“Where were you?” Kevin repeated for the third time, his voice coming out weak and sad this time instead of angry.
“You’re not my keeper, Kevin,” Anna replied with a slightly bitter tone, “Jeez, I’ve known you for two days and I automatically have to tell you where I am at ever breathing second?”
Kevin’s soft features hardened a bit, “Yes, as a matter of fact, you do, Anna.” He demanded
Anna rolled her eyes and turned her back away from him. She wasn’t going put up with this. She had thought that he was a kind, sensitive man, but she was beginning to think that maybe he was controlling. If that were the case, it was no wonder his wife had done what she had.
“If you’re going to be touring with us,” he continued, “We do have to know where you girls are at all times, to make sure that you are protected and nothing bad happens to you. If we know where you are, and you don’t come back, we’ll know that something is wrong.”
“For one,” Anna shouted, spinning back around to face him, “I don’t even know IF I am going to tour with you yet. And since you have to know, I was on a date with the waiter from the restaurant yesterday.”
At first, Anna could see hurt and jealousy entering his eyes, but they it was overpowered with anger.
“The waiter?” he spat, “Damnit, he saw that we were on a date and he still asked you out when I was most vulnerable.”
Anna rolled her eyes, “I wouldn’t consider it a date, Kevin,” she informed him, “It’s not like we’re a couple or anything. I’m free to date other guys.”
Kevin could feel himself begin to shake violently. Anna’s words were harsh. He really liked her and she had given up on him after one bad time.
“Are you going to see him again?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” Anna told him with a casual shrug, “Considering I kinda do wanna go with the rest of you, probably not.”
Anna could see a satisfied smile settling on Kevin’s lips. It sickened her to see that he was enjoying the fact that she probably wasn’t going to see Nathan again. Didn’t he want her to be happy?
“I do want you to be happy,” Kevin said aloud, reading her mind, “I want you to be happy with me. I want you to be my girlfriend.”
Anna sighed. It had always been her wildest fantasy to date Kevin. Here the opportunity was at her fingertips, and she was not sure what the right thing to do would be. Kevin looked at her expectantly and Anna knew that he was waiting for an answer right then.
“Kevin,” she finally managed to say, “I like you a lot, and would love to be your girlfriend…just not yet.”
Kevin looked at her with question written all over his face and Anna tried to think of the most delicate way of wording why she couldn’t.
“You’re not ready,” she explained, “It’s obvious that deep down, you’re just not ready for another relationship. If I were to go out with you, I want your attention completely on me. Besides, you’re not even divorced yet.”
“I am ready,” Kevin tried to insist.
Anna shook her head, “No, you’re not.”
Kevin’s softened features began to harden again, “Is this your way of letting me down easily?” he shouted accusingly, “Is this your own way of telling me that I don’t meet up to your standards.”
Anna choked out a laugh, “If anything, I don’t live up to your standards. I want to be yours. I want to wait though until you are completely over Kristin. Ask me in a few months and I can promise you I’ll say yes. I’m really tired and would like to go to sleep now, if you don’t mind.”
Kevin stood still, not about to leave until he had her. Anna sighed and crossed her arms as if to challenge him.
“I’m not good enough for you,” Kevin repeated, “You’re going to see Nathan again. Just tell me you want him and not me.”
“You are, Kevin. You’re too good for me,” Anna tried again, “As for Nathan, I had a good time, but I don’t want to be with him. I’d rather be with you.”
“Then why won’t you go out with me?” he asked.
Anna groaned in disbelief. Did guys in general just block out things that they didn’t want to hear?
“Because you’re not ready,” Anna told him, hoping that he was catching the hint of irritation in her voice.
Kevin clenched his fists. Anna could see the vein in his neck starting to bulge out and she knew that she had made him mad.
“I thought you’d understand that I needed somebody,” Kevin said in a voice so low that it chilled Anna’s spine, “But now I see that you’re just a selfish bitch. You never cared about trying to help me.”
Kevin spun around and opened the door of the hotel room, slamming it behind him. Anna winced at his hurtful words. She could hear his heavy footsteps pounding down the steps, but she didn’t chase after him to try to calm him. She figured that that would only give him his way. Slipping into bed, Anna listened to the rain that was still falling and drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
“Has anyone seen Kevin?” A.J. asked, rushing around, still looking for him, “We’re on in twenty minutes.”
It was the next night and nobody had heard from Kevin since the day before. Guilt came over Anna. She didn’t know where he was, but knew that she was the cause of his disappearance. She knew thought that the man wouldn’t skip out on a show. He would show up at the last moment and everything would be fine. Bluewave had just come off the stage ten minutes ago and it was the thirty-minute intermission that was in between the two bands.
“I haven’t seen him,” Nick said.
The others chimed in saying that they hadn’t seen him either since early the day before. Bluewave even said that they’d seen no sign of.
“I had a question about tonight,” Ryan said, “I was told to go to him about it, so I went to his bus, but he wasn’t there...or anywhere.”
Anna could see worry cross over the Boy’s faces, and she bit her lip. She wished that she hadn’t been so cool the night before. But the truth was that Kevin wasn’t ready to date yet. Plus, he had no right waiting for her in her own hotel room and checking up on her. She was nineteen years old. Old enough to make her own decisions. She didn’t need a thirty two year old telling her what to do. Anna’s eyes widened as she thought about Kevin’s age. It was the first time she’d really done so. He was thirteen years older than her. THIRTEEN. He was almost old enough to be her father. Not quite, but, almost. But for some reason, his age did not bother her. She still wanted to be with him. Just not yet. What was so wrong with that? Anna knew that she should tell them what had happened the night before, but didn’t want accusing eyes on her for turning him down. The Boys would definitely be on Kevin’s side. So she kept her mouth shut and acted like she knew nothing. Kevin would be there soon.
“He’d better get his ass here, or else…” A.J. began, but stopped short, “I don’t know what. But we have to go out.”
The others nodded in agreement. They couldn’t post phone the show to a later date so soon before it was supposed to start. The screams were starting to get louder and more anticipated.
Twenty minutes passed and Kevin had still not shown up. The guys all kept looking at their watches to make sure that the times were right. Unfortunately, they were. Waiting an extra ten minutes, they knew that they had to do something. Something that they’d never done before in their years of performing.
“We need to go on,” Brian said, “With or without Kevin. If he shows up later, he can join in. But until then, we need to go out there and give it our all with just four of us.”
Everybody sighed, knowing that he was right. They knew that it would be weird having one person less than they were supposed to, but if they worked hard, it would all work out.
“Does anybody know his lines by heart?” Howie asked, “Who will fill in for him while he is gone?”
The guys all bit their lips. It was something that none of them had thought of. They knew their songs, but when it came to singing others solos, they tended to trip up a little bit. All four of them looked at each other not knowing what they were going to do about the problem.
“I know his lines,” Stephanie boldly piped up, “And the dance movies by heart. I’ve seen it done so many times. I know I’m not exactly Kevin, or dressed to be on stage, but you’re obviously desperate. I’ll sing and do his parts.”
Again, the Boys looked at each other. They wondered how well the show would go over with a girl on stage singing. It would be another first; there was definitely no doubt about that.
“You don’t really have any other choice,”
Stephanie told them, “I wouldn’t be picky if I were you.”
“She’s right,” Brian said, “And I’ve heard her singing. She’s got an amazing voice and she’s dressed good enough for stage. I say we give it a shot.”
“Okay then, lets go. Aje, go tell the announcer our plan so that he can inform the audience. Let’s go.”
A.J. ran to the announcer and told him what was going on while the others lined up ready to take the stage. Seconds later, A.J. joined back up taking formation while a loud voice came over the speaker system.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Backstreet Boys will
take stage in just a few moments. Kevin isn’t feeling well this evening, so we have a special guest taking his place. Now put your hands together and scream as loudly as you can. I give you the Backstreet Boys.”
Shrieks erupted through the tightly compressed area as the Boys and Stephanie ran out on stage. Anna and Jaime watched in awe as their friend took action, blending in so well with the others. Jaime watched A.J. in sadness. He had spoken to her, but it was still distant. She didn’t know what had happened. He and Kevin still weren’t talking the day before and she wondered if it had anything to do with that. Everything had been so perfect when they’d gone out and then without warning, he’d started acting really weird towards her.
“Stephanie sure does know what she’s doing, doesn’t she?” Anna yelled, leaning into her friend so that she could hear her.
“Yeah,” Jaime agreed, “I could never do that. I would be so horrible out there. I’d freeze. Stephanie is just acting as if she’s done this her whole life.”
“She pretty much has,” Anna joked.
Bluewave was pretty amazed at Stephanie’s ease on stage as well. They asked her friends if she’s done this before and they told them an honest ‘no’.
“She’s always been their number one fan though,” Jaime said.
“That explains it then,” Ryan laughed, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that she’s almost better than they are…almost.”
Anna and Jaime couldn’t argue. They could see sweat beading her forehead as she danced and danced putting all of her energy into it. When one of Kevin’s solo’s slowly started creeping closer and closer, the girls cringed, closing their eyes and crossing their fingers praying that she would be okay. When the time came, Anna sucked in her breath and held it. Stephanie’s voice came out and she sang the words perfectly. Anna opened her eyes and let the breath out all at once. Stephanie couldn’t have performed better. Anna hoped that there was somebody important out there to hear her. Maybe she would be offered a record deal. She definitely deserved it. She might turn it down, but it would prove to her how good she really was.
“Wow,” Jaime breathed, “I can’t believe how awesome she’s doing.”
“Me neither,” Anna replied, “I knew she’d be good, but didn’t think she could pull it off this well.”
The show continued to go on and Kevin still didn’t show up. Everybody was really beginning to worry. The guys were because it was completely unlike Kevin to do something like this. The girls were worrying because they didn’t know what was wrong. Too soon, the show ended and Kevin was still not there. The group congratulated Stephanie on her amazing job, but it still wasn’t the same as how things were supposed to be. Everybody hoped that he was lurking around somewhere, or in the bus. They knew though that when they saw him, they would confront him then and there. This was going to be a show that nobody would forget and would be talked about amongst the fans for a very long time.
“I still can’t believe how well you did during the show last night,” Anna told Stephanie as she brushed a comb through her thick curly hair.
Stephanie shrugged off the compliment, “It’s not a big deal,” she told her, “I was just doing the Boys a favor. No big deal. It’s not like I got a record contract or anything. Not like I will.”
She stuck her tongue out in distaste of her singing abilities. Jaime rolled her eyes from across the room at Stephanie. She never had believed how good of a singer she really was. She threw down her Cosmopolitan magazine and just stared at her friend for a long moment.
“Steph,” she encountered, “For the last time, you are good enough to get your own record label. Even if you were offered one though, would you even take it? Or say that you weren’t interested?”
Stephanie paused for a long moment. She had always dreamed of getting her own record label. But then again, she would constantly be away from home and the one’s she cared about.
“I don’t know,” she honestly replied, “I mean, I’d want to, yet, I’d miss you guys too much. You know I’m bad at goodbyes.”
Anna and Jaime looked at one another and small smiles formed on both of their faces. They knew that it was true. As insensitive as she seemed, they knew that there was some softness somewhere inside of her.
“So, I wonder how badly the guys are bitching at Kevin,” Stephanie asked thoughtfully, “He’s has to be back by now. He had like, the whole night to return. I wish I were there to see it.”
Jaime laughed and Anna looked away, biting the corner of her lip, hoping that Kevin was safely back now. Stephanie was right though. It was the next morning. There was no reason why he wouldn’t be.
“I wish I were there too,” Jaime commented, “So I could tell him how great you did filling in and joke saying that he should disappear more often.”
Stephanie’s eyes got wide in anger, “Don’t ever say that again,” she warned, “We so don’t want Kevin to not be in the band anymore. That would be a total disaster. Besides, the fans come to see all FIVE Backstreet Boys. They don’t come to see a short five foot nothing blonde girl.”
“They will now. You were spectacular,” Anna told her friend, “Wouldn’t hurt to be out there a little more often.”
Stephanie scanned Anna over for a second before saying, “You really worry me sometimes.”
Anna laughed, knowing that the line was coming from her friend and finished her hair up. As she was applying the last of her makeup, there was a knock on the door. Jaime ran to get it hoping that it was A.J. but it was Brian.
“Has Kevin been here yet?” he asked.
Stephanie and Anna joined Jaime at the door in curiosity of what the early morning visit was about.
“No,” Stephanie answered, taking over, “Should he have?”
“He should’ve come back, period,” Brian said, “He hasn’t been over to see us at all. I’m just wondering what’s going on.”
Fear coiled in Anna’s stomach. She knew that she should tell everybody the little information she knew about her turning him down, but knew that it would cause problems. It wasn’t likely that her refusal had anything to do with it anyways, so why bring it up. Or should she? What if something was really wrong and it might help to know what had happened?
“Guys,” Anna softly said, “Kev-“
Anna was cut off by A.J. flying into the room in a rush, completely breathless. His face was flushed and beet red, fear was pooling his eyes.
“There…there…we just got a phone call,” he gasped, “Kevin’s in the hospital. He was just found about three hours ago.”
Everyone’s face drained of color and Anna fell to the ground, shaking. Why hadn’t she told somebody sooner? Maybe Kevin wouldn’t be in the hospital if she had. Maybe he would’ve been found and better off. If she would’ve just said yes to being his girlfriend, he would be safely with all of them. Guilt overcame her as she started slipping into a mild shock. Kevin was injured, and it was all her fault. Anna didn’t realize Nick and A.J. picking her up and carrying her to the car, followed by everyone else, to get to the hospital to find out more information on their friend.