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“I know you may not want to hear this but it might not be such a bad idea.”

AJ sighed as he listened to his older brother; he had called Kevin the next morning to ask his opinion about Sam’s idea for him to leave for a bit. He wanted him to say that it was an awful idea and shouldn’t be done but, deep down, he knew that Kevin would see the realistic, sensible part and agree with her.

“It’s not safe.”

“I know you don’t think so and, frankly, I’m not thrilled with it but it’s going to need to be done at some point.”

He knew his brother was right; eventually he would have to leave the house and leave her by herself. Management was accepting of his excuses at first but they had started to get frustrated with the lack of movement on the guys’ parts. They were demanding that the boys get back out onto the road for some visibility and he knew that they would not give him much longer before they brought up the contractual obligations.

“I know you’re worried J, and I understand why, but you can’t put your entire life on hold for Sam.”

“But I’m not…”

“Yes you are.” Kevin interrupted. “I mean how many times have you actually been out of the house since she came back?”

AJ thought about it for a minute and had to agree that Kevin was right. Other than his trip with Sam and the two times he ran out for groceries, he’d probably only left the house two other times. The thought of being restricted to the house hadn’t crossed his mind but now it was hitting him in the face.

“I can hear the wheels running in your brain.” Kevin joked. “They’re a little rusty from the lack of use. Maybe some WD-40 would help.”

“Bite me.” AJ said as he laughed into the phone. “They work a lot faster than yours old man.”

He had to admit that he’d missed this back and forth bantering that he had with his brothers and part of him truly missed being out on the road. Sam needed him to keep her safe though and he had to figure out which thought weighed more heavily.

“How about we do something small, like a four day media thing?” Kevin suggested. “We can visit a few radio shows and maybe do some TV. We’ll be back before you know it.”

“But what about Sam?”

“You know she can’t come with us J, that would create a disastrous mess since she’s still technically wanted for murder.”

“I know but that’s why I don’t want to…”

“Would Lauren be willing to stay with her?”

“Probably.” AJ said after a minute. “But what about both their safeties?”

“We have a ton of security between all five of us so why doesn’t Drew stay with them?”

AJ listened to his brother work out a potential plan and he promised to think about it; he would let Kevin know the next day either way. They hung up and he thought about how he was going to bring this situation up to Sam.


Sam had ventured out to the pool that afternoon for a little sunshine. AJ was hesitant but he agreed as long as she stayed where he could see her and that she come in right away if there was any sign of someone being in the yard. He had to admit that he still needed some time to think about what Kevin said; he chose to wait until dinner to let her know what he had decided.

He cooked her favorite, meatloaf, for dinner and had just finished whipping the mashed potatoes when she came through the slider. She smiled, walked over to where he was and wrapped her arms around his waist; he could smell the coconut suntan lotion that she had used and it drove him crazy.

“You better be careful with that lotion.” he said as he pulled her closer. “You’re going to look like a lobster.”

Sam started to laugh. “I’m careful.”

“Ok, just remember, you are Irish!”

“Smart ass.”

Sam grabbed a kitchen towel and flicked AJ with it before she went upstairs to change her clothes. When she came back down, she found a beautifully set table with candles glowing.

“What’s the big occasion?”

AJ didn’t say anything because he was still working up the nerve. He pulled her chair out and slid it in after she sat down. Her eyes searched his face to figure out what he was up to and she decided that he needed to tell her right then and there, no more stalling.

“I’m going to leave for a few days.”

AJ prepared himself for the potential pain, panic and strain that Sam might feel with his decision to leave. She shocked him though when she smiled and put her hand on top of his.

“Good, I’m glad.”

“You are?”

“Yes.” Sam replied and paused for a minute. “I know how protective you are of me…”

“I love you and would do anything for you.”

“I know but this is something that you need to do for you. You light up when you talk about your music and performing; I know how much you miss it.” She stopped for a minute. “I want you to do what you love because I don’t want you to resent me in the long run.”

“I would never resent you. How could you say something like that?”

AJ was upset by her statement and he got up from the table, storming over to the stove. He was scooping carrots into a bowl to distract himself when he felt her arms around him and her head laying on his back.

“I’m sorry AJ; I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I just don’t know why you’d say something like that.” he said as he turned around to face her. “Why would you ever think I would resent you?”

“Because I resented being shut up in a house when there were things I wanted to do, things I wanted to experience. I know that you’re doing this voluntarily but I really want you to go and do what you love.”

AJ sighed and pulled her closer to him; he kissed her on the head then pulled back a little.

“Are you sure about this Sam? I don’t have to do this.”

“I’m positive.” she answered with a smile. “I think you’ll be happier and that’s all I want for you.”