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I m p r i s o n e d

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Chapter 4

***

I could hear someone faintly calling

 my name. I slid off the headphones

 and looked up to see Natalie staring

back at me.

“What is it?”

“We’re here, let’s go.” She whipped

 around and picked up Ezra. I figured

 she was just as upset about this as any

 of us. Well, that is, besides me. There

was no way she knew how I felt. I forced

 my tired, aching body to get up and

walked off the plane. Oh, man. I had

forgotten. We were having an autograph

 signing at the airport.

“Hurry it up Zac. And hey, you know,

you might want to be as calm as possible

 in front of the fans. We don’t want anything

 getting out about this, right?” Taylor

seemed to feel pretty bad for me I guess.

 I felt a little guilty for some reason.

“Yeah, yeah…right.” More camera flashes

 went off. I put on my fake, goofy smile.

But after a little bit of faking, I was actually

 feeling a little better. My real smile started

 to find its way back to my face. Maybe I

should just forget about this whole thing for

 a while. Besides, Tay was right, I didn’t

want the news about my unborn kid all

over magazine covers. We finally got to

where we would be signing CD’s and

pictures, and waited for the fans.

“Here they come,” Ike said. He was looking

 a little less sick. I wondered if he was

faking it like I had been. Right there in

front, there was this quirky fan that just

stood out from the rest. She had these wild,

 wacky clothes on, and she was carrying…

wait, what?! She was carrying…a 24

pack of Dr. Pepper? And even though

this fan’s look was quite wild, she seemed

 to be the sweetest person you could ever

 meet. She was 14, maybe 15. She

approached us and laid all the soda

 on the table.

“It’s great to meet you…I’ve waited

 a real long time. But I can’t stay, so

I brought you something to keep you

 energized tonight. Good luck.” And

with that, she started to skip away.

“Wait a minute, come here!” She turned

 and looked at me, shocked that I had

said a word to her. “Come on, don’t you

 want an autograph?” She looked a little

 upset, and just took off running. Man,

that girl had some legs on her. More

and more fans poured in, and after a

while, my hand could barely move

anymore. But you know what kept me

 awake? Those 8 Dr. Pepper cans.

I must say, I was feeling slightly over

 energized, which might actually

have been a good thing, because

now, it was straight to the bus again,

 for a long ride. We boarded the bus

after once again risking the loss of our

hearing. There were hundreds of fans

just dying to meet us.

“Hey Zac, you think you’re gonna be

alright tonight?” Tay asked. He was

looking just as hyper as I felt.

“Yeah, I think being with the fans actually

 kinda helps.” I looked up at him and

laughed. “Uh, you might want to get a

Kleenex, Tay,”

It was going to be another long ride

until we got where we needed to go.

“Does someone want to take Ezra for a

while? I was gonna take a tiny nap before

 we got to the hotel.” Natalie looked

horrible. She was gonna need more than

just a tiny nap.

“I’ll take him, Nat.” I offered. I could

never resist playing with my nephew.

 He was pretty cool. Kate looked at me

yet again with that look of hers. She did

 that a lot lately. Ugh, she was probably

 picturing me as a dad…everything rushed

 back to me and I had a huge headache

 once again.

“Kate, grab me some aspirin or something.”

 I heaved. Her face saddened. She stood

up and searched through the cabinet.

She slapped the door shut and handed

 me a blank bottle.

“What are these?” I asked. Hey, you never

 know, she could be trying to kill me or

something. I hadn’t exactly been the

greatest guy around lately.

“It’s ibuprofen! God, Zac, what do you

 think it is, poison?!” She screamed. Her

 face was now bewildered. Fire gleamed

 in her eyes. Well, now I had no problem

 telling she was pregnant. She sure had

the hormones kicking in. I wondered how

far along she was. Ezra started to cry as

Natalie handed him off to me.

“Thanks, Zac. You’re gonna be a great dad.”

 Oh, man. She had to go and say that.

I felt horrible. I was gonna be the worst dad

in the world.

“Don’t worry, man. We’re gonna be there

 for you. It’s not so bad.” Taylor reassured

 me. He was sitting next to me now. He

lifted Ezra and set him on the floor, handing

 him a few toys to keep him occupied.

“I’m not ready for this.” I mumbled.

“Who is?” Ike added. He flopped down

on my other side and we all sat there

and sighed.

“I guess we could always, you know,

cancel the show…” Tay offered.

“No, no way! That wouldn’t be fair.

I’m fine.” I lied.

“It’s ok, man. You remember what

a wreck Taylor was when he found

out about Nat. And look at him now!

He’s happy.”

“Yeah, I know…” The truth was, having

 a family was something I really wanted.

 But I was scared…and I didn’t want

this with Kate. It just wasn’t there for me

 anymore.

“We had a pretty big fan count today.

 I guess the record’s doin pretty good.”

Ike was good at changing subjects when

 they needed to be changed.

“Yeah, and that sure was awful nice of

 that girl to bring us all that Dr. Pepper.”

 I sighed. Ike and Tay looked at me.

“What?” they chorused.

“You know the one with all the loud clothes.

 She brought us all the soda. Come on!

You have to remember! She was like, the

 first fan there!” They just sat there looking

at me.

“Uh, Zac, do you mean the 24 pack of Dr.

 Pepper? That we drank while we were

there?” Ike was giving me the weirdest

look as he talked.

“No, the other pack,” I snapped sarcastically.

“Zac, WE brought that Dr. Pepper…” Taylor

said. He looked a little worried. I just looked

 at them. They had to be joking! I had seen

that girl bring us the soda with my own two

eyes!

“Zac, I think you should get some sleep.

 We’ll watch Ezra for you.” Isaac helped

me up and I went to lie down. This was

the strangest day I think I’d ever lived.

What the hell was going on with everything?

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