That night, the Neilsons were at a hotel, since their furniture was still on the way. It was a Shareton near the airport. Dana had her own room, an her parents had one adjoining. This was also paid for by her father’s company. Once they were settled for the night, Dana took out a peice of paper and wrote to Hollie.
Hey! How are you? I am....ok, I guess. We’re at a hotel now, since the furniture won’t arrive until tomorrow. I met the band. They are pretty cute, in a way. The oldest is Isaac, then Taylor, then Zachary. They have younger sibs, too. Jessica, Avery and Mackenzie. They are really nice, I guess. I’d still rather be with you and everyone at Jefferson. Our house is OLD! I hate it. My room is on the third floor and I can look out my side window and see into Taylor and Zachary’s room. They thought that was really cool, but I think that window will be the first one I get blinds for! The Hansons are really hyper, especially the younger ones. I think their mom, who is also hyper, secretly feeds them sugar. The father is really nice, and mellow, too. I guess he’d have to be, to live with them! Tomorrow, after the movers put our furniture away, they are going to play for us. Dad wants to hear them right away, to see what kind of lable to put together or something.
Tell everyone “Hey” for me at Jefferson. Tell them not to forget me! I love the books, they are very special to me and I will keep them forever.
Your friend forever,
Dana addressed the envelope and put a stamp on it. She set it on the night table and looked at the clock there. The time was eleven twenty-four. It was later than she had thought, and she decided to turn out the light and go to sleep. Before sleep overcame her, Dana found herself mentally positioning her furniture in her new room. She just had to put her bed under the side window, like Taylor’s was. She found that she liked Taylor best of the three, and wondered what she thought of her. Half an hour later, she drifted of to sleep.
Taylor Hanson lay on his bed thinking. His brothers barely noticed how quiet he was being. Ike and Zac were too busy laughing at Beavis and Butthead. Ike was doing his imitation and Zac was laughing so hard that he started to hiccuph. Taylor sighed and turned over. He was facing his window now, the one that looked into what would soon be Dana’s bedroom. He liked Dana, but didn’t say anything about it. She was one of they few girls he had met since they had started playing locally. The ones he had known before were now crazed fans and all had crushes on him. Taylor hated that. He wanted a girlfriend, kind of.....well sometimes he did, but he didn’t want one that like him just because he was famous, or sang good music. Dana had just met him and didn’t seam to care. Plus, Taylor thought, she was nice looking. Isaac inturupted his thoughts.
“So, our fearless leader, what songs are we gonna play tomorrow?” Taylor pretended not to hear, so Isaac threw a pillow at him. Finally Taylor turned around.
“I was thinking MMMBop and maybe Thinking of You, we don’t have to play every single one.” At this, Zac started to belt out the chorus of MMMBop. Taylor threw a pillow at him. “C’mon Zac, you wanna impress Dana, don’t you?” Zac had a solo in Thinking of You.
Zac all of a sudden looked hurt. “Who, me? You’re the one who barely said a word to her, or to anyone else!” This comment started a major pillow fight. Taylor hated when his brother mentioned girls. Finally Isaac ended the commotion by turning off the lights. Zac ran to Taylor’s window. “Look! Dana left her bathroom light on!” This cause a major race to the window.
“Wow!” said Isaac. “You can see everything in her room! Tay, I wanna trade beds!”
“See? Ike likes her too!”
This started another pillow fight that ended when Diana came up the stairs and threatened to take away their pillows. It was after midnight before the brothers finally got to sleep.
The next day the Neilson’s furniture arrived right on schedule. For three hours that morning, Dana and her parents were busy directing the movers and their frniture. The house was slightly bigger than their one on Austin, so there was a whole room on the first floor left over, plus the basement. Dana had explored the basement early that morning, after mailing her letter. It was dark and cold and unfinished. Kevin came down, too, and said that the basement would make a good project, if he ever had the time.
Isaac, Taylor, Zachary, and their parents cam over to help the Neilsons settle in. Isaac, Walker, and Diana helped Kevin and Terese with the first two floors, while Taylor and Zachary climbed up to Dana’s room.
“I didn’t realize how BIG this was!” Dana was exclaiming when they got to the top of the stairs. “I can get more furniture! A TV and some chairs can go in this alcove, and I can get a bigger bookcase, and another nighttable.......” She broke off suddenly, and started to think. Zachary giggled. Taylor smiled. Dana sighed, fell dramatically onto her bed and said “Oh, well!” This caused Zachary to laugh even harder and Taylor covered his mouth and stifled a giggle.
The three soon were busy at work rearanging Dana’s furniture and unpacking boxes. When Taylor found her stereo, he immediatly plugged it in and found a good rock and roll station to get them going. After making sure the door was shut, he turned the music up full blast. Soon the whole trio was singing along with John Mellencamp. They were really perked up now and soon Dana’s room was pretty well put away. After turning off the misic, they tramped downstairs to see if anyone else needed help.
It was a MESS! Boxes were piled high in the living room and Kevin was directing everyone to where they went. The kitchen was a war zone, the dining room was halfway unpacked, and the furniture in the study was still being straightened out. Dana, Taylor, and Zachary were put to work quickly.
A little after seven Diana said that she thought the girls and Mackie would be starved and that the two families go out to the new Chinese place in town. Terese quickly agreed, since everyone WAS starving, and soon the Neilsons and the Hansons were packed in two cars and on their way to Beijing Hut.
Taylor and Zachary chose to ride with Dana and Kevin in their Buick sedan, which also had arrived that morning, and Terese joined the rest of the Hansons in their Chevrolet van. On the way to Beijing Hut, Taylor and Zachary, well mostly Zachary, told Dana and Kevin all there was to know about Tulsa. What movie theatres and malls they were passing, who owned the record store on the corner, that kind of stuff. Dana and Kevin chipped in stories about Austin, and Taylor, next to Dana in the back seat, barely said a word. Dana thought that was WEIRD, since he had been so talkative that morning, but her guess was that he was shy around strange adults.
Beijing Hut was dark and SMALL. Fortunately, it was not crowded, because, since the tables were fairly small, the Neilsons and the Hansons together took up three tables. The parents sat at a big table with little Mackie, Jessica and Avery sat at a two person table and were acting VERY grown up, and Dana, Isaac, Taylor, and Zachary sat at a four person table in a corner of the restaurant. The menu was in Chinese, so everyone ended up ordering the special, which was chicken chow mein.
The food took a while, since the waiter wanted to serve them all at the same time, so Dana and the boys made small talk. Mostly, Dana wanted to know what they did for fun, so she asked them.
“Write music.” Isaac immediately answered. “And play it.”
“Aside from that,” Dana answered just as quickly. “Is there a park, or movies, or a mall or what?”
Zachary slapped himself on the head. “I just spent the WHOLE ride here telling you about all the malls and movie theatres!!”
“Oh, yeah, I know, but are there any one you guys espicailly like, or anyone special you go with?”
“Not really,” Taylor spoke up. “We just kinda walk around town and pick up girls.” Zachary giggled and Isaac kicked him under the table. When Taylor say the look on Dana’s face, he said quickly “I was kidding!”
“When does you guy’s school year start?” Dana wanted to know.
“When ever our parents want it too. We don’t have a regular schedule, so we end up going a lot of Sundays to make 180 days in by the end of June.” Isaac answered.
Just as Dana was getting ready to ask another question, the chow mein came, and for the next 15 minutes, the group was fairly quiet, except when Zachary started to make jokes about the food.
Later, as the two cars pulled up in front of the two houses, and everyone was bidding good nights, Diana suddenly got a great idea. “Hey, everyone!” She called to no one in perticular. “How about we go out tomorrow and show the Neilsons around town?”
Isaac chipped in. “We can go to one of our fine malls, and then to a movie, maybe take a walk aound the park.....”
Kevin looked at Terese and Dana and said “Why not?”
Two weeks later, the Neilsons were pretty much settled in. Everything was unpacked, furniture was ordered for the living room and Dana had blinds on her window. Her room also was now painted light green, to compliment her swirly comforter. Dana had tried to find the way to the mall one afternoon by herself, but ended up going in a circle and found herself back at the house. She sighed, and had to resort to asking someone for directions. The only person not busy was Taylor, and he offered to take her, since he wasn’t doing anything. “All the girls will die when they see me with someone new!” Dana knew he was joking, but still gave him a Look. Taylor was smart enough to add: “No offense or anything. I was thinking about going anyway, and now I have someone to go with.”
The two walked in silence until the end of the street. They passed a smaller house. A girl about their age was shooting baskets in the driveway. She was wearing a Royals baseball cap and Nikes. “Taylor waved to her and called out: “Hey Peggy! Wanna come to the mall with us?” Peggy trotted over to Taylor. She barely glanced at Dana. “Sure, Tay. Lemme put my ball away.”
Taylor turned to Dana. “That is Peggy Peirson. She just turned 14. She has about a million sisters. And they all have names that begin with P, too. Peggy, and Polly, and Pauline, and Paula, and Pamela, and Patricia, and Paige, and Penny, and Posy. I think there are a few more, but I don’t remember.”
“And they all live in that little house?”
“Yeah. With their mother, Patsy. Some of them have moved away, though. Don’t mention anything to Peg. And she may not be able to buy much. But (Taylor shrugged) she’s still ok. A couple of her sisters are friends with Jessie and Avie.”
Peggy came bounding out of her front door, letting the screen bang shut. They group was quiet for a while. Dana was looking at the bare, flat land. It was a sunny day, and Dana was glad when they got into town, since the sun went behind the buildings. They walked by an abanded corner store and Peggy and Taylor got deep into a conversation about a record store that used to be there. Apparently, it had moved into the mall. Dana listened politely to their conversation, and remembered walking to the mall with her Austin friends. They would talk like this, about stores, and clothes, and things. Dana was walking a little behind Taylor and Peggy, just taking in the boring scenery of Tulsa. Peggy whispered to Taylor “Who is the girl?”
Taylor answered “She is our new neighbor, Dana Neilson. Her father is our publicity manager.”
“Oh. She seems a little......odd.”
“Who Dana? I bet she thinks WE’RE odd!” The two had to stifle their laughter, since they thought Dana had not heard them. She had. And she was furious at Peggy! How dare she judge her! She was proud that Taylor had stood up for her a little. Dana quickened her pace and caught up with them. She broke between Peggy and Taylor and asked “So where is you mall?” She directed this question to Taylor.
“A few more blocks now, then we can catch the crosstown bus. The mall we’re going to is a little farther than the other one.”
Dana nodded. She was still frowning from what Peggy had said. Taylor looked over at her and pulled her hair. “What’s the matter? Feet hurt?”
“No, its not that.” She whispered in his ear, hoping he would understand. “It’s just that I heard you two talking and I didn’t like to hear that practically the first person I meet here doesn’t like me!”
Taylor nodded. “You’ll have to excuse Peggy. She says things without thinking.” He said this aloud and Peggy threw him a sharp Look, but then smiled and continued to walk. Taylor whispered to Dana “I’ll explain it later, I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”
By this time Peggy had had just about enough. Fortunately, they arrived at the bus stop just then and the bus was just pulling into the curb. The three teenagers climbed on, payed their fare, and took a seat. This particular bus had just foreward facing seats, and Dana was greatful to sit down, so she took the first available seat. Taylor sat down next to her and Peggy across the aisle. They made smal talk until they reached the mall. It was on Dana’s side of the bus, and Taylor reached around her to point it out.
Dana was looking out the window when Taylor decided to point out the mall to her. Of course, she had already seen it, so she was surprised to feel his arms brushing against her. “That’s our mall!” He said.
“Wow!” Said Dana in awe. “It is huge!” And it was. The mall was three levels and the side they were facing was the JC Penny wing and the huge entrance dominated that side of the mall. Dana could not wait to explore it.
Five minutes later, Dana, Taylor, and Peggy were entering the mall. Peggy immidiatly spied some school friends and ran over to them. When the girls saw Taylor, they changed. You could TELL they all liked him. Dana wondered why until she remembered that the Hansons had played lots of gigs around town and were locally famous. Dana looked at Taylor and saw him roll his eyes. “C’mon.” He said. “Lets do this by ourselves.” You could feel the murderous glances the girls were giving Dana. She had the feeling Peggy was filling their minds with juicy gossip about her. She wished she wouldn’t. Dana liked Taylor OK was a friend, he was her best friend here, that was for sure, but that was all. She was just greatful for his company. Taylor went on, when they were out of earshot, “Those girls have been like that since we started playing. You would have thought I was some national celeberty or something. I’m just glad I don’t go to school with them. I don’t know how I would handle it.”
Dana took the oppurtunity to ask then, just because she was curious, “So you don’t have a girlfriend, Taylor?”
“Huh? Uh...no. None of us do. How could we? All the girls in this town are so obsessive. Even if I wanted to go out with one of them, they would be so star struck that I couldn’t enjoy myself.”
They passed the Gap then, and the two just had to go in. Dana was surprised at Taylor’s flair for fashoin. She had known that all the Hanson’s dressed good, of course, but it still surprised her. The two hit a few more stores, and Taylor was stopped by a few more girls with murderous looks for Dana, before they breaked for lunch. There was a movie theatre in the mall playing classic movies and Taylor and Dana decided to see a special presentation of Forest Gump.
Waiting for the bus on their way home, the two neighbors were laughing histarically at thier Gump impressions. By the time they had wuieted down, the bus was there and the climbed on. They were still laughing the whole ride back to their stop. When they got off, Taylor looked at his watch and cried “Agh! It’s almost 6! We have to RUN!” With that, he grabbed Dana’s hand and flew off in the direction of their street. They arrived, breathless, at thier houses and few minutes later. “You almost made me drop my clothes!” Dana scolded Taylor. He just grinned and went inside his house. Dana unlocked the door of hers and climbed the stairs to her room. She put her new clothes away and flopped on her bed. It had been a great day.
And Dana’s great day just got better. That night Kevin decided that this was finally the night that the Hansons would play for him. Dana begged to watch, too, and Kevin agreed. After a hurried dinner of ordered in pizza, Isaac, Taylor, and Zachary set up their instruments and mikes in the Hanson basement. Folding chairs were brought down, and Dana was getting excited. A private concert! Even if they weren’t any good this was certainly a big event.
Taylor was nervous. He wanted to do well, so that Kevin would agree to be their manager. He checked and rechecked his keyboard and microphone. Isaac was smiling at Dana. H was calm and collected. Taylor wished he could be that calm. Zachary was banging on his drums and belching into his mike in rhythm. That made Dana laugh and Taylor blush. Isaac just smiled.
Once everyone was assembled, Taylor went “And a one...and a two...and a one two three four!” The opening chords of MMMBop filled the basement.
Dana was enthralled. Taylor’s voice was so wonderful! And Zachary was BORN to play the drums. He was also head banging in time, and Dana was trying not to smile and distract them. They were so GOOD! Better than she had thought. When the song was over she applouded until her hands hurt, and Kevin whistled. Then Taylor started into the introduction of Thinking of You. Dana was in heaven. She had finally found her favorite band! “Have you ever stood outside a picket fence you can see through, but you can’t get to the inside......”
After another round of applouse, Kevin shoke their hands. “Congratulations, boys. I am now going to sing you! We’ll have you on a record and on every billboard in the country before you know it!” Kevin then congratulated Mr. and Mrs. Hanson and followed them upstairs to go over the contract. The girls followed them and Terese and Mackie lagged behind. “Be home by ten, Dane!” Terese called over her shoulder.
Dana turned to the boys. “You guys were awesome! I had no idea you were so good! No wonder Taylor was practically mobbed in the mall!” The last comment made Taylor blush. The boys were packing up the wires and eerything from their performance. Zachary let Dana bang on his drums. Isaac let her play “Jingle Bells,” the only song she knew, on his guitar. Taylor let her play “Chopsticks” on his keyboard.
“I can’t really play any instruments, guys. My hands aren’t that coordinated.” Dana explained.
“Can you sing?” Isaac wondered.
“Of course I can sing! Lemme have that mike” Dana took Isaac’s mike. “I belonged to the theatrical scociety in Austin. I wasn’t much of an actress, but we had to have a song for auditions. It’s the only song I can sing, or at least am prepared to sing.”
“That’s ok! I wanna hear you!” Zachary was excited.
“It’s called ‘I’ll Be Your Candle on the Water’ from ‘Pete’s Dragon,’” Dana explained. She held the mike gingerly. “You don’t happen to have the music do you Taylor?” She wondered. “It’s so much easier with music.”
“Lemme check...we might......” Taylor fumbled through a stack of store bought sheet music. “Aha! Here it is! How fast do you want it?”
“Not that fast, it’s supposed to be kinda slow.”
“Ok, just lemme test it once.” Taylor played the opening bars once. “Is that ok?”
“Perfect.” Taylor started the music. “I’ll be your candle on the water......my love for you will always burn........” Dana finished the song without major mistakes. She was surprised when the three boys clapped.
“You’re really good!” Zachary was beaming at Dana.
“ Definitely!” Isaac echoed. “I’m gonna write a song for you and Tay to sing!”
“Really? I was really good?” Dana was curious.
“Yes! You’re excellent!” Taylor was smiling, too.
“Oh, sure....” Dana was skeptical. She glanced at her watch. “Omygosh! It’s almost ten! I’d better go. She you guys later!” Dana dashed up the stairs and out the Hanson’s front door, waving goodbye to Jessica and Avery, who were watching television.
That night Dana lay in her bed thinking. She thought about the band, but mostly about Taylor. She still had no clue what he thought of her, and there was no one to ask. Peggy and the other girls loved him too mush, and Zachary so obviously liked her. She wasn’t sure about Isaac, but, well.....maybe she’d end up asking him about Taylor. Dana rolled over and fell asleep looking out her window and into Taylor’s.
Taylor was confused. He wanted to ask his brothers about Dana, but they liked her too much to be of much help. Well, Zac did. He wasn’t sure about Ike. Maybe he’d ask him. Yeah, that’s what he’d do. Taylor turned over and fell asleep looking out his window.
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