“That’s so crazy! I’m incredibly jealous,” she sighed from the other end. “Back here it’s just me and Bella hangin’ out.” I smiled at the mention of her cat. I was glad she had her around. Keri and I both had our own separate lives, but we were also each other’s best friend. I felt somewhat guilty leaving her for an entire year. I knew I was going to miss her just as much, if not more, than she would miss me.
“Aw,” I smirked. “I’m glad you two are having fun.” I joked. “Well, I better go. The bus just stopped, so I think I’m at the venue.”
“You’re tutoring the kid and you get to go to their concerts?! Jesus, Collette. You’re living my dream right now,” she snorted. “Seriously, though. If I were a twelve-year-old girl, I’d be insanely jealous.”
I rolled my eyes and laughed. “Ha, ha. I’ll call you tomorrow from the road.” I said. We said our goodbyes and I put unpacking on hold. I pulled back the curtain just in time to be face to face with Brian and Baylee.
“Sorry,” Brian laughed and jumped back a little. “Didn’t mean to scare you. We knocked but I don’t think you heard us.” I shrugged, no big deal. “I just wanted to introduce you to the other guys and our families. Everyone’s getting ready for the show. I figured you could hang out with Baylee and Leighanne. Or you’re more than welcome to stay on the bus.”
Brian was so friendly. I smiled and slipped my flip flops on. “I’d love to!” I grinned and took Baylee’s hand as we walked off the bus.
“Baylee, tell Miss Morgan who introduces the show for us,” Brian winked down at his son. As we stepped off the bus and I waited for Baylee to enlighten me on who would be introducing them, I took in my surroundings. Not exactly the kind of venue I would have imagined for a band as large and well-known as the Backstreet Boys, but it was quaint. I noticed three other men only a few feet away with two women – one I recognized as Leighanne. I grinned down at Baylee to encourage him to tell me.
“Me,” he blushed, bashful. I laughed and squeezed his hand.
“That’s so exciting, Baylee!” I tried to make it a big deal. “I can’t wait to see you up on stage.” I beamed. He smiled up at me as I winked at Brian. By now we were much closer to the group and I felt way more intimidated.
“Hey guys, I’d like you to meet Baylee’s kindergarten teacher,” Brian called out so they’d all turn around. I instantly recognized them – well, for the most part. They had certainly changed from the posters and pictures I remembered seeing in magazines years ago. They had aged, for sure. One was even balding quite a bit – but still insanely attractive. “This is Collette Morgan. Collette, I’d like you to meet my best friends and band mates, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter and AJ McLean. And this is Howie’s wife, Leigh.” He introduced.
I went down the line, shaking each one’s hand. “Hi, nice to meet you.” I repeated politely as did they.
“You look kinda young to be a teacher,” the blonde one, Nick, smirked. I remembered reading something about him being the ladies’ man.
“She has to be young to be insane enough to come on this tour with us,” AJ joked, laughter ringing from his voice. I went to say something but Brian cut in.
“Guys, be nice.”
“We are being nice!” They said in unison. They’re immature, wonderful, I sighed.
“Its fine, Brian,” I smiled. “If I couldn’t handle immaturity I wouldn’t have decided to go into elementary education.” I winked at in Leigh and Leighanne’s direction. Both women busted out laughing, including Brian. AJ and Nick chuckled a bit.
“She’s funny, that’s good,” Nick laughed.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head with a smile. I had a feeling we’d all get along great. I was glad it didn’t seem to be awkward at all. Instead, I felt rather comfortable…almost like I was at home. The two boys almost reminded me of my brothers, except with the blonde one, something felt funny in my stomach. He was kinda…cute.
“Welcome to the Backstreet family,” Leigh spoke up and put her hand out. “It’s really nice to meet you and have another woman on the tour to put up with the testosterone.” She giggled. Leighanne laughed as well and nodded. I laughed. Maybe this would all work out just the way I had dreamt – perfectly.
“Well, we have a soundcheck to prepare for,” Brian spoke up. “But make yourself comfortable. No hurt feelings if you decide you want to just relax in your bus instead of watch the show.” He winked. “We all understand.” I nodded and tagged along with Leighanne as the boys walked towards the stage area.
“Sorry about the guys’ forwardness. They’re just being friendly,” Leighanne laughed as she held on tightly to Baylee’s hand. “They’re pretty used to people coming and going here; it’s just the way they handle the situation.” She shrugged.
“It’s completely fine,” I reassured her with a grin. “My brothers joke around with me the same way. It was nice feeling something familiar.” I shrugged. I waved my hand in front of my face a little to try and fan some air onto myself. It was a lot muggier out here than I pictured. I glanced down at my attire – a nice pair of jeans with a fancy tank top and a nice blazer. I wanted to make a good impression on the Littrells. I hadn’t realized I’d be standing in an outdoor venue to watch a concert.
“If you want to go get changed and meet me out in the audience, that’d be fine. The fans aren’t able to come in until 6:30,” Leighanne glanced at her watch, reading my mind. “We basically have three hours to do nothing.” She laughed. “Well, of course there’s soundcheck…” she mentally went through the notes in her head. “So we have until 4:30; about an hour and ten minutes.”
“I think I’ll do that,” I grinned and headed back towards my bus. Todd was standing outside on his cell phone – doing what looked like – guarding the bus. He smiled at me and tipped his head, allowing me entrance. I grinned as I climbed aboard and headed to the back to find something to wear. I definitely wanted to stick with jeans. I gnawed on my bottom lip as I muddled through shirts that were hanging on hangers. “Oh come on, there’s gotta be something…” I said to myself. “Ah ha.” I smiled as I found what I was looking for. My vintage Led Zeppelin t-shirt. I grinned as I pulled off the blazer and tank I was wearing and replaced it with the black shirt. I grabbed a bottle of cold water from the mini fridge and took a swig on my way down the steps to the dirt road. I didn’t notice the other body passing by on the way to his bus and smacked right into him, spilling the water all over myself and a little on the body in front of me.
“Woah, I’m so sorry,” I choked on the water that was on its way down my esophagus.
The body laughed. Then I realized it was Nick. “No big deal. Nice shirt.” At first I thought he was complimenting the shirt itself, but then I realized he probably meant the large water stain that was now spreading across my torso.
“Gee, thanks, pervert,” I grumbled jokingly and continued past him.
“No, I didn’t mean the water...” he trailed off with a smirk. “Really, the shirt’s cool. I love Led Zeppelin. Vintage, especially.”
I shrugged and turned towards him. “Thanks.” I grinned. I recapped my bottle and headed back towards the backstage door that lead to the audience’s seats. As soon as the door opened I was looking at somewhere around ten thousand seats. “Woah.” I repeated from earlier.
“Kinda crazy, isn’t it?” I heard AJ from the pit. I looked down and nodded. He was sitting on the edge of the stage, just swinging his legs down below looking over the seats. “I like to just come out and get a feel for the set up before everyone gets here.” He shrugged.
“That’s cool,” I nodded and walked over. Instead of pulling myself up on stage to sit next to him, I decided to just sit in a chair near the edge of the stage. “I don’t know how ya’ll do it. With all the people and everything…”
“You get used to it. We’ve been doing it for about fifteen years now,” AJ said. I whistled. That was a long time. AJ chuckled at my gesture. “Yeah, it’s been a while. When we started, Nick was just a kid. Hell, we were all kids.” He sighed.
Nick must’ve been the youngest. I made a mental note. “Doesn’t it get old after a while?” I asked him, clearly interested now.
“Nah, not really,” he shrugged. “I mean, sure. There are days we don’t want to work. But it’s what we’re passionate about. We took a break a few years ago. And even touring – our last tour was for our Never Gone album and that was back in ’05. Three years ago,” he explained.
“Hey Aje,” Nick reappeared from backstage. “Marcus wants to get us wired. The fans are already starting to pull in for soundcheck.” He grinned in my direction.
“See ya!” AJ excused himself and they both disappeared. I laughed as I watched Baylee run all the way from the top of the venue all the way towards me.
“BAYLEE THOMAS WYLEE LITTRELL!” Leighanne yelled from the top of the venue. “Stop running, please!” She called down as she hurried down the stairs after him. Instead of running towards me, he started weaving through the rows of seats. I laughed and shook my head. “Baylee, I’m not joking.” She said more firmly. At that point, he stopped running and plopped down in one of the fold-up chairs. She rolled her eyes in my direction and took his hand as they started walking down together. As they got closer, I could hear what she was saying. “You could get hurt, and that would be no fun. Then who would introduce the boys?”
Baylee just shrugged. “Miss Morgan could introduce them!” He suddenly pointed to me and laughed.
“I may be a good teacher, but I’m certainly no pro at getting in front of people and speaking,” I winked at him with a grin. “How about you stick to that job and I’ll stick to mine?” He nodded with a giggle.
I followed everyone backstage to where the boys were waiting to start sound check. They all had their microphones on and were joking around with each other. “Remember your lines, little man?” Nick rubbed Baylee’s little blonde head. He nodded with a grin. “Good.”
I folded my arms across my chest and leaned against the table as I watched the interaction between all the band members, their families and friends. Everything seemed so great! It wasn’t as awkward as I had pictured and so far, I had really enjoyed myself. What could go wrong?