“Hi Collette,” the blonde Southern woman smiled as she held the door open wider. “It’s so nice to see you again, please come on in.”
“It’s nice to see you again too, Mrs. Littrell,” I beamed and stepped over the threshold. The house was the same as I had remembered it – beautiful with this modern, yet Southern feel to it. I grinned at the little blonde boy that ran down the stairs and quickly hid behind his mother’s leg.
“Please, call me Leighanne,” she grinned. “Baylee, do you remember Miss Morgan?” Leighanne ran her fingers through her son’s long blonde locks. Baylee nodded without saying much as Leighanne gently pushed him out from behind her so he was face-to-face with me.
I had worked with enough kids to know that Baylee was incredibly nervous to meet me. Poor kid. I knelt down to his level to make things a little more casual. “Hi Baylee! It’s really nice to see you again.” I grinned. “Are you excited about starting kindergarten?” The little boy nodded once more and I laughed softly. “Awesome! I’m pretty excited too.” As far as I could tell, my first impression of celebrities and their children was entirely false. The Littrells seemed like wonderful people and Baylee was as cute as a kid could be.
“Baylee!” A male voice called from the kitchen. “Come pack up your video games for the road, bud!” The voice appeared in the foyer where we all were standing and Baylee ran up to his playroom to gather his belongings. “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were here yet.” The man smiled. “Leighanne’s told me a lot about you. I’m Brian.” He put his hand out to shake mine.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Brian. Collette Morgan,” I grinned professionally and shook his hand. “You have a lovely home.” And boy oh boy did I mean that. Their home was gigantic – and quite beautiful. It was a three story home tucked away in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. The foyer opened up to a royal staircase that reminded me of a picture from a Cinderella storybook or something. The room was so well lit, it brought out all the great features.
“Thanks! It’s lovely but it sits here all throughout the year when we’re off touring,” Leighanne rolled her eyes as she headed into another room. I followed with my bag securely by my side. “We’re so excited for Baylee to start learning new things. He already knows his ABC’s and how to count to one hundred.” She explained. “I tried to give him some kind of ‘pre-school’ while he was growing up. It’s just so difficult to do when we’re on the road so much.”
“Understandable,” I nodded with a grin. “I’ve been teaching kindergarten for three years now, as you know, and he sounds far more advanced than most of the kindergarteners I’ve gotten.” I added to make them feel a bit better. I was the truth. I noticed how observant and vocal Baylee could be. He was shy, but that was quite normal for a six-year-old. Or, almost six-year-old, in his case.
“Thanks for that,” Leighanne smiled. “We try. My mom was a stay-at-home mother and took care of us, so I try to be that for him.”
“That’s actually why I went into teaching,” I explained as I set my bag down. Leighanne offered me a seat at the kitchen table as she, too, took a seat. She seemed interested enough so I continued. “I wanted to be a mom first and have a career second. I figured teaching would be best for that.” A chuckle erupted from the back of my throat. “And now here I am, completely not worrying about finding a husband to start a family but looking to travel the country instead.”
She laughed and nodded. “Hey, well, finding the husband definitely isn’t the case. You should let it all just unfold. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet someone while traveling!” She said. I nodded. I hadn’t really thought about it that way. I’d be so busy with traveling, though, I didn’t really think I’d have much of a chance finding anyone, for that matter. “We should probably go over everything with you once more.” She stood up to find her husband. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.” She grinned. I glanced around the spacious kitchen. It was beautiful! The walls were painted with a pale yellow that the sun reflected off of rather nicely; made it very homey. There were pictures place neatly on some of the counter space of the family – Leighanne, Brian and Baylee. A couple of Brian with, who I assumed, were his band mates. I was never really interested in music as a kid, so I had only seen a couple of pictures of the Backstreet Boys.
“So you’re sure you wanna put yourself in all this craziness?” I heard Brian enter the kitchen with Leighanne and Baylee close behind. I laughed and nodded.
“It can’t be all that crazy,” I winked. Brian and Leighanne exchanged a glance and laughed.
“Just wait,” Brian laughed. “Okay, so down to business.” He sat across from me with Baylee on one side of me and Leighanne on the other. “Alright, well we have two tour buses for the us – one will have me, Leighanne, Baylee and Howie with his wife, Leigh. Then the other bus is for Nick and AJ. I ordered one more for this leg of the tour for you. You’ll have your own space.” He laughed. “We figured, like we talked about before, that you and Baylee could be on your bus for all the learning or what not. That way we won’t distract him. We want to try and make it as normal as possible for him.” He reached over and rubbed his son’s head. Baylee smiled in return.
“Absolutely,” I nodded in agreement. “I typically try to form my day of school from 8:30 until 3:30. We have many breaks in between, so that gives us plenty of time for learning.” I grinned in Baylee’s direction. “Lots of fun games, movies, books!” I smiled at his excitement.
“Books?” He grinned.
“Yep! Lots of them,” I smiled back. “Baylee, would you like to learn a little about reading this year?” I asked. Of course, it was premature. And I knew he wouldn’t walk away from kindergarten with reading under his belt, but I figured he could at least dip in a little.
“Yeah!” He cheered and looked at his dad. “Daddy, I’m gonna learn to read!” Brian and Leighanne both laughed at his excitement.
“That’s awesome, buddy!” Brian winked. “Now the tour only goes until January.” He glanced back at me. “But we really don’t want to throw him into a public school right away – not after being home-schooled, or, bus-schooled rather. So we were hoping you’d be able to stay in the Atlanta area and finish out the year with us? And then we’d look at first grade once we got to that point.” He explained.
“Absolutely,” I repeated from earlier, grinning once more.
“Perfect,” Brian reached across to shake my hand. “Looks like you’ve got yourself a job, Collette.” I laughed and nodded. “We have a show over in Buckhead, Georgia tonight. It’s about twenty minutes away. I won’t make you suffer through that.” He winked.
“Actually, I might go…if that’s okay,” I quickly added that last part. I wasn’t sure if I was invited or not. “I just…I’ve never actually seen you in concert. I thought it’d be nice to check it out.” I shrugged.
“Sure! That’s not a problem,” he beamed. “You can tag along with Leighanne and Baylee. We have a bunch of family and friends that’ll be there.” I nodded and sighed a bit. “Let me show you your bus, it should be outside by now.”
I followed them to the front door where I had just been only ten or fifteen minutes ago. There in front of the house was a large black bus with a single silver stripe down the middle. My eyes nearly bulged out of my face. “That entire bus is for me?” I questioned as Baylee ran ahead with Josh to play in the grass.
“Yeah,” Brian chuckled. “Sorry it’s kinda small. It’s an adjustment, but we hope you’ll be comfortable.” He smiled. “And nights where we’re staying at a hotel, you’ll have your own room there, too.” He tried to make the situation a little lighter.
“Oh! I’m not worried about the size,” I laughed. “Trust me. I’m so used to spending all my time in a small two-bedroom apartment.”
“Well, the space will be pretty similar, but now you won’t have to share,” Brian smiled. We approached the bus and the doors opened, revealing a large African American man with a pearly white smile. “And this is your driver, Todd. Todd, this is Collette Morgan.” Brian introduced.
“Nice to meet you, Miss Morgan,” Todd tipped his head politely and put his hand out to shake mine. I smiled and returned the gesture.
“Nice to meet you, too,” I beamed. The entire situation was starting to set in and I was shocked. When I went to school for teaching, I never in a million years pictured myself traveling the country with the Backstreet Boys. Even though I wasn’t anywhere near “fan” status, I still knew who they were.
“Todd will drive you around from city to city, and then also become your body guard. You may not believe it right now, but once our fans realize who you are and that you’re with us, they’re going to want pictures with you too. You’ll need some kind of security,” Brian explained. With that, he walked up the stairs onto the beautiful bus. There was a curtain separating me from Todd and his driving space, then once beyond that there was a beautiful “living room”. On one side of the bus there was a large black leather sofa with a small coffee table. On wall across from the couch was a rather big plasma TV. I had to keep my jaw from dropping.
In the same room, there was a little kitchen area with a microwave, stove, dishwasher, sink and a little counter and cabinet space. “I wasn’t really sure what you like to eat, but I tried stocking the cabinets with the basics. Today before the concert you’re more than welcome to head out with Todd to do a little shopping.” Brian smiled. I nodded. Next was the bathroom. It was certainly small, but much bigger than I predicted. I assumed I’d be sleeping in some sort of a bunk bed. I couldn’t help my jaw from dropping when Brian pulled back the next curtain. “Again, it’s not much. But it’ll hopefully do as your home for the next few months…” Brian seemed so unsure that I’d like it.
“Not much?” I choked out as my eyes ran over the room. In the center of the room there was a large King sized bed with a large white duvet comforter on top with pillows that looked more like marshmallows than anything else. In the corner was a similar plasma screen TV like the one just feet away. There was more closet and drawer space than I could have ever hoped for. “Brian, I think this bus is bigger than my apartment.” I laughed. Brian and Leighanne chuckled as well.
“Good, that’s a relief,” Brian laughed. “I was hoping that’d be the case. We were worried it wouldn’t be big enough.”
“Hah,” I laughed and ran my fingers over the soft comforter. “I love it. Thank you so much!”
Brian beamed and nodded. “Our pleasure. Well, we’re actually about to head over to the venue. How about we leave you to get situated and meet you over there? I had Todd and Josh bring up all of your bags so you’re more than welcome to start getting unpacked.”
“Thanks,” I waved as they headed off the bus. I felt the rumble underneath my feet and sighed. I could get used to this.