Secrets Kept, Lies Told

Secrets Kept, Lies Told
By Sarah
Chapter 44

    AJ walked into the bathroom and picked up the small bottle of Listerine.  He rinsed his mouth out with it and then looked up at his reflection.  He carefully stuck his tongue out and looked at the barbell sticking out on the two sides of his tongue.  He grinned as he walked out of the bathroom, it looked pretty cool.  And in a day or so, he could talk again...well, he could now, but he wanted to try to play it safe.
    "What are you so happy about?"  Howie asked, looking up from the pictures in front of him.
    AJ grabbed a piece of stationary off the desk and scribbled something on the paper with a pen.
    "I'm happy because I think it looks cool," Howie read aloud.  "You think what looks cool?"  He asked, looking up.
    AJ stuck out his tongue and tried hard to not laugh too hard at Howie's expression.
    "Whoa, when did you get your tongue pierced?"  Howie asked, standing up.
    AJ took back the stationary pad and wrote another little note.
    "That day I took Alexa out to explore Paris, I told her that I had twelve tattoos and I wanted something different, so she suggested me getting my tongue pierced.  At first, I didn't want to, but now, I'm starting to like it a lot."  Howie looked up from the paper and raised his eyebrows.  "I'm wondering why you didn't think of it first," he said wryly, handing the pad back to him and walking back to where he was sitting.  He started gathering up the pictures.  "You know, AJ, Alexa and Nick didn't get back last night until around three, maybe you ought to talk to Alexa, she looked really happy when she got back, but she also looked like she had a secret."
    AJ nodded and started for the door, carrying the pad of paper and pen with him.  He went down the hall to his sister's room and knocked on the door.  It was, after all, two-thirty in the afternoon, she ought to be up by now.
    "Hey, AJ, what's up?"  Alexa said, answering the door, still in her pajamas.  She yawned as she opened the door further and let AJ in.  AJ walked in and sat on the edge of her still unmade bed, watching as she sat at the head of the bed, curling up with the pillows.
    "How's it look?"  She asked.
    AJ grinned and stuck out his tongue.  He nodded and wrote something down.
    "You're right, I really like it now, it looks really cool," Alexa read aloud.  She looked up at him and chuckled as she tossed the pad back to him.  "I told you you would, you just had to listen to me."
    AJ nodded and tore off the top sheet, starting fresh.
    "How was your day yesterday?"  Alexa read.  She smiled.  "Interesting."
    'Care to elucidate?'  AJ wrote.
    "Yes, but don't use my word, elucidate it my word," Alexa said.  AJ watched as her face took on a calmer look and her eyes almost dazed away.  "First, Nick took me to breakfast in a little café, then we went for a walk and a tour of the city.  We had lunch in a park, and the day ended when he took me to a restaurant and we ate Fetticcini Alfredo, my favorite, and we danced under the stars until late, and then we walked back here."
    'That's not all that happened, what else did, Aly?'
    Alexa's smile widened and she laid back on the pillows, looking up at the ceiling.  "You'll never believe, even if I tell you," she said quietly.
    'What, Alexa?'
    Alexa turned back on her side and faced AJ, holding up her left hand.  His eyes widened at the sight of the small diamond ring.  "Nick asked me to marry him!"
    AJ's mouth dropped open and all words escaped him.  He grabbed Alexa's hand and looked at the ring.  It was small, but it was a nice size diamond, very beautiful.
    "Isn't it beautiful?  I love it, and I love him, I never expected him to propose to me, but I'm glad he did, it was a perfect ending to the evening," Alexa said, babbling on cheerfully.
    AJ shook his head and let go of her hand, writing something hurriedly.
    "What were we thinking?  AJ, I can't believe you asked that," Alexa said, looking up from the paper.
    "Alexa, you can't get married!"  AJ managed to say with difficulty.
    "First of all, don't talk, second of all, I can too.  I can do what I want and no one tells me what I can and cannot do.  Besides, we aren't going to get married right now, we're going to wait a while, about a year or two before really taking it seriously and setting a date.  I just want to know that you support me in this, AJ, please," Alexa pleaded, looking at AJ with large eyes.
    AJ shook his head and looked away.  "No, Aly, I can't," he said quietly.  He grabbed the pad of paper from the bed, his mouth and tongue hurt when he talked.  'I can't support you in this, you're both too young,' he wrote.
    "AJ, we aren't getting married tomorrow, we're waiting, we're being responsible and realistic about this," Alexa said exasperatedly, sitting up.
    AJ shook his head.  'But still, Alexa, I can't support you in this, this is outrageous.  Call this off before Mom finds out, she'll go mental.'
    "I will not call this off simply because you say so and because what Mom would say.  This is my life and I want to live it this way.  Don't tell me what to do, Alexander, I told you in the beginning I wouldn't stand for
that," Alexa warned, her voice rising.
    'Alexandra, call it off or else.  You and Nick are too young to get married, you don't even know what love is.'
    "Like you do?  Who are you to assume that you know what's best for me?  Are you saying that I can't decide for myself what my life will be like?"  Alexa demanded.
    'No, I'm saying that this is simply a flux in your decision.  Give this up, Alexa, give him back the ring and call off the engagement.'
    "No, I'd rather rot in hell than do that to Nick.  I love him, I would never break his heart, not when we finally have things going for us."
    'Alexa, I'm warning you, don't make me do something I'll regret.'
    "Then don't!  You have no say in this, AJ, and if you tell Mom before I get a chance, I'll come and kill you myself.  This is my life and this is what I want to do.  If you don't support me, then so be it, you aren't my
brother, I am an only child."
    Alexa's words hurt AJ more than he could ever imagine.  Not even a year he's known that she was his sister and something like this had to come along and destroy it.  But he was right, wasn't he?
    'Alexandra Denise, call it off.'
    "No, AJ, I won't.  Get out of my room, I don't want to see you," Alexa said, standing up and pointing to the door.
    AJ stood up and walked slowly.  "Don't do something you'll regret, Aly," he whispered.
    "Good bye, AJ," Alexa said quietly, not looking at him.  AJ turned and walked out of the room, but not before seeing her shoulders shake with sobs.

    Kevin looked up from the magazine he was reading as he heard a knock on the door.  "It's open," he called, looking back down and turning the page.
    "Hey, Kevy," Alexa said, walking in and closing the door behind her.
    "Hey, Lexy, what's up, sis?"  Kevin asked, smiling at her as she walked over and sat next to him on the couch.
    "I want your opinion on something," Alexa said.
    Kevin nodded and put his magazine on the floor, giving her his full attention.  He felt like Alexa was his little sister, they were almost as close as she and AJ were, and he loved to talk to her, she was a great
listener and she always gave good advice.
    "When you were engaged, why did you break it off?"  Alexa asked, almost shyly.
    Kevin sighed and looked down at the floor, then returned his glance to Alexa.  "Well, we thought we loved each other, but when I left Kentucky, our relationship and love wasn't strong enough to last.  We were both young, we weren't ready for that kind of commitment."
    Alexa nodded and looked down at the ground, then looked at Kevin with what only could be said as sadness in her eyes.  "Kevin, do you think Nick and I have moved too fast?"  She asked.
    Kevin furrowed his eyebrows in concentration and confusion.  "No, Alexa, what is wrong?  Spit it out, girl, you've never been afraid to before."
    Alexa took a deep breath.  "That's because nothing was as major as this.  I guess I'll just tell you," she said.  She held out her left hand and Kevin took her hand, looking at the ring.  "Nick proposed to me last night," she said, a calm smile forming on her face.
    Kevin glanced up and down between the ring and Alexa's face.  He couldn't believe what he was seeing.  "Alexa, you can't possibly be serious," he said.    Alexa's expression crumbled and she looked like she was going to cry.  "You don't think we're ready either, you think we moved too fast," she said forlornly, taking away her hand.
    "In a word, Alexa, yes, I do.  You and Nick haven't been going out for that long, and marriage definitely isn't the answer to all the problems that you're facing.  Call it off, that's my advice, give yourselves more time," Kevin said as gently as possible.
    Alexa shook her head and stood up.  "No, you see, when I told AJ, he told me the same thing.  Now I have two people against me and Nick, I have two left.  Are they going to be as harsh as you two?"  She asked hypothetically as she hurried out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
    Kevin sighed and looked after her, then turned back to his magazine, trying to concentrate but not really being able to.  He tossed the magazine back on the floor and stared out the window in front of him to the skies of Paris, thinking hard about the situation at hand.  Then, thinking about his own past and how much alike the two were.

    Howie looked up as the hotel room door opened and saw it was Alexa, not AJ.
    "Hey, girl, what's up?"  He asked, turning back to separating his dirty clothes and clean clothes, getting ready to go wash some of his clothes.Alexa walked over and took his hand, leading him to the couch.  As they sat, Howie caught a glimpse of a small diamond ring on her left hand.
    "Whoa, 'Lexa, when did you get this?"  He asked, taking her hand in his and looking at it closely.
    "Umm, that's what I wanted to talk to you about.  Nick proposed to me last night," she said quietly, a smile forming on her face after a few moments.  Howie couldn't believe what she was saying.  Nick, proposing?  No, not Nick, he was too childish, young, carefree, one of the last people he'd expect to get married.
    "Umm, that's great, Alexa," Howie said, swallowing hard.  He tried to not let his feelings show through as he let go of Alexa's hand.  He glanced up at her face and saw her features screw up and she began to cry.
    "You don't like the idea either!  No one likes this!  You all think we're too young and irresponsible!  You're all just jealous that Nick and I have something that none of you do!"  Alexa exclaimed, standing up.
    "Now, wait, Lexy, I didn't say that," Howie said, grabbing her arm.
    "But that's what you meant!  I know you did, I can see it in your eyes! Why can't you people just be happy for us and congratulate us?  We can handle this, it isn't like we're going to get married tomorrow, we're waiting a year or two to get everything out of the way!  You of all people, Howie, I expected to understand and at least congratulate me, be happy for me, but no, you don't care, you think it's a bad idea," Alexa said, rambling as she struggled out of his grasp and went to the door.
    "Alexa, wait, let's talk about this, maybe you can just call it off and give yourselves more time, get to know each other even more," Howie said.  'But maybe that was a bad idea,' he thought.
    "More time!  No way, I love Nick, he loves me, and we're going through this, I will not call this off, not if my life depended on it!"  She said.  She stormed out of the room, leaving the door hanging open.  Howie walked calmly over and closed the door quietly, then went back to his laundry, separating, then went downstairs, toting his duffel bag over his shoulder.  He loaded one of the hotel washers with his clothes and spotted Brian playing basketball in the small half court in the rec area and went over to him.
    "Hey, Bri, have you seen Alexa today?"  Howie asked as Brian shot and caught the rebound, then shot again and made it in.
    "No, why do you ask?"  Brian asked, catching the ball and walking over, breathing slightly heavily.
    "Because she has some news that's going to shock the hell out of you," Howie said before turning away.  He walked back upstairs and relaxed in his hotel room, trying to forget about Alexa and Nick.

    Brian watched Howie go and shook his head, turning back to his game.  He shot a basket and grabbed the ball as he heard his cell phone start to ring.
    "Hey, Bri, where are you?  I can't find you anywhere, did you leave?"  Nick was speaking a little slow, like he was nervous.
    "No, I'm downstairs.  They have a half-court here, I've been playing for the last hour," Brian said, sitting on the end of the court and dribbling the ball in front of him.  He sighed when Nick started a sentence, then stopped, and then started again.
    "Spit it out, Frack, what do you want to tell me?"  Brian finally said, laughing lightly at Nick's stuttering.
    "Frick, I'm trying to be serious here.  I need to tell you something, can you come up here?"  Nick asked.
    Brian furrowed his eyebrows curiously and stood up.  "Yeah, I'm on my way."  He snapped the phone shut and grabbed his towel.  He took the elevator upstairs and saw Alexa walking into his and Nick's room as he got out.
    'What's going on?  Alexa had the saddest look on her face,' Brian thought, quickening his pace.  He arrived at the open door and saw Nick and Alexa on the bed, Alexa crying into Nick's shoulder.
    "Alexa?  Are you ok?"  Brian asked, coming in the room.  He knelt in front of the bed, rubbing Alexa's back in slow circles.  He looked up at Nick, asking him with his eyes what was going on.
    "Its all part of what we want to tell you, Brian," Nick said quietly.  He helped Alexa sit up on her own and she looked at Brian after she wiped away a few tears.
    "Brian, there isn't any easy way to say this but to just say it.  We're engaged," Alexa said.
    Brian's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.  He was speechless, he couldn't believe his ears.
    "He doesn't like it either, Nick, I told you!  No one approves, they all think we're too young," Alexa said, her tears starting again.  She buried her head in Nick's shoulder again and he held her close.
    Brian hurriedly shook his head.  "No, no, I didn't say that-"
    "You know what Brian, just get out.  I thought that of all people, you would be at least a little supportive, but no, you have to put down Alexa and mine's relationship.  I can't believe that you wouldn't even keep an open mind about this, you always talk about keeping an open mind about things, why don't you just follow your own advice sometimes?"  Nick demanded, his eyes shining with fury.
    "But I-"
    "I said, get out!"  Nick hollered, pointing to the door.  He threw a furious look at Brian and then looked down at Alexa, his expression immediately softening, and he started whispering and rocking back and forth with her.  Brian shook his head again, standing up and walking slowly to the door.  He glanced back at them before closing the door, feeling horrible for what had happened.
    'But what could I have done?'  Brian asked himself, closing the door quietly.  He walked slowly down the hall, passing AJ's room.  He stopped outside of the door, he could hear nothing but silence coming from within, something quite rare, especially for AJ.
    "AJ?"  Brian asked as he knocked quietly on the door.  The door opened slowly and AJ looked up at him, a sad look on his face.
    "Did you see Alexa?"  AJ asked sullenly as he let Brian in.
    Brian nodded, turning to face AJ as he closed the door.  "Yeah, she told you?"
    AJ nodded as he sat on the couch.  "I never expected anything like that from either of them."
    Brian sighed, sitting on the other end of the couch.  "Me neither.  I mean, I know they're responsible and all, but marriage?  Nick is definitely not the first person I'd think of to get married."
    "I've known Nicky for nearly seven years, I never would've thought that out of all of us, he would be the one with a serious girlfriend, let alone getting married.  He's too young, carefree, independent, he's not ready for that kind of commitment."
    "Or is he?  Maybe we underestimated them, I mean, maybe we should give them another chance."
    AJ looked up sadly.  "Alexa did say that they were planning on waiting a year or two."
    Brian sighed and shook his head at himself, looking down at the floor.  He bit his thumbnail in thought, trying to find a way to remedy everything.  He heard a slight clacking and looked up at AJ, who was moving his tongue around his mouth.
    AJ saw him looking.  "Alexa convinced me to get my tongue pierced, I like it, it was a pretty cool idea," he said, a small smile forming on his face.  Brian held back a chuckle, AJ always was the one with crazy and new ideas, and Alexa just seemed to add to AJ's creativeness.
    "What are we going to do?"  Brian finally asked.
    AJ sighed.  "I have no clue."
    Brian furrowed his eyebrows and bit his nails, thinking of ways that he could accept Nick and Alexa's news, and be happy about it.
Back    Next