chapter ten

Howie sighed as he hung up and handed the phone back to its owner.

“Well?” an anxious AJ pressed.

“J, I really didn’t like doing that. In fact, I still don’t know why I agreed to do it,” he sighed again. “But she’s going to go.”

Howie watched as AJ’s faced brightened. A million ideas flashed in his eyes and a slow smile spread across his features.

“One thing though,” Howie started again. “She’s trusting me not to let you go near her.”

“So?” AJ replied. “Tomorrow I can finally talk to her, tell her how I feel about all this...about her. I can make her forget.”

“AJ,” Howie said sternly. “I have her trust. I’m not letting you bother her tomorrow.”

“We’ll see.” AJ said, leaning back in his chair. He was detirmined to make this work: come hell or high water.

*~*~*

It was nearly two in the morning and my sister had yet to come home. Nick and Brian had left well over an hour ago, and I was curled up on the couch in the living room, reading. Or trying to anyway. The day’s events, both good and bad, wouldn’t allow me to concentrate.

Everything had started off quite well today. Despite my ‘breakdown’ at the station, naturally. The guys, come interview time, were no trouble at all, and as the evening went on, I found they were a pretty amazing group of guys. I hated to admit it, but that darn Laurel was right. We became fast friends. The concert they invited us to was amazing, they blew me away. Even Jay had gushed afterwards regarding their performance. Then, the club. Everyone got along like old friends, we were talking, laughing, dancing like there was no tomorrow. I was having the time of my life...until my world came crashing down.

Howie’s voice saying that name rang in my ears, making me cringe. AJ...Alex? I felt a knot forming in my throat. How could it be? I just couldn’t conceive the fact, I just couldn’t. I remember that evil kid like it was yesterday, it couldn’t possibly be AJ. But it was. Yet, amidst everything I felt, something inside of me refused to believe. It seemed like everything was a lie, like nothing was fact. I felt I needed him to admit things to me. I needed to hear him say that he DID remember doing those things to me, that it WAS him.

“I guess I do need to talk to him,” I muttered aloud. I didn’t enjoy the thought, but it was the truth. “Great. Just great.”

I glanced around the living room, realizing what I was doing.

“My gosh, now I’m talking to myself! This is ridiculous.”

I grabbed the remote and turned the TV on, hoping for a distraction. VH1 blared throughout the room, and a familiar song filled the air. Having only heard it a few hours earlier, I decided to sit and watch the video.

But we are two worlds apart
Can’t reach to your heart
When you say
That I want it that way

I smiled as I watched Nick flash that beautiful smile of his right at the camera, his blue eyes sparkling. That man was definitely a charmer. ‘And a great friend, too’ I thought as the song ran through the chorous. I turned my attention back to the TV then, and froze at what I saw and heard.

::Am I your fire? Your one desire? Yes I know its too late But I want it that way::

AJ’s deep, raspy voice filled my ears, his image embedded itself in my mind, and the lyrics went straight to my mind, as well as a million thoughts.

I knew I was taking a ridiculous shot in the dark, but I couldn’t help but ponder the lyrics I had just heard him sing. My mind went into a spiral of wonder as I stared blankly at the rest of the video.

Could these lyrics, just possibly, mean something to me? To him? As silly as it sounded to me, it was the most serious thought in my brain. Could he be feeling this way? Could he maybe, just maybe, regret what had happened?

“No,” I said aloud again. “There’s no way.” I pushed the idea out of my mind and shut the TV off. I didn’t want to deal with that kind of thinking, or with HIM, for that matter. I was detirmined to get past this moment. I had pulled through desperation before, I could very well do it now.

My train of thought broke as I heard the front door being unlocked and opened. I got up from my place on the couch and met my sister in the main hall of our house, where she was taking her coat off.

“And you call ME irresponsible.” I said, shaking my head disapprovingly at her.

Keri grinned. “I’m sorry Sis,” she began. “We kind of lost track of time.”

“Well, you could have called,” I retorted, sounding more like our mother than I cared to. “That way I wouldn’t have stayed up waiting.”

“OK, OK, I get it. And I’m sorry.” Keri apologized.

“I’m going to bed.” I announced. “I had a long, hard day.”

“Hold on, Buster.” my sister said, catching up with me on the stairs. “Speaking of today, you have some explaining to do.”

“No I don’t.”

“Yes you do!” my sister exclaimed. “What made you lash out like that at AJ?”

“Look,” I said sternly, looking ehr right in the eyes. “I don’t want to talk about it, not right now anyway. Besides, you wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.” my sister pressed.

“Keri, no.”

“We’ll talk about it tomorrow.” she decided.

“Not if I can help it...”

“Thats where you’re wrong, Cassandra,” my sister told me, taking over her role as Big Sister. “We WILL talk about this tomorrow!”

“Fine, OK, whatever.” I sighed. I hated when she used her authority on me; it seriously bugged me, yet I could never deny her anything. Damn sisterly love...

“Good,” she replied, a victorious smile playing on her lips. “Goodnight, Cassie.”

[chapter 09 | chapter index | chapter 11]