Lay Down My Pride

Summary: One girl gets the chance of a lifetime and one of her dreams when she's chosen to go on tour with one of her idols: Jeremy Camp. But the experience that follows will be the last thing she expected. Through life-changing times and faith-testing trials, will she be able to hang on?

Okay. Sorry it's taken so long for this update. I've been really busy, and, in all honesty, I haven't really felt at all motivated or inspired to continue this story; but I've gained a new strength. As far as busyness, I can't really change that; so the updates won't be as quick as I thought. Really the only time I have time to write this is a few weekdays, when I have school. I'll write as much as I can, though. I hope you enjoy this chapter! Please review!


Chapter Three

Preparations

"Carlie, hurry up! Get a move on!" James called up the stairs.

"I'm trying!" Carlie yelled back, following it with an exhausted sigh. "It would be easier if you would come up here and help me!"

James footsteps resounded on the staircase, and he quickly reached Carlie's room. "What do you need?" he asked. "It's almost time to leave. You don't even look like your half ready."

"I'm not," Carlie replied, running a hand through her hair. "I never will be, but I'm just gonna have to deal with it. All right. I need you to help me fold these clothes and put them nicely in my suitcase."

James thought about voicing a comment about how she had been preparing for this for two weeks, but he decided to ask about another thought instead. "What do you mean you're never gonna be ready?" he asked as he began folding the clothes.

"James, this is something you're never completely ready for. Not even the most experienced artists are ever truly prepared. You just have to jump in and do it," Carlie replied, her whole demeanor beginning to take on an entirely more mature air than her usual cut-loose free spirit.

"It's not too late to say no," James told her. "I'm sure they have someone else they could use."

"James, this is my dream," Carlie replied, stopping what she was doing for a moment and looking directly at her brother, who had also stopped what he was doing. For a moment, she looked like an entirely different person, as an aged and wise adult. "I couldn't say no even if I wanted to."

James sighed and went back to folding clothes and putting them in the suitcase. "You always have been headstrong. Even if you were told you couldn't do it, you tried anyway; and most of the time, you succeeded."

"You sound like that's all in the past," Carlie noted, smiling nonetheless at her brother's compliment.

"I just don't know if you'll be able to handle something like this. It's not that I don't have complete faith in you and support you all the way. It's just that, like you said yourself, this kind of stuff is extremely hard and stressing. It takes its toll on anybody, even the professionals. Ask anybody: professionals or their crew."

"James, I appreciate your concern; and I understand where you're coming from. It probably will get me in the later months when my adrenalin starts running down, but it's still fun, and it's still my dream. I think I'll be able to handle a little stress for a short while for something like this."

The two were quiet for a minute before James changed the subject. "All right. We're almost finished with this. Have you packed everything else?"

"No," Carlie replied. "I still have to pack my toiletries and makeup, and yes, I really need makeup. There's no way I'm going on stage without it."

James rolled his eyes but headed for the bathroom anyway. "Whoa!" he exclaimed when he found the makeup box Carlie had bought for part of the tour. "This thing's huge!" He came out of the bathroom holding it up. It was literally a black box, but on the top, it had a picture of everything it came with: shelves of eye shadow, tubes of lipstick, blush, face shimmer, and more.

Carlie shrugged, putting the last of her clothes into her suitcase. "It needed to be. I figured it would last me a while. I know I'll need to buy a new one on the tour, but at least it won't be for a while."

James sighed and put it in another suitcase as Carlie closed up her clothes suitcase. "Okay. Now I have a couple tubes of toothpaste in there, a couple toothbrush replacement heads, my toothbrush itself, and my Noxzema facial pads. I have a bunch of replacements for those, too. Let me think. I know there's a few other things."

"Wow. You're stocked," James noted.

Carlie skipped entirely over his comment. "Oh, yeah! I have a bunch of hair care products, too. I need my blow drier, my ponytails and hairagami, the hairspray, the mouse, my hair straightener, a few barrettes just in case, my shampoo, conditioner, sponge, and some soap, of course." She tried to think of some more. "I think that's it. What about you?"

James was already headed for the bathroom. "I have no idea. You have so much stuff and went through that list so fast I can't even begin to tell you what you just named, let alone what you didn't."

Carlie rolled her eyes before following James and gathering the items in her list up. "Oh yeah! I need my razors and the shaving cream," she said, going back to grab those things. She came out with many more things that she had remembered while she was in there, however.

"How much longer do you think you're going to be?" James asked incredulously. "You seem to have an endless supply of things. At this rate, we'll never leave!"

"Chill out," Carlie replied, closing the suitcase. "I just finished. Those were the last things I had to pack. Now do I have everything?" She went through a mental checklist. "Yes. Okay. I'm ready to go whenever you guys are, I guess."

"Finally," James joked, seeing Carlie roll her eyes and smile after that. "All right. You're obviously going to need help taking your things downstairs and out to the car, but let me make sure Mom and Dad are ready first."

"You mean you came up here and rushed me without knowing whether or not they were ready?" Carlie asked incredulously.

"Never hurts to be early," he replied, smiling before quickly retreating out of Carlie's room and narrowly missing a pillow thrown by his grinning sister.

"Oh my gosh," she said quietly after he left, still smiling. Waiting for him to return, she ran a hand through her hair and sat on her bed, looking around at the nearly empty state her room was in. This would be the last time she would see it for a long time. Eight months, her mind reminded her. Eight months. Could she really last that long? Could she go on a tour for the first time in her life for eight months with only a cell phone with which to communicate with her friends and family? That was a big question and one that she would have to find the answer to but hoped that it would be a yes.

James suddenly bursting back into the room startled Carlie out of her thoughts, and she flinched a little. "Come on! Let's go!" her brother exclaimed cheerily, grabbing a suitcase.

"Huh? Oh, yeah," Carlie replied, also grabbing a suitcase.

James looked at her and cocked his head. "You okay?" he asked.

"I'm just a little distracted," Carlie assured him.

James was going to ask her what about, but before he could, she was already headed downstairs with a couple of the suitcases. He just sighed and followed.

Very soon, all the suitcases were packed in the car, and the family was on their way. "Are you excited?" Carlie's mother asked on their way.

"Are you nervous?" her dad joked with a grin.

Carlie smiled somewhat forcefully. "I'm fine. I'm looking forward to it, but I'll admit it's going to be a little difficult dealing with being gone for eight months with nothing except my cell phone to talk to you guys. I'll have no pictures or anything."

"We could send you some," James suggested.

Carlie looked over at him. "I won't have a permanent address."

"Oh yeah." James blushed a little.

"Eight months is a long time to go on tour for the first time in your life," Carlie's mother noted.

"Yeah, I know. I was thinking that. But my adrenalin will hold. It may be a long time, but it's also exciting and stimulating. Just think of it: the crowds, the places, everything. It's going to be so cool! And the best part is that I get to go with Jeremy Camp!" Carlie exclaimed, her energy level increasing.

"Yeah. Be careful about that," Carlie's mother warned.

Carlie sighed. "Mom, don't worry. Oh my gosh. No. It'll be fine. I know he's married, and he knows he's married."

"Still, listen to your mom. Just be careful," Carlie's dad told her.

"All right. All right. I'll be careful," Carlie assured her parents. It was then that they started pulling in to the Six Flags parking lot. "Okay. Here's the card. You can show this to the parking lot payment collector, and they'll let you in for free." Sure enough, that happened. "Okay. Can I have my card back? Thank you. I'm going to need that later. All right. Now, we're supposed to be able to pull up next to his tour bus… and there it is. It's not hard to miss, I guess. Anyway, we're supposed to just pull up along that, transfer my luggage, say my goodbyes, and then I'll be on my way."

They did a quick circle around the parking lot before pulling up next to the tour bus. "The moment of truth," James whispered.

Carlie heard him and stopped midway of unbuckling her seat belt. "What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, staring at him.

"You're finally gonna meet him. Time to see what happens when you actually get close enough to shake his hand," James replied with a smile, sliding out of the car before Carlie could say anything else.

Carlie just stared at his empty seat for a second with a smirk for a minute before getting out herself, the last one of her family to slide out of the car. She stood there for a minute, eyeing the large tour bus and watching her family start grabbing suitcases. It only took the three of them. She would have offered to help, but they had already gotten all of them. Instead, she watched the tour bus. She expected the Camp family to come around the front of the tour bus, since she didn't see anyone inside.

She wasn't disappointed. From around the side of the tour bus came four smiling faces. Adie Camp walked on the right, her smile radiant and beaming, holding the newest addition to their family: Arianne Mae Camp. To her left, Jeremy Camp himself walked, his smile as warming as hers, holding the hand of their almost two-year-old girl Isabella Rose Camp, who herself looked around eagerly and excitedly.

Carlie couldn't help but let out a short, quiet laugh at the sight. Kids had always been her weak spot. She loved them and couldn't stand to see anything happen to them. She especially loved watching them in new or fun places: the way their eyes would widen, the look of absolute awe as they took in their surroundings, their excitement when they saw a fun ride or an ice cream shop.

It took her a moment to realize that the Camp family was coming closer and closer, but when she finally did, she shook her head to clear it and took a step forward to meet them. She took Jeremy's proffered hand and shook it almost as if they were old friends, her practiced business smile becoming more and more relaxed and real as she spent her time around this appealing family. She watched Adie shift the baby's weight around and gracefully offer her hand, which Carlie took and shook in the same gentle way she had Jeremy's.

"It's so nice to finally meet you," Adie told her sincerely, the older woman's voice soft.

"Thank you," Carlie replied, her smile now entirely sincere.

"I'm Jeremy, and this is my wife Adie. These are our children Isabella and Arianne." Jeremy introduced them, gesturing to each in turn as he spoke their names.

"Carlie Sanders," Carlie replied. "This is my family: my father Robert, my mother Adrienne, and my brother James."

"Pleasure to meet you," James told the couple, sticking out his hand and shaking both of theirs with a large grin.

"You, too. Are you sure you two will survive without each other?" Jeremy replied jokingly, his grin never faltering even as he took Carlie's parents' hands.

Carlie leaned over and wrapped her arms tightly around her brother just under his arms, and he returned the embrace. "We're still trying to decide," she told him with a small laugh before she let go.

Jeremy laughed, too, as did Adie. "Well it's nice to know you two have such a wonderful relationship," Adie commented.

"Yup," James replied, ruffling his sister's hair. "I'm excited for her. She has a promising career ahead of her, and I know she'll do well."

"Hey!" Carlie protested at the violation of her hair. She glared playfully at James before replying, "Yeah, but I'd never have made it this far without you."

"Ah!" James grunted. "You're just being modest. All right. Well, we shouldn't keep you guys." He looked Jeremy directly in the eyes, his hands together in a prayer form right in front of his face and his fingers pointing toward the older man, even as he began backing up toward the car. "You take good care of her. Got it?"

"James!" Carlie chided him with a grin.

Jeremy just laughed. "Of course. Don't worry. She'll be fine. I'm looking forward to our time together."

"That's another thing—" James started.

Carlie's mouth dropped, and she looked around, finally settling on a pillow that had been laid on one of the suitcases sitting on the ground beside her and throwing it quickly at James, who grinned, ducked, and ran swiftly to the car, sliding into his seat and closing the door right before the pillow hit it. He stuck his tongue out at her as she retrieved the pillow, but she only laughed and shook her head in reply, walking back over to the place that her parents were exchanging goodbyes and last-minute instructions and such with the Camp family.

"All right, honey, this is it," Carlie's mother said, turning to her and placing hands on both her upper arms. "Good luck, and I'm sure you'll be amazing. Be safe." The older woman hugged and kissed her daughter before backing away so that Carlie's father could get some last words in.

"Good luck. And remember, we expect to hear from you. Don't forget about us in your big famous world," Carlie's father told her with a smile.

Carlie smiled, too, hugging and kissing him, as well. "Don't worry, Dad. I won't," she assured him.

"Now, are you sure you've got everything?" Carlie's mother asked.

"Yes," Carlie replied with a smile.

"All your clothes, all your toiletries—you know you're not going to be able to come back."

"I know. It's fine. I've got everything."

"Okay. Are you—?"

"Mom!" Carlie interrupted her with a grin. "You know that if you don't leave now, you'll never be able to bring yourself to do so."

Carlie's mother sighed and then nodded. "Okay. All right. I know. It's just going to be so hard! I'm going to miss you so much!" She embraced her daughter.

"I know, Mom. I know. It'll be hard, but just look forward to the end of it… and don't forget to watch my concerts." She grinned at both her parents.

"Okay, Sweetie," her father told her. "Good luck. We'll see you when you get back."

"Okay, Dad," Carlie replied. "See you!" She watched her parents get in the car slowly and very reluctantly begin their drive away before turning back to the Camp family. She smiled at them. "So… what's up?"

They smiled back. "We're going to have a day at the theme park to have a day of informal get-together and have fun while getting to know one another," Jeremy explained the obvious.

Carlie let out a short laugh. "I had no idea. My parents randomly came here, and we just happened to meet you. Then it somehow got into our minds that I was supposed to stay here while they went home and I got ready for a huge eight-month tour."

Adie flicked a quick glance at her husband that did not go unnoticed by Carlie.

"My sense of humor can be a little witty or sarcastic at times," Carlie explained.

Adie seemed a little surprised, but she replied nonetheless. "I'm looking forward to our time together, no matter how short it is."

"Thank you," Carlie replied. "I am, too."

3

ISABELLA ROSE

21 months

ARIANNE MAE

April 5, 2006