Secrets Kept, Lies Told

Secrets Kept, Lies Told
By Sarah
Chapter 41

    "It's so beautiful here!"  Alexa exclaimed, looking out the hotel window.  She looked up and down the street in front of the hotel at the rush hour traffic and then off in the distance, she saw the Eiffel Tower.  "Wow, there's the Eiffel Tower!"  She exclaimed, putting her nose up against the glass.
    Nick laughed.  "Yes, it's within walking distance of here.  And yes, it is beautiful here, and it looks even better at night," he said, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist.  "The lights, the moon shining above, the romantic candle-lit dinner for two," he whispered in her ear, kissing her neck between each comment.
    Alexa smiled and closed her eyes, leaning her head against Nick's chest. "Sounds wonderful."
    "I know, that's what I have planned."
    Alexa stopped Nick from kissing her and turned to face him.  "You did what?"
    "I planned a night out for you and me tomorrow, just us, the candles, and the occasional interruption by the rude French waiters," he said, smiling.
   Alexa laughed and gave him a hug.  "Oh, Nicky, you know you spoil me rotten," she said.
    "I know, its fun, I like seeing you happy," Nick said, hugging her back.
    Alexa backed away from him and looked in his eyes.  "It doesn't take much to make me happy.  I just need you."

    AJ collapsed tiredly on his bed and heard Howie close the hotel door. "I can't believe that we got stuck in all that traffic," Howie said.
    "I know, D, it was amazing that we got here before four," AJ said, not opening his eyes.  He thought of something.  "Do you know if Nick and Alexa are going out tonight?"  He asked.
    "I don't know, why do you ask?"
    "I want to show Alexa around the city, she'd love it.  And I know she'll like it the most at night.  She's a night person, a lot like me."
    "AJ, you and Alexa are so much alike, its like she's the female version of you."
    AJ laughed and sat up, pulling his suitcase over to his bed to unpack. "Scary, isn't it?  I've been wondering why she hasn't done anything outrageous like dye her hair pink or anything."
    "I don't think she'll go that far, but I heard her saying to Nick the other day that she wanted to get a rose on her back."
    AJ raised his eyebrows and stopped putting away clothes.  "She wants a tattoo?"
    "Yeah, she said that the rose would symbolize her freedom and it would have two small roses next to it, symbolizing you and Denise."
    AJ smiled and started hanging up the rest of his shirts.  "That's a pretty cool idea," he said.
    'Its really cool.  When I show her around tonight, I'll ask her about it,' AJ decided as he put his suitcase in the closet.  'Definitely.'

    Denise unpacked the rest of her clothes and glanced at the clock as she sat down.  'Six o'clock already, I hate traffic,' she thought.
    "Come in," she called as a knock sounded on her door.
    "Hey, Ma," AJ said as he walked in, pulling Alexa after him.
    "Hey you two, where are you going?"  She asked.
    "I'm gonna show Alexa around the city, ok?"  AJ suggested.
    "Yeah, he's gonna show me everything, and then we're gonna get dinner somewhere, all right, Mom?"  Alexa asked, standing next to him.
    Denise nodded and smiled.  "Sure, just don't come in too late tonight, ok?  We have stuff to do tomorrow and you won't want to get up if you go to sleep late," she warned.
    "Ok, thanks Mom!"  Alexa said, dragging AJ to the door.
    "Night, Ma, don't wait up for us!"  AJ called as he closed the door.
    Denise shook her head and laughed.  They never did what she told them to.
    'And who would blame them?  They want to have fun, let them.  They know the limits and they know how to protect themselves,' she said to herself.  'I just hope they remember to take Lonnie along.'  Denise shrugged and pulled a book out of her bag, opening it to the page she left off on.

    "You know, I always wondered something," Alexa started.
    "What's that?"  AJ asked, looking up from the menu in front of him. They'd been trying to decipher the French menu for the last ten minutes and were drudging up some long-forgotten phrases.
    "I always wondered, does it hurt to get your tattoos?"  She asked, fingering the drama masks on his left arm.
    "Not really.  It depends on where you get it and how long its gonna take and how well you can handle pain," he said, looking at his arms.
    Alexa chuckled and glanced down at her menu.  "Which one did you get most recently?"  She asked.
    AJ pointed behind him.  "A dragon on my back, I got it about a year ago. I want something else, but I don't know what, I'm running out of ideas," he said ponderously.
    Alexa nodded and went back to trying to read the menu and AJ smiled at her thoughtful expression.  He looked down at his own menu and sighed.
    "I just wish someone around here spoke both French and English so we can find out what the hell this thing says," he said.
    "I can help, I speak both," someone said.
    AJ looked up at the little girl standing next to him.  "Do you really? Can you translate what this says?"  He asked, gesturing to the menu.
    The little girl nodded.  "Yup, I've been speaking French for years and English was my first language."  She took the menu from AJ and laid it flat. "These are the appetizers, mozzarella sticks, fries, cheese fries, etc. Below are the salads and soups, then sandwiches, and then main courses, or entrees," she said, pointing to each heading.
    Alexa looked up from her menu.  "All I want is something like a cheeseburger, I didn't know French was this difficult to read."
    "Its not, once you get the hang of it.  They have a cheeseburger platter right here," the girl said, pointing to an item in the entree section.
    "Great, thanks, what's your name?"  Alexa asked, putting down her menu.
    "I'm Chrissy, and you're AJ, I know, but I don't believe I've seen you before," she said holding out her hand to Alexa.
    "My name's Alexa, nice to meet you, Chrissy.  Are you here with anyone?" Alexa asked, shaking her hand and glancing around.
    "No, I come here all the time, its pretty funny to hear the American tourists complain about their meals because they don't bother to ask what something is," Chrissy said.
    Alexa smiled and patted the seat next to her.  "Please, sit down, join us," she said after glancing at AJ.
    AJ nodded and watched as Chrissy sat down.  She was only about twelve years old, but she was incredibly grown-up for her age.  "What brings you to Paris, Chrissy?"  AJ asked, folding his menu.
    "I live here part time, for the first six months of the year I'm with my dad in the states and for the next six months, I live here with my mom and step-dad," Chrissy explained.
    "Oh, I'm sorry," Alexa said, giving Chrissy a sympathetic look.
    "Its all right, I kinda like it this way, at least my parents don't fight anymore, and being in two different countries gives some variety to life," Chrissy explained, looking straight at Alexa.
    AJ smiled.  'She reminds me so much of Alexa, always looking on the bright side of things.'
    "If you don't mind me asking, AJ, you two look an awful lot alike," Chrissy said, looking back and forth between the brother and sister.
    'Damn, knew it was too good to last,' AJ thought.  "There's a reason for that," AJ started.
    "Wait, I thought I recognized your face before, you're AJ's sister," Chrissy said suddenly, gesturing to Alexa.
    "Shh, please don't tell anyone my name," Alexa begged.
    "I won't," Chrissy said, shaking her head hard and making her short bob of curls shake back and forth.  "I'm good at keeping secrets.  Besides, it's not everyday that you get to meet the sister of one of the most popular groups in the world.  I won't tell, when people want me to keep something quiet, I do it."
    Alexa sighed, as did AJ.  "Good, thank you," AJ finally said.
    "You're quite welcome."
    AJ and Alexa smiled at each other, agreeing on one thing.  'Maybe some people out there aren't as bad as we make them out to be,' AJ thought.  He glanced up at the waiter as he came over to the table and waited for their order.

    "You know what?"
    "What, Alexa?"
    "I want a tattoo," Alexa announced as they walked down the street.  She hugged her arms and glanced next to her at her brother.  "Really, I do," she said to his skeptical look.
    "Sure you do, Aly," he said.
    "Is that a hint of doubt I hear in your voice, Alexander?"  Alexa asked, stopping him.
    "No, it's just that"
    "You doubt that I'd go through with it," Alexa finished for him.  She smiled and pointed down the street.  "There's a tattoo parlor down there, I can see it from here, are you willing to come with me and see me do it?"  She asked.
    "Now, Alexa, I didn't say"
    "You didn't have to say it, I could see that you meant it.  Come on, AJ," she said, dragging him down the street.
    "Alexa, are you sure about this?"  AJ asked as they walked into the parlor.
    "Positive, it'll be fun.  Come on, AJ, you can't possibly tell me that you think it's a bad idea?  AJ, you have, what, twelve tattoos and you're unsure about me getting one?  Puh-lease, a reality check is in order here." She said as she looked at the pictures on the walls.  She smiled as she came across a small red rose next to a smaller white one.  'Perfect,' she thought.  She walked to the counter and waited while a man came out from the back.
    "You're serious about this, aren't you?  Aly, don't do this, Mom'll kill me for letting you," AJ begged.
    Alexa smiled, getting an idea, and looked at AJ.  "Hey, AJ, how would you like to get something a little different?"  She asked.
    "What are you thinking, Alexa?"
    Alexa smiled and looked up at the guy standing in front of her.  She told him what she wanted and then gestured to AJ, explaining what she had planned for him.
    "Aly, I'm gonna kill you," AJ said as he sat in a chair in the back.
    "You'll thank me later!"  Alexa called as she walked farther into the back.  She sat on the table and waited for the man to come back and give her her tattoo.
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