[six]

KBNHA, among other things, turned out to be a perfect opportunity for AJ to have some fun with her. She didn’t know if she hated that more than the fact that she was working there as his employee, or the fact that she was recognized as his secretary. She’d been appointed to handle any and all business that went to AJ’s office.

To add insult to injury, that same office turned out to be Nick’s as well.

Sandra groaned, kicking off her shoes and dropping onto her couch in the most unladylike manner imaginable. As great as that position was, she didn’t know if she could handle it. Phone calls and appointment setting was kid’s stuff. It was having to withstand AJ and his idiot pranks that made her rethink this position.

If he’d gone and pulled this on her first day, heaven knows what else he had up his sleeve.

“Not like I’m gonna let him get the best of me, though,” she said aloud in her empty apartment. Of that she was certain; AJ may be her friend, and the one she owed this great new job to, but she was not about to let him walk all over her with his “fun and games.”

Then, of course, there was Nick.

There was something about him she didn’t like. Aside from the blonde/blue eyed deal, she did not appreciate the way he looked at her. That first encounter was hell. It made her cringe to recall the way he looked at her, with those eyes.. that intense gaze that followed her throughout the day. She knew he’d been watching her throughout the day, and it made her angry. Angry that he had no shred of decency to not stare, angry that she couldn’t do or say anything to him about it, angry that he was, as expected, like all the others. Like HIM.

As she transferred from on bus to another on her journey home, she kept thinking about him. She had to bring his actions to his attention, tell him she didn’t appreciate what he’d done.

If things looked to be the same tomorrow as they were today, she’d call him on it. That would be his warning.

After that, she made no guarantees.

- - - - - - -

One hour.

An entire hour staring at the piece of paper in his hands, memorizing the information on it as if his very life depended on it.

It had only been five minutes into that hour before he knew her exact address and phone number and had them committed to memory.

Nick sighed. What the hell was he, a stalker? He had absolutely no idea what he was doing. He should be out around town, making his usual stops, hanging with friends, in the spotlight, like he’d done every night he was not working on stage.

Instead, he was at home, alone, thinking about her. About calling her, going to see her.

She’d probably slam the door in his face faster than she’d open it. Or hang up the phone with light speed once she realized who it was that was calling her. Or call the cops and report a stalker situation.

“AJ would have a fucking blast if he saw me now,” Nick grumbled, running his hands frustratingly through his hair.

He needed to calm down. He needed to get his mind off things. Well, not ‘things.’ Her. He needed to stop thinking about her. About how he was going to be seeing her five days a week from here til.. who knew til when. About how she would never smile at him or joke around with him the way she would do with AJ... if she weren’t so angry with him.

Which brought him to another thought: what the hell did AJ do to make her so mad?

The answer to that was something he planned on getting from his best friend the very next day. Even if he had to knock it out of him.

- - - - - - -

“I am calling the cops if you don’t leave. You aren’t immune to them, butthead. Go away.”

AJ banged his head aganst her door. “San... really. I’m sorry! Let me explain...”

“No. I don’t wanna hear it.”

“Damnit, woman. I’m not going to grovel like this forever!”

“Fine by me. Goodnight.”

“Sandra!” he pounded twice on the front door. “C’mon, lemme in!”

When the door flew open moments later, he almost breathed a sigh of relief.

Almost.

“You’ve got two minutes,” Sandra told him. “Right where you’re standing. Talk.”

Damnit if she wasn’t going to drive him completely insane. “It’s cold out here.”

“This is Orlando,” she pointed out. “It’s never cold. A minute and a half.”

AJ growled in frustration. “Cut me some slack!”

“I figure this is the least you deserve for taking advantage of the knowledge you gained regarding certain pet peeves of mine.”

“I didn’t take advantage of anything!” he exclaimed. “It’s called a joke, San. Some of us know how to pull them, and take them, graciously.”

“Now I can’t take a joke?” Sandra raised an eyebrow. “Smooth, McLean. I‘m impressed with the way you’re trying to charm your way back into my good graces.”

“No, I didn’t... ugh.. San. I’m sorry. really, REALLY sorry. Forgive me?”

“Nice one. Bluntness is always good,” she grinned. “I’m making you work for my forgiveness.”

“MORE?!” AJ exclaimed, walking into her apartment when she allowed him entrance. “You mean all you’ve put me through today wasn’t enough?”

“What did I put you through?”

“This whole scene at your front door, for example,” he began. “The dirty looks I got all day, the way you slammed papers on my desk, the way you tried to trip me when I left the office..”

“Some of us are able to take those kinds of jokes graciously,” she smirked, throwing his words back in his face. “Serves you right, I’d say.”

“I don’t like you,” AJ said matter of factly.

“You love me, and you know it.”

AJ laughed. “There’s a possibility. But I’m not the only one.”

Sandra galred at him. “So that’s it. That’s why you showed up here.”

“No.”

“I’m tired. I have to get up early tomorrow. I take three different busses to work...”

“I’ll come pick you up.”

“That’s not necessary.”

“I want to.”

“Well, I don’t.”

“Sandra!”

“What?!”

“What’s your DEAL?” AJ exclaimed. “Why are you pushing people away when you don’t even know them?”

“Come again?” she asked, raising a quizzical eyebrow at AJ.

“I’m talking about Nick,” he began, watching her stifle a groan. “What is it about him that makes you not able to stand being in the same room with him for more than two seconds? And don’t give me the ‘he’s blond and has blue eyes’ excuse, ‘cause I think it’s a load of crap.”

“That’s the only ‘excuse’ you’re getting,” she shot back. “And there’s nothing wrong with Nick, for your information.”

“So what’s the big friggin’ deal?” he pressed.

“That is something I do not want to discuss,” she said adamantly. “I already told you there’s nothing wrong with Nick. It’s me. There’s something wrong with me. Let’s leave it at that. Please?”

AJ regarded her plea, her nervous expression, the way she was wringing her hands - presumably unconsiously - and relented. “All right,” he said softly. “For now.”

Sandra nodded. If that was the best she could get from him, that was what she’d accept.

[chapter list | chapter seven]