Howie rushed to the phone as he heard it ringing at his hotel. He’d just gotten out of the shower when he’d heard the shrill sound buzzing for him to answer. Wrapping a towel around himself as he ran, he picked up the phone, nestling it between his chin and shoulder.
“Hello,” he answered, “D speaking.”
“Hey, Howie,” a male voice responded, “What’s up with everyone.”
Howie raised an eyebrow, not recognizing the voice on the other end. He wondered if it were a crazy male fan who was crushing on him. The thought made him shiver. If the caller knew where they were, he could easily find his room.
“Everything is good,” he answered, “Um, who is this?”
The voice laughed, “How easily you forget. It’s Danny, from No Authority.”
Howie winced, feeling awful for not recognizing the voice. He should have, beings they’d toured together for a few months. He hoped that he hadn’t insulted the member considering what their band was going through at the moment.
“Hey, how are ya?” Howie casually asked
“Doing all right,” he replied, “Eric and Ricky are doing pretty well too. We all miss touring though.”
Howie knew how he felt. Him and the Boys missed touring too. It was something that they’d have to get used to not doing though, at least for a while. The two bands had something in common now though. Each one had a member that was left stranded in the hospital.
“How’s Tommy doing?” Howie asked, hoping that the news was good. He wished that they’d contacted the group and asked how to keep this private. The newer band was obviously better about that than they were. The news on Tommy still wasn’t out in public while Kevin’s accident was all over the news after days.
“Could be better,” Danny told him regretfully, “Could be much worse too though. He’s been going through chemo and all and is sick as a dog.”
“I’m sorry that things aren’t going better,” Howie said truthfully, wishing that the information had been better.
“It’s all right,” Danny sighed, “The doctors say that he’s got a big chance of survival, but he’ll still be weak for months after treatment. Cancer sucks…for the victim and their friends.”
Howie agreed because him and the guys and girls were going through pretty much the same thing at the moment. Kevin was paralyzed and it was affecting everyone that was close to him.
“I know how you feel,” Howie answered, his voice trailing off slightly.
“Yeah, I imagine you do,” Danny laughed bitterly, “How is Kevin doing, anyways? I saw it on the news and couldn’t believe it. I was literally shocked. So were the rest of the guys.” “Kevin is okay,” Howie informed his old friend, “He is rather lucky to be alive, to be honest. None of us like to talk about that side of it though. He’s a little down, but thinks he’s some sort of God and will be walking again in record time. I think that he is in denial.”
“Tommy was too at first,” Danny agreed, “It took his first day of chemo for him to see the reality of the situation. Maybe it will take Kevin’s first day of therapy for him to see that it won’t be as easy as he is thinking it will be. As sad as that is to say, its how it goes in most cases.”
Howie knew exactly what he was talking about. Until Kevin’s first round of therapy, he wouldn’t be able to see exactly how difficult it would be for him. Howie would do anything to make it so the situation was different and it would be easier for his best friend.
“We all wanted to come and visit Tommy, but considering the most recent drama here, I don’t think that we’ll be making it.”
“Vice versa,” Danny replied, “We’re on opposite ends of the country. I guess phone calls to check up on how things are will have to due for now.”
“Yep. I guess so,” Howie agreed, “I hope that things turn around for the better for Tommy.”
“As with Kevin,” Danny answered, “He’s a great man and strong. I don’t think that he’ll be down long.”
Howie snorted, “He’s changed a lot since the accident. His strength is diminishing as we speak.”
There was a long silence and Howie knew that what he said was almost impossible for anyone who’d known the old Kevin to believe. Kevin being depressed and not having any hope was an unlikely story, but against all odds, they were living it.
“Well, I’d better get going,” Danny finally said, “We hadn’t spoken in a few weeks to any of you guys, so I thought I’d see how things were.”
“Thanks for calling. Sorry we didn’t get around to calling you any sooner” Howie apologized.
“No worries,” Danny casually replied, “Good luck with everything that’s coming up here soon.”
“Yeah, you too,”
Howie replaced the phone back onto the receiver and sighed. It seemed like there was always something going wrong. He hoped that Tommy’s chemo cured his cancer. He was glad that he’d gotten the call from their former warm up band. It was a nice surprise. Getting up, Howie walked back into the bathroom to finish getting ready for the day. It was going to be another long one.
Jaime looked up and smiled at A.J. He was so adorable to her and she couldn’t believe that they were officially dating. Nobody had really asked anyone to be his or her girlfriend or boyfriend. It had just sort of developed into that. They hadn’t had all that much alone time together though. The majority of the time, they’d been in the hospital with Kevin or A.J. was with the other guys arranging things and canceling other plans that would be impossible to make. A.J. had begun being nice to her again. She didn’t know why he’d been so distant for a few days, but she was glad that it had passed. What she still didn’t know and wasn’t even close to being sure of was what had caused his bad mood. A.J. looked away from the movie that they’d been watching in his hotel room and smiled down at her.
“Whatcha looking at?” he asked
“How sexy you are,” Jaime told him. A.J. grinned taking the compliment to his head and Jaime laughed at him, poking his tight abs with the tip of her finger good-naturedly. She really hoped that their relationship worked out. As opposite as they were, she had to admit that they were probably a perfect match.
“So,” Jaime asked all of a sudden, “Back when we first met, why were you being so cold towards me the day we went out and the next couple after?”
She could feel A.J. tense up and wondered if she was overstepping her boundaries with him. She figured that it was either that or it was a sensitive subject for him to speak about openly. She really wanted to know because she’d thought that he’d just had a bad time with her earlier. It had been on her mind a lot and was determined to know what exactly had happened.
“I’m sorry,” Jaime quickly apologized when A.J. still said nothing for minutes, “Forget that I mentioned anything.”
A.J. gently placed his forefinger over her lips to stop her from speaking. She stared up at him and their eyes met. A.J. took his hand away and brushed a strand of her hair behind her ear, leaning down to kiss her on the mouth to let her know that she hadn’t upset him.
“You probably know all about my falling out a few years ago, right?” A.J. finally spoke.
Jaime just nodded, not wanting to speak and ruin the moment. He was calm and seemed willing to talk about it now.
“Well, to make a long story short, Kevin more or less threw that in my face. It really depressed me and I took it out on you when I shouldn’t have. I took it out on everybody, actually.”
“But didn’t Kev do the same thing the next day?” Jaime asked, the words slipping from her mouth before she realized it.
A.J. nodded, “That’s what made me even more upset. Although, you know that part already.”
Jaime nodded. That she did. They’d all discussed it in the waiting room at the hospital while waiting to see Kevin. It was hard to believe that he’d been unable to walk for just about two weeks now. She could see that he was getting weaker, but also knew that he’d start some sort of therapy really soon, which would help him greatly.
A.J. decided to leave out the bit of his and Kevin’s talk and Kevin trying to make things right. He knew that it had been childish of him to forgive Kevin and they do a turn around again and walk out in anger. The more he thought about it though, the more upset he became. Everybody seemed to be against him. They said that they were only looking out for what was in his best interest, but he wasn’t so sure if he actually believed that line or not.
“Thank god you don’t hold my past against me,” A.J. murmered, pulling her in closely to him, “I don’t know what I’d do if you did.”
“Why would I,” Jaime asked him.
A.J. didn’t say anything. He just continued to hold Jaime closely to him, like if he let go, she would drift away and disappear from his life like everything else that had been good in it.
“I l…care about you so much,” A.J. whispered in her ear when he finally did speak. He cringed at what he’d almost said to her. Although he did feel it, he felt it was too soon to tell her that he loved her.
“I care about you to, Aje,” Jaime told him softly.
She turned around and looked into his eyes and they soon started kissing, which quickly turned into a heated making out session which ended in the lights dimming and their clothes on the floor next to them.
Kevin groaned as he lifted the heavy one-hundred pound weights over his head. Sweat beaded his forehead as he struggled to lift it one more time. A male physical therapist stood behind him as his arms shook, lifting it up and he gently helped guide the weight back onto its rack. Exhausted, Kevin let out a huge breath. It had been so long since he’d actually done a bench press, or so it seemed. He felt like he was so out of shape and it sickened him.
It was his first day of therapy and Kevin wasn’t thrilled. His joints were stiff. He could tell that much without even feeling anything and he hadn’t even begun working out his lower body yet. He could tell that he’d lost muscle tone in his lower body and it disgusted him. His whole life of working out and making sure that he was in top shape, everything that he’d gotten out of it, was almost gone. His legs looked like un-toned toothpicks. His upper body wasn’t exactly in top shape either. Before he could bench well over two-hundred easy. Now, he struggled with a measly one-hundred pounds. He knew that his declining shape was all in his head, knowing he couldn’t become so weak and untoned in so little time, but that didn’t cease his mind. He went by what he saw in the mirror, and what he saw disgusted him. Kevin could tell that he wasn’t making any progress at all and he was quickly becoming discouraged because he was used to getting results from what he’d worked for right away. He was used to being independent.
“Need a hand sitting up?” the therapist, whose name was Derek, asked, holding a hand out.
Kevin shook his head, “I can get it myself. I’m a grown man, after all.”
Derek stood before Kevin with his arms crossed over his chest as he watched Kevin expectantly, as if he were just waiting for the man to screw up. Kevin was determined to prove the man wrong and show off. He tried to pull himself up, but moved about an inch. He laid back down for a small rest before trying again. He got into a half-way sitting position before his body started to sway and he fell back again. After several more attempts, Kevin closed his eyes, knowing that he’d have to swallow his pride.
“Okay, so maybe I do need a hand,” he grumbled.
Kevin held out his arm out for the therapist to grab on to and within no time, he was in a sitting position once again. He wiped away the sweat on his forehead with the back of his hand and reached down to get his bottle of water to take a drink.
“Ready to move on to the lower region?” Derek asked.
Kevin looked up at him in despise. He hated the man already and he barely knew him. Then again, Kevin figured that he would probably have a disliking towards anybody who was his therapist. They were there to intimidate him, not help.
“Whatever gets me out of here sooner,” he muttered.
Derek helped Kevin off of the bench and onto a floor-mat five feet away. Kevin laid down on it just wanting to get the torture and pain over with. Derek sat at Kevin’s feet and lifted his right leg, gently bending his knees. Kevin couldn’t feel a thing, which scared him. Then again, he was paralyzed, so what was he expecting? Kevin hated not being able to move on his own.
“So, how did you end up here?” Derek asked, trying to make conversation.
“Is that really any of your business?” Kevin asked coolly.
Derek shrugged, “Only if you want it to be,” he answered, “Just trying to break the silence. It will make time go faster.”
Kevin said nothing. He didn’t know how anything could ever make time go by faster for him during therapy. It was long, boring, and he didn’t feel like it would do him any good. He thought that he’d been given false hope of ever walking again. He wondered if it was just doctors’ ploy to get their patients to trust them during their stay. Either way, he hated doctors more than anything else at that moment. Kevin sighed.
“Drunk driving accident,” he finally said in monotone.
Kevin could see Derek draw back at the fact that he’d actually gotten a response out of the hard-headed man.
“Was it your fault or the other drivers?” he asked.
Kevin laughed bitterly, “It was my fault all right. Thank god there was no other car involved.”
Derek said nothing, figuring that Kevin would explain without being asked to do so. He found in his years of experience that in over ninety-five percent of cases, once the patient begun talking, they continued willingly. It was breaking the shell that was the hardest part of all.
“I hit a tree,” Kevin continued, just as Derek had predicted, “Going pretty damned fast. I left my seatbelt off that night…something I never do. Who knows, maybe I was looking for trouble.”
Derek didn’t say anything and Kevin just stared up at the ceiling. He was feeling so frustrated with himself. This was the first time he’d openly talked about the accident, and he had to admit that it was making him feel slightly better. He had to wonder though if he’d had his seatbelt on, if he would even be alive, or if he’d be fine without a scratch. He’d seen pictures of his car and it looked like an acordian. He was going with he’d be dead.
“Well,” Derek stated, “That’s all for today. We don’t want to overwork you on your first day.”
Kevin choked back a laugh. He felt pretty overworked as it was. Who was Derek kidding? The therapist helped Kevin up into his wheelchair.
“Same time tomorrow?” he asked.
“Sure, whatever,” Kevin replied, and spun around, wheeling himself out of the torture chamber as quickly as he could. All he wanted to do was get back up to his room and sleep. His thoughts about the accident had scared him and depressed him. He was confused and wondering if even being alive was really even worth it.
Stephanie sighed as she unpacked unloaded her duffle bags and suitcases from her car. Her and Nick had driven back up to her and the girls town to get their clothes and things that they’d need since it was obvious that they were staying with the guys permanently now.
“It was nice of you to bring Jaime and Anna’s clothes back with you,” Nick told her grabbing two of the bags and carrying them into the hotel room.
“Yeah, well, they were both busy and I had nothing better to do,” she replied flatly, “Thanks for joining me. It helped out a lot, believe it or not.”
The two had left the afternoon before on the long trip back to the girls’ apartment. They’d begun loading the trunk of the car, saving the back seat for the next morning. Ten hours on the road just to get clothes. She personally didn’t feel it was worth it, but then again, she didn’t want to spend the money on buying a new outfit every day, like they’d all been doing. It was a waste of the Boys’ money, who insisted on buying.
“I didn’t know that the state of Delaware was so close to Virginia,” Nick commented, “Damn, it was only like, five hours.” Stephanie shook her head and smacked her forehead with the heel of her hand before looking at Nick like he was an idiot.
“What did I say?” Nick asked, confusion written all over his gorgeous face.
“Just, shut up and be pretty,” Stephanie demanded.
“Shhhh,” Stephanie cut him off.
Nick pouted and Stephanie felt sorry for her new boyfriend. It had taken him so long to actually get her to be his girlfriend. Since he’d won her trust, he was making sure to treat her like gold and cherish her. She finally decided to correct his little mistake on geography.
“Honey,” she said, “We went to the city of Delaware, Ohio. Not the state of Delaware.” She corrected and could see Nick’s eyes growing wide. She smirked at the look of innocence on his face. She could tell that he felt stupid. Stephanie could only hope that with time, Nick would gain some common sense from being around all of the time. If he didn’t, then she would feel like she was bringing up a child who was several years older than she was.
Stephanie and Nick had finally finished unloading the car and were now in her hotel room lounging on the sofa. Nick had insisted on upgrading her room to a suite for the two of them to share. He’d gotten Anna and Jaime their own suite as well. A.J. came and went as he pleased from the other two girls’ room.
“So, what’s in store for today?” Stephanie asked with a yawn.
“Before we go anywhere, you could use a nap,” Nick laughed, “You didn’t sleep at all last night.”
“Nick,” Stephanie explained, “I didn’t sleep because I have insomnia. You do know what that is, right?”
“I’m not stupid, Steph,” Nick replied, insulted when she snorted back laughter, “I’m not,” he insisted, “Besides, it was my first night with you. How was I supposed to know that?”
Stephanie shrugged, laying her head down on Nick’s shoulder. She was so hot for him at that moment, and was pretty sure that he was thinking the same thoughts as her, but decided for once not to speak her mind about her desire to screw him. She’d wait until the time was right and special. Nick was, after all, the sweetest man she’d ever met and the most respectful. Sure, he was a little slow at times, but it kept things lively and interesting between the two of them. Anna had laughed when she’d told her that she and Nick were an item. Anna had said that A.J. was more her type, and she supposed that it was true. But even so, she’d been given congratulations from her friend who was still waiting on Kevin.
“Would you believe me if I told you that I love you right now? Nick asked her softly, stroking her cheek with his thumb.
Stephanie sat up and looked him in the eye. She could tell that he was sincere, but knew that it was impossible to fall in love so quickly.
“I’d like to,” she told him, “But wait to say it until you know you mean it. Not just when you think you do.”
Nick nodded, catching her drift. Stephanie yawned again and laid her head back down. That much driving could really wear a person out.
“I like you a lot,” Nick told her and Stephanie laughed softly.
“I like you a lot too,” she replied, closing her eyes.
Nick smiled widely. He was thrilled to have such a special girl to call his own. Nick began singing to her softly. His voice was so soothing to her and before she knew it, she was in a deep, comforting sleep for the first time in years.
“How’re you feeling,” Ryan asked, walking into Kevin’s room followed by the other five members of Bluewave.
Kevin looked up and saw his former warm-up band and drew back in shock. They were just about the last people he’d expected to see. He figured that since they couldn’t tour anymore because of his stupidity, that they’d back away and try to get revenge on him.
“I guess I can’t complain,” Kevin lied, “What are you all doing here?”
“Checking up to see how you’re doing,” Erik replied, “We’ve all been concerned and beings we’ve only been by once or twice, we figured we were due to pay you another visit.”
Kevin laughed. His perception on the band certainly was off. They were genuinely nice guys, he could tell. He still felt horrible for ruining their chance at making it big, or at least setting it back. He began chewing his lip, knowing that he should say something to them out loud.
“I’m sorry,” he blurted.
The six guys looked at Kevin wondering what he’d said it for. None of them felt he owed them an apology for anything.
“You did nothing wrong,” Cody answered.
Kevin nodded, “Yes, I really did. You’re not being noticed because of me being here. I could have prevented all of this if I’d used my head.”
Bluewave all shrugged as if this fact didn’t bother them at all. Kevin couldn’t believe that it didn’t though.
“No big deal,” Michael told him, “This gives us more time to play around with our music and get more organized. We were called on such short notice to start touring that we didn’t have the time that we needed to plan things out accordingly.”
“Oh,” Kevin replied, not knowing what to say, “Well, um, aren’t you the least bit upset?”
“Nah,” Bryan answered, “If we come up with a better performance, it will help us out in the long run, even if we don’t start for a few extra months.”
Kevin smiled in appriciation to the bands understanding, even if they were only playing along for his sake. It was obvious though that either way, they’d talked the situation over. They made a good point though. They were called on with about two days notice which wasn’t near enough time to pull together the perfect routine. He agreed that they were better off waiting, even though they were pretty amazing already.
“Remember my promise though,” Kevin said, “As soon as the Boys are back out on stage, you’re coming with us to tour.”
“We’ll hold you up to that,” Alex piped up, “We’re all looking forward to touring with the best pop band around.”
“And when you start making shows up,” Michael encountered, “Things will be crazier than ever. It will be great publicity for both bands.”
Kevin was glad that they’d had this discussion. He was sure that if Bluewave didn’t find elsewhere to tour during his process of getting well, that they’d all become best friends for a long time.
“Thanks for everything,” Kevin said, “You guys have all been great about all of this. You’re probably the nicest group of people that I know.”
The band shrugged off the compliment. Kevin was just happy to know that the six men would be there for him, along with his own band mates and the three women who had recently come on board. Kevin’s confidence and assurance that he would get well quick all came back because had the support of at least thirteen people cheering him on. He couldn’t let them all down.