"Hey, lady, over here! I need another! And my, don you look purdy..."
Good Lord, I needed a vacation...
"Look, dude, I think you've had enough..."
I needed a tape recorder. That way, I could just set it on the bar, and let it roll over and over and I wouldn't ever have
to repeat that stupid phrase again...
"Nuh-huh! I ain't done yet!"
I arched an eyebrow. "What's my name, then,
I rolled my eyes. "Okay, you're done. Water or Sprite?"
"I wanna drink!"
and I want a break. We don't always get what we want.
It then occurred to me--not for the first time, mind you--that
drunk men are like three-year-olds.
No, scratch that. They're like toddlers.
one, okay?" I handed his scotch on the rocks to him carefully. I don't know why I bothered, though, because he spilled it
the moment I let go.
"Thank yas, Taylor."
Oh, NOW they remember my name...
"Do the sherry?"
didn't even have to ask to know what he was talking about. Without any further prodding, I took the marischino cherry out
of his drink and bit off the end, chewing it carefully before putting the stem in my mouth. When I stuck my tongue out to
reveal the stem, tied in a knot, he applauded happily.
"Thas it! Thas it! You rock my worls, Taylor."
a hand through my brown hair and sighed. I'm not usually like this, see. I really do like my job, I just get tired sometimes.
And finals were just about over, so I had been cramming in between shifts and attempting to gain some kind of knowledge from
my co-workers. In fact, I'd been studying like crazy and going batty trying to juggle all of that crap. I could have a boyfriend--a
shoulder to lean on, a friend to study with--but I spend too much time around men as it is. I don't need a boyfriend. I have
a best friend. Nevermind that he hadn't called me in three weeks...
I wasn't bitter. I really wasn't. I was just jealous,
because he was stressed out too, and I didn't have anyone to vent with. Just...
"Di! Thank God! Can you take over
for me for three seconds? I'd stay a bit longer, but my head's going to explode, and then you'll have to clean up brain bits
after your job tonight."
She laughed at me. She does that a lot, actually. Somehow, Diana manages to stay totally
stress free, despite the fact that she has to keep a much tighter schedule than I do. See, Diana is the other loyal best friend.
We've known each other forever, and close friends know us as Heads and Tails. I'm Tails, because it's a short version of Taylor,
and she's Heads because she's a genius. She only works at the bar so that she can earn enough money to keep her in school.
She's way ahead of me, and her courses probably cost three times what mine do. So she's Heads. Of course, my other best friend--the
one that didn't deserve a name because he was ignoring me right then--calls her Heads for an entirely different reason. Why?
Well, we'll just say that, since the bar job doesn't always cut it, Diana performs sexual favors on the side for a pricey
sum...and buys textbooks. I think it's pretty cool that she's willing to go to any lengths for an education. My other best
friend...he just thinks it's funny.
Diana chose that moment to smile at me. "Tails, you're in luck, chica. You've
got a phone call."
I groaned. "Who the hell would call me at work? Don't they know that I can't hear a damn thing?"
She just laughed again. "Trust me, when you find out who it is, you aren't gonna care."
I rolled my eyes again.
"I'm going to take your word for it. Cover me."
I walked back into the break room and over to the phone, kicking the
vending machine on the way. A bottle of water slid out (old trick) and I took that with me to the phone and the couch. Then,
I kicked back, popped the bottle open, and picked up the receiver.
"Who the hell is this?"
A raspy chuckle
answered. "Look, Tay? I think you've had enough..."
Okay, so he had a better phone record now. He'd called within
the last five seconds. However, he's got really bad timing...like, REALLY bad.
"Bite me, AJ."
"Damn, you really
missed me that much?"
"I wouldn't have to miss you if you'd actually call me," I returned hotly, and he sighed.
I could've, I would've, believe me. I haven't had a moment to breathe. I was seriously turning blue. They let me out because
they were scared that I'd faint...and I ran to the phone to call you."
He's cute, he's goofy, and...he's completely
unfair. Because I wasn't pissed at him anymore.
"How's the tour going?"
His heavy sigh told me that he was
ready for it to be over. "It's still going, unfortunately for me. This has to be the most grueling one yet. I've barely slept
I groaned. "Yeah, tell me about it. Finals are killing me. I mean, I'm a freaking senior, so you'd think
that I'd be used to it, but everything hit really hard this year."
"Yeah, I know."
He did know. When I had
first met AJ, it was in the very bar that I work in now...only he was one of the many that I was serving. I got to know him
through his visits, and he--much to my chagrin--got to know me. Of course, he recognized a problem in his own behavior and
cleaned himself up. I'm proud of him. Really proud, actually. While he was going through his mess, he kept talking to me,
and I kept talking back. We started listening to each other until we realized that we understood each other.
we married with flowers blooming and birds singing and lived happily ever after. Good God, when did I get so sappy?
though, he's my best friend. He cares without smothering, and he understands without prodding...well, without prodding too
much. But he only prods because he cares, and that's why I love him.
And, of course, one way of showing the love is
to avoid spacing out during a phone conversation, right?
"Well, I just figure that the holidays are coming up, and
looking forward to Christmas keeps me sane."
I could hear the smile in his voice. "Oh? No more coal in the stocking?
Has Taylor been a good girl this year, then?"
I rolled my eyes. "I've probably been better than you've been, J. Lord
knows what you and your pretty boys have been up to this time around."
His response came in the form of a soulful
song. "Well, we all come tumbling down...No matter how strong, we all return to the ground..."
Immediately, my coy
smirk faded to a frown. "It's been that long already, huh?"
He sighed heavily. "Babe, you have no idea how ready I
am to get out of here. I love the guys, and I love the road, but I can only last for so long before I just get tired."
smiled sympathetically into the phone. "Just so you know, I'm giving you a hug right now."
"You feel my pain?" he
teased, and I laughed.
"Most definitely, dude. You're breaking up my heart."
His raspy laughter filled my
ears. "Well, in that case, I'm hugging you back right now...just so you know."
I grinned at his goofiness like a freaking
teenybopper would've. See, that's the thing about AJ--he can make me feel like a kid again. "Well, aside from hugging me,
what are you planning to do for the holidays?"
He sounded suspicious. "Why, girlie? Are you planning on stalking me?"
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, yeah, man, I was going to grab my teenybopper friends and raid your house for half-eaten toast
so I could make thousands like that idiot that sold Justin's toast! I figure that, like, since you're AJ of the Backstreet
Boys and all, it'll go for way more."
He laughed. "Girl, I refuse to pay your tuition with my breakfast leftovers,
"But AJ," I whined. "What're friends for?"
"Well, see, friends are for spending the holidays together
at a mega-cool hangout on some island in the Bahamas..."
I groaned. "Okay, you know what? You are so not funny, Mr.
Backstreet Boy. If I had friends that invited me for holidays at some mega-cool beach hangout, I wouldn't even be talking
I could hear him smirking over the phone, I swear. "Guess it's lucky that I asked you to my mega-cool beach
hangout first then, huh?"
I nearly dropped the phone. "McLean, you're not funny anymore. You may have the opportunity
to go to the Bahamas with your boyfriends, but I'm stuck in Jersey with the grandparents again. Quit teasing and just agree
to send me a postcard, okay?"
"I wouldn't have to send you a postcard if you'd just agree to come with me, you stubborn
punk. Am I going to have to come and kick you out of that bar, stuff you in my suitcase, and shove you under the seat in front
of me to get you to come?"
I squealed. I know I squealed. I squealed like a freaking girl. Better yet, like one of
AJ's freaking teenyboppers. "You are SO kidding me!"
He laughed. "I am SO not! Seriously, Tay, why the hell do you
think I called? I need a vacation like a crack addict needs a hit, girl, and there's no one else I'd rather spend it with."
I was speechless, to say the least. "Aw, J, I feel the love, but what about your mom?"
He sighed. "She actually
wanted us to do Christmas with the Doroughs this year, but I really need some down time. I love my mother more than anything--you
know I do--but I don't think I could take a house full of Howie's relatives. They'd wink me into oblivion, and I'd start to
wonder why no one ever got mad at anyone else, and..."
I was laughing too hard for him to continue. I'd met Howie
on numerous occasions because he is AJ's best friend, but the idea of a house full of Howies was hilarious. "Okay, okay, I
get the picture...don't make me puke, please. I just got Di to stop watching Brady Bunch re-runs in front of me."
chuckled at the mention of Diana, and I braced myself for the expected sarcastic comment. "How is old Heads? Studying hard,
I take it?"
I groaned. "No harder than I am, that's for sure. I really need a break, J."
"Tay, believe me
when I tell you that I feel your pain."
I rolled my eyes. "You're mocking me, you dork."
He sounded indignant.
"I am not! I'm, like, the epitome of sincerity. I'm the king of genuity! Just believe me, Tay..."
My eyebrows rose.
"Where the hell did you find a dictionary?"
He was ignoring me, though, singing one of his sporadic songs again. You've
got to know AJ. He sings everywhere. You'd think that, having a career with it and all, the guy would get sick of belting
out tunes for public approval, but he never shuts up.
"I believe in you and me. I believe that we could be..."
together in the Bahamas?" I said hopefully, and he cut the song off immediately.
"Does that mean you'll go with me?
Please, Tay, I promise you'll have fun. I'll carry you over the damn threshold, okay? I'll make you breakfast, I won't let
any of the guys bother us, I'll let you sleep in as late as you want, I'll let you play in the ocean..."
as he kept pledging to do various things to entertain me. "Yo, J, you could've stopped at 'I'll let you play in the ocean.'
I mean, if I get to splash around in the water, I'm totally sold."
He sounded surprised. "You mean you don't care
about leaving your grandparents alone for the holidays?"
I laughed again. "And miss a chance to torture you, who hasn't
called me in three weeks? Babe, you're nuts. I'm going to make you sick of me."
"Couldn't happen if you tried!" AJ
sang out cheerfully. "Listen, Tay, I'm really not kidding about this Christmas in the Bahamas thing. I rented this little
bungalow and everything. I really, really want to have a nice private holiday without all of the hustle and bustle of the
read world this year, you know what I mean?"
If he only knew how much I knew...
"Yeah, dude, I hear you. And,
much as I hate the thought of leaving everyone on Christmas, a break sounds really nice."
"So we're on?!"
had to laugh. He sounded like a little boy at...well, Christmas.
"Yeah, J, we're on. Just let me finish finals first,
and you go get through the rest of that tour thing you do, okay?"
He groaned. "Yeah, yeah. Completely ruin my mood
by reminding me about work, why don't you? You know what? Go do that cherry thing you do and I'll catch you later."
couldn't resist getting a dig in. "Not three weeks later this time?"
I knew he was getting angry at
the thought of the tour, so I made a retarded attempt to smooth things over. "'Cause you can't do that this time, you know.
I know that this tour ends in New York, and I'm expecting you to come and carry me out of my roach-infested apartment and
into a happy little plane flying to the beach."
He smiled. "Babe, you have so got yourself a deal. I'm all excited
I laughed. "You're not the only one. AJ, this is really awesome of you to do."
His voice got softer
all of a sudden. "Yeah, well, I owe you one."
I knew the tone, and I hated him using it. "No you don't. Friends are
friends are friends..."
"And that's what friends are for," AJ recited dully. He'd heard my speech before, obviously.
Of course, it's not like I preach to the people I love or anything. I'm just a very impressionable person. I talk, and people
"Do you know how many times you've said that to me this past year?"
Okay, so maybe not. "Funny how
it still hasn't sunk in yet."
"Oh, whine, whine. Go sell drinks to the drunks and tie a few cherry stems for me."
I made a face. "I'm sticking my tongue out at you."
"You won't be for long. I'll be thinking of you when I
sing all of our sappy love songs tonight."
"You're grossing me out," I retorted, and he laughed.
babe, I've got to go, but I love ya, okay? Take care, and I'll be in touch."
"Night, Age. Thanks for hooking me up
for the holidays."
"Pleasure's mine, babe," he shot back, and then he was gone. I stared at the phone for a few minutes
before a newspaper landed across my head.
"Quit daydreaming, babe! You've got work to do! They're all calling for
I looked up to see Diana smirking at me. Go figure, right? Back to work. "Okay, okay, I'm coming."
did the charming freak have to say for himself?" she asked as we made our way out of the break room. Diana and AJ have a love-hate
"Not much...but I'm going away for the holidays."
I grinned. "Yup. J and I are
going to the beach."
Diana rolled her eyes and swatted me with the paper again. "You are so not fair, you know that?
I work my ass off with you, and then the Backstreet Boy comes to take you away. You sure you couldn't hook me up with one
I laughed. "Which one would I hook you up with?"
Before I could respond,
however, I was forced to join Diana in breaking up some stupid bar fight. Another night at work. One look at the rowdy crowd,
and I knew I wouldn't get to study that night.
It didn't matter as much, though. Thanks to the ignorant best friend,
I now had something to look forward to.