Chapter Sixteen -- A Friend In Me

It was a peaceful day. The wind was gently blowing, birds were chirping, and she was in a surprisingly good mood. It was as if nothing bad existed in the world, and all was OK.

If only that were true. But she wouldn’t think about that now. Not when it was so beautiful out and she was getting ready to join the rest of the human race and spend the day outdoors.

Just as soon as she finished putting her laundry away. She was frantically folding and hanging her clothes up when a noise by her window startled her. Spinning around, she found the friendly face she’d been missing for a while now.


“Did I scare you?” he grinned sheepishly. “Sorry.”

They stood in an awkward silence then, not knowing what to say to one another. He didn’t know what to say to her, frankly, and she was too stunned by the sight of him to speak immediately.

“You... wanna come in?” she asked finally.

“Through the window?” he laughed.

“Gimme a second,” she smiled, rushing out of the room and meeting up with him on her front door. When she opened the door, she hugged him warmly, thankful he’d decided to make the first move.

“How’ve you been? she asked her friend, leading him to the living room.

“Good, good,” he replied. “Working, keeping busy. But good.”

“I’ve heard you have a new album coming out,” she said. “Is it any good?”

“Well, why don’t you be the judge of that?” he asked her, pulling out a CD from his jacket pocket and handing it to her. “Courtesy of the Backstreet Boys.”

“Wow. Hey, this is cool, thank you!” she exclaimed, surveying the black and blue packaging.

Howie smiled, “You’re very welcome, Andy. I’ve been wanting to give that to you for a while now.”

“What kept you?”

“The fear of you shutting the door in my face,” he grinned.

“I wouldn’t do that to you,” she scolded playfully. “You’re one of the few I’ve been wanting to see since.. well, you know since when.”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “Andy, I don’t know what to say, except that I’m sorry.”

“You? Howie, you have nothing to be sorry for. I, on the other hand, am sorry I even agreed to go to Nick’s that day. Sorry I dragged Tommy with me; he was supposed to be somewhere else, you know. Sorry I ever agreed to talk to AJ. Howie, I don’t know how I’m ever going to face them again. I mean, knowing what I know now... it’s gonna be really hard.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over this,” he told her. “Look, it wasn’t your fault. or Nick’s, and much less Tommy’s. These things happen. No, don’t give me that look. You know they do. Sure, this case is somewhat out of the ordinary, I guess, but it’s not as bad as you think. Everything happens for a reason, you’ve heard that before right? Good. Now, just be certain that everything will turn out the way it has to, and that you relationship with both of them will come out stronger in the end.”

“And how do you know all this?” she asked, a small smile forming on her lips.

“I just do,” he answered matter-of-factly, giving her a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “But what I don’t know is why AJ would do what he did.”

When Andy sighed and turned her gaze elsewhere, Howie was quick to add, “I’m not here to apologize for him. Understand that. I won’t defend him, justify his actions, nothing. AJ’s used to getting his way, always. Especially when women are concerned, but you hurt his pride. I know what he was getting at. I saw the way he looked at you; he was interested in you. When you rejected him, however, he lashed out with whatever he had, and unfortunately, he had the ultimate weapon.”

“But how did he KNOW that?” Andy asked suddenly. “That’s what I don’t understand!”

“Neither do I,” he admitted, “But I have reason to belive Nick has found out the answer to that. You should talk to him.”

“I don’t think I could,” Andy shook her head. “It’s been three months, and I still haven’t built up enough courage to even call either one of them.”

“Andy, they’re both thinking you don’t want to see them again.”

“I do!” she exclaimed. “You know I do! It’s just... oh, I don’t know!”

“Andy, why don’t you give them a call?” Howie suggested. “One of them. Be it Nick or Tommy, just let them know you’re all right, and that you guys are still friends.”

“Are we?” Andy said solemnly.

“I would bet everything I have that you are,” Howie smiled.

“Thank you,” she said, hugging Howie warmly. “You really helped, you know.”

“I’ll always be here when you need me,” he told her, returning the hug. “You’ve got a friend here, Andy. Never forget that.”

“I won’t,” she smiled gratefully. “You kick some serious butt, you know that?”

He winked at her, smiling wide. “Yeah, I know.”

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