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Chapter Seven

"Hola, mi amor," Leigh breathed into my ear the moment the phone made a connection.

I looked down.

Now, since D is giving you fun facts about me, here's a fun fact about Howie: Leigh's voice, speaking in Spanish, saying anything - she could say something about mopping vomit off the tile in the toilet, it didn't matter, gives him an instant woody.

I'm not kidding you, it was like spring action. Spanish-speaking-Leigh and POP goes the weasle.

"Jesus." I muttered, lowering onto the step. I grabbed my knees.

"AJ," Howie whispered in my voice, he lowered beside me, "What? What'd she say?"

"Howie?" she asked, "Are you okay? You sound enfermo..."

I swallowed. "No," I squeaked, "I'm okay."

She laughed - a sexy, tingly sound that tickled my ear pleasantly. I wanted to hump the phone. I looked at Howie, my eyes wide.

"Ah mi periquito," she said, "Are you not alone?" a devilish tone came to her voice.

"Not exactly," I whispered.

"J..." Howie hissed, "What's going -"

I tilted the phone for him to hear.

"Me pones muy caliente, periquito," Leigh was rambling in Spanish. Even though I didn't understand what she was saying, I could tell by the voice she was saying it in that it was dirty. "Hablame sucio..."

My own brown eyes met mine. Howie hissed, "You gotta say sexy things," he said.

"Sexy things?" I hissed back, covering the phone mouth piece.

"Yes," he hissed.

"Like what? I could tell her all kinda of sexy stuff..."

"En espanol," Howie added.

"I don't KNOW espanol," I wailed.

"Mi amor?" Leigh asked, concerned.

"Okay, ok, follow my lead," Howie hissed.

"Okay." I uncovered the mouth piece.

"Oh mi amora," he whispered, "Me estas volviendo loco!"

"Oh meee amorahhh," I tried to repeat it, "me ezztuhs volllleeyball loaded!"

"Que?" Leigh asked.

Howie smacked his hand to his forehead. "Oy dios," he muttered.

"Oy... DEEOZzzzz," I muttered.

"Don't repeat that, you ass," he hissed.

"Howie? Are you okay?" Leigh sounded very concerned now. "What's going on?"

Howie was rubbing his temples.

So I spat out the only Spanish phrase I remembered - mainly because I used it frequently when we toured to Spain, South America and Mexico.

"Donde esta el bano?"

Howie's head snapped up. "...Did you just... ask my wife... where the toilet is?"

"Is that what that means?" I asked.

Nick would've pissed himself laughing if he ever knew that in the throws of being spoken dirty to by a sexy hispanic woman, I asked for a toilet.

I would live the rest of my life making sure he never found that out.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Now look what you've done," I said as AJ stared at the phone.

"What did I do? She hung up on me!"

"That's because she thinks you're I mean I'm nuts!" I complained. "Of all the assinine things to say in Spanish--"

"Well sue me," J snapped. "I'm sorry I'm not Don Pablo."

"Don Pablo?"

"Yeah. Y'know, that stupid Mexican romantic dude?"

I smacked my (well, AJ's) forehead. "Don Juan. DON JUAN!"

"As far as I'm concerned, neither of you are Don Juans. You're nuts."

We both turned. Ro was standing half-way up the stairs, her arms folded across her chest, her wet hair twisting down past her shoulders. Obviously, she wasn't happy.

"Baby--" AJ started to say. I jabbed him in the ribs, hard, knowing well that it was going to leave a bruise. He yelped.

"Baby," I said, the words tasting like chalk in my mouth. "I--"

"I don't know what's going on," Ro said. A knot in my stomach formed at her teary voice. "But I do know I just got off the phone with Leigh. She wasn't aware you two were fighting, Howie."

AJ looked at me. My own frantic eyes looked at me.

"Y'know how it is monkee," I said. "I always think we're fighting, you think we're just discussing...it's the whole marriage thing."

Ro gave me a hard stare. "As soon as Leigh gets here, you and me are going to have a talk."

My blood (well AJ's blood) ran cold. "Leigh's coming here?" AJ asked.

"Well, duh. We leave on tour in what? Two days?"

I heard AJ groan. I think we had both forgotten that little detail.

Ro's eyes narrowed. "What's going on with you two?"

I felt helpless; hopeless. The rational, logistical part of my brain (now AJ's, I guess) wondered if it was the result of the last ounce of AJ's last depression pill fading. I had never been depressed before; hell, I was Sir Howie Happy Wink-a-lot (Leigh's nickname, not mine).

"Going on?" AJ repeated. "Nothing's going--"

"I call bullshit."

AJ snickered. He also shifted on the stairs. My poor johnson mixed with AJ's now functional libido was a dangerous combination.

Ro was getting tired of waiting for an answer. She shook her head. "Come get me if you decide to let me in on your little bromantic secret."

With that she turned and stomped back up the stairs. "Great, now she thinks I'm nuts and she hates me," AJ muttered.

"Well, my wife thinks I have bathroom issues," I complained.

We both hunched forward on the stairs, our chins in our hands, staring forlornly ahead. The silence was oppressive. For some reason I thought about Caroline. Just the thought of her name made me tear up.

The sound of my phone vibrating in AJ's pocket broke the monotony, plunging me out from the depths of the dark water. AJ leaned back, his leg outstretched and slid out my phone.

"Leigh?" I guessed. J shook his head.

"I don't recognize the number."

My pulse quickened. I took the phone and glanced at the display. As I had feared, I knew the number. Well. I opened the phone and quickly shut it again. J gave me a weird look.

"Not important," I explained, trying to sound nonchalant. I rubbed my neck; AJ's felt prickly compared to my own. I was an obsessive hair plucker. AJ? Not so much.

"Let's grab something to eat," he said, taking the phone back from me. "I'm starving."

I stood up, grateful for the change in direction. We needed to formulate a gameplan. In a few hours we were not only going to have to continue this game of charades with Ro, but we'd also have to put up a good front for Leigh and James. I couldn't help but be slightly curious about James.

Would he realize who his real dad was?

Unknown McLean Fact #7: AJ was the first Backstreet Boy that James threw up on. His biggest concern? Whether the spew got on his new Gucci shades.