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Chapter Forty Four

July 11, 1998

Orlando, Florida

12:00 p.m.

“Howie you want the pastrami on rye?”

“Are you kidding me? I can’t look at anything. I need tea. I need…”


“That wasn’t normal hot sauce. You better watch your back.”

“I’m truly terrified.”

“Did I tell you she asked me out before she went out with Brian?”

The last question is just a mere whisper in my ear. I tear my gaze away from AJ and Howie’s continuing argument and look at Nick.



“No way.”

Nick smirks. “Yeah. I turned her down. She’s hated me since.”

My eyes travel across the room. Brian and Leighanne are sitting in a small corner, practically on top of each other. Except for one quick look in my direction, Brian hasn’t acknowledged me.

“Please don’t be upset. I’m sure he’s avoiding you so she doesn’t remove those giant gold earrings and go all West Side Philly on you.”

“I’d like to see her try. I’d frame a copy of her mug shot,” I mutter. I stab my fork clean through a huge chunk of cantaloupe.

Nick laughs. “I can just see it. Her making the duck face...a decade before the duck face became all the rage.”

“She’s kinda an addiction for him. I think in the back of his mind he probably realizes he’s heading down douche-bag road, but the sex with the twin airbags must be enough to keep him blind,” Nick dramatically covers his eyes, swooning against me. “To the truth.”

I laugh so loudly AJ and Howie stop bickering like an old couple. I jab Nick but he’s full on giggling. Giggling.

I see Brian glance my way. I ignore it.

Two can play this stupid game.

1:30 p.m.

...You walked in, you were so quick to judge (quick to judge)
But honey he's nothing like me
Darling why can't you see

I'll never break your heart
I'll never make you cry
I'd rather die than live without you
I'll give you all of me
Honey, that's no lie

“That sounds good. That sounds real good. AJ, you can’t dry hump the floor during a slow song though.”

“Lou can suck my ass,” AJ laughs. “Actually, he can suck Howie’s. It’s already sore.”

“Why is this pick on D day?”

“D day? Really?”

Howie exhales so loudly that the sound magnifies through the entire arena.

“Brian, honey, can you run through As Long As You Love Me? Please?”

Leighanne is pressed up against the stage. I’m sitting a few rows back, my legs getting cramped from the small space. Brian gives her a smile that could melt a snowman. He crouches down. I see Nick turn, pretending to shove his mic down his throat. Even from my vantage I can see Leighanne singing along.

I don't care who you are
Where you're from
What you did
As long as you love me
Who you are
Where you're from
Don't care what you did
As long as you love me

I want to grab her by the Scrunchie holding up her I Dream of Jeanne hair. And not because her and Brian are back together. I don’t care about that. What makes me so incredibly pissed is that any woman would be such a bitch to two unborn children to start causing a wedge between father and children even before the babies were even born.

“I felt like I needed to get away from the laser beams that were your eyes.”

AJ’s voice startles me. I turn around to see him snickering. He sinks down in the chair behind me and one to the left, bracing his arms on the chair in front of him.

“I just wanted to say that I had a twin sister that died when we were born. I’m really praying for both babies. Brian will come around. They’re really all he’s talked about.”

AJ slides off his sunglasses and I’m treated to a look at his pretty, big brown eyes. I smile. “Thank you. I really appreciate it.”

“Actually, it’s all Nick’s talked about either. It’s really cramping my style. We play wingman for each other and since February I’ve had to go solo. It’s putting a damper on my game.”

I laugh. “How about Howie?”

“Yeah, Howie’s my back-up. I only torture those I love.”

“J, Fatima needs us all to run through the choreography!”

AJ bounces up, saluting Kevin. “Aye aye!”

I look back up towards the front. Leighanne’s clinging to the stage, Brian pretending to not dance on her fingers. Her eyes are crinkled up in delight.

“We doing Jam On? Cause that’s my song!” AJ declares, bouncing up the steps. I catch Nick’s eye. He smiles.

I smile. Nick’s got a wardrobe girl behind him and the black and red pants he’s wearing are the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. He motions towards them and holds up his hands.

I give him the thumbs up.

He gives me the finger followed by a heart.

That’s the way we flirt.

7:15 p.m.

“I can't sit right next to Leighanne. Do you know how awkward that’s going to be? She wants to maul me. It's not like we'll talk. And then I have to sit there while she rubs up against the stage during As Long As You Love Me. Nick..."

I know I'm whining. I am not a natural whiner, but damn, this situation calls for major whine...

“My vote is for you to sit backstage, but I got veto’d. There’s too many crazy light effects and pyrotechnics and moving around for this show. And they’ve got the crappiest smoke machine.”

"Smoke inhalation would be preferable over sitting next to Leighanne."

“We have a whole friends and family section. You won’t necessarily be sitting together.”

“Friends and family?”

Nick looks a little sick. “Yeah.”

“As in Brian's family."

Nick nods. "It's a surprise."

"And your family?”

Nick looks more than a little sick. “Yeah. I was going to tell you a little later…”

“How much later?”


"I probably told you too late..." he sighs.

"THERE YOU ARE! Aaron, come with me!"

Oh shit.