- Text Size +
Chapter 15

I woke up in the morning to my alarm going off from my phone in my pocket. It sounded like the siren of a fire engine and I almost launched myself off of my bed in my efforts to quiet it.

“Good morning sunshine!” Mollee yelled happily jumping on my bed and giving me a hug

“Shush” I groaned rolling over away from the light that was streaming in through the crack in the curtain of my bunk

“Did you have fun last night?” She asked excitedly, unaware that the volume of her voice was going to be too loud unless she was whispering

“The bit I remember, sure” I said softly as she giggled

“Look at that! You had fun without a certain Backstreet Boy” Mollee bragged and I opened a tired eye at her

“I saw him as well. That, I remember” I said as she frowned

“Whatever. Tell me everything having to with Josh” She said as I shook my head

“It’ll have to wait until rehearsal. I need to wash off last night’s makeup and hair and try to get the stale whiskey taste out of my mouth before I can even think about talking to you” I said slowly attempting to roll out of the bunk

“Look out below!” Mollee yelled right next to my ear as I steadied myself next to my bunk

“Mollee if you scream again I’m throwing you out in the rain” I said becoming vaguely aware that at least a small portion of the pounding in my head was from the noisy rain on the roof of our little tin can of a home

“Fine grumpy, I’ll see you in the van” She said pretending to be mad but betraying her act with a smirk. I made my way slowly to the shower and did everything possible to wash the remnants of last night from my mind. I tried to focus on the good parts from yesterday like when Josh introduced me to a west end performer who had worked with Laurence Olivier or the toothless woman who had forced us to eat the sweetest cake I had ever tasted. With thoughts like these in the forefront of my mind I made my way to the clothes room and threw on some gauchos, a tank top, and my flip flops. I went to pick up my bright pink umbrella when my phone started ringing loudly and I scrambled to silence it before my head exploded. I looked at it like it had personally offended me to see that I had a new voice mail. I angrily turned the earpiece volume very low before playing the message which ended up being a good thing because music drifted to me immediately. As the first words penetrated my hangover haze I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. It was clear what this was all about.

Here I am again
Waiting on the moment you decide
To leave me stranded on the edge of nowhere
I’ve been so close to you so many times
I feel like I could drown
I wish that I could fly away from here
But I’m still coming down
From the last time that you came around
In the starlight
Now I’m pulling to your gravity
Spinning helplessly
I’m falling through the night
Like a lonely satellite

We walked on Jupiter
Flew around the moon a time or two
Left a mark on every star we could find
but now I’m burning like a meteor
that never hits the ground
Wish that I could fly away from here…

Love is poisoning the atmosphere
It’s keeping everything unclear to me
something in your eyes never satisfies
I’m feeling so alone tonight

I sighed and grabbed my dance bag before running through the rain to the van waiting to take us to the stage in Newcastle for our clean up rehearsal. Apparently the busses had to take an alternate route because they were too big so to get the maximum amount of rehearsal time today we had to be shipped the short way in a van. Aj eyed me as I slid in next to Howie who looked up with surprise when I interrupted his fiddling on his phone by slumping in the seat next to him.

“You ok?” He asked cautiously as I nodded and pulled my sweater out from my bag and placed it over my face

“Hung over” Aj explained for me as I gave a “thumbs up” to indicate that he was right

“Beer is stronger here” Howie said helpfully and I let the sweater fall just enough so I could give him a look

“That is very helpful in retrospect” I whispered as Howie laughed a little and gave me a quick hug before returning to his phone

“So are you avoiding me again?” Aj asked quietly leaning over his seat to whisper in my ear once everyone was engaged in conversation or sleeping

“I don’t think my stomach would like any seat that isn’t in front” I explained quietly as he laughed a bit

“I guess it’s not always all about me” He joked sliding in on the other side of me now that he knew I wasn’t purposely avoiding him

“Occasionally” I sighed and then groaned as the van hit a pot hole or something and jostled my unsettled stomach

“Here” Aj said lifting up my sweater shield a little to hand me some saltines

“Thanks” I said and began to munch them slowly

“Water is helpful too” He said taking out his water bottle and handing it to my other hand

“It’s like you knew this was going to happen” I joked as he grinned

“Don’t forget how many times I’ve been drunk and then had to go to rehearsal the next day” He said bashfully as I met his eyes

“Don’t be embarrassed. You’re fighting something huge and genetic and you’re kicking its ass. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You can’t help your stuff any more than I can help having mood rings for eyes” I explained and a small smile came to Aj’s lips and bounced onto mine as well

“Sleep sweetheart. I’ll wake you when we get there” He said quietly and I nodded before resting my head on his shoulder and moving the sweater back over my eyes. I woke up to a strange whirring sound and a subtle pulsing that I couldn’t quite identify. I was groggy and unwilling to open my eyes so I took a few minutes in sleepy confusion before I felt something wet on my face and forced myself to lift a sliver of an eyelid

“What?” I asked groggily as more water hit my face

“Sorry if I woke you. It’s hard to carry someone and an umbrella all at once. We’ll be inside soon” Aj said sweetly as my brain began to speed up to the present. I was in Aj’s arms and he was attempting to transport me to the studio. Unfortunately the rain we had encountered in London was nothing short of a torrential downpour in Newcastle

“Why is it so wet?” I asked quietly as Aj smiled

“Why are you so cute?” He joked as I nuzzled into his chest and took a deep breath of his spicy scent. We got inside and Fly ordered us to get stretching without batting an eyelid at my place in Aj’s arms. Aj put me down carefully so I was sitting on the floor and then spread his legs into a straddle without letting his eyes leave me

“I feel awful” I moaned crawling to his exposed lap and draping myself over his legs so he couldn’t possibly stretch

“I’m sorry. Maybe you should stay sober with me from now on” He suggested with a small smile at my need to be somehow wrapped up in his arms at all times

“I think that would be wise” I said through a moan as Aj gathered me into his lap and began rocking me slowly

“Come on that’s adorable” Nick said elbowing Mollee so she would break her death stare on the PDA

“Hardly” She said harshly as he smiled

“Even when you’re unreasonable you’re my favorite person” He said and her expression softened a hair

“Alright everyone let’s go from the top” Fly announced as Aj helped me slowly to my feet and over to our starting position

“Aj I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this” I moaned as my stomach gave an uncomfortable pitch

“I’m right here. Lean on me if you have to” He said anxiously as I stared at the ground and tried to pretend that I wasn’t feeling as nauseous as I was. Aj ran through the opening and then I walked over to him and managed to get through the first half of PDA before I knew my stomach was no longer in my control. I covered my mouth with my hand and bolted right before the dance break for the nearest door (which was unfortunately the one that lead outside into the rain) and had barely made the threshold before my stomach emptied itself on the curb. I immediately felt hands sweeping my hair back from my face as I heaved again and a hand rubbing my back. After a few more minutes of retching I was able to take in my surroundings. Of course the hands on my back and holding my hair were full of rings meaning it could be only one person who had followed me into the rain

“You really don’t have to do that” I said weakly as Aj wiped my mouth tenderly with a tissue and threw it in the trash bin I had missed by a few feet

“Hey I’ve been here remember?” Aj said as I took a wobbly step away from the mess I made on the sidewalk (which was thankfully being washed quite quickly away into a storm drain and out of sight) and sat on the step leading to the studio only vaguely aware of how soaked I was becoming

“Fly must be livid” I groaned

“No I think he was just relieved that you made it outside” Aj giggled and I gave him a weak smile

“I think I can go back in” I said standing up and watching the water slosh around my feet “Oh crap, I’m soaked”

“I am too. This will take some creativity” He said as I contemplated my next move. As if on cue Mollee’s face appeared in the doorway

“Are you done making a fool out of yourself?” She asked, her harsh tone not matching her bemused expression

“Have any extra clothes?” I asked suppressing a shiver. She rolled her eyes and disappeared for a moment. Aj wrapped me in his arms and although he wasn’t much warmer than I was it seemed to help

“I have pants for you and Bri has something for him” Mollee said pointedly as Aj sighed in annoyance “But you better strip out there”

“For someone who hates us together you sure do like to put us in situations where we have to be half naked and in close proximity” Aj joked as I shot him a look and began removing articles of clothing. After I was out of my shirt and pants I stepped gingerly inside and slipped on Mollee’s shorts. Standing there in booty shorts and a drenched (but thankfully navy blue) sports bra left me feeling a little exposed but at least my body was feeling better. It seems the vomiting mixed with the cold rain shower had cured the last of my alcohol sickness and I happily took a few gulps of the water that Nick pushed at me

“Nice” I said with a smirk as Aj walked in with Brian’s jeans that were a bit short on him and no shirt. My eyes lingered over the remaining rain droplets as they ran down his shimmering chest to his 69 belly button tattoo and then I shook myself out of it and kneeled down to roll up the jeans so they looked like they were meant to be three quarter length as opposed to pants that were just too short. Fly spent no time making sure I was feeling better or that Aj could dance in his new ensemble before ordering us to pick it up from the entrance to PDA. The sexual dance was all kinds of charged as Aj and I grinded half naked and damp with each other. I was breathing heavily but definitely not feeling sick anymore by the end of our run and Fly let us go with parting comments of how impressed he was with our work and how he would miss us for the few weeks before he would come and brush up our show again. We said goodbyes and everyone eagerly made their way to their tour buses to shower and enjoy the night off but I hung back

“Going to dance some more?” Brian asked as I stretched a bit

“Yeah I’m still a little restless. Want to join me?” I asked as he shook his head

“I can’t keep up with you. And while Leigh has no problem with us dancing on stage I think she’d object to us getting close in that outfit” He joked as I slapped him lightly in the chest causing him to make a hurt face before running off

“Is it ok if I stay?” I heard from behind me and didn’t need to turn to guess who it was

“I owe you, of course you can stay” I said as Aj grabbed his sweat pants, which had dried since they weren’t as wet as my stuff had been, and offered them to me. I put them on and felt a little more comfortable then I had been parading around in tight dance shorts “Thanks”

“No problem” He said taking my hand and quickly kissing the back of it causing my heart to stutter

“What shall we dance to?” I asked trying to regain some sense of composure

“Let’s just put your ipod on shuffle and see what happens” He said grabbing it from my hand and plugging it in

“This could get embarrassing” I joked as warmth radiated through my body that had nothing to do with Aj’s dry sweat pants. As soon as he pressed play I flushed red as his album, which I had been blasting earlier, came on

“Good taste” Aj joked as the opening riff to Drive by love began to play. I made a face at him but grinned inwardly. I could dance the hell out of this song

“Super fly black hair swinging out everywhere. I touched you and my heart stopped. Now I know I'm totally fucked” Played and Aj ran out to the middle of the room with me. In the opening I let down my damp hair so I could spin and let it fly out playing out the lyrics with my moves. Then Aj came up to me and ran the back of his hand across my bare stomach, hitting a hard position with me on “heart stopped” and then spinning around and pressing me to him on “fucked.” My dancer instinct was zoning in as was my chemistry with Aj which always intensified on the dance floor. We were completely in sync and enjoying it more than perhaps we should

“I'm gunna take you in my car, let you give me a ride. Tell me love, quick or slow, I'll let you decide. And if you get too serious I’ll tell you goodbye. Girl you better realize this ain't nothing but a drive by love” Played and Aj and I went at it. We grinded and explored our mutual bare flesh with each other’s hands. As the chorus picked up I had flashbacks to two nights ago when we had gone at it all night long. A longing deep in the pit of my stomach stirred and when I did a move that had me landing in a full split with my face in a compromising position I swear I heard Aj moan

“We went a little too fast. It threw me back on my ass. I can't believe I did this. Let it happen with just one kiss” Played and I took a few steps back. On “back on my ass” I did a spinning kick and Aj did a very impressive move into a skid across the floor. With the agility of even the best dancers I’d ever met he launched himself back at me so by the time the word “kiss” was played he was inches from my lips

“So tell me what you’d do if it happened to you? Would you wanna give it up or would you follow it through? And I fell in love and now I'm totally screwed. I guess I should've realized this is more than just a drive by love” played and we moved into some complicated footwork with our faces still inches apart. I was the first to break off into a pop and lock section with the chorus repeat and then when the Eastern sounding music came in with the girl voice I teased Aj more than was fair with a seductive belly dance in my sports bra and his sweat pants. He had almost forgotten we were both dancing by the time the chorus came back in again but once the song rolled to its ending section where the music all but cut out we were pressed close enough together that I could feel his heart beat against my chest. We finished the dance breathing heavily and staring intensely into each other's eyes. That familiar and disorienting feeling welcomed me as I lost myself in his eyes and the world slowed around me. I want him. I want him so bad it hurts.

"Kat, there you are!" I heard behind me and I turned quickly rubbing the tears from my eyes before they could properly form

"Josh! Hey!" I said running over to my ipod and switching it off before it could betray me with another song with poignant lyrics "When did you get here?"

"I just walked in. We are about to start loading in and I figured you'd be wrapping up in here so I wanted to try and catch you before I became engrossed in my work for the night. What are you wearing?" He asked without stopping to breathe so it took me a minute to register it all and answer the question

"I partied a little too hard with you last night and ended up in the rain... it's a long story" I said with a small blush at the memory of what a hot mess I had been

"I'll just leave you then" Aj said quietly brushing past me

"You don't have to-" I started

"I really do" He said just quiet enough that only I could hear. The pain in his voice was almost unbearable. Why did I always end up hurting him?

"Oh I'm sorry. You were in the middle of something. I can come back later or see you tomorrow" Josh started

"No man it's cool. Take care of her, ok? She should eat something substantial and have an early night" Aj said with pain still emanating from him in waves. What did I expect? Last night he had watched me kiss this guy and then after all day of taking care of me what did he have to show for it? Me running to Josh the moment he walked in as if Aj didn't exist. I was being horrible. He didn't deserve this. I turned quickly to try to stop Aj but all I saw was the sliver of light slip through the door before it shut loudly against the howling wind outside

"Did I just ruin everything?" Josh asked anxiously as I shook myself

"No it's ok I'm just not being very fair to him. I'm happy to see you though" I said and realized that it was true. That simple happiness that swept over my complicated life when Josh was around had begun to change into something else. I couldn't quite name it but seeing Josh was beginning to feel like coming home

"I'm beyond happy to see you. I'm ecstatic. I'm bouncing with it" Josh said with a huge grin that was contagious

"I'm glad you don't hate me after last night with my drunken hilarity and all" I said bashfully

"Hey you're always full of surprises. I love that about you. Oh and you forgot this" Josh handed me the flask he had bought on our date wrapped with care in a piece of cloth. I let it fall open and smiled at the reflection. It was me and I was glowing.

"Oh I forgot how awesome it was" I said with a grin before launching myself into Josh's arms. He was stunned for a moment and then happily gripped me back. His warmth was wonderful as I started to return to my chilled state and Josh noticed as I sighed in content

"Here" He said simply opening his jacket. I eagerly slid my arms into the holes with his and he zipped it up so we were glued facing each other "Now we should get you back to your bus and me back to work"

"How should we do that?" I asked with a giggle

"We'll figure it out" He said trying to take a step but throwing me off balance so I had to grip him tighter to stay upright

"This is going to be a disaster" I laughed as I tried to take a step and Josh tilted alarmingly to the right

"You say disaster. I say adventure" He said with a gleam in his eye and that lopsided smile I loved

"You're going to be so late-" I started but Josh shushed me

"Hey. Stop reasoning and start solving" He said and I laughed again at his wonderful childish nature. We giggled and tripped our way to the door before realizing all my stuff was across the room in a corner. After turning back we managed to get a rhythm going so that by the time we stepped out into the rain we were actually pretty functional

"We'd be awesome Siamese twins" I said with a laugh as Josh flipped up his hood to protect us both from the downpour

"The best" He agreed. We made our way to the bus and stood in the small shelter the doorway afforded. In order to stay dry I was pushed right up against the door and Josh was still getting dripped on

"Ok you need to let me out before you get soaked" I said, enjoying being sandwiched between a door and Josh's sculpted chest

"I kind of like it like this. No one can hurt you or make you get that tormented look on your face when I have you trapped here with me" He said as I frowned "That's the one!"

"Tormented?" I asked and Josh nodded

"Whenever I first see you it's like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Or like you're looking at a huge Greek exam but you've only studied Italian. It takes a few minutes but I can usually get it to go away. It would be nice to help you get rid of it all together" He explained

"I'm working on it" I said quietly and Josh nudged me with his chin. I giggled a bit and then met his gaze and slowly leaned into his kiss. It was warm and soft and lovely and it was with real reluctance that I pulled back

"Tomorrow after the show we are driving to Manchester. Can we do a movie date for the ride?" Josh asked

"Meet me at my bus. We can have a sleepover" I said eagerly as Josh flashed me an evil smirk that reminded me so much of Aj's that my heart throbbed painfully in my chest

"You want to have a sleepover, huh?" He said as I took a deep breath to steady myself

"You'll be sleeping on the couch. But we can stay up and talk and I know Mollee is dying to find out all about you. It will be fun" I said

"It sounds wonderful. There's only one problem" Josh said seriously as I frowned "It's too far away from now"

"I feel that" I said as Josh kissed me tenderly on the top of my head and then unzipped me into the cold air. He zipped himself back up before giving me a departing glace full of longing. I watched him go from the shelter of the bus steps. Once he was out of sight I turned and thought about going into the bus but then remembered Aj and his pain. I sighed and shivered at the mere thought of going out into the rain again but knowing what I needed to do I plunged back into the downpour and towards Aj’s bus. When I reached his bus I was soaked to the bone including the once dry pants that Aj had given me. I huddled under the lip of the roof of his bus and knocked at the door. It took a few attempts before I figured that he was either not there or ignoring me. I weighed my options. I could leave without seeing him and he could spend the night thinking that I had snubbed him after he had been so kind to me all day but I wouldn’t be tempted into any sexual action or brought to tears by feelings too confusing to face. On the other hand I could just barge in there and risk emotional turmoil but ensure that he at least heard me out and knew how grateful I was for his friendship even if we both knew it was more. There was no contest. I pushed open the door and stood in the entryway dripping onto the carpet that lined the living room area of his bus

“Aj!?” I yelled as a fresh wave of shivers over took me. I heard some shuffling in the direction of his room but no response “You can ignore me if you want but I know you’re in there and I need to talk to you”

“You’re harder to get rid of than a shadow” I heard from the stairs above me which caused me to jump about five feet in the air

“I need you to hear me out. I don’t like leaving things unsaid” I said as Aj descended the stairs with a notebook “Writing something?”

“Yes. Well speak then. I’m listening” He said hugging his notebook to his chest

“I wanted to say thank you for taking care of me today. You didn’t have to do that especially with the way I’ve been treating you” I said looking at my toes for the last part

“What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment” He muttered as I sighed

“Aj-” I started but he stopped me with an angry look

“You know you should really think about not spending nights with one guy and days with another. People might think you’re playing games” He said harshly. I shivered both from my dampness and the coolness of his tone but he pretended to ignore it

“I deserve that” I said quietly. Silence fell in around us as I tried to organize my thoughts in my head. I think I love Aj. But I think I may be falling in love with Josh. A day without seeing Aj is a day wasted but when Josh isn’t around I’m somehow not completely at rest. Oh what am I doing?

“Can you go please? Unless you’re here to offer to give yourself fully and completely to me, please leave me alone” Aj pleaded and I heard the pain in his voice. I glanced at his eyes and saw the torment Josh had been trying to explain to me earlier

“Aj I don’t want to hurt you but I just love being around you. You’re such a wonderful person and my best friend-”

“Please Kat. Please. I can’t ask you to ignore me completely because my heart couldn’t bear that but please consider my feelings and just leave me alone right now” He pleaded and my heart broke

“I’m so sorry”

“For someone who spends so much of her time apologizing you’d think I could get her to accept an apology herself” Aj said angrily as I swallowed my retort and nodded. He was right. It was time I gave some thought to his feelings. I stripped off the sweatpants he had given me and folded them quietly while he watched and left them on his table before turning and leaving. I shut the door and leaned against it while taking a deep breath and willing myself to let this love go. A mere metal door away Aj was willing himself to do that same thing.