The Rose (Chapters 5-8)

A meeting on the beach brings two people together and changes the world.
This is not your usual Maggie the Kitten story. It is an adult story, a romance, if you will.
I think you will enjoy it. Holly

The Rose (Chapters 5-8)

Written by Maggie the Kitten

Edited by Holly Hart and Shelly Shalimar

Chapter Five
She stopped for a moment, expecting Lynx to pull back in revulsion, but if anything, he squeezed her hand a bit tighter and the love in his eyes had not diminished. Buoyed by his silent encouragement, she continued giving him "The Talk", as she had his sister just a few hours earlier.

Cindy was able to run through it all in about half an hour. As she poured her heart and soul out to him, Lynx maintained his vow of silence, only nodding and shaking his head a few times. Cindy nearly gave into her tears several times, but Lynx's presence calmed her enough to push past them.

"Well ... now you know my deep dark secret. I'm really sorry for deceiving you. If this changes how you feel, I ... I ... do understand." Cindy’s final words were Lynx’s cue it was his turn, to speak, or just get up and walk away

Lynx dropped his head, and turning away from her to gaze out over the water. The few seconds of silence was an eternity for Cindy. Finally he broke it, but his eyes remained on the ocean.

"Cindy ... it does change how I feel. I didn't think it was possible, but it does."

She felt as if her heart had dropped to her toes. His words confirmed Cindy's worst fears. She WASN”T woman enough, at least for him. Her heart threatened to burst through her chest. Suddenly she couldn't speak, couldn't think, couldn't breath. The beach started to spin and all she could do was wish the sand would open a pit and engulf her.

Lynx hadn’t realized the way his phrasing would hit her. When he turned to face her he saw her ashen face, and her eyes welling with tears. Reaching out he pulled her to him, holding her in his arms like a small child.

"Oh Cindy ... when I told you it changed how I felt, I didn't mean I no longer loved you. I meant I love you EVEN MORE! More than I thought possible. I thought you had all my heart before, but now I'm sure you do. Before, I loved you for being the beautiful and loving woman I have grown to know these seven days, but now ... well you've shown me the rest. You've shown me the brave soul who has fought to make this woman possible. You no longer just have my love but you have my admiration and respect. You've got more courage than anyone I've ever met, and endured more heartache than anyone should. I wish I could have been with you during those dark times, but ... but .. .if you'll still have me, I want to be with you from now on and whatever life brings you, brings US, we'll face it together."

Cindy buried her head in his chest, crying tears of joy. Lynx cradled her and stroked her hair lovingly, wondering how many times the child and the young woman had cried alone on this very spot. Cindy finally quieted as she nuzzled at his chest. Looking more like the child than the woman, her green eyes gazed up to meet his.

"I ... was afraid that you couldn't think of me as a woman, if ... if ... you knew I had once been a boy."

Lynx shook his head and smiled lovingly. "Cindy, from what you tell me, you were NEVER really a boy, and I believe you. But even if somewhere inside that seductresses body of yours the remnants of a small sad boy still lives, then I love him, too. I love all of you, from the depths of your soul to the tips of those tiny toes you're digging into the sand. Cindy, please, believe me when I say this: I'm not that hung up on the body thing, okay? I mean. when it comes right down to it, the body is just a shell, nothing more."

Smiling hungrily at the lovely lass in his arms he quickly added, "But I have to admit, you’ve got one fine shell."

He hoped she would take that as a compliment. Her blush told him she had.

"Yeah, that day on the beach when I first saw you, I was drawn in by that siren song you were singing. Then when I saw the beautiful girl it belonged to I was mesmerized. BUT ... and I can't say this enough, BUT ... it's not that beautiful body, or even sweet voice that truly captured my heart."

Gently touching his finger to the center of the young woman’s chest, sending tingles through Cindy's body .Lynx's emphasized his next statement. "It's about that beautiful soul within the shell that shared itself with me for over a week and intertwined with mine every time I held your hand, or tasted your lips, or shared the ocean with you, or ... or ... stumbled down to the tennis court when any decent person would be sleeping, just to see you smile at me before you beat the hell out of a bucket of tennis balls!”

The last statement got a smile and giggle from his love. Lynx was glad to see it. Seeing an opening, he took advantage of it to steal a kiss and intertwine souls a bit more. Cindy couldn't, and wouldn't resist meeting him half way. The pair held the kiss for a few seconds short of eternity before they broke reluctantly.

Lynx smiled lovingly at her. "Are you convinced now that I love you, all of you? Deep dark secrets and all? Or ... do you need a little more convincing?"

Cindy smiled back impishly, hunger still in her eyes. "I can always use more convincing but ... but ... I still can't believe you are taking this so well. I mean, I'm not complaining. Trust me I'm not! But ... but ... it's not everyday a man finds out his soul mate could of been a first mate in the Danish navy with him."

Lynx dropped his head and chuckled. "Oh ... I would love to see you aboard a Danish battle cruiser with over 200 hundred men. They'd never get the ship out of dock!"

Cindy blushed and shook her head at the silly boy. She laughed softly, but a concerned look quickly returned. "You didn't suspect did you? I mean were you able to tell something... ... well. ... something different about me? You know, different from other girls, or ... or ... did Tess say something to you this morning?"

Pulling his little bundle of worry into his arms, he sought to reaffirm his love and her confidence once again. "No my love, Tess never said a word to me. I assume she’s still pounding pillows alongside Jenna, however she has been telling me all week she thought you were the one. When I told her she was right, and she's more right, than I will usually ever admit to her, she told me to be careful. She called you a woman of mystery."

Cindy smiled. "A woman of mystery? Well ... I guess that's one way to put it."

Lynx nodded and continued. "She said you carried a pain and a secret that would separate us until you were sure of my love. I thought giving you the ring and asking you to marry me would make you more sure than anything, but instead ... it only made you run away. I really am sorry."

Cindy took his hand and gently caressed it. "No, please don't be. Tess was right. On one hand, I think I did needed to know you loved me before I could risk telling you the truth, but on the other, I felt you deserved to know the truth before proclaiming that love. I … I agonized over it all for days, and then just when I finally worked up the courage to tell you, you dropped to one knee. I just didn’t know what to do, so I panicked and ran off. I must have sat out here for two hours crying, trying to figure out what to do. When I came back to the house I didn’t feel any braver or wiser. I had half a mind to just write you a goodbye note and leave."

Lynx sighed, shaking his head, trying to imagine the pain they would both be going through now if either had followed through with their thoughts. He had to ask the obvious question. "So ... why didn't you? What changed your mind?"

Cindy chuckled, "Why, Madam Tess, the Danish mystic, of course! She was sitting there in the dark when I came in. We ended up going out on the porch and talking. Once I started, I couldn't stop, and by the time I was finished we were both in tears. She really helped me. She reminded me of things that I have always known in my heart, but somehow I had lost during this week. It was like she almost knew me better than I knew myself. She's amazing!"

Lynx nodded knowingly. "Yeah ... she’s always kind of been like that. Mom has the gift to be able to sense things from people around her, and one of the things she senses is that Tess has it even stronger. Personally, I think both of them have more magic than I probably ever want to know about.”

Cindy's eyes sparkled as the reference to magic brought back an old memory. "You know ... Jenna and I went to a psychic once. Madame Theresa the Mystic! I’ll never forget her or what she said. She told us that both Jenna and I were very psychic and had lots of untapped potential. Of course she might have been just saying that to "tap us" for the ten dollars we both coughed up, but she really seemed SO real.

Lynx pulled his little sorceress in and grinned, “Well… I'm getting a vision myself. It's a little cloudy ... but slowly clearing. Yes ... yes! I can see it all clearly now."

Cindy giggled as she rolled her eyes.

Lynx gave her the "evil eye". "Quiet, skeptic! You are creating negative energy. It interferes with the reception, you know."

Cindy held her chuckles and her tongue as best as she could while Lynx continued to lay it on heavy. "I see a big white house ... no wait, not a house, a church! The church is filled with people, lots of happy people, but none as happy as the young man who stands before the altar. He's dressed smartly in tux and tales and ... and ... something else, an admiral’s hat? No, no that can’t be right, must be some interference."

A tiny giggle escaped Cindy’s lips, but Lynx, ever the professional performer, refused to break character and continued. "Suddenly he turns and sees this vision of pure loveliness literally floating towards him. All eyes are on her. They have never seen such beauty. This goddess stops as she reaches his side. Unbelievably to the man, she offers her hand. He readily accepts it and then, with his free hand, he gives her a rose. Words are then spoken and they must be magic ones because when it’s all said and done, the man gets to kiss the goddess and be with her forever."

The story that had started with pure silliness had become a seriously romantic journey, and happy tears welled in Cindy's eyes. Smiling through them, she managed to eke out, "It's beautiful."

Lynx smile lovingly, his dark eyes filling with mischief. "After that ... I kinda lose the vision. Everything gets a little fuzzy, but I have a very strong feeling that things get even BETTER later that night."

Cindy grinned impishly. "Oh I'm sure they do! Now kiss, me my sexy psychic."

Lynx smiled just long enough to get in the final volley, “I knew you were going to say that," before fulfilling his prophecy.

After the kiss, and few more, they held each other quietly for quite some time before Cindy reluctantly broke the silence. "Lynx, I love you and I know you love me and that was a beautiful vision, but it’s still not that simple, and we both know it. I mean, there is still so much to think about."

Lynx nodded, yet like all lynxes, stayed calm and patient. "Whatever it is, we'll face it together and find a way through it. In fact, why don't you tell me what's bothering you most, and we'll start right now?”

Cindy smiled proudly at her brave prince. Already, he had sword drawn and was prepared to slay dragons in her honor. Mentally running through the many dragons that could block their way to the land of Happily Ever After, she selected one.

"Well ... for one thing, there might be legal problems. I'm not sure if we can get married here, or in Denmark. Until now, I hadn't really worried about things like that."

The prince pulled the princess into a tight embrace as he attempted to lay waste to the first dragon. "Okay, I don't know legal things that well either, but I have a very good lawyer who handles all the band’s contracts and stuff and if he doesn't know, then I’m sure he can find us the best lawyer who does. However, I'm not really worried about that. As much as I would love to marry you all nice and legal, I can live without the license, just as long as I'm by your side for as long as you will have me. So for the moment, I think we should just leave all that to the legal eagles, and deal with that dragon when, and if, we have to. So … what else is there?"

Cindy sighed heavily as she reached into the darkness, "Well... I know we love each other, but do we really and truly know each other? Eight days is still eight days, and that’s such a short time. My parents dated for like years before being sure. I mean ... there's still lots you don't know about me and … and you know I've never even had a boyfriend, let alone a fiancé or a husband."

Lynx waved his magic sword yet again. "Well ... unless you have yet another even deeper darker secret to share? You know, like being a cover hog in bed, or that your snoring could wake the dead, then I for one am not afraid of what I don't know. I think the more I learn about you, the closer it will bring us, and the more I will love you."

The prince, though realizing this was a two-headed dragon, treated it as such. "However you do make a good point. You haven't been out with other men. I don't relish the thought of you ever being with anyone else, but if you feel the need to ummm … ‘Comparative Shop?’, then I will try to understand, and I will wait for as long as you need, but don’t expect me to be happy to see you on anyone else’s arm but mine."

Cindy pounced on the prince immediately. "Oh Lynx, I don't want to ’man shop,’ not when I've found the best deal in the store already. I know it’s crazy, and people would say I shouldn't marry the first man I fall for’ but who says that cupid can’t shoot a bull’s-eye with his first arrow? All I know is that I can't imagine loving anyone more than I love you, and I don't even want to try to see if that’s possible."

She hesitated as she realized what is good for the goose must be made available to the gander, “Of course if you want to umm ... shop some more. I'd wait for you, too, but I wouldn’t like it any better.”

Lynx leaned forward, kissing her softly to let her know his shopping was done, and he was ready to check out.

Cindy savored the sweet kiss, basking in its warmth before finally summoning forth more concerns. "You know, if we get engaged and you come jetting in here to see me, I don't think we're going to be able to keep this a secret for long. Once the press find out, you know they'll dig up my past in no time. I know all too well how crazy things can get, just by having been the small town ‘transsexual’ teen. I also know if I continue to play tennis, and am able to go pro one day, the press may hound me every time I take the court. I’ve always been prepared to put up with whatever I have to do to be who I am, but if we become a couple, what I am and what I do also affects you. You also realize of course, that being with me probably isn't going to be a great career move. I can only imagine how those scandal sheets will rip you over keeping company with a boy turned girl. There's no telling how badly it could hurt your image, and the rest of the band’s as well. You might not ever sell another record or get another concert again. I love you so much, but I don’t want our love to be responsible for you or anyone in the band losing their dream."

Lynx brushed a stray lock from her face and gave her the most solemn and serious look she'd ever seen on his boyish face. "Cindy, as far as I'm concerned the press can STUFF IT! Hell, every time I see one of those rags I half expect to see where I've been abducted by aliens, or that I'm really Elvis Pressley's Danish love child. When our story comes out, and you're right it will, I could care less what the public thinks, or where my career goes. If that means I never record another song, or never play another concert, so be it. If I have to give back every gold record and every dime I’ve made, I don’t care. They can have it all. My dream has never been to be a big rock star or make all this money. Look, I’m not going to lie to you. I take a lot of pride in my music, and at times, I’ve really enjoyed the ride. It’s an awesome feeling knowing that people love your music enough that they’re willing to buy your albums and pay to come watch you play. Being on that stage does give you a real high, but honestly, at least for me, it’s never really been about the fame. It's always been about the music. That's the REAL dream. It's having this song inside you, and finding the words and the music to bring it forth. It's creating something that can envelope a person so completely that it can take his or hers soul up to the heights of joy and then down again to the depths of despair. It's painting a picture with words and sound instead of paints and brushes. Music teaches, it heals, it inspires, it takes us back to bittersweet memories, and it takes places we could go no other way. It's magic, Cindy! When music sweeps you away, it’s pure magic, and that's what it’s always been about for me and for the rest of the band.”

Cindy thought she had seen her love's passion, but when he talked about his music, she could see she would have to share him at times with at least one other mistress. She wasn't jealous. They were part of him and just like he'd pledged to love all parts of her, so would she do the same.

Cindy smiled knowingly. "Yes, I know that sort of magic, even if it’s not from quite the same place you draw yours. It’s like this incredible passion. When you feel it within you, it drives you like nothing else can, and I am not just talking about being a girl trapped in a boy’s body. I mean like with my tennis. Sure, I’d love to go pro one day and I would love to be the best and to stand center court at Wimbledon, but … well, that's not the real reason I play. I love the challenge it gives me every time I step out there. I love getting up at the crack of dawn and pounding bucket after bucket of balls into the asphalt and knowing the next time I play I'm going to be just a little bit sharper and a little bit quicker.

“You put every ounce of energy you have into slamming a serve, and then seconds later you are at the net giving the ball a soft love tap, hoping it will just trickle over. You run until you’re past exhaustion, but then you reach back for that one more serve or one last volley. It's a life-sized chess game, as much mental as it is physical. It’s a combination of power, speed, endurance, and precision. When you're good, I mean really good, your racket and your hand are like one, and you can make magic with that ball. I know, maybe it’s not the same kind of magic that you make with music, but at least to me, it's a magic, a beautiful, graceful magic."

Lynx smiled knowingly as his fellow magic worshipper. "Cindy, it is beautiful magic and you hold it in your hand every time you pick up your racket the same as I do when I pick up my guitar. The magic and the music have taken me to wonderful places, and put me on center stage, but when it comes right down to it, as long as I have a guitar, an ocean and you by my side, that’s all the magic I need. It’s like I was saying; I never really needed all the fame, and I know Tess and the rest of the band feel the same way. We started out as a bunch of kids who just loved making music, and that’s who we still are.”

Lynx's confession was very much her own. "I do really want to be the best I can be and playing at Wimbledon would be awesome, but ... I guess I'm just like you. As long as I’ve got a bucket of balls, my racket, a court somewhere to smash 'em on and you beside me, I'll be happy too."

Lynx rocked Cindy gently in his arms, until the two-headed dragon reared its ugly head again. "Actually, Cindy, I'm more worried about the press being a distraction to YOUR life than mine. Media frenzy is old hat to me now, and I know you’ve had your share of it too, but you’re right about one thing. The press is going to jump all over this, and we’re talking worldwide exposure. This could be a lot worse than anything you or your family has ever had to deal with. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if you hook up with me, I doubt if you will ever be a normal little college girl again."

Cindy rolled her eyes. "I think we both know that I've never truly been a "normal little girl", college or otherwise. Granted, I've never been in the public eye on a world-wide scale as you’ve been, but starting high school as someone who could have made the football team, then graduating as someone who could have at least technically, been prom queen, has gotten me pretty well acquainted with the press. I lived in a small town, but I felt like it was New York City, the first day I went to school as Cindy.”

Cindy’s eyes took on a far away look as an old memory appeared before her. “My parents, Ally, and Jenna drove me to school that day. I was wearing something similar to what Jenna was wearing, a simple blouse and skirt, but when I stepped out of that car, I felt almost naked. There was a television crew there, newspaper reporters, security, and lots of students and teachers all crowding around to see if I really had the nerve to walk up those steps. Worst of all, there was some religious group picketing the school, carrying signs and shouting that my soul would burn in hell. According to them I was 15 years old, and already damned!

“Yeah... It was pretty intense for the first few months. I had to be picked up and taken almost everywhere, and people were always calling my parents at work and at home. Reporters called to ask for interviews, some people called to offer their support, and of course there were always those who’d call to say I was a sick pervert and that my parents were unfit for allowing me to do this. We changed our number a couple of times, but the calls just kept coming. Fortunately, by my second semester they started tailing off. I guess they found someone else's life story to exploit, or soul to condemn.”

Cindy stopped realizing she’d been rambling on, so she went straight to the point she’d been trying to make when she’d started down this road. “I understood it could get really rough, but I had people throw rocks through my parent’s windows with notes that said people like me should be exterminated. So ... please don't worry about my parents or me. We've been down this road before, and I was heading down it again, whether you walked it with me or not. I had a charmed life at UCLA for almost two years, but after what happened at the USC match, I know it’s going to start up again. I also know that if I turn pro, it could be a media circus every time I set foot on the court, and the better I get, the bigger the circus."

Lynx sighed heavily. His compassion for this soul that only asked to be free, contrasted with the disgust he felt toward the narrow minds that would deny her that right. Cindy, sensing Lynx’s sadness snuggled tightly against him, running her fingers through his soft sandy locks.

She cooed softly, "I'll be okay. I'm a big girl, now. I've been blessed to have a loving family who supported me, the truest friend a girl could ever ask for in Jenna, and now ... well, now I have you. I don’t think there’s anything out there I’m afraid to face now."

The handsome prince wrapped the brave princess in his strong warm arms and held her against him. Again there was quiet as they drank in the ocean and each other before Cindy raised her face to meet his. "You know ... it's going to be pretty difficult for us to spend much time together. You have commitments all over the world, and I’ve got two more years at UCLA. I don't know how we’re going to do it."

Lynx knew she was right. It wasn’t going to be easy, but he was sure that love would find a way. Smiling hopefully he answered, "We’ll just have to take it one day at a time I guess, making the most of any moment we can share. First of all, I want you to keep that cell phone I gave you. It's good worldwide and you’ll always be able to reach Tess or me any time. I may not be able to see you everyday, but at least I can hear your voice, and we can share each other’s world over the phone until we can do it in person. I know it’s not the same as holding you in my arms but I think it’s the best we can do for now.”

He flashed his boyish smile. “I umm... would love for you to come with me on the road and I know Tess and the rest of the band would love to have you there too."

Cindy blushed slightly as she thought of life and love on the road with Lynx. She was tempted to pack a bag and go, but there was college, her parents, and her own career to consider. It was a difficult choice, but thankfully one her love wasn't asking her to make today. She started to give him an answer to something he had never really intended to be a question.

"I ... I ... guess I could finish school later, and tennis isn't THAT important, but … but there’s my parents and …"

Lynx gently put a finger to her lips. "No love, as much as I wish I could take you with me. I can’t, and won’t ask you to walk away from your parents, your school or the tennis career you’ve always dreamed of. I have too much respect for you and the things that you love. The way I see it, you have a job to do here, just as I have in San Francisco tonight. You need to go to school, and you need to be the best damn tennis player you can be. I’ve got concerts to give, and more music to write. For at least a little while we'll have to hold onto each other the best way we can, even if it’s only through phone calls and short visits. It's not going to be easy for either of us after this week, but I believe in my heart that if we are meant to be together, then in time I will be holding you in my arms and I'll never have to let you go."

Cindy savored the feeling of being held in his arms NOW. Giving him her best little girl pout she offered sadly, "I think your "very short time" is going to seem like an eternity."

Lynx flashed his smile and winked. "Then I guess you’re just going to have to learn the lesson of the lynx: patience. Lynx are well known for being very patient predators. They quite often wait for their prey to come to them before finally attacking.”

Cindy giggled. “Is that why you didn’t chase after me on the beach last night? Because you were Lynx, the patient predator?”

Lynx chuckled. “No, it was because I was being Lynx the cautious coward. As upset as you were, I wasn’t about to go running into the dark and risk getting a driftwood facial from you.”

That image drew hearty laughs from both of them before Lynx attempted to get serious again. “This USA tour is going to last at least two more months and I don’t see how I can sneak back here for more than a day or two, but after it ends we might have some free time. Originally, we had planned to take a long holiday back in Denmark and try to work on a new album, but it might be possible to change our plans. You know, ... I don't see any reason why we couldn't spend most of that holiday right here. I mean I’ve got to run it by the rest of the band, but I think they’d be cool with it. Los Angeles is full of recording studios, so I’m sure we could work something out. I also know that Rich would like to spend a little more time with Jenna, and Tess STILL thinks she's got a chance with Bob. I tried to tell her she’s wasting her time, but she won’t listen. You can’t tell “Muffin” anything when she gets that look in her eye.”

Cindy giggled at Tess’ moniker and the image forming in her mind. “Honestly I don't know if Uncle Bob’s worse off running from Tess or being caught by her. Either way, I think it could be hazardous to his health."

The pair laughed heartily as they shared an image of Bob running up and down the beach with Tess in hot pursuit. Finally, they settled into a soft smile and Cindy’s thoughts drifted back to the plan Lynx proposed.

"You know ... I bet Uncle Bob would let you and the band stay here while you are working. He might even be able to set up a place for you to record right here, so you wouldn't have to fight all those wild women."

She quickly amended, "Well … you’ll probably have to fight at least one."

Lynx’s smile matched hers in size and hunger as he waved an imaginary flag of truce. "There'd be no fight. I would surrender willingly and unconditionally. You can have my admiral’s hat on that."

Cindy rolled her eyes and quipped. "To the victor go the spoils. So … spoil me, my love!"

Lynx pulled her close and made her wish come true. They met in a passion-filled kiss that threatened to never end. Reluctantly, they pulled back and Cindy laid her head against his chest. Silence was bliss once again, but Lynx could feel her restlessness as she snuggled close to him.

"You want to tell me what's still bothering you? I know there's more you're holding on to. I don’t want you to feel afraid to tell me anything. Whatever it is, we'll face it together."

Cindy sighed and then raised her face to meet his. Eyes filled with pain and tears told him the size of the dragon that she was about to set free. "You know ... that ... that ... I can never give you a child, and ... and Lynx, you deserve to be a father. I just know that you would be a wonderful daddy, and ... I'm so... ... so ... sorry."

The young woman collapsed against him as her tears fell freely. Lynx said nothing, knowing that she needed his arms and understanding more than any words he could muster. He rocked her gently, stroking her hair until her sobs became little more than a soft cry. His heart ached to slay this dragon for her, but this particular beast wasn’t one he could completely vanquish.

"Cindy, there is no way I can imagine the pain you must be going through knowing you can never give birth. I ... I ... don't think any man can know. It must be pretty incredible to feel a life growing inside you and I’d love to make a baby with you. I would love spending the rest of our lives watching that child grow. I’d give anything to make that dream possible for both of us, but if we can’t have it all, maybe we can still have part of it. Maybe, when the time is right, we can adopt? I know it's not quite the same thing an all, and ... and I know it's not fair to you, but I don't think it's fair that children grow up unloved and without parents. Look, it’s not something we have to decide right now or anything, but if you'd be willing to try, I know I am. I think we could be pretty good parents, but you’re going to have to be the bad guy, especially if we have a girl, because I know she’ll have me wrapped around her little finger just like you do."

Cindy sniffled back tears. beaming a small smile, as she knew Lynx would be a great father, just as he would be a great husband. Deciding to test out the power of her little finger, she begged in her best little girl’s voice, "You think maybe we could rescue two?"

Lynx dropped his head to hers as she gently teased, "I should have known better than to give you an opening like that.”

When Cindy giggled, Lynx winked to let her know he had no regrets. “Cindy, as far as I’m concerned we can have two, three, or as many as we can house, feed and give love to. I can see now though, I better never take you to a pet shop. We're liable to walk out with a zoo!"

Cindy cried tears of joy and snuggled with the "Papa" Lynx. Now she felt totally relaxed. She had called forth every dragon from the depth of darkness, and her handsome prince had expertly slain each one. Finally, she was free to believe that this fairy tale could come true.

That left her with but one question remaining and she asked it. "So ... like how soon would you want to get married, then? Of course you know my parents are going to flip when I tell them that I'm engaged, and if I just show up married, they will kill us both. It's gonna take Daddy a few months to settle down, and my mom is going to want to plan this HUGE wedding and that takes a long time to set up. Then I still have to meet YOUR parents, and … I’ve got school, and tennis, and you’ve got all these concerts and ... and ... "

Lynx raised his hand to stop the runaway bridal train. "Whoa, ... Whoa, ... Whoa! Hold on there a minute! One thing at a time. First of all... ... I don't expect you to marry me today. MY parents would kill ME too.

“I just want to slip that ring on your finger, and for you to tell me you WILL marry me. I'll give you time, as much as you need, as much as your parent's need. I just don't want to leave without an answer, and hopefully the right one. Okay?”

Cindy nodded blushing, leaving no doubt Lynx was going to receive the right answer. Lynx smiled back as he helped her to her feet and then rose just so he could go down on one knee.

His dark eyes smiled up at hers. “So... can we pick this up again from last night?"

Cindy giggled. “Yeah. This time I’ll try not to blow my lines.”

Silliness quickly gave way to seriousness as Lynx reached out and took Cindy’s small hand in his. He had stood before kings, queens and thousands of screaming fans, but those performances paled in significance compared to the one-woman crowd whose one word answer would change both their lives forever. Enough words had been said, so Lynx didn’t waste anymore on the question.

"Cindy, I love you. Will you please make me the happiest man in the world and marry me?"

Cindy hesitated, which in turn nearly stopped Lynx’s heart. It wasn’t that she needed time to think it over. She’d had her yes ready before his knee hit the sand. The problem was, it had gotten stuck somewhere between her heart and her head, and she was nearly speechless. Mercifully, she was able to enthusiastically nod her acceptance. The magic “Yes!” passed her lips a few seconds later.

Lynx blew out a relieved breath, and smiled. "Phew! You had me going there for a moment, ya know."

Cindy blushed and smiled. "Women always keep men waiting. You'll get used to it."

Lynx rose from the sand, scooped her up in his arms and danced around the beach with her until the pair collapsed into a pile of laughter, followed by kisses. Then realizing he’d almost forgotten the part after “Yes”. He reached into his pocket and produced the ring she had dropped in the sand the night before. Cindy extended her hand immediately, letting him know there would no repeat performance. Lynx took the ring and slowly slid it over her finger. The ring was a perfect fit, just like the two of them. Then he held her hand in his and gently caressed it as they watched the symbol of their love sparkle in the early morning sun.

Their lips met in a kiss. Then they knew it was time to be getting back, as there was much to do before Lynx caught the evening flight. They started to head back, but Cindy stopped and ran to the spot where her handsome prince had proposed. There, sitting atop the sand was today's rose. Picking it up, she drew it close to savor its fragrance. It was still fresh and strong and beautiful, just like the love she felt for the man who had given it to her. It was as much a symbol of their love and commitment as the ring she now wore. After collecting her prize, she hurried to return to Lynx’s side, where they laced fingers and then followed the beach back to the house.

It was barely 7AM as they went back to the house. Yet Bob, Jenna and the rest of the band were lounging on the front porch when Tess spotted the pair coming up the beach. She was quick to notice they were holding hands and beaming smiles that bespoke the afterglow of love. Tess stood impatiently at the bottom of the porch steps as the pair lazily made their way to the house. Finally stopping in front of her, they looked at each other before turning to face Tess with Cheshire cat smiles.

Lynx's twin tapped her bare foot on the wooden plank, Finally she exploded. "Somebody better say something!"

Cindy hesitated, then presented her ringed finger as she stepped forward,
The ring disappeared momentarily as she offered open arms to Tess. "Now that we’re going to be sisters, does that mean I can call you Muffin too?"

Tess shouted, "Yes! You can call me anything you want!” as she hugged her new sister tightly.

In seconds, the porch emptied. Both Cindy and Lynx were mobbed in hugs and hand shakes.

Bob held back for a moment before joining the others but when he did, he went straight to Lynx and offered his hand. "You know Cindy is like a daughter to me, and I've supported her in everything she's ever wanted or believed in. All I've ever wanted was for her to be happy. I know you’re a good man Lynx, and I know she loves you. Just try to make her happy, that's all I can ask."

Lynx took his hand and then hugged him tightly. "Bob ... that's all I want to do from now on, just make her happy."

Chapter Six
The impromptu engagement party moved inside so the girls could throw together a makeshift breakfast. As they worked, Cindy gave the other musketeers a recap of the events in the beach that had once again culminated in Lynx dropping to one knee and proposing.

Jenna sighed, “It’s all so romantic the way Lynx swept you off your feet.”

Tess laughed, “That’s the only thing Lynx has ever swept in his life, and if Cindy doesn't believe me, just wait until she tries to get him to clean the house.”

For some reason, that was when it really sank in. Cindy called Ally and told, not asked her, to come to Uncle Bob's house, and no matter how she pleaded, refused to tell her why. Next, she called her parents, telling them she was coming over to talk to them about something very important, but again, refusing to give them a hint over the phone.

After breakfast things started moving fast. Forty-five minutes after Cindy’s call, Ally pulled into Bob's driveway, leaving her car at a trot. One look at Ally left no doubt in the minds of those who’s not met her that she was Cindy’s sibling. She too, was blessed with thick auburn locks and big green eyes, but her complexion was a bit more fair as she hadn’t spent years chasing tennis balls outside in the California sun. Cindy may have been the little sister by years, but Ally claimed that honor in height, as she had a stretch to claim five foot two.

Cindy quit cleaning up the breakfast dishes and was out the door to meet Ally as soon as she hit the front porch.

Big sister hugged younger sibling tightly before pulling back to give her a concerned look. "Okay, Cindy you scared me half to death on the phone. I haven't heard from you all week! I called Mom and Dad last night, and they told me what happened at your match. That must have been horrible.

“They said you were hanging out at Uncle Bob’s with some rock band. Then, a whole week after that, YOU call me up and tell me to get over here without an explanation. Well, missy ... this better be good, ‘cause I didn’t have a clue as to what to say when I called in to tell work I’d be late!"

Cindy giggled, letting the ring on her finger do the talking. As Ally's eyes went wide and her mouth fell open, Cindy wished she had a camera, for it was a rare moment when her big sister was speechless.

Of course once Ally did regain her power of speech, she went into overdrive, firing questions at Cindy faster than she could field them. Uncle Bob quickly came to the rescue with a pair of hugs and a pair of cold drinks for his pair of princesses. Once Ally got over the shock of the rock on Cindy’s finger, her little sister introduced her to the man who’d put it there

That’s when the second wave broke. HE, was “the” Lynx, which meant he was gorgeous, talented, rich and famous, but if Cindy had agreed to marry to him, then Ally knew he must be just as beautiful on the inside as he was on the outside. Lynx graciously escorted her back out to the porch, where the two of them brought Ally up to speed on what had transpired in the last seven days. As their incredible tale unfolded, Ally could see the young man’s inner beauty and the love they shared.

It wasn't long before both Ally and Cindy were in tears, but at least they were happy ones. They both agreed it was going to be tough to tell Mom and Dad. Ally immediately offered to go along for moral support. “I was by your side the last time we took something this big to the folks, and I want to be there again for my little sister.

Cindy graciously accepted. She’d been hoping she'd offer, not that there had been much doubt in her mind.

Cindy, moving past the protests her parents would surely lodge, asked Ally if she would be her maid of honor when the big day came. Being each other’s maids of honor was something both girls had daydreamed about since long before Cindy had her surgery, and much to both girls surprise, it looked as if Ally would be the first to get the honor. Equally of course, she readily accepted the chance to stand with her sister and happy tears flowed once again.

Cindy had managed to secure both her uncle’s and her sister’s support with very little effort. It was the next battle she had to wage that would not be won so easily. She had to tell her parents now, and there was no easy way to do it. Neither she nor Lynx had time to ease them into it. Lynx’s crew had to be at LAX around noon, and this had to be done before they left. She had too much respect for her parents to let them hear about their daughter’s engagement from anyone else.

At least she had good support team going in. Bob and Ally had been both been rocks for her before, and she knew their presence would make a big difference again. Cindy knew it was going to be a shocker for her parents, but she was pretty sure Mom would share in her joy once the initial shock wore off.

It was her Dad, and his reaction to the man who was taking his little girl away from him that worried her most. It wasn’t as if he would go fetch his shotgun or something, but she knew he could get pretty steamed, and she didn’t want something stupid to happen that they would all regret.

As a result, Cindy told Lynx that she would to go in and tell her parents without him, and then, if the roof didn’t blow off the house, she’d come out and fetch him. That way, hopefully, they could sit down and discuss things semi-rationally.

Lynx appreciated Cindy’s concern but he absolutely would have none of that. He had to be on a plane that afternoon, which meant there wasn't time for Cindy to soften her parents up. But even though he was a supposedly decadent rock star, he was still very much the proper Danish lad, and he felt her owed her parents the respect of asking for her hand and not hiding out while Cindy did it for him.

Yet, most important of all, he had promised her she would never have to face the dark times alone again. Nothing could keep him from her side today. After Lynx’s speech, Cindy took her beloved’s hand and walked with him along the beach, just as she was prepared to do when they walked through her parent’s front door.

While Lynx and Cindy were bringing Ally up to date, Tess, and Jon packed everything the band had brought. Tess finished supervising the loading of the van and they were all packed and ready to head to the airport.

Jenna and Rich had slipped away for some quiet time of their own on the beach while Bob, Tess and Jon were packing and loading the van. Bob packed Cindy’s stuff and loaded it into his car. Tess, Jenna and the rest of the band planned rendezvous with the others at the airport in four hours.

As they went their separate ways, Tess gave her brother and her someday sister-in-law hugs before watching them head toward the lion's den shortly before half past 9.

Thirty minutes later, in Santa Monica, the “lion king” looked up from his newspaper when he heard a car pull in to the driveway. Kim walked in from the kitchen where she'd been preparing vegetable lasagna, following the same sound to the door. She smiled as she watched the foursome get out of the car. "Honey, its Cindy. Ally's with her and so is Bob. Oh wait a minute, there's someone else helping Cindy out of the car. It's ... it's ... that boy. I told you she likes him. You know, the leader of that band, Lynx."

As Bill folded his newspaper, he felt his blood turn cold. The last time Cindy had called and said she needed to talk to them, and had brought both Bob and Ally along, it was to inform her parents that their son was really their daughter. The concerned father sighed heavily as he rose to meet his wife at the door. Reaching over and taking her hand in his, his “men’s intuition” told him he was about to be hit by another bombshell. That same funny feeling in his gut made him wonder if Lynx's presence was more than just a coincidence.

The concerned but happy parents greeted their children with warm hugs and kisses. Handshakes and other pleasantries were exchanged with Bob and Lynx before Cindy got the ball rolling. “We need to talk.”

Kim however, upstaged her youngest daughter, pulling both her and older sister aside to help with refreshments before any serious discussion could be held.

She was tempted to pump the pair for information before they returned to the living room, but opted to respect her daughter's privacy, just watching them carefully for any visible signs of why Cindy had called this meeting. As her girls poured lemonade and prepared a tray of cookies, they were very quiet. She could see they were both nervous, but she also noticed that Cindy seemed to have a glow about her. It was the same glow she had caught when she and Bill had stopped by to see Cindy at Bob’s house just a few days ago. It had been especially obvious whenever her little girl looked doe-eyed at her new friend Lynx. She had known then that this Lynx was more to Cindy than just a friend. Wondering just how much more than that had been worrying her ever since.

She knew her daughter was far less experienced and far more vulnerable than most nineteen-year-old women. Cindy had never even had a boyfriend and to the best of her knowledge, never really dated. She wanted her daughter to explore and enjoy all those things and she was happy to see her able to spend some carefully chaperoned time with a boy, but like all mothers, she feared the inevitable broken heart that so often came with first loves. She accepted that such pain was all part of the growing process, but her daughter had already experienced more pain than anyone should, and it would be difficult for her to stand by silently and watch her endure more.

While the girls were fixing refreshments Bill and Lynx were sizing each other up, while Bob tried to keep the conversation light.

Kim hadn’t stopped telling Bill how she could tell how much Cindy liked this bandleader she’d met. Bill’s first impression of the young man had been better than he’d expected it would be. When Cindy had called and said this Lynx was a rock and roll musician, he made the mistake of forming his opinion based on the usual “rebel” stereotype so often associated with musicians.

After spending a few hours with him at Bob’s, he’d seemed like a pretty good kid, and he hadn’t needed his wife to tell him that Cindy was sweet on the boy. It was obvious by the smile he’d put on her face, and in all honesty, he was glad to see her smile like that.

However, he also knew how fast those smiles could turn to tears, especially in affairs of the heart.

Cindy was a grown woman, even though she’d always be his little girl, so he had no choice but to trust her about who she held hands with, but he’d not sit by and let any man hurt his daughter. That is where he drew the line. He'd set the school board, the so-called concerned parents, the press and that religious rabble that picketed the school, on their collective ears when it came to his daughter. This Lynx seemed nice enough, but Bill would have absolutely no qualms about tossing this boy out the front door, millionaire rock star or not, at the first sign his daughter's safety or well-being was in jeopardy.

Lynx knew he was being sized up. He kept glancing at Bob, each time receiving a supportive glance to let him know he was doing fine. The young man hadn’t been a bit thirsty when the girls went to get drinks, but by time they finally returned, Lynx was beginning to work up a sweat from the hot glances Bill was shooting his way. He quickly downed the glass of lemonade Kim graciously handed him.

After refreshments had been passed out, there were a few seconds of uncomfortable silence. They seemed more like hours to all. Cindy sat extremely close to Lynx, her hand working over to his and intertwining with his fingers, a fact not lost to either of Cindy's parents. Cindy looked to Bob for encouragement, and finding it in his smile finally spoke.

"Mom ... Dad ... there's umm ... something I want to ask. I mean tell ... well what I mean is ..."

The handsome prince quickly came to the befuddled princess's rescue once again. Squeezing her hand he took the lead. "Mr. and Mrs. Fox, I think the best thing to do is to just come straight out with it. All I ask is, that you let me finish before you say anything.”

Seeing no objections, and no firearms so far, Lynx took a deep breath and started again. “I've come here with Cindy to ask you for her hand in marriage.”

Kim’s eyes went-wide and Bill’s face went pale, but neither parent interrupted, be it out of respect for Lynx, or more likely, that neither was probably capable of speech at the moment.

Lynx wasted no time continuing. “I realize this is real sudden, I wish we had more time, but I've got to catch a plane to San Francisco in less than two hours and I, well … we … that is, didn't want to leave without talking to you both. Cindy loves and respects you, and would never want to do anything against your approval, and I wouldn’t want her to. I can understand if you are less than thrilled about all this, but I do want you to know that I really love your daughter, and would never do anything to hurt her. I really hope we can get your blessings but I won't ask her to go against you if we can't. I'll respect your wishes for now, whatever they are."

Cindy stared in shocked disbelief at Lynx. She knew he wanted things to be right with her parents, but surely he wouldn't just walk out that door if they told him too. Lynx felt her fear and nodded to her to let her know it would be all right. She saw Bob gave Lynx a warm smile to let him know his first move in this chess game had been bold, but a good one.

Ally hugged her mother tightly as she could tell the woman needed it. Bill just continued to sit there speechless. Finally Cindy rose from her spot and went to him. "Daddy, daddy, are you all right?"

Bill let out his breath, turning to his daughter with no expression on his face. When he could finally speak; he really let go. "Let's see ... my daughter strolls in on the arm of a man she's barely known a week? Then, over lemonade and cookies, he just happens to mention he’s in love with her and wants to get married! Next, after having the nerve to drop a bomb like that, he informs us he doesn’t have the time to sit around and deal with the fallout, because he's got to catch a jet to go play rock and roll idol in San Francisco!”

“All right you ask?”

“All right?”

“Why the hell wouldn't I be all right?"

When Bill’s bomb exploded, it wiped out the room. Ally screamed at her father for his insensitive remarks. Kim, of course screamed at Ally for screaming at her father. Cindy gave her father the most hurtful look she had ever directed at him before she ran off toward her old room in tears.

Kim and Ally quickly followed Cindy, tears welling in their own eyes.

Lynx, seeing his beloved in distress, stood up follow. Bill, making his move, stood up to block Lynx’s way. The look he shot the young man dared him to try and get past. Bob, probably the only person thinking rationally at this point, quickly jumped in between the two men before it all got any further out of hand.

Bill glared at Lynx, making some remark about him taking advantage of his daughter's innocence, just to put another notch on his belt. Lynx tried to reassure Bill that he had never done more than hold his daughter’s hands and kiss her. He even reiterated his offer to leave, but he didn’t want to leave without setting things straight.

Bob’s intervention, and Lynx’s soft words as he desperately tried not to further provoke Bill further, finally took some of the roar out of the old lion. At least, after a tense sixty seconds, he wasn’t shouting any more.

Bill was normally a relatively calm man, but this had all come too fast and too close to his heart. He was an overprotective father whose position as alpha male in his daughter's life was being threatened.

Bob, seeing that Bill had calmed down enough to be reasoned with, gently coaxed him and Lynx outside. He hoped a little fresh air might calm nerves and clear heads. At first, there was deathly silence on the Fox's front porch, but Bob gently began prodding each along a bit. After a few minutes there was at least some conversation. Things were tense, but at least the two sides were talking.

In Cindy’s bedroom, things had calmed considerably. Sobs had given way to intermittent tears and sniffles. The three women were piled onto Cindy’s bed and Kim had an arm around each girl.

Once the tears finally subsided, Kim took Cindy's hand in hers and asked her daughter the one question that meant everything. "Do you really love him?"

Cindy laid her head against her mother's bosom and cuddled there for a moment before answering but when she did, Kim could tell the look in her daughter's eyes matched the words she spoke. "I do love him Mom. I know it's crazy, but I am as sure of this as ... as I was when I told you I was really a girl inside."

Kim nodded, as that one statement alone left no doubt as to how sure Cindy was. Pulling both her babies in closer, she asked the other question she wished she didn’t have to ask, but knew she did. "Cindy, I guess I should assume you’ve told him about … well, your past?"

Cindy nodded and smiled. "Yes, I told him. I told him every bit and he still loves me and wants me momma! He said he loves me for ME, all of me. He makes me happier than I ever dreamed possible, and I love him so much.”

Tears began to leak from all six eyes again, but this time, they were tears of joy as Kim held her babies. She knew those words, just as she knew those feelings. She had felt them within herself when she’d fallen in love with Cindy's father. There was absolutely no doubt Cindy’s feelings for Lynx were every bit as true. That left her but one thing to say. "C'mon girls, let's go fix our faces and then rejoin the men, we have a wedding to plan."

Cindy wrapped her arms around her mother and hugged her tightly, telling her she loved her over and over again. The happy matron drank in her daughters’ love and joy.

Ally glanced toward the bedroom door and sighed. "Speaking of the men ... I wonder if we’re going to have a wedding, or a wake? I hope Daddy hasn't killed the groom."

Kim immediately reassured both her daughters that their father would come round, but they both knew how "Daddy" got and knew they'd all have to give the "Old Lion" some time to get over his roaring. Kim whisked her daughter's into the bathroom for some repair work, silently hoping Bob was having some luck with a little repair work of his own.

When the girls entered the living room they found Lynx sitting alone. He immediately went to Cindy, and both started talking at the same. Once each was sure the other was all right, they relaxed. Kim asked, “Where’s my husband?”

Lynx looked over at her sheepishly and gestured toward the door. "Mrs. Fox, Bob and Cindy’s father are talking a short walk, and Bob thought it might be a real good idea if I just waited here until they come back. Bob also made a remark about asking you to hide Mr. Fox's hunting rifle. I think he was kidding … at least I hope he was."

Kim went to her future son-in-law and hugged him tightly. "First of all, please call me Mom, or Kim if you prefer, but you're family around here now as far as I'm concerned, so they'll be no more of this Mr. and Mrs. Fox stuff. Secondly, Bill doesn't even own a hunting rifle. That's just Bob trying to get him calmed down."

Kim motioned for the pair to come sit with her on the couch before starting again. "Cindy, this whole thing is very much like when you came to us and told us that you were really a girl. It really hit your father hard. He loved you. Loves you, and wanted to protect you and he knew if you did what you wanted to do, you were going to be in for a rough time of it and he was afraid he couldn't protect you.

“In many ways, this is the same thing all over for him. He's afraid he won’t be able to protect you from being hurt this time. Now I know what you’re going to say Cindy. You’re going to say you’re not a little girl, and that’s true, but you will always be your father’s little girl no matter how old you are.”

Ally, who'd taken a seat in her favorite comfy chair immediately chimed in. "Yeah, Cindy, you remember, I thought Daddy was going to blow the roof off the house at first, but he came round, and mom’s right, you've been his little girl ever since."

Cindy sniffed back tears as the emotions from the original confrontation and the one she’d just had got the best of her.

Kim nodded her approval as Lynx instinctively drew her close before she continued. "Ally's right. Your father did come round in time, but if you remember, Bob was a big help that day. He took off with your father and they didn't come back until late that night, but when he did, he came straight to your room and told you he loved you."

Cindy nodded, unable to speak as the tears flowed freely. Kim reached over and took her daughter's hand, but she spoke to both Cindy and Lynx. "Just give him some time, give all of us some time. When your father comes back he's going to be calmer, but still very concerned. He's going to have a lot of questions for the pair of you. Just try to answer them truthfully and calmly, and everything will work out. I promise you it will, but if he gets too far out of line, I'll go fetch MY hunting rifle."

The thought of Kim toting a gun sent all of them into much needed laughter and then the conversation shifted to much happier topics. Cindy and Lynx filled Kim in on the magical week they'd spent together falling in love.

Bob and Bill returned nearly two hours later, an air of tobacco smoke and liquor about them. Neither one was much of a drinker but Kim knew they'd been down to the pub more for the conversation than the alcohol. While Kim had been telling Lynx and Cindy this situation was almost a repeat of the previous one, Bob had been telling Bill the very same words while they sat at the pub.

Once before, Bob had told Bill. “You’re going to have to trust your child's feelings, only this time your child isn't a child anymore. She is a grown woman now and you helped make her one. You gave her the love and acceptance to believe in herself to make this kind of decision. You can’t very well turn around and deny her the life you helped her create.”

Of course Bill countered, “It’s all too fast, They’re both kids! They have no idea what they’re getting in to.”

Bob checkmated Bill at every turn. He finally toppled his king by asking, “How old were you when you asked Kim to marry you? What did you really know about married life BEFORE you were married.” Having known Bill since long they were kids, he knew the answer, but the question was the club he needed. Bill knew he'd been bested and he also knew why Bob had been his lifelong best friend and his daughter's godfather.

Bill’s first move when he walked in the door was the same as it had been when he’d gotten over the shock of his ‘son’s’ words years before. He headed straight for Cindy, who rose to greet him and poured into his arms. As he choked back his own tears, he whispered, “I love you, and I just want you to be happy.

Cindy cooed back softly, "I know Daddy, I know, and I love you too."

His next move was to apologize to Lynx He offered his hand in friendship if the young man would have it. Lynx took it with a smile, but knew that while the man was offering his hand freely, there was still bound to be some reluctance in allowing Lynx to take his daughters.

Once Bill’s apology was accepted, he wasted no time in getting straight down to business. Over the next half hour, the Lynx and Cindy fielded questions as fast as Bill fired them. When they weren't sure, they told him so, and said they would face that obstacle together when it came. Occasionally Bob or Kim would give them a wink or a smile to know they'd done very well. Once the inquisition was finally over, Bill was as pleased as he could hope to be with the answers he’d received.

He was most happy with the fact that they had agreed to at least a one year engagement, giving them both time to see how they would handle the road ahead, and there was no doubting it was going to be a difficult one. A long distance relationship is always hard to maintain and that was just one of the problems the pair faced. Considering Lynx was a world famous musician, Cindy would immediately get celebrity status as his fiancé. Once the paper started billing her as UCLA's transsexual tennis star, every two-bit scandal rag in the world would be after them. Just finding time to be a normal couple in love would be almost impossible.

Still, Bill could see in Cindy's eyes what his wife had seen earlier. He remembered that look well. He saw it every time he looked at Kim. Once the questions were done, he offered both his hand and Cindy's this time. Lynx took them both happily, as Bill welcomed his new son to the family.

Time was running short after that but Kim refused to let anyone leave until she served up her vegetable lasagna. Lynx protested the least, as he'd been smelling the delicious aroma ever since he’d walked in the door. Kim asked Bill to help her serve this late lunch.

When everyone had sat down, Lynx ate two heaping platefuls, much to Kim's delight. He might have opted for a third had he not been afraid the flight crew would have consider his stomach a carry on bag. He also knew that eating two platefuls would endear him to his future mother-in-law, but that 3 might make him appear to be a glutton, and spoil this important first impression, well, second, at least.

As everyone began getting up from the table, Bill stopped them. “Lynx, could you find a way to take Cindy with you to tonight’s concert?” He held up a hand before Lynx could answer. “Cindy, you can go, as long as Jenna or Ally go with you, so you’ll have someone you know with you when Lynx can’t be with you.”

As he lowered his hand, “Lynx answered his question with one of his own. “Why not all three?”

After a flurry of packing two bags for the 3 girls, smiling tearful hugs, handshakes and well wishes were exchanged all around as Bob prepared to chauffeur Ally, Jenna and the young couple to the airport. Lynx said he planned to be back in about three weeks and he looked forward to seeing them all again. Cindy faithfully promised her parents she'd be back before noon on Sunday.

Bill and Kim watched their youngest daughter walk away hand in hand with her love. Instinctively, Bill took Kim's hand and Kim laid her head on his shoulder before the next round of tears came. he held his wife tightly, his own emotions getting the best of him, as he knew his little girl had truly grown into a woman now.

By the time Bob and company arrived at the airport, Jenna, Tess and the rest of the band were waiting for them and the word had gotten out that Lynx and the Kool Kats were on site. When a few fans caught sight of Lynx and Cindy walking hand in hand, the pair got a true taste of what their life as a couple was going to be like. The crowd swarmed in like star struck locusts. Bob and Ally immediately took the point, trying to push the crowd back. Screams of teen girls alerted the press to Lynx's presence and suddenly they all were drowning in a sea of fans, bright photoflashes, and questions being fired way too fast to ever possibly be answered.

Fortunately, Tess had alerted security to Lynx’s and Cindy's arrival in plenty of time after Lynx called her on his cell to let her know they near the parking lot. An army of guards appeared almost immediately, opening a narrow path to the check in area. Everyone hurried back toward the departure gate before the wall of guards collapsed. Tess, Rich, Jon, greeted the quartet at the boarding area with tight hugs; glad they’d escaped their usual airport brush with death.

Lynx directed Cindy's attention toward the surging mass still trying to push past security. He held her hand tenderly, "I want you to take a good look at that, the whole lot of it. This is only the beginning. Once they find out we’re seeing each other, I doubt they will ever leave you alone. Are you sure, really sure, that this is what you want, that I am what you want?"

Cindy gazed into the dark sensuous eyes of her beloved and spoke without hesitation. "You told me you loved all of me, even the boy, if there was one rattling around in here somewhere. Well I love all of you, too, and if part of you is living with the world watching our every move, so be it. In fact, if they want to watch, let’s really give them something to see." She put her arms around Lynx's neck and laid a kiss on him that not only nearly brought him to his knees, but the airport down around them.

When Cindy finally broke the embrace, and Lynx had recovered enough to speak, his comment was, "Whoa, I'm convinced!"

Tess reluctantly reminded the love struck pair that San Francisco was waiting, and someone still had to throw a bucket of cold water on Jenna and Rich, who had a few flashguns popped in their direction as well.

There was one more round of hugs and kisses while the band waited to make its way down the walkway to the plane.

As Bob hugged the girls goodbye, he quipped, “This old man is no substitute for a young rock star, but I hope you won’t forget me.”

Cindy whispered in his ear, “Tess doesn't think you’re an "old man or a poor substitute."

Bob wasn't so old his hearing was going, but discretion being the better part of valor, he decided to leave that one alone, just as he had Tess. He concentrated on the main order of business, trying to find a way safely out of the airport.

The flight was relatively peaceful for Cindy, as the news hounds didn't know who she was yet, so nobody on the plane could connect the girl with the big diamond on her finger and in her turn, on Lynx’s arm, to the tennis player who’d been ‘exposed’, a week earlier, as not being a ‘real girl’.

Getting from SFO to Candlestick Park, as most locals still called it, was a relative breeze, for they bypassed the news people entirely by taking a helicopter the 7 miles to the concert venue, bypassing the cars headed for the park, making an even bigger mess of the Friday commute traffic below.

The security people didn’t know who the girls were, but quickly provided extra badges for them designating them as part of the Kool Kat entourage.

On the plane, as Lynx was catching a short ‘Kat nap’, Tess had tried to apologize for not having been able to get the girls front center seating.

“None of that, Sis,” Cindy stopped her. “The less we are out in the public eye right now, the better.”

She was probably right, for their seats in the wings were as good as any seat in the front row, though maybe even louder, and no newsmen’s photoflashes went off in their direction until after the last encore.

After the show, a plan thought up on the spur of the moment up by one of the roadies kept attention from the girls after the show. by making it look as if they were roadies, or roadie girlfriends.

That worked that night, at least until they were leaving the after show late dinner in Chinatown. Unaware and unprepared, they were caught red-handed, or rather Rich and Lynx were caught red-cheeked, with fresh lipstick matching that on Jenna and Cindy, respectively, on their cheeks.

The next morning there was a knock at Cindy and Jenna's door. Cindy, up at five as usual, despite the late bedtime hour, answered it still in robe and gown. She was pleasantly surprised to see it was a FTD man with a flower delivery for her. Taking the box, she thanked him graciously and then disappeared back inside. Setting the offering on the kitchen table, she opened the box. There, nestled in tissue paper were a single red rose and a card. As Cindy took the card from the box and read it, her hand trembled. She would soon know the words by heart, as this had become an everyday occurrence.

"For each day that the love and magic lasts, I will give you a rose. All my love, Lynx."

Cindy lifted the tender flower from the tissue paper and drank it in. She savored its fragrance, its meaning and her love for the man who sent in. She lingered for quite some time, lost in the quiet moment. All too soon, she knew, quiet moments would be few and far between.

Chapter Seven
Monday was a school day, but Cindy didn't have a class until 11:00. Jenna had an 8:00 am class and had zoomed past her earlier, stopping just long enough to catch a glimpse of the rose. The clock was pushing 10 and Cindy was putting on her make up when Jenna called. Her best friend quickly poured out the details, confirming Cindy's worst fears. The press had already found out who she was, and more importantly "what" she was. Cindy was fresh news again after the USC match, so it hadn't taken reporters long to compare storylines and photos and discover that the mystery redhead who’d bussed Lynx at the airport was also the transsexual tennis star of the UCLA girl's team.

”There are reporters all over campus and at Coach Thompson’s office too. It’s only a matter of time before they’ll be at the apartment. Get the heck out of Dodge and head over to your folks house to weather the storm.” Cindy thanked her for the warning, grabbed her books and bag before she headed for the car to do just that.

A few short moments later she was behind the wheel of her baby. She had just started backing down the driveway when she slammed on the brakes and stopped. Looking at her reflection in the rear view mirror, she asked herself one simple question. "Cindy, where the heck do you think you are running? And why?"

She took the time to give herself a thoughtful answer. Her first instinct was to run over to her parent's house, or Uncle Bob's place. That's where she'd always gone before, and it’s where she’d went the last time she knew the press was coming. She knew she could still go there and they would protect her as always, but she was no longer a scared fourteen or fifteen year old. ”I’m 19 now, and engaged to be married. Yeah, I stumbled and temporarily lost my courage for one single night on the beach. I got scared and ran away from myself and my love. If I run now, I’ll be making the same mistake twice.” She was too much of perfectionist to tolerate that. With new resolve, and a new destination, she backed the Mustang out and headed straight for the UCLA campus, prepared to face what would certainly come.

Fifteen minutes later she pulled into the student parking lot. It didn't take long for the press to catch wind, and they descended upon her like a swarm of scoop-hungry locusts. When Cindy saw the advance forces coming she held her head up and strode confidently toward them.

When the two forces met in the campus courtyard, the questions started coming along with the tape and film in the cameras.

Cindy stayed cool, answering respectable questions and ignoring some which were not. She confirmed that she was indeed seeing Lynx. Most of the other questions were either too personal or simply too ridiculous to be considered. She brushed them aside as she did the television camera that tried to block her path to Coach Thompson’s office. Once safely inside the women's athletic office, her coach came to her rescue and shut the door in the face of a number of disappointed reporters. Only then did Cindy lose resolve she’d been carrying, nearly collapsing in her coach's arms.

After a cold drink of water and a few minutes of rest, she spent the next twenty minutes discussing her love life, and her tennis career with her friend and coach. Her mentor assured her that she didn’t have to worry about her status as a transsexual getting in the way of her playing tennis. The University and the State of California were legally bound to uphold her right to take the court, and she was relatively sure the furor that had started at the USC game would eventually die down, but the publicity she would draw being the fiancé of a major celebrity was another matter.

Women's collegiate tennis was rarely front-page news in the sports section, let alone front page of the main section, but Lynx was likened to a young Elvis Presley, and he was a headline maker. Cindy, the transsexual tennis player, would eventually be old news, but as long as Lynx was on top of the charts she would be center stage right along with him. Coach Thompson assured her that the university would do everything to protect her ability to attend classes and play tennis, but outside the confines of the university, she was at the mercy of the press and public.

Cindy thanked her friend, coach and mentor, as she knew her words were true. Before leaving she hugged her, doing her best to ease the fears of her mother hen mentor, saying she was ready for the coming tournament and to take on the world if need be.

When Cindy finally emerged from the athletics office, Jenna was there to greet her, but not a single reporter was to be seen. University security had cleared them from the campus, at least for a while, but UCLA was huge, and Cindy knew she could turn a corner at any time and find a camera and a mike stuck in her face. As she headed down the hallway to face the day with Jenna at her side, she realized she’d played this scene before. That had been five years ago, and it was high school not college, but Jenna had still been at her side. She had survived that first day then, and she knew she’d survive it once again.

The rest of her classes surprisingly went without press interruption, but not with out student interruption, as it became common campus knowledge that sophomore Cindy Fox was dating THE Lynx. Cindy quickly found herself surrounded whenever she passed classes or tried to grab a bite in the cafeteria. Most of those who caught up with her were star struck female fans.

As she had earlier with the press, Cindy answered what questions she could and waved off the ones that were nobodies business. She was pleasantly surprised to see that the incident at the USC game was barely mentioned at all. She surmised being the love interest of a rock god far outweighed the interest in her gender status on the tennis team, or at least it did for now.

Jenna helped Cindy ditch the posses on a break between classes so she could call the family and let them know she was all right. When her mother answered, she told Cindy that the reporters had been there asking questions and Bill had run them off much the same as he had before. Kim’s calm tone was her way of telling Cindy that her parents could deal with it and for her not to worry. They were parents and it was their job to do the worrying. Kim rang off after reminding Cindy of that and the love her parents felt for her and their future son-in-law.

Future son-in-law could really have used some of that love about then himself, as he was facing a hostile crowd of his own. His agent, his manager, representatives from their record company, and of course the publicity people were livid. It was bad enough that rock's most eligible bachelor was looking to break the hearts of millions of girls, but to do it with a girl, whom some would question actually WAS a girl, was professional suicide. The publicity director was suggesting ways of trying to write the whole thing off as a bad publicity stunt when Lynx got their immediate attention.

That’s when he laid down, “The Law According To Lynx”.

“First and foremost, Cindy is all girl, all woman, and while I might have to tolerate insensitive comments from the press and the public, I’m sure not about to take them from people who call themselves my friends, co-workers and business people. Second, there will be no cover-ups, or “spins,” or retractions, or whatever else you publicity people had in mind. Whatever my PR people and I release is going to be the straight truth from day one. I love Cindy, and that is that. Third, I don't give a "red rat's ass" (direct quote), about committing professional suicide. I’ve already run this by the band and they are in complete agreement. If the public never buys another record or a concert ticket, so be it. We all knew going in that fame is the most fleeting of glories, especially in the music business. Last, and certainly not least, these Lynx laws are not open to debate or discussion.”

When Lynx finally finished, the room was stunned to silence. Then someone by the water cooler started clapping slowly and soon most of the others joined in. When the commotion finally subsided, it was obvious that the youngest man in the office now had the ear and the respect of everyone there. There were still those, especially the PR director, who didn’t agree, but everyone at least reluctantly complied and they began laying ground for the future of Lynx, Cindy and all the Kool Kats.

When Cindy got home that night she was greeted by another wave of reporters, but this time she wasn’t up for twenty questions and she pushed past them with as little conversation as possible. Once inside, she closed the door behind her and headed straight for her bedroom. Almost on cue her cell phone rang with a call from her prince. After the day she’d endured, his voice was sweet music.

Cindy walked and talked until she finally found her bed and settled in for a long exchange of information. Sadly, it had to be brief, as Lynx was due on stage in less than an hour. The time they shared passed too quickly, but Lynx solemnly promised to call his beloved immediately after the crowd in San Francisco allowed him to exit the arena.

Jenna came in after they hung up and the two studied together as they had before Lynx and the Kool Kat's entered their lives. Sometime after midnight, Lynx called to tell Cindy the concert had gone well, and if all went well, he hoped he might be able to get back to see her in three weeks. Normally that means about twenty-one days but to a pair of soul mates separated, it was an eternity.

The next morning began with another early rose delivery, and then it was off to school for Cindy. The reporters made their charge again and security eventually swept them away again. It was Cindy’s second day back, and she felt twice as anxious, because the day also marked the opening round of the Pac Ten Women's Tennis Finals. It was UCLA's turn to host the games, so at least she should have the support of the home fans. Of course after the USC match, with her past being scattered all over center court, she couldn’t be sure she’d feel welcome even playing in her own backyard.

Before heading out to face her opponents she spent a little time with her parents and Ally, and made a quick call to Lynx. His strong but gentle voice calmed her, and when she stepped out on to the court she felt ready for all comers, be they in the crowd or across the net.

The hecklers, the hate mongers, and the curious were there to see ‘the boy who would be a girl’ and who would date the "Prince". The ones that got loud or flashed signs were removed as they had been before, but this time, Cindy never heard or saw them. She went after her opponent with a confidence she'd never felt before. She had always believed in herself, or she would never have been able to face down an entire high school. Her family and a few good friends had buoyed that confidence in the past, but now she had something, someone she’d never had before. She had Lynx, and he gave her the kind of confidence that can only come from the love of a soul mate. He truly completed her, as she did him. His presence in her life removed the one chink in her armor and now she felt invincible. As a result, she played like it and swept through the tournament without losing a game.

Lynx was enjoying the same boost of confidence and energy from their union that Cindy did, but for him, it took on a more creative form and for the first time in months, lyrics filled his head and heart faster than he could pen them. In the three weeks before he saw Cindy again, he composed almost an entire album's worth of new material.

Finally, this first eternity passed and Lynx flew into LA on a private jet while the rest of the Kool Kats laid low in St. Louis. Lynx had only three days before the next concert date and he wanted to spend every second of it with Cindy. This time his short stay at Bob's place couldn't be kept a secret. Reporters and photographers remained offshore and just outside the gates for the two days that Lynx spent there with Cindy. Bob was gone most of the time on business, so aside from some security personnel, they had the house to themselves.

The temptation to give into their building passions was there but they had already agreed that they would save the ultimate sharing of bodies until they were man and wife. For the time being they simply savored the joy of being in each other's presence and each other's arms. Needless to say, neither felt cheated or unsatisfied. Save for a pair of rose deliveries, ( for of course, Lynx delivered the first of three personally), those three days were basically blissful solitude, something their lives so desperately needed and had little chance of having anytime soon.

Uncle Bob returned just in time to say goodbye to Lynx and set up a James Bond type getaway for the wanted man. Much to the chagrin of the reporters stationed outside the property, a helicopter whirled in and whisked Lynx safely away to a small private airfield where a plane stood by waiting to take him to St. Louis. Bob watched from the front porch as Lynx and Cindy savored their final passionate embrace.

Cindy stood watching and waving until the bird that carried her love and disappeared. It had been hard to let go of him again, but she drew strength from the fact that she would hear his voice on the phone every night, receive his rose every morning, and feel his love every minute.

Cramming for final exams helped both Cindy and Jenna take their minds of their missing loves. Summer break promised to be the best ever for both girls. Cindy would still have to follow her rigorous tennis regimen, but without her class schedule she had plenty of free time, and looked forward to spending as much of it as she could with Lynx.

When Lynx extended an invitation for both Jenna and Cindy to join the band for their final stop on the USA tour, the pair of princesses went over the moon. They were going to make their first ever trip to New York City and would have front row seats to watch their men perform. Afterwards they would have to leave them again but only for a short time as they would meet again at Uncle Bob’s for some much needed rest and relaxation. Saying it was going to be a summer to remember just didn’t do it justice.

Despite all the distractions on and off campus, Cindy did as well with her exams as she did the Pac Ten tournament serving up quite a few aces. A few days later, Ally drove Cindy and Jenna to the airport where they’d be catching a mid-morning flight into New York's LaGuardia airport. Jenna and Cindy did everything but stuff Ally into a carryon bag, trying to talk her into joining them, but big sis said someone had to stick around and hold Dad’s hand while his little girl was gone. Cindy left her big sister with hugs, kisses and promises of bringing her back a new outfit from the high priced section of Macy’s New York store.

The flight over was relatively uneventful, but both women felt a surge or pride when they saw Lady Liberty welcoming them to New York. A few minutes after landing a charming young woman with the most strikingly beautiful hair either of them had ever seen greeted them. It was waist length, and seemed to shimmer with highlights of every color known to Clairol.

Jenna whispered in Cindy's ear, "My gosh, she's a real life Rainbow Brite."

Cindy giggled and elbowed her housemate before offering open arms to her new friend. The smiling petite lass introduced herself as Shelly. Cindy had spoken with her on the phone before leaving LA, and knew she would be there to meet the girls and escort them to the band's hotel. Shelly was the new PR director for Lynx and the Kool Kats. The old one and most of his staff had jumped off what they thought was for sure a sinking ship after Lynx's no-nonsense meeting concerning his relationship with Cindy.

The girls immediately took a liking to the bubbling native New Yorker who greeted them both with big hugs and a smile to match. Shelly quickly ushered the girls into a limo and told them that everyone, ESPECIALLY Lynx and Rich, were very anxious to see them. However it would be about five hours before the band finished their last practice session.

She asked the girls if they'd like to kill the time by doing a little shopping in New York City’s famed Fifth Avenue district. For added incentive, as if she really needed to entice the two mall rats any further, she presented them with a pair of platinum American Express cards bearing their names, and informed them they had a license to burn plastic.

Shelly smiled happily when she saw that glazed look the pair of princesses had in their eyes. She knew it well, as it had been in hers many times before. Taking that as a yes from the speechless girls, she informed them that they needed to make one more stop before going on their quest. They needed to pick up her sister Janet.

Shelly told them, “I know Fifth Avenue well and would have no problem showing the girls all the best shopping spots, but an occasion like this, calls for bringing out the Queen of the Mall Hop.”

Shelly winked, "My baby sister Janet is the band’s fashion coordinator. She selects all their stage costumes and most of the outfits you see them in offstage as well. When it comes to clothes, accessories, or just about any kind of shopping, NOBODY does it better than Janet. She's a virtual living legend among the finer stores on Fifth Avenue. I swear, I think that girl must have a shopping gene the size of Texas. Trust me, you're gonna love her."

The limo picked up Janet five minutes later. The girls immediately fell in love with the well-dressed nymph, just as they had her older sister. Janet was true to Shelly's boast, as she led the girls through a shopping spree reminiscent of Sherman's march through Georgia. They laid waste to New York's famed Fifth Avenue for four hours. By the time Shelly and Janet dropped the girls off at the hotel, it looked like they'd bought out half of Neiman Marcus.

Cindy and Jenna were immediately escorted up to the penthouse to wait in luxury for the band’s return. The girls used the time to spruce up a bit and slip into a pair of the more revealing outfits they'd purchased earlier.

When the Lynx and his Kool Kats arrived there were hugs and happy tears all around. Lynx and Rich gave their girls hungry eyes that said they very much appreciated their new clothes and the two bodies poured into them.

Most of the evening was spent chatting over room service food, before finally culminating with a little balcony time for both pairs of star crossed lovers. The next day started early, and was a frenzy of activity, as concert time seemed to come all too fast.

Lynx and the Kool Kats New York City debut was a resounding success, just as all the stops on the tour had been. Jenna and Cindy had front row seats and received extra special attention from the handsome lead guitarist and equally stunning drummer. Of course for Cindy, the highlight was Lynx singing the Rose, the first time he'd sung it in concert since LA, before he quieted the crowd as he presented her with today's token rose.

The concert was also a landmark for both Cindy and Lynx, as it marked the first time they had appeared in public together since LA. After a lengthy discussion with Shelly, both Lynx and Cindy had agreed it was best to hold a press conference and set a few things straight.

One of the main reasons why Lynx had turned over the PR reins to Shelly was the fact she had a passion for the truth that rivaled his own. The main reason Shelly had taken the job was that she genuinely liked Lynx.

In a business so often marred by drugs, drinking and various indecencies, Lynx and all the band members were down-to-earth good-hearted kids who showed class and professionalism on and off the stage. Once she’d met Cindy and Jenna she could tell they were also fine young women and there was absolutely no denying the special connection between them and their beaus. After that it became her mission to watch over her “children” and help to show the world they were just good people in love.

The banquet hall was filled beyond capacity when Shelly escorted her charges to the platform. Over the next forty minutes the questions came fast and furious, but by the conclusion of the conference, most had been fielded cleanly, though a few that got too personal had been ignored. Most of the members of the press who were in attendance left impressed by the young woman on Lynx’s arm.

Most of the questions and comments were as professional as the reporters who asked them, which unfortunately meant that Lynx and Cindy were hit with a few low blows from the lower class publications. The more vicious attacks were predominately directed at the nervous little college girl with the little boy’s past. Some of the remarks and questions were absolutely thoughtless, tasteless, intended to provoke Lynx or Cindy, and incite the crowd. However the strategy backfired, as it was during those moments above all others the pair rose above the gutter trash, continuing to conduct themselves with dignity when others might have stormed off the stage. The pair clearly showed a poise and grace well beyond their years and equal to the title of royalty the press had bestowed upon Lynx a few years earlier.

They also showed something else that could not be twisted, tarnished or denied. The overwhelming love they felt for each other was obvious. It was the beautiful love shared by two young soul mates and could not be spun into story about a drugged out rock star and his transgender groupie as many of the scandal sheets were trying so hard to do. By the end of the press conference, it was obvious that Cindy was far stronger than the press had given her credit for, and as a result, she captured the hearts and the respect of those in attendance.

The next day's better publications noted Cindy to be a very articulate, graceful and lovely young woman whose beauty was matched by her bravery and her backhand. It was her first step into the world wide public spotlight and “Cindyrella” eased ever so naturally into the proverbial glass slipper.

Shelly congratulated them both on a successful world debut, but cautioned them that their battles with the press and the public were probably far from over. Cindy and Lynx understood completely. They were young, but their life experiences had made them far from naive. They knew that it could be a long painful war, nonetheless, they'd won the first battle and the world had caught its first glimpse of the Prince and his Princess.

That evening Cindy and Jenna returned to LA, while Lynx and the Kool Kats returned to their native Denmark, but Lynx left his love with a kiss and a promise to return to her in one week.

Seven roses later, Lynx and the Kool Kats were once again at Bob's beachfront home. Aside from the press and photographers occasionally trying to sneak in for an exclusive or an incriminating photo, the next three months were as wonderful as those first eight magical days.

Lynx continued to compose songs at a fevered pitch, while Cindy continued to hone her game by pounding bucket after bucket of balls into the asphalt. Bob had a makeshift recording studio constructed next to the house just so the band wouldn't have to deal with the fans and press on the trek back and forth into LA. It proved more than adequate, according to the recording professionals in the band’s crew.

Despite the hard work by all parties, there was always time for play, be it spirited games of volleyball, moonlight strolls on the beach, or cruising the coast aboard the Crystal. Jenna and Rich continued to grow closer. Tess still mooned over the unattainable Uncle Bob, while Cindy continued to receive a rose each day, as the love and magic she shared with Lynx grew with each flower.

For the most part it was a golden summer, but there had been dark clouds as well. With Cindy, Jenna and the band in semi-seclusion at Bob's, the press then went after secondary sources for their story and began hounding Ally and Cindy’s parents to no end. This bothered Cindy more than any of the direct attacks she had received. She felt she could no longer hide away and have fun, sun and love with Lynx while her family carried the brunt of the battle for her.

Without consulting Lynx or anyone else, she contacted one of the magazines that had been the most diligent in harassing her family about wanting an interview. She called to inform them that if they didn’t back off she was going to sic her lawyer on them. Her intentions were honorable, but naíve. As soon as the receptionist realized who she had on the line, she immediately connected her to their ace reporter. Ten minutes later, she not only had Cindy calmed down but was slowly reeling her in for an interview.

For nearly an hour she spoke with a woman who worked every angle she could to land Cindy. She brought up the fact that her publication was a woman’s magazine, which of course she knew would lull Cindy into believing they would be more compassionate. She promised she would be the one conducting the interview, and she would do it anywhere that Cindy felt comfortable. If permissible, she wanted to bring a photographer along for a few tasteful shots, but she assured Cindy that no photos would be used and no copy put into print until Cindy gave her approval. For further incentive, she finally added that by putting out the TRUE story, this would not only ease the pressure on her parents and sister, but also take the thunder away from all the scandal sheets because the truth would put them under.

Cindy almost wiggled away, saying that perhaps she should talk it over with Lynx, but this skilled pro didn’t lose many that she got this close to the bank, and by the time she rung off with Cindy, she had gotten her commitment. Cindy wasn’t exactly sure how she had gone from telling some one to bug off, to agreeing to give them her life story, but on the whole, she felt pretty darn good. She hadn’t gotten promises to everything she felt she had to have before agreeing to the interview. She had stood up and took a very responsible course of action and she was sure Lynx and her family would be proud of her.

Cindy had wanted to set the interview up for the coming weekend, but the reporter skillfully maneuvered her into meeting her that night at a small restaurant down the coast from the beach house. She had told Cindy she wanted to be able to get her interview into the next issue, and time was of the essence. Cindy swallowed that as easily as she had the rest of the bait she’d been given.

After ringing off with the magazine, Cindy went next door to the recording studio and informed Lynx. Lynx, of course, was happy to see Cindy was happy, but he was obviously skeptical. He'd been around the press long enough to know how so often the nicest smiling reporters had shark teeth when they smelled news or blood.

He gently suggested that perhaps they should call Shelly in New York first, and have her check out the magazine and this reporter to be sure they were on the up and up. Then, in a few days if they checked out, they could reschedule the interview. Lynx even offered to go along to give the reporter a double exclusive.

Cindy knew this was probably the wise thing to do, but she had already committed to tonight, and she was just so keyed up about doing SOMETHING, she just didn’t want to wait. She wanted to show Lynx, her parents and maybe the world, that she was an adult woman, and not a little girl, or even a "little boy" hiding behind her parents or Lynx. Her sense of guilt for being responsible for what her family was going through, and her fierce pride would not allow this to go on any longer. SHE had to do something and she did!

Lynx could hear and feel how much this meant to Cindy. In his heart he knew this was one time the handsome prince couldn’t slay the dragon for her. He had to let her swing the sword herself, and stand nearby in case she got burned.

Lynx gave her his blessing to go for the interview if she really wanted, but he still wanted to place a call to Shelly just to let her know what was going on. The sparkle returned to Cindy's eyes, and Lynx held her like a father holding his excited little girl after he'd given her permission to go to her first sleepover. Of course like the loving but stern father, he warned her to think before she spoke, and if at any time it just didn't "feel right", immediately get the hell out of there.

Cindy picked up on the fatherly image and kissed him on the cheek as her best little girl voice softly uttered, "Okay Daddy! I’ll be good!"

With a giggle and a wiggle, she grabbed Tess and went in search of Jenna to help her get properly primped for the interview.

Cindy pulled out of Bob’s place looking very much the attractive, confident young woman, even if the butterflies in her stomach were saying otherwise. Twenty minutes later she was pulling into a lovely little bistro called Amelia’s Eatery. It was a delicious spot her uncle had taken her to many times, and she'd grown to know its willowy blonde proprietor very well.

Amelia greeted her with a hug and told her she was expected, as there were a lady and a photographer waiting to meet her at a booth in the back. Cindy thanked her friend and took a deep breath before making her way back toward the night’s appointment with destiny.

Cindy immediately caught sight of the reporter and her photographer. The cameraman was tall and slender, with a patchy beard, but even the facial hair couldn't make him look much older than his early twenties. The reporter rose from the table and covered the short distance between them and greeted her warmly. She was about Cindy's height and didn't really look much older. She was dressed impeccably, if not a bit flashy, and her voice was as soft and as reassuring as it had been on the phone. Her name was Abby Phillips and she gave Cindy a warm hug before offering her a seat and a menu. Abby told her that her dinner was courtesy of the magazine and to order anything she wanted. Cindy smiled, ordering only water and a side salad. She doubted if she could even eat that.

Once they got comfortable, Abby explained that she wanted to tape their interview and take maybe a few snaps. She would ask her a series of questions, but any of them that Cindy felt were too personal, she didn't have to answer. Cindy nodded her agreement but then asked if whatever snaps Abby wanted could be taken right away. “I don’t wish to be rude, but in all honesty, I would prefer the interview to be with you alone, sort of a woman-to-woman thing. Abby nodded knowingly and after several shots of Cindy had been taken, sent her counterpart to the van, leaving the pair of ladies to their work.

Over salad and over almost two hours Cindy's did her best to answer every question honestly and with detail. Several times she broke down in tears, but Abby comforted her and gave her time to recover. By the conclusion of the interview, Cindy was exhausted, but feeling relieved SHE'D finally set the record straight once and for all.

Abby gave Cindy her card and told her that she would contact her once she’d worked up the article and was ready for Cindy to look it over. Cindy hugged her tightly and thanked her for her kindness, her patience and for her understanding. Abby kept the charm going right to end when she smiled and said she was so glad she could set the record straight and help Cindy, Lynx and her family have peace.

Cindy was glowing on the ride back to the beach house. When she pulled her mustang into the driveway she sprinted up to meet Lynx with a mile-wide grin. She found him sitting alone on the same porch swing where she'd first poured out her story to Tess. She took the steps in a leap and jumped into his lap, showering him with kisses and bubbling about how well everything had gone.

She happily snuggled up to her handsome prince for a victory cuddle, and almost immediately she knew something was amiss. She could feel the tenseness in Lynx's shoulders. Pulling back, her feelings were confirmed by the worried look across his face.

When he didn’t come straight out with whatever was wrong, she asked him. When he told her, she felt her stomach knot up, and the joy she had felt flying into Lynx’s arms do a crash and burn. Shelly had returned Lynx's call about two hours after Cindy had left. She was absolutely emphatic that Cindy should not consent to do an interview with anyone from Liberated Woman magazine. They were absolutely not to be trusted. They were currently being sued by half a dozen celebrities whose image they had trashed with retouched photos, and reputations they’d ruined by twisting truths and outright lies.

As soon as Lynx had gotten the word from Shelly, he rang Amelia, but she said the reporter had just left. At that point there wasn’t anything left to do but wait until Cindy came home and break the news to her as best he could. The breaking news broke Cindy, and she collapsed into Lynx’s arms and sobbed. She had let her pride get the better of her judgment. She had so wanted to make things right and now she could only wonder just how much worse she’d made them.

Lynx rocked her most of the night before getting Tess and Jenna to put her to bed. The next morning they were on the phone to Shelly relaying the facts. She told Lynx and Cindy to sit tight and let her handle it from here. Under no circumstances were they to try and contact Abby Phillips or Liberated Woman . All she could do was hope to get a legal injunction before they could go to print.

Cindy told Shelly that Abby had PROMISED she wouldn't print anything without her approval. Shelly sighed, saying she hoped Cindy was right, but her experience with these types of publications told her that their promises weren’t usually worth the breath they were made them on.

Sadly, Shelly's prediction came true as Abby never called to confirm anything with Cindy, nor would she answer any messages left by Shelly. Cindy even went against Shelly’s orders and called Abby. She couldn’t get past the receptionist this time and could only leave Abby a message begging her not to print anything without being approved.

The PR pixie went after Liberated Woman with a tenacity that had earned her the name "Evil Witch" from those who had butted heads with her before. Yet despite all her best witchcraft, she couldn’t stop the next week’s issue of Liberated Woman from hitting the newsstands.

Cindy and Lynx were the feature story, of course. The cover shot had a very flattering picture of Lynx in concert but the snaps of Cindy were anything but that. It was a collage made from several snaps, all unauthorized of course. There was a picture of a very sad looking little boy with a short back and sides cut, Cindy's school picture from the fifth grade. She had no idea how they could have gotten hold of that. There was also a picture of her coming up the steps on her first day of high school as Cindy. She looked terrified and sickly in that shot, and she had been, terrified, at least. That snap was probably stock footage from the local television station that had been there that day. Finally, there was a picture of her at the New York concert. It was by far the best shot but hardly flattering in the glare of the stage lighting.

If the cover shot was bad, the actual pages of interview were far worse. Lynx held Cindy as they waded through the twisted words and outright lies masquerading as truth. Abby had taken Cindy's father and his fierce protectiveness of her and turned him into a child beater. A passing mention of her mother being kidded about using rum in her fruitcake recipe had turned Kim into an alcoholic. Ally was made to look like a domineering older sister with sexual perversions. The article claimed she had forced Cindy to wear girl’s clothes as a small child to feed some sick sexual fetish. The fact that Ally had also been a popular girl in school was twisted to portray her as a promiscuous tramp who’s had an abortion her senior year in high school. The closest thing Ally’s had to an operation her senior year was having an impacted wisdom tooth removed.

The lifelong friendship Cindy had shared with Jenna was quickly turned into romantic grade school affair that had now had become something of a lesbian relationship. It was clearly inferred that Cindy's affair with Lynx was only a cover up to hide her true sexuality.

Even her Uncle Bob was not left unscathed. Abby had taken the love Bob had felt for a girl who was like his own daughter, and made him look like a lecherous child molester, taking advantage of Cindy at his beach front pleasure palace.

Lynx however, got off lucky so to speak, as he was portrayed as the dupe. He was the good-hearted rock star, just trying to help a troubled groupie get her life turned around and off drugs. (Cindy's daily dosage of hormone pills had become a serious drug addiction with Abby's skillful rewrite.) In essence, most of what had been printed was twisted tales bearing little resemblance to Cindy's words, and the rest was just complete and utter fiction.

As Lynx held a sobbing Cindy in his arms, his blood boiled. He was a gentle man, who'd learned to take most of the pot shots the press had dealt him with little more than a chuckle, but this was different. They were not only attacking Cindy, but also her family, and both of their friends. The Prince was ready go on a dragon hunt to L.A. He was going to kick in the castle doors to Liberated Woman magazine and slay Miss Abby Phillips.

Twenty minutes later, Cindy's father called, ready to ride with him.

Fortunately Kim didn’t have to bail her husband or future son-in-law out of jail that day. Cooler heads prevailed as Shelly called shortly thereafter, pleading with them to let her handle it. “At this point, storming the castle will only provide more material for next month’s issue,” she stated.

Chapter Eight
Fighting Back
She was deeply sorry that she had not been able to stop the magazine from printing in time, but she was sure with a little help from her legal team she could have Abby Phillips and Liberated Woman eating their own words. One week later they had to, as a court order came through and Liberated Woman pulled the remaining magazines off the shelf, promising to print a retraction and an apology in the next issue.

It was the best mop up job that Shelly could do, and all parties thanked her for her efforts. Lynx and Cindy felt the best way to thank the woman that had worked so hard for her, was to reward her with some time off work. After squaring it with Bob, they “invited” Shelly to come have a California holiday with them and to bring Janet along with her. ‘Invite’ was a relative term, as they knew the little workaholic wasn’t one to take time off without a push, so Lynx sort of gave her an invite with an attitude. The professional pixie finally relented and stole Janet away with her. Their holiday at Uncle Bob's Hotel was so enjoyable that the one week stretched into two.

For once, Liberated Woman kept a promise. They printed the retraction and a less than enthusiastic apology, but the serious damage had already been done. The ground Cindy and Lynx had gained in New York had been lost in L.A. This battle had been a decisive defeat, but Cindy had learned a valuable lesson in the loss. She emerged from this a stronger, wiser, and less innocent woman. Once before she had made a painful transition that was necessary for her to live. This second one was painful as well, and equally necessary for her to survive.

Shelly's stay was mostly pleasure, but mixed with a bit of business. Shelly used her contacts to set up a few interviews with magazines and reporters she knew she could trust. After the fiasco with Liberated Woman , Cindy and Lynx were really left with no other choice but to tell the honest version now. Their reluctance to do so would only prove the falsehood of the lies Abby had spread.

Cindy and Lynx did two short interviews before Shelly left, both at Bob's place. They didn’t hit the newsstands with quite the sensationalism the Liberated Woman story had created, but being they were coming from reputable literary sources; they went a long way in repairing the damage.

By the time the “summer of fun” was over, Lynx and the Kool Kats were able to return to Denmark with material for two new albums. Cindy was preparing for her junior year at UCLA and everyone had reason for optimism. After the last two interviews, the press and the public eased off a bit from Cindy and her family. She knew her life would never be normal. It never had been, but she had high hopes now that she could spend the next year getting her education, improving her tennis game and feeling her love for Lynx grow, culminating with their becoming man and wife.

Cindy's junior year became her finest both academically and athletically. Her parents had originally voiced strong concerns that her relationship with Lynx might take her attentions away from her goals, but if anything, it had fueled her efforts on and off the court. She was a woman on a mission, and nothing, not scholastic challenges, tennis opponents or the power of bad press were going to keep her from her destiny.

Lynx attacked his work with the same fevered intensity that his love did half a world away. His composing, and the band’s spirited recording sessions produced two well received albums. Both went gold shortly after being released, and their status as platinum was only a matter of time. There were many who said the love songs he wrote during that time were some of the best the band had ever recorded. It wasn’t hard to tell he was inspired, and it would have taken a hermit not to know who had inspired him.

Cindy and Lynx both lived hectic lives during their time apart, yet in the face of responsibilities that nearly consumed them, they always found time to stop the world for each other. Cindy's cell phone became her lifeline to Lynx, and not a day went by that they didn't find time, even if only a few short minutes, to just reach out and reaffirm their love.

Despite the long distance phone conversations to sustain them, both Cindy and Lynx ached to feel each other’s physical touch. They desperately wanted to be together, but Cindy’s classes made it almost impossible for her to get away, so ultimately they decided if the princess couldn't come to the prince, the prince would again return to her.

During the course of her junior year, Lynx made almost a dozen trips to LA, some lasting barely more than a day, but precious and life giving to them both, nonetheless. He was even able to attend two of her matches without a riot ensuing. Of course, with him present, she was not in top form for either, but still managed to win them handily and reaffirm her status as the best woman in college tennis, and arguably the best amateur in the world.

Despite the fact that their time together was short, and rarely scheduled, and the phone calls equally as brief and unpredictable, there was one true constant in their life. It was the one declaration of their love that Cindy knew she could count on each and every day. No matter where she was, be it home, her parent's house or even on the road for a tennis tournament, she knew that at some point in the day she would receive her rose and the card that said, “For each day that the love and magic last, I will give you a rose. All my love, Lynx”

As Cindy’s junior year was coming to a close, college finals and the national tournament were quickly closing in. The happy couple’s one-year anniversary was also fast approaching. It was going to be a very special moment for them, as they’d decided to go back to where it all began.

Cindy would for wait for Lynx at the very spot where they first met. When he arrived, he would present her with a rose before taking to one knee again. He would then propose to her as he had one year earlier. If she accepted, as if there were any doubt, they would confirm the wedding plans and set the date.

Kim, Ally, Jenna, and even Tess when she was able to sneak in with Lynx, had been working for over six months to set up the wedding plans. Obviously, Cindy couldn’t realistically wait until Lynx restated his proposal, to get the bridal train rolling. Weddings take months and months of preparation and Cindy didn’t want to wait any longer than she had to. Yet even though she was as excited as any budding young bride-to-be, she flatly refused to let anyone finalize anything, until Lynx had asked her once again. She knew it seemed like a silly thing to do, as she had no doubt he would ask again, and she would accept, but she needed to wait. She had to keep some small part of herself in the real world until she was sure this dream would come true.

Cindy also needed to have a real world meeting with Lynx’s parents before the wedding. She not only wanted to meet the two people responsible for creating her soul mate, but also felt it only fair they should meet the woman who now wanted to share him. Originally, Lynx had hoped to steal Cindy away to Denmark for the week during her spring break but their schedules wouldn’t allow it. Cindy had to play a tennis match that had been rescheduled when the original date had been rained out, and Lynx and the Kool Kats were playing a command performance in New Zealand that simply could not be postponed.

This left them with no other alternative but to wait until Cindy's summer break, which would come after Lynx had restated his proposal to her. Her first contact with the Duke and Duchess (yes, Lynx’s parents were true Danish royalty, but … far enough down the line of succession that it would take a pretty big disaster before “Prince” Lynx became King) had been over the phone.

This first contact for Cindy after Lynx’s parents found out he’d proposed went far better for Cindy than it had for Lynx. Both parents seemed warm, supportive, and genuinely happy that their son had someone to make him happy. Lynx had already told them a little about Cindy’s birth defect in earlier conversations, but left the lion’s share of the explanations to his beloved.

Lynx rang Cindy first, and then connected her to his parents in a conference call. After a few minutes of pleasantries, the young woman opened herself up to any questions they had about her past and any thing else they wanted to know. The “phone interview” went as well, if not better than either Lynx or Cindy had hoped, and Lynx’s parents were obviously impressed by Cindy’s honesty and openness. Both parties had real reasons for hope that the face-to-face meeting would go equally as well.

During the week leading up to their one-year anniversary, both Cindy and Lynx were busy as usual. Cindy led the UCLA Lady Bruins to their first national championship in Women's tennis, while Lynx and the Kool Kats were preparing for their concert at London's Wembley Stadium.

The National tournament was scheduled to be over two days before the anniversary giving Cindy plenty of time to return home and be waiting for her betrothed at the beach. Lynx, however, was going to cut it quite a bit closer. The concert in London was scheduled for the night before their anniversary, which meant that he wouldn't be able to get out of Heathrow airport until the next morning, making him arrive at LAX late in the afternoon at the earliest. Her prince would be road weary, but still with just enough energy to kneel in the sand and ask her to make him the happiest man in the world.

Cindy returned on schedule and triumphantly, as she and her fellow Lady Bruins returned home the day after winning the tournament to find a hero’s welcome waiting for them. Cindy had been named MVP for her spectacular play both in singles and doubles. A UCLA championship in women’s tennis didn’t draw all the hoopla that a men’s basketball championship would’ve but it was still news, and the press was there taking snaps and asking plenty of questions of the team.

Of course, reporters rarely miss an opportunity for a scoop and it wasn’t long before several had singled Cindy out, quickly changing the topic before pushing her for any late breaking news on her relationship with Lynx. Prior to the debacle with Liberated Woman , Cindy might have given in, but no longer. She politely, but sternly waved those questions off telling them that this was the TEAMS’ moment, and Lady Bruins tennis was all she was going to talk about. She had learned well.

On the morning prior to the Wembley concert, Cindy received her daily rose, and a call from Lynx shortly thereafter. Lynx was but a few hours from going on stage, but he needed to call to hear his love's voice and to reassure her he would soon be at her feet asking her a very important question. It was the same question she had answered once before. He hoped her answer would be the same again.

Cindy, unable to resist just a gentle tease, smiled into the phone. She
giggled, “We'll see ... a lot can happen in a day, ya know."

Lynx laughed, confident it was just a lover’s game. He told her any more remarks like that and he was liable to cancel the concert and come over right away. They closed the conversation with proclamations of their love and their mutual anticipation of tomorrow's anniversary.

Jenna had stopped to pick up a light lunch for the two of them. She came in just as Cindy was tuning the radio, for Lynx and the Kool Kat's concert was going to be heard round-the-world and the pair didn't want to miss this chance to hear their boys rock the English faithful.

Sadly, neither the two California girls nor a capacity Wembley Stadium crowd would hear a single note that night. Forty-five minutes before the concert was to start, London and good part of the surrounding area had a major blackout. When the stadium officials informed Lynx that it was likely to take hours to restore power, he had no choice but to reschedule the performance, for the following evening. That turned out to be a wise choice, as the power was out until past midnight.

Under normal circumstances they would have postponed for a couple of weeks, or even a month, but this was no normal situation, as heavy flooding from recent storms had ravaged much of England’s western seaboard. Most of the proceeds for this concert were going into a relief fund to help the survivors, many of whom were now homeless. Considering what was at stake, none of the band members wanted these people to have to wait weeks for necessary assistance. They could imagine no choice but to reschedule the concert for the next night, which meant Lynx could not be in LA to ask his love the question he'd waited a year to ask again. He was heartbroken, and he knew she would be too, but he also knew she would understand.

Cindy and Jenna listened in disbelief as the radio announcer told the story of the massive London blackout. He reported that there had been no natural disaster or explosions. Several main generators had inexplicably shut down. And the emergency staff was working feverishly to get them up and running again. Both girls were relieved to hear there had been no loss of life, but were equally saddened when they found out that the night's, (even though daytime to them), concert would be postponed 24 hours.. Jenna pulled her best friend close, hugging her tightly, as she knew that Lynx would not be holding Cindy's hand on the beach and pledging his love as planned.

When the phone rang, Cindy ran for her purse to take Lynx’s call.

By the time the lights were up again and things had finally settled down in London, it was already midmorning of the next day. Lynx wanted to call Cindy, but knowing it was still her night and she would be sleeping, he decided to wait a few more hours before trying.

About five hours before the next day’s concert he called her on the cell but strangely, she did not answer. This had only happened a few times during their year together, and normally a deep-sleeping princess or a long tennis match explained most of those situations. He knew Cindy would be awake by now and she had to be expecting this call, so naturally he was concerned when she didn’t answer. He tried for nearly two hours without success, finally calling Bob's house, her parent's house, and even her sister Ally's house. Lynx received only two answering machine messages or an endless ringing for his efforts.

The concert was now less than an hour away, and Lynx was nervously pacing backstage. The veteran performer wasn’t having opening night jitters, but instead harbored deep concern for Cindy and her family. The fact he couldn’t reach ANYONE at ANY number had him jumping to the conclusion that something had to be terribly wrong. His mind played countless scenarios, where Cindy or someone in her family was seriously hurt, sick or possibly even dead.

Tess tried to settle her twin down, telling him he was probably way off base. “I’m sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for the whole thing, not the bad news you’re imagining.” She even added, “You’ll probably being hearing from Cindy very soon and you’ll find out that everything is just fine. Remember, I’ve got the sight.”

“Just call it my woman’s intuition”, Tess added with a wink.

Lynx smiled lovingly at his sister, looked deep into her eyes for reassurance, and finally hugged her tightly. Drawing strength from the bond, he broke the embrace with renewed vigor. Lynx forced a smile for professional purposes and grabbed his admiral’s hat. He recited the tried and true performer’s creed, “The show must go on” before he headed out to do just that, hoping Tess’ intuition was spot on.

The crowd shook venerable old Wembley as Lynx and the Kool Kats took the stage. They opened with a pair of their most popular upbeat hits, and then the rest of the band played more quietly to let Tess and her magic keyboard take center stage. Miss Kitty soon had the frenzied crowd purring with a soulful ballad.

Lynx let the English faithful savor that sweet song before whipping them up again with a lively guitar solo that rocked all the way to Buckingham Palace. Lynx and the Kool Kats worked the crowd like a skillful gentle lover, bringing them almost to the point of no return, then easing them back once again. Rock's reigning prince admiral had his usual stage presence. That incredible smile and dark bedroom eyes made every girl in the crowd think he was singing only to them, but the truth was, most of his mind, and all of his heart was thousands of miles away on a beach in California, wishing the body could be there as well.

Thunderous applause rocked Wembley as they finished the first set. Lynx looked over at the band and nodded, their cue to fire up another hi tempo selection when suddenly all the lights went out. Lynx's first thought was another power outage, and most of the crowd shared his conclusion as moans and groans floated toward the stage.

A few seconds which seemed far longer to all in attendance passed, and then a single spot light appeared at the opposite side of the stage from Lynx. The crowd hushed, focusing on the empty funnel of light, wondering if this was part of the show, or the lights gone again. Lynx shrugged his shoulders and looked into the darkness at the dim faces of the other band members. They all smiled back, seemingly just as surprised.

A few seconds later, it became apparent to Lynx that his band member’s look of surprise was only a charade, as Tess nodded knowingly to the other Kool Kats and they began playing a very soft soulful melody. Lynx's guitar fingers were quiet though, as he stared in disbelief at his sister and this change in the program that he’d been left in the dark about, literally. He was about to cross the distance to Tess to find out just what page she was on when thunderous applause directed his attention to the no longer empty spotlight.

Someone had come in off stage, and his heart nearly stopped when he saw the moonlit angel standing there. Cindy smiled at him, then nodding to Tess, began singing “Superstar” by the Carpenters. The stunned crowd quieted as the small girl gave a powerful rendition of the soulful ballad about a woman who falls in love with a rock star and then pines away at the radio, awaiting his return.

By the Carpenters

"Long ago...
and oh so far away
I fell in love with you...
before the second show.

Your guitar ...
it sounds so sweet and clear
but you’re not really here ...
it’s just the radio.

Don't you remember you told me you loved me baby?
You said you'd be coming back this way again maybe.
Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby,
I love you, I really do.

Loneliness …
is such a sad affair
and I can hardly wait
to be with you again …

What to say, to make you come again (baby)
come back to me again (baby)
And play your sad guitar.

Don’t you remember you told me you loved me baby.
You said you’d be coming back this way again maybe.
Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby,
I love you, I really do.

Don’t you remember you told me you loved me baby.
You said you’d be coming back this way again maybe.
Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby,
I love you, I really do.”

When Cindy finished, 50,000 people were held in silence, both by the power of the song and by the little lady who had performed it. Lynx and every member of the band were among them. Finally the applause started and when it did, the sound from the crowd was thunderous. Lynx wiped the tears from his eyes and smiled lovingly at his surprise songbird. He had never seen nor heard anything so beautiful in his life. To Lynx, she was the perfect woman, singing the perfect song to describe their long distance romance. Naturally, he had all kinds of how’s and why’s and what’s to be answered about her magical appearance, but those could wait as there was a more important question to ask.

Finding the strength to ask that question, he began walking across the stage, slowly closing the distance to his beloved. He had never once taken his eyes off of her after she appeared in the circle. Cindy's heart pounded, in part from the fact that for the first time in her life she had sung on a stage to a capacity crowd, and in part because she had been singing to just one man, the love of her life, her soul mate.

When Lynx finally reached her, he extended his hand and she gave hers freely. The crowd quieted, although at the moment the two lovers were only aware of each other. Their eyes searched each other’s, silently exchanging thoughts in that bond that soul mates share.

Lynx then dropped to one knee, and even though he had hoped this moment would come on a special sandy spot in sunny California, he would have said these words to her in the depths of the hell. Regardless of the setting, and even if he had to share the moment with 50,000 Englishmen at Wembley, he knew proposing to Cindy was a piece of cake, wedding cake, he hoped.

The crowd in respect to the two lovers maintained their silence. Nearly everyone in attendance knew the story of Lynx and his beloved Cindy. Over the course of the year many stories, some flattering, some not, had been published about Cindy's birth defect, her subsequent surgeries and now, her relationship with Lynx. The general public’s opinion ran from those who had a great respect for the young woman, to those who still thought her a sick perverted soul who would surely burn in hell. Yet even her staunchest adversaries, had they seen this moment, could not have denied the pure and beautiful love expressed in Cindy's song, or the depth of passion evident as Lynx knelt before her and held her hand lovingly.

Lynx started to speak, but a shadow stepped from the darkness and handed him the one thing that this moment needed to be complete. The shadow came with a smile and a single red rose. Tess winked at her brother before she eased back into the darkness, so as not to ruin the moment. Lynx nodded back to her, then returned his attention to the princess before him.

His soft words echoed through a silent stadium and found their way straight to Cindy's heart. "Cindy I kneel before you on this sand err ... stage, as I did one year ago today. Three hundred and sixty four roses I have pledged to you since, one a day for as long as the love and the magic have lasted. On that day, I asked you to share the rest of your life with me, and you made me the happiest man in the world by saying yes. I now ask you once again. Will you accept this rose and my heart, for now and for as long as the love and magic last?"

Cindy smiled as tears welled, then shocked Lynx and the crowd, saying “no”, but very quickly adding a few soft words, "Not until you rise from the sand, errr ... stage. I don't want you to ever kneel before me or walk behind me or ask me to follow. Take my hand,” she held hers out to him, “and we'll walk together, side by side for as long as the love and the magic last."

Lynx quickly rose, lifting the young woman into his arms, kissing her passionately. Her feet were still literally a foot off the ground when she came up for air and said. "Being in your arms will work too!"

Lynx smiled, "I'll take that as a yes, then."

The crowd also took it as a yes, and roared their approval as Cindy and Lynx were given congratulatory hugs by the band members, stage crew and the other two musketeers, who had joined Cindy on her journey over the big pond, Ally and Jenna.

Once the earthquake was finally reduced to a tremor, Cindy tried to ease her way off the stage to allow her fiancé to finish his concert without further interruption, but Lynx wasn't about to let Cindy be a one-hit wonder, refusing to let her go.

Deciding to get the audience back in to it, he asked them if they'd like to hear Cindy sing another song. He knew the answer before he even asked it. Soon the capacity crowd was clamoring for an encore.

Cindy's eyes grew wide. She had intended being a one-trick pony. She didn't know another song well enough to face this crowd again. Superstar had been performed out of pure love for her soul mate. Now, all she wanted to do was melt off stage.

Lynx smiled at her, then whispered in her ear. She smiled back knowing that he’d suggested the only song he could. Looking into his love filled dark eyes of his and at his boyish grin, she couldn't resist, and probably never would be able to, she reluctantly gave her permission. Lynx asked Cindy to raise the lovely flower in her hand and the band immediately knew the tune. Together, Cindy’s and Lynx's voices filled the night air with what had become their theme song, The Rose.

The Rose
As sung by Bette Midler

Some say love is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love it is a hunger
An endless, aching need
I say love it is a flower
And you its only seed.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken
That cannot seem to give.
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live.

And the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long.
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong.
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snow.
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love,
In the spring,
becomes a rose.

They finished the song with a kiss, and then held each other in a lover’s embrace. The crowd stayed silent for a few moments paying reverence to the magic they'd just seen and heard before finally cutting loose with thunderous applause that went off the scale. Lynx and Cindy each took a bow, before Cindy was able to elude Lynx’s grasp and scurry away to a more comfortable position off stage.

Thirty minutes later the concert ended but the faithful refused to leave until Cindy returned to take a bow with the rest of the performers who had thrilled them.

That concert would be a landmark for the performers, their friends off stage, and those in attendance. The spectators got to see something you don’t normally experience at a rock concert. They saw the leader of the band surprise serenaded by his fiancé. They saw said leader drop to one knee and propose marriage. They were even treated to a soul-stirring duet by the soon-to-be wedded couple. That alone had to be worth every pound and pence they'd paid.

As for the band, their performance that night at Wembley was considered by many to be their finest to date. Music historians would say it was this concert that vaulted the group to true icon status as they joined the elite group of Rock’s all time greatest bands.

For Cindy and Lynx, it was a point of no return. After that night, they knew there was no turning back now. Whatever the future held for them both, they knew they would be facing it together, forever.

It was also a decisive victory in the war of acceptance by public and press alike. Cindy could no longer be considered the transsexual plaything some of the scandal rags were still trying to portray her as. Lynx was making an honest woman of her now, and that went a long way in her public acceptance as a woman.

There was not a fan in attendance that night that couldn't see Cindy and Lynx were just two young people very much in love, and soon to be married. The next morning, the tabloids basically waved the white flag. Most of the less reputable ones went back to proclaiming Loch Ness monsters sightings and alien abductions. The rest proclaimed what those close to the pair already knew: The Prince had found his Princess.

End of part 2 of 6 - To Be continued...

Superstar: Performed by the Carpenters
Lyrics: Bonnie Bramlett
Music: Leon Russell

The Rose: Performed by Bette Midler
Lyrics and Music: Amanda Mc Broom

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