chapter thirty seven

“Traffic,” I managed finally, after a long silence on both parts. “I need to do traffic.”

I turned, with every intention of walking away, when I felt a hand close over my shoulder.

“That’s not for another ten minutes, Cass.”

I held my breath, contemplating making a run for it. But hell, it was Nick, I couldn’t do that to him. Instead, I turned back and hugged him tightly, glad I could see him again, even if it was under these circumstances.

“How are you, Nick?” I asked my friend.

“Tired, but enjoying my vacation,” he smiled. “I see you’re doing good.”

“I’m doing great,” I admitted. “I’m back home, I have a great job, working with nearly all my friends, and life is good.”

“I’m happy for you,” he replied. He turned back to look at AJ, who was still studying me. I started to speak to him when I heard a gasp from behind me.

Marc. He stood there staring at the guys, jaw nearly at the floor.

“Marc,” I said slowly. “Are you okay?”

He nodded, then shook his head. He opened his mouth again to say something, but failed. Then, taking one final glance inside the lounge, he darted down the corridor, looking for someone, anyone, to share his discovery with. Cliff, making Robin’s coffee, was the unfortunate victim.

“Cliff,” I heard him speak. “There’s, there are TWO of them...”

“Two of what?” Cliff asked. “Marc, stop being stupid.”

“Backstreet Boys,” Marc managed. “In the lounge. I saw them!”

“Oh yeah right,” Cliff snorted. “Dude, we don’t play their music here, WHY would they show up? Can you say ‘rock music’ Marc? Try it out.”

“Go look, man,” Marc pressed. “They’re in there!”

“Go away, dude.”

“Cliff, they’re--”

“I said go away! Or do YOU wanna take Robin her coffee?”


“That would be Marc and Cliff,” I laughed, turning to an amused Nick. “I’ve known them virtually forever, and they’ve never changed. You better watch out for Marc though. He knows things about you a guy his age shouldn’t.”

“He’s a weird one,” Nick laughed. “But I’ll take my chances with him.”

“Listen,” I began, looking at the both of them. “I really need to go do traffic, could you guys wait for me?”

“Sure thing,” Nick replied. “We’ll be here.”


With the heaviest of sighs, I plopped myself down in front of the monitor, studying the traffic report as best I could.

“Uh-oh, I know that sigh. What gives?”

“Rob, I need to study this for a second,” I answered. “Leave me alone.”

“Not a chance, buddy,” she replied. “Now what happened out there? Marc was raving like a lunatic about ‘two of them’ in the lounge. I have a feeling you have something to do with that.”

“They’re here,” I declared, wringing my hands. “Nick and...and AJ.”

“Oh, really? And what, pray tell, are we going to do about it?”

“We’re gonna stay locked up in this studio for a long, LONG time,” I answered. “I don’t think I can face them. AJ, anyway.”

“No, you’re gonna face them, all right, and you’re gonna do it today. After traffic, even.”

“But Rob! I can’t just go out there and start talking like nothing has happened. You know better than everybody else what I went through, and I’m not about to reopen that wound!”

“Escape is never the safest bet,” she sang, quoting one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs.

“Damn you,” I muttered, turning back to the monitor. “And what sucks more is that you KNOW you’re right.”

“You’re welcome,” she grinned. She flipped a switch and gave me the signal to go on.

“Hey guys! It’s Cass, filling in for Hillary today, and I’ve got this hour’s traffic report, brought to you by....”

[chapter 36 | chapter index | chapter 38]