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Chapter Twenty-Five

Stephanie smiled as she stepped out of the front doors of the doctors office. She reached her arms upward towards the clear, blue sky and breathed in the fresh air as she soaked in the warm springtime sun.

“This is the life,” Stephanie murmured, loving the feel of the heat reflecting off of her naturally pale skin complection.

Taking in another breath, she advanced a small step forward before racing down the twelve brick steps which led to the parking lot. She strode over to her white Convertible, hopping over the edge gracefully and in to the car. She shoved the key in to the ignition, putting the car in to drive and pulled out of the now almost empty parking lot.

It was a month and a half later and Stephanie was now three months pregnant. She hadn’t begun to show as of yet, or if she had, it was minimal, but had gained a few more pounds in water weight. Dr. Jakobs, had told her
informatively that that was a good sign and that so far, everything was looking good and the baby was perfectly healthy. Stephanie couldn’t have been happier with the news. The only thing that would have made the day better was if Nick had been able to go with her. He, as well as the rest of the guys though, had some business to take care of since Kevin had decided to give touring a try. Their first show was in three days. There was still a lot to be done and taken care of before the big day. Kevin had the most work of anyone beings he was still in a wheelchair and had hardly started learning the routines on wheels, or what he was capable of doing on wheels. She and the girls had sat in on one of the practices though, and Stephanie had to admit that he was catching on nicely and quickly. With Kevin’s recently chanced attitude, which had definitely been for the best, she gave it another two five hour sessions and he’d have every move to each dance down perfectly...almost more perfectly than what the others could already do on working legs. They’d all been out of practice in their dance routines but were already caught up again. Their taking almost a year off hardly showed. She knew that the fans were ecstatic that the group was about to finish off the tour and glad to know that the next album was complete, although on a slight hold for the time being. Either way, the news was phenomenal.

Merging on to the main road, Stephanie’s stomach rumbled in painful hunger. She placed a hand lightly on it, keeping the other firmly wrapped around the steering wheel as her eyes scanned the sides of the road for her options of something quick, tasty and most importantly, healthy, to eat. That was one major thing that had chanced in her since she’d found out about the new life being created inside of her. She had chanced her eating habits drastically. The last thing that she needed was a morbidly obese baby. With her normal fast food diet, that’s exactly what she knew would end up with if she kept that lifestyle up.

“Don’t worry, honey,” Stephanie muttered, her right hand still pressed on her belly as she continued to search for something to eat, “Mama’s gonna feed you soon.”

Not seeing anything other than typical fattening fast food joints for something quick, Stephanie finally pulled off in to the parking lot of the Golden Corral. She knew she had to eat something before she got home because of the half hour drive. Grabbing a book she’d bought earlier that morning for expecting mothers, Stephanie got out of her car and walked in to the deserted restaurant. She stopped at the hostess stand and waited patiently to be noticed and seated. After waiting for only a couple of minutes, a young girl turned to her and smiled brightly.

“How many are in your party today, ma’am?” she asked softly, telling Stephanie that the girl must have been kind of shy.

“Just myself,” Stephanie told her.

“Okay, follow me,” the girl replied, “My name’s Natalie and I’ll be showing you back to your table today..

Stephanie followed Natalie through a maze of tables and chairs, all of which were pretty much unoccupied. She thought nothing of it as she continued to follow the girl to the far side of the restaurant. Finally they stopped at a small table for two next to a large open window, brightening the area perfectly so that Stephanie could read more easily.

“It’ll be right here,” Natalie motioned. Stephanie sat down on one of the wooden, high back chairs, pulling herself under the table, “Your server will be Brad today. He’ll be right with you,” She paused and bit her lip shyly as if there were something more for her to say but didn’t know if she should or not. She released her lip from her teeth and opened her mouth to finally say something, “You can help yourself at the buffet whenever you’re ready.”

Stephanie thanked Natalie and she turned around, walking away at a comfortable pace. Stephanie chuckled, figuring that she was probably somewhat new to the job by her stiff, mechanical actions and her nervous posture. Stephanie knew that she probably could never do the job that Natalie held. It was too repetitious and dealing with the public in a restaurant she knew could be a bitch. She’d end up getting fired for sure for giving some poor old person a piece of her mind just because she was getting on her nerves.

Placing her book on the table, she stood up, making her way to the salad bar. Smells drifted over to her nostrils from the other buffet stations causing her to salivate. She forced herself to stick with the healthier selections though, tempting as it was not to. Grabbing a chilled plate off of t he top of the stack, she took the tongs out of the bin of salad, loading her plate up with the crisp, fresh lettuce. She t hen looked down at her plate, scrunching her nose up in distaste. Stephanie knew she’d have to add some sort of flavor to the plain tasting meal in order for her to stomach it. She hurriedly put a few spoon fulls of shredded cheese, shredded carrots, bacon bits and croutons on top of the leafy food before finishing it off by putting on a ladle of fat free Italian dressing.

“Perfect,” Stephanie stated, her stomach rumbling loudly in total agreeing as she made her way back to her seat, “Healthy for baby with flavor for me.”

She pulled her seat back out and sat down. Opening the book up to the first page, she stuck her nose in it, reading the information carefully. It wasn’t until she’d already read a couple of pages that she took the first bite of her meal and it was then that her server decided to show up for the first time since her arrival.

“Hello,” he greeted, “My name’s Brad. I’ll be taking care of you today. Can I get you anything to drink?”

Stephanie held up one finger telling him to hold on as she finished reading the short paragraph that she was on. When she did look up, she nearly choked on her salad, forcing the mouthful to go down with a hard swallow. The guy in which she was looking at had to have been the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes upon. He stood around 5'10" and had the build of a god. He wasn’t thin but definitely not over weight either. He had just the right amount of muscle to tell her that he worked out, but not too much to where he looked like one of the gross body builders that were occasionally on TV. His hair was black and short, but long enough so that he could spike it in the front. And his eyes...his eyes were the most stunning shade of green. They were piercing in the way that they looked at you, as if they were trying to search your soul...read your mind. He didn’t smile. He seemed almost depressed and as if he were hiding a deep secret, giving him a mysterious nature. By his voice though, he seemed friendly and like he’d made a good friend.

Stephanie realized she’d zoned out in her gaping at the server...Brad, as he’d called himself. She shook her head roughly to clear it and opened her mouth to speak. She was mortified when nothing came out except for a small squeak. Brad still didn’t smile. He just looked at her patiently and with amusement. It was obvious that he was used to this kind of reaction over his looks, although he didn’t seem self centered and big-headed over it.

“I can come back when you’ve made a decision,” he offered.

Stephanie blushed. She wasn’t sure if he was making fun of her or genuinely being sincere. His face told nothing, but his eyes sparkled flirtatiously and playfully. She knew then that he’d only been joking with her. She decided he’d make a fun friend too, to anybody who knew him well.

“Jus...just di...diet coke, please,” Stephanie sputtered, forcing out a weak smile to follow.

Brad nodded once and turned to walk away to get her beverage. Stephanie watched as he left, noticing how tight his firm ass was as he rounded the corner in to what she guessed was the kitchen. She took in a shaky breath and forced herself to put her eyes back on her book.

“Don’t get all bent out of shape,” Stephanie muttered to herself, “It’s just a hot guy. Jeez...I acted like a love sick teen moron...the kind that act like fools around Nick...and I love Nick. It’s just a stupid attraction to a guy who serves at a buffet for a living.”

She took in a deep breath to compose her nerves. She was determined not to make a replay of her recent behavior. She had no reason to act so nervous. He was gorgeous, end of story. Guilt came over her for the butterfly feeling that was in her stomach. Sure, her and Nick were having slight problems over his befriending Willa, but she still loved the blonde and had enough confidence in him to hope that eventually he would see her for what she really was.

Flipping to the next page of her book, Stephanie forced herself to concentrate on the information that she knew was important and would be useful to her. She suddenly was in no hurry to get back home to her and Nick’s empty, lonely mansion. She had a couple of hours to kill before Nick would even be home. She figured she might as well stay out in public so she wouldn’t feel quite so lonely. Just moments later, Brad returned to the table, placing the drink down in front of her on top of a small napkin. She was totally oblivious to his presence until he spoke.

“Week by Week Guide for the Expecting Mother,” he recited the name of the thick book.

Stephanie jumped, startled. The book fell from her hands as she let out a small squeal. She looked up and saw Brad’s eyes twinkling down at her. He seemed almost pleased that he’d made her jump. All she did was stare up at him, no sarcastic comments coming to her mind quick enough for her to retort back at him. Her mind was mush, her tongue tied and heavy whenever he was nearby. It was completely unlike her to be this way and wondered if it was a weird side effect of pregnancy or if it really was because she was attracted to him in ways she knew she shouldn’t be.

“How far along are you?” he asked her with interest she knew wasn’t just being faked, “You’re figure is still killer, so you must be pretty early still.”

Stephanie just stared for another moment with her mouth hanging wide open. She caught herself in her trance though before she was completely gone. Stephanie took in a deep breath, determined to act like a normal human being for once since she’d arrived.

“Three months,” she managed to get out without a trace of a stutter, feeling calmer already and more confident around him.

Brad examined her for a moment. The way his eyes scanned her mad her uncomfortable yet she kind of liked it too all at the same time. She could tell that he was thinking something and was close to speaking.

“I don’t see a ring,” he observed, “Are you married?”

“I...I really don’t think that’s any of your business,” Stephanie told him boldly, although gave him silent credit for being intelligent enough to look for the small, minor details.

Brad just shrugged in response but he didn’t leave. He didn’t say anything else either though. He just stood there.

“Don’t you have a job to do?” Stephanie asked him with a raised eyebrow, realizing he hadn’t left her table in just about five minutes now.

Brad looked around the empty restaurant for a moment before looking back at her again. He still didn’t smile. His eyes still held mystery, which was driving her crazy trying to figure it out. She hated the effect that he was having on her, yet she wanted more.

“You’re my only table,” he commented, “Just trying to make conversation and be friendly since it’s so boring around here,” he paused again, “So, are you married, do you mind me asking.”

Stephanie raised an eyebrow, still not feeling as if this was any of his business. For the first time though, she noticed how sexy and husky his voice was, luring her in to tell him more than she really felt was necessary.

“No, not married,” she told him, folding the page she was on over and closing the book, setting it down on the table top in front of her.

“Engaged then?” Brad pressed.

Stephanie laughed, “You sure are persistent,” she teased, then added in response to his question, “No, not that either.”

Brad looked confused yet determined to figure this whole thing out. As determined as Stephanie was to figure out the mystery behind him by the time she left. His green eyes told her that he was thinking of the next possible exclamation.

“The father didn’t leave you, did he?” Brad asked, and Stephanie thought she saw anger in his eyes over the thought.

Stephanie didn’t reply to him at first. She thought that for her being a total stranger, Brad was getting a little too personal in the questions. Stephanie shrugged it off. The guy was obviously bored and just looking for someone to talk to to pass his time...a little too desperately, maybe.

“No, he didn’t leave,” Stephanie informed him, “We’re still together.”

Brad examined her closely with his piercing green eyes. She could tell that he was trying to read her mind again, leaving her feeling exposed and uncomfortable. She looked down, trying to hide her face beneath her long, blonde hair.

“You’re having problems,” he told her knowingly, “I can tell by your troubled face that something isn’t right.”

Stephanie opened her mouth to protest but decided against it, closing it again just as quickly. Brad was smart. He’d know if she lied to him. Therefore, Stephanie decided to spare both of them the trouble. He was bored. He would argue with her until he got the truth out of her because he obviously had the time to do that.

“Yeah, well, don’t all couples go through rough spots in their relationships?” Stephanie pointed out to him.

Brad shrugged, making Stephanie pleased to think that she’d proved a good point that he actually agreed with. It didn’t last very long though. Brad had already come up with something to argue back with.

“I wouldn’t know,” he interjected, “I’ve never been in a relationship long enough to find out.” Stephanie looked at him strangely waiting for him to explain. She couldn’t believe that this man had never been in a long term relationship before. Especially with the looks that he had and a personality to match, even if he was a little nosy, “I’m afraid of commitment,” he explained simply, “Always have been.”

Brad acted as if this was nothing and didn’t bother him but she could tell that there was more to it by the clouded look in his eyes. He’d dug beneath the surface with her. She had every right to do the same to him. Before she had the chance to though, he began to speak again, putting the attention and spotlight back on her.

“Mind telling me why you and your boyfriend are having problems?” he asked with interest.

Stephanie sighed. He just kept going. She wasn’t sure whether to answer or not. Then again, maybe he’d have some advice to give her on the subject, even if he really didn’t have the right to be told and had never been in her situation or anything close. Stephanie decided to take her chances and tell him. What could it hurt? Chances were she’d never eat there again, making it highly unlikely that she’d ever see him again anyways.

“His ex recently stepped back in to the picture. He’s very wealthy and before she was only after his money. Recently a friend of ours was hospitalized. She called months after, suddenly all concerned, or acting like it at least. I can see past her angelic act though. She want’s his money again. She told me so in private when he wasn’t around. He won’t believe me. He think’s I am jealous and she is innocent. So obviously, it’s causing problems between us.” Stephanie filled him in, making the long, grueling story as short as humanly possible.

Brad looked thoughtful for a moment and she could only imagine what was going on in his creative, brilliant mind. Suddenly Stephanie became fearful that just maybe she was over-reacting about the entire situation. After all, she trusted Nick loved her and wouldn’t let Satan’s puppet ruin their relationship.

“I can see where this would upset you,” Brad finally spoke, “It seems you’ve every right to feel how you do over the whole thing.”

This made Stephanie’s head whip up and over in his direction. She hadn’t expected him to see her point on things. She was at loss for words, unable to think of what to say next in response. All she’d prepared for was an argument to defend herself.

“Is he naturally wealthy by inheritance or is he famous in some way for something he’s done which made him rich on his own?”

Stephanie blushed slightly, “Rich is rich. I don’t see how it matters how he got that way. Besides, you wouldn’t believe me even if I did tell you.”

Brad crossed his arms over his chest and looked at her skeptically, “I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt,” he told her, “I trust you’re old enough to be past making up stories for attention.”

Stephanie smiled in thanks to this. She decided she might as well tell him. In a matter of months, the world would begin to know of her dating Nick anyways. They could only keep it on the down low for so long. They’d been lucky to keep it almost secret for this long anyways.

“Ever heard of the Backstreet Boys?” she asked, then felt like kicking herself for asking such a stupid question. Who hadn’t heard of the Backstreet Boys?

Brad nodded, his serious facial expression never changing. He was waiting for her to continue and she felt comfortable doing so. He didn’t make her feel judged or like an outright liar or even inadequate for mentioning a musical group most looked down upon.

“It’s Nick Carter...the blonde one....from that group,” she told him, holding her breath and waiting to hear his reaction.

“Cool,” Brad replied, “My little sister digs their music,” he paused, then said, “So his ex is after him again for his money, only he doesn’t believe you? Am I following?”

Stephanie nodded her head vigorously, excited that he believed her and was understanding where she was coming from, and especially that he’d listened to her so carefully. It astonished her that he didn’t think she’d lost her mind. She guessed that he must have read her thoughts again by his next comment.

“Under normal circumstances, I might have had a little doubt tucked away in the back of my mind. However, two weeks ago, I waited on Josh Hartnett. Therefore, it makes it much easier to take your word for it.”

“Ah,” was all Stephanie could think of to say.

“Anyways,” Brad replied, “I should probably get going and, um, let you eat.”

Stephanie looked down at her plate of salad, and she realized she’d barely touched it. She also realized that she wasn’t all that hungry any longer. Talking to Brad had filled her up, but in a good way. She looked at him strangely as he took out a pen and piece of paper and wrote something on it. He handed it to her.

“Here’s my number...in case you ever want to talk,” Brad explained his motives, “I’m a good listener...and alright at giving advice, I suppose.”

Stephanie looked down at the number, shaking her had and laughing softly to herself before looking back up at her server. “What is it with waiters hitting on me and my friends and giving us their numbers?” Now it was Brad’s turn to give her a strange look, which caused her to laugh a little more, “Never mind,” she told him, “It’s a long story.”

Brad just shrugged, pulling her bill out of his apron pocket and placed it on the table upside down. He hesitated as if he did not want to leave.

“Well, keep my offer in mind,” he told her, “Have a great afternoon.”

Brad turned and started to walk away. Stephanie’s brain raced with things she wanted to say to him. There was one question she wanted an answer to more than anything else, and her chance to ask was quickly slipping away.

“Brad,” she called and he turned around, question in his pure eyes, “Can you answer something for me?”

“Sure,” Brad answered, “Anything.”

“Why do you never smile?” Stephanie boldly asked.

Brad shrugged, not taking offense to the curious remark, “I guess it’s because I just don’t find much of anything worth smiling over.” he replied, then turned and walked away, disappearing from view, leaving Stephanie feeling sorry for him. She wondered how his life could be so bad that he didn’t find much of anything that would make him happy, he could be so friendly towards others. Stephanie knew that when she was in a sour mood, she was always a bitch, no exceptions.

Picking up her fork, Stephanie finished her salad while reading a few more pages of her book. When she’d almost cleared her plate, Stephanie closed the book and flipped the bill over. She closed her eyes and opened them again, not believing what she saw. All there was was a small piece of paper that said, It’s on me. Stephanie couldn’t figure out when he’d done it. The only time she could think of was when he’d gotten her drink for her. Stephanie felt guilty that he’d done such a generous thing, but knew that he was probably gone until she left the restaurant so she couldn’t protest. Pulling fifteen dollars out of her wallet, she placed it on the table, leaving him a generous tip before standing up and leaving the building. Since she’d been there, although it was still warm and sunny out, the sun had barely begun to set in the distance. She sighed and got in to her car, figuring that she and Nick would probably be getting home at just about the same time. Stephanie couldn’t wait to see him. They hadn’t seen much of each other in the past couple of weeks and she was looking forward to having him all to herself for the night.

Her thoughts got the best of her, and before she knew it, Stephanie was pulling in to her driveway with a grin plastered to her face. It soon faded though when a car she did not recognize was parked directly behind Nick’s. She grumbled to herself as she got out of the car and walked up to the house, letting her inside.

“Nick, I’m home,” she called out in boredom, upset that her plans were ruined.

Getting no response, Stephanie raised her eyebrow, wondering if he’d heard her. She wandered around their huge mansion in search for her boyfriend. If nothing else, she wanted to be able to tell him the news about their baby-to-be. She knew he’d want to hear about it. After all, he was a proud father, boasting to his friends and family over the news. Stephanie couldn’t help but smile at the thought of how cute he was telling everyone that he was going to be a daddy as she walked around the house, continuing her search for Nick.

“Nick?” she yelled again, still not getting any response.

Stephanie shook her head, automatically racing up to the bedroom. For a moment, the thought of what Anna must have gone though entered her mind of not getting a reply from Kevin and then finding his suicide note. Right away though, she found the thought absurd as her heartbeat quickly returned to normal. It would be just like him to have fallen asleep. When she reached the room though, she was disappointed to find it empty. There was only one place that she could think of that he would be. The built in studio that he and the guys practiced in sometimes. Taking no time, Stephanie started towards the studio, which was tucked away in the far back corner of the house in a soundproof room. Once there, she saw that the OCCUPIED light was turned off, telling her that it was okay for her to enter, and she did just that. She stepped in carefully, hoping that she wasn’t interrupting Nick in the middle of a practice or sudden brainstorming of a new song idea. She rounded the corner and saw Nick. His back was turned to her and he was talking to someone. Someone Stephanie knew all too well. It was obvious he’d been home for some time. One conclusion came to mind: Nick had lied to her about his whereabouts to have some alone time with his ex. She stopped, staring at Willa laughing softly at something Nick said and then her heart stopped in her chest for a moment in time as she watched them magnetically fall together in a passionate, steamy lip lock. Tears blinded Stephanie as she sniffled loudly. She saw Nick pull away and whip his head around, his eyes wide. What she saw in them, she did not know. Regret. Apologetic. Anger. Worry. A mix of all of them? It didn’t matter though. It didn’t change what she’d seen.

“I...It’s not what it looks like,” Nick started, but Stephanie cut him off, her voice shaking with fury and sadness, it coming out in nearly a mere whisper, seeing the smug, pleased look curling on to Willa’s lips from behind Nick..

“I trusted you, Nick,” she stated, hurt evident..

“Willa kissed me,” he tried to protest, “I...I love you, Steph.”.

It was too late though. Stephanie was already bolting out of the room, out of the house. She had to get away from there...from him. She couldn’t stand being in his presence for another minute. It was too painful. The thoughts that kept racing through her mind were how much she loved him and trusted him, and it had all been for nothing. She was having a child that was his, but it didn’t mean a thing.

Nick tried to chase after his girlfriend, but Willa held him back in her strong grasp, making it impossible for him to catch her, and then he heard a car starting, knowing that it was his Stephanie leaving. All he could think was that she had been right, and he regretted not believing her.

As Stephanie drove down the street, tears blinded her vision. It had hurt catching Nick with Willa alone in their house. It had hurt seeing them kiss. It had hurt that Nick had tried to defend himself in what was obviously a lie. What hurt the most though was that Nick hadn’t even tried to stop her.

What Stephanie didn’t know because she had left so abruptly, was that he really had tried to, but she’d already been gone before he’d had a fair chance to reach her.

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Jaime smiled softly at AJ from across the dimly lit table for two. He’d taken her out to a fancy, exquisite Italian restaurant which was probably costing him a small fortune. AJ had insisted though, despite Jaime’s trying to convince him that something much simpler and cheaper would have been perfectly fine. His excuse was that it was a special occasion, however Jaime knew that their one year anniversary wasn’t for another month. She figured that he wanted to celebrate eleven months for some strange reason, leaving it at that.

“It sure is a beautiful night,” Jaime commented, looking out of the window at the clear skies, the sun setting in the horizon beyond the waterfront by the restaurant, “I haven’t seen it like this in so long...” her voice trailed off longingly.

“Yes, it is beautiful,” AJ commented, taking Jaime’s hands in his from across the table, staring deep into her eyes. She wasn’t even sure if he’d caught just what she was talking about. He seemed oblivious to everything that was going on around them, “You’re beautiful.” he softly stated

Jaime blushed slightly, hiding it by looking down, letting her brown hair cover her face. She picked up her glass of sparkling white wine, swirling it around to distract herself. Although A.J. was completely wonderful, she still wasn’t used to the compliments. It wasn’t that her self esteem was low or anything, but never in her life had she ever had somebody so incredible and willing to try to make her feel special as well.

Jaime’s cheeks were still flushed when A.J. reached across the table, cupping her chin in his hand as he lifted her face up. Her eyes were forced to meet his again and she offered a sheepish, shy smile. A.J. felt his heart flutter. She was so cute when she was embarrassed. He loved everything about Jaime, yet felt that there were not enough ways to tell her and especially show her.

“Blushing?” A.J. teased, “What’s that for?”

Jaime shrugged, “I don’t know. I just...I don’t consider myself attractive. I don’t know what someone as gorgeous as you sees in someone like me.”

A.J. leaned across the table to give Jaime a sweet, soft kiss on her lips. He stayed leaned over, keeping himself propped up on his elbows as he stared at her, a smile on his face. If she only knew just what he saw in her, and she would by the end of the evening.

“I hope Lauren is okay,” Jaime said nervously as she nibbled on her bottom lip, partly out of concern, partly to change the subject and get the attention off of herself .

A.J. laughed again, “I’m sure she’s fine. After all, she’s with Brian and Howie...the two most responsible at the moment.”

“I know...” Jaime’s voice trailed off, “I’m just nervous. I mean, we’ve never left her behind before. It’s just a change, is all.”

The truth was though, as nervous as she was, she trusted Brian and Howie. Their daughter was safer with them than she was with Nick, by far. Although if it weren’t for Kevin still being paralyzed, she’d have left her with him and Anna before the others in a heartbeat. Something about Kevin gave her a sense of security.

“Understandable,” A.J. replied a few seconds later, “But hey, we get the night all to ourselves...the whole night.” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively which caused Jaime to giggle.

“Horny old man,” she joked, “It’s that exactly that caused us to have a daughter in the first place. Don’t think we’re ready for another one quite yet.”

“But you wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.” A.J. stated knowingly, more as an observation than a question to assure him that this was true.

“No, I wouldn’t,” Jaime sighed with a soft smile on her face, answering anyways, “Not at all.”

The rest of the evening went by smoothly. The happy couple finished their meals and A.J. paid, tipping the server generously. They left the restaurant hand in hand, walking out to where the limo A.J. had rented out awaited them. The driver held the door open as A.J. helped Jaime step inside. He whispered something to the driver, who nodded, before climbing in after her. He took the seat next to his girlfriend. Jaime leaned in to him, breathing in the light scent of his cologne. The night was turning out to be extremely romantic...something that she needed and hadn’t really had since before Lauren had been created many months ago.

The limo started to move forward and was soon back out on the highway. Jaime sighed, not saying anything, and neither did A.J. She was sad to see the evening ending, as it had been so perfect. Jaime closed her eyes, suddenly tired. Without meaning to, she fell asleep as the limo moved on. A.J. tilt his head, looking down at her. He smiled, kissing her temple. She looked so peaceful and he hated to wake her. However, he knew he had to when the vehicle came to a stop. They’d reached their destination.

“Jaime, wake up,” he said softly, nudging the sleeping girl gently.

Jaime let out a small moan as she buried her face deeper in to A.J’s shoulder. He chuckled lightly, almost wishing he could just let her sleep, however knew that this was the night for his motives to take place.

“Jaime,” he said a little louder, nudging her again.

“Hmmm?” she groaned, her eyes opening slowly.

She looked around as if trying to remember where she was as she sat up. She looked out the window and saw a small park with benches on the outter side of a brick path. In the center of it was a fountain, shooting water high into the air. There was a light under it reflecting up the flow of water to give it a lit up, colored appearance. Every so often, the color would gradually change into another. As simple as the sight was, Jaime found it to be beautiful, and in a sense, breathtaking.

“Wow,” she murmured in awe, speechless.

“Do you like it?” A.J. asked hopefully as the door to the limo opened. A.J. stepped out before holding his hand out to Jaime. She took it and stepped out after him, the black dress she was wearing sliding down her legs to right above her knees.

“It’s gorgeous,” she breathed, “I thought...I thought the night was over and we were going back home.” she looked around a little longer at the few people who were still out walking around the path, “Where are we?” she inquired.

A.J. laughed, “Somewhere special. Let’s just leave it at that.”

Jaime nodded, satisfied with the answer. Hand in hand, the couple walked towards the fountain, merging on to the path. They walked around it several times before either of them spoke.

“Why did you bring me here?” Jaime whispered, afraid of she raised her voice just a little, that she’d break the magic spell that the place seemed to cast.

“You’re just full of questions, aren’t you?” A.J. teased. Jaime blushed and shrugged, “I just thought that rather than going back right after dinner, I’d surprise you and take you somewhere nice to finish the evening.”

“Thank you,” Jaime whispered.

The two did a few more laps around the fountain. Jaime couldn’t imagine how it would look if it was light out. To her, the small park wouldn’t be nearly as nice if it weren’t for the darkness, the only light coming from the fountain.

Suddenly, A.J. stopped, stepping in front of Jaime and moving aside close to the water. She could feel small drops splashing on to her, but she didn’t care. Her boyfriend looked deep in to her eyes, his breathing coming out hard and slow all of a sudden. Jaime’s heart started to pound as she became worried

“Are you okay baby?” she asked with concern filled eyes.

A.J. nodded, cupping her face in his hands and running his fingers through the underside of her long, brown hair. He brought her in for a kiss.

“Jaime,” he stated, “I love you so much. Ever since you’ve been in my life, it’s been so much happier and I have so much more to live for. You’ve given me so much, including an amazing daughter. I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it.”

Jaime gasped as he pulled out a small box from the inside of his tux pocket while kneeling down. Tears spilled from her eyes as she choked out the words, “Oh my god.” as what was happening started to sink in. He’d had it planned all along, and kept the secret well. He opened the box revealing a small, silver ring with an assortment of dainty diamonds in a unique pattern. A few passerby’s stopped and stared to see what was going on, but Jaime was oblivious to the several eyes that were on her.

“Jaime, will you marry me?”

Jaime’s eyes were wide with shock as she just stared, but she soon shook her head to clear it as she nodded her head vigorously un and down, the tears of happiness falling harder.

“Yes,” she managed to get out, “Yes, Alexander James McLean. I’ll marry you.”

A.J. grinned, letting out a huge sigh of relief as he slid the ring on to her finger, standing up and taking his now fiancÚ into his arms, spinning her in circles, smothering her in kisses. Jaime laughed and tears of happiness were now in his own eyes as claps came from around. Within seconds though, they were all gone, leaving the newly engaged couple alone. One thing was for sure, and that was that this had definitely become the best, and most romantic night of Jaime’s life, as well as one she’d never forget.

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“Okay guys, lets get ready,” one of the stage crew called out, “You’re on in five.”

Bluewave had just finished their part of the show fifteen minutes before. Just as promised, they were the opening act again, and took the offer graciously, even after the long wait. The group of six was doing just as great as before too, if not, better than ever. In the time off, for a few months, they did a mini tour going to schools around the country to try to promote themselves a bit more. They definitely had a bit more publicity, which was enough to help out any new group. When they’d found out that Kevin had awakened, the group had visited on their own time, glad to know that the man who’d been so kind to them was going to be okay.

As for No Authority, Tommy was still undergoing small doses of chemo treatments. He’d become ill again, going out of his remission. His condition worsened, but had improved. He was now it what was expected to be his last round of chemo before reaching remission for a second time. After that, the rest was left up to fate. Whether they toured or not again depended a lot on how well Tommy was dealing.

Kevin took a deep breath from his seat, watching as his fellow band members hustled around with last minute things to prepare for the show. He could hear the screams clearly coming from the other side of the stage. His heart beat rapidly in his chest, nervousness consuming most of his body. The day had finally come for them to have their first show since Kevin’s accident. He was excited, but part of him kept telling himself that he was not ready yet. That it was too soon to take this next step forward. It was too late to turn back though. The announcement had been made, tour places making way as he sat there. The fans had become hysteric with excitement when the word had gotten out. It was obvious that the show was going to be huge.

Anna walked over to him, kneeling down so that she was at eye level, which wasn’t far considering she wasn’t all that tall to begin with. She took his hand in hers, giving it a light squeeze, causing him to break out of his trance. He smiled at her slowly, unsurely.

“How’re you doing?” she asked.

There was concern in her eyes. Ever since he’d woken up, Anna worried that every time he got nervous or depressed over something, he’d try to kill himself again. She’d never forget the look in his eyes when he told her goodbye right before his first attempt. She was scared, and he knew it, promising not to ever do anything of the sorts again. She wanted to believe it, but was afraid.

“Alright,” Kevin answered with a sigh, “Just afraid of the outcome...” his voice trailed off and he paused, “I don’t want all eyes on me alone...or sympathy. I thought I was ready for this, but now...now, I’m not sure. Maybe this was a mistake.” he finished regretfully, adverting his eyes away from his girlfriend.

Anna sighed, hating it when he got down like this, “Kevin, sweetie...look at me,” she waited a second before repeating, “Look at me, Kev.” he slowly lifted his head, “It isn’t a mistake. You can do this. You’re totally ready and will do amazingly. I love you. I believe in you.”

Kevin smiled, bringing her hand up to his mouth and kissing it tenderly as he stared in to her eyes. He appreciated her so much.

“I love you too, Anna,” Kevin said softly, “Thank you for believing in me.”

Anna was about to reply but was cut off by the sounds of Stephanie stomping across the stage, fleeing quickly past with Nick running behind her at her heels in attempt to speak to her.

“Steph,” Nick pleaded, panic in his high pitched tone, “Talk to me. I love you. Please, give me the chance to explain.”

“I’m not going to,” she replied without turning around or stopping, “You went behind my back and...you...cheated on me with...Willa.”

There was a quaver in her voice, something that was rarely heard, which meant that she was either near tears or already there. Anna and Kevin both looked at one another wide eyed. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing in the shouting match between their friends.

“I told you, it was all her,” Nick attempted again, “I kicked her out right after you left. I promise you.”

“You’re promises mean nothing,” Stephanie spat, “Leave me alone.”

Stephanie quickened her pace and Nick slowly gave up, turning around. His eyes were sad, something that was not needed for the start of the tour. It seemed that more than one of them were facing issues. Things weren’t getting off to as good of a start as they all would have liked. One could hope that things got better in the next few minutes.

“I don’t get it,” Nick muttered to nobody in particular, “I...it’s been three days and she still won’t speak to me or look at me. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Anna and Kevin watched as he sulked away to the other side of the stage to join the other three members of the band plus Jaime, who was holding Lauren in one arm, rocking her slowly.
Soon he was laughing, but something about it was forced and not fully in to what was going on. It was obvious that he missed his girlfriend.

“Two minutes,” the crew member announced.

“Well, here goes nothing,” Kevin stated aloud as he began to roll the wheelchair towards the others, who were warming up.

Anna got back up on to her feet and walked behind him, knowing that he was nervous by his tense posture. She hoped that he loosened up a bit before going out on stage or else he’d mess everything he’d worked for up. She prayed that he didn’t blow this first show, although she had to keep in mind that it was the first, and mistakes were bound to happen here and there.

“Everyone ready,” Brian asked, getting nods from all around, “Kevin, are you sure that you’re ready?” he asked

Kevin gulped and nodded, “Positive. As ready as I’ll ever be.” he replied.

He noticed that Stephanie had come up behind him, her arms crossed over her chest. She was on the opposite side of the circle as Nick, keeping her eyes out of contact with his and away from the direction that he was in.

“Before we go out,” A.J. stated, taking Jaime’s free hand in his, “We’ve got an announcement to make...a rather exciting one.”

All eyes went to the couple and A.J. looked at Jaime telling her that it was okay for her, and he wanted her to be the one to break the news. She smiled widely.

“We’re engaged!” she squealed in excitement.

She was greeted by a round of hugs from everybody, including Stephanie, who she could have sworn had a glimmer of sadness in her eyes. She’d barely heard her and Nick’s argument, but figured that was why her friend wasn’t more excited, or better yet, spouting off sarcastic comments and making fun. She wondered if maybe they should have waited to make the announcement after all.

Another final announcement was called out telling the Boys that it was time for them to take the stage. Excitement arose to an all time high backstage as it they were introduced and the intro was coming on. Screams became an all time deafening loud. Everyone looked around sharing smiles of anticipation, adrenaline rushing throughout their bodies, ready to take the stage and take action.

“Let’s get this show on the road,” A.J. stated enthusiastically, pumping a fist into the air as they lined up, running out on to the stage one by one, the singing beginning.

Kevin took a deep breath, knowing that he was ready. He pushed himself out onto the stage in his wheelchair with pride following the others, singing with all he had in him, for the first time since the accident. He knew that with a lot of time and hard work, he would be back on his feet again, but until then, he would have to make due with what he had. He was going to make it and take things one day at a time. Everything was going to be okay.

*Authors Note* This is the last chapter of this story. After finishing a few other of my stories, I will be writing a sequel though, so be looking for that! Please review and let me know what you thought. It would mean a lot! Thanks for reading!
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