“I’m really sorry for everything,” Anna muttered, pacing back and forth in the elevator, “No, that’s no good…umm…please don’t hate me anymore…shit, that’s no good either. Damnit.”
Anna had been practicing aloud what she was going to say to Kevin the whole ride to the hospital and the whole way up the elevator, but nothing that she came up with sounded justice to what she wanted to say to him. The doors slid open and Anna knew that she was on his floor, seconds away from being confronted with him. She paused, knowing that he hadn’t seen her yet and it still wasn’t too late to turn around and go back to the hotel until she was better prepared. Anna quickly decided against that route and stepped out of the small confined box and out into the open lobby area of the seventh floor. Anna had always thought seven to be a lucky number ever since she was just a little girl. Maybe, just maybe, it was a sign that Kevin was going to be all right after all. With slightly trembling hands, she peeked inside of her purse to make sure that the “get well” card she’d bought for him in the gift shop was still there, she set of in search of his private room.
“What am I going to say to him?” she said quietly to herself, “I have to think of something…” she looked up and saw Kevin sitting in his bed watching something on TV, “And fast.”
Anna searched her mind for something intelligent to say as she walked into his room and forced a cheerful smile to hide the nervousness that she was feeling. There was no use in making him know that she was slightly afraid of him. That was all that he needed at the moment on top of everything else.
Kevin looked up and she could see his eyes widen in surprise at her presence, but she cold also see happiness along with excitement. It was obvious to her that he hadn’t been expecting her visit. Anna walked over to him and wrapped one arm around him in a light hug.
“Hey there,” Kevin replied, slowly putting an arm around her to hug her back, “Wow, I…um…I didn’t think that you’d ever come. I figured me asking you to would pretty much be like asking the Queen of England to turn American.” Kevin laughed a little at his joke to try and lighten the mood.
Anna wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say to Kevin’s comment, so she quickly changed the subject, “Thanks for the flowers and candy. It was really sweet of you, although I didn’t deserve it.”
“Yes, you did. What you didn’t deserve what I said to you,” Kevin corrected her, “What I had sent to your room wasn’t nearly enough to prove to you how sorry I truly am.”
Anna laughed, “You did great. It’s more than enough…more than I’ve ever gotten from a guy period, actually…including boyfriends.”
A cloudy look formed in Anna’s eyes as she remembered all of the guys she’d dated that hadn’t exactly gone out of their way to do something nice for her out of nowhere, or any special occasions either. Kevin saw in her eyes how this fact had lowered her self-esteem and made her feel like she wasn’t special or worthwhile to anybody and it made him and the more glad that he’d done the small gesture for her. If…no, when they dated, he would do so much more for the girl. He would treat her like the princess that she really was.
“So, um, anyways, you said in your card that you wanted to talk?” Anna asked, “What about?”
She was feeling slightly uncomfortable being alone in the same room with him. She still wasn’t completely over the things that he’d said to her. He’d called her an unfeeling bitch and accused her of lying to him just to get out of a relationship with him on top of many other things. It wasn’t something that could be erased from her mind or forgotten in one short week. It wasn’t something that could be forgotten in months, or years even. It was something that he would have to prove he didn’t mean and win her trust back by being his true self and treating her right.
“Yeah,” Kevin said slowly, “About that…I just wanted to say that I am truly sorry for anything that I said to you, Anna. It was out of line and you didn’t deserve any of it. I wish that I could take it all back.”
“I..” Anna began, but Kevin cut her off before she could continue trying to defend him a little.
“And it was wrong of me to put you on the spot like that by asking you to be my girlfriend again. I was just…so angry and I thought that if you turned me down, then so would anybody else. But I shouldn’t have done it. I should have waited things out. You’re the only one I want to be with.”
“I will give you that much, about it being wrong of you to center me out like that,” Anna joked, smiling at him, “Kevin, I really do want to go out with you…its torture telling you we need to wait. Believe me. I don’t care if…well, you know.” She said, not being able to say out loud in words that she didn’t care if he never walked again and his career was over. Those things didn’t matter to her. His fame didn’t matter to her. Him, as a person did.
“I know,” he replied kindly, reading in her eyes just what she was wanting to say, “I know that you wouldn’t lie to me about it.”
There were a few moments of awkward silence. Anna didn’t know what to say anymore. She’d decided to give him the card right before she left so he could read it after when was gone. She hated people reading cards from her while she was there, so in case of the event of her writing something stupid, she wouldn’t feel like such a total moronic idiot.
“Have the doctors told you anything else…I mean, do you know anything?” she finally asked, realizing again just how long it had been since she’d last seen him.
Kevin nodded, “Yes, well, kind of. They said that with physical therapy, I should walk again normally with no problems. They also said that it takes six months to years though…that’s the bad thing.”
“That’s awful,” Anna gasped.
“No, not really,” Kevin said brightly, “Because it’s not going to take me that long. It can’t because I have a life and planned schedule that’s made out months in advance to get back to. It’s a responsibility of mine. I can’t let the guys down by taking my time. I’m going to be back out there in no time.”
Anna smiled, hoping that he was right. It would be so hard on him to hear that his plans weren’t likely, so she decided not to discourage him. She also decided not to encourage him either. Both would be bad, so she kept her mouth shut and didn’t say anything on the subject.
“Well,” Anna said, “I’d better get going. The girls are waiting and I’m sure they’re dying to hear how things went.”
Kevin laughed, “Girls and their gossiping,” he kidded with her.
Anna pulled the card out of her purse, deciding that now was the perfect time to give it to him. She handed it to him and bent down, hugging him once more, warmly and tightly and gave him a small kiss on the cheek. Kevin put his arms around her savoring the moments of having her that close to him, in his arms. When they let go, Anna stood up and prepared to leave.
“Thanks again for the flowers and candy,” she told him, “I’ll see you really soon, okay.”
“Sounds wonderful,” Kevin replied, “I’ll be counting the minutes until I know I’ll see you again.”
She started walking towards the door, and Kevin looked down at the card with her neat writing scrawled across the envelope. He had something else to say…or rather ask her and realized that now was the time, before he lost his nerve completely. He looked back up and realized that Anna was already almost out the door. In seconds, she would disappear around the corner and it would be too late for him to do it. It was either now or never.
“You’re right though,” Kevin said, stopping Anna.
“About what?” she asked in curiosity, going back over to Kevin’s bed to hear what he had to say.
“You’re right. I’m not completely over Kristin. I don’t know how long it will take before I will be, but I eventually will. Anyways, when I am, no matter what, will you promise me something?”
“Anything,” Anna told him, her heart racing in anticipation at what he was about to ask of her.
“Promise me that you’ll be mine?”
Anna’s breath caught in her throat. His request had to be the sweetest thing that she had ever heard and she knew that there was no way that she could not give him her word on it. She looked deep into his green, soulful eyes and smiled, taking one of his large hands in between her small ones.
“I promise,” she whispered.
“The tour is officially cancelled…or post-phoned rather, as of this morning,” Brian said regretfully, “It’s already all over the news. The press moves fast,” he laughed bitterly, hating the press for putting their noses in business where it did not belong. It was their job, he knew, but he still hated them. He wondered why they couldn’t go cover a story on someone’s divorce or twisted, scandalous relationship.
He had called a group meeting in his hotel suite to inform everybody of the information. They’d all rushed their willingly to see what was up and hear what was so important. Brian picked up the remote and flipped on the television without another word and turned it to a news channel. He was right. The story was just starting on the six o’ clock news on channel four with a photo from one of their most recent photo shoots positioned in the top left corner.
“The popular boy band, Backstreet Boys has had to change their plans due to a mishap that landed one of their members in the hospital early last week. Kevin Richardson was in a car accident and is, as we know it, paralyzed, but not expected to be a life-long misfortune. For those of you who have tickets to their shows, until Richardson is well again, we have good news. The Boys have announced personally that they will definitely make up any shows that had to be missed. We will keep you posted with the latest information.”
Brian clicked the TV back off and looked around the room to see how the others had reacted to the story. Their faces were that of shock, anger and frustration. A.J. had his head in his hands, looking down. Anna had turned a pasty white. He felt exactly how they looked. Everybody was just a time bomb waiting to go off. It was only a matter of seconds now before somebody did. He gave it ten seconds before the first spoke their frustration.
“How could they just expose us like that,” Nick exploded, “Kevin deserves his privacy.”
Everybody nodded in agreement and Anna felt sick to her stomach. He didn’t deserve to have everybody know about what had happened to him. He was embarrassed enough as it was. He had wanted it to be kept private. Now the whole nation knew…possibly the world by now. And if not, they would soon, within days, weeks at the very latest. News spread fast.
“Does he know?” she asked softly.
“That the show is cancelled or that we’re all over the god damned news?” A.J. said, his voice rising a notch with ever word that he spoke. He couldn’t help it. The more he thought about it, the madder he got. He didn’t care if he was still upset with Kevin. He was still like a big brother to him and he wanted his big brothers privacy
confidential and kept between him, the Boys, the girls and Bluewave.
“Both,” Anna asked, “Won’t he be mad about the show being cancelled without talking it over with him first.”
“He wanted it to be done, so he can’t be mad at us for that. He told us he wouldn’t tour in the condition that he was in when we went to see him the day you went out with Nathan for a talk. We would’ve had to do it anyways, at least for a few weeks. He needs time to recover. As for the news…lord, I hope he doesn’t find out or has a sudden disliking for the news.” A.J. said with a low whistle, “Or else that will be one conversation that I think we’ll all want to avoid.”
Everybody nodded in agreement. They knew that as soon as Kevin did find out, and they knew that as much as they prayed he wouldn’t, that he still would, he’d go through the roof. Anna cringed at the thought of that. He had seemed so calm and had been so sweet to her two days before. She smiled in memory of his proposal. He’d seemed so sincere and she suddenly couldn’t wait for him to be over Kristin for good. His divorce would be final in three days. But then a frown formed on her face. She knew that finding out his publicity would ruin his good mood.
“God I hope he’s in high spirits when he does find out,” Howie said, “Or else we’ll never hear the end of it.”
“Kevin, NO,” Nick shouted, trying to pry the remote out of Kevin’s hands before he could turn the TV on. He could barely make out in the room right next to Kevin’s the beginning of the story on Kevin. It was two days later and the story hadn’t died down any. If anything, it had spread and grown like wildfire. Parts of it weren’t even true anymore. Kevin roughly shook away and clicked the television on, flipping to channel four. The room grew silent as they all watched the story again, cringing, waiting for Kevin to go off. Anna looked over and could see the vein in his heck starting to bulge out and she knew that at any second, he would go off. She knew what that look meant all to well already. When they dated, she had to make sure that she didn’t make him mad too often. Not unless she wanted to be living on the streets on the nights that she pissed him off or annoyed him.
“How the hell did this happen?” Kevin yelled, glaring from the TV screen to his friends, back to the TV, then back to his friends again.
“We…we don’t know,” Brian said, “We called management, told them we had to cancel, and next thing I know, I’m hearing it on here.”
Kevin fell back and groaned loudly. The last thing that he wanted was pity from fans…or worse yet, for them to think that he was a freak and the band to lose fans and respect. It was that which he feared most of anything. Losing fans because they weren’t the same as they used to be.
“I took responsibility to cancel the tour and…then this happens,” Brian explained carefully, “I did everything I’d learned from you on how to take control in case you couldn’t.”
Fire filled Kevin’s eyes and he knew right away exactly what had happened. They’d been having the problem for some time now with these people. He couldn’t believe that Jive, their record label, would sink so low as to tell the world about his medical issues. He could see a lawsuit in the very near future with them over this. What did his being hospitalized have anything to do with them recording. Just because he wouldn’t tour didn’t mean that they couldn’t record new material in the meantime
“It’s not so bad,” Stephanie offered, “I mean…well…you’ll get a lot of fan mail and gifts.”
Kevin glared at Stephanie for a long second before speaking, “Don’t any of you get it? I don’t want pity. What part of that do you guys not understand? Cards and gifts will just be sent out of pity for me. I don’t want to be felt sorry for. I wanted to get better and go back out on stage without anybody but us knowing that something bad ever happened. It’s too late for that now though, isn’t it?”
Kevin laughed bitterly. His laugh sent a chill down Anna’s spine. She knew that things were hard for Kevin and would do anything to make it better. She would even trade places with him if that was what it took. But trading places was unfortunately impossible. All she could do was comfort him and be there for him throughout everything until things started to get better on their own. She just hoped that they would, and fast. No matter how long it took though, it would be a long, bumpy ride to complete recovery. Anna hoped that she was ready to face the obstacles to help Kevin get through it. She slowly took his hand in hers, hoping that her gesture was enough to tell him exactly what she was thinking.