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Story Notes:
AJ stared blankly at the empty page on his computer screen, as the cursor continued to blink. He knew that he was running out of time to finish his page before class started. Rochelle flowed gracefully into the room as he rested his head on the maple wood desk; that his mother had given him before moved to Los Angeles.

"Hey Monkee, what ya working on?" She asked placing her hands on his shoulder. He groveled as he spoke.

"I gotta teach the class about who Romeo could be like in this day and age." Rochelle cocked her head to one side. "I'm taking things from the past and trying to modernize them. I guess I'm trying to keep the kids interested." Rochelle then closed his laptop and turned him around in his chair.

"A sweet little girl is waiting to see her father." She stated pointing at the door. AJ looked at the alarm clock that was sitting to the right of him. He didn’t realize how much time had already passed. He then got up from his chair.

It was quiet as he and his wife walked into the kitchen. All of the lights in the kitchen seemed to be on but no one was in sight. As they walked further in, they heard music coming from the backyard. The music grew louder as they walked out to the yard. Sitting on a yellow melon lawn chair, was Nick. He was playing a song that he was writing for Ava’s birthday.

“Hey Nick, what's up man?” He stopped playing and looked up from his guitar. AJ could see the dismayed look on his face. “Dude, what’s wrong?” Nick looked around for a minute and then spoke.

“Can we go inside for a minute?” He asked as walked back towards the house. Once inside, Nick turned his attention to AJ.

“Dude, what’s going on?” Nick bit his lip as he was about to speak.

“Umm…well…Lauren left me and took Ryan with her.” Jack was Nick, only son. His eyes became glassy as he looked at AJ. “I just don’t understand.” He said as the tears started to fall. “I thought everything was going so good. After everything that happened, everything we’ve been though.” Nick was referring to when he and Lauren lost their first son in a boating accident. He was playing too close to the water a fell in. Nick had always blamed himself for what happened.

“Nick, this isn’t your fault, shit happens. Even to the best of us.” He said as placed his hand on Nick’s back. Nick started to wipe his tears with his navy blue short sleeved shirt.

“Well, I just wanted to come over and tell you the news. I think I’m going to go back home and start looking for someone to buy the place. I mean if the paparazzi isn’t already there.” He rubbed his temples as he continued to speak. “Shit man, I don’t know how you got the paparazzi off your back but good job.” AJ chuckled.

“I became a teacher.” Nick made a laugh of his own. Then at that moment, AJ looked at his best friend as he knew what he had to do. “I want you to stay with us until you can get everything sorted out.” Nick was speechless for a moment.

“Don’t you need to run it by Ava and Rochelle? I mean I don’t want to be in the way. Ava birthday is tomorrow and it’s a big one for her.” AJ walked away from the island where he was standing. He sat in a sand brown leather Lazy Boy and Nick followed suit. AJ continued to stare out the window as he spoke.

“I want to tell you a story that not many people know. When Rochelle and I first started dating, after we got engaged; we broke up. I really thought it was the end between us but my mother took me and helped me through it and then a few months later we got back together.” As he stared out the window, he saw Rochelle pushing Ava on the swings, just like when she was little. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, I know what it feels like when everything in your life is fallen apart. And I know Ava and Rochelle will be glad to have you.”

Once again AJ was staring at yet another blank screen. His finger traced over the keys as he tried to think of what to talk about. Then suddenly there was a light tap that came to his door. It was his daughter Ava.

“Hey Dad, can I talk to you?” She asked walking further into the room. AJ closed his laptop and turned his attention towards his daughter.

“Sure, what’s up baby girl?” Ava twirled her thumbs as she tried to think of how to start the now awkward conversation. AJ saw a drop of sweat falling from the top of the left side of her face. “Sweetheart, what’s going on?”

“Umm…I know why Lauren leave Nick.” AJ seemed puzzled.

“Yes and so do I.” Ava cleared her throat before she spoke again.

“I know the actual reason, dad.” Her face was expressionless as she looked at her father. She could tell that he truly had no idea what was going on. “Lauren left Nick because he was cheating on her.” AJ eyes widened as he took in this new information.

“I…I don’t understand; why didn’t he tell me?” Ava walked over to her father and placed her hand on his shoulder.

“Maybe he was embarrassed, dad. I mean think about it, would you really want to tell your best friend that you were cheating on your wife?” AJ rubbed his temples as he thought.

“I guess not.” Then he looked up from the floor to his daughter. “Do you know who the mistress is?”

“That’s the hardest pill to swallow. Dad, it’s…” Suddenly Nick busted through the door.

“AJ you need to come quick, it’s about Rochelle.” AJ and Ava rose quickly from their seats and ran out of the room. They followed Nick down the hallway, that now seemed longer. A few seconds later AJ was standing over his barely breathing wife’s body. Her body was covered in so much blood that AJ didn’t really know where she had gotten hurt. It felt as though the room began to spin and the voices became muffled, lost in the air. Out of the corner of his eye, AJ saw Ava curled next to her mother, crying. He then came back to reality when he realized that Ava was calling his name.

“Dad! Mom wants to talk to you.” She said slowly backing away. At that moment, he was holding Rochelle's limp body in his arms. Tears fell from his face as he gazed at her.

“Oh baby, how did this happen? Who did this to you?” Rochelle let out a weak cough as she looked at her husband.

“AJ, I need you to listen to me. No matter what happens from this point on, you can’t trust anyone. And I wanted to tell you that I’m…” AJ McLean was now holding his wife’s lifeless body in his hands. He then pressed his lips softly to her forehead, but as he looked back up, he saw glass shattered on the floor. He then looked up at Nick.

“Where the hell did that glass come from?” Nick looked in the same direction.

“I guess that’s how they got in.” Suddenly they heard police sirens coming up the street. AJ darted his eyes towards the front door.

“Who the fuck called the cops?” He asked, still looking up. Ava then spoke up.

“I’m sorry dad, I didn’t know what to do.” Suddenly a loud bang came to the front door. No one moved for a long moment.

“We know you’re in there Mr. Mclean. We advise you to come out with your hands up.” Said an elderly cop through the door. AJ then stared at his daughter and then his best friend.

“Guys you know I didn’t do this.”

“We know you didn’t man, but if you don’t go now, it will just make you look guiltier.” AJ then placed his wife’s head gently on the floor and got up off the floor. Then out of nowhere, two bodies guarded style cops ran inside towards the kitchen.

“Everybody hands up!” Said a gray breaded cop who was now staring at Rochelle’s motionless body. The man then spoke a police code into his walkie-talkie. AJ didn’t know what the code met until they were putting him in handcuffs. “AJ Mclean, you are under arrest for the murder of Rochelle Mclean.” The officer then looked towards Nick and Ava. “You two will be brought in for questioning.” AJ couldn’t look up at his daughter as the policemen were carrying him away. He knew in his heart that he would never have killed Rochelle but he need to find out who did and before it was too late.