After I was sure that Bianca was wake, since she had the hardest time doing so, I hopped in the shower. I let my hair air-dry and I put on a pair of green Abercrombie cut-off sweats and a tank top. The other girls all had the same idea, but Bianca was wearing HUGE circle frame sunglasses.
"Bianca, why the hell are you wearing sunglasses at 5:30 in the morning?" Amy asked sleepily.
"Because I don’t want everyone to see the huge circles under my eyes." She said and sat down on the couch. Within moments she was sleeping lightly and we had to shake her awake. "Leave me the hell alone. It’s only 5:30 in the damn morning!" She snapped. Savannah grabbed her arm and pulled her off of her butt and steered her out the door and down the hallway to the elevator.
By the time the elevator made it all the way to the bottom of the building, the night guard, Joseph was waiting for us. "Good morning ladies, I had some muffins and danishes delivered for you since I heard you had an early morning." He said and presented us with a box filled with breakfast pastries.
"James, you are a god!" Savannah exclaimed and grabbed a cherry danish from the box. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and he blushed a deep red. He winked at her and he winked back. The rest of us grabbed a pastry and walked out the door just as Frank pulled up.
He opened the door for us and helped each of us in. As soon as the door shut, Bianca squealed, "Girl, it might only be 5:45 in the morning, but I can see the crush you’ve got on Jamesy in there!"
"No, I do not! He’s the doorman!" Savannah defended.
"He’s one hot doorman!" Bianca said. "Go for him! What’s your famous line? Oh yes, ‘You should just bag him’!"
Savannah turned bright red and looked at the floor. She looked up at us and said, "He is pretty cute isn’t he? He asked me out for coffee the other day." She admitted.
"He what?! And it’s taking you this long to tell us about it?!" I exclaimed.
"Well, he gets off of his shift at 7:00 and he wanted to take me for breakfast and coffee the other day, but I told him that I had this photo-shoot to do." She said and looked a little sad.
"When did you talk to him? He only works from 12:00 to 7:00 in the morning." Amethyst asked her.
"Well, I called him a when we first got here at like 1:30 in the morning to ask if there was a cleaning service or if we had to clean the apartment ourselves because we were out of toilet paper and we needed some. So, he said they had that on hand at the desk, so I went downstairs one morning and talked to him for like, 2 hours. We’ve been talking ever since then." She said and smiled. "I really like him."
"You should go for it then!" We all said at once. We talked for a few more minutes before arriving at an old warehouse. Standing outside were Kirsten, two neatly dressed women, and a shaggy looking man.
"Hello ladies!" Kirsten called. "It’s so good to see that you’re all here this early and on time at that." As soon as she said that, the two women started scribbling on the notepads they had in their hands. "Girls, I’d like you to meet a few people. First, we have world-renowned fashion photographer Dan.E Howard. He’ll be shooting your pictures today. Inside here you’ll have your hair and make-up artists. Also, these two women are reporters. We wanted to surprise you with this being your first photo-shoot as the Esteem Team and all, with Cosmopolitan magazine!"
"Shut up! Are you serious?!" Bianca screamed and ripped off her sunglasses. "Oh my gosh! What’s it like to work at Cosmo? I read that magazine as if it’s a Bible! You’ve got some pretty good tips in there! Oh my God, I’m sounding like an idiot, I’ll shut up now." She sheepishly shrunk back to the group and looked at us and shrugged.
"Well, someone sure is awake! Anyways, you’ll each be getting photographed separately and then together as a group. You’re each going to have your own cover, but the magazines will all be the same, just different girls on the cover. Plus, you’re going to be interviewed by reporters Jane Evansen and Claire Hopkins, both from Cosmo magazine." Kirsten said.
We shook hands with each of the women and were immediately whisked away to begin the day’s process. Amethyst and I were taken to hair and make-up while Savannah and Bianca were taken to get interviewed. They dressed me in a pale green strapless chiffon dress with an asymmetrical hem. I was placed in front of a dark green background. Dan.E asked me what kind of music I wanted for the shoot and he put on some Sara Evans. I know exactly what she was feeling when she wrote "Suds in the Bucket". I started dancing with my dress and just having fun while he took pictures. I did the trademarked Cosmo pose to the best of my ability, but I had a lot of fun with the actual shoot.
Next was Amethyst. She had on the exact same dress I did, except hers was a pale blue and she was on a dark blue background. She asked for some Spanish music and did the same thing I did. Dan.E loved her and told her that she had one of the easiest demeanors about her. I was so proud of her because we had come so far together.
After Ames was done, Bianca walked out in a hot red dress that had thin red straps and dipped low into her cleavage. The dress went to mid thigh and it showed a lot of skin, but it was perfect for Bianca. She asked for Club beats and was ready and raring to flaunt her stuff for the camera.
Savannah was last and she came out in a yellow halter dress that was simple, yet beautiful. It had little bows down the front and her hair was flowing in soft waves and she had yellow daisies clipped in random sections of her hair. The background was a deep purple and she stood out in the yellow.
While B and Vannah were getting photographed, Ames and I were sent over to be interviewed. I was SO nervous at first because, hello, it was friggin’ Cosmo magazine here! Jane and Claire were really sweet and asked us really fun questions. Then, they asked us about boyfriends. As if on cue, my cell phone rang and name Nick flashed across the caller ID.
"Come on, come on. Pick up babe!" I said as I stood in my kitchen, shaking my left leg. "Jesus Jade, where are you?"
"Hello?" I heard her voice and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Baby! I’m so glad you answered. I was so worried about you. Where are you? I went down to your apartment and no one was there. We didn’t talk last night, so I wasn’t sure what was going on with you." I said in a rushed sentence.
"It’s ok. I’m with the girls. I’m working. We’re getting interviewed by Cosmo magazine!" She squealed over the phone. I could hear her excitement and her smile.
"That’s great sweetie. I’m proud of you. How did your photo shoot go yesterday?" I asked.
"It was rescheduled for today. The girls and I left at 5:45 this morning. I’m sorry for not calling, but it was short notice. Anyways, I’m sorry. I’ve gotta go, but I’ll call you when we’re done. We should all go out to dinner tonight." She suggested.
"Well, that’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about, but call me when you’re done. I don’t want to keep you. I’ll talk to you later." I said.
"Alrighty, I’ll talk to you later. We shouldn’t be too much longer. Just a few more group shots and then we’re done." She said. "But I’ll talk to you later too. Bye!" And then she hung up the phone. I looked at my phone and smiled.
Just a 5-minute phone call was enough for me. I knew that I had to be prepared for that because once she left and the guys and I started touring, it was going to be difficult.
We could do it though, I was sure of it.
I smiled as I put my phone back into my purse and Jane and Claire looked at me. "Boyfriend?" They asked, pens in hand prepared to write everything down.
"Maybe." I said coyly and brushed my bangs out of my eyes. Ames nudged me and Claire asked, "So I’m guessing you’re not going to tell us anything."
"Well, I will tell you that we just started dating and that we want to keep a low profile because we really want everything to work out between us." I said. "I hope you wrote that down, because that’s all you’re getting from me regarding the boyfriend situation." They both nodded and the four of us laughed. Just then, we heard a shriek come from the photo-shoot.
Ames and I recognized Bianca’s scream and bolted from our chairs. Just as we rounded the corner that led us to the room being used as the picture studio, we saw Bianca attached to AJ. She hugged him tightly and jumped down from his arms. After she let go, AJ held out a squished red rose and handed it to her.
"AJ, this is beautiful. Thank you much! I can’t believe you’re here!" She said and jumped on him again. She kissed his lips, and it did not look like it was the first time.
"Are you sure you want to be here? I mean, we haven’t even told anyone yet."
"What do you mean you haven’t told anyone yet?!" Savannah asked.
"Well, AJ and I got together last night. Congratulate us." She said and looked at the blank stares and open mouths that Savannah, Amethyst, and I all shared.
"Congratulations!" Ames was the first to scream. Then, Vannah and I joined in and it started a huge hug fest.
Kirsten even joined in. Then, Dan.E yelled at us and told us that we were going to mess up our hair and make-up if we didn’t stop jumping up and down. And if we wanted to be out of here by 6:00 p.m.
So, with that, we were ushered into the dressing room. "I’m so upset. Everyone is hooking up but me." Ames whined as we were changing into our group outfits.
We were each in ripped jeans and different colored shirts. First, Dan.E had us all on white couches, sprawling over each other and the couches. He took a couple of pictures of us like that. Then we moved to what looked like a garden and a porch swing. He tried a few different positions there and was finally satisfied and told us that we could go home.
As we changed back into the clothes that we came in, AJ entered and Kirsten followed shortly behind him. "Girls, you did a fabulous job at your first shoot as a team. I remember working with the Backstreet Boys for the first time, man, they were the worst group ever. So picky!" She laughed.
"Hey! We were not that bad! Besides, we do that with all of the new assistants, it’s like an initiation." AJ defended his friends and put his arms around Bianca and kissed her cheek. "Babe, you looked amazing today. You did great."
"Thank you. But just because you’re flattering me doesn’t mean you’re going to get laid." She said and tapped his nose and winked at him.
"Me?! Why would you think that of me?" AJ asked and put extra emphasis on the word "me". The five of us laughed at him and went back to finish changing.
"Girls, I have something important to talk to all of you about. I’ve firmed up and consolidated your itinerary and I have the first week’s schedule for you. You’re going to start in New York and work your way up and around New England. I don’t know how long we’re going to be gone for, but I know that you’re doing 10 schools in the first week." Kirsten said.
"Are you serious? 10 Schools? How are we managing this?" I asked and looked over the schedule. Actually, it didn’t look too bad. "How did these schools get chosen?"
"Well, each submitted either and essay or a video audition explaining why they wanted you to come to their school. We got a lot of good videos. Between myself and Tess, we’ve selected 5 schools from every state, except Rhode Island. You’re going to have a Meet and Greet at every school and you’ll be eating lunch at a school pretty much every day." Kirsten said.
"Eww, are you serious? Cafeteria food? Every day?" Savannah asked.
"Well, actually, the schools will be providing some form of catered food that day for the entire school. You’re lucky girls." Kirsten said.
"How are we going to determine who gets chosen for the Meet and Greet? I mean, there’s no way that we’re going to be able to see EVERY student in the school in an hour. Not with autographs and pictures." I said and continued looking at the itinerary.
"Well, this you’ll actually be happy to hear. We’re providing the schools with 2 or 3 rolls of raffle tickets each. They’re going to sell the tickets for $2.00 a piece to be able to meet you. The day before you arrive, they’ll be picking 100 tickets. The people will meet you in order of how their ticket was picked. They’ll have to have their tickets present when they come. What’s really cool though, is that the first person who gets chosen gets to choose which Charity the money raised goes to." Kirsten said.
"That’s a really great idea." Amethyst said. "I hope we raise a lot of money for these charities and everything."
"We’re not trying to sound cocky, but you girls are gorgeous. And, we’ve opened up the seminars to the boys of the schools as well. I’m sure that they will be a HUGE draw for the money. We have to take a few promotional pictures for the posters we’re going to put up to advertise your arrival, but the schools are prepared for you. You start in two weeks, so you’d better get rested and ready to go." Kirsten said.
"Are we going to be able to visit them?" AJ asked from next to Bianca.
"I don’t see why that would be a problem. I mean, just as long as you stay in the wings and don’t make your presence a big deal. It might be cool for the two of you to see what it’s like to watch your loved one be in the spotlight." Kirsten said and began gathering up her stuff.
"You know what, that might actually do us some good. To see what the girls always saw." AJ said and grabbed Bianca’s hand and laced his fingers through hers.
"What do you mean, always saw? How many girls were there?" I asked.
"Well, for Nick, I can only remember like 3 or 4. Let me see, Willa, Paris, Holli, and Kirsten. Yeah, those are the only ones he ever brought on tour with him. And me, only 2. Amanda and Sarah." He said and reassuringly squeezed Bianca’s hand.
"Who’s Holli? I’ve never heard of her." I asked AJ.
"Wow, really? Nick and Holli were all over the place. She was a dancer for Backstreet and they were engaged for about 6 months. Then one day, she up and left him for one of the other dancers. He was sad for a really long time after her." AJ said and opened the door to the limo for us. He jumped in after us and shut the door.
"I had no idea. Nick has only talked about Kirsten, Paris, and Willa. He’s never even mentioned Holli’s name." I said and sat with a frown on my face.
"Don’t worry about it. He really likes you. He’ll come around to telling you. I know it’s a part of his past that he’d rather not relive unless absolutely necessary. I always had my reservations about her anyways. She knew who he was the second they met and used it for her advantage." AJ said and the limo slowly pulled to a stop in front of the apartment building. "Please Jade; don’t tell Nick I told you any of this, because I know how upset he’d be if he knew you found out from someone else."
"No, I won’t say a word. But can you do me a favor? Can you tell him that I’ll be up in a little while? I want to go shower and get ready for dinner before seeing him." I said. AJ nodded and we all got into the elevator.
When it finally reached our floor, the girls and I stepped out and walked down the hallway to the double doors. Ames, Vannah, and I walked in and left Bianca and AJ alone for a few minutes. Each of us hopped into the shower and got dressed for a dinner and a night out with the Backstreet Boys.