Brian drove like a madman, anxious to get home. His face, hot with anger over Nick bringing the topic of dating his way. It was true that it had been two years since his wife, Sandra, died tragically in a car accident. He blamed himself, still blamed himself for her death. He'd forgotten something he needed at the recording studio at home, such an inane object that he couldn't even remember what it was he asked her to go back for. Her car was broadsided by someone who thought they could do whatever they want and run a red light. She died on the way to the hospital.
They'd been together for only five years, but Brian felt he had known her all of his life. They connected mentally, spiritually and physically. He never thought it possible to be in love so completely. After her death he shut down almost completely, shut himself away in their home and watched her favorite movies.
Howie, Kevin, Nick and AJ would all take turns sitting with him, making sure he ate something during the days.
Brian looked at a clock and noticed he needed to get ready, he had a recording time scheduled and he needed to be there. He quickly tore off his clothes and headed into the bathroom turning the shower on full steam. He threw his face under the hot water and tried to wash away the memories now bubbling to the surface.
Her smile, her laughter, the way her blond hair smelled after her shower. The secret smile she gave him when she wanted to make love, the clothes scattered on the floor the next morning. Even the things he that annoyed him when she was living, he missed those little things now. Her bra hanging on the door knob of the bathroom, her make up scattered all around her sink, her habit of letting the dishes sit in the sink until the following evening.
Brian finished his shower and glanced at his reflection in the mirror, his eyes were red and swollen from crying. “Get it together Brian. You have people to see, don't let them know you've been crying for her again. It's been two years, perhaps it is time to move on.” Wrapping the towel around his waist he entered the bedroom to get dressed.
It was only a few minutes later he emerged fully dressed, his hair still only slightly damp from the shower, the only decent thing about it's constant thinning.
He got in the car and looked in the backseat. Nick's gym bag was still in his car. Brian chuckled a bit when he realized he'd left his friend at the court with no way home. He pulled out his bluetooth and shoved it in his ear. “Call Nick,” he demanded of his phone.
“Hey Nick,” Brian started.
“Brian, you do realize you left me at the courts today, you were my ride.” Nick immediately expressed.
“Yes, I know, it's why I was calling actually. I'm sorry I left you there.”
“You gonna reimburse me the cab fare.”
Brian balked at this request. “I guess...”
Nick's laughter cut him off. “I'm joking Brian. I understand you were upset, I pushed buttons you weren't ready to have pushed yet. It's all good.”
“You on your way to the studio?” Nick asked.
“Well, I am running a bit behind so tell the others I'll be there soon.”
He arrived shortly after hanging up with Nick. “Hello Brian,” a female voice called out to him as he entered the studio.
“Hi...” He trailed off, unable to recall the young woman's name.
“Stephanie.” She smiled as she filled in the blanks for him. “We met last week, I assist Mr. Mitchell.”
Brian nodded, feigning that he recalled meeting her. “Right.” He answered and moved towards the door to lead to the studios, but she was faster.
She held her hand on the door. “I am glad I got to see you today.” She said with a warm smile that Brian recognized instantly. She was attracted to him. Any other day, he might flirt a little back, but after his walk down memory lane, he just wasn't feeling up to it.
“Thanks,” He mumbled and waited for her to either open the door or step aside.
She stepped closer to him, her hand lightly on his arm. “What would you like to drink, Mr. Littrell?” She was being business, but there was an undertone to her voice that gave him goosebumps.
“I'm fine.” He half-smiled back.
“If you need anything, anything at all, you just let me know.” She was close now, close enough for him to catch a hint of peach in her perfume.
“I'll remember that.” He nodded and walked through the now open door.
“I hope you will.” She called after him.
Once Brian was safely away, he glanced back through the glass door he just came through. Stephanie was no where to be seen.
Was this God's way of telling he that he agreed with Brian's realization that it was time to move on, a girl practically throwing herself at him? Brian had to admit, he liked it, he liked knowing that the opposite sex still found him attractive.
He entered the studio and greeted Howie, AJ, and the producers. “Nick will be a bit late, it's my fault though.” He smiled at the guys, hoping none of them could tell he'd been crying.
No one took any special notice of him as they continued to discuss the songs and how they sounded best. They were all into the conversation by the time Nick arrived on the arm of Stephanie herself. “I found this pretty little thing outside practically begging to come in here and ask us if we needed beverages.”
They all asked for drinks and Stephanie, grinning from ear to ear at Brian, soon left with promises of being back shortly.
Nick dropped on to the couch next to Brian and leaned in close. “That girl has got it bad for you man.”
Brian looked at his friend shocked. “Did she...”
“She didn't tell me directly, but she told me you had arrived, but didn't mention Howie or AJ. She asked if I knew if 'you' wanted anything to drink or needed anything at all. Doesn't take a degree to figure it out.”
Brian sighed. He was not up for discussions about dating with Nick, again. He sat staring at his fingers, not really listening to anything that was being said. His eyes moved around, noticing three of the five people in the room had timers on their wrists. Love definitely had different definitions than it had a few short years ago.
It was then Stephanie came back into the room carrying a tray with their drinks. She passed them out, lingering a bit longer at Brian. Brian could feel Nick's foot kicking him as an 'I told you so' not that Brian needed telling, he could feel the heat from her gaze.
“Ask her...” Nick muttered under his breath.
Brian smiled warmly up at Stephanie as she left the room. Was it time again? Was he really ready to re-enter the dating world with all it's games? In retaliation, Nick was throwing something across the room at AJ, the timer on his wrist caught his eyes. Was that really the solution?