how he heard about us,' Chris thought as he watched the scenery fly by.
The limo stopped in front of a closed gate, a security camera swinging their way, before the gate opened. The limo slowly drove up the winding driveway and stopped in front of the door. The driver, Milo Howler, got out of the limo, opening the left back door, so the four bodyguards could get out.
"Man, this house is huge!" exclaimed Buck.
Chris nodded his head, Buck wasn't kidding. The house was red brick, three-stories high and looked to be about two thousand square-feet. On the other side of the driveway there was lush green grasses, with bushes, and what looked like a couple of peach trees. There were also a few flowerbeds. From what Chris could see, they were roses, lilacs, and dandelions.
"This is where he lives?! I knew he was arrogant, his house proves it. The man has his own peach trees for crying out loud!" said Nathan.
Chris saw the limo driver stop hauling their bags out of the trunk, and looked at Nathan, a slight scowl on his face. Chris elbowed Nathan in the ribs, none too gently, and hissed, "Stop it! You said you could work this job, so be professional about it."
Nathan hung his head slightly at the rebuke, but Chris noticed that he didn't apologize for anything he said. 'I hope taking this job wasn't a mistake,' Chris silently thought.
"Right this way," the driver said.
The driver led them up to the front door, where they were met by a dark-haired young man. "You can just sit their bags right here by the door, they will be taken care of," the young man said.
Milo nodded, stepping inside, and placed the bags on the floor. "Thanks, Milo."
"No problem," Milo said with a smile, before heading back out to move the limo.
"C'mon in," the young man said as he stepped aside to let them pass. After he shut the door, he introduced himself. "I'm John Dunne, but everyone calls me J.D."
Chris shook his hand and said, "I'm Chris Larabee."
The other three also introduced themselves, while shaking J.D.'s hand. "Vin Tanner."
"Nathan Jackson. What do you do here?"
"Personal assistant," J.D. said with a touch of pride in his voice. Nathan just stared at him as he continued, "Ezra's down in the studio with Josiah, if y'all wanna follow me."
"He lets you call him Ezra?" Nathan asked, all but sneering, after they had started walking towards the stairs.
J.D. stopped walking and turned around to face Nathan and the other three men. "Yes, he does. He respects us and we respect him. We're like a family." J.D. paused for a moment, then continued, "If I were you, I'd drop the attitude, Mister Jackson."
Nathan seemed shocked at J.D.'s words as he, also, received glares from the other three men. A few minutes later, J.D. led them to a closed door, noticing that the red light wasn't on. 'Good, he's not working,' J.D. thought. Before he could raise his hand to knock, Chris opened the door.
'Impatient as always,' Vin thought as men looked at them.
"Sorry, Ez, I didn't have time to stop them," J.D. explained as they all walked into the recording studio.
"It's alright, J.D.," Ezra said as he stood up. Looking at the blond-headed, green-eyed, man, he started, "Mister...?"
"Larabee," Chris offered.
"Well, Mister Larabee, you four may be my new bodyguards, but I don't appreciate you barging into my recording studio. Any time I'm behind closed doors, you knock unless it's an extreme emergency. Everyone has to knock, I cannot abide poor manners. Besides, I could've been working."
Chris had the decency to look slightly abashed, "I am sorry about that Mister Standish."
"It's alright, this time," Ezra replied with a dimpled smile. "And, call me Ezra."
"Alright, Ezra, call me Chris."
Ezra nodded, looking at the next man, his breath almost catching in his throat. The man was absolutely beautiful, with his striking blue eyes and coffee-colored hair that hung to his shoulders in curls. "Vin Tanner, you can call me Vin."
Ezra shook the offered hand, with a smile. Internally shaking his head, he faced the next man. "Buck Wilmington."
"Do you prefer me using your first name or last?"
"Buck's fine," Buck said with humor-sparkling eyes. Ezra had to admit that Buck was sort of handsome, in a roguish way, with his dark hair and mustache.
He faced the last man, an African-American man with dark eyes and dark hair. He didn't look too happy. "Nathan Jackson. And, before you ask, you can call me Mister Jackson."
Ezra's eyebrow rose, noticing that all eyes were fixed on him and Nathan. "If that's what ya want, fine," Ezra replied, noticing that Nathan hadn't offered him a hand to shake. 'This should be fun!' Ezra thought.
"Nathan," hissed Chris, angrily. Nathan was going to lose them the job before they'd ever really started it!
"It's alright, Chris. Nathan has the right to be called what he wants. So, Mister Jackson it is." Ezra saw Nathan's eyes narrow at the emphasis that he had put on the man's name.
A noise had them all turning toward the open door. Nathan's heart stopped for a moment as he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was milky-coffee colored, with beautiful brown eyes, and dark hair that hung in curls to the middle of her back.
"Sorry. Y'all having a meeting?" she asked as she stepped into the studio.
Ezra gave her a wide smile. "No. How was your trip?"
Rain hugged him, then gave J.D. and Josiah hugs, also. "It was great! I wish you could've come, though. Mom and dad were disappointed, they'd love to see you."
"Sorry. I was busy, but I'll make sure to give them a call. Now, let me introduce you to my new bodyguards."
Pointing to each in turn, he started. "Chris Larabee, Buck Wilmington, Vin Tanner, and Nathan Jackson. This is Rain Richards." Ezra saw Nathan's eyes narrow and a scowl appear on his face. He didn't have any idea what the man's problem was, but it looked like Rain had noticed it also. She held Nathan's eyes, not smiling, then looked away from him.
"I take it Casey and Inez aren't here yet," Rain stated.
"They're on their way, they called a little bit ago," J.D. piped up.
"What do you have on the agenda today, Ezra?," Chris asked, taking charge.
Ezra shrugged, "Not much really, I don't think. I'm going to be rehearsing for my concert for a while. We'll probably just do that here, unless something changes. Then, the rest of the day is free, right J.D.?"
"Yep," J.D. replied as looked at an open book. Chris assumed it was a planner.
"Alright, you need to give us your schedule, every week. That way we can plan accordingly." Ezra just nodded. Chris faced Josiah and said, "Before I forget, how exactly did you hear about us?"
"Oh, I know one of your past clients. Neil Roberts?"
Chris smiled, "Oh, I remember him. He had the blackmailer. He and his wife were quite the characters." Neil Roberts had asked for their help in New York, he had a blackmailer that had some pretty... racy... photos of him stripping at a club. The thing was, Neil was a very prominent and influential man in the city. He couldn't have his reputation ruined. But, even though the man had hired them, he thought that he was a detective.
The man had kept getting involved in the case, frustrating all of them to no end. Until his wife, knowing about everything that was going on, had sat Neil down. She told him that he was either going to stay out of the investigation, or she would hit him with a frying pan for every dollar that the blackmailer wanted. Needless to say, he had let them do their job and the blackmailer had been caught two days later.
Josiah laughed, "That they are!"
"I don't think I've ever seen a man shut up and do what he was told so fast!," laughed Buck.
"Well, that fryin' pan was mighty heavy," Vin said in his Texas drawl.
Ezra felt like sighing. He could listen to Vin's voice all day. And, he could look at the man's body... those long legs... the lean frame... Ezra slightly shook his head, not wanting anyone to figure out what he was thinking about. 'Get those thoughts out of your head right now, Ezra Standish!' he silently scolded himself.
"Hey, guys," said a feminine voice.
"Hey, ladies," replied a smiling Ezra.
"Who are these four handsome men?" asked a second feminine voice as the two women walked into the studio.
With a mock scowl, Ezra asked, "So, J.D., Josiah, and myself aren't handsome?" Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Nathan scowl and roll his eyes. 'I really wonder what that man's problem is,' Ezra silently thought. He had been lenient, but he wasn't going to accept much more disrespect in his own house!
The dark-haired woman laughed, "Of course y'all are, Sugar. But, these men are new meat!"
Ezra laughed and shook his head, "Stop it, Inez. You're gonna scare them off! Let me introduce ya. Inez Recillos and Casey Wells meet Buck Wilmington, Chris Larabee, Vin Tanner, and Nathan Jackson. They're my new bodyguards."
"Well, they can guard my body any time!" chimed in a smiling Casey.
"Are you two always like this?" asked a half-amused and half-worried Chris. "Because," he added, "if you are, I'd better send Buck back home. He'll take you up on your offer and never get his work done!"
Everyone but Nathan laughed. "You don't have to do that, we'll be good," said Inez, with a wink.
"Why don't I believe that?" Vin teased in his Texan drawl.
"Alright, enough joking around. Time to rehearse," said Ezra.
He turned to the four new bodyguards and said, "J.D. can show you to your rooms, and give you a copy of this week's schedule. We'll be fine down here, Josiah will stay with us."
After a moment, Chris nodded. "Alright. But, after rehearsal, we're all going to sit down and go over the rules."
Ezra raised an eyebrow at that, but just nodded.
An hour later; Chris, Buck, Vin, and Nathan were in Chris's room. J.D. had given them a list of the schedule, then had gone to make a few phone calls. "Can you believe how big this place is?! I mean, we each even got our own rooms," exclaimed Buck.
"Uh oh, I think Buck's gettin' attached to the place," smirked Vin.
"Hell yeah! J.D. told me that he has an indoor pool, hot tub, a game room with a pool table and everything. I'm a happy man!"
Chris laughed and shook his head, "Remember, Buck, we're here to work."
Buck nodded his head, a serious look on his face. "I know, Chris." Then, he smirked, and said, "But, we can't be all work and no play!"
"What makes you think that he'd let you play with any of his little 'toys'?" questioned Nathan.
"What are you talking about? He seems like a nice guy, I'm sure he'd let us take a swim or something," Vin said, defending Ezra. He didn't know what it was, but the man had already gotten under his skin. And, he hadn't even had an actual conversation with him!
Nathan snorted, "Yeah, right! Did you see how he was acting down there? I mean, is he dating all three of those women or what? And, his ego's so big that he couldn't stand for them to even think that we're handsome!"
"Nathan, he was joking! You do remember what that is, right?" asked a sarcastic Buck.
His voice serious, Chris spoke. "Nathan, I don't know what your problem is with that man, but you'd better deal with it. And, fast! We are here to do a job, if you don't think that you can do it in a professional manner, then, let me know now. And, I'll get you a airplane ticket back home."
Nathan saw the look on Chris's face and decided to keep the sharp reply he had inside. "I can do this job, Chris. You don't have to worry."
After a pause, Chris nodded, "Good. We'll see. Now, how about we all go and check out the security this house has. Buck and Nathan, you two take the perimeter. Vin and I will take the inside."
"Come on, Nate, let's go," Buck said when he saw that Nathan wasn't moving. He really hoped that Nathan was able to quit acting like a jackass and start acting like a professional. Or, friendship, or no friendship, Chris was liable to fire him.
Chris watched the two men leave, and sighed. "Come on, Vin. Let's get going."
"So, Ez, what's up with that Jackson guy?" asked Rain. Ezra, Rain, Casey, and Inez were getting ready to rehearse a couple of songs that they would be doing for the concert. They were just waiting on Josiah to get the music cued up.
Ezra sighed, "If I only knew. Since they've arrived, he's been like that. While the other three want me to call them by their first names, he wants me to call him Mister Jackson."
All three women scowled. Although Casey and Inez were close to Ezra, Rain was like a sister to him. She had thought that Nathan was handsome when she had first seen him, then his attitude had shown itself.
"I'll tell you this, though, I'm not taking much more of his attitude. I refuse to be disrespected in my own house!" Ezra firmly said.
"Alright, I have the music cued. You ready?" asked Josiah.
"Yeah, play it," replied Ezra. As the soft music started playing, Ezra automatically started singing. The three women doing backup at their appropriate times. But, Vin Tanner's face started appearing in his mind. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't shake the image.
'Oh, boy, I'm in trouble,' he mentally sighed.
THREE HOURS LATER
Ezra and his three backup singers, along with Josiah, made their way upstairs. They had been rehearsing for three hours, non-stop, and Ezra had called for a break. They walked into the living room, seeing J.D. and his four bodyguards sitting around, talking.
"You done rehearsing?" asked Buck.
"For now," Ezra replied.
"How about we go over those rules, now?" suggested Chris.
After everyone was seated and comfortable, Ezra asked, "What exactly are the rules?"
Vin inwardly sighed as he heard Ezra talk. Every time the man opened his mouth, Vin's insides felt like they turned to goo. He knew that was sappy, but hearing Ezra's voice made him feel sappy. That southern accent was as smooth as honey, and he loved hearing it.
Tuning back in to the conversation, Vin realized that Chris was listing the rules to Ezra and his people. "...and you also need to always check the camera when someone wants through the gate. Even if you're expecting someone, just to be on the safe side."
"We already do," piped up J.D.
"Be that as it may, I'm just reminding you all to keep doing it," said Chris. "From what we could tell, it looks like you have several cameras and a high-tech security alarm. Ever thought about getting a dog or two?"
Ezra's eyebrows rose and he replied, "No. Do you think I should?"
Chris shrugged, "It couldn't hurt. They could be guard dogs, a lot of people find that they come in handy."
"Hmmm, something to consider," replied Ezra with a faint smile. He had always wanted a dog, but had never been allowed one when he was growing up. And then he had just put it on the list of things he had never had, and hadn't really thought any more about it.
Just then, the phone rang. Getting up, Ezra walked over to a table and answered it. "Hello?" All he could hear was breathing. "Hello? Who is this?"
The only word spoken was, "Soon." Then, Ezra was greeted with a dial tone.
When Ezra hung up the phone, Chris immediately asked, "Who was it?"
"I don't know." Picking up his caller id, he said, "It came from a payphone." Ezra had a high-tech caller id that would tell him from where the person was calling. He had paid good money to have it specially made.
"What did they say, Son?" asked Josiah.
Looking at everyone, he replied, "Soon. That's all they said."
"Man or woman?" questioned Vin.
"It sounded like a man, but it was kind of quiet."
"Alright, you need to change your phone number," said Chris.
"And, then, call the police," replied Buck.
Ezra shook his head, "No. That's why you four were hired. To keep me safe and try to find out what's going on. Why my bodyguards didn't do their job and who is harassing me. I do not want the police involved. If I called them, before you know it I would be all over the six-o-clock news for having a stalker. I had enough of that when I got mobbed."
"What are you talking about? I figured you would want the publicity. Any kind of publicity. Don't all celebrities?" Nathan asked, just short of sneering.
Ezra looked him in the eyes, "I am not a publicity whore, Mister Jackson. I like for some of my life to be private."
"Why, you have something to hide, do you?"
"Nathan, enough," Chris sharply cut in.
Rain was on her feet, "How dare you? You do not know anything about anything, so why don't you keep your snide remarks to yourself?" They could all tell that the woman was angry, in fact Ezra and all of his people looked miffed.
Vin silently growled, thinking, 'Shut up, Nathan.'
"If you will excuse us, we have some more rehearsing to do." Turning to J.D., Ezra spoke, "Please call my phone company and have them change my number, will you?"
"Right away, Ez," J.D. said before walking off.
Without another word; Ezra, Inez, Rain, and Casey walked out of the room, leaving Josiah with the four bodyguards.
When it was just Josiah and the four bodyguards, Josiah spoke up. "Mister Jackson, would you mind telling me what your problem with Ezra is?"
Nathan swallowed at the big man's tone. He could tell that Josiah was pissed, and he was someone that you definitely didn't want pissed at you. Putting on a brave face, he replied, "Just stating my opinions."
"Well, everyone's entitled to opinions. But, try to think before you talk. Ezra Standish is one of the finest men I know."
Nathan shrugged, "That's your opinion."
Before Nathan could dig himself into a deeper hole, Chris spoke up. "I'm sorry Josiah." Casting a quick glare at Nathan, before looking back at Josiah, he added, "Nathan won't cause any problems."
Josiah sighed, taking a calming breath. "I heard great things about your work. But, from what I can see Mister Jackson isn't acting very professional. If I'd known that there was going to be a problem, I never would have hired you four men. If things keep up, I will fire you and find someone else." After a pause, he added, "That is if Ez doesn't beat me to it. You really don't want to see him angry, it's not pretty."
With that said, Josiah walked away. Chris whirled to face Nathan, speaking through gritted teeth. "Nathan, we've had this discussion already. A few times, actually. What the hell is the matter with you?! Do you want to go home? I'll get you a plane ticket."
Sighing he answered, "No, Chris."
"Then what's going on?" asked Buck.
Nathan shrugged, "He just rubs me the wrong way."
Chris sighed, "I have to say, I'm disappointed. I've never seen you act unprofessional before. You have one more chance. One, Nathan. If this keeps up, I'll send you home and we'll have to evaluate your place on this team. I can't take the chance that you'll act like this with other clients."
Nathan's face flushed, slightly, at the dressing down. "Understood," he replied, somewhat stiffly.
"Good. Now, Nathan and I will take J.D. Buck and Vin, you take Josiah. We need to ask some questions and find out why they think that the bodyguards let Ezra get mobbed."
IN THE STUDIO
"I can't believe the gall of that man!" Rain exclaimed when they were back in the studio.
Ezra sighed and nodded. "He's definitely starting to get on my bad side."
"Starting?! He would've been on mine the first time he opened his mouth!" replied Inez.
"Well, I try to have some patience," said Ezra, with a faint smile.
"Well, my hand is just itching to deliver a slap to his head," said Casey.
"I'd actually like to see that," said a genuinely smiling Ezra.
"Well, if he keeps making his remarks, you just might," said Casey. Inez and Rain nodded their agreement.
The next morning, Ezra asked the four bodyguards to meet with him in the living room. He knew that they had tried to get some answers out of Josiah and J.D. the night before. Josiah and J.D. had answered their questions as best as they could.
Ezra figured that it was time that he was honest with the new bodyguards. He didn't hide who he was to his close friends. And, he didn't like to hide who he was to the people that were hired to protect him. If they had any problems, they could go and he would hire new bodyguards.
After the bodyguards, Josiah, J.D., and himself had sat down, he started explaining. "I asked you four to meet with me, because I need to be honest. You are responsible for protectin' me, and I need to know that you have no problems. I'm not sure but I think that some of the reason that my old bodyguards didn't protect me was because of my homosexuality."
"You prefer men?" clarified Buck.
Ezra nodded, "Yes, I do. If any of you have a problem with that, let me know now and you can leave."
"Why didn't one of you tell us this?" Chris demanded, directing his question to J.D. and Josiah.
It was Ezra that answered, "Because, Chris, they don't have a tendency to go around and tellin' everyone my business. I figured that I'd better tell you. I don't want what happened at that CD signin' to happen again. Do any of you have a problem with what I just told you?"
Buck and Vin shook their heads no.
"No, no problem," said Chris. "It's your life. We're just here to make sure you keep living."
After a minute, when Nathan had still not answered, Ezra asked, "Mister Jackson?"
"I don't have no problems," he answered. Ezra thought he sounded insincere, though.
"Are you sure? I don't want this to turn into a problem later."
Nathan just nodded. "Good. I've got to get ready for my workout."
"Your trainer comes here, right?" asked Chris.
Ezra nodded, "Yep. We go running, so which of you will be joining us?"
"That'd be me," answered Vin.
"Alright," Ezra said before walking up the stairs to his room. He had to restrain himself from skipping. He'd get to see Vin in workout clothes. And, he'd be sweaty and....
Ezra shook his head to dispel the images from his mind. Then, he got into his private shower and took a very cold shower.
Ezra had just finished performing his last song before the intermission. The concert was being held in Atlanta. He loved performing in his hometown. He was in his dressing room, finishing tying the laces of his dress shoes. There was a knock on the door. Opening it, he saw that it was Vin.
For the hundredth time that night, he had to stop himself from drooling. Vin had his hair in a ponytail and was wearing black jeans, a tight t-shirt tucked in, and black tennis shoes.
He didn't notice that Vin was checking him out. 'Man, he looks good!' Vin thought as he took in what Ezra was wearing. He had on a black tuxedo, a white shirt, and shiny black dress shoes.
Through his suddenly dry mouth, Vin managed to answer, "Yep. Ready?"
Ezra nodded and followed Vin to the back of the stage. He walked onto the stage, with Rain, who was wearing a black sequined gown and her hair on top of her head in curls, beside him. Casey and Inez were at their microphones. One on each side of the stage. There was a string orchestra behind them.
Ezra spoke into his microphone. "I hope y'all have enjoyed the concert so far!" The audience, of fifteen thousand, broke into cheers and applause. A few minutes later, a smiling Ezra continued, "I'm glad. Let me introduce everyone. This beautiful woman beside me is one of my back-up singers Rain. The other two beautiful back-up singers behind us are Casey and Inez.
"And, behind them is the Atlanta String Orchestra. I would also like to introduce my drummer Paul, my guitarists Ryan and Audrea, and my keyboardist Jerri. Come on out and take a bow." The four musicians went out on stage and took a bow for the cheering audience. They left the stage and Ezra continued.
"Alright, folks, this is the last song of the night. It's called "Whiskey Lullaby". Hope y'all like it," he said. As the lights slightly dimmed and the soft music from the orchestra started playing, the audience got quiet. Ezra started to softly sing.
"She put him out like the burnin' end of a midnight cigarette.
She broke his heart, he spent his whole life tryin' to forget.
We watched him drink his pain away a little at a time.
But, he never could get drunk enough to get her off his mind.
Until the night...."
Together, looking at each other, Ezra and Rain started to sing the chorus together.
"He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger.
And, finally drank away her memory.
Life is short, but this time it was bigger.
Than the strength he had to get up off his knees."
Ezra sang alone again.
"We found him with his face down in the pillow.
With a note that said, "I'll love her 'til I die".
And, when we buried him beneath the willow.
The angels sang a whiskey lullaby."
Ezra and Rain together, "La la la la la la la la la la."
The orchestra continued to play as Ezra and Rain were silent for a couple of minutes. Then, Rain started alone.
"The rumors flew, but nobody knew how much she blamed herself.
For years and years she tried to hide the whiskey on her breath.
She finally drank her pain away a little at a time.
But, she never could get drunk enough to get him off her mind.
Until the night....."
Ezra joined Rain for the chorus.
"She put that bottle to her head and pulled the trigger.
And, finally drank away his memory.
Life is short, but this time it was bigger.
Than the strength she had to get up off her knees."
Ezra went quiet as Rain continued alone.
"We found her with her face down in the pillow.
Clinging to his picture for dear life.
We laid her next to him beneath the willow.
While the angels sang a whiskey lullaby."
Ezra joined her, "La la la la la la la la la la la."
They went silent as the orchestra continued to play the haunting tune. A minute later, they continued, "La la la la la la la la la... la... la."
They were finished and a minute later the orchestra went silent. The audience broke into cheers and applause.
Smiling Ezra said, "Thank you! Goodnight and God bless!"
With that said, a curtain lowered, allowing them all to go to their dressing rooms and get ready to leave. A few minutes later, as Ezra was walking out of the stadium's doors, he heard a voice over the loud system say, "EZRA STANDISH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!"
It was an hour after the concert and Ezra, his bodyguards, J.D., Josiah, Casey, Inez, and Rain were all at Ezra's house. They were in his game room, lounging around. Josiah and J.D. were playing billiards, while the others just sat around and talked.
"That was a great concert," said Buck before taking a drink of his soda. Chris had a strict rule about drinking alcohol on the job, it wasn't allowed.
"Thanks," replied Ezra.
"Ya know, it's pretty rare for an entertainer to be as successful as you are at both singin' and actin'," Buck added.
"Ez is a pretty rare kinda guy," teased J.D.
"That's one way of puttin' it," mumbled Nathan.
"Let me ask you something, Mister Jackson, what the hell is your problem?" demanded Rain.
"What? I don't have a problem," sputtered Nathan.
"We think you do," countered Inez.
"Lettin' your girlfriends fight your battles for you, now?" Nathan snidely asked Ezra.
"Nathan," growled Chris in a warning.
"You know what, I have had enough!" said Ezra as he stood up. Glaring at the still seated Nathan, he continued, "Rain, Inez, and Casey are not my girlfriends. They are family. As I've already told you, I'm gay. I'm sick and tired of your blatant disrespect in my own home, to my own face!"
They could all see that Ezra had reached his limits, and as Josiah had predicted, it wasn't gonna be pretty. But, they all knew that Nathan had it coming.
"I only hired you four because Josiah and J.D. convinced me that it would be in my best interests. That you would keep me safe, that they had heard nothin' but praise about all of you. Well, you know what, I don't want to have to depend on you keepin' me safe, Mister Jackson. Hell, I wouldn't trust you to keep a mouse safe! So, I would appreciate it if all four of you could be gone by mornin'. I'll take my chances on my own."
Before the stunned Nathan or anyone could utter a word, Ezra was stomping out of the room, rigid with anger. A minute later, Josiah spoke up. "Maybe, Ezra is right. Maybe it would be best if y'all left, I don't know what I was thinkin'." With that, Josiah and J.D. left to go check on Ezra.
Three glaring women stood, along with three glaring men. Seeing that they were all six glaring at him, Nathan also stood. "I didn't mean nothin'. Is it my fault that the star is so sensitive?" he tried to defend himself.
"YES!" exclaimed six voices.
"I told you that I would send you home, Nathan. But, you kept assuring me that you could be a professional. Now, you've lost us the biggest job we've had. If he puts the word out, we'll be lucky to get any more high-profile clients," said Chris.
"Besides that, what did you expect when you kept right at him? Especially in his own house?" chimed in Buck.
Blue eyes glaring at Nathan, Vin said, "I'll go and see if I can talk to him. Maybe, I can convince him to keep us as bodyguards. I wouldn't feel comfortable just leavin' him while he's got a stalker."
"Oh please!" exclaimed Nathan. "I've seen the way you look at him, you just wanna get in his pants."
A slightly blushing Vin angrily said, "Go ta hell, Nathan." With that he left the room.
Casey slapped Nathan across the face and spat, "You are an ass."
As he looked at her in shock, Rain and Inez seconded her opinion with slaps of their own, before leaving.
Nathan held his reddened left side of his face, not being able to believe that the three women had slapped him.
"Don't look so shocked, you deserved it," scoffed Chris.
"Nate, why don't ya be truthful and tell us what you have against Ezra," said Buck.
Nathan shrugged, "I don't have nothin' against him. He's the one that was yelling at me!"
"Cut the bullshit, Nathan!" Chris sharply retorted. His eyes shooting fire, he said, "You either tell us or you're fired from the firm. Effective immediately."
Nathan's eyes slightly widened, "You'd fire me? Because of him?"
"In a heartbeat. But, not because of Standish, because of you. If you can't be professional on his case, how can I trust you to be professional on other cases?"
Nathan couldn't believe it, his three friends had turned against him, because of Ezra Standish. That made him even more angry with man. And humiliated. Not answering, he left the room.
"Nathan, get back here," Buck said as he started to follow him.
"Let him go, Buck. He needs to figure things out on his own," said Chris.
Nathan left the house, went outside, and started walking around. Well, more like stomping around. 'Damn southern... Diva,' he snidely thought. 'Has to cause problems.'
IN EZRA'S ROOM
Vin knew which room was Ezra's, he had watched him enter it on occasion. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. J.D. answered and he said, "I was wantin' to talk to Ezra."
J.D. closed the door for a moment, before re-opening it. "Come on in," he said. Vin entered the room, seeing Josiah sitting on the bed beside Ezra.
"Holler if you need us, Son," Josiah said.
Ezra nodded as Josiah and J.D. headed for the door. After they had left, Ezra looked at Vin and asked, "What can I do for you?"
Vin took a deep breath and asked, "Is it okay if I sit down beside ya?"
After a slight hesitation, Ezra nodded. Vin sat down beside him and said, "I'm sorry about how Nate's been actin'. Chris has put him in his place a coupla times, but ole Nate's hard-headed."
Ezra turned, bending his leg and laying it on the bed, so he could face Vin. "You don't have to explain. Mister Jackson hates me for some reason, although I can't think of why. I haven't done anythin' to the man."
"We know that, Ezra. I wish you would reconsider about firing us, though..."
Before Vin could continue, Ezra interrupted, "That's why you wanted to talk. You and your friends don't wanna lose the job."
Vin quickly shook his head, "No, that's not why I wanted to talk. It's not the job I'm worried about. It's you."
Surprised green eyes looked into blue, as Ezra asked, "Me? Why?"
"Yes, you. I'm worried about leavin' you with a stalker out there." Vin paused for a moment, then decided to just take the risk. "I really like ya, Ezra. Have since we first met. I can't stop thinkin' about ya, I have to always stop myself from touchin' ya when you're close by. I know you could never like a man like me. I don't really fit into your star life...."
Before Vin could continue, Ezra covered his lips with his own. At Vin's shocked gasp, Ezra took advantage and slipped his tongue into the warm, moist mouth.
After a second, Vin got with the program and started kissing him back, his hands rubbing up and down Ezra's back.
When the need for air broke them apart, Ezra whispered, "You taste as good as I knew you would."
Vin blushed and asked, "What was that?"
"If you don't know, then I must've done somethin' wrong," teased Ezra.
"Oh, no, you definitely did nothin' wrong," said a smiling Vin.
"Vin, I've been attracted to you since we met. And, I don't care if you don't fit into the star world, in fact I'm glad. You haven't been tainted or jaded by it. I really think I'm close to falling in love with you. I'm not all the way there yet, but I'm close."
"Same here," whispered Vin as he leaned back in for another kiss. Ezra gave him a slight smile as he willingly let his lips be recaptured.
When the need for air became too great, Vin and Ezra broke off their kiss. "Damn, ya sure are a good kisser!" said a smiling Vin.
Ezra blushed and gave him a shy smile, which Vin found endearing. 'Wonder if I could make him blush all over?' Vin thought. One day, he'd have to give it a try.
"You're not bad yourself," said Ezra.
Vin just raised an eyebrow, while he smirked, and leaned back in for another kiss. He couldn't get enough of Ezra's lips and taste! As they slowly kissed, Vin noticed that they had ended up lying down on the bed. And, he could feel something poking him in the thigh. He knew exactly what that something was. And, he was pretty sure that Ezra could feel something hard at his thigh.
Raising his head, he stared at Ezra as they both panted. Not breaking eye contact, Vin rubbed his hand down Ezra's chest and stomach, until he reached what he was after. Resting his hand lightly on Ezra's pants covered groin, he said, "I can help you with that if you want."
Ezra's eyes darkened even more so than they already were, in desire. He nodded. Vin unsnapped and unzipped Ezra's pants, letting Ezra's erection pop free. He lightly skimmed his fingers along the length, smiling when Ezra's breath caught.
Putting just the right amount of pressure, he slid his hand from base to tip. He repeated that gesture a few times, until he could feel Ezra's orgasm getting close. When he removed his hand, Ezra made a displeased sound.
"Just a minute, Baby," Vin said, the endearment slipping out on its own. Pulling Ezra's pants down far enough, and wiggling into position, Vin took the head of Ezra's erection into his mouth.
Swirling his tongue around the head, he then licked from the base to the tip. He took a little at a time, until Ezra's penis hit the back of his throat, causing Ezra to moan and buck his hips forward. Vin put his hands on Ezra's hips to hold him still and smiled when Ezra continued moaning as Vin worked his erection.
Using one hand, he started playing with Ezra's ball sac, rolling them in his hands.
"Oh, Vin, I'm so close! Ah, that feels good, so good!" exclaimed Ezra as his hands gripped Vin's hair.
Vin took his hand away from Ezra's ball sac, and moved it to his hole. Carefully, he slid his index finger inside, moving it around. When he felt Ezra jerk forward and give a small scream, he knew he had hit his prostate. Pushing on the prostate, he kept deep-throating Ezra. Within a couple of minutes, Ezra was shooting down Vin's throat. Vin swallowed, letting Ezra slip from his mouth.
Smiling, a breathless Ezra managed to say, "That... was... great!" When Vin returned with a damp cloth, Ezra said, "Now, it's your turn."
Vin blushed and said, "Well, I, uh, already came. When you did."
Ezra looked down at Vin's crotch, seeing the wet spot on his pants, and gave him a smile. "I'll take it as a compliment."
"Ya should. I haven't come while givin' a blowjob, since, well... ever. It was hot watchin' ya."
"How about we get cleaned up, then we'll go downstairs. Tell your colleagues that y'all are staying."
Vin smiled and followed Ezra to his private shower.
Half-an-hour later, Vin and Ezra were showered and dressed in clean clothes. When they reached the living room, they saw everyone but Nathan sitting down. Upon seeing them, Chris jumped up. "What was taking so long, Vin?! I thought I was gonna have to go and look for you!"
Ezra and Vin shared a quick look and Vin shrugged, "We were just talkin'."
Ezra spoke up and said, "Vin convinced me to let you all stay on as bodyguards." After a slight pause, he continued, "Except for Mister Jackson. Unless he has a great excuse for acting the way he has been, I still want him gone. If he explains to me why he's been acting the way he has and quits being an ass, I'll let him stay."
"Well, he's outside right now," said Buck.
"Guess he's out there sulking," Rain replied in a flat voice.
Chris shrugged, "Yeah. He did get a little pissed when you, Casey, and Inez slapped him. Then, I told him that I was going to have to fire him."
"You three slapped him?" asked Ezra. They could all tell that he was trying not to laugh.
"He deserved it," stated Inez.
"How about we get him in here and see if we can get all of this straightened out," suggested Josiah.
"Go see if you can find him, Buck," said Chris. Buck nodded and left.
Buck walked around the estate, finally finding Nathan sitting on a bench beside the garden. "Nate," he said.
Nathan jumped a little, before turning to face him. "What?"
"You're needed inside. Ezra has said that we can stay on as his bodyguards. But he wants you to explain why you've been acting the way you have. You'd better have a good reason."
Nathan's eyes narrowed, "Or what?"
Buck shrugged, "Or he'll still fire you. And, you won't have a job with us any longer." Sighing, Buck continued, "Look, Nathan, I like you. You're like a brother. But, you've had a major attitude ever since we've been here. Hell, even before we got here! You need to explain whatever it is that has you all wound up and let it go."
Nathan didn't say a word, but he stood up and started walking back to the house. Buck prayed that it was a good sign as he followed him.
INSIDE THE HOUSE
Nathan walked inside and saw everyone looking at him. It just made him angry all over again. "What?" he growled.
Trying to be polite, Ezra said, "Mister Jackson, why don't you have a seat?"
Feeling defiant, Nathan replied, "I'll stay standing."
Ezra shrugged and stood up. "Fine. Have it your way." After a pause, he asked, "Ready to explain what your problem is?"
Nathan shrugged, "Ain't got one."
When Ezra spoke again, his voice was ice cold, sending shivers down everyone's spines. "This game is getting old. Explain the problem you seem to have with me or get your stuff and get out of my house. And, I swear that I'll make sure that you never work as a bodyguard for anyone again."
"You can't threaten me!"
"It's not a threat, Mister Jackson, it's a promise," Ezra stated.
For what seemed like forever, but was actually only a few minutes, Ezra and Nathan stared at each other. Trying to stare each other down.
It was Nathan that broke eye contact. Sighing, he said, "Fine. You remind me of someone. Happy now?"
"Not really, no. Who?"
"A guy I knew in school. You could be his brother. You resemble him and share a lot of the same characteristics."
"Pacific Coast High School," Nathan answered,
"Never been there. So, it wasn't me. And, as I far as I know, I have no siblings. Is that the whole reason you've been copping an attitude?"
Nathan looked at everyone in the living room and couldn't bring himself to say anything more. "That's it."
Ezra sighed. He knew that Nathan hadn't told them the whole reason, but he would give him another chance. "Fine. You can stay on as one of my bodyguards. But, I swear, this is the last chance I'm giving you. You continue with the attitude or screw up in my protection, you'll be fired and out of here so fast it'll make your head spin. Understood?"
After a pause, Nathan gave a short nod.
It had been a week since Nathan had explained some of why he had been acting the way he had, and Ezra had to admit that he had improved. He wasn't as snide and disregarding of Ezra. But, Ezra also knew that there was something else going on. Something that Nathan hadn't told him. But, as long as he did his job, Ezra wasn't going to complain.
Besides, he was so happy that he didn't know if anything could bring him down. He and Vin had been together since the night after the concert. They hadn't told anyone, but they had talked about it.
Walking into his den, Ezra saw JD sitting there as if he had been waiting on him. "JD?" he questioned.
"Um, hey Ez. Can we talk?"
"Of course," Ezra said as he shut the door.
After sitting down, he waited. After a couple of minutes, Ezra decided to try and help JD along. "You wanted to talk?"
JD nodded, sighing, his eyes staring at the carpet. Slowly raising his eyes to meet Ezra's, he asked, "When did you know?"
"That you were... um... gay?"
After a couple of seconds, the light bulb clicked. "JD, are you saying that you're gay?"
JD bit his bottom lip, "I think so. I met this guy at the Starbucks downtown, where I get all of your coffee. He's the manager. We got to talking one afternoon and had a good time. He's twenty-nine, and... handsome. His name's Brent Howard. And, he asked me out."
"What did you tell him?"
"I told him I'd have to ask my boss, see when I could get off. No offence, but I haven't told him that I work for you. I want to know if he likes me for me."
"The thing is," said JD, "I've never dated a guy before. Hell, I've never even thought about it! But, Brent, he's... different."
Ezra nodded, "I understand that. I figured out that I was gay in high school. I was dating a girl from my Spanish class. Then, one day I looked at her older brother and was hit by a two-by-four. When I figured out that I'd rather date him than her, I figured out I was gay."
JD gave a small laugh and nodded. After a minute, he asked, "Can I have tomorrow night off? I think I'll give Brent a chance."
Ezra smiled and nodded, "Of course. But, if this gets serious, I want to meet him. I'm sure Josiah will also."
JD gave a mock groan as he stood up. Smiling, he said, "Thanks, man."
As JD left, Vin showed up. Walking into the den, he closed the door. Smiling he walked over to Ezra, and proceeded to make sure that he still had tonsils. When he pulled back, they were both breathless and flushed with arousal.
"Thanks for starting something we can't finish."
"Who says we can't?" asked a smirking Vin.
"I'm expecting a phone call from Tom."
"Tom?" questioned Vin.
Ezra nodded, "Tom Hanks. He wants to talk to me about the movie we'll be filming together. Filming starts in a couple of weeks. And, he should be calling right about," Ezra looked at his watch, "now. Tom's nothing if not punctual."
Vin just gave a chuckle as Ezra went to answer the phone.
After an hour of talking, Ezra hung up the phone.
"Finally! Now we can get back to what we were doing!" said Vin as he bobbed his eyebrows up and down.
Ezra looked at Vin's tongue as it darted out to wet his lips, and groaned. "Oh yeah." Before their lips could touch, Vin spotted something out of the corner of his eye.
Within a second, he knew what it was. Someone had a laser-sight aimed at Ezra's back. It was reflecting off the window.
Vin pushed Ezra out of the way just as glass exploded everywhere and rained down on them. Vin was laying on top of Ezra as they hit the floor.
"Ez... are... you... okay?" panted Vin.
Ezra jerkily nodded. "You?"
Vin rolled off Ezra, with a moan of pain, and Ezra was able to see the blood. "Oh God, Vin! Where are you hurt?!" Ezra exclaimed just as the door banged against the wall, letting him know that the others had arrived.
"What happened?" Nathan demanded as he rushed over to Ezra and Vin.
"Laser... s-sight... on Ez," panted Vin.
"Buck and I will go check it out," said Chris.
"Be careful," Nathan said as he examined Vin. JD and Josiah remained standing in a corner, trying to stay out of the way.
"Where's he hurt at? How bad is it?" Ezra asked Nathan, keeping his attention focused on Vin.
"He was hit in the side. It's a flesh wound. But, we'd better get him to the hospital anyway."
"No! C-can't you just take care... of it?" asked Vin.
"I suppose so, but why?"
"Hate... hospitals. Plus... don't want this... g-gettin' out," answered Vin.
Nathan raised an eyebrow, casting a suspicious look in Ezra's direction. "Vin, if Ezra told you not to go...."
Before Nathan could finish, Ezra had him by the lapels of his shirt. "I told him no such thing! If he needs to go to the hospital, then I'm all for it. I love him, I wouldn't put his life in danger!"
Nathan, JD, and Josiah looked shocked at the announcement.
Looking down into Vin's pain-filled eyes, Ezra said, "I'm sorry. For blurting it out. But, I do love you, Vin."
Vin gave a slight smile, "I love you, too, Ez. Don't apologize."
After a couple of tense-filled minutes, Josiah asked, "Does he need to go to the hospital?"
Nathan shook his head, "I should be able to fix it here. I have the supplies in my room."
After Nathan left, Buck and Chris returned. "We found no sign of anyone. We're gonna have to be even more vigilant," Chris said.
"How's he doin'?" Buck asked, with a head-tilt in Vin's direction.
"Nathan said he should be able to fix Vin up here. It's a flesh wound. He's gone to his room to get the supplies," answered Ezra.
AN HOUR LATER
Nathan had managed to get the bullet out, and had sutured Vin's wound. He was laying in Ezra's room, while Ezra fussed over him.
"Need anything else?" Ezra asked as he sat a glass of water down on the bedside table.
"No, babe. All I need is you. In this bed, with me."
"I don't know...."
"I just want to be next to you. You won't hurt me. 'Sides with those pain pills Nathan gave me, I don't think I could get it up anyway."
Ezra chuckled, "Ever the romantic."
IN THE LIVING ROOM
"Did you know that Vin is dating Ezra?" Nathan demanded of Chris.
"What?" asked a thoroughly confused Chris.
"He is? Cool. That boy needs some happiness," commented Buck.
"What about the 'no dating the clients' rule?" Nathan asked.
"I'm going to have to talk to him when he's feeling better. See exactly what's going on," said Chris.
"Well, I think it's neat," piped up JD.
"Yes, I agree. Ezra seems happy. Happier than he's been in a while," said Josiah.
"Well, I think it's a problem. What about when we leave? Plus, Ezra's just gonna hurt him."
"Nate, is it the fact that he's dating Ezra or the fact that he's dating a man that's bothering you?" Buck wondered.
"The fact that he's dating a... man has nothing to do with it. I just don't think it's gonna end well. Mark my words," said Nathan.
A WEEK LATER
It had been a week since Vin had received the flesh wound, saving Ezra's life, and none of them were any closer to knowing who the culprit was.
Since Ezra was gone, shooting a music video in town, and Buck along with Nathan were watching over him, Chris figured it was the time to talk to Vin.
He found Vin standing in front of a window, looking outside. "What are you doing? What if you get shot again?" Chris demanded.
Without looking at him, Vin replied, "I doubt I will. But, I want to keep a look out, in case anyone is able to get by the gate and all again."
"I know you wanted to go with Ezra, but you're still healin'. It was better for Nathan and Buck to go with him."
Vin snorted, "I wish Nate would get his head outta his ass! He's really startin' to piss me off."
"I know." After a short pause, Chris continued, "About Ezra, you're dating him?"
"Yeah." Turning his head to the right, to see Chris, he asked, "Problem?"
"It could be. We have a rule of no dating the clients for a reason. You could get distracted from your job, be too overprotective of Ezra."
Vin raised an eyebrow, not knowing how the hell he could be too overprotective. "I know I broke the rules, but I couldn't help it. We love each other."
"Are you sure? Ya haven't known him that long. Besides, are you sure that he's the "relationship" type?"
"Yes, Cowboy, I'm sure. I know he loves me. I can see the truth in his eyes. If I have to make a choice between the company and Ez, it'll be no contest. It'll be Ez every time."
Chris sucked in a breath, "You're serious."
"I told ya I was."
Chris nodded. "Well, I'm happy for ya. About time that ya found somebody," Chris said as he delivered a pat to Vin's back.
Looking Chris in the eye, he smiled, "Thanks."
"I'm gonna go outside, check the perimeter. And, don't worry about Nate. He'll get his head out of his ass soon."
Vin nodded as Chris walked away, he sure as hell hoped so. He didn't know how much more of Nathan's attitude he could take. Especially since the man was supposed to have changed it. He sighed, hoping time would hurry up. He'd feel much better when Ezra showed up, and he could see that the man was unhurt.
If it wasn't for the stupid flesh wound, he would've gone with Ezra. For right now, he would just have to content himself with watching the outside, at least he would be doing something helpful.
Ezra glanced at his watch, after the music video shoot ended, and saw that it was eleven at night. 'Finally, I get to go home!' he thought. Ezra loved his life, his job. He had always wanted to be in show business, ever since he could remember. But, sometimes, it was nice to be done for the day and on his way home. Even more so, now, that Vin was there.
Smiling at the thought of his lover, he walked over to the buffet table, where Nathan and Buck were keeping an eye on everyone and everything.
"You done?" Buck asked.
Ezra nodded, "Yeah. I just need to get to the dressing room and get changed."
"I'll go with you," Nathan volunteered, much to the surprise of Buck and Ezra.
"Alright," said Ezra.
Buck nodded, "Okay. I'll stay here and keep an eye on everything."
Five minutes later, Ezra and Nathan were standing in front of Ezra's dressing room door. "Um, Ezra, can I speak to you about something?"
"Sure," Ezra said with confusion on his face and in his voice.
After walking into the dressing room and making sure that it was clear, Nathan shut the door. "Do you mind if I just hurry up and shower and change? I'm tired of having this glitter on my hair and face."
Shaking his head, Nathan replied, "No. Go ahead."
TEN MINUTES LATER
Ezra had become a master of quick showers and quick changing sessions. So, it didn't take him long to shower and change out of black leather pants and a black silk shirt into his jeans and white t-shirt.
Walking out of the bathroom, he saw Nathan sitting on the couch. Nathan instantly noticed him, even though he seemed to be thinking about something. Ezra sat down across from him, in a chair, and said, "There was somethin' you wanted to talk about?"
Nathan nodded, taking a deep breath. "This has been preying on my mind for a while. And, I thought that I owe you an explanation for my behavior. I know I gave you a sort-of one already, but I didn't tell you everything."
Ezra remained silent, waiting for Nathan to finish in his own time. After a couple of minutes of silence, Nathan continued. "Alright, you already know that there was a boy that I went to school with that you remind me of. Every time I look at you I see him, I'm reminded of everything that he did to me. And, I know that's not fair, but I can't seem to help it.
"Then, things come out of my mouth before I realize it. But, I've come to the conclusion that I need to stop comparing you to him. That even though you both resemble each other, you're two totally different men."
After inhaling a short breath, then exhaling it, Nathan said, "He caught me in the locker room showers one day, and cornered me. He held a knife to my throat and forced me to... give him a blowjob."
Surprise flared to life on Ezra's face. "Nathan, I'm sorry. I know that doesn't mean much, though."
Nathan gave Ezra a faint smile, "I've never told anyone. I don't really know why I felt compelled to tell you, but I couldn't get it off my mind. Especially after I found out that you and Vin are together. I guess that I just want to say... I'm sorry. I realize that I haven't been acting professional at all since we've arrived."
Ezra gave a slight smile, "True. But, it's alright. Believe it or not I do understand what you're going through."
Even though Ezra didn't say anything else, Nathan saw something in the man's eyes that told him Ezra did know. He nodded and said, "Well we'd better get back before Buck thinks something's happened."
When they reached the door, Nathan turned to Ezra, "You'll keep this between us?"
"Of course. And, I appreciate you explaining things to me. If you need to talk or anything, just let me know."
"Thanks, you're a lot different than I thought you'd be, when Chris first told us about this job."
Ezra laughed, "People always say that." With that said, they walked out of the dressing room, making their way back to where they had left Buck.
It was twelve-thirty in the morning, and Ezra was almost home. 'Thank God,' he silently thought.
As Buck continued to drive on the otherwise deserted upscale street, Ezra pulled out his cell phone. He figured that he'd call his house and let everyone know that they were almost there. That way they could be watching and ready to open the gate.
Just as his call was answered by JD, there was a loud popping sound. The SUV swerved as Buck tried to keep control. Ezra glanced out of the tinted windows, his phone forgotten. Beside them was a black vehicle, and he could make out a figure holding a gun, while leaning out of a car window.
There was another loud popping sound, causing the SUV to swerve again, and Buck and Nathan to curse. But, this time Buck lost control. The SUV ended up flipping twice, then sliding along the road, before skidding to a stop.
Ezra's head banged against a window, causing sharp bolts of pain to shoot through his head. He also realized that he couldn't move his right leg and breathing was a little difficult. The last thing he heard through his panic and pain was a tiny voice yelling. He couldn't make out the words, but he could tell that it sounded faintly like JD.
He moved his lips, but no sound emerged. Not able to keep his eyes open, he allowed the blackness to claim him.
JD ran into the living room, seeing Josiah, Chris, and Vin sitting in there. "Guys!"
"What's the matter?" Josiah asked, instantly knowing that something was the matter.
"Ezra called, wanted to let us know that they were almost here. But, I heard sounds... popping sounds! Then, there was a big crashing noise, and Ezra wouldn't answer. The line's dead!"
"Alright. Do you know what road they were on?" Chris asked, taking charge.
JD shook his head. "He just said that they were close."
"Alright. I'll give the police a call, then we'll go looking for them," said Chris.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER
"That must be them!" Vin exclaimed when he saw police cars and an overturned vehicle.
Getting out of the car, Vin, Chris, JD, and Josiah hurried over to them.
Before they could reach the vehicle, a policeman stopped them. "Sorry. You can't go over there."
"Look, Officer, Vin and I are part of Mister Standish's bodyguard team. Josiah is his manager, and JD is his assistant," said Chris.
"Yeah, and I'm Prince Charles," the officer scoffed.
Just then, Josiah saw a detective that had been a police correspondent on two films of Ezra's. "Detective Milhouse!" he called out.
Detective Milhouse turned, recognizing them. Walking over to them, he said, "They're allowed through, Officer."
The officer looked half embarrassed and half irritated, but he let them pass.
"What's going on?" Vin demanded.
"They've gotten a Mister Jackson and a Mister Wilmington out of the vehicle. They've been transported to Atlanta General. Mister Standish is still trapped in the vehicle."
"He's out!" cried out one of the paramedics.
Two more paramedics rushed over to them with a gurney and a back brace and a neck brace. Detective Milhouse had asked them to remain where they were, while he went and found out what was going on.
A couple of minutes later, the detective returned. "Is he alright?" demanded an anxious Vin.
Detective Milhouse sighed. "His leg is broken. He has some cuts and bruises. The most serious problem though is the piece of glass stuck in his chest. They're readying him for transport."
Before anything else could be said, one of the paramedics cried out, "We've got to move him! His blood pressure is dropping!"
As the paramedics were rushing Ezra's gurney toward the ambulance, one of the paramedics exclaimed, "His heart has stopped!"
The gurney was stopped and the paddles were gotten out. After quickly squirting some gel onto the paddles, the black-haired paramedic called out, "One hundred! Clear!"
He touched the paddles to Ezra's chest, causing Ezra's body to jerk. "Again!" the paramedic yelled. "Two hundred! Clear!"
Again, the paramedic touched the paddles to Ezra's chest. Ezra's body jerked. "Alright, we've got him back. Let's go!" Ezra was quickly loaded into the ambulance, with Josiah following.
As the ambulance sped off, its lights flashing, Vin just stood there staring after it. Chris laid a hand on Vin's shoulder and said, "Come on, Vin. We've got to get to the hospital and see how they are."
Before they could walk away, Detective Milhouse spoke to them. "Please let the police handle this, huh?"
Chris's jaw tightened and he replied, "Two of those men that were hurt are friends and co-workers. And, Ezra is a client and a friend. We won't get in your way, Detective Milhouse, but we're not going to just stand by either." With that said, Chris walked away with Vin and JD following. Detective Milhouse sighed as he watched the three men walk away. Shaking his head, he headed over to one of the uniformed policemen to find out what he knew.
When they reached their vehicle, Chris spoke to Vin, "It'll be alright, Vin."
"Chris is right. Ezra is a strong man, he'll be fine," JD said as he quickly wiped his wet eyes.
"So will Buck and Nathan," added Chris.
Vin nodded, "You're right." His eyes turned into blue shards of ice as he said, "Whoever did this is going to be one sorry son of a bitch."
Chris and JD nodded in agreement as they all got into the vehicle and headed toward the hospital.
THREE HOURS LATER
It had been three hours and nobody knew anything about Ezra's condition. Nathan and Buck had been treated and were sharing a hospital room. Josiah, JD, Vin, and Chris had been allowed in to visit them for a while, but were now in the waiting room.
As Josiah was silently saying a prayer, his attention was caught by the television. Realizing what they were saying, he got the others' attentions. "They're talking about Ezra."
A pretty Latino woman with brown hair was speaking. "...Ezra Standish. He was involved in a wreck on his way home tonight. He was in the company of two of his bodyguards. Sources say that they have also been injured. Sources have also confirmed that Mister Standish is having emergency surgery. We will keep you updated as more information comes to light. Now, to Eric with this week's weather."
JD said, "You know, I'm surprised that reporters haven't shown up here yet."
"Ya spoke too soon," mumbled Vin. When the others looked to where Vin's attention was, they saw several women and men entering through the emergency room doors, holding microphones and cameras.
A male reporter rushed over to them, followed by his cameraman, and asked, "Mister Sanchez, how is Mister Standish? Do you have any comments?"
Another reporter, a female, piped up. "Sources have said that there was a shooting, causing the vehicle that your client was in to crash. Is that true?"
Josiah and the others were saved from having to answer when a middle-aged doctor approached. Seeing all of the reporters, he asked, "Will you gentlemen follow me?"
After walking in silence for a few moments, the doctor led them into an office and shut the door. "I'm Doctor Jason Craig."
Pointing to each in turn, Josiah said, "Chris Larabee, JD Dunne, Vin Tanner, and I'm Josiah Sanchez." After taking a deep breath, he asked, "How's Ezra, Doctor?"
"We lost him twice on the table," the doctor answered. The other four men gasped and went slightly paler.
"We managed to revive him both times. And, we also managed to remove the glass from his chest. But, the glass caused one of his lungs to collapse and internal bleeding. We have gotten the bleeding stopped, for now, and we repaired the lung as best as we could.
"There will be no singing again for a while, if ever. But, Mister Standish is in a coma."
"Coma? What do you mean?" asked Vin.
"The next forty-eight hours are crucial. If Mister Standish hasn't woken up by then, his chances of ever waking up decrease every day. I am sorry, gentlemen."
It had been three days and Ezra still hadn't woken up. Nathan and Buck had been released from the hospital. Josiah, JD, Rain, Inez, Casey, Chris, Nathan, Buck and Vin were at the hospital every day for as long as they were allowed to stay.
They were still trying to find out who had shot out the tires and trying to keep the reporters from barging into Ezra's room. There had been two policemen stationed at Ezra's door, just in case.
Vin was sitting by Ezra's bed, holding his right hand. Everyone else was down in the cafeteria getting something to eat, but he had opted to stay with Ezra so he could have some time alone with him.
As Vin looked at Ezra lying in the bed, unconscious and pale, he felt the tears filling his eyes. Since forty-eight hours had passed, Doctor Craig had said that his chances of waking up were starting to decrease. But, Vin wasn't giving up hope.
As he held Ezra's hand and looked at his face, he started talking. "C'mon, baby, wake up. Let me see those beautiful green eyes." After a pause, he continued, "Ya know, there are a lot of people that want you to wake up. You wouldn't believe how crowded this room is with cards and balloons. Your celebrity friends and fans have sent you so many cards and balloons, that some of them had to be taken to your house.
"I love you, Ezra. Just come back to me. To all of us. We're going to find out who caused this. I swear, baby."
THREE DAYS LATER
It had been six days. Six days that Ezra had been in a coma. They were all in the room, talking. Talking to Ezra, talking to each other.
Vin was holding one of Ezra's hands while the other hand was laying flat on the bed. Vin was running his thumb over Ezra's knuckles when he felt a light squeeze. Vin's eyes jerked from his and Ezra's hands to Ezra's face.
"Ez?" he asked.
That single word broke through the noise, causing the others to quit talking and to look at him and Ezra.
"I felt him squeeze my hand. I'm sure of it," said Vin. "Ez, can you squeeze my hand again?"
For a couple of seconds, nothing happened. Then, Vin felt another squeeze, a little stronger than before. "He did it again! Someone get the Doctor."
JD ran out of the room, returning a few minutes later with Doctor Craig and a nurse.
The doctor hurried to Ezra's bed and opened one of Ezra's eyelids, shining a pen light into the eye, before doing the same to the other eye.
"Ezra, can you open your eyes? Can you wake up?" the doctor asked in a soothing voice.
"C'mon, son, you can do it," encouraged Josiah.
After about five minutes, Ezra's eyes started to slowly flutter open. When they were completely open, they could all see the fear and confusion.
"It's okay, Ez," said Vin.
"Yes, Ezra, stay calm. You're in the hospital. I'm going to remove the respirator, alright?"
Ezra gave a slight nod.
"Alright, I need you to cough as I start to pull the hose, alright? It will help the hose leave your throat a little better. Can you do that?"
Ezra gave a tiny nod and the doctor started to pull the hose. Ezra did as he had been told and coughed. A few seconds later the hose was removed.
"Wh-what ha-happened?" Ezra asked, his voice hoarse from disuse.
"You were in an accident, along with Buck and Nathan, six days ago," answered Chris.
They could all see when recognition dawned in Ezra's eyes. He nodded, "There was sh-shooting."
Before anything else could be said, Ezra's eyes had closed.
"Don't be alarmed. His body's still weak. He's just asleep," Doctor Craig assured them. "I have other patients to check on. If you need anything, page the nurses. When he wakes again, don't hesitate to get me.
"Now, that he's awake, gentlemen, I can safely say that he's out of the woods," the doctor said to all of the smiling faces.
"Thanks, Doctor," said a relieved Vin.
Since Ezra had woken up, and the doctor had said that he was out of the woods, the others had finally convinced Vin to go to the cafeteria with them and get something to eat.
While they were eating, they decided to talk about what had happened. "So, what are you guys going to do about what happened to Ezra?" asked Inez.
"Well, we need to catch whomever did this," said Chris.
"Maybe you could set up a sting," suggested JD. When they all looked at him, he shrugged and said, "It was just a thought."
"A good one," said Chris. JD puffed up a little at Chris's praise.
"Yeah. We could get the word out that Ezra is awake and knows who tried to kill him. See if the person or persons responsible will try and come for him here," said Buck.
"But, how do we get the word out?" questioned Nathan.
"Using them," Josiah said as he looked across the room. The others turned to see what he was looking at, and saw five men and three women. Four of the men had cameras beside them, stating what station they worked for. The other man and the three women had to be reporters.
"The news that Ezra's awake and ready to identify who shot the tires out would be all over the news within a couple of hours," said Casey.
Josiah nodded with a smile. "I know. It's the quickest way to get the sting underway."
"Perfect," said Rain.
Chris gave a smile and said, "Let's get started." With that said, all nine of them started walking toward the table on the other side of the room.
The news that Ezra was awake and knew who had shot out the tires on the SUV had made all of the news channels in a matter of two hours.
They were all a little wary about what they were doing, and they had informed Ezra. He was a little scared, but was willing to go along with the plan. The police hadn't been notified, because they all knew that the sting would be scrubbed. But, they also knew that they were all going to catch hell when the police found out.
Ezra was laying in his hospital bed, pretending to be asleep. Rain, Casey, and Inez had been sent on home in case things turned out badly. They didn't want to leave Ezra, but they understood.
Vin, Chris, JD, and Josiah were sitting in the lounge area. Nathan and Buck were picked to distract the nurses at the Nurses' Station. None of them wanted any innocent bystanders to get hurt.
Vin looked at his watch and let out a frustrated sigh. Part of him hoped that nothing happened, that way he knew for sure Ezra was safe. But, another part of him just wished that whatever was going to happen would hurry up. He wanted the person or persons that were responsible for causing Ezra to be hurt in jail. That was if he didn't kill them first.
The lounge area was across the hall and two doors down from Ezra's room. Chris was keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. All of a sudden, Chris quickly stood up and hissed, "Come on!" The other three quickly and silently followed him out of the lounge and to Ezra's room. Chris noticed that there was nobody in the hall, the nurses weren't at the Nurses' Station at the moment. 'Good. Nobody should get hurt,' he thought to himself.
They reached Ezra's hospital room and saw a man standing in there. He was just staring at Ezra's "sleeping" form. They all knew that Ezra had to be extremely nervous, but he was delivering an Oscar-winning performance of a man sleeping like he didn't have a care in the world.
They were all standing quietly inside the doorway. Even though they were behind the man, he didn't notice them. He was too busy staring at Ezra with a happily-crazy smile on his face. They also noticed that he had a syringe in his right hand. All Vin wanted to do was jump the man, beat the shit out of him, and then call the police to escort the man to jail. But, a warning look from Chris stopped him from following through with that plan.
The man crept toward Ezra's bed, took a small bottle out of his jacket pocket and started to fill the syringe. As he was filling the syringe, he started talking. "You know, Ezra, I'm only doing this for you. I love you and I know that you love me, too. I know that they are making you tell them who shot out the tires on your car. I know that you wouldn't do that on your own, you wouldn't hurt me that way."
He quit talking as he finished filling the syringe and replaced the bottle back into his jacket pocket. He looked at Ezra and said, "I know that you would want me to do this. That way you can wait for me, and when my time comes, we can be together again. I'll always be yours and you'll always be mine." With that said, he leaned down and gave Ezra a soft kiss on the lips.
It was all Vin could do to not kill the man right there, and he knew that Ezra had to be putting his wonderful acting skills to work overtime, to not flinch. The man had almost put the syringe into Ezra's I.V. when Josiah grabbed him from behind, and JD flipped on the light switch. The man had been so focused on Ezra that he hadn't seen Josiah sneaking up behind him while he was talking.
The man tried to struggle, but he was no match for Josiah's strength and anger. Using a napkin, so as to not leave any fingerprints, Chris carefully extracted the syringe from the man's grip after Josiah had forced the man into a chair. Ezra had his eyes open and was watching everything that was happening. He didn't know the man. He couldn't understand why he would do everything that he had been doing. Then again, he knew why. The man was a stalker. A violent stalker.
Vin laid his hand on Ezra's back, rubbing soothing circles, as Ezra's heartbeat slowed. It had been the performance of his life. Ezra hadn't known if he was going to be able to pull it off or not. But, he had.
"It's over, Ez. It's over," Vin softly said. Ezra nodded. Vin was right. It was finally over. He could let go of all of the fear he had had since he had started being stalked. He let out a relieved sigh and gave Vin a small smile.
Vin gave him a soft smile in return, before turning his icy blue eyes back on the man that had caused his lover so much terror and pain.
The man was scowling. "I didn't do anything wrong!"
"You came in here and were going to kill a man," said Josiah with a raised eyebrow.
The man smirked. "Prove it. I've been in trouble with the law before. Nothing ever sticks."
"JD, go get a nurse and doctor to check Ezra out. Also, give the local police a call," said Chris. JD nodded, then left to do as he had been told.
"And, we can prove it," Chris said, speaking to the man. Pointing to a medium sized picture on the wall, Chris said, "There's a small camera hidden in that picture. Small but effective. Everything that you said and did was caught on tape."
Chris gave a chilling smirk as the man lost some of his bravery. They could all tell that the man was shaken. He hadn't expected to be caught on tape.
THE NEXT MORNING
Everyone was crowded around in Ezra's hospital room, the doctor having just left. The door opened and two men walked in. "I'm Detective Horath," said the older of the two. Pointing to a short man with black hair, he added, "This is my partner Detective Vallin. How are you this morning, Mister Standish?"
"Alright, thank you. Granted that everything heals, I should be returning home in a few days. What can I do for you, Detectives?"
Detective Vallin spoke up. "We need to ask you a few questions." Ezra just nodded, so Detective Vallin continued, "As you all know, we have the stalker, Mister Fien, in custody."
Everyone in the room nodded, and Detective Horath picked up the talking. "Mister Standish, do you know a Mister," opening a small black notebook Horath looked at a page, "Carl Hinley?"
Ezra's forehead scrunched up as he tried to place the name. After a minute, it came to him. "The producer? I met him a couple of times, right before the attacks started. The first time was at a party, at Meg Ryan's house. We just chatted for a few moments.
"The second time was at a premiere party for Vin Diesel's last movie. We talked. He asked me out, but I turned him down. He wasn't my type, and something didn't feel right. Why?"
Detective Vallin answered, "Mister Fein is saying that Mister Hinley hired him to start stalking you. That Mister Hinley arranged for your bodyguards to not help you out when you got mobbed at your last signing. They were each paid two thousand dollars.
"He's claiming that he was paid ten-thousand dollars to arrange the attacks on you, the threatening letters, etc. But, he said your tires getting shot out was all his doing. That he fell in love with you and was trying to save you. That he knows you love him, too, and wanted him to put you out of your misery."
Everyone in the room was shocked. "Misery! What misery? Ezra was fine until the attacks started," said Josiah.
"Why? Why did Mister Hinley hire him to scare me? Was he supposed to kill me?" asked Ezra.
Detective Horath sighed and nodded. "Yes. But, Mister Fein claims that he couldn't. But, then, he realized that you would want him to. That you wanted to be able to wait for him. Plus, he wouldn't collect all of his money until the deal was complete.
"As for why Mister Hinley hired him, Mister Fein says that Hinley was obsessed with you. That you pissed him off when you turned him down. He says that Hinley sits for hours, just listening to your CDs and watching your movies. He said that Hinley was a weird obsessive freak."
"Hinley's a weird obsessive freak? What about him?!" JD exclaimed.
"Ez, are you okay?" Vin asked his lover, who looked like he was in shock.
After a pause, Ezra gave a slight nod. "Yes. It's just a lot to take in. I mean, it's not every day that one finds out that they have two CRAZY DAMN STALKERS!"
"Ezra, you need to calm down," said Nathan who had noticed that Ezra's heart rate was rapidly increasing.
Ezra glared at him, then took a few deep breaths. "I'm sorry for my outburst."
"It's alright, Ezra. Anyone would freak out," said Buck.
Ezra gave him a slight smile in thanks, then looked at the two detectives. "What happens now?"
"Well, we'll go and take Carl Hinley in for questioning, while we get a warrant for his house. We have to find proof of what Fein is saying. But, off the record, I think Hinley's guilty and he will be arrested."
"Can you let us know what happens?" asked Chris.
"Certainly," said Detective Vallin.
"We'll be going. Get some more rest, Mister Standish," said Detective Horath.
"Thank you, Detectives," said Ezra.
After the detectives left, Ezra shook his head in disbelief. "Carl Hinley. I can't believe it. I felt that something was off with the man, one of the reasons why I never worked in a movie that he produced, but I never dreamed that he was this far gone."
"Nobody did," stated Inez.
Ezra nodded. "I just can't believe that everything happened just because I turned down a date with the man."
"Well, at least you can say that you never do anything halfway," said Chris.
"Yeah," chimed in Rain, "you ended up with two obsessed men. Most people only have one."
Rain's comment did what she intended and broke the tension in the room. Everyone looked at each other and burst into laughter, much to the curiosity of everyone out in the hall.
Several hours had passed since the detectives had left. It was now dark outside and everyone was still in Ezra's hospital room. They had left for a while, taking a break, but then returned. Even though Fein had been arrested and the police were looking into Carl Hinley, none of them felt comfortable leaving Ezra alone.
"Mind if I turn on the TV, Ez?" JD asked.
"No, go ahead."
JD grabbed the remote and pushed the power button. The TV came to life and JD started flipping through the channels.
"Wait, JD, go back," said Vin.
JD went back a channel and saw that the local news was on. When he heard the newscaster, he knew why Vin wanted to see it.
"...charged in the stalking of actor and singer Ezra Standish. Mister Fein implicated producer Carl Hinley. Mister Fein said that Mister Hinley hired him and that he was obsessed with Mister Standish.
"The police came to Mister Hinley's house tonight with a search warrant," the woman newscaster said as she motioned behind her. She was standing in front of Carl Hinley's house. There was crime scene tape in front of the house and there were several police cars and two ambulances.
"Mister Hinley refused to open the door after the police identified themselves," the newscaster continued. "He opened a window and opened fire on the police. The police were forced to return fire. The shootout lasted for several minutes. Then, Mister Hinley opened the front door and walked outside, still firing rounds from a nine millimetre hand gun.
"The police had to return fire, and Mister Hinley was shot and killed. Mister Hinley's obsession with Ezra Standish has come to an unfortunate and tragic end. Now, back to Bethany in the studio."
"Thank you, Sarah. Now in other news..."
JD cut the television off. "Wow," he whispered.
"Are you okay, son?" Josiah asked.
Ezra nodded. "Yeah. At least it's over."
"Now, all you have to do is get better and get out of here. Then, you can have your life back," said Vin.
Ezra gave him a slight smile, "Yeah." Ezra knew that it was wrong, but he was relieved that Carl Hinley was dead. And, with Fein in custody, he was free. Free of both stalkers. Free to have his life back without having to live in terror. He took a deep breath and smiled.
A YEAR LATER
Ezra smiled as he stood backstage at the concert hall in Atlanta, Georgia. It had been a year since he had performed or been in any movies. There had been the trial of Fein to get through. Luckily, Fein had received forty years in prison with no chance of parole. And, Ezra's old bodyguards had received five years each, with no parole. He had had to let his broken leg heal. Then, he had had to go through extensive therapy for his back and chest muscles, because of where the glass had gone through his chest. Thankfully, he had regained his lung capacity. He didn't know what he would've done if he'd never been able to sing and perform again.
Performing was his life, it was his dream. When he saw his lover Vin walking toward him, he smiled. Vin, Chris, Buck, and Nathan had decided to move to Atlanta, and stayed on as his bodyguards. They had all become a family.
"Are you nervous?" Vin asked when he reached Ezra.
Ezra nodded. "A little. It's been a while."
Vin gave him a smile. "You'll be great, baby."
"Thanks." Ezra and Vin's lips met in a sweet loving kiss. When they heard a throat clearing, they broke away. Looking to the side, they saw Casey.
"Sorry to interrupt, but it's time, Ezra," Casey said.
"Alright," Ezra said. Laying one last peck on Vin's lips, he followed Casey to where Rain and Inez were waiting. Before walking out on stage, he saw Rain throw a wink to Nathan. He smiled.
Rain and Nathan had gotten together a couple of months before and both seemed happy. He was happy for them.
When they walked out on stage, the audience of twenty-thousand stood up and started cheering and clapping. Grabbing a microphone, he smiled at them and started talking.
"Thank you! I have to admit that I'm a little nervous, it's been so long. But I want to thank everyone for all of the well wishes that I received during this past year. My backup singers Rain, Inez, and Casey, and I have written a song. A song that we want to dedicate to all of you!"
The crowd went crazy, cheering and hollering. Ezra smiled as the band started playing. He yelled into the microphone, then started singing.
"I may run and hide
When you're screamin' my name, alright
But let me tell you now
There are prices to fame, alright
All of our time spent in flashes of light"
Rain, Inez, and Casey joined in on the chorus.
"All of you people can't you see, can't you see
How your love's affecting our reality
Every time we're down
You can make it right
And that makes you larger than life."
Ezra returned to solo, smiling and pointing at the crowd, interacting with them.
"Looking at the crowd
And I see your body sway, c'mon
Wishin' I could thank you in a different way, c'mon"
Rain, Inez, Casey, and Ezra started singing the chorus.
"All of you people can't you see, can't you see
How your love's affecting our reality
Every time we're down
You can make it right
And that makes you larger than life"
"All of your time spent keeps us alive," Ezra sung solo. Ezra, and the three women repeated the chorus, then Ezra returned to solo.
"Yeah, every time we're down
Yeah, you can make it right
Yeah, and that's what makes you larger than life"
Ezra, Rain, Inez, and Casey repeated the chorus one more time. When the song was finished, the crowd went wild.
Ezra performed for an hour and a half. When he reached his last song, he spoke into his microphone. "Thank you! Y'all have been a wonderful audience! Now, this will be the last song of the night, and it's called "Dedication". And, it's dedicated to the special someone in my life. You know who you are." Ezra looked to the side, locking eyes with Vin, who was out of sight off stage. Vin smiled.
Rain, Inez, and Casey left the stage. As Ezra sat down on a stool, in the middle of the stage, all of the lights went off. A spotlight was on Ezra. The band started playing.
"Heart and soul I love you so much
Body and soul I want you too
Heart and soul I love you too much
And this I dedicate to you
"I need your love
I need your kisses, yeah
I need your hot, hot love
I need your wet, wet kisses, yeah
"I love you
"Heart and soul I love you so much
Body and soul I want you too
Heart and soul I love you too much
And this I dedicate to you
"I need your face
I need your wild, wild eyes
I need your hands, your fingers
With your hands creeping down my thighs, oh, yeah!
"Heart and soul I love you so much
Body and soul I want you too
Heart and soul I love you too much
And this I dedicate to you, oh, yeah!
"Heart and soul I love you so much
Body and soul I want you too
Heart and soul I love you too much
And this I dedicate to you
"Heart and soul I love you so much
Body and soul I want you too
Heart and soul I love you too much
And this I dedicate to you"
When Ezra sang the last word, and the band played the last note, the lights went back on. The crowd all stood, cheering, screaming, and clapping. Ezra smiled a huge smile as he bowed.
"Thank you and God bless!" With that said, Ezra ran backstage, and was swept into a hug by Vin.
"That was great. Thanks."
Ezra knew that Vin was talking about dedicating that song to him. "No, thank you. For coming into my life and for loving me."
"I'll never stop lovin' ya, baby," Vin said before he locked lips with Ezra.
As they kissed, Ezra felt complete. He had wonderful friends, a wonderful job, and the love of his life. He had also survived his two stalkers. Life was going right. And, he couldn't wait to see what else life had in store for him.
 "Whiskey Lullaby" is performed by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss on his Mud on the Tires album.
 The songs used were "Larger Than Life" by Backstreet Boys which is on their Millennium album. And, "Dedication" by Lita Ford.
If you enjoyed this story, we're sure that Tammy would love to hear from you.
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with corrections and additions
Chapters 2-3 added 25 December 2006
Chapter 4 added 28 December 2006
Chapter 5 added 1 January 2007
Chapters 6-7 added 2 January 2007
Chapter 8 added 8 January 2007
Chapter 9 added 12 January 2007
Chapter 10 added 21 January 2007
Chapter 11 added 23 January 2007
Chapter 12 added 26 January 2007
Chapter 13 added 10 February 2007
Chapters 14-15 added 26 February 2007
Chapter 16 added 5 March 2007
Chapter 17 added 6 March 2007
Chapter 18 added 11 March 2007
Chapter 19 added 16 March 2007
Chapter 20 added 18 March 2007