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Her head was spinning; her body had frozen. She was clutching the arms of her seat as she watched him enter the room. Her already broken heart started breaking again when he reached behind his back and she saw him holding another woman’s hand. She recognized the girl in an instant. She couldn’t believe it. To think that she didn’t bring a date because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. It would’ve been easy to get a date…guys were practically lining up outside her house. But no, she wanted to be nice.

She continued to look at him…stare at him, to be exact. Someone showed him his seat and she watched him settle on the comfortable chair. He leaned over and whispered something to his companion and her heart twisted in pain. She knew what he’s saying to her…he’s asking her if she’s comfortable or if she wanted anything…the same things he asked her before.

She felt a hand cover hers and she finally took her eyes away from his face. She looked over, her eyes almost brimming with hot tears.

"Honey," her mom started, squeezing her hand. "Don’t think about it. You’re only making it harder for yourself."

"I know," she said, choking back tears as she stole another look at him. "But how could he bring a date? Didn’t he know I was going to be here?"

"Britney, you two broke up. He has every right to bring a date. You do, too," her mom said consolingly. "You just chose to bring me instead."

"I’m going to the bathroom," she informed her mom like she didn’t hear her words.

She stood up, trying to wipe the tears before they tumbled out of her eyes without anyone noticing it. She stole another look at his seat and found it empty. His date was still sitting in her seat, probably waiting for him to return. She looked around, expecting to see him talking to one of the guests, like he always did. She didn’t find him and that kind of frustrated her.

She entered the bathroom and found no one but Alicia Keys standing in front of the mirror.

"Hi, Britney!" Alicia greeted, smiling at her and hugging her. "How are you?"

"About to die," she answered, sighing and letting the tears finally flow. She quickly wiped them away with a tissue that she got from her bag.

"You saw him, didn’t you?" Alicia asked, frowning. "Who is that girl he’s with? I’m sorry, girl."

"That’s okay," she said, finally composing herself. "She’s one of their dancers. "We’re both free to date, you know?

"Yeah, I suppose…"

"I’ll be fine," she said, trying to convince herself more than Alicia. "Thanks."

"I didn’t do anything, girl!" Alicia said, smiling. She hugged her again, running her hand over the crying girl’s back. "Just remember that certain things will hurt us…but if they don’t kill us, they’ll only make us stronger."

Britney watched Alicia leave the bathroom. She sighed again as a single tear ran down her face. She looked back at the mirror as she wiped the tear and tossed the tissue into a nearby trashcan. She took out her mascara and some foundation to fix her make up. When she was done, she washed her hands and looked at her reflection one last time. When she thought it was good enough to show the people outside, she smiled faintly and stepped out of the bathroom.

She started walking towards the big doors and was just smiling at the guy who opened one of it for her when she felt like she was being watched. She turned around and saw a figure standing just outside the men’s bathroom, staring at her. The slump on his shoulder and the veins surrounding his neck was enough for her to recognize him.

He stepped out of the shadows and looked straight into her eyes. The quick inhalation of breath almost made her fall over, but she composed herself. His eyes were begging her, searching her own eyes for the longing that he must’ve been feeling himself.

Britney sighed heavily, finally breaking the eye contact and turning around. She wanted to look back and call his name…she wanted to feel his arms around her again. But she knew this isn’t her fantasy world…this is reality.

What do you want from me, Justin? Do you even want anything from me?!

She entered the room to loud chattering and buzzing. She found her seat and sat down, her mom looking at her skeptically. She ignored her even when she felt her touch her bare arm.

She turned her head just in time to see him walking back to his seat. She watched him sit down and was startled when he looked up straight at her. His eyes weren’t the same. They didn’t speak the volumes of passion that they once did. They weren’t doors to his soul anymore…they were just a dark pool of blue that led to an empty soul of a man…a man that is lost.

You know it only breaks my heart
To see you standing in the dark
Alone waiting there for me to come back
I'm too afraid to show

Her heart was thumping hard against her chest. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him as he danced there, singing with his four friends. The song hit so close to home…but what was she supposed to do?

"We were born the same day, we even think the same way. We are what they all call a perfect match…"

She wondered if he felt the words as much as she did. She wondered if he’s feeling the way she’s feeling right now. She looked over and found his date bopping her head to the beat of their song. When she looked back, she found Justin staring at her. His eyes never left her.

A man found his way beside Britney and informed her that she was to go backstage to get ready for her own performance. She sighed heavily because she wanted to finish their performance. She kissed her mom before standing up and following the man. She could feel his eyes watching her even as she walked away.

The man smiled at her and opened a door that led to the backstage. She could hear people clapping and girls screaming. She concluded that the guys’ performance was over and she started walking faster. She didn’t wanna’ see him again. It caused her too much pain.

But in her haste to get to the dressing room, she bumped into the one person she was trying to avoid.

"Whoa, there!"

She had to will her head to look up the moment she felt his hands on her arms to steady her. When she finally did, she started willing the floor to eat her up alive.

"Aren’t you going to say ‘hi’?" he asked, releasing her arms and checking her over. "You’re okay, aren’t you?"

"Yes, I’m fine," she answered, almost in a whisper. "I have to go now."

"Can’t you just stay for a little while and talk?" he asked, as he waved off his friends to go on without him.

They were standing so close to each other that she could smell his aftershave. She always loved his smell and his Adam’s Apple was hypnotizing her as it bobbed up and down.

You have no idea how much I want to stay…stay with you.

"No, I can’t," she said, turning around before he saw the tears that were about to take form. "I have to go."

And then she ran off. She went inside her dressing room where there were too many people. They smiled as she entered and didn’t even notice her tears. They started pulling her dress off her head and putting her performance outfit on her. She didn’t even notice this until they were already outside in a little huddle, holding hands, heads bowed and praying.

"Britney, we need you onstage!" someone yelled.

She walked towards the little stage that was going to descend from the ceiling and sighed deeply. One of her dancers smiled up at her and blew her a kiss. The opening notes of her song started playing and she forgot her problems, she forgot the feeling of drowning in her own tears, and focused hard on what she had to do.

"Saw him standing there by the record machine," she sang, visualizing that the roomful of people was just her own bedroom.

If it's coming over you
Like it's coming over me
I'm crashing like a tidal wave
That drags me out to sea
I want to be with you
If you want to be with me
Crashing like a tidal wave
I don't want to be
So baby come back to me [Stranded]
So baby come back to me [Stranded]

Her cellphone started ringing and she looked at it like it would bite her. The name ‘Justin’ flashed each time the phone would ring. She finally grabbed it from the bedside table and answered it.


She noticed that her voice was too soft and wondered if he heard her.

"Hi, Brit. How are you?"

A shiver ran up her spine, as his words seemed to wrap around her.

"I’m fine. What about you? How are you feeling?"

"Confused, I guess…"

That thought was left for her to wonder about as he trailed off. She didn’t know what to say to that. She knew what he was trying to say, though.

"I dunno…I’m so confused…why did it have to be this way between us?"

Britney sighed and picked on the blanket over her legs.

"Because you chose it to be…"

"I didn’t. I don’t know what happened. I just don’t know what to do anymore, Britney. I feel so alone…"

"You didn’t seem to be alone at the awards, Justin."

"Being with someone doesn’t take that feeling away. I was with someone…but I wasn’t with the one I wanted to be with."

"What are you saying, Justin? What do you propose we do?"

"I don’t know…that seems to be a cliché with me nowadays."

"Then call me when you do know."

She turned the phone off, placed it back on the bedside table and buried deeper into the blanket. She wanted to disappear, even for just a while. She didn’t know how to deal with things anymore…not with the way they’re going now. She knew that Justin was hurting as much as she’s hurting right now. She’d known him since forever and knew how he feels about certain things and even though she didn’t really think of it…at the back of her mind, she knew that Justin is longing for her as much as she was longing for him.

Tears started rolling down her pretty face as she pulled the blankets over her head. She wallowed in confusion as darkness covered her. She couldn’t stop the tears no matter how hard she tried. She wanted to think of anything other than Justin, but her mind kept wandering back to him. It was so hard for her being in this position and she just didn’t know what to do anymore.

More tears spilled over her eyes as a picture of Justin waiting for her in that dark corner flashed in her mind. He just stood there, almost pleading with her with his eyes and she just knew that he’s waiting for her to come back…to just make the first move.

But she can’t risk that. She can’t risk letting him hurt her this much again.

I can only take so much
These tears are turning me to rust
I know you're waiting there for me to come back
I'm too afraid to show

She turned around slowly, realizing that she’s standing on a very small island. It was just big enough for her to stand on but too small for her to move around. She looked out into the sea and sighed when she saw the vastness before her. She knew that somewhere, home was waiting for her. She wanted to just swim for it…but it was too big a risk. Too much was at stake and she wasn’t even sure if she could make it. It got harder and harder for her to stand on that little island as the sun beat down her bare neck and shoulders. Thoughts of swimming popped up into her head constantly…but she just couldn’t do it. She can’t just swim out without even knowing how many sharks were waiting to eat her…she had to be sure before she makes a decision.

If it's coming over you
Like it's coming over me
I'm crashing like a tidal wave
That drags me out to sea
I want to be with you
If you want to be with me
Crashing like a tidal wave
I don't want to be
So baby come back to me [Stranded]
So baby come back to me [Stranded]

She sat down as her choreographer left the room to retrieve the tape that they were gonna work on. She had been rehearsing for an upcoming tour and this had always been a hard part. It always tired her out.

She sat on the floor, wiping off sweat on her forehead and drinking from a bottle of water. She looked at her reflection and wanted to cry. She remembered another time that she was in this very same room with her choreographer.

They were practicing real hard when a man entered bearing a note. It was from Justin and it said how much he missed and loved Britney. Britney was blushing and Wade, the choreographer was smiling from ear to ear at Britney. He had always liked watching the couple because he saw so much love in their eyes.

Britney looked over at Wade and smiled as the man left. Wade clapped his hands together, which he usually did when he wanted to regain Britney’s attention. But before he could explain the next routine to her, five men carrying various instruments entered the room and started singing. Britney could only blush more as she recognized the notes of "The Lady in my Life".

She looked over at Wade who could only shrug with a small smile.

"That’s Justin," he said.

Britney sighed as she looked at her reflection. It seemed so empty. Whenever Britney had rehearsals, Justin would either be there with her or, if he’s busy, have something sent to her. She could almost feel his hands running up and down her back and on her neck as he always does when she’s too tired to even think.

She wrapped her arms around herself as she remembered the times Justin would do that. He would sit behind her, put his arms around her and kiss her. It always felt comforting whenever he was near her.

But now, all she had were memories. Sure, they’re good memories…but they’re hardly enough. She wanted more. She wanted to make more memories with Justin.

I miss you
I miss you
Without you
I'm stranded
I love you
So come back
I'm not afraid to show

She ran backstage, beads of sweat dripping from every part of her body. She always loved performing but for some reason, tonight was an exception. She wanted to crawl into a comfortable bed and not open her eyes until she’s completely rested.

She took the towel that someone handed her and wiped her face with it as she drank from a bottle of water. She was led to the van that would take her to the hotel and she wanted to jump up and down when she caught sight of it. The moment she was seated, the van started moving. She looked out the window and realized that it was a full moon.

Her eyes were about to close and never open again when the van stopped and someone informed her that they were at the hotel. She was too tired to even notice how she got in front of her room, but she was there nonetheless. She opened the door with her card key and walked in, eyes half closed.

She turned the lights on and walked in like a zombie. Her mind told her to go to the bathroom and clean up before going for the bed, but her body wouldn’t do it. She headed for the huge, fluffy bed and was just about to hop on when she noticed a rose sitting in the middle of the white blankets. This made her wake up a little and she picked it up with a smile. She noticed the note and recognized the writing at once.

I knew a guy who was so stupid, he watched the woman of his dreams getting married…I won’t let that happen to me. I love you…and I miss you. Go to the bathroom for your surprise.

This was a typical thing for Justin to do. She could imagine the bathtub with rose petals and candles all around it…and she could practically see Justin sitting beside it, waiting for her.

She couldn’t keep the disappointment from her face when she walked in, found the bathtub like she had imagined, but no Justin. Suddenly, she felt tired and weary again. She wanted to crawl into bed and cry…and that was what she was going to do.

She walked out of the bathroom, tears practically flowing out of her eyes, and headed for her bed once more. She looked up just in time to see Justin standing up from the bed with a concerned look on his face.

"What’s wrong?" he asked, as he looked at Britney’s tear-streaked face.

She couldn’t answer his question. She couldn’t even stop the tears from flowing out. She just stood there, transfixed at the sight of the man she loved in front of her again. Her heart had stopped beating, she had suddenly forgotten how to breathe and her head was about to fall off.

Justin walked over and gathered her in his arms. He kissed the top of her head as she hugged him back and continued sobbing. He still could not understand why she was crying, but it felt good holding her again. It had been a long time since he felt the satisfaction of holding a woman so close…because only Britney can bring that satisfaction.

Britney pulled back and looked up at him. She searched his eyes and saw passionate love radiating from them. She had missed him so much and now, she was sure that she would never let him go again. They belonged together.

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