SURPRISES ARE BEST:

As soon as Joe's plane pulled up to the jet way, he was up from his seat and walking down the metal tunnel. He knew he had to make his way to baggage claim to find his ride…a ride that been carefully arranged. Los Angeles International Airport was very busy at 5pm, so Joe walked a fast as he could through the busy terminal. By the time he made it to baggage claim, his ride was there waiting for him.

"Joe, over here." called an excited Jules.

"Am I glad to see you…the plane was crowded, the airport is crowded, and I would be most appreciative of getting out of here. Now I know why you and Jess want to bolt from the airport as soon as you land." rambled Joe.

Jules had to laugh at that, especially since Joe neglected to mention the most important reason he wanted to get out of the airport.

"Oh, so getting to see Jess has nothing to do with wanting to get out of here?"

"I think you know the answer to that one. Hey let me grab my bag which is coming…now please, let's get out of here."

"Not a problem…Stephen is waiting for us in the car."

"You sure Jess has absolutely no clue what's going on?"

"Absolutely, positively." responded Jules. "In fact she's been moping around since I'm heading out town for the week with Stephen, and she's going to be all alone in the room…or so she thought." Jules winked at Joe.

"Think she'll be mad about our deception?" asked Joe.

"I highly doubt it…once she gets over the shock, she'll be extremely happy." said Jules. "Oh hey, there's Stephen's car."

Stephen got out of his car to help load Joe's luggage into the trunk of his car.

"Oh hey….Stephen, this is Joe…Joe this is Stephen."

The two men shook hand with each other. Once everything was loaded, and the three people were in the car, they were on their way. Before Joe knew it, they were on a busy multiple lane highway. Of course it made him uneasy with driving on the "wrong" side of the road, especially in the heavy traffic. Joe was distracted from his fears by Jules.

"Oh, hey…I'm going to call Jess, so Joe you have to be quiet."

"Hey, Jess, it's Jules. Stephen and I just picked up his friend, so we're on our way back to school."

Pause.

"Well, we're coming back because Stephen forgot something he needs before we go to his parents' house. We were wondering if you wanted to get some dinner with us since we're coming back."

Pause.

"Okay, we'll see you in about an hour…we'll just come to our room, okay?"

Pause.

"See you then Jess…I'll call you if we get stuck in traffic. Bye."

As Jules put her cell phone away, Stephen and Joe looked at her in openmouthed amazement.

"Uh, that was quite the performance there Jules." Stephen said.

"And she believed it?" asked Joe.

"Oh you men have so little faith."

The people in the car passed the time conversing about everything and anything. Jules was amazed at how Joe and Stephen talked as if they were long lost friends. She smiled to herself, because they had one major thing in common…football. Of course Jules wanted updates on the English leagues, which Joe gladly provided.

"Jules, has Jess talked to you about your summer training plans yet?" asked Joe.

"Well, she mentioned that you had something about it, but she didn't give me too many details." said Jules.

"I'm sort of hoping you two can play for Hounslow, but I understand there are some eligibility issues with the NCAA."

"Yeah, there could be some problems since Hounslow is a pro team now…we're not allowed to play for money, or we'll lose our scholarships, and won't be able to play here."

"I told Jess to talk to your coach, to see if you could play and not get paid…of course everything would have to be strictly documented. Worst case scenario, you could at least train with us."

"Yeah, but I'd rather play." laughed Jules.

"I'm sure you would…but then rules are rules." responded Joe.

They talked so much, that Jules and Stephen were surprised at how fast time seemed to pass, when it felt like all of the sudden they were driving on to campus. Joe on the other hand, felt as if time was dragging its heels. By the time Stephen pulled up to the dormitory where Jules and Jess lived, Joe was all wound up. He looked up at the building and wondered which room was there…and if the surprise would be ruined if Jess was looking for the car. Jules seemed to read his mind.

"Our room is on the other side of the building, so she won't know you're here until we get to our room." Jules said with a wink. "Come on, let's grab your stuff and go on up."

"Hey, you two go up…I'm staying here with the car so campus security doesn't tow it away." Stephen called out to Jules and Joe.

As Jules and Joe made their way into the building, Jules had to endure Joe's teasing about her Yank of a boyfriend. However, Joe liked Stephen, so it was all in good fun. If Joe hadn't been in such hurry to get to his prize, Jules would have tackled him. Once they got to the right floor and turned down the hallway, Jules motioned to Joe to be quiet. When they got to the right door, Jules mouthed "Are you ready?" and Joe have the nod to go ahead. And with that, Jules opened the door.

"Hey Jess…look what I found wandering around the airport." Jules called out to her roommate.

As Jess turned around to face the door, Jules pulled Joe into the room.

"Hello love." Joe said quietly.

"J-j-joe…" was all Jess could say. She was rooted in her spot, afraid to move, lest it all be a dream.

Joe opened up his arms, and that was all it took to break Jess out of her reverie. She took the few steps across the room, and quickly found herself in Joe's warm embrace. She had so many questions running through her head, but she couldn't bring herself to ask them right then and there. All she wanted was to stay in his arms, and never leave. But somehow they remembered at the same time that they weren't alone, and reluctantly broke their embrace.

"W-what are you doing here?" asked a bewildered Jess. "How did you arrange all of this? Jules, did you know about this? How could you n…"

"One question at a time love." Joe broke her rapid stream of questions with a quick kiss.

"Anyway…grab your stuff Jess…Stephen is downstairs with his car waiting for all of us."

It took Jess but a few seconds to grab her purse and coat, and the small group was on their way for dinner.