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Chapter 7

I woke up grumpily as a small shaft of light flickered into my eye. I squinted and saw that a portion of the blinds over the windows in Aj’s bedroom had not been shut all the way and the morning sun was rising at the perfect angle to catch my eye and blind me. I glanced at Aj to see him sound asleep. His mouth was curled into an innocent smile and his one hand was draped over my waist while the other cushioned my head. I sat up slowly, maneuvering his hands and my body so as not to wake him and crept to the front of the bus where Mollee had left me my dance bag packed with everything I’d need for the day. I quickly threw on my dance clothes and found my ipod in the front pocket where I normally store it and tiptoed out into the cold Florida morning air. When I wake up early I can very rarely go back to sleep and I was so keyed up from the night before with Aj that I knew the only way I could calm my emotions enough to be in any way functional today was to dance. I made my way to the studio and noticed for the first time how very many people there were here on the lot preparing for the tour. I snuck into the studio and hooked up my ipod before stretching. I was in a ballet mood so I put on a recording of Swan Lake and went about trying to remember what I could from being in that ballet at many different points in my career. I was in the middle of the portion where the swan princess is struggling under the influence of the black swan and she dances her longing for freedom while the prince watches on when I heard a cough and turned quickly to see an unfamiliar guy at the door. He had scruffy brown hair, ripped jeans, and a plaid button down over a slim rocker body that I took in from his worn converse to his untidy yet stylish hair.

“Sorry” We said at the same time and then laughed nervously

“I’m a dancer on the tour, I was just getting in some rehearsal before everyone woke up” I said quickly turning off my ipod and slipping off my point shoes.

“I’m on the road crew and last I checked the Backstreet Boys did not specialize in Tchaikovsky” The guy said with an irresistible lopsided grin

“Good ear” I said moving a little closer to him “I’m Kat”

“Josh. Sorry I startled you, I was looking for a chair and then you were dancing so beautifully…” He trailed off nervously and I smiled

“Thanks. I haven’t put the old point shoes on in a while so I figured I’d check to see if I still had it” I joked and he chuckled a little. Something about him was very calming. My nerves all but disappeared even though he was a new and a guy.

“In my very expert opinion, I’d say you still got it” He said sweeping some of his hair out of his eyes. I took in their brilliant green right as he took in my blue.

“You’re an expert huh?” I joked with a cocked eyebrow

“Hey, I could be the next Nureyev, you never know” He said as I laughed

“I’ll have to watch my lines then, won’t I?” I smirked. We both stood there shyly for a moment before Brian burst into the door with a loud and long high note.

“Gooooooddddmmmoorrrrnnninnng!” He sang running in, picking me up and throwing me over his shoulder in a fireman carry. Briefly, as I tried to steady myself on Brian’s back, I saw Josh give a tiny wave and sneak out of the studio, unnoticed by anyone walking in

“Ok, you have about two seconds to put me down before I empty the contents of my water bottle on your head” I said through a laugh as Brian giggled evilly and dropped me to go run and get his bottle. I squirted some water at him and he squirted some back at me in retaliation. It was about to turn into a no holds barred water fight when I was picked up again in a hug by Nick who was also smiling goofily “Down Frankenstein, I’m afraid of heights”

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He said quickly putting me down but locking me in a hug

“What are you thanking me for?” I asked as he gave me a look

“I’m thanking you for going on that date with me and Mollee. She kissed me. Did she tell you that? What did she say about me? I want to know everything” He said quickly as I laughed and messed up his hair

“I hardly saw her, I spent the night with Aj, but she did tell me you kissed and she seemed very excited about it. I’m happy for you two crazy kids” I said but was interrupted by another set of hands wrapping themselves around my waist

“Well you spent most of the night with Aj, until he woke up this morning to an empty bed, no note, and the clothes you were wearing last night strewn all over his kitchen” Aj said from behind me as I groaned.

“Oh I’m so sorry! What you must have thought!” I said turning to him and giving him a hug while trying to read his expression

“Only that I’d done something horribly wrong and you hated me” He said dramatically with a pout

“Aww come here. I just got up early and wanted to dance. I met a roadie!” I said excitedly as Aj broke into a grin, unable to pretend to be upset now that we were together

“That sounds very exciting. Don’t those things hurt?” Aj said spotting my discarded point shoes

“Only in the way where they hurt a lot” I joked as I wrapped them carefully and put them in my dance bag while removing my jazz sneakers.

“Well I have a question for you” Aj said with a hint of shyness causing me to smirk as I tied my shoes

“I have an answer”

“Will you go on a date with me tonight?” He asked as I grinned

“I think as your official girlfriend it doesn’t really count as a date anymore” I joked and he rolled his eyes at me

“Will you spend some time with me tonight? I have something I think you’ll like to do and it’ll get you off the lot for the night. Lord knows I’m getting a little claustrophobic” He said in a rush as I grabbed his chin playfully with my hand and looked into his eyes

“Of course I’ll spend some time with you tonight on a date to a place you think I’ll like” I watched the happiness and relief spread across his face and giggled “Why were you so nervous to ask me that?”

“I don’t know! I never know what’s going to happen with you!” He exclaimed

“You’re ridiculous. I get less nervous the more I’m around you and you get more nervous” I rested my hand on his cheek and balanced on my tip toes to plant a sweet kiss on his lips

“Get a room” I heard from behind me as Mollee skated by. I caught her hand and wrapped her in a hug, squeezing as hard as I could

“You’re the best sister a girl could ask for. Thanks for the clothes” I whispered to her as she smiled

“No sweat”

“So tell me everything about last night” I said completely hyper from being awake for so long and eager for details of her night with Nick

“Well we had a huge water fight so I was getting cold and Nick offered to get the blanket from the picnic for me but we got there and you were occupying it” She said with a smirk while she tied her shoes and I motioned her to get on with it “so we stole the food and went to eat in his bus. We talked, connected and had some smooches”

“Just smooches?” I asked nosily as she laughed

“Yeah I’m not you, whore” She joked as I smacked her lightly “Not all of us feel comfortable enough with a man we’ve met a mere week ago to skinny dip”

“Oh calm down. It was a whim. He didn’t even get a good look. Just enough to get an idea”

“And last night?” She asked equally as nosey as I was

“There were some cuddles. Smooches” I said equally as evasively and she rolled her eyes

“Hey, your eye is looking a lot less gangster” She said clearly changing the subject. Oh I’d get her for that. I gave her a look that clearly said that we weren’t done with this conversation before Fly came into the room with all his usual energy, ready to start the day.

“Ok everyone. We’re starting with All of your life. I have a section to teach the guys and you each have sections that you can figure out alone with your partner. Then we’ll all come back to work the dance break together. So, first things first, split to your partners and wow me with your acting skills” Fly announced as I looked at Brian and he shrugged. “Kat, you’re opening this whole thing, we’ve got a whole story line for you. Basically you will enter reading a book and then the thunder will cue and you’ll pretend that it is raining. You’ll try to hide from the rain and run into Brian who will offer you an umbrella. From there on, it’s up to you two what you’d like to do”

“Thanks” I said taking the prop Fly handed to me. I wasn’t sure I’d ever worked with an umbrella in a dance number before but we’d think of something.

“Do you have any ideas?” I asked Brian as he took the umbrella

“I bet I could get some good air with this thing” He said attempting to flip the open umbrella and almost stabbing me in the eye

“My poor eye has gone through enough trauma could we try to cut it some slack?” I asked with a pout as Brian laughed

“Wait I can get it!” He said in total kid mode. From there it was complete chaos. I had multiple bruises on my legs and arms and one on my side from umbrella related injuries and I felt so stupid trying to act out the love story with Brian that we ended up in complete hysterics (not unlike the Bigger fiasco) after about an hour of messing around. When would Fly learn that it was not good to let us figure things out on our own?

“Ok guys, let’s see what you’ve got” Fly yelled to cut through the chaos. The music started and I did my intro, getting laughed at by everyone in the room. When Brian came on he could barely sing for laughing so I stepped hard on his foot and instead of flipping the umbrella, he speared me with it and then it was an all out brawl between me and my book and him and his umbrella. Everyone was crying they were laughing so hard and it took Fly a while to get us back on track. We were finally able to execute all the solo bits and Fly excused us for lunch with the promise of payback when we started on the group dance in the afternoon.

“I get to eat lunch with my girlfriend” Aj grinned as he walked me to my usual corner where I changed into flip flops. I had to grin goofily back at him. Hearing him call me his girlfriend made my heart swell.

“Hey, there will be no running off to stare longingly at each other you crazy kids. You’re eating with everyone today” Mollee said and I rolled my eyes at her before taking Aj’s hand to follow her to the table where everyone was diving into their food. Once everyone was eating happily I turned to Aj.

“So what does tonight have in store?” I asked as he smirked secretively

“It’s a surprise” He said and I groaned

“The anticipation is killing me! Can I have a hint?” I asked eagerly


“I’ll pay you for it” I said seductively as I slid his hand, which had been resting on my knee, up towards my inner thigh

“That’s cheating” He said quickly sweeping the table with his gaze to be sure we weren’t being watched

“Well I really want a hint” I said simply while inching his hand up a little higher

“You know I’m putty in your hands right? You know every move you make drives me crazy?” He whispered in my ear in that sexy husky voice I was growing to adore

“And yet I can’t convince you to let me in on a teeny tiny surprise?” I asked innocently

“Well…” He started and then Nick walloped me in the ear with a tomato. I turned to glare at him and found everyone laughing at us. I squished the tomato in my hand and smeared it on his cheek before he knew what was happening and then I got up and ran towards the water

“You better run!” He yelled from behind me as I darted behind the rehearsal studio, scaled a dumpster and sat on the lip of the roof. It wasn’t very high up and I’d always been a good climber

“Jesus” Nick said in shock as he saw me laughing at him from the top of the rehearsal studio. I climbed over the peak of the roof and let everyone see how I’d outsmarted Nick. Ok, so I was proud.

“Katrina Rose you get down here right now before you break an ankle and I have to send you home!” Mollee yelled as I rolled my eyes

“Molls I’m fine. You know I climb like this all the time” I argued but carefully slid down all the same into the Aj’s waiting arms.

“I caught a break” He said mischievously as he realized he’d gotten away with not giving up his secret. I pouted and he carried me into the studio where Fly was setting up for the rest of All of your life. Nick followed in behind us and I pointed to him and then slid my finger across my throat. He stuck his tongue out at me and I giggled a little as I saw he still had some tomato in his hair. That afternoon went by quickly. The guys had more dancing than us to learn and it was odd having to stand there and react while they busted some serious dance moves during the second chorus. The actual dance break wasn’t so much difficult as it was specific but Fly kept us moving at such a fast pace that we all were ready to go by the time he let us out.

“Want to watch a movie tonight?” Mollee asked walking with me towards the door. I slid my gaze guiltily to the floor

“Well actually Aj planned a surprise for me…” I trailed off as Mollee sighed

“Fine” She said stiffly and I caught her elbow

“Tomorrow we’ll have sister time, I promise” I said as she shrugged “I promise Molls”

“Alright, I just miss you” She said as I hugged her tightly

“Why don’t you do something with Nick?” I asked

“Because my life doesn’t revolve around the guy I’m dating” Mollee said harshly

“Boyfriend” I corrected her

“You rang” Aj said showing up at my side as Mollee walked away. I felt bad but I figured I’d make it up to her. Now that Aj was here I was completely consumed with curiosity again

“Do I get the usual hour to get ready for this date?” I asked Aj coyly as he grinned

“If you need the full hour you can have it. But don’t get dressed up. You just want something to mess around in and a sweater” He said with excitement prominent on his face

“Why on Earth would I need a sweater?” I asked as he shrugged

“Just bring one. See you soon” He said kissing my forehead and rushing off to his bus. By the time I got on our bus the shower was already occupied so I sat in the couches by the kitchen and cornered Mollee.

“I’m sorry Molls. I’ve been a bit obsessed. Please forgive me” I said with an exaggerated pout as she smiled a little “I promise that tomorrow is ours, just ours. No boys”

“You promise?” She asked as I stuck out my pinky

“Pinky swear” I said and she linked pinkies with mine before we each kissed our thumbs. “Ok now you owe me details”

“Details about what?” She asked innocently

“Don’t play that game. Last night. What happened? And if you just say smooches I’ll kill you”

“He’s a great kisser” She said coyly


“And I like him”


“And we talked about everything” She gushed finally opening up to me. I leaned in with my elbows on my knees, eager to share in my sister’s joy “He has a huge family and they are really close even though he’s on tour a lot and they are mostly all in the entertainment industry. I told him about mom and dad and he told me about life on the road as a Backstreet Boy. It was like, once we leveled the playing field by being immature and having that water fight, he opened up and was willing to really be with me. It was nice. We discovered that we are on the same wavelength”

“Well you’re a little intimidating. It must have been nice for him to find out that you’re essentially a three year old” She shot me a look so I amended “A hot three year old”

“Well it is a nice change from the guys I see that try to impress me by being macho. The best thing he could have done was to be a kid. And he was. And he didn’t even have to try because it’s just how he is. Oh, I told him about you too, I hope that’s ok” She said quickly catching my eye to watch for color changes I’m sure

“It’s fine. I like him. He can know. What else did you say about me?” I asked probingly as Mollee giggled

“We talked about you and Aj, voiced our opinions” She said elusively and I groaned

“Come on Molls. What did he say?”

“Well I told him that since your event with asshole that you’ve had trouble being close with guys. I told him how nice it was to see you fitting in so well here but also specifically clicking with Aj. He really seems to care about you. Nick told me that Aj had been kind of turned off to actual relationships since his breakdown. He’s had a slew of girls around but none he was willing to commit to. To see him committing so strongly and readily is impressive according to Nick. He’s happy for the two of you” Mollee said and I smiled. It was nice to hear that Nick and Mollee were supportive of this intense thing Aj and I had. On the other hand I made a mental note to get some more relationship details from Aj about his past when we were alone tonight.

“He’s been with a slew of girls? What’s a slew of girls?” I asked nervously as Mollee shrugged

“He has that bad boy reputation for a reason” She said as Sophie came out of the shower and I leapt up

“Dibs!” I called as Mollee wrestled me to the door but I managed to sneak past her in the end and lock the door behind me. I took a quick shower, focusing on the hot water and the smell of the shampoo so I wouldn’t dwell on all these girls Aj was known for. I guess I knew that he was experienced but it still bugged me that I didn’t know how many and how recently these conquests had been. I got out of the shower and conned Mollee into braiding my hair into French braid pigtails and then threw a beanie on over it, hoping to please Aj with my accessorizing. I put on some black jeans with my black sparkly ballet style shoes and a grey shirt that cut low and had silvery sequins around the collar and down the V-neck. Mollee did my makeup in light silvers and ice blues and I grabbed my baby blue velvet zip up sweater.

“Presentable?” I asked Mollee as she eyed over her work on my face

“Hot” She said confidently as I gave her a quick hug and swung the door open to find Aj leaning against the bus

“Anxious?” I asked startling him out of his reverie. He looked me up and down and smiled in that mischievous way that I loved so much.

“I’m just waiting for you. Very patiently of course” He said taking my hand to help me down the stairs

“Of course” I joked

“Have fun, you crazy kids. Take care of my girl Aj” Mollee yelled as he nodded and led me to his car. He ran around the side to open my door for me but stopped me before I could get in.

“For you” He said holding out a black bandana

“What am I supposed to do with it?” I asked as he laughed

“It’s a blind fold. I want you to be surprised” He said and I rolled my eyes

“Why will it matter if I see where we are going, it’s not like I know Florida at all” I protested allowing him to spin me around all the same and tie the bandanna around my head

“How many fingers do you see?” He asked once it was secured

“I don’t know it’s too dark to tell” I joked and I heard him giggle. I went to get in the car but being fairly clumsy to begin with and taking away the use of my eyes left me with very little chance of making a graceful entrance into the compact Audi. I bent down and attempted to shift my weight to where I thought the seat would be but I underestimated and ended up on the ground pouting while Aj laughed his ass off.

“Oh stop it, you’re adorable, let me help” Aj said as I shrugged away from his attempts at lifting me up from the ground

“My pride hurts” I said with a hint of a smile before Aj finally wrestled me into his arms. Once there I cuddled into his chest and he sighed

“Well it’s very hard to let you go if you’re going to be all lovable” He said and I grinned. He kissed me on the lips very lightly and carefully folded me into the seat, buckling me in once I was settled. I heard him close my door and then felt him get in on the driver’s side. He turned on the ignition and I arched a blindfolded eyebrow as his solo CD came on through the speakers

“You were listening to yourself?” I asked with a smirk

“Sometimes you have to remind yourself where you’ve come from when you are contemplating where to go. I’m writing some new songs and I wanted to remember the reasons for making the old album as they are so opposite from the reasons I want to write now” He explained

“As I recall your solo album didn’t show a whole lot of love towards those of us on the double X side of things” I said as I heard him sigh “I really wish I could see your eyes”

“Too bad” He joked taking my hand. “Yeah, I was dealing with a lot of stuff from a lot of girls who weren’t worth my time”

“A lot of girls huh?” I asked in what I hoped was a joking tone as my heart sank. It seems that Nick had not been far off in his estimations with Mollee last night

“No one who could hold a candle to you precious” He said. Somehow that didn’t make me feel any better.

“Obviously” I tried to joke and failed miserably

“Oh stop it. Like you haven’t had boys crawling all over you your whole life” He said without doubt. I was suddenly very happy for the blindfold because it hid the truth in my eyes that escaped through my half hearted laugh

“Constantly” I said in what I hoped was a confident and off-hand tone

“You’re thinking awfully hard about something that has no bearing on us at all. Any girl who can show me the time you showed me last night is a girl I’d love to be with” Aj reassured me but I was still stuck on the whole numbers game

“So, offhand, how many girls do you think you’ve slept with in the past say… year” I said in a poorly concocted casual tone

“Oh I don’t know Kat” He said uncomfortably

“Ok. The past month” I said reasonably. He paused and then gave in.

“Five” He said as I cringed “But not one whose name I can remember”

“That’s nice” I said trying to disguise my horror

“Some girl a few months ago really tore me up and I went on a bit of a binge. I was with a new girl every weekend but honey, none of them meant anything to me” Aj said squeezing my hand before pulling the car to a stop “We’re here. Do you still want your surprise?”

“Of course” I said eager to continue to pretend I was not upset by the new news of Aj’s exploits

“Ok, let me help you out so you don’t fall again” He said through a laugh

“Hardy har har” I said sarcastically while he ran around to open my door for me and help me out. He walked me slowly into a building and I felt a blast of cold air “Where are we?”

“Guess” He said eagerly

“Oh I don’t know, Santa’s workshop. Maybe we’ve found the North Pole. No! We’re somewhere with penguins. Come on Aj!” I said impatiently as he laughed

“Ok, Ok, you can look” He said from behind me while untying the bandanna. I was standing in front of a large hockey rink that was completely empty besides Aj and me. The ice shone as only a newly surfaced rink can and I couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across my face from one ear to the other. “I thought it might remind you of home”

“Oh Aj this is wonderful!” I said excitedly running to the bench nearby where there were two pairs of skates. I quickly began lacing up the smaller of the two as Aj laughed and sat next to me

“Happy?” He asked quietly as I looked up at him with my eyes shining

“You tell me” I said opening my eyes wide so he could see their color

“Oh yeah” He said with a grin as I wrapped my arms around him. He kissed me and the will to skate fought hard with my will to show Aj just how much more I could offer than all those other girls but in the end the ice was too familiar and too wonderful to turn down.

“I want more of that later. Right now I want to skate!” I said pulling back and racing onto the ice. I did a lap at top speed, really enjoying the smooth, untouched ice and the sound it made when it hit my sharpened skates. I stopped hard at the far end sending a small wave of ice shavings towards the boards and then sprinted back to where Aj was just getting on the ice. I skated a few circles around him and watched him try to get his balance. “So the Florida boy is not a great skater?”

“I figured you’d like to skate not that you were a professional” He said as he wobbled over to the boards nearest him to steady himself. I giggled and moved in front of him so I could skate slowly backwards while he duck-walked along the boards.

“I’ll help you. Come on take my hands” I said offering my hands

“This is embarrassing” He said considering my outstretched arms

“Well so is knowing that you’re being compared to upwards of twenty girls when you’re in bed with your boyfriend” I said causing his mouth to drop. It was just the pause I needed to take hold of his hands and force him to accept my help. I skated slowly, emphasizing the glide, getting him into a rhythm of skating.

“I hope you aren’t serious” He said realizing my trick and trying to focus on not falling and addressing my issue at the same time

“Oh, only a little, mostly I just wanted to get you to let me help you” I said forcing his rhythm to echo mine. He was gliding a little and I smiled cheekily at him

“If you weren’t so cute when you’re proud then I might be a little miffed about this” Aj said with a smirk. At that he hit a groove in the ice and fell, taking me down with him and landing on top of me. His face was inches from mine and what started as embarrassment turned to something else entirely as I felt his breath play on my lips.

“Can’t keep your hands off me for even a minute, huh?” I whispered to him as he grinned

“I’ve tried to be good but you’re so sexy” He whispered back and I kissed him hard. Making out on the ice was not the most comfortable thing so sooner than we would have liked we had to come up for air and change our positions. Aj was getting the hang of skating so I skated away a little, only to feel him wrap his arms around me from behind “I have a secret”

“Really” I asked as a chill ran through me at his whisper in my ear

“I think I may be in love with you” He whispered and I froze. Love. Love is a good thing. Yet the last time I had a guy tell me he loved me it was only to manipulate me. The word wasn’t so positive in my mind anymore and Aj felt me stiffen in his arms “Where’d you go precious? It’s me. I’m right here. I’m yours”

“Sorry” I whispered as those stupid tears clouded my vision. Why did my body have to betray me at all the most important times?

“Not the answer you hope for when you tell a girl you love her but I’ll take it” Aj joked slowly pulling me to a stop and cornering me against the boards so I had to look into his deep chocolate eyes. He slowly swept his finger under my eye and caught a tear that had been threatening to roll down my cheek “You’re so breakable, I always forget. I’m sorry I sprung that on you”

“Minefield, remember?” I said with a sad smile

“Worth it” He said kissing me on the cheek. “Come on, show me your moves. I want to see how fast you can fly”

“Are you sure?” I asked hoping I hadn’t hurt his feelings but knowing I must have

“Definitely. Come on, I’ll time you” He said pulling out his phone and getting it into a timer mode. We skated for what must have been about four hours. I’m sure Aj would have stopped sooner but I was having too much fun at something that had all the wonderful connotations of my carefree youth to even think of stopping. Finally he insisted that he would be unable to dance tomorrow as the skates were digging into his heals so I conceded and let him lead me off of the ice.

“Can we do this again? I missed skating” I asked as we sat on a small bench and changed into our shoes

“How can I say no to something that brings you such joy? That’s the best color blue, that one you have right now. I will do anything that keeps that blue right there” He said eliciting my blush. We walked out to the car, joking and enjoying each other’s company and without a blindfold the ride home seemed like nothing. He pulled up to his bus and parked and then pulled my hand to his lips.

“I want to stay with you tonight” I said longingly as he brushed his lips to my wrist “Why is it that the more time I spend with you the less time I feel we have?”

“I get that feeling too. Why can’t you stay?”

“Mollee is antsy about us spending so much time together. I promised her sister time tomorrow by the way” I said causing him to pout

“Last time I let you have sister time you came back to me in less than perfect condition. It’s not a great incentive to allow it to happen again” Aj said protectively and I grinned

“I promise I can handle myself with my sister” I joked

“Well if she gets tomorrow then I certainly get tonight” Aj said as if that settled the matter. I looked at my phone, dreading the call I was going to have to make but then I met Aj’s eyes and I melted. There was no way I was spending the night anywhere but in his arms

“You win. It was hardly a fight but you won it. I’ll meet you in there, let me call her” I said and he pulled me into a short kiss before walking to his bus. I watched the door shut and pushed one on speed dial.

“Do you need me to bring you clothes?” She answered coldly

“I’ll come get them” I said as she sighed

“No, I got it. As long as you still promise that tomorrow I get you all to myself” She said

“When have I ever broken a promise to you?” I asked with indignation

“In the fourth grade you promised you would trade your snowboard for my skis because I liked to snowboard better but you never did”

“Well that was a stupid trade. Snowboarding is way cooler” I reasoned as she laughed

“Still a broken promise” She joked and I sighed

“Well this won’t be another one to add to that list” I said

“Alright, I trust you. Clothes will be on the front steps by the time you wake up. Be safe and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” She recited

“So I can do anything?”

“Hey, I can leave you stranded tomorrow without clothes and force you to take a very public walk of shame. Be nice to me” She said

“Well that’s a compelling argument. Love you best sister of mine” I gushed

“I’m your only sister”

“Still my best” I said

“Love you” She said and I hung up the phone. I made my way into Aj’s bus and he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me lightly onto the couch so I was sitting with my legs on either side of him

“Are we in the clear?” He whispered conspiratorially causing me to laugh

“Yes, I’m yours” I said as he placed his hand in the safe spot on the back of my head and met my lips halfway into a kiss. We were making out passionately when Aj hiked me up onto this hip and brought me into his bedroom, kicking the door shut all without breaking the kiss. I pulled back a little as he lowered me lightly on the bed “Impressive”

“Oh I have not even begun to impress you” He said seductively as I bit my lip and he eased my shirt off, taking in my black lacey bra “Were you expecting someone to see this?”

“You never know when someone will come by and rip off your shirt” I joked as he ran his hand lightly across the top of my cleavage

“And here I was thinking that I was special” He said before I caught him in a kiss and he quickly removed my showy bra. He moved his lips to the sensitive spot on my neck causing my breath to catch in my throat as his hands worked on the newly available territory. I removed his shirt hastily, eager to feel his flesh on mine and as I pressed my bare chest to his, an electric current ran through us simultaneously and we both groaned in unison.

“I need to be a responsible adult” I panted pulling away a little to clear my head

“That’s highly over rated” He said moving to the zipper of my pants

“Aj…” I warned as he sighed and kissed my stomach

“This is just cruel and unusual punishment” He said with a pout and I rolled off of him

“Please don’t make me feel bad about this” I started but was stopped by the horrified look on his face

“I was kidding, I swear. I’d never force you. I’d never push you past what you were ready for. I’m happy for any piece of you I get. Even if I could never touch you I’d be thankful just to look at you” Aj said hurriedly as I smiled

“Ok, enough. It was my mistake. I’m used to assuming the worst from guys. I have to learn that some are willing to wait” I said enjoying the fact that I could stop the flow of his embarrassing compliments.

“I’d wait forever for you” Aj said sweetly and my heart melted while I let him maneuver me into a spoon position with him holding me from behind. He began to stroke my back and I closed my eyes in pleasure before I remembered something.

“Aj” I said quietly into the darkness


“What happened? When that girl hurt you?” I asked slowly

“Ah” He said and I felt him begin to withdraw. I rolled over quickly and took his face in my hands

“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. You just know my big dark past, I figured if you were ready, I could know some of yours” I said cautiously while searching his eyes in the semi darkness.

“Well if you put it rationally” He said with a small smile that was irresistible. I kissed him lightly and he sighed.

“I’d never force you either” I said inches from his lips

“It was just some stupid girl” he started and I froze not wanting to do anything that might make him regret his decision to open up to me “She was a porn star”

“There goes my confidence” fell out of my mouth before I could stop it and I clamped my lips shut cursing myself inwardly

“Yeah, well it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, dating porn stars. I fell hard for her and she just wanted a little taste of fame. I wasn’t perfect back then. I was trying to stay sober but I had just gotten out of rehab for the second time and I was struggling. She didn’t help. She was unable to just be with me, she always wanted me to be wild and party. As I’m sure you know that’s what I’m known for but it is also something that has been very destructive for me. I’m much more balanced now but then any club atmosphere could send me over the edge and she kept pushing me. After a while I found out that she was trying to get me to drink and then calling in news rags like TMZ to film me drunk so she could appear in top headlines like ‘Aj McLean looses battle with sobriety as horrified girlfriend cries.’ But by that time I was hooked on her. I know now that I had traded in my addiction to drugs for my addiction to her. She had complete control and she used it. She convinced me to do all sorts of things that I didn’t want to. She didn’t want me to publish my solo album for whatever reason so I held onto it for a while before anyone could do anything with it. She started cutting down my communication with the guys. I even proposed to her. It took me a while to get a handle on the fact that she was dragging me down. Then I found out that she was cheating on me as well. It all sounds so lame in comparison to what you went through but it really confused me about what love is and who is deserving of it” He paused and I jumped on it

“Aj just because you haven’t been through what I have doesn’t mean that your past isn’t just as terrible. She sounds very manipulative. It sounds like she really tore up your heart” I said as he hugged me tightly

“For a while I wasn’t sure I was capable of love so I started trying to find it through sex. I just wanted to convince myself that it was something I could do. Of course that attracted more of the wrong kind of people. The count kept rising and it made me feel awful about myself. It made me feel like God had decided that I was not worthy of love because I had been so awful in my addictions. I don’t know…” He trailed off. My heart throbbed painfully for him.

“But you know now that you do deserve love. You deserve everything. You are amazing” I said and he smiled

“I wasn’t always so sure but with you here in my arms I seem to be getting that” He said and I kissed him on the nose

“Any time you need to be reminded, you let me know” I said feeling a little better now that I understood what was going on with all these girls he had been with.

“I meant it when I said I loved you” He whispered as I blushed into the darkness

“I think I may love you too” I whispered back

“Now that’s the kind of answer a guy can get excited about” He said sweetly and I settled into his arms and drifted to sleep.