"I can't believe this. Absolutely CANNOT believe this."
Time to play
"You do realize that we're on an island in the fucking Bahamas, right? I mean, we have an entire
beach outside our front door. Hell, we walk off the porch and practically into the ocean, and you want to go ice skating?!"
so it doesn't sound like the world's most brilliant idea. I'm a Backstreet Boy. What the hell do I care about being brilliant?
"Sure, why not? It's a cutesy tourist thing, and I've never gotten to play the cutesy tourist." I added a pout to
make myself look convincing, but I doubt it had any effect whatsoever. Taylor--unlike the rest of the adolescent female population--is
immune to my charms.
Sure enough, she merely arched a skeptical eyebrow at me. "You do realize that playing the cutesy
tourist requires you to be cute, right?"
"So you don't think I'm cute. Is that it?"
heavily. "I am SO not answering that."
"I don't feel like bruising any egos today, thanks."
there's a first..." I trailed off and resisted the urge to smack myself in the head. Note to self: when asking for a favor,
it's usually good to be nice to the person from whom you're requesting the favor.
My mother taught me better than this.
Really. And, somewhere in Florida, she'd be cringing if she knew that I was even mildly insulting Taylor. Luckily for my mother,
Taylor doesn't need a defensive line. She protects herself well enough without any help at all. This, as you can imagine,
is just dandy for me. Especially when she's giving me and the ice rink ahead a seriously skeptical look like the one she had
on at that very moment.
"So, remind me of the logic in this again?"
"It'll be fun."
She groaned. "That's
not logic, Age, that's a hypothesis. Besides, when you guess, you're rarely right. You're going to need a reason more substantial
than 'it'll be fun' if you're serious about dragging my ass onto that ice when I could be tanning on the beach."
smiled hopefully. "No one will recognize me here?"
She batted her eyelashes at me in surprise. "But, AJ, what if someone
I rolled my eyes. So sue me. I know I'm supposed to be nice and patient, but even the
sexiest of Backstreet Boys has to have some kind of breaking point.
"Quit being a smartass, okay? You'll have a good
Have I mentioned lately how IMPOSSIBLE the female population is? "Or I'll get you drunk as fuck
and you won't have to remember any of this."
"Will I be right next to a humongous truck in a two-car garage?"
but if you keep going at this rate, I will break both your legs." *
"But then how could I ice skate?"
girls. Really. No guy should ever have to deal with anyone remotely as moody as women. It's suspicious enough that they can
bleed for five days without dying, but the fact that they can change moods in under three seconds? That's bordering on exorcism.
THERE'S an idea. I could cast Taylor in the Exorcist sequel! That way, at least I can make money off of the fact
that she can be impossible to handle.
"Are you pissed at me?"
you off? "No, Tails, I'm not pissed. I'm just...I really think we'll have fun, okay?"
She smiled softly. It used to
be a rare thing, but she had been doing it a lot more of late. "Okay. I was just teasing."
I rolled my eyes and slung
an easy arm around her shoulder. Don't ask why, but it's always easier for me to be physical. Especially with Taylor.
not a good thing, is it?
"I know, babe."
"Well, okay, maybe it wasn't just teasing..."
up in surprise and, finally, it was my turn to arch a skeptical eyebrow. Ha-HA! Take that, oh ye mighty queen of cynicism!
squirmed. "I'm not exactly the most coordinated person in the world, and I know you're a dancer and all, but I can't move
around for the life of me on solid ground, let alone on skates. I just know I'm going to fall flat on my face and make a complete
ass out of myself, and then I'll attract attention and we'll get mauled and I'll never be able to face the world again because
I'll just be 'that chick with AJ who fell on her ass' and that's NOT a good reputation for a bartender from New York City
to live with."
Aside from the fact that Taylor is ridiculously cute when she's nervous and rambling like an idiot,
I should tell you that I love how she says that "we'll get mauled" and not "you'll get mauled". Sure, she's not a part of
the whole Backstreet thing, but it's nice to have a little reassurance that she's not going to leave me to rot in the midst
of a group of screaming girls, you know? Gotta love friendly support.
"I know I sound paranoid, okay?
I just don't particularly enjoy looking like I'm retarded."
"And I swear, AJ, if I fall down a thousand
times and people start laughing at me, I'll kick your ass all the way across the Caribbean Sea. Don't think I won't..."
doubt that one for a second. "Taylor!"
Finally, my protests registered enough that she stopped rambling and looked
innocently up at me.
"You're not retarded, okay? Contrary to popular belief, I'm not all too hot when
it comes to ice skating either, but I think it could be fun for us to hang around and goof off for awhile. I have to be polished
and put together all the time, and I get sick of it every now and then. Sometimes, I like to look retarded."
mean the video for 'Quit Playing Games' didn't satisfy your quota for the rest of eternity?"
I groaned aloud. See,
when I first met Tails, she didn't know too much about the Backstreet boys. This was, initially, a beautiful thing. However,
I talk about the group and our experiences so much that she eventually needed to be educated. Usually, I enjoy talking to
the educated Taylor about my career.
I knew I was going to regret showing her those old videos, though. I just knew
it. Funny how that wasn't enough to keep me from letting her see the term "beefcake" in its greatest known personification.
should mention now that I still wonder if Kevin made that word up. It sounds too Kentucky to be universal slang.
more than 'Coyote Ugly' dignified your profession."
Score one for me! For once in my life, I've managed to make a witty
retort that topped Taylor's.
"You're just jealous because, even after so many years as the Backstreet bartender, you
still can't spin a bottle like those chicks could."
I give up. Officially. I'm never going to be as smart as Taylor.
It's okay, though, because I will always be strong enough to pick her up when that mouth of hers gets to be too difficult
to deal with. That thought in mind, I abandoned the notion of a retort, lifted her into the air, and began walking towards
the entrance of the ice rink.
"What the hell?!"
I know Taylor's no vocalist, but if she were to train, I bet
she could rival Mariah on those high notes. When she's pissed, she hits octaves known only to dogs and very small birds.
carrying you. No complaints--this way, you don't have to walk."
"This way, you might drop me. No offense, AJ, but you're
kind of scrawny, and I'm not the smallest thing in the world."
No, you're beautiful just the way you are. Now, if you'd
only quit insulting my lack of muscle capacity, we'd be cool...
complied long enough for me to buy us a pair of tickets and skates, but as soon as she was laced up and balanced against the
railing that marked the rink's entrance, she started freaking out again.
"I'm going to fall flat on my ass."
chuckled at the pure terror in her tone. "Join the club."
She shook her head at me, eyes wide. "No, you don't understand.
My ass is going to be black and blue. We're talking worse than your CD cover. I won't have an ass anymore. It'll just be one,
big bruise. It'll look like a two year old's splatter-paint project."
I laughed, because there wasn't anything else
I could do in that situation. "Taylor, I adore you. I think you're a nut. However, I also think you're being melodramatic."
And, with that, I wrapped my arm around her waist and shoved her out onto the ice with me.
She wasn't too bad, really.
For someone who's lived in the northeast all her life, she's a horrible skater, but she managed to slide along for at least
five or six feet before her feet flew out from under her and her butt connected with the ice.
I tried to stifle my
laughter, but it was hopeless. She looked so funny sitting there and glaring at me that I couldn't help but giggle.
looked up with a grin. "Ma'am?"
"What the hell was that for?"
"I figured you'd be better off if we just got
it over with. Now that you've fallen, you can quit worrying about it."
I bit my lip to keep from
smiling again. "Makes perfect sense, right?"
"I don't know about that," she began, slowly shaking her head. "It does
I winced. I was amused, yes, but I'm not a complete masochist. I could clearly see that the reaction
was not going to be a good one. "I'm sorry?"
"No, you're not now," she countered, an evil smile gracing her lips, "but
you will be."
Suddenly, I started to wish that I could skate. Instead of making a stealthy escape, though, I ended
up crashing into the railing and trying to pull my way around the rink. I'm talented and resourceful like that, see. Fortunately,
it took Taylor a few minutes to get up, so she didn't catch up with me as quickly as she could've.
she eventually caught me. Well, caught isn't exactly the right word. More like she tackled me. We ended up in a tangle of
limbs on the ice. Guess whose butt found the surface first?
Right. Mine. Anyone who says payback isn't a bitch is sadly,
sadly mistaken. Either that, or they've never been ice skating before.
For those who are wondering, we spent the first
half hour on the ice chasing each other around the rink and falling down, in that order. By our tenth collective spill, though,
we both agreed that it was time we actually attempt to move without sliding around the edges of the rink, propelling ourselves
forward with arm strength alone.
Oddly enough, Taylor let go of the railing first.
Allow me to explain the significance
of this. When it comes to girls, I'm used to being the one to let go first. Hell, I'm used to being the one to do everything
first. Maybe that's because I'm also used to dating head cases and hesitancy, but I'm usually the only one with courage enough
to move forward. That's the way it works in my life, though--not just in relationships. When it came to the Boys, I was the
first to let go of the group dynamic and try something solo. Sure it was a mini-tour for charity, but I was the only one who
dared to deviate from the norm. I'm used to making the first step--the first tattoo, the first piercing, the first fight with
the record company, the first to be honest about my fame-induced alcoholism.
Wow, it's deep in here.
with Taylor, I'm no longer the one blazing the trail. I think that's what I like about her. She moves forward without inhibitions,
and I'm just sitting there watching her because I can't help but be transfixed.
I let go only seconds after she did,
but I know by instinct that I never command the attention that she does. She's got a casual confidence, and I've got a manufactured
arrogance that's rough around the edges and sexy enough to sell a record or two.
Hers is the more beautiful every damn
time. When she looked back at me and smiled, I noticed immediately that she was the brightest thing in the room and wondered
why the hell I always choose the most inconvenient moments to be sentimental.
"AJ? You coming?"
I smirked. "Not
She rolled her eyes. "You're such a pervert. You do know there are kids here, right?"
"Had no clue,
babe. I was too busy watching you."
Her eyes moved skyward again, but she was smiling that time. "Think you can tear
your gaze away long enough to try and find your footing?"
Damn, double-meaning kills me. I'm always the only one to
notice it, too.
"Sure thing, chick. Just give me a second to figure out which foot goes first."
"Why don't you just follow me?"
I gladly obliged.