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The sky was just beginning to turn a light shade of pink as Rachel drove down the Florida Turnpike and music softly played through her car. Waves of anxiety and apprehension began to sweep over her as she read the mileage sign. Orlando was less than two miles away. She was officially 1,105 miles away from her hometown. It was the furthest she’d traveled alone but it was scary and freeing at the same time. This was the beginning of a whole new life. New school, new city, and new friends. What more could she possibly want? Rachel tapped her fingers against the steering wheel as she let her mind wander to the life she left behind in Missouri. She wondered if her mom was being nice to her brother. Was she keeping the men out of the house? Was she driving drunk or falling asleep at the wheel? These were just a few of many reasons why Rachel wanted to get out as fast as she could. She’d had enough of the drama in her family. It was time to move on to something better and become the person she always wanted to be. Of course, she questioned if her mother would ever let her be that person. Was traveling across the country far enough away or would she manage to wreak havoc despite the distance?

A frown rested upon her face as she shifted her position in her seat, gripping the steering wheel as she let out a yawn. After driving six hours from Atlanta, she was ready to arrive at her apartment in Orlando. Kristin was probably wondering where she was. Rachel was surprised her phone hadn’t rang in the past hour. She was running behind after waking up late and getting on the road two hours past her original scheduled time. She thought that not stopping for lunch would get her there faster, but she didn’t take in account of the road work that happened back in Tallahassee. Rachel was never on time. Punctuality wasn’t her strong suit.

Letting out a sigh of exhaustion, she reached over and turned up the volume to her favorite Martina McBride song that was playing for the tenth time in a row. Humming along to the melody, Rachel glanced into her rearview mirror before passing a slow moving semi in front of her. Her foot slowly hit the gas a little harder and she passed the big white truck. Merging back into the right hand lane, she began to sing along to the chorus.

“And with a broken wing she still sings. She keeps an eye on the sky. With a broken wing she carries her dreams. Man, you ought to see her fly,” she sang loudly.

Raising her hand up to motion along with the music, she smiled to herself at the familiarity of the lyrics. Flying...that’s exactly what she was doing in this new season of her life. The chorus came around again and Rachel sang even louder, pumping her fist in the air, declaring her presence upon the Florida Turnpike. Her sweet, soprano voice filled the car in perfect pitch. The anxiety she was previously feeling was slowly melting as she continued to sing along and her mood was beginning to lift. Merging into the far right lane, she softly smiled to herself as found herself officially in Orlando. Butterflies began to form in her stomach as she carefully flowed with the traffic, merging off the turnpike and into the city.


The air conditioner whirred loudly as Kristin turned down the temperature and let out a loud sigh from exhaustion. As much as she enjoyed the idea of living in Orlando, she wasn’t used to the change in climate. Compared to the usual weather of Chicago, Orlando had a swampy humidity that she wasn’t accustomed to. Kristin knew it was going to take her a while to get used to it. Luckily, she had enough bikinis in her wardrobe to last her for weeks. Any excuse to walk around in a bikini top was more than okay. Kristin was looking forward to spending time by the pool and taking weekend trips to the beach. Her philosophy in life was live every moment as if you’re on the red carpet. Florida was full of VIP opportunities and she intended to explore everything she could find.

A slight smile crept across her face as she continued to daydream about parties, shopping, and boys while she picked up a shaggy purple area rug and draped it across the living room floor. She looked around the apartment and nodded in satisfaction. The movers had arrived earlier that day to place her furniture where she wanted it. Everything was brand new, a graduation present from her grandparents. Kristin sat down on the black leather couch and sighed as she rubbed her hand over the smooth material. Taking in a deep breath, the scent of new leather reached her nose and she smiled in contentment as she kicked off her pink flip flops and propped her feet up on the cushion. Running her fingers through her thick, black hair, she closed her eyes and continued to daydream as she soaked in the stillness of the apartment. She smirked at thought of the excitement that had yet to come. Kristin was glad to be on her own. College life was going to open doors that she had waited for years to open. Even though she grew up in a rich family, her parents were strict. She hardly got to experience a normal teenage life. Her parents expected her to make straight A’s in school so her social life was practically non existent. Aside from playing the clarinet in marching band, Kristin never got to hang out with people her own age. Her only real friend was Rachel, but after Kristin’s family moved to Chicago, the never saw each other except the rare occasion that Rachel came to visit. Their friendship primarily consisted of Emails and late night chats on AOL. Once in a while they would talk on the phone, but it was hard to maintain a normal conversation with her father breathing down her neck to get back to her studies. However, now that she was on her own, she intended to live life to the fullest. She wanted to explore everything that came her way. The only restriction she had was the requirement to maintain a 3.5 GPA in school. If she failed to do that then her parents would stop funding her way through college. Even though they still had the upper hand, Kristin still found living in Florida would be better than being back at home.

Kristin opened her eyes and frowned a little as she wandered into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of Evian from the refrigerator. She cracked it open and walked over to the glass door that led out to the balcony. The door lightly creaked as she pried it open and stepped outside. Slowly raising the bottle to her lips and taking a long swig, Kristin admired the view of downtown Orlando, Florida. She breathed in the warm air and grinned widely. It was the life she’d always wanted. The world was her oyster.

After spending several minutes outside, Kristin decided it was time to get back to unpacking even though she’d rather call it a day and pretend everything was done. She hummed to herself as she lazily walked back to her room and unwillingly picked up another box. Setting the box on top of her bed, she sighed as she ripped the tape off the box and put her clothes away in her dresser. As she stepped across the room to retrieve more clothes from the box, her eyes focused on the alarm clock that sat beside her bed. She’d been unpacking for over three hours and there was still no sign of Rachel. As usual, Rachel was running behind schedule. Kristin rolled her eyes at the thought. She and Rachel had been friends for over eight years, but Rachel’s time management skills were one of the many things that drove her nuts. Blowing off her annoyance, Kristin picked up her remote to her CD player and turned it on. The room filled with the sounds of her favorite Backstreet Boys song from the US Backstreet’s Back album. She giggled as she left the box on the bed and began to prance around her room toward a poster of Nick Carter that she’d already hung on the wall.

“You and me, baby,“ Kristin said confidently. “We will meet and you will be mine,“ she said as she childishly blew a kiss at the poster.

A devious giggle escaped her lips as she danced around the room. She turned the volume louder and pulled out the chair from her desk and obnoxiously sang along as she began to perform the chair dance of As Long As You Love Me. Completely aware of how foolish she looked, she still gave herself a cocky smile into the mirror. She stopped dancing and began to observe herself in the mirror, cocking her head to the side as she licked her lips and smoothed out her tank top. Her curvy figure of 5’8” stood confidentially tall as she began to pull her hair back into a messy bun. She studied herself as she moved and frowned. Kristin wrinkled her forehead as she drew in closer to the mirror and observed her eyebrows with her fingers.

“Ugh, I need a wax,“ she mumbled as she smoothed out her arches.

She sighed as she stood up straight and finished messing with her hair, leaving two strands of hair on the sides of her face. With a nod of approval, she walked back over to the bed and picked up her cell phone to check for missed calls. It was nearly six o’clock in the evening and still no sign of Rachel.

“Where the hell is she?” she muttered to herself.

Kristin set the phone down on the dresser and lightly drummed her freshly manicured nails against the wood. She twisted her lips and picked up the phone to dial Rachel’s number. Rachel’s phone rang three times and Kristin was already growing impatient. She rolled her eyes and plopped down on her bed.

“Pick up the phone, woman,” Kristin muttered under her breath.

“Hello?” said Rachel.

“Girl, where are you? I’ve been waiting all day!”

“Whoa, hang on,” Rachel said.

Kristin snickered to herself when she heard Rachel put the phone down. The sound of the phone fumbling around was amusing to her. She couldn’t help but love the fact that Rachel was commonly scattered brained and slightly air headed when it came to multi-tasking. There was loud music playing in her ear. She couldn’t help but dance a little when she realized that Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) was blaring from Rachel‘s stereo. She heard Rachel cursing before she picked up the phone. Kristin chuckled and shook her head at her best friend’s short temper.

“Sorry about that,” Rachel said.

“What was that all about?”

“I nearly ran off the side of the road while talking to you,” Rachel said with a soft chuckle.

“Girl, you need to learn how to drive.”

“I know how to drive. I’m just not good with the phone and driving at the same time.”

“Whatever,” Kristin said. “How much longer until you get here?”

“Maybe another thirty minutes. I’m just now getting into Orlando.”

“What took you so long anyway?” she asked as she observed her nails.

“I took a stop in Georgia last night. I woke up late and was in a rush to get here.”

“Woman, you are never on time.”

“At least I’m in Florida,” Rachel joked.

“That’s not saying much,” Kristin replied with a grin. “Do you know how to get here?”

“Yeah, I’ve got a map.”

“Oh, Lord,” Kristin replied. “I’ll expect another call from you in five minutes,” she said with sarcasm.

“Very funny,” Rachel retorted.

“Bye,” Kristin said with a laugh then hung up, resting the phone on her stomach.

Staring up at the ceiling, she sighed as she mentally coached herself into getting off the bed. With a dramatic sigh, she held her right leg up and rolled off the bed and went back to unpacking her things. The box of clothes was now empty and she decided it was time to open a new one. The soft carpet tickled the balls of her feet as she wandered over by the dresser and scooted a box labeled “fragile” into the middle of the room. Kristin spent nearly twenty minutes unwrapping her breakable items from the bubble wrap and placing them neatly on the bookshelf she had sitting in the corner of the room. Stifling a yawn, she walked back across the room for another box. Shuffling over the mess of bubble wrap, the plastic bubbles popped against her toes as she dragged the box across the floor. She was a little confused as to what was inside. It was the only one that wasn’t labeled and it was very well protected with a mass of packing tape around it. A smile spread across her face when she took the scissors to open it. Inside the box was her entire collection of Backstreet Boys memorabilia. She’d been collecting merchandise from all over the world ever since she became a fan. The box was filled with timeless memories of her early adolescence. It was a memory she didn’t want to let go of. Backstreet Boys were the only thing that held her friendship with Rachel together. When her father accepted a promotion, her family was forced to move to Chicago during her eighth grade year. The distance between her and Rachel had put a strain on their friendship, but their love for Backstreet Boys was the one thing that never seemed to change no matter how much they had grown up. She was becoming excited with the idea of seeing her again. Aside from E mails and late night chats on AOL, there was no contact between them since they were the delicate age of thirteen. Here they were at eighteen and finally reuniting for longer than a few days. She couldn’t think of a better way to spend her college years than with her best friend.

Kristin pulled out her favorite picture of Nick Carter and grinned widely. She studied the picture and softly slid her finger across his lips. Her mind wandered to a fantasy of finding her way into his heart. She couldn’t help but sigh at the thought of tasting his kisses. Kristin looked at the picture again and smiled as she looked around her room for a spot to place the picture. Beyond the mess of packing tape, bubble wrap, newspaper, and torn boxes, she was able to locate the perfect spot…on the night stand beside her bed. Kristin placed the picture on the nightstand, strategically turning it to face her side of the bed. Now his face would be the first thing she would see every morning. She admired the picture for a moment and then heard the sound of someone knocking on the front door. Kristin quickly turned around and made her way to the door with excitement. There stood Rachel with a big smile and her arms full of boxes.

“Finally!” Kristin joked as she let her in.

“I know, it’s just been a long day,“ Rachel said as she put down her boxes. “Girl, give me a hug,” she said as she stretched out her arms.

Kristin hugged Rachel tight and smiled as she got a good look at her old friend. “It’s so good to see you. God, I feel like it‘s been forever.”

“I know, it’s been, what, two years?” Rachel asked as she crossed her arms.

“It’s been close to that,” Kristin said with a nod. “Last time I saw you was at the Backstreet Boys concert back in 1997.” Kristin hugged her again. “I’m so glad we’re finally in Florida. We’re going to have so much fun!”

Rachel laughed. “I know, it feels good to finally be out of Missouri,” she said softly, her blue eyes narrowing down at the floor.

“Anything is better than Missouri,“ Kristin assured.

Rachel drew in a deep breath and nodded. “So, which one is my room?” she asked as she picked up her box.

“This one,” Kristin said as she opened the door for her.

Rachel set her boxes down by the wall and looked around, studying everything closely. “Wow, this place looks….well…expensive.”

“It’s not that bad,” Kristin said with a smile. “It’s only six hundred a month.”

“Oh, that’s not bad at all,” Rachel said as she set the box down on the floor. “Split that up and that’s three hundred a piece.”

“No, I meant six hundred a person,” Kristin said as she bit her lip.

Rachel’s mouth dropped as she stared at Kristin with wide eyes. “Whoa, wait. Kristin, I told you I was on a budget. I can’t afford that much.”

“Well, it’s kinda too late. My godfather cosigned for me,” Kristin said. “Actually, it’s more like he’s going to pay my way as long as I keep my grades up,“ she said with a grin.

“Well, that certainly doesn’t help me none,” Rachel said in frustration. “I’ve got a little cash saved up. I’m just gonna have to bust my butt and find a job.”

“Yeah, sounds like a good deal to me,“ Kristin said as she grabbed Rachel’s arm.

“Alright, I’ve got a ton of more stuff out in the car. You wanna help?”

“Yeah,” Kristin said as she made her way over to the coffee table and slipped on her flip flops.

As they walked out onto the parking lot, she took a glimpse of Rachel’s purple 1998 Dodge Neon that had a small U-Haul trailer attached to it and laughed, shaking her head at the sight. “I thought you said you didn’t have much to bring with you?”

“I didn’t,” Rachel said as she opened the trailer. “I left most of my stuff at home.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t pull your bumper off with this thing,” she joked.

“Oh, shut up. There’s not that much stuff in here,” Rachel said as she handed Kristin a box. “It’s my bed that was too big to fit in the car.”

“Right,” Kristin said as she walked back to the apartment with the boxes.

The girls chatted light heartedly as they unpacked all the boxes before unpacking. After 45 minutes of unloading the trailer, Kristin helped Rachel unpack some of her boxes. Grunting loudly, she drug in a big box from the living room. It was very heavy and took all of her body weight to push it into the bedroom.

“What the fuck do you have in here? It weighs a ton,” she asked as she lightly kicked it.

Rachel glanced at the box and grinned. “Read the label.”

Kristin looked on the side of the box and laughed loudly. “Backstreet Boys Stuff. Fragile!” she read out loud. “You act like it’s expensive china or something.”

“It is!” Rachel said as she stood up. “Move over,” she said as she pushed Kristin out of the way.

“Girl, you need mental help,” Kristin said while watching her open the box. “Oh, my god, you wrapped everything in bubble wrap and put towels in between stuff. You have officially lost it.”

“Oh, hush,” Rachel said as she began pulling some items out of the box. “It’s not like you don’t have stuff too.”

“Yeah, but you’ve got your entire collection in this huge box. Forget your bed being too big for your car. It was this box!” she joked.

“Bite me!” Rachel said as she pulled out a framed poster of Brian. “Look at this man. He is so hot!”

Kristi shook his head. “Nick is hotter…by a landslide.”

“Nick is cute,” Rachel nodded in agreement. “But Brian’s got what I like.”

“That’s because you have bad taste.”

“You’re mean today,” Rachel said with a fake frown. “I don’t think I like you anymore.”

“Oh, stop it. You know I love you,” Kristi said as she hugged Rachel. “I’ve had about enough of this unpacking shit. Let’s go eat somewhere.”

“Good idea,” Rachel said as she set the poster against the wall. “Pizza?”

“I should’ve known,” Kristi said with a grin. “Let’s go. We’re taking my car.”

“Okay,” Rachel said as she followed Kristin outside.

Both girls left the apartment and headed to Kristin’s car on the pretty mid August day that Orlando was having. They breathed in the fresh air and felt their energy being restored as they walked across the parking lot. Kristin’s mouthed watered as she smelled the scent of someone having a BBQ. Her stomach loudly grumbled; suddenly realizing that she’d not eaten anything all day. She glanced over at Rachel and snickered as she watched her look around like a lost child in the park.

"It's really beautiful here," Rachel said with excitement.

"I know, I love it," said Kristin in agreement.

"We had nice weather in Missouri, but this is unbelievable."

"Yeah, but it’s swampy here though,” she said as she wrinkled her nose. “That’s the part I don’t think I’m ever gonna get used to."

“Meh, you’ll get over,” Rachel joked as she stopped at Kristin’s car. Her eyes widened a little as she looked over the hood at Kristin. “So, uh…what do you think the odds are of us running into…you know,” Rachel said with a grin.

Kristin laughed. “Girl, you have a one track mind,” he said as she unlocked the car.

Rachel smirked and got into the passenger seat. “Well?”

“I think you should realize there’s more to life than Backstreet Boys,” Kristin said as she turned the ignition.

“I know this,” Rachel said as she put on her seatbelt. “I’m just saying. We’re in their hometown…and they’re not touring.”

Kristin snickered ad turned on her radio. “Sing along with the CD and shut up, you goober.”

Rachel reached over and turned to her favorite track. She grinned wildly as the music began to play. Kristin laughed as she started to dance in her seat.

“Oh my god, we’re back again!” Rachel sang.

Kristin cracked up and continued to drive. “I’m so scared to call you my best friend.”

“Brothers, sisters everybody sing!” she continued. “Come on, Kris, you know the words.”

Kristin laughed as she sang along with Rachel. They came to a stop light and they immediately broke into a fit of giggles as they did some of the dance moves to the song. Kristin looked over at Rachel and grinned widely. She knew it was the beginning of an amazing adventure.