It was a week later and Val was sitting on the bus with Nick and looking out the window at the passing scenery. She was thinking about what the managers had proposed to her.
“So, do you think I should do it?” she asked turning her head slightly up to look at Nick.
“Of course you should!” said Nick grinning. “It’s not something that happens every day you know.” He added.
“I know you’re right but how will this affect our relationship?” asked Val.
“It won’t, when you start recording your album, I’ll be right there with you. Hey, you might even be the opening act for us.” He said his blue eyes twinkling.
“Hmm, I don’t know. I’ll definitely consider it if I can write my own songs.” Said Val thoughtfully.
“I’m sure you will be able to.” Said Nick caringly.
“Do you think any of my songs are good enough?” asked Val uncertain.
“Of course! I’ve seen some of them and they’re wonderful. I can’t figure out why you don’t pick up that phone and tell the managers yes.” Exclaimed Nick.
“Well, I did always secretly want to be a singer and get a record deal.” Said Val chewing on her bottom lip.
“So what are you waiting for?” asked Nick and reached over and grabbed his cell phone. “Here, call them right now and tell them yes.” He pushed the phone towards his girlfriend. Val looked at the phone with a little hesitation, but then took it out of Nick’s hand and dialed the number. Nick listened while Val spoke on the phone and then looked at her expectedly when she hung up.
“So?” he asked excitedly.
“I start recording in a few days!” exclaimed Val and threw her arms around Nick.
“That’s wonderful!” exclaimed Nick and kissed Val. At that moment AJ, Brian, Kevin, and Howie came into the back of the bus.
“What’s all the screaming about?” asked Brian looking at Nick and Val.
“I just accepted the record deal!” announced Val proudly.
“Congratulations!” said the guys and they all gave Val one giant hug.
“When do you start recording?” asked AJ.
“In a few days.” Replied Val grinning widely.
“Well, we wish you the best of luck and we’re all positive that you’ll be immensely successful.” Said Kevin with a genuine smile.
“Thanks you guys, this would’ve never happened if I hadn’t become your keyboard player.” Said Val looking at the Backstreet Boys.
“You’re very welcome.” They all said.

*~*~*

Val was so excited. It was the day when she would record her first song. She got to the studio and looked around. She was a bit nervous about how her voice would sound but she knew that if her voice really sucked, she would’ve never been offered a record deal in the first place. She decided to record “The Music of Love” first since she sang it so many times already and it would be easier for her to record it since she had to sing it with Nick. Nick was running a little late and Val was patiently waiting for him. He finally arrived and he was holding a bouquet of flowers.
“These are for you.” Said Nick, coming up to Val and giving her the flowers. He kissed her softly. “I am so proud of you.” He added smiling.
“Thank you so much!” said Val taking the flowers. “You are unbelievably sweet!” she said looking at Nick.
“Yeah, I know.” Said Nick grinning. “Now come on, let’s record your first song.” He said excitedly and both he and Val went into the room.
They were done recording in about three hours and they sat down to listen to the final result. It sounded great and Nick’s and Val’s voices blended perfectly. Everyone was pleased and Val got a copy of the tape to take with her so that the other guys can hear it.
Over the next week, Val recorded three more songs and still had seven left to record.(click here to read the lyrics to the 3 songs)
*~*~*

One day, Nick, Val, Brian, and Kevin were all lounging near the hotel pool and relaxing. Since they were in California for a couple of days, they had a day free. The concert was the following day and it was the last concert of the US tour. The European tour would begin the following week and last one and a half months.
Val was enjoying the feel of the sun on her skin when she felt someone standing near her and blocking the sunlight.
“Hey, whoever you are, please move, I’m trying to get a tan.” Said Val with her eyes closed. She figured that it was one of the guys goofing off.
“Val, I want to talk to you.” Said a familiar voice. Val’s face expression turned to worry and anger as she recognized the voice.
“Zack, how did you find me?” she asked opening her eyes.
“Simple, I found out the Backstreet Boys tour schedule and knew that you were going to be in California now.” Said Zack shrugging.
“Well too bad, cause I don’t want to talk to you.” Said Val turning her head sideways. At that moment Nick and Brian woke up and Kevin got out of the pool. Nick got up from his chair and went over to Val.
“You heard her, she doesn’t want to talk.” Said Nick protectively putting his hand on Val’s arm. There was a threatening tone in his voice.
“This has nothing to do with you, it’s between me and Val.” Said Zack looking Nick straight in the face.
“No it’s not between you and Val. I’m her boyfriend and therefore it’s between me too.” Said Nick.
“Since when are you her boyfriend?” asked Zack surprised.
“Since over a month ago, not that that’s any of your business.” Said Nick trying to control his temper. At that moment Val got up and stood near Nick, who placed his arm around her shoulders.
“Zack just go away. We have nothing to talk about. You cheated on me, the end.” Said Val coldly.
“Don’t you want me to explain?” asked Zack.
“Of course not!” exclaimed Val. “What is there to explain? I come home for a weekend, which I was hoping to spend with you, and instead I find you in a lip lock with another girl! Tell me Zack, how is an explanation going to help?”
“I didn’t mean to kiss her…” began Zack but Nick gave a short laugh.
“Yeah right, she just happened to be in your house and conveniently fell on your lips.” He said through gritted teeth.
“Stay out of this.” Warned Zack.
“I can’t and I won’t.” said Nick.
“Zack you are such a moron!” exclaimed Val. Zack turned sharply to look at her. “You waited over a month to explain? What on this planet made you think that I would actually listen to you?”
“I thought that maybe by now you weren’t so mad at me anymore and then maybe we could…” said Zack but trailed off when he saw Val’s eyes flash with anger.
“We could what?? Get back together?? You must be out of your mind if you thought that that would happen!” she yelled.
“It might’ve happened if it weren’t for him.” Said Zack pointing a finger at Nick, who was already visibly pissed off.
“HE was there for me when I needed him, and I’m happier with him than I ever was with you!” snapped Val.
“You heard her, so why don’t you go back home and stay there!” said Nick seething.
“Look for the last time, stay out of this!” yelled Zack at Nick.
“In your dreams.” Retorted Nick.
“Look let Val handle this, she has a mind of her own.” Hissed Zack.
“Yeah she does, but you’re not listening to her because in case you haven’t heard, she wants you to leave.” Said Nick.
“Stay…out…of…this.” Said Zack slowly his anger rising.
“I…will…not.” Said Nick just as slow.
“That’s it, you asked for it.” exclaimed Zack and before Nick knew what happened, Zack’s fist connected with Nick’s face.
“Zack you asshole! Why did you do that?” yelled Val and kneeled near Nick who was lying on the ground stunned.
“He asked for it.” said Zack simply. Kevin and Brian saw what happened and immediately called security. They led Zack out of the pool area and out of the hotel and warned him that if he ever shows up anywhere near the BSB or Val again, they will have him arrested.
“Nick are you okay?” asked Val.
“Yeah, I’ll live.” Said Nick rubbing his eye. “But Claire is not going to like this.” He said referring to the make-up artist and how she’s gonna have to cover his bruise.
“Come on, get up and let’s go get some ice for your eye.” Said Val helping Nick up.
“You okay?” asked Brian.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just need some ice that’s all.” Reassured Nick. Brian nodded in understanding.
Nick and Val went into the hotel and got some ice for Nick and then went back to his room. By that time, his eye had already begun to swell and it was turning a nice shade of black and blue. Nick winced as he put the ice to his eye.
“Does it look really bad?” he asked.
“Well…let’s just say that sunglasses would be a good idea.” Said Val with a small smile.
“Ouch, that bad huh?” asked Nick but he was smiling.
“Yeah, but you look good anyway.” Said Val slightly ruffling his hair.
“Hey not the hair!” exclaimed Nick and started tickling Val.
“Ok, ok, I give up.” Said Val trying to catch her breath cause she was laughing hard.
“Good, don’t mess with the hair.” Said Nick only half-seriously. Val laughed and kissed him.
*~*~*

The following day Val and a couple of the guys’ dancers went shopping at the local mall.
“So where do you think we should go first?” asked Linda, at 18 years old, she was the same age as Val and was also the youngest dancer.
“I’m not sure.” Said Jessica, she was 19 years old. “The Gap?” she suggested shrugging.
“Sure.” Said Val and Linda. The girls went to the store and spent the next hour looking through clothes.
“What do you think of this?” asked Linda as she held up a silvery dress. It was sleeveless and went down to her knees.
“It’s really nice, why don’t you go try it on?” suggested Jessica.
“You think I should?” asked Linda.
“Definitely.” Said Val and Jessica.
While Linda went to go try on the dress, Val was looking through some outfits and found one that caught her eye.
“Hey Jess, give me your opinion on this.” She said and held up the outfit. It consisted of a shiny black knee-length skirt with a slit on the right side and a tank top, which ended in a triangle right above Val’s waist, much like the shirt she wore when performing on stage with Nick. The straps on the shirt were made out of small rhinestones.
“Very nice.” Commented Jess looking at the clothes. “Are you gonna try it on?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m curious as to how it would look.” Said Val heading towards the dressing rooms.
“I’m sure it’ll look great.” Said Jess with an encouraging smile.
“Thanks.” Said Val and smiled. She then ducked into a dressing room to try it on.
“So, how does it look?” asked Linda coming out of the dressing room.
“You look beautiful.” Said Jess simply. The dress hugged Linda’s figure perfectly and it went great with her dark hair.
“Thanks, I think I’ll take it.” said Linda smiling. “Where’s Val?” she asked.
“She went to try something on. She should be out in a minute.” Replied Jess still looking for something to try on.
“Find anything?” asked Linda.
“Nope, nothing seems to look good to me.” Said Jess giving up. Then Val came out in her outfit.
“Well?” she asked with a grin.
“That outfit was made for you!” exclaimed Linda.
“Think so?” asked Val.
“Totally, you should buy it.” said Jess.
“If you guys think so then I will buy it.” said Val grinning. Then both she and Linda went to change back into their regular clothes and went up to the cash register.
They came out of The Gap and were walking around trying to find some more interesting stores when three young girls came up to them.
“Aren’t you Valerie Stans?” asked one of them.
“Yeah I am.” Said Val smiling.
“Can we have your autograph?” asked the girl and gave Val a small notebook and a pen.
“Sure no problem, what’s your name?” asked Val.
“I’m Heather and these are my friends Carrie and Stacey.” Said Heather pointing to herself and then to the two other girls.
“It’s very nice to meet you all.” Said Val with a wide smile. She signed the girls’ notebook; they thanked her and went away. “That was totally weird.” Commented Val.
“Why?” asked Linda.
“No one has ever asked me for my autograph.” Explained Val. “People usually asked Nick for autographs and pretty much paid no attention to me.” She added.
“Well, you’re becoming famous too. I mean you sing with Nick at every concert, and you’re recording an album. Soon, you’ll get mobbed by fans too.” Said Jess smiling.
“Hmm, I don’t know if I’m gonna enjoy the mobbing part.” Said Val smirking.
“You might at first.” Said Jess.
“Yeah, but Nick said it gets old real fast.” Said Val.
“I guess you’ll find out soon enough.” Said Linda. The three girls then continued to walk through the mall.
They got back to the hotel around 5 o’clock and parted to go to their rooms to get ready to leave for the concert. Val quickly put her shopping bags in her room and then went to find Nick. He was in his room watching TV.
“Hey.” Said Val coming in.
“Hey yourself.” Said Nick his mouth forming into a wide smile at the sight of his girlfriend. “Did you have fun shopping with the girls?” he asked pulling her down on the bed with him.
“Definitely.” Said Val and then Nick kissed her. Both of them were enjoying the kiss when they heard Brian knocking on the door.
“Hey you two, let’s go or we’ll be late!” called Brian from the other side of the door. Val reluctantly pulled herself away from Nick and opened the door.
“How did you know both of us were here?” she asked.
“Simple, I knocked on your door but got no response. The only other logical place to look for you was in Frack’s room.” Replied Brian grinning.
“Hmm, good point.” Said Val also grinning. Nick then came up to the door.
“We have to go already?” he asked.
“Yep, let’s go.” Said Brian and motioned with his hand for Nick to get out of the room. Nick came out of the room and locked the door behind him. Then he and Val followed Brian out of the hotel. But before they came out, they heard lots of people yelling outside.
“What’s going on?” asked Val craning her neck to see.
“I don’t know.” Said Nick questioningly looking at Brian.
“Hey, don’t look at me, I’m just as clueless as you are.” Said Brian shrugging. They spotted the other three guys coming down the stairs with six bodyguards.
“What’s going on outside?” asked Nick when the other guys came up to them.
“Somehow the fans found out where we’re staying so now there are like 300 people outside.” Explained AJ.
“Oh man, is there another way out of this hotel?” asked Brian.
“Nope, not one that’s any help to us anyway. We’re gonna have to go out this way.” Said AJ. “Hence the bodyguards.” He added motioning towards the six guys standing next to him.
“I see.” Said Nick.
“But how did they find out where we are?” mused Brian. Nick and Val looked at each other and were both thinking the same thing.
“Zack.” They said at the same time.
“You think he told these people?” asked Kevin.
“Yeah, I have no doubt in my mind.” Said Val.
“Wait a minute, your ex-boyfriend Zack?” asked Howie. “What does he have to do with anything?”
“Haven’t you seen Nick’s face today or yesterday?” asked Val.
“Nope haven’t had the pleasure.” Smirked Howie and so did AJ.
“Nick, take off the sunglasses.” Said Val turning to him. Nick took them off and revealed his black eye. Howie and AJ gasped when they saw it.
“What happened to you?” asked AJ. Nick and Val the proceeded to tell them what happened the day before.
“Oh that explains everything.” Said Howie after he and AJ listened to Val and Nick.
“Yeah, so that’s why we think that this is Zack’s doing.” Said Nick putting his sunglasses back on.
“I get it.” said AJ. The guys were then told that it was time to go. They braced themselves and stepped out of the hotel surrounded by the bodyguards. Nick held Val’s hand tightly.
As they were passing through the crowd, one of the railings holding the people back broke and the crowd pushed forward. Nick felt Val’s hand slipping out of his as hundreds of people tried to get to the Backstreet Boys. He tried to hold on tighter but he lost Val’s hand and she disappeared into the crowd.


chapter 4 chapter 6