"Hi, ladies and gentlemen! This is JoJo, and you're listening to
JoJo's Morning Madness on 106.7 KIIS FM. In case you just tuned in, we've got some pretty awesome guests lined up this morning.
Actually, they just filed into the studio during our commercial break. Say hello to the BACKSTREET BOYS!"
cheers. Beneath the plastic smiles, more than one Boy was cringing.
"Guys, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourselves
to our listeners?"
Kevin, ever the responsible one, leaned into his microphone with a smile. "Hey, I'm Kevin."
I'm Brian." Big, cheesy grin.
"I would be AJ." Small nod, a tip of the hat, and more than half of the girls in the
room were swooning.
"My name is Howie D." A wink and a thumbs-up.
"And I'm Nick." A sigh. Lots of screams.
be the one causing the headaches this morning," the DJ joked with a grin. Howie returned the smile with one of his own.
Nicky's good at that," he teased, and Nick chuckled good-naturedly. Shut up, Howard.
"Well, now that we've
got the introductions done, let's get down to business. You guys are on tour right now, correct?"
It was a standard
Kevin question, and the older man stepped in as usual. "That's correct, man."
"How's that going?"
"It's going great, actually. The fans have been really, really supportive, and the shows have been totally high-energy. We're
really proud of this album, so being able to bring it to the fans live has been a really rewarding experience for us."
DJ nodded. "Now, AJ, according to the ladies out there this morning, you're the one who loves the road, right?"
cracked a small grin. "Yeah, I definitely love to tour. I'm a freak, so being able to channel that energy into being a showman
for the lovely ladies in the house is more than any guy could ask for."
Brian frowned thoughtfully. "Actually, what
Kevin was saying earlier plays a big part as well. We are really proud of the album, and some of us were actually involved
in writing some of the songs, so it's really nice to be able to see such a positive response to the more personal music we've
been making recently."
The DJ continued grinning cheerfully. "You brought up the album, so I'm going to go ahead and
ask you Boys about the first week sales. For those who don't know--you've gotta be living under a rock! Nah, I'm just kidding.
However, these fab five dropped an album called Millennium in the spring of last year, and it sold a whopping 1.3
million albums in the first week. Guys, how amazing was that?"
"Pretty damn cool," AJ shot immediately, ignoring the
glare from Kevin in reponse to his harsh language.
"I've got to agree with AJ," Howie managed with a laugh. "It was
incredible to see those kind of numbers on paper. We had no idea that the album would be as big as it has been, but we're
very grateful that the fans are continuing to embrace us and our music."
"Were you all worried at all about the frequently
mentioned sophomore slump?"
"Oh, definitely," Kevin assured JoJo. "Our first album was so successful that we weren't
sure anything could ever top it. We went into the studio, however, with the idea that we were going to create a record that
we were proud of regardless of the numbers, and I think a bit of that confidence came off in the sounds and vocals."
cleared his throat, deciding to speak up before any fans chose to ask him why he was sad. "I think that, I mean, any time
you release something, you're going to, you know, be a bit freaked out about the kind of reaction you're going to get. We
were nervous because, well, it's hard to reproduce the kind of success that we had with the first album. We just, I mean,
Kev's right. We went into the studio trying to make something we were proud of, you know? The fact that the fans like it like
they do...that just blew us away."
"Yeah, you guys are pretty famous now, aren't you? Listen, how is it to have screaming
girls everywhere you go?"
"Not so bad," AJ commented with a wry smile. "Here at Backstreet, we like to give the ladies
what they want."
The comment inspired the necessary catcalls, and the group laughed amiably while AJ tipped his hat
to the girls watching the show.
"It can get tedious when you want private time," Brian explained once the crowd had
settled down, "but we're very thankful for the love we get from the fans."
"Especially the female ones, right?" the
DJ asked with a wink, and Nick fought the urge to smack the guy around a little. Instead, his smile widened.
he grinned. "Definitely the female ones."
JoJo sighed with mock sadness. "Well, Boys, we're almost out of time, and
I've really got to ask...do you guys have girlfriends?"
The guys cast dramatic nervous glances at each other before
laughing. Kevin was the first to lean into the microphone.
"Might as well be honest," he drawled. "Yes, I've got a
"Me too," AJ said with a smile.
"Although Lord only knows how he managed that one," Howie joked,
inspiring a laugh from the audience.
"How about you, Nick?" JoJo asked with a knowing smile. "Do you have a girlfriend?"
he's got a crush," AJ teased, and Nick made a silent vow to kill him as soon as they went off air.
perked up immediately at the sign of gossip like a starving vulture searching for a dead carcass to munch on. "Do tell."
managed a nervous laugh while he ran his hand through his hair. "Yeah, umm...well, see, there's this girl that I'm interested
in, but nothing serious yet."
Nick smiled shyly. "I've been kind of hoping that she'll come around."
I see," JoJo nodded. "Well, that's all the time we have this morning. Guys, thanks SO much for dropping by the studio...it
was really a pleasure to have you here. In case you're just now tuning in, those were the Backstreet Boys, and this is 'Show
Me The Meaning of Being Lonely' on 106.7 KIIS FM."
* * *
"Good God, AJ," Nick fired immediately as the door to the limo slammed
shut. "What the hell kind of stunt were you trying to pull in there?"
"I was just teasing, Nick," AJ groaned. "Fuck,
man, lighten up."
"You teasing me about Alli is one thing, 'J, but teasing me about her ON AIR is entirely another!
It's not fucking funny when all of LA gets to hear about it, okay?"
"Geez, okay," AJ muttered. "I got the message,
Nick rolled his eyes at his friend's apparent ignorance and turned his pleading gaze to Kevin's stoic features.
"Please tell me we're headed back to the hotel to sleep now."
Kevin's eyes sparkled in amusement, but he held his smile
at bay while he responded. "Actually, we're getting on the buses. We've got a night trip coming up, and we're leaving in an
"Super," Nick grunted, tossing his arms in the air helplessly. "Now I'm NEVER going to get to sleep."
shrugged. "You can always sleep on the bus, Frack. Leigh and I won't be too loud, I promise."
AJ snickered at the sincere
expression on Brian's face. "Don't make promises you can't keep, Rok. We all know that you and Leigh want to spend some quality
time together on the road."
Brian rubbed at his temples before shooting an annoyed look
in AJ's direction. "AJ, shut up."
"Seriously, man," Howie agreed, grimacing beneath the sunlight peeking through the
tinted windows. "I don't need those kinds of pictures in my head, okay?"
AJ snorted indignantly. "Oh, please," he grumbled.
"Like you won't be doing the very same things with Jess."
"Not the very same things, no..." Howie trailed
off, finishing the comment with a wink and eliciting groans from the other four men.
"Howie, between you and Kevin,
I think this group is a walking TMI violation," Nick commented, and Kevin frowned deeply.
"What the hell did I do to
inspire that kind of comment?"
Nick arched a lethal blonde eyebrow in the older man's direction. "Do I even
have to mention that God-awful Rolling Stone article?"
Kevin grinned slowly. "Okay, so maybe I did deserve
Nick chortled. "Yeah, just maybe..."
"So," AJ began, clearing his throat for emphasis. "What're everyone's
plans for this long and lovely trip we seem to have scheduled?"
"Sleep," Kevin mumbled. "I'm absolutely exhausted."
with Jess," Howie added. "I haven't seen her lately because we've kept such a tight schedule."
AJ nodded his understanding.
"Yeah, I haven't seen much of Amanda either. How about you, Bri?"
Brian grinned. "I'm going to hang with Leigh and
Nick, actually. We're one big family, you know."
"Any chance that Alli might be joining you?" AJ asked casually, but
the question immediately caught Nick's attention. The blonde's boyish features darkened in anger, and he shook his head.
She still hasn't made any attempts to talk to me."
An uncomfortable silence crept over the five men for a moment as
the implications of Nick's words sunk in. The Boys all knew about the fight with Alli through the grapevine, but none of them
had suspected that either Nick or Alli would keep silent for so long. The two hadn't said a word to each other in two days,
and neither seemed any more anxious to have a discussion. AJ knew from observation that Alli was sulking, but he could also
tell that, beneath the cold exterior he was trying so hard to maintain, Nick was hurting just as much. With a weary sigh,
he removed his sunglasses to rub a hand over his face.
"Not a word, huh?"
Nick shook his head without flinching.
"Not a word."
AJ glanced up in subdued surprise. "You aren't even going to try to talk to her?"
and turned his cold gaze on AJ, leaving the older man free to see the defeat that ran rampant in the blue of his eyes. "Look,
Age, the whole conversation went downhill. I'm not going to force her to love me. If she feels the same way, then she feels
the same way, and if she doesn't, then she doesn't. However, I'm not going to sit here and fight her until the death of our
friendship just so that she can acknowledge feelings I'm not even sure she has. If she starts to miss me, she knows where
to find me. Other than that, I don't have any control over the situation."
With that, he reached to the handle and
opened the door of the limo, stepping out into the sunlight before disappearing into the back of the hotel with long, quick
strides. Even as the thick metal door slammed behind him and Billy, who had raced to catch up, the other four Boys sat idly
in the limo, unable to move. Finally, they began to ease slowly out of the black car and into the hotel.
once, twice, three times. He hadn't even noticed that they'd arrived at the hotel. He'd been too caught up in the sadness
that swam in his brother's blue eyes.
* * *
"Nick, man, wait up for a sec, would you?"
Nick glanced behind
him and towards the front of the bus with a wary sigh. His shoulders finally relaxed when he saw Brian coming towards him.
"Hey, man, what's up?"
Brian arched an eyebrow. "Not much here, although I could ask you the same question." He grabbed
his friend's wrist and began dragging him to the back room almost immediately. "We need to talk."
Nick chuckled bitterly
as he flopped onto the couch. "No offense, Frick, but there's really not much to say."
Brian shot his younger brother
a look of disbelief. "Oh, I don't know about that."
Nick rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well, I do. There's nothing to say,
okay? Everything that could possibly be said about this situation has already been said, and I'm sick of rehashing shit just
for everyone's amusement. Why can't you guys just leave me the hell alone about it?"
Brian's tone was deadpan and immediate.
"Because we care, Nick, and you look sad."
"I'm pissed off."
Brian drew a skeptical breath and cocked his head
to the side. "Maybe you'd like to be pissed, but I think you're more sad than anything right now, and that scares me."
snorted in false amusement. "Does it really?"
Despite Nick's obviously sour attitude, Brian's tone was soft and sincere.
"Yeah, it does. Man, what's up?"
Nick groaned again. "She won't talk to me, and she doesn't even want to listen to
what I have to say. Nothing that I brought up two days ago even registered with her, I'm sure." He glanced over at Brian long
enough to see the older man's pitying expression and sighed. "And I know what you said about not giving up, but it's really
damn hard not to. She's giving me every reason in the world to leave her alone and try to get over her."
an eyebrow in disbelief. "Do you really think that you can get over Al? I mean, Nick, I've seen you with a bunch of girls,
and this seems kinda different to me."
"Why?" Nick asked with a bitter laugh. "Because I actually care whether or not
this one's here the next morning?"
Brian rolled his eyes. "That too. I just meant that Alli doesn't seem like that
type of girl that a guy can get over easily."
Nick stared amusedly ahead as Brian's words hung limply in the air. "Yeah,
she doesn't, does she?"
"So do you really think you can get over her?"
"No, but right now I'm feeling hopeless
enough to pretend. I'm just in a pissy mood." He shrugged lightly to emphasize his words. "I'll be better when we get to the
next city and I can leave that stupid fight behind us, trust me."
Immediately after the declaration, Nick switched
on the television and picked up the game controller, signifying the end of the conversation. When the opening music to his
game spilled from the speakers, Brian exhaled exasperatedly and exited the room.
* * *
Leighanne looked up from her novel expectantly when she heard the
door to the back room close and frowned as Brian's weary form came into view. She dog-eared the page she had been reading
and set the book down carefully, her eyes never leaving her fiance. "How is he?"
Brian slumped down into the chair
next to Leighanne's and closed his eyes. "Would you believe I don't even know anymore?"
She grimaced when his head
hit his hands. "That's not a good thing, is it?"
Brian shrugged and rolled his eyes. "No, it just means that he's moping
and entirely unwilling to talk to us."
Leighanne's features were sympathetic. "Can you blame him?"
"Yes. No. I don't know." He lifted his head for a moment and found her gaze. "Honestly? In a way, I do, because he knew that
Alli wasn't going to make this easy, but he acts like he expected the whole thing to be simple."
"Well, looking at it from his side, I guess that does make sense. He's never had a probably getting a girl before."
gave Leighanne Alli's breadbox look. "Alli's not exactly any girl, Leigh. She's different, and Nick knew that she would be."
frowned lightly. "Somehow, Bri, I don't think that makes it any easier for him. He really does love her. You could tell by
the way he used to look at her when the two of them were together. If not for that, the way he acted around her at AJ's New
Year's party was proof enough. He couldn't take his eyes off of her."
That got a soft laugh from Brian. "Yeah, he never
could. Al definitely attracts attention, that's for sure."
"So does Nick, though," Leighanne pointed out with a small
smile. Her small smile, however, seemed lost on Brian's perplexed expression.
"What exactly are you trying to get at?"
shrugged, mirroring his earlier actions. "Just that I don't believe his affection is entirely one-sided."
her a pointed look. "I don't either, but you can't tell me that she loves him the way he loves her."
again. "Maybe not yet, but I think that there is some validity to the idea that she cares about him more than he thinks. I
also think that there's a chance that she does care about him as much as he cares about her."
Brian's eyes rose heavenward
at the ridiculousness of the notion. "And why is that, Leigh?"
Leighanne smiled slowly. "Bri, if Alli really, really
didn't care about him as more than a friend, then she wouldn't be petrified of changing things."
"Alli's always been
petrified of change. That means nothing."
Leighanne nodded. "Fine then. If she didn't care more than she admits, then
she wouldn't be fighting it this hard. She hasn't spoken to him for two days straight, Brian."
shrugged again. "Honesty? I don't know for sure, but I think she's thinking. Nick's words affected her more than he knows."
finally looked his fiancee in the eye with a grave seriousness. "Well, for both of their sakes, I hope you're right. Because
the way they're acting now? It isn't good for Alli or Nick, and it's going to catch up with them soon."
* * *
"Okay, kids, which movie is it tonight?"
Alli glanced skeptically
in her friend's direction and glanced down at her watch. "Uh, Manda?"
over her shoulder and shot Alli a grin. "Answer."
AJ scoffed from his position on the sofa. "Sometimes."
stuck her tongue out at him in response. "All the time."
His only reply came in the form of a pout. "Why the hell do
you stick that thing out if you know you're not going to use it?"
"Because I can," she retorted before turning back
to Alli. "You had a question?"
Alli nodded. "Yeah. How can it be tonight if it's only three o'clock in the afternoon?"
I said so."
Alli cast a perplexed expression in AJ's general direction. "Does she make any sense to you?"
shook his head and made a face. "Not exactly, but I thought it was just a girl thing."
"Oh, it is," Alli assured him
with a small wink. "Amanda just happens to be a little more nonsensical that the average femme, see."
AJ rolled his
eyes and sunk further into the overstuffed leather of the couch cushions. "Just my fucking luck, huh?"
I'm not just standing over at the movie shelf for my health, you know."
"Yeah, we know," Alli countered. "You're standing
over there so AJ can stare at your ass."
Amanda groaned. "Funny, Al."
AJ, however, shook his head in disagreement.
"No, if she wanted me to stare at her ass, she'd drag you out of here and lose the clothing while some bump-and-grind beat
played in the background."
Alli frowned in disgust as her head swiveled in AJ's direction. "Are you ever not fantasizing
"Only when I'm not breathing."
AJ's frown soon matched Alli's when her eyes began darting around
the room anxiously. "Do I want to know what the hell you're doing?"
"Looking for a way to make you stop breathing."
going to stop breathing if we don't pick a movie soon!" Amanda called cheerfully from the shelf to the left. When both heads
turned to face her, she smiled. "Title suggestions, anyone?"
"I vote for Pretty Woman," Alli called immediately,
and AJ grimaced.
"Dammit, I could've sworn I threw that thing out after Manda made me watch it for the fifth time..."
still here," Amanda returned with a smile. "Can we see it?"
AJ scowled further. "Abso-fucking-lutely not!"
Bride?" Amanda asked, holding the cover of the movie up hopefully. AJ studied it for a moment as his brow furrowed in
"Actually, Nick and Rok were saying that it wasn't half bad..."
Alli started shaking her head as soon
as AJ began seriously considering the title. "No. Man, I just saw that movie, and, unlike the two Boys, I actually finished
For the first time that afternoon, AJ shot Alli a smile of his own. "You finished Pretty Woman too, hon."
sighed. "Yeah, but that's different. That movie's a classic."
AJ shrugged. "So? Julia Roberts is a classic actress.
This movie could become the next Pretty Woman."
Alli finally laughed at the seriousness of AJ's expression.
"You are such a retard, you know that? Man, you've been bummed all day. What's up?"
Amanda finally pulled Runaway Bride
down from the shelf and shook her head. "Yeah, no joke, man. Who stuck the stick up your ass?"
AJ groaned and made
a face, but both girls could tell that his bad mood was beginning to fade. "Nothing. It's just been a long tour so far and
Nick was being a whiny ass this morning."
Alli winced at the mention of Nick. "Okay, I changed my mind. We can watch
Runaway Bride. Put it in, Manda."
AJ grinned at the quick change in Alli's demeanor while Amanda went to battle
the on-bus VCR. "Why so quick to change the subject, Al?"
Alli rolled her eyes in annoyance at AJ's tone. "Like you
have to ask? I don't want to talk about Nick, AJ."
"You're going to have to talk about him sooner or later," AJ pointed
out, and Alli's head tipped back.
"Don't I know it, too. Look, can we just not talk about Nick for the next few hours?
That's all anybody's talking about, and it's getting old. There's nothing to discuss because there's nothing going on between
the two of us!"
"Yeah," AJ agreed, "but there should be."
"No joke," Amanda chimed as she joined AJ on the couch.
"I mean, you two were practically made for each other, Al, and he's been sulking ever since you quit talking to him."
groaned in protest at the accusation. "Um, reality check? In case you missed the memo, Manda, he was the one walking out this
time, not me."
Amanda rolled her eyes. "Yeah, well, if you ask me, he had a pretty good reason for it."
What reason was that?"
Amanda shot Alli an incredulous look, ignoring the "oomph" from AJ as she sat up against his
chest. "Because you've got something absolutely wonderful in front of you and you're staring straight fucking past it, Alli!
It gets a little aggravating."
"Especially when you add Nick's infamous drama queen factor," AJ interjected with a
grin, and Alli finally cracked a smile.
"Yeah, he always has been a bit of a drama queen, hasn't he?"
of the year," AJ scoffed. "The Boy's a muse for the screenwriter of every soap opera from here to oblivion, I bet. He's got
more melodrama in his pinky than the entire cast of Dawson's Creek has put together."
"He does, however, have
the ability to watch a film in silence," Amanda interrupted with a soft smile. "Movie's starting, children. Play nice until
the credits roll, would you?"
"We'll try," AJ and Alli chorused before bursting into laughter. However, even as they
settled into a casual silence while Julia Roberts took over, AJ's words haunted Alli's thoughts. She fell into a bit of a
trance as she watched Julia Roberts trip over herself in search of the perfect guy, but the movie didn't seem to have the
same appeal that it had previously had. Every time Julia's character had a lame line, she could hear Nick's retort in the
back of her head and feel his fingers in her hair. When familiar songs began playing in the background, she could hear Nick
singing along and would glance over expecting to see him next to her. Somehow, his absence weighed more heavily than it had
before, and Alli couldn't help but wonder if he was really supposed to mean so much that she couldn't even get through a movie
without him lying next to her. Good God, when did I get to be such a wimp? I thought we agreed that I didn't care about
him like that?
She shook her head in amusement as the plot of the film continued to unfold, but turned deadly
still when Julia Roberts caught the mail truck away from the chapel. Something about the fear in the other woman's eyes hit
way too close to home, and Alli had to pause for a moment before she could remind herself that it was, in fact, just a movie.
course, if it was just a movie, then there had to be another reason that the devastation on Richard Gere's face had made her
feel guilty. Because there's no way in hell that any of this has anything to do with Carter. No fucking way.
when the infamous egg scene arrived and she was forced to wince while Julia Roberts sampled every type of egg recipe imaginable,
a memory slowly began to form in her head.
When she had first arrived at college, Nick had been coming
off of a tour. She hadn't seen him in ages, so she had demanded that he stop by her dorm room before going on to his own house.
Finally, upon kicking her roommates out for the evening, she convinced him to stay the night with her so that the two of them
could catch up. When he finally did show up at her dorm room door, however, she grabbed him in a huge hug and led him to the
couch, where they spent the rest of the night talking. That morning, she had been embarrassed to admit to having nothing more
than a few eggs and orange juice, but he was perfectly fine with a simple breakfast. Too terrified of letting Alli anywhere
near the stove in his presence, Nick had scrambled the eggs hard with a healthy dose of cheese while the two of them continued
to chat. When he finally finished cooking and they sat down to eat, he confessed that scrambled eggs with cheese was his favorite
breakfast of all time. Alli hadn't paid much attention to it at the time, but she somehow managed to retain all of Nick's
little confessions throughout the years so that she knew more about him than she often knew about herself.
finally came calling, the credits were rolling and Amanda and AJ were snoring softly on the sofa opposite Alli's. She crawled
off the couch and shut the movie off, then exited the room and went to her bunk to take a nap of her own. However, even as
she was drifting into unconsciousness, she couldn't help but think that she knew exactly how Nick liked his eggs. And, just
before she took the plunge into unconsciousness, she couldn't help but think that he probably knew how she liked her eggs
She just wasn't so sure she knew how she liked her eggs anymore.
* * *
"So why aren't you at the concert watching your little blonde friend
rock out again?"
Alli sighed heavily into the phone, but she couldn't hide her smile. "Honestly? I wanted to talk to
you, although I'm beginning to regret it..."
"You're regretting it before the phone bill arrives? That's not a good
sign, is it?"
Alli laughed out loud. "Man, you're getting good, Hol! Dad must be teaching you a thing or two down there."
smile was clear in her tone. "I'm learning to hold my own in this constant verbal battle you two seem to have."
a good thing," Alli chuckled. "We're kinda relentless when it comes to wit."
"Understatement of the year," Holly scoffed.
"John can be downright cruel every now and then."
"He always did have a rather sharp side to him," Alli joked, and
Holly nodded her agreement.
"A soft side and a sharp side. He's a fairly good mix of both, I think."
like he's been feeding you subliminal messages in your sleep if you're singing his praises after this long," Alli quipped,
and it was Holly's turn to hide her smile.
"Maybe so, but I've got a pretty good grip on him as well."
think that, but Dad's a sly one," Alli teased. "He'll jump you when you least expect it. Of course, I'm sure you know more
about that than I would..."
Alli didn't need to hear Holly's gasp to know that the older woman's cheeks had flushed
a deep crimson. "Alli! Goodness gracious!"
Alli stifled her laughter for only a moment before it came tumbling forth.
"But Hol, I thought you said you were learning?"
Holly grimaced on the other line. "Yeah, well, the sexual innuendo
is going to take a bit of getting used to, but I'm going to go ahead and blame it on the rock star life you seem to be living
right now lest your father find out that you're implying things like that."
Alli chortled at the idea. "Oh, please...Dad
is SO much worse than I am..."
Holly grinned at the thought, memories of John's unexpected jokes all too ready to spring
forth. "Oh, I know, but I love him just the same."
There was a sincerity in Holly's tone that piqued Alli's interest
at that particular moment, and the question was out of her mouth before asking it could even register.
did you know you were in love with my dad?"
As soon as Alli heard the heavy exhale on the other end, she drew a tight
breath and covered her face with her hands. She knew that, while her relationship with Holly had grown steadily better over
the last few months, she had no right to ask the other woman such a personal question. She honestly wasn't sure why she'd
even wondered, but suddenly she had to know how Holly was so sure of whatever feelings made her so vulnerable and dependent,
yet so happy and so fulfilled. She could imagine opening herself up to someone, but...opening herself up to the right person
has always been a major concern of hers. Of course, the concern had increased infinitely upon Nick's original confession.
She flinched at that thought. Oh, no. This is not about Carter. That question had nothing to do with Carter. I'm
She flinched again when she realized that not even her subconscious sounded convincing.
Hol, I'm sorry. I had no right to..."
Holly cut her off before she could say anymore. "No, it's all right. It's perfectly
fine, in fact. I just...it's hard to put into words, you know?"
Alli smiled uncertainly. "Yeah, I know." God, I
think I might...no, I don't. No fucking way.
"I...I feel comfortable around your father. John is the first man
I've ever known who has made me feel completely and totally free to be who I am without fear. I just...I've never felt the
need to hold back any part of myself from him. Where I might censor myself to an acquaintance, I've never had to hide anything
from John. He knows me for the woman that I am, and there's something beautiful in knowing that the reason he knows me so
completely is because he's made it all
right for me to show him everything that I am. He makes me feel complete, but he
also makes me feel understood, and in all our differences, we always manage to find a common ground somewhere. To me, that
common ground is love. When you care enough about someone to find every way possible for you to be with them, both physically
and spiritually, that's love. When you can share all of yourself with someone without the fear of their opinion, then you
know that your feelings are reciprocated." Holly sighed, but Alli didn't even twitch. "We share bits and pieces of ourselves
with everyone, Al, but I firmly believe that we only share all of ourselves with one person, because only true love can withstand
every single aspect of our personalities."
There was a long moment of silence while Alli took in the true weight of
Holly's words. As she ran over the speech again and again in her head, time seemed to stop, and she wasn't able to shake from
her trance until Holly began calling her name.
"Al? Alli? Did that make any sense?"
Alli swallowed forcefully,
hoping to banish her disturbing thoughts as well as the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat. "Yeah, thanks Hol. That
made a lot of sense."
Holly frowned at the trancelike tone of Alli's voice. "Al, if you don't mind me asking, what
prompted that question?"
Alli's response was immediate. "Nothing! Just, you know, curious."
Holly rolled her
eyes good-naturedly. "Right. Are you sure there's not a guy who fits that description for you?"
"Pretty sure, yeah."
sighed. "Okay then. What are you doing for the next few days?"
The women continued to make idle conversation for a
few more minutes, chatting about the upcoming schedules and John's cast removals. It turned out that the man was going to
make a full recovery and would be walking again by the time Alli returned home. When it was finally time to end the call,
however, Holly's voice grew serious again.
Alli frowned in curiosity. "Yeah?"
with that guy."
Holly hung up before Alli could ask her to which guy she was referring, but she knew that the question
had no purpose. Even as she clicked her cell phone off and crawled beneath the blankets in her bunk, even as her eyes closed
gently with the promise of sleep, Nick's face was in her head.