“I’m going to take the job.” Said Val smiling. She knew that school was important but Zack was right, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and she wasn’t about to let it slip out of her hands.
“That’s wonderful!” exclaimed the director. “Ok, so go home and look over the music and tell me if you have any questions.” He said.
“Thank you again.” Said Val smiling.
“Welcome to the Backstreet Tour!” said Nick and gave Val a hug by which she was surprised.
“Thanks.” She said slightly confused, but then shrugged it off when all the other guys gave her hugs too. She said bye to everyone and walked out of the room with a huge smile on her face. Zack saw her come out and immediately ran up to her.
“So?” he asked excitedly.
“I got it!” exclaimed Val.
“That’s so great!” said Zack and hugged Val and spun her around.
“Yeah! This is like one of the happiest days of my life!” she said excited about everything.
“So, tell me everything!” demanded Zack.
“Well, I have a month to learn all the music and the tour starts on January 2nd and ends on April 20th. I’m going to have to put college off for a while though, so that’s about the only down side to all of this, but it’s okay, I can always go back to college.” Explained Val.
“You’re going to be gone for over three months?” asked Zack in disbelief.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, it looks like you’ll be living alone for a while.” Said Val shrugging helplessly.
“Well that’s gonna suck.” Said Zack grumpily.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back before you know it.” said Val trying to cheer him up.
“I hope so. Who’s the group by the way?” asked Zack.
“Backstreet Boys.” Said Val.
“THAT’S whom you’re touring with?” asked Zack raising his eyebrows.
“Yeah, they were so shocked to hear that I don’t know who they are.” Said Val laughing.
“I’ll bet they were.” Said Zack. He knew that he had to tell Val about his feelings before she went away and that this way; they would have some time to give their relationship a try. “Val, I need to tell you something.” He began.
“What is it?” asked Val.
“I…uh…I like you.” He said and waited for her response.
“LIKE me?” said Val laughing while Zack looked at her with confusion. “After all these years of being friends you only like me?” she asked.
“No Val, you don’t get it, I really LIKE you.” Said Zack this time putting emphasis on the word ‘like’. Val’s eyes widened when she realized what he was talking about.
“You mean you have feelings for me that go beyond friendship?” she asked. Zack nodded. “Wow, I never expected this.” She said shaking her head.
“Neither did I, believe me. This came as a total shock to me when I realized that I have feelings for you.” Said Zack, he then looked at Val. “But would you be willing to give this relationship a try?” he asked hopefully.
“Well, I think everyone deserves a chance so sure, let’s give this a try. We never know where it might lead.” Said Val smiling.
“I’m so happy to hear you say that!” exclaimed Zack and hugged Val again. She laughed and stood there looking at him realizing for the first time that Zack was a really cute guy. His green eyes had a slight hint of hazel and his brown hair always fell into his eyes in a very cute way. Val smiled. Zack then leaned in to kiss her and Val was surprised to find out that Zack was a really good kisser and she enjoyed the kiss.

Nick peeked out of the audition room into the waiting area and saw Val and Zack kissing. Brian came up to him and looked also.
“Looks like you’re out of luck.” Commented Brian about Val.
“You think that’s her boyfriend?” asked Nick.
“Well, I don’t think she would be kissing a stranger like that.” Said Brian. He looked at Nick who looked very disappointed. “There are other girls in this world you know. In fact, about a million of them are in love with you.” He added chuckling.
“Very funny Frick.” Said Nick still looking at Val. “I don’t want other girls, I want that one.”
“Well, as you can see, she’s very content with kissing that guy.” Said Brian and pulled Nick away from the window. “Come on, we gotta get out of here.”
“Okay, okay, I’m going. But I’m definitely going to see her soon.” Said Nick reluctantly stepping away from the window.
“Of course you are. She’s going on tour with us and before that there are rehearsals. I’m sure you’ll see her so much, you’ll get sick of her.” Said Brian laughing.
“Not gonna happen Bri.” Said Nick wistfully.

Val and Zack got home and saw that there was nothing to eat in the fridge so they ordered take-out. After they had finished eating they went for a walk on the bay.
“It’s so peaceful here.” Commented Val looking at the water.
“Yeah, you’re right, it is.” Said Zack slipping his arms around Val’s waist.
“Zack, that day when you dropped the book when you saw me in the kitchen, was it because you were already attracted to me and I wasn’t exactly fully clothed?” asked Val slightly raising her head to look at him since Zack was 6’1” and Val was 5’7”.
“Yeah, I was completely startled. I didn’t know I would react like that, it even came as a shock to me.” Replied Zack. “But somehow, right now holding you in my arms, everything feels right.” He added holding Val tighter.
“It does feel right.” She smiled and they kissed.
When they got home from the bay it was already after 11 o’clock and since Zack had a class at 7, he went to sleep. Val went to the room where she had set up her keyboard piano and other musical devices and started to look over the songs that she was supposed to learn for the Backstreet Boys Tour. She first started to learn “I Want It That Way” because it looked easier than the others. She learned half of the song when she saw that it was already 2:30 am. She quickly turned off the piano and went to sleep. In the morning she was supposed to go to her college and drop all of her classes.

It was a week later and Val was on her way to her first rehearsal with the Backstreet Boys. She was slightly nervous because even though she had learned 6 out of the 15 songs, she still made mistakes. On the other hand, things between her and Zack were going great. They found time to be with each other at least a few hours every day and they had no arguments, not even little ones. Val smiled as she thought about Zack and then steered her BMW into a parking spot. She came out of the car and looked at her watch. She was right on time. She walked into the building and showed her security badge to the security guard, who waved for her to go in. Val went into the huge arena where the rehearsals were taking place. She was amazed by what she saw. At least a hundred people were running around and setting up the stage, the lights, and the speakers. Since the crew had to practice putting the stage together and taking it apart, the arena was rented for a few weeks so that they’ll have it down cold before the tour started. Val waved to Brian and Kevin, who were on stage, and went there herself.
“Hey, did you find the place without any problems?” Greeted Brian.
“Yeah, it was very easy.” Said Val.
“Great, and as soon as the other three guys get here, we can actually start rehearsals.” Said Kevin looking around for Nick, AJ, and Howie.
“Did you guys come together?” asked Val.
“Yeah, but those three disappeared off to somewhere.” Replied Kevin. He spotted AJ and Howie walking towards the stage. “Finally!” he called out to them.
“Hey Val.” Said AJ completely ignoring Kevin’s looks towards the fact that he and Howie were slightly late.
“Hey.” Said Howie, also ignoring Kevin.
“Hi guys.” Said Val and then looked around. “Where’s Nick?” she asked.
“He’ll be there soon enough. The last time I saw him he was standing in front of the mirror in his dressing room complaining about his hair.” Said AJ grinning.
“Uh huh, I see.” Said Val also smiling.
“There he is!” said Brian pointing at Nick who was running towards the stage wearing a baseball cap.
“Hey everyone, sorry I’m late.” Said Nick.
“Nick, if you were gonna wear a hat anyway, why did you spend so much time on your hair?” asked Val unable to suppress a grin.
“How did you know that I spent a lot of time on my hair?” asked Nick turning to Val.
“AJ just told everyone.” Said Val pointing at AJ who was now no longer grinning, he was laughing. Nick shot AJ a dirty look, which only made him laugh harder. After the guys had stopped clowning around, the rehearsals started. Val had a blast even though it was hard work. By the time everyone was done, five hours later, she was exhausted. She was gathering her things when she saw Nick come up to her.
“You were really good.” He said wiping his face with a towel.
“Thanks, you were great.” She said smiling.
“Thanks. How did you learn those songs so fast?” asked Nick.
“I’ve been playing for a really long time, somewhere along the line I learned how do commit the music to memory fast.” Replied Val putting her notes into her bag. “That’s probably the same way you learned the lyrics and the dance steps.” She added.
“Yeah, it is.” Said Nick bending down to retrieve a piece of paper, which fell out of Val’s stack of notes.
“Thanks.” She said taking the paper from his hands and their fingers briefly touched. Val thought that she felt something but shrugged it off as simply static electricity.
“Anytime.” Said Nick. “We could give you a ride if you want.” He offered.
“Thanks but I came here in my car.” Said Val putting her bag on her shoulder and looking for her keys.
“Ok, cool, so I’ll see you tomorrow, same time same place.” Said Nick walking with her to the door.
“Yep, see you then.” Said Val waved bye and left.
Nick sighed as he watched her go. He knew he felt a spark when their fingers touched but didn’t know if Val felt the same thing. “She has a boyfriend.” He reminded himself.
“What did you say?” asked Brian passing by Nick.
“Nothing.” Said Nick.
“Ok but you know that talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity.” Said Brian laughing.
“How fascinating.” Said Nick with no enthusiasm to think of a catchy comeback.
“You’re thinking about Val right?” asked Brian.
“Yeah.” Said Nick sighing again.
“Don’t worry about it. If you and Val are truly meant to be, you’ll be together.” Said Brian kindly.
“Hope you’re right.” Said Nick and then both he and Brian went to join the other guys on the bus.

The tour was now only a week away and Val wasn’t having as much fun as she did at first. She had already learned all of the songs and now spent time perfecting them, a lot of time. She was home getting ready to leave for yet another rehearsal when she heard Zack come into the room.
“Hey.” He said giving her a kiss.
“Hi.” She said but had to end the kiss because she would be late.
“Where are you going?” asked Zack when he saw Val put on her jacket.
“Rehearsal.” She replied and started looking for her car keys.
“Again?” asked Zack annoyed.
“What do you mean again? The tour starts in a week!” she exclaimed.
“So? You know those songs by heart!” pointed out Zack.
“Not completely, they’re not perfect yet. And besides, the guys need music to practice to you know.” She said finally spotting her keys and grabbing them.
“They’ve got it recorded I’m sure.” Said Zack crossing his arms over his chest.
“What’s your problem?” asked Val losing her patience.
“I don’t have a problem except that I would like to see my girlfriend more than once a day. Especially since we live in the same house!” said Zack, he was practically yelling.
“Zack! I have a job!” exclaimed Val. “You yourself told me that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.” She reminded him.
“That was when I didn’t realize that I would barely see you.” Said Zack.
“Oh, so you mean if you knew it before, you would’ve told me not to go?” she asked in disbelief. Zack remained silent. “I can’t believe this!” she yelled.
“Val, I care about you a lot and I just want the best for you.” He said.
“Well you’re not acting like it now.” She said coldly and walked out the door.

Val was still mad when she got to the rehearsal. She was also 20 minutes late and saw that everyone was waiting for her.
“I’m really sorry.” She apologized, then quickly took off her coat and took her place behind the keyboard.
“Is everything okay?” asked Kevin. “You’ve never been late before.”
“Yeah, everything is fine, let’s just start.” Said Val hurriedly because she didn’t want to discuss her problems with Zack. Their fights have been getting more frequent and she didn’t like that. The rehearsals began and Val put Zack out of her mind. Three hours later everyone was taking a break and Val sat on the edge of the stage eating a sandwich. She saw someone, out of the corner of her eye, come and sit down near her. She turned and saw that it was Nick.
“Want some company?” he asked with a smile.
“Sure.” Said Val but didn’t return his smile.
“Ok, spill it.” said Nick looking at her seriously.
“Spill what?” asked Val trying to avoid the subject.
“Whatever it is that has been bugging you for over a week now.” Replied Nick and then saw Val give him a look of surprise. “Don’t think no one noticed that you’ve been upset. We all have, we just thought that it was nothing major, but it’s been too long, it has to be something important.” He explained. “So what’s wrong?” he asked again.
“I’m just having a few problems with Zack, nothing big.” Said Val trying to avoid details. “So how are the preparations for the tour going?” she asked changing the topic.
“Don’t try to weasel out of this. Val, what exactly is wrong?” asked Nick gently.
“Zack is just angry because I spend so much time here, rehearsing. He says that he never gets to see me anymore. I know he’s right but I have a job. And today he made it seem like if he would’ve known that he would barely get to see me, he would’ve advised me not to take this job.” Said Val sadly.
“Well, he’s being very selfish if you ask me.” Said Nick.
“Yeah, but maybe he’ll get over it.” agreed Val.
“I hope he does, for both of your sakes.” Said Nick and then gave Val a small hug.
“Thanks, I needed to talk.” Said Val finally returning Nick’s smile.
“No problem. I’m here for you if you need me.” Said Nick, then got up and offered his hand to Val. “Come on, break is over.” He said and pulled her up. Even though she and Nick didn’t come up with any solutions, Val felt better and the rest of the rehearsal went much more smoothly.
Val got home late as usual and went straight to her room. She saw Zack sitting there.
“What are you doing here?” she asked putting down her stuff. “I thought you have a class early tomorrow morning.” She added.
“I do, I just wanted to see you today and waiting for you until midnight seems like the only way now.” Said Zack, Val could still hear the anger in his voice.
“Zack, I’m tired, can we please not get into this?” she asked sighing.
“Get into what?” asked Zack. “I’m just trying to spend some time with my girlfriend before she goes off for over three months with five other guys!” he said his voice getting louder.
“Don’t start Zack! You’re making it sound like I’m going on vacation with five guys instead of on tour with a music group.” Said Val her eyes flashing with anger.
“Well that music group happens to consist of five guys!” yelled Zack.
“Who will be in a completely different bus and hotel room!” added Val.
“I don’t care! All I care about is that I’m not going to see you for a long time and unexpected things can happen in that time.” said Zack slightly calming down.
“Zack, I don’t want to lose you, but if you keep acting like this, you’re going to lose me.” Said Val and then pointed at the door for him to get out. Zack left without saying another word and Val slammed the door behind him. After which she collapsed on her bed crying.

Val was putting the last few things into her bag when she heard a knock on the door. It was the day that she was supposed to leave for the tour with the guys and she was trying to remember if she forgot to pack anything.
“Come in Zack.” She called.
“How did you know it was me?” asked Zack poking his head through the doorway.
“Who else lives in this house?” asked Val with a grin. Ever since they had that argument a week ago, things have smoothed out. Zack was no longer jealous of the fact that Val was going to be on tour with AJ, Nick, Brian, Kevin, and Howie and Val tried to spend as much time as she could with him.
“Good point.” Grinned Zack and came up to Val and kissed her.
“Oh, now I really don’t want to leave…but I have to.” Said Val pulling away from Zack and picking up her bags.
“Do you want me to drive you to the airport?” asked Zack picking up Val’s other bags.
“No, the guys are coming to pick me up.” Said Val and then heard a honk outside. “That’s them.” She said and they both headed for the door. Nick opened the front door and peeked in.
“Val? Are you ready?” he called out.
“Yeah, I’ll be right there!” she called back. Zack and Val went downstairs and saw Nick standing there.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Yeah.” Said Val as Nick took the bags she was holding and he and Zack took them out to the limo waiting outside. Val turned to Zack who finished putting in her bags. “I’m gonna miss you so much.” She said hugging him.
“I’ll miss you too.” He said squeezing her tightly. “Hurry back.” He said and then gave her a passionate kiss.
“I will. Bye.” Said Val and then got into the limo with Nick.
“Bye.” Said Zack and waved as the limo pulled out of the driveway. He watched it until it was no longer seen and then went back into the house, alone.

chapter 1 chapter 3