Chapter Nine -- We're No Brady Bunch

Two in the morning. New Year’s Day. She couldn’t sleep, there was too much on her mind. Glancing at the bed next to hers, she called out to Tommy.

“What’s up?” he answered.

“Are you having trouble sleeping, too?” she asked him.

“Yeah,” he answered, sitting up and flipping the light on. “I’ve always hated hotels.”

They’d left the arena and managed to get into the Carter’s home and gather their belongings before any of them returned. Leaving a brief note for Mrs. Carter, they took the requested cab to the nearest hotel, where they got a room to stay the night until the next morning. Once daylight broke, they’d take a bus home. It’d be more or less a four hour drive, but at least they’d be home before nightfall.

“Nah, I don’t think it’s because you hate hotels,” Andy told him. “Why don’t you tell me the truth?”

She sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed, matching his position. After a brief silence, he began.

“I just don’t like it when people treat you that way, Andy. He should have treated you better; you’re not some groupie he can fondle whenever he feels like it.”

“That’s over and done with,” she told him. “Talk to me about Nick. Why did you say all those things to him? Clearly that’s what’s bothering you.”

“It’s not the only thing that’s bothering me. You’ve always mattered to me, Andy. You’re the most precious thing in my life, and I’d do anything to protect you, to make sure you’re safe. You know that.”

“Well,” she began slowly. “Apparently AJ really IS that way. Impulsive, you know what I mean? Maybe he couldn’t help doing what he did. But that isn’t what’s important right now. Nick is who matters here, and I want to know where you two stand in our friendship.”

“Look,” he told her sternly. “Right now I’m about ready to go another decade or so without seeing him. This was too much. Of course,” he added quickly when he saw her eyes widening in surprise, “I’ll probably take that back once it starts to blow over.”

“It wasn’t his fault. He wanted everything to be perfect; for all of us to get along.”

“That was the problem,” Tommy continued. “He wanted some sort of ‘Brady Bunch’ thing to go down, and when he didn’t get it, he panicked. He didn’t take into consideration that they’ve done and seen things we’ve only dreamed of, and that life has been harder on them. We’re two normal people with normal lives compared to those five. We can’t be one big happy family in ten minutes.”

“But,” Andy interrupted. “You’re willing to try?”

“I am,” he sighed. “But I need to set some things straight with Nick. Then with AJ. I don’t want what happened tonight to happen ever again. Next time heads will roll.”

Andy grinned and hugged Tommy. “We’ll call him in the morning.”

“I think we should wait a few more days,” Tommy suggested. “The things I said to him when we left weren’t exactly complimentary. I’ll call him later in the week.”

Andy agreed as she settled back into the lumpy hotel bed. She pulled the covers up to her chin and waited for Tommy to shut the light off again before bidding him a good night.

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