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

April 18, 2008


Now I'm the one that's sorry for the delay. Things have been a bit crazy around here lately, and I haven't had much of a moment to sit down. Poor Little D has an ear infection, and I haven't been able to get him safely in bed until now. Laynie and Rooster are in the back, chasing each other around, and Howie's in LA working on a record for one of the artists he's producing.

I know I sound like a pathetic housewife saying this, but I absolutely hate it when he leaves.

Anyway, enough of my whining. You sent me quite an interesting letter, and while I'm glad to see the positive twist in your life taking place (and glad to have spoken to you on the phone the other day), I do have to comment on it.

So Nick's being a sweetheart again, is he? I'm so happy for you, hon. You know that I want nothing more than for you and Nicky to have a fairy tale ending. However, you also know that it's my role as your best friend to be the level head in an otherwise sky-high experience.

Be cautious, Jules. I love you to death, hon, and I don't want to see you get hurt by Nick again. I'm thrilled that he's being the person he used to be, and even more thrilled that you two took the time to talk things out, but I want you to be careful where Nick is concerned. He loves you and you love him, but the wounds that you two have inflicted on each other take time to heal, and I don't want either of you rushing into something that you'll regret later.

And another thing. You mentioned the cause of Nick's discontent in the letter--the demise of Backstreet. No, it definitely doesn't surprise me. Honestly, I don't know how they've all dealt with it for so long without trying to make amends. It was such a stupid argument anyway, and it just doesn't seem right that something so simple could have destroyed such a complex bond among so many people.

Ah, well. I'm a bit worried about these boys of ours, Jules. After watching Howie attempt to cope with the blowout, I can tell you that it's not such a pretty picture. What happened between those five has affected them all very deeply, and I only hope that you and Nick can get past everything he's endured. If you ever need anything, you know my number. I've dealt with a Backstreet Boy in mourning, and I'd be glad to help if I can. You're on my mind constantly, as is your situation. I'm so sorry that Nick blames himself, though. Howie was the same way for so long...I just wish they could all sit down civilly and talk to each other. All of this tension isn't good for any of them, and it isn't good for you or your marriage, either.

On that note: marriage counseling sounds like a really, really good idea. I know how hesitant you are to share feelings--and you know how much I'm NOT the same way, lol--but I really think that both you and Nick could benefit from getting everything out in the open. It sounds like communication has been difficult for you two, and counseling could help that. However, be cautious, and don't let yourself get too vulnerable. I don't want him to hurt you again.

Listen to me. I sound like your mother. Hell, I sound like MY mother. I guess having children puts a different spin on the world. Of course, it's quite a beautiful spin, and I'm so, so, so happy to have the children around. God blessed Howie and I so much. Sometimes, it's too hard to believe, and I catch myself waiting for the sky to fall down on us.

You know me. I can never take a good thing at face value. So don't take it personally when I tell you to be careful. You know I'm just looking out for my best friend and her baby-to-be.

Now, enough of my pragmatic attitude. I'm the best friend, dammit, and I get to be gushy every now and then. Prepare yourself.

YOU FELT THE BABY KICK?! Awwww... I am so, so, so very glad that you and Nick were together to feel it. That first kick is so, so incredible, and the fact that you were there together makes it perfect as well. Jules, it sounds like something out of a wildly romantic novel. I'm grinning like mad as I write this, just thinking about how something so wonderful brought you and Nick together again. That hasn't even been born yet, and already it's fixing problems. ;-) Seems to be taking after its mother already, doesn't it?

I'm also glad that the sex was good. *laughs* I think you needed that to release some of that sexual frustration I've been hearing so much about. From the looks of Nick, I'm sure he's absolutely wonderful with things like that. Is he still as gorgeous as he used to be? I know Howie is. The man still does his sit-ups every night...can you believe it? Laynie told him the other day that he had a "hopscotch stomach" and I about died laughing. Poor, poor Howie. Kids say the funniest things sometimes, though.

You asked, and now you're going to get to hear all about it--yes, I miss Howie dearly. He calls every night to let me know how things are going, but the phone calls are getting shorter as the trips get longer. He's just so tired lately...I really think he's starting to work himself too hard again. We have discussions about this every so often just so that Howie can keep his health in perspective. I'm sure you remember from the Backstreet days, but...Howie can be quite the workaholic when he lets himself get involved. He hadn't been home from New York for a week before he left for Sweden, and when he returned from that trip, he spent the entire day asleep in the bedroom. It's not like him, Jules...and, honestly, it's starting to scare me a little.

Now, you've been dropping hints about your sex life, and while I'm not usually the kiss-and-tell type, I've got to tell you something. Howie and I have a little game we play when he leaves like this. When he finally gets home, I put on a front to be angry with him because I hate it so much when he's gone. Of course, Howie plays along, arguing and then groveling. And then comes the inevitable make-up sex...which is, as expected, completely incredible. These past few trips, though, he's been too tired for the make-up sex tradition, and he's under the sheets before I can even toss a pout or a frown in his direction.

Maybe I'm just being a mother hen again, but he really does worry me when he gets this tired. We had to put him in the hospital a few years ago for exhaustion, and I don't want it to happen again. He promised me that he'd take care of himself, Jules, but I don't think he's living up to his end of the bargain anymore, and I'm starting to wonder if there's a reason that he's suddenly working so hard.

Enough of that. I'm starting to work myself into frantic mode again, and then Laynie will be in here wondering what the hell is wrong with me. The child has a sixth sense about things like that, and as wonderful as it can be at times, there are just certain things that she doesn't need to know. Same for Little D. I could definitely stand Rooster in here, though. It's truly sad how much I rely on that dog for company when Howie's gone. I think it's my affinity for dogs, though. Howie's constantly teasing me about leaving him for Rooster. He's weird like that.

On to happier times, mentioned reminiscing. The other night, when Howie called, we were talking about the way things used to be, just for the hell of it. There's so much that we remember, and so many good times we had. He made me promise to watch home videos with him one night when he finally gets back. Every now and then, he gets in those moods where he needs to surround himself with the old ways. Usually, I'm more than happy to oblige. It puts me in a reflective/dramatic mood, and I usually end up spending the night by the computer, typing away at the latest book. Thankfully, I've got a husband who understands my bizarre work-by-inspiration theories. ;-)

I have to comment on you and Nick writing a song together...that is the cutest thing I have heard in a LONG time, sweetie. You should send me a copy! I'd love to hear how you and Nick sound together, and I would be absolutely ecstatic to hear a duet between you two end up on the CD. The best are those night-long sessions in the studio, where you're both inspired and willing to work until the job is done. Howie and I have spent more nights downstairs in the studio, with me scribbling lyrics onto a sheet of paper while he plays a melody on the piano or strums idly on the guitar. We don't write together as often as I'd like, but when we do, there's just something magical about the evening. Those men were made for the music, whether they want to acknowledge it now or not, and to see them in connection with their element is a very beautiful thing.

Thank you so much for passing my number on to Leighanne. I actually spoke with her yesterday and got a bit of the gossip. Apparently Brian has taken everything the hardest, or at least with the most violent temper. It surprises me, because I remember all of the times when AJ or Nick would throw an all-out fit on their buses, but Brian has definitely taken the cake. He's forbidden Leighanne to keep pictures of the way things that not totally insane? I did ask her if she knew a way that I could get Kevin's or Kristin's number. I always loved the two of them together, and I really want to help them. Kevin and I used to get along well. I figured that maybe I could see what went wrong between them before he starts to screw up his life the way that AJ almost did.

Anyway. No more talk about Backstreet for me. Well, not for now, at least. I'm sure it'll come up again. For now, I'm just worried about getting the kids to bed.

It's getting dark, and I really, really, really hate being alone at night. Something about the whole fear-of-the-dark part of me that never quite left. Maybe, if Howie hasn't had too difficult a day, he'll sing me to sleep tonight. The man's voice is still like fine silk on your skin. He makes me feel safe when he sings.

I hope Nick makes you feel that way again. Jules. Most importantly, I hope it doesn't stop. I want you to be happy, hon. I want you both to be happy.

Texas accent...I have NO southern accent, thank you very much. J Howie, the children, and I spent the majority of the summer in London, and I got accused again and again of turning British on him. Apparently, there are lingering traces of the British accent still left. I think it has to do with my semesters there more than it does that summer. At any rate, the children are slowly picking up bits and pieces. "Rubbish" has become Laynie's favorite word, and according to Howie, it's all my fault.

I have the most wonderfully abnormally normal family, I swear. My children are ridiculously simple when compared to the complex environment in which they live. In all honesty, it scares me a bit sometimes. I worry that we're going to turn into some horrid version of the Osbornes, like my house was growing up.

*shakes head* It's amazing how different we are from our families, isn't it? Speaking of families, though, I'm going to have to leave you here. The phone's begun to ring, and it's probably Howie on the line. He tends to call at the children's bedtime so he can tell them goodnight. Then he'll call me back an hour later when I'm tucked in bed so that we can talk like a married couple should.

Everything is so perfect now, Jules. I'm worried that everything's about to fall apart. Maybe it's my ridiculous habit of waiting for dreadful things to happen, or maybe it's that damned premonition again, but...I'm a little paranoid. It's almost too good to be true.

At any rate, that's my love on the line, so I'll be leaving you now. ;-) Have a wonderful evening, and do keep in touch. You're in my thoughts and prayers as always.

All my love,