Chapter Eight

She followed the crew up the driveway to the steps, and watched as somebody - she was too absorbed in nervosity to notice who - rang the doorbell. In a matter of seconds, a man whom she recognized as Mr. Hanson opened, with a big smile on his face.

"Great, you made it!" he said, shaking Ric's hand. "I though maybe you wouldn't be able to find your way here."

"Oh, no problem," Ric answered. "We have a native driver." And with that, they all entered.

Dusk walked up to Mr. Hanson and reached her hand out, smiling slightly.

"I'm really glad to be here, sir. Thank you for having us..." she said, trailing off as she saw the disapproving look on his face, and noticing out of the corner of her eye three very familiar contours in the doorway to an adjoining room.

"I'm sorry, but we don't meet fans without scheduling. I'm going to have to ask you to send her home." The look of disapproval changed to one of confusion as the cameramen cracked up and Dusk tried to hide the huge grin on her face.

"Um, no, sir? I'm the host of the show your sons have agreed to appear on."

"Really?" He looked at the crew, who nodded their heads, grinning hugely. "Oh. I'm sorry."

"No problem, sir."

"Aren't you a little young to have your own show?"

Dusk managed to stifle a laugh, and could hear the boys snorting as well. Obviously, they were thinking along the same lines as she.

"With all due respect sir, I'm older than two of your three oldest children. And I've heard rumors that they're not totally unsuccessful themselves..."

He laughed, patting her on the back.

"I suppose you're right there, young lady. Thank you for putting me in my place."

Dusk could feel her cheeks getting hot. How typical. If I were the blushing type, this would probably be a really good time.

"So you must be Dusk Halley, then?"

She nodded, trying not to show that she was noticing that the three boys were coming towards her.

"Boys, this is who you'll be pestering over the next two weeks," he said, ushering her forward slightly.

When Dusk for the first time saw them properly, she suddenly wasn't nervous anymore. She raised her chin slightly, and smiled at the first Hanson to come her way. It happened to be Taylor. She looked into those blue eyes and felt - nothing. She could tell that he was her kind of person, one she'd really want as a friend, but that was it. That electric charge, the anticipation she'd built up, had released in a totally anticlimactic nothing. It felt very empty.

She extended her hand to Taylor, and then to Zac, who was searching for something in the pockets of his jeans. And then she took Isaac's hand, and their eyes locked. She could feel his hand, with the long knuckly teenage fingers, warm in hers.

They quickly let go at the same time.

She could almost hear the blood thumping in her ears. Talk about presence, the calm, detached part of her thought. Oh God oh God oh God oh God, thought the rest.

It felt as if she'd been touching him for ages, but it was in fact only a couple of seconds before Mr. Hanson showed them into the living room. Divine intervention, dumb luck - who knows? - she wound up in a sofa between Zac and Isaac.

"So where do we start?" Zac exclaimed.

"Well, as I've understood it, you want taping in your house down to a minimum," Dusk said, trying to erase Isaac from her peripheral vision. "So we'll set up a sort-of-studio, kind of like the one I have back home, in the house we're using. And I'll be hanging out with the guys nonstop to learn how they think. That way I can make some juicy disclosures."

"Oh yeah. Those are cool," Zac said.

"Yeah, but how much can she get on us?" Isaac laughed. "Shocking truth revealed! Hanson still dependent on parents!"

A blonde lady, who Dusk assumed was Mrs. Hanson, entered the room with a baby in her arms.

"Can I get you anything?" she asked.

"This is a rhetorical question," Dusk said with a smile. "Got any milk?"

Chapter Nine
Chapter Seven