A.J., Howie, and Nick sat around in Nick's hotel room. They had just finished their concert and were on a break starting t'morrow.
"I want to get some play." Howie filled his glass with water from the bar.
"Howie's possessed!" A.J. joked.
"Yeah, that was kinda random D!" Nick laughed.
"No I'm serious. I'm like the dork of the group." Howie looked down.
"Don't say that D. It's not your fault your mom dresses you." A.J. laughed.
"Shut up!" Howie threw a pillow at him.
"Touchy subject, Bone," Nick whispered in a stage voice.
"I could get some," Howie pouted.
"Not faster than I could," A.J. smirked.
"What are you two talking about? All the girls love me." Nick smiled fakely.
"Cause you are one." A.J. messed Nick's hair up.
"Fine let's make a bet," Howie smirked. "The first one to have sex wins, but you can't already know them and nothing crazy, A.J. Real sex only," Howie warned.
"Too many rules," A.J. mumbled.
"The losers have to be the winner's personal slave for a whole tour," Nick said confidentially.
"No hookers, D. We all know how much you want to win." A.J. smirked evilly.
"Deal." Nick put his hand in.
"Deal." Howie smiled.
"Deal." A.J. grinned greedily.
The three fellas shook hands as Kevin and Brian came in.
"Do you know how hard it is to get ice around here?" Brian caught his breath.
"Fans?" A.J. asked.
"Of course." Kevin set the ice down.
"Well at least we'll get somewhat of a break for two weeks."
"I wouldn't call L.A. a break."
Howie called the waitress over to his table. He was the only one who had slept on the plane so he decided to get some breakfast.
"What'd ya want, honey?" The cute little red headed waitress bent down as she chewed her gum.
"I'll just have some toast with a latte, please."
"That's all? Ok."
"What are you doing Linzey?"
"Taking an order, sir."
"Yeah right. You were probably bugging him, you slut."
"Just taking an order, sir, promise."
"Bullshit." He grabbed her arm harshly.
"Stop it! What's your problem asshole." Howie stood up.
"Is this your friend Linzey?"
"Yes. I'm her friend. Leave her alone." Howie stood up for the young scared girl.
"Boy, have I been looking forward to this." The manager squinted at Linzey. "You're fired, bitch."
The manager walked away proudly as Linzey collapsed onto the seat next to Howie.
"I'm sorry. I-I didn't think he'd do that. He was hurting you though and..."
"That was my only job," she sobbed.
"But he shouldn't be..."
"He can do whatever he wants if I get paid." Linzey wiped her tears away.
"No, don't say that. He grabbed your wrists. Are you okay?" Howie said as he took her wrists gently in his hands.
"They kinda hurt but..." Linzey looked up to meet Howie's eyes.
There was a short silence for an awkward moment.
"Would it be okay if I asked you out?" Howie rubbed her wrists.
"I think I would like that. I'm Linzey Japin." She smiled.
"I'm Howie Dorough. Do you wanna get out of this place?" Howie returned with a warm smile.
"Yeah, let's go."
A.J. walked down the streets of L.A. with Brian, Nick, and Kevin. He had his leopard cowboy hat on topping his favorite pants, a tight black shirt, and his manteau over it. Brian and Kev and dressed sloppily while Nick and A.J. were in their best. Nick had spiked up his hair and was wearing his jersey and some ripped jeans.
"Your stupid bet is insane, do you realize that?"
"If you liked it that much you could've asked to join in," Nick said sarcastically.
"You know this means giving it up..." Kevin looked at A.J. indecisively and then turned hopefully to Nick. "Nick."
"Omig-d, is that D with that red head?" Brian looked across the street.
This Howie guy was really nice. He was the first one to stand up for her, to make her laugh, to understand her problems. It seemed like he cared about her. She doubted it though.
He's probably after something, she thought. What did she have though. A small one room apt., well no more job, an acting career that wasn't going anywhere, an abusive family. So maybe he was just nice.
"My friends, they're coming over here," Howie sighed.
"You mean the boys?" Linzey asked unknowingly.
Wow! She is sooo amazing. She left home at 15 and's been living off of that crummy job's salary for months now. She didn't even have a T.V. Screw the bet, Howie thought. She's perfect. An actress, strong, capable, and beautiful.
"Hey D." A.J.'s voice threw off his train of thought.
"Who's this?" Brian smiled.
"Linzey Japin, and you are?" Linz smiled.
"Brian Littrell." He smiled back.
"Kevin Richardson." Kev shook her hand.
"A.J. McLean." He smirked at her.
"Nick Carter." Smiled warmly.
"We were off to the mall so." Howie grabbed Linzey and started to pull her off.
"D, you can hang around for a little longer." A.J. and Nick smiled wryly.
Howie rang Linz's apt. doorbell. He was glad to see her smiling face at the door.
"Hey, I'm almost ready. Come on in." Linz walked away from the door as she let Howie in. Everything was crowded. Her bed next to her bookcase, a kitchen across from them. No electronics besides a phone. A small bathroom.
"Okay I guess I'm ready."
"You guess? You look great," Howie complemented. "Come on."
Howie smiled warmly at her. She smiled back and the two of them walked off.
"Wow this is great. I mean look at how the moon hits the water like that and just stop for a minute and listen to the water come in and go out." Linzey had stopped skipping around on the beach. Howie looked at her with a warm smile as she thought.
"What do you wanna do now?" Howie asked her as he got right behind her.
"Could we just sit here for a while? It just seems like the perfect way to end an amazing day." Linz laid down with her eyes closed on the sand.
Howie sat next to her and looked at her. She opened her eyes to see Howie staring at her, his hair lit up by the moonlight. They looked at each other for a minute or two before Linzey moved up to him and began to kiss him. He kissed her back with a passion that comforted her.
Howie pulled away after a minute or so.
"What's wrong?" Linzey looked at him.
"Is this really what you want?" Howie looked into her eyes.
"I'm sorry. It was wrong of me to kiss you." Linz looked down.
"No, no, no. That's not it at all. I liked it, it's just you've been hurt before and I don't want to be the one that hurts you again." Howie pushed a strand of stray hair out of her face.
"So don't hurt me." Linz kissed him again.
"Simple enough." Howie kissed her back and moved closer to kiss her neck...
Linzey woke up the next morning to find Howie laying next to her. She had fallen asleep in his arms on the beach. She looked up to see him smiling down at her.
"Hey. Did we?"
"No. You fell asleep and you look so peaceful I didn't want to move you, so I got a blanket from my car and well you probably get it from there." Howie held her close to him. "You're just in time for the sunrise."
They looked up to see the sky filled with oranges and pinks and reds. Linzey pulled herself closer to Howie and took a deep breath in.
A.J. and Nick walked up to two young women that were sitting at a bar.
"Hey baby. What's up?" Nick looked at the brunette.
"Hey sexy mama. Bet you're great in bed," A.J. smirked.
The two girls looked at each other and walked off. Nick hit A.J. upside his head.
"Bet you're great in bed," Nick mocked.
"I should've gotten her." A.J. frowned. "I'm the bad ass one."
"Yeah, well I'm the heart throb."
"No you're the teenybopper one." A.J. hit him playfully and walked off.
"Yeah...wait teenybopper? What's that? A.J. come back." Nick ran after A.J.
Linz hugged Howie after she read the call back list. She was one of two girls up for the lead in a new television show!
"Good job, sweetie."
"I couldn't have done it without you." Linz kissed him.
"Well you wanna go celebrate?" Howie smiled, taking out two premiere tickets.
"Omigosh. I would love to."
"Come on. Your dress should be ready." Howie pulled her towards the car.
"My dress?! You got me a dress?! Howie!"
"Come on, it's really pretty. It'll look great on you." Howie kissed her.
"Okay, okay. But don't buy me stuff!" Linz kissed him back.
"I am not a teenybopper," Nick said with a pout.
"Bullshit," A.J. laughed. "We really need to find some girls before Howie does."
"Wow, that's really weird to say that huh?" Nick realized.
"Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it. We are talking about Howie now," A.J. said as he started up his car.
"Yeah, hell will freeze over before D gets some," Nick added as he hopped into the passenger seat of A.J.'s car.
They drove off unknowingly of any of Howie's plans.
A month later, Linz had surprised Howie by taking him out to the beach for his birthday. She had packed a picnic dinner and they were just finishing as the sun started to set.
"This is amazing Linz." Howie looked over at him.
"So you like it?"
"Of course. How couldn't I? You made everything so wonderful. And...you look perfect."
"Howie, it's your birthday. You don't complement me."
"But you do." Howie leaned towards her and kissed her with the same passion he had the day they met.
Linz kissed back as she found herself on top of Howie. Howie was barely able to pull himself away from her.
"Maybe we shouldn't...um...do this now." Howie sat up to meet her face to face.
"It's your birthday, if you don't want to..."
Linz started to get off of Howie but was gently pulled back by him.
"I do want it but not here." Howie kissed her again.
"Okay, baby." Linz stood up and helped him up.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Howie stood up after her.
Howie woke up to find Linz gone. He knew it was too good to last. He slowly put on his jeans and went into the kitchen to get some cold cereal. Howie jumped to see someone cooking breakfast.
"No Martha Stuart."
"Well Martha, why don't you finish yer homemakin' and come back to bed." Howie kissed her neck.
"But Howard Dorough, you have a girlfriend!" Linz joked.
"Oh, I don't like her anyway." Howie turned Linz around.
"I'm so glad I trusted you." Linz kissed Howie.
"Me too." Howie kissed her neck.
"Don't you want breakfast?"
"That's not what I'm hungry for."
"Well, I have no idea what else you could want, I mean..."
"Shut up and come back to bed."
A.J. and Nick sat on the park bench, watching girls go by them.
"Man, we didn't get any at all!" Nick frowned.
"It's not over yet. D more than likely hasn't gotten any either." A.J. sat comfortably.
"Wow, we have to go learn that new dance in like an hour." Nick looked at his watch.
"Sounds good we can check in on D." A.J. got up.
"Like there's much to check up on." Nick smiled.
Linzey had decided to come watch Howie dance. She was talking to Howie when Nick and A.J. walked in.
"Um...baby, could you go get me my water bottle, I think I left it in your car."
"Okay, be right back," Linz said as Howie kissed her.
"So have you..." A.J. asked with a grin.
"Actually, I'm dropping out of the bet." Howie looked up.
"What?! You can't..."
"I've already beat you."
There was a dead silence.
"It doesn't matter. Linzey wasn't like that, I love her. She's more than a bet to me."
"I would hope so."
"A bet?! A bet, D?!"
"Was there a bet or not?"
Howie nodded as he looked at Linzey. His stomach turned to see her squint her eyes and suck in her cheeks slightly. (She only did that when she was angry.) Linzey punched Howie and ran off.
Linzey felt the sand underneath as she cried into her blanket.
"Linzey Japin?" a voice called to her.
"That's my name." Linz looked up with tearful eyes.
"I'm Brian. I work with Howie. Can I sit and talk to you?" Brian asked.
"If you're trying to make everything better...it won't work." Linz wiped the tears away. "I've been tricked...again. I don't plan for it to happen again."
"I know this looks wrong, but it's not. Okay it probably is wrong but..."
"Yeah, you're making Howie look great," Linz said sarcastically.
"Howie loves you."
"Loves to use me for a stupid bet. He said he didn't want to hurt me, Brian!"
"He meant it too."
"When you came in he was calling the bet off."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"The bet was made before he met you and yes you two had sex but was it planned by him?" Brian looked her in the eyes.
"I'll talk to him in the morning after work."
"If you think that's the right thing to do." Brian got up. "Thanks for letting me talk to you."
"Thanks for the advice." Linz looked up.
Brian walked off hearing Linzey sobbing.
Howie walked back and forth in his room but finally plopped down on his bed.
"What else did she say Brian? Anything else?" Howie asked.
"She said she'd talk to you t'morrow after work."
"We don't have work."
"Maybe she does."
"She got the job!" Howie smiled for the first time.
"Wow a job."
"An acting job."
"Okay Linz. From here to page 58 by Friday. Two days, think you can do it?"
"Of course, sir!" Linz said happily.
Howie came up to her.
"Hey," he said solemnly.
"Hey." She turned after saying g-bye to the director.
"We should talk."
"Talking's good, but how do I know you won't lie?"
"I'm really sorry, it's a stupid bet we made the day before I met you. We clicked, I thought we did at least." Howie turned towards her. "I would never ever hurt you, Linzey. I never want to see those beautiful eyes filled with hurt."
Linzey smiled at Howie. "You promise?"
"I swear to you baby." Howie kissed her.
"I love you." Linz kissed back.
"I love you so much more than you would ever believe." Howie kissed her again. They both felt comfortable and safe in each other's arms and hoped nothing would ever change.