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Chapter Nine

Kevin sat staring blankly into space. So many things were running through his head, yet he couldn’t comprehend any of them. He was normally so together, but at that moment in time, he was sensitive and vulnerable. He knew that he should feel relieved and like a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulders, but he felt nothing except emptiness. Kevin could feel tears stinging his eyes, threatening to come. He tried to will them away, but it was useless. They were meant to fall. Months ago, his life was perfect and on a role. He was happy, energetic, could walk freely and was in what he had thought to be a flawless marriage.

“Are you all right?”

Kevin jumped, snapping out of his daze at the sound of the voice. He looked and saw Anna standing beside him. He began to nod, but then shook his head. He didn’t want to keep his emotions cooped up. It would only drive him crazy and do him more damage. More damage wasn’t something that he needed at the moment.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Anna asked, placing a comforting hand on his masculine shoulder.

“Yes,” he replied weakly, “I would.”

Anna waited patiently as Kevin drew in a deep, jagged breath. She slowly took his hand in hers to give him the confidence and assurance in which he needed to go on.

“Considering I am here,” he began, “I couldn’t exactly make it to the court hearing today to make the divorce final.”

Anna was silent. She didn’t like what he was getting out. He was supposed to be moving on with his life without Kristin, not prolonging the process.

“I knew that I couldn’t make it days ago, so I called my lawyer to inform him of what was going
on.”

Kevin stopped and Anna wanted to know what he was trying to get at. His pause was long and drawn out. He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes to try to alleviate the pain that was shooting through his chest.

“What happened,” Anna asked, and then cringed at her impatient tone. She hadn’t meant to come off in that way.

Anna wasn’t completely sure if he had heard her when he didn’t answer her right off or if he was irritated with her for sounding so demanding. But when she looked at him, she could tell that he was struggling to go on.

“He was going to try to arrange for the hearing to be kept without my presence, since it was impossible for me to be there,” Kevin stopped again, remembering the whole ordeal and then shook his head to clear it before he got lost in his own thoughts once more, “Anyways, my lawyer called me this morning to clue me in as to what happened today. The divorce is final…I’m a free man.”

Anna’s eyes brightened as she threw her arms around him in an enormous hug, “That’s wonderful,” she marveled, “Congratulations.”

Kevin put one arm around her in a half-way hug and patted her back. Anna realized something was up and pulled away, confused. She stared at him with question in her eyes wondering why he seemed less than thrilled.

“I thought that you’d be happy,” she said after a long moment.

“I am,” Kevin said too quickly, “I mean, it’s exactly what I wanted. She cheated on me and I didn’t want anything to do with her anymore…but there is a tugging feeling at my heart because she was a part of my life for years. I’m relieved that it’s finally over then again I am kind of sad at the same time.” Anna nodded, understanding exactly where he was coming from. Kristin had been a part of his life for some time. He couldn’t just forget everything that he’d had with her in one day, as soon as the divorce was official.

“It will get easier,” she promised, hugging him again, “But I’m going to be blunt. This is exactly why I don’t want us to be a couple yet. You’re not over her yet. You may not have been able to see it before, but can you now?”

Kevin nodded, “Yes, I can too now,” he admitted softly, taking her hand in his. He looked up and stared intensely into her eyes, “Just, please, whatever you do, don’t forget the promise you made me.”

Anna smiled at him, “How could I? And I’ll do more than that. I’ll wait for you, no matter how long it takes.

Kevin smiled back at her. Every doubt that he’d had about her was washed away. He knew at that moment that Anna didn’t care about what his physical status was. She cared about him as a person and was only looking out for what was in his best interest, and he believed her every word.
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“Dear god, Kev,” Howie stated, walking into his room carrying a huge box, “The mail and gifts have really started flowing in now. By next week, we’ll have semi-trucks delivering the mail.”

Anna, Stephanie, Jaime, and the other Boy’s followed him each holding another box full of stuff. Kevin rolled his eyes. The nightmare was beginning. He was on the news, the newspaper, and even tabloids making up their own story on what had happened. The latest that he’d read said that Kristin had pushed him over a cliff so that the divorce wouldn’t happen. He’d found that one pretty funny, in its own sick way.

“Just set it all over there,” Kevin said, casually pointing to the far wall straight in front of him.

Everybody stated at him quizzically not moving from where they were standing in the doorway. They wondered what was up with his nonchalant attitude.

“Aren’t you even going to look at any of it?” Brian asked.

Kevin shook his head roughly, “No. Not even three days ago I remember saying that I didn’t want things sent out of pity. That’s all it is.”

“Kev, you’re being really ungrateful,” Nick told him in disgust, “It’s only cuz everybody cares.”

Kevin crossed his arms over his chest stubbornly. Ever since the accident, his entire personality had changed. His whole perspective on life had changed. He had a feeling that it was all for the worst in him too.

“Nick’s right,” A.J. replied, not even looking up at Kevin. “For once, he makes a good point.”

“I resent that,” Nick pouted, sticking his bottom lip out.

“Back onto the original subject,” Kevin interrupted, “I don’t care how I am acting right now. I have more important things to worry about than my attitude.”

The whole group stared at Kevin in shock. His attitude was the complete opposite of what they were used to. The old Kevin would have went though everything eventually and tried to write a personal thank you card or letter out to everybody. The person sitting before them was acting full of himself and rude.

“You feel sorry for yourself,” Nick said, ignoring Kevin’s killer glare, “You don’t want fans pity and get well wishes, but you feel sorry for yourself.”

“Again, the blonde speaks the truth,” A.J. grumbled, “You should listen to him more often. He just might have something intelligent to say.” Nick ignored the insult, or was it a compliment? He wasn’t sure. It could have been taken either way. He thought about the latest news story. It had shown clips from the night before at the arena they’d have performed at. There were thousands of angry, screaming fans beating at the doors. It disgusted him at how immature they had acted. It wasn’t like any of them could change the situation.

“If you guys don’t mind,” Kevin stated, “I’m not really in the mood for visitors right now.”

Brian and Anna drew back surprised. The others stated at Kevin as if he were an alien. They all quickly recovered though.

“Yeah, we understand,” Howie said, “We had some things that we needed to do anyways today.”

Kevin nodded curtly, obviously insulted at the way they’d so quickly given up on trying to persuade him to let them stay a little longer. To be honest, he enjoyed their company and was lonely without them there. He wasn’t sure on why he’d wanted them to go in the first place and regretted the request already.

“Aje, would you mind staying behind for a few minutes?” he asked, “I’d like to talk to you.”

A.J. rolled his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. He obviously wasn’t thrilled about the simple request, but as everybody else begun hugging Kevin and leaving the room, he found himself standing still, waiting to see what the eldest member of the group wanted. There were a few moments of silence, which made him uncomfortable. He shifted from foot to foot wanting to run and catch up with the others as quickly as possible.

“I know that you’re mad at me,” Kevin stated breaking the chilling quietness.

“No shit,” A.J. retorted coolly, still not looking up at Kevin, “Ya think? What ever gave it away.”

Kevin winced at A.J’s harsh tone. It was obvious that he wasn’t on A.J’s favorite people list at that particular moment in time. The thing was, he wasn’t exactly sure what he’d done to make A.J. so hostile towards him. He’d been catching the vibes for days now and he was determined to get to the bottom of it.

“Stephanie’s sarcasm wearing off onto you?” Kevin joked hoping to get A.J. to laugh. Instead he got a glare, but at least he’d looked up at him. Kevin’s smile slowly faded knowing that this time, he’d have to be serious against his will, “So, why are you mad at me?” he asked with a straight face.

A.J shook his head in annoyance, “You’ve gotta be shittin’ me,” he said, “I mean, jeez, Kevin the God doesn’t know what he did wrong because he obviously doesn’t think that he could do wrong.”

Kevin could feel his face growing red with anger and quickly took three deep breaths to calm himself. He wanted to get somewhere with A.J. Not make things worse and the gap wider.

“Aje, I don’t know what I did to make you so upset with me,” Kevin tried again, “Honest. Please, explain.”

A.J. looked at Kevin skeptically. He wanted to yell and tell him that if he didn’t already know, then he’d have to wonder. But A.J. felt that he needed to know how he’d made him feel. He felt that he needed to know what he thought. So instead of doing what he wanted, A.J. did what he knew he had to in order to make himself feel better about things.

“Remember when you’d first met Anna and kept fucking up?” A.J asked, his tone still icy, “You kept zoning out because you were thinking of your ex wife?”

Kevin nodded, “Yeah, I remember.”

“You must not,” he laughed bitterly, “When I told you that you might not be ready to date. What were you thinking?”

Kevin started to protest and say that he didn’t know, but a look of remembrance formed in his eyes and A.J. could read that he felt bad immediately. But just because he felt bad didn’t mean that he’d be let off the hook so easily.

“You’re still upset with me over that?” Kevin asked softly, “Aje, I am really sorry about that.”

“But it hurt me,” he replied, his voice not kind but not harsh, “I could read what you were thinking, and it made me feel worthless all over again.”

“I thought that you were over that,” Kevin stated, staring blankly ahead, “I didn’t know that it was still on your mind.”

A.J. didn’t respond for a moment. All of the memories came flooding back to him at once all over again. He remembered how he’d felt that he was a disappointment to everybody. What he’d read in Kevin’s eyes that night had made him feel like all of his work in rehab had been for absolutely nothing.

“I was getting over it,” A.J. admitted, “Until your accident.”

Kevin looked at A.J. in confusion, “What does that have to do with anything?” he asked.

“Everything,” A.J. yelled in frustration throwing his arms into the air, “It has everything to do with how I feel.”

“Care to explain?” Kevin asked.

A.J couldn’t believe that he had to explain everything to Kevin as if he were a child. He especially couldn’t believe how easily he could forget what had landed him in the hospital in the first place.

“Because of Anna turning you down, you went out and drank. As a result, you’re now paralyzed,” A.J. started bluntly, and saw Kevin wince at the reminder of his condition, “Same thing as me. When that doctor said what happened…” his voice trailed off and she closed his eyes, shaking his head.

“I’m really sorry Aje,” Kevin apologized again, “As I said, I didn’t mean anything by what I had been thinking. It was just…I didn’t mean to hurt you. I never would.”

“You’re a hypocrite,” A.J. replied, “That’s what I was thinking then and that’s what I still think now.”

Kevin looked down in shame. He felt worthless, and like such a low. All of his years of trying to protect and be there, and he’d done the complete opposite to the one who’d needed his support the most.

“I know,” Kevin replied quietly, “Please don’t hate me though for it. Please try to forgive me. I can’t stand you being mad at me.”

A.J. looked at Kevin wearily. The man looked so pathetic sitting there and he looked genuinely sorry, but the things he’d thought of him and his actions couldn’t be easily forgotten.

“Please?” Kevin asked weakly.

A.J. could feel his heart softening. He couldn’t be upset when Kevin was trying so hard to get their friendship back on track. A small smile cracked on his lips as he smiled and he nodded.

“So, everything is ok now?” Kevin asked, his green eyes full of hope for forgiveness from his old friend.

A.J. nodded again and Kevin broke out into a huge grin, holding his arms open for a hug. A.J. raised an eyebrow and looked around to make sure that nobody was watching before giving Kevin the hug he was expecting. All of the memories came back again and once more, he felt alone. He roughly pulled away, the scowl back on his face. Kevin stared at him, wondering what was wrong now.

“No, you know what?” he said, his nasty tone returned, “It’s not ok. What you did was wrong. It all was. It’s not okay, and I don’t know if it ever will be.”

A.J. spun around and walked out of the room leaving Kevin to sit there bewildered wondering why everything had been okay between them again for only a few short moments.
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Anna hurridly opened her hotel bedroom when
she heard the phone ringing. She ran over to answer it before the caller was gone. Stumbling over the bed, she ripped the phone off of the receiver and brought it to her ear.

“Hello,” she breathed.

“Hey there,” a male voice answered brightly

Anna sighed. She could recognize that voice anywhere. It was Nathan. She’d hoped that it was Kevin. She picked herself up off of the floor and sat on the bed wondering why he was calling her.

“What’s up?” she asked him.

“Not a whole lot,” he replied, “I was just calling to check up on how your little Backstreet Boy was doing.”

“Nathan,” Anna warned.

“What?” He protested, “I mean it. I want to know how he is. I mean, I know now that you’re telling the truth about knowing him…you called me upset over it days before it was even on the news.”

Anna sighed. Nathan hadn’t even believed her until Kevin’s story was on TV. And he was making fun of him.

“Kevin is doing fine,” she replied, “A little down, but other than that, he’s doing pretty well.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” he answered, and paused for a few seconds. Anna was wondering if he was still on the line when he spoke again, “Listen, I was wondering if you’d like to try and go out again.”

Anna paused. She really had liked him a few days ago. Had it only been days? Had she only known the Boys for two weeks, give or take a day or so? It seemed like she’d known them for a lifetime. Back when she’d met Nathan, and Kevin was still married and perfectly fine, she liked Nathan a lot because he’d paid attention to her. Now though, she couldn’t picture herself with him. He consistently made fun of Kevin. Sure, he didn’t flat out say it, but she could tell that it was what he intended. She couldn’t be with someone like that. She liked Kevin way too much also. She couldn’t date someone else while he was getting over Kristin. It would be wrong of her. It would hurt Kevin too much. She wanted to be with him. Not play games in the process of being with him.

“Hello?” Nathan asked with a chuckle, “Are you still there?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Anna replied finally.

“Oh,” Nathan replied, “Why not?”

“I really like Kevin,” Anna replied, “I want to be his girlfriend.”

“Old man Kevin?” Nathan laughed, “That’s a good one. He is what, a good thirteen years older than you? Besides, I thought that you didn’t like him in that way because of his tendency to go retarded on you and that he still needed to get over his ex.”

Anna decided to let Nathan’s comment go in one ear and out the other. If she spoke her mind of it, she’d go down to the restaurant and murder Nathan for it.

“I’ve always liked him,” she replied stiffly, “He’s one of the sweetest people I know. I promised that I would wait for him to get over her.”

“And he expects this of you?” Nathan asked skeptically, “He expects you to just wait and not have any fun?”

“No, but I want to and decide to,” Anna corrected him. She couldn’t believe that she’d actually fallen for this guy. He was nothing but a judgmental jerk.

“Whatever you decide,” Nathan snorted, “You both are lunatics. You belong together, I swear.”

Anna was about to defend Kevin again, then herself, but the phone went dead before she had the chance to. With her whole body shaking, Anna roughly put the phone back down on the receiver. She couldn’t understand what had made the sweet guy she’d gone to the movies with turn into such a monster. Taking a few deep breaths, Anna calmed herself down enough as to where she could function, but it didn’t make her any less upset. She could feel hot tears rolling down her cheeks as she wondered why people had to be so cruel towards those who’d landed themselves in a misfortunate, temporary, situation
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