Disclaimer: I haven't actually been putting these in here so I guess I should start now. You know the drill. Don't own Four Brothers. If I did I would have my way with Jack. I own Lauren, that's it.

CHAPTER ONE: RIGHT HERE INTHESE ARMS

The digital read out of the clock read two thirty four am, LA time. Beside her in the bed, Jack snored softly as he slept. She sighed and turned her back to her sleeping boyfriend. It had been the same way each night; Lauren would toss and turn while Jack slept peacefully, oblivious to her insomnia. Her eyes burned as she begged for sleep and her body cried out in exhaustion. It had been weeks since she'd last had a good night's sleep and the thought laone reduced her to tears. Her body shuddered with sobs of fatigue. Los Angeles was not what it was cracked up to be, even with Jack by her side. As she cried, a warm, comforting arm wrapped around her waist.

"Don't cry Lauren," Jack whispered, kissing her neck. "My first month was sleepless and fitful too."

"How do you sleep Jack? I'm so tired," she sighed, wiping her eyes.

"It's easier with you here now. But that first month, I thought about you. The thought of holding you in my arms eased me," he explained. "Try and get some sleep Razz. I'm here now."

She curled against his warm body. "What would I do without you to watch over me Jack Mercer?"

"Probably die. Or never sleep again," he yawned. "I love you Lauren."

"Love you too Jack," she whispered, stifling a matching yawn as she drifted in and out of sleep. When she opened her eyes six hours later, she was shocked to find Jack staring at her. She blinked profusely, just to make sure she was actually awake. He smiled and kissed her.

"Good morning Mrs. Mercer," he said brushing hair from her face.

"Jack what in God's name are you doing up at eight thirty in the morning?" she growled through a yawn.

"Watching my beautiful fianceé sleep," he replied with a smirk.

She raised an eyebrow. "Your beautiful, RINGLESS, fianceé?" she teased.

A mischevious smile replaced his smirk. "That's why I'm awake Lauren. I have to go pick up your ring."

"Jack I was just joking. I don't need a ring," she said.

He scoffed. "Bullshit baby. All pretty, engaged females need and want an engagement ring. That's why I'm going to the post office."

Lauren began to protest, but stopped when the end of his sentence reached her. "The post office? Well I was unaware the post office sold engagement rings."

"They don't," he replied, smacking her bum. "Now get your lazy, sexy little ass out of bed."

"Jack, it's too early!" she whined, pulling her pillow over her head.

"Up!" he commanded, yanking the covers from her still guant frame. "Jeez Razz, I need to get some meat back on those bones."

"You leave my bones alone and let me sleep," she groaned.

"Laur baby, you can't sleep in on your spa day. The idea of those is to get up early, isn't it? Besides, Shane will be here at nine to take you out," he explained.

Lauren growled and flung the pillow against the wall. "Fine! When she gets here, let her in. I'll be in the shower."

"Want some company? It'll save on the water bill," he smirked.

"I will be showering ALONE! Go make me breakfast or something," she snapped.

"Well there's no point in doing that. You won't eat the fucking food anyway," Jack snapped back.

"Shut it Jack. Can you make me some waffles? Please?" she pouted, crawling across the bed and wrapping her arms around his neck.

"I will make you ONE waffle if you promise me that you will be good today. Don't give Shane a hard time," he said.

"Yeah alright. She's trying, I know. It's just weird having another girl around," Lauren sighed.

"Because the only friend you've ever had is me?"

"Your brothers were my friends too. But that is one of the reasons yes."

Jack lifted her from the bed, placing her on the floor. "She's not a threat to you. Shane has been with Evan for years."

Lauren rolled her eyes, but felt a hot red flush her cheeks. "I wasn't worried about that."

"So you're blushing for a totally unrelated reason?" he questioned, kissing her warm forehead. "Go shower Razz."

"I'm not worried about Shane stealing you away! No girl in their right mind would put up with you!" she called out as she ran into the bathroom.

He chased her into the washroom, slamming the door and locking them in. She jumped into the shower and slid the glass door shut. "If I'm so difficult, why bother with me then?" he asked.

She peeled her tank top off and threw it over the top of the shower. "Well, I'm not really in my right mind am I Jack?"

Her black running shorts hit his chest. "It has nothing to do with my overwhelming sexiness?"

"It's your sense of humor. Normal people can't get away with thinking they're 'overwhelmingly sexy' as you put it," she replied, unhooking her bra.

He was kicking his pants off when her blue panties hit him in the face. The rest of his clothes were off before he could blink. When he slid the door to the shower open, he saw Lauren leaning against the tiled wall. Her brown hair, still rich with the volume and toussle that bed head had provided. The green of her eyes shone with mischief he had infected her with and he knew she was up to something. But her slender naked body distracted him and she took full advantage of it. She reached behind her and turned the cold water knob. Bullets of liquid ice pelted the smooth, newly tanned expanse of Jack's skin while she stood just out of reach. He leapt back, pressing himself against the far end of the shower. Lauren shrieked with laughter.

"Lauren Jansmen if you don't turn the fucking hot water on, so help me God I will never touch you again," he threatened.

I can live with your decision," she stated.

"Lauren!" he shouted, stomping across the shower.

"See, it's not so bad," she smirked.

He grinned and grabbed her shoulders. "Right," he whispered, whirling her around so she stood under the cold barrage of water.

"OK! You win! It's fucking freezing!" she screamed.

"Love ya Razz," he smirked, pulling her against his body. "Now what could we do to make this shower more enjoyable?"

"Turn on the hot water," she demanded.

"Not what I had in mind," he said, pressing his lips to hers.

"You always have that in mind Mercer. Another reason I want you all to myself," she murmered through his kiss.

"Well baby, you got me. All to yourself," he whispered, turning the hot water tap. "I'll go make you a waffle."

She smiled and pushed his floppy hair back from his eyes. "I'll be right down. And when I get back from this spa thing, I promise you won't be disappointed."

He stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist. "I'm taking you out tonight Razz."

"Where? And do I need to dress up?" she asked, poking her head out of the shower.

"Yeah Laur, you need to dress up. Are you actually going to a spa?" he inquired.

"I think we're just doing the girl thing," she replied.

"Don't be too long. We have reservations at seven," he said, giving her one last kiss before going to make breakfast.

(insert stars here)

Lauren sat in the stylist's chair, staring at her long, dark locks in the mirroe. Shane sat in the chair beside her, holding her hand while she tried to concentrate on her breathing. Clumps of her hair fell to the floor, pooling around the base of the chair. Before getting started on their day of bonding, Shane had convinced Lauren to change her hairstyle. Lauren knew it had to be done; new state, new city, new Lauren. Those were the words Shane had used to sway her into the salon. But as Lauren sat there, at the mercy of a woman and her shears, all she wanted to do was scream and cry. It had taken her years to get her hair to the length it had been before Sophie had attacked it with the scissors. Lauren knew she would live through the cut and the style, but Shane had opted for some colouring too and Lauren knew she would never make it through that. She let a small whimper pass through her lips as Sophie chopped yet another seven inches of hair off. The shorter her hair got, the sicker she felt, until finally Shane looked up at Sophie and placed her hand on the woman's arm.

"Is there any way you could turn her away from the mirrors? I have a feeling that watching all her hair come off isn't the best thing for her," she stated.

Sophie nodded in agreement. "Of course. Don't worry hun, it won't affect the cut at all," she assured.

"I only want to cut it. No colouring Shane. If I have to colour my hair I might pass out in this chair," Lauren squeaked.

Shane smiled. "It's your call Lauren. Jack will love you no matter what you do to your hair. But don't you think it's time for a change?"

"I know Jack will love me no matter what," Lauren sighed, but it was evident that the statement relaxed her. "You really think I should dye it?"

"At least get highlight or lowlights!" Shane cried. "Your hair is so boring."

Lauren hid her hurt. "It's not boring. It's...natural."

Sophie patted her on the head. "That's right honey. You're hair is healthy."

The patronizing of the stylist put her over the edge. "What colour could I pull off Sophie?"

"Honestly? You have the skin tone to pull any colour off," she replied, pointing to a photo on the wall. "That style and colour would look great on you."

Lauren began to laugh. "Shane, that looks like the female version of Jack's hair!"

"Yeah it does. Now THAT would look weird at the wedding," Shane chuckled.

"Who's wedding?" Sophie inquired.

"Mine I guess," Lauren replied, looking down at her bare finger.

"And your finacé's name is Jack?"

"Jack Mercer," Lauren confirmed. "I love him very much."

"Enough to emulate his hairstyle?" Shane teased.

"Even if I did, Jack's the only one who could ever pull that hairstyle off," Lauren laughed. "Do your stuff Sophie. To hell with being scared. Bring on some change! My hair is your canvas Sophie."

"That's a dangerous thing to say to someone holding layering shears," Shane laughed as Sophie began to lop more hair off.

Lauren shrugged. "You're right Shane. It got a lot easier to accept once she turned me away from the mirror."

"Just don't cry when she turns you back. You're the one who gave her free range to your hair," Shane warned.

"I'm not making any promises," Lauren said, closing her eyes and giving herself over to Sphie and her layering shears.

(insert stars here)

Jack sat on the couch, plucking at the strings of his acoustic guitar. He stared at the legal pad on the table, its yellow pages as blank as his expression. Hoping to spark some inspiration intoh is mind, he strummed at his guitar. When nothing came, he released a defeated sigh and set the guitar down. He sauntered into the bedroom and peeled off his sweaty black t-shirt, cursing the broken air conditioner. With a quick glance at the clock (his fourth in five minutes) he sighed again, this time his sigh carrying a note of lonilness. She had only been gone for four hours, but he hated not having her in the apartment. He loved coming home from work and finding her sprawled on the couch, her nose in a book; he loved when he cooked dinner, half-clad, while she prenteded to watch tv. She hadn't been gone long at all, but he missed her already. He had hated himself for leaving her in Detroit and almost costing him his ideal future. It was a constant worry in the back of his mind that one day he'd wake up and she'd be gone, suddenly realising that she was too good for him. That thought was the one thing that woke him up at the crack of dawn; he never wanted to wake up without her.

"Hurry home Laur," he muttered, stripping his jeans off.

No more than ten minutes later, he heard her voice. "Jack?" It echoed through the scorching apartment. "Jack, come into the living room!"

"Why don't you come into the bedroom? It's cooler in here," he called, searching the closet for a pair of shorts.

"Are we having a 'No Pants Party' in here?" she asked, leaning against the doorframe.

"We'll be doing the No Pants Dance in five seconds if-" He stopped talking when he turned and saw her. "Your hair!"

Immediately she grabbed a lock of her freshly coloured hair and twirled it self conciously. "You don't like it do you? Oh I knew I shouldn't have gone with this colour."

"No, no. NO. It's...you look incredibly sexy as a blonde. Wow," he breathed.

"Jack um...cover yourself," she giggled.

Jack blushed and placed a pillow over his crotch. "I LOVE your hair. That blonde looks so natural on you."

"I'm just worried about my roots. I don't want to look trashy," she sighed.

He scooped her into his arms, kissing her cheeks. "You'll always be beautiful. Even if you were bald."

"You're such a hopeless romantic Jack Mercer," she laughed.

"Forever and always Lauren Jansmen. Let's go out for lunch," he said, puttig her down. "Unless you already had lunch with Shane?"

"We're heading out for lunch now. I just wanted to see what you though of my hair. I'll be back by three," she explained.

He smiled, kissing the tip of her nose. "Well then before you go, I want to give you something. Come with me."

Lauren took his hand and allowed him to lead her into the living room. "Jack what are you doing?"

"I picked this up for you at the post office. Ma sent it after she had it cleaned," he explained, pulling a small box from his jacket pocket. "Open it."

She opened the box, a small squeak of surprise slipping through her lips. "Oh my God. Jack! This is...my grandmother gave this to my mom when she...I thought they buried this with my mom when she died."

"Your grandma left this to my mom so she could pass it onto you when you got engaged," he explained, slipping the ring on her finger. "I guess your grandma knew it would be me."

"My mom wore this...this is...Jack," she stammered, tears rolling down her flushed cheeks.

The overwhelming joy she was feeling squeezed his heart and triggered tears of his own. "I know how important she is to you. I want to spend the rest of my life trying to show you that you're just as important to me. I don't ever want to see an ounce of sadness in your phenomenal green eyes."

"Oh Jack you don't ever have to prove that to me. I already know. I want you to spend the rest of our lives together loving me and letting me love you as much as my parents loved each other. You are my safe place Jack Mercer. Right here in your arms is my warm, safe place," she stated, nuzzling against his chest. "But if I don't go now I'll miss lunch."

"Hurry home Razz. I wanna do the no pants dance before we go out tonight," he smirked, wiggling his eyebrows.

Lauren laughed. "Do you ever want to do anything else with me?"

"I want to marry you and raise our children," he whispered, capturing her lips in a kiss so powerful that every hair on her body felt like it would break free from its follicle.

"I'll be back by three Jack," she whispered.

"I'll be waiting Lauren. I love you," he stated.

She turned and blew him a kiss. "I love you too."