Every Road Leads Back
Kendall and Grant waited till they both were out of college and settled into their careers to get married. So two weeks shy of her 28th birthday, Giselle finds herself on a plane to Florida. She long ago obtained her degree and is now working her way up through the ranks of a multi-billion dollar corporation. She thought she was pretty happy with all aspects of her life. OK, most aspects. She very rarely dates. She can't get over Nick, even though she knows she should hate him. The Backstreet Boys are one of the biggest groups in the country and she can't help getting caught up in the hype.
But she misses AJ. Even though her heart still yearns for Nick's love, she misses her best friend. He had tried calling a couple of times after she hung up on him. She ignored him. Eventually, she got an email apologizing for what he said and asking if she was ok. She wept when she read it but she didn't reply. That wasn't her AJ on the phone.
Denise had called her shortly after that and they talked a lot about AJ. Alcohol was ruling his life and he wasn't the boy she grew up with. Denise said she was afraid for his life and asked Giselle to talk to him. Giselle wanted to...she told Denise she'd try, but in the end, she couldn't make the call. She just sent him a text that simply said, "I love you, but you have to get help."
She never heard from him. She figured he was mad. She had almost made her peace with her past when she got the invitation to Grant and Kendall's wedding. Especially when Kendall showed up on her doorstep to personally deliver it. That was really what made her decision for her. Her decision to start over.
Now she's on her way home. Almost there, and she's nervous. Will being back bring up memories that need to be left dead and buried? Or will Giselle finally move on?
Kendall and Grant are at the airport waiting for her. After a tearful hello, they get her bags. Grant says, "Wow, Giselle, California agrees with you. You look amazing."
She smiles and says, "Still a flatterer I see. Save it for your bride, Mister!"
They all laugh before Kendall says, "You do look good Giselle. I LOVE your hair short!"
Running her fingers through her hair, Giselle says, "Me too. It's easier to deal with."
Grant says, "How's the job?"
Smiling, she says, "It's really good. Only...it's boring."
Kendall says, "Boring? How can it be boring, it's what you've always wanted to do?"
Shaking her head, Giselle says, "No, I've always wanted to manage my own store. Really be in charge. I'm nothing in this company. Just a name. I don't feel like I make a difference."
Once in the car, Grant says, "So, what do you want to do?"
Giselle thinks long and hard before saying, "I want to come home."
Kendall turns in her seat, shocked at what she just heard. "Home? You want to come back here? Really?"
Until she said the words, Giselle didn't realize how much. "Yeah, I want to come home. California is nice, but it's not me. I belong here. I just have to find a job in the two weeks I'm here for your wedding."
Grant pulls into the driveway of their house and asks, "Why?"
As she follows them to the front door, she says, "I quit my job and gave up my apartment."
Both turn to her, shocked. "YOU DID WHAT?" Kendall practically yells.
Grant looks around and says, "Pipe down, Kendall. Let's get inside and hear her out."
After settling down with a glass of wine, Kendall waits patiently. Giselle sighs and says, "I hate it Ken. I don't want to work in a place like that and I don't want to be away from you. Now that you're FINALLY getting married, I want to be here. I want to be here when you have your first child and I want to be close to my best friend."
At the mention of a baby, Kendall's eyes reflect the sadness Giselle is feeling. Grant sees the female moment coming and excuses himself, but not before saying, "You can stay with us, Giselle, until you find a job."
She gives him a grateful smile and says, "I'm not going to impose. I'm going to stay with Hoke and Paula while I job hunt."
Kendall says, "You're staying with me until the wedding. I need my maid of honor here."
They all laugh, the moment broken up by Grant's cell phone. After checking the message, he says, "Gotta go to the hospital, hon. You girls have fun."
After he leaves, Giselle says, "He was born to be a doctor."
Kendall says, "I know. He's very happy he went into sports medicine. Frankly, so am I."
Keeping the topic off her for a few minutes, Giselle says, "What about you? How do you like working at KFLA?"
Kendall beams and says, "I love it, Giselle. It's what I've always dreamed. I wanted to wait till you were here to tell you...I'm finally producing! I got the midday show!"
Giselle leaps to her feet and tackles Kendall. They fall over on the couch hugging and for the first time in years, Giselle feels like she's home. The emotions overwhelm her and she starts sobbing.
Sensing her friend's impending meltdown, Kendall hugs her and lets her cry it out. When the sobs subside, she says, "Talk to me Giselle. Don't keep it bottled up any more."
Curling her legs up under her and hugging a pillow, Giselle says, "I'm so lonely Ken. I miss Nick."
Kendall's mouth drops and says, "You miss HIM or you miss being with someone? Cause there's a big fucking difference!"
Giselle closes her eyes. Time to be perfectly honest with herself and Kendall. "I miss being held, Ken. He was the only guy I was ever with and he made me feel things I never knew I could feel. I want that. I ache for it."
Kendall says, "That's not missing Nick, Giselle. What you need is a good man."
Trying to bring levity to the situation, Giselle says, "So you'll share Grant with me?"
Kendall smacks her arm and says, "Not on your life." When the laughter subsides, Kendall says, "Giselle, AJ and Nick will be at the wedding." Giselle stares at her in horror so she rushes on. "I had to invite them, Giselle. The entire group. It wasn't...I knew if I told you about it you wouldn't come home."
She thinks about it before saying, "Yes I would Ken. You were there for me when I needed you. Every single time. Now it's my turn. I can handle seeing Nick and...and AJ."
Kendall looks out the window when car lights pass over it. "I hope so because, well..."
Seeing her start to squirm, Giselle knows she's going to regret asking. "What?"
The door behind her opens and AJ walks in with Grant. "Hey Elle."
Giselle closes her eyes. It's gotta be a dream. She opens them and turns, seeing AJ. He looks thin and pale. She stares at him, not really sure what he expects her to say.
Kendall and Grant disappear as AJ walks over to stand beside her. He takes off his glasses and says, "You look good, Elle."
She bites her lip, trying not to cry. He sees her body shake and he draws her against his chest. "I'm so sorry Elle. I'm so sorry for everything. Please say you don't hate me."
His whispered plea knocks down the rest of the wall surrounding her heart. She clutches his shirt as the sobs take over her body. He whispers, "It's ok, Elle. Shh, it's ok."
How long she cried, she doesn't know. They end up sitting on the couch, him practically holding her on his lap. When she's brave enough to look into his eyes, he wipes the tears from her face and says, "I don't deserve your friendship. Not after the way I treated you."
She struggles to hold the tears at bay and says, "AJ, are you ok? Really?"
She sees he's having a hard time finding the right words. Finally, he says, "We're not talking about me yet, Elle. I need to talk about you ok?" When she nods, he says, "Nick...Elle, I'm so very sorry he hurt you."
She snuggles against his chest, hiding her face in his neck. As she traces the tattoos on the parts of his chest showing, she says, "Is he ok?"
His body tenses up. He says, "I think he's pretty fucked up right now, Elle. You won't recognize him. He's changed."
She nods and says, "I've followed your career. I know how he's changed. And you. You seem lost, AJ. Please talk to me."
He chuckles and says, "Not yet. I have one more thing to ask you." When she looks into his eyes, he says, "Are you really ok?" At her puzzled expression, he says, "Losing the baby...how hard was it on you? I should have been there. Hell, NICK should have been there."
She sniffles again and snuggles against him, her tears soaking into his shirt. "I didn't think I could get over AJ. I still don't know if I have. My baby would have been in school now...some days I think it was God's way of telling me I wasn't ready and other day's I just curse Him for not letting me have someone in my life that would always be there."
He stiffens and she knows she's hurt his feelings. She pulls back to look at him, seeing tears falling down his face. "I'm sorry Elle. I should have been. I shouldn't have let you go through that alone. I wanted to fucking kill Nick and I still do some days."
Snuggling with him, she whispers, "Don't, AJ. It doesn't take a genius to figure out he's in trouble." Stroking his arm, she says, "I think you are too. What's going on?"
He stiffens and she's thankful she's sitting on him. He can't get away. He can't avoid her. Finally, he says, "I'm outta control Elle. I don't know how to stop."
Pulling back to look at him, she says, "Let me help you AJ. Please. I...need you AJ. I missed you. I can't do this...I can't live without you in my life. It's too hard. Please, AJ...please don't leave me again."
He sees the fear in her eyes. The fear of being alone. A fear he's felt for a long time now. "I don't know how, Elle. I don't know where to begin."
She kisses his cheek and says, "You just did. Let's talk to Grant. He can help us find a way."
"Us?" That single word throws him for a loop.
She smiles timidly. "I'm not letting you go through this alone AJ. I'm gonna be here to help you."
He hugs her tightly and says, "I don't deserve it. But God knows I need you Elle. I need you like I've never needed anyone before."
With her head on his shoulder, she whispers, "I've always been here AJ. And I always will."