Standard Lines
Chapter Four
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve

February 2, 2008


I have never, ever, in my entire life seen three people so excited about Groundhog Day. Howie, Laynie, and Little D have been sitting in front of the television together since six-thirty this morning trying to figure out if winter is going to be longer because they love the snow so much. I swear, my husband is worse than the kids. He's even gotten the dog riled up--Rooster's been barking all morning at this poor little squirrel in the tree by the bay window. The poor thing is scared stiff. I don't think it understands that Rooster can't get it while he's inside, but...ah, well. I have a letter to reply to, don't I?

It sounds like you might need another two weeks of winter, what with all the sarcasm in that last letter. I'm sorry about the lack of a state-of-the-art husband you're experiencing. Maybe they're having a special at Walmart today? I mean, they've got to have instructions on how to make one at least, right? You can take Nick to look. You can even pick him up some decent clothes while you're at it! Is he still as fashionably clueless as he was before the great disaster known as the Backstreet Break-up?

And you think you're the bitter one. ;-) Aren't we a pair? Two grumpy old ladies bickering about a prick of a man who happens to have stuck a ring on your finger. I was serious about that ass-kicking thing, you know. I could take him. Even if he did just turn twenty-eight. You'll have to let me know how the birthday celebrations went. Maybe, if we get lucky, someone will have accidentally shoved a firecracker up his ass.

That was mean, wasn't it? Pretend I didn't say that. Instead, I'll just continue to comment on the rest of your letter while my children play Ring Around the Rosie with their child of a father. Judging by the happy-go-lucky scene in my living room, I'm guessing that the poor groundhog saw his shadow. Either that, or the poor thing saw Rooster and made a mad dash for his hole.

I love my life.

Anyway, back to yours. I'm glad that you finally gave Nick the good news, but I'm absolutely appalled that he didn't take it to be good news. Jules, I am so sorry about his attitude. I can't believe he would accuse you of getting pregnant just to hinder his success! You know that's bullshit, right? Tell me you know that he's just being a jerk about this. I hope to God that he straightens up soon, but I hope even more that you don't start taking his bitter words to heart. I know how much you two love each other (yes, present tense...I'm of the belief that love doesn't fade, it just gets distracted. Cupid seems like he'd probably be ADD anyway.), and I know that you have a tendency to be your own worst critic, but he's not worth listening to right now. Instead, focus on what makes you happy. You always did look prettier with a smile on, as Howie would say.

Keep smiling through, Jules, but do NOT, under ANY circumstances, let him hit you. If he comes close to smacking you again, promise me that you'll leave. Nobody needs to take that kind of physical abuse, Jules, especially since he already seems to be shelling out his fair share of mental degradation. You don't need that, and if he's going to be that way, then you don't need him either. I'm not an advocate of divorce by any means, Jules, but I don't want you to be a martyr just because he loves you and you love him. Martyrs are martyrs because they die for their cause, and they lose their chance at finding a life away from persecution. Do NOT let yourself get so caught up in believing in him that you lose sight of where your boundaries are. I hate to say it, but I'm glad you slapped him. I think he needed to know that you're planning to stick up for yourself.

Jules...are you sure that the "it" is gone? I know better than anyone, hon, but...I guess I just can't see you and Nick without the "it". If there ever existed a couple that had "it", that couple was the two of you. You were so in love, Jules...what the hell is wrong with him that he can't see that? Don't let him make it out to be your fault, sweetie. Nick seems like he's in another place entirely right now. I'm just sorry that he's causing you so much pain. I wish I could take it away from you, Jules. No one deserves to go through that. But, at the same time, I can't see Nick staying that way. As much as the kid used to drive me crazy, the force with which he loved you always made me smile. I can't see that dying, no matter how violent he's gotten. Love like doesn't just die, hon. I don't think it can. In fact, I know it can't. And Howie is the perfect example.

Last night, it was his responsibility to put the twins to bed, right? Well, see, Howie doesn't read like I do, with all of the different voices and all of the exciting dips and turns. Instead, he sings the kids to sleep. I had just finished washing dishes when I heard him begin, and so I crept up the stairs just to listen for awhile. Jules...he was sitting in a plastic chair between their twin beds, staring at the ceiling and singing "Spanish Eyes" with more passion that I thought he was capable of conveying in so few notes. It broke my heart. I think that, out of all of them, Howie regrets what happened the most. He depended on it the most. Now, he just depends on us and the music.

There are days when I wonder if there was any fairness at all to the way things ended.

But, alas, I digress. We were talking about your love life.

You were not destined to be divorced, either. Do NOT pull that shit with me. If you want to know how fate can change through generations, take a look at my family. Howie's clan may be a big part of the Partridge Era, but my family is closer to the Osbournes than the Brady Bunch. I came this far...and you can salvage your marriage.

Speaking of salvaging marriages...

I cannot believe that Kevin and Kristin called it quits. They were always so happy together! Howie and I used to joke about how they were a match made in heaven because they always seemed to share the same views on everything. Of course, it only makes sense that the break-up of Backstreet would've affected Kevin so heavily. He was, after all, the glue that held them together.

God, I hate how much they were able to destroy in just one afternoon of thoughtless screaming. I wonder if the rest of them understand the magnitude of what they lost that day.

Please, please, please, give Leighanne my number. I'd love to talk to her and hear how Baylee is doing. You said she was pregnant again...I'm so glad to know that she and Brian made it. It makes sense, though. From the very day they got married, Brian centered himself in Leigh as opposed to centering himself in the group. At the time, I remember how much it bothered all of us, but now, I can't help but wonder if he was smart for doing it. Brian always did have that hidden foresight.

I'm also thrilled to hear the news about AJ and Sarah. Those two were perfect for each other from the very beginning, and I'm beyond glad to know that AJ was able to rectify his mistakes and get on with his life. AJ always did have the uncanny ability to erase his shit and start over. I kept thinking that he'd be the one to bring the group back together, but that's the optimist in me. I think Howie was counting on AJ's persistency and strength to endure, but...nothing lasts forever, I guess. Nothing except love. And, that said, I'm glad that AJ and Sarah found each other again. Those two definitely deserve to be happy.

I don't think I realized until I read all of the latest gossip just how much I've missed everyone. But I do, Jules. I really, really miss what was there. Don't get me wrong--I love where I am right now. I just miss having really, really close friends to share it with. I miss getting to show my paradise to people who know the kind of hellhole I came from.

Ah, well. I'm out. I did it. I have children (pictures of whom are in the mail with this little letter. Tell me how beautiful they are, okay?). I have a loving husband. And, now, I have my best friend back. I hope you know how much these letters mean to me. And you got to be the first to talk to everyone again, so don't give me shit about being the first one to get pregnant. *laughs* Besides, they don't call Howie the Latin Lover for nothing, you know. He quite lives up to the reputation. ;-)

Anyway. I'm going to get off track again if I'm not careful, and I promised the kids that I'd help with the snowman's wife today, so I'm due outside soon. I just want to wish you good luck with the doctor's appointment. By the time you get this, you will have already gone, so be sure to give me all the details. Should we live any closer together, I would've joined you. As it is, though, I want you to keep me posted on how everything is coming along. Give your mother a hug for me. I always did love the way she would come in and save the day. Lord knows that with a son-in-law like Nick Carter, she needs her survival instincts. I'm just glad that she's there to take care of you, because you need someone who can give your hand a squeeze when you get scared.

Meanwhile, I'm tucking your number in my datebook. Don't be surprised if you get a phone call from me sometime. It's nice to know that your records will be totally absent of Nick's fingerprints. As for the snail mail...I like to think of letter-writing as more sophisticated. That, and the only computer right now is the one in Howie's makeshift studio, which no one is allowed to touch. We used to have one for family purposes, but...ummm...Little D got ahold of some of the kitchen magnets and conned his sister into making pretty colors on the screen one afternoon, so that one doesn't work so well anymore.

Ah, the joys of child care. ;-) Just don't talk to Howie about the computer. He was less than thrilled.

Take care, chica, and be good to yourself. I'm thinking of you every day, and I love you dearly. Remember that, all right? And be safe! I don't want you getting into any trouble while my god son or daughter is living in your stomach. ;-)

All my love,