"And I really love the way in that one song, you go, 'I lo-ove you,'" Ben sang, imitating his date. He and Katie had gone out for ice cream sundaes after the show.
"Thanks," Katie said for the five millionth time that night as she spooned ice cream into her mouth. And I thought that guys who talked about themselves all the time were boring, she thought grimly. "But I think we've talked enough about me. What about you? What do you do in your spare time?"
"I sing—just like you," Ben replied, smiling.
Katie finished her ice cream and pushed the dish away slightly, feeling kind of sick. She yawned, and Ben noticed immediately.
"Oh, are you tired?" he asked with ample concern.
"Kinda," she replied, glad for an excuse to leave.
"I'll take you back to your hotel if you want."
"That would be great."
"Okay. Check please!" Ben called to the passing waiter.
About ten minutes later, Ben and Katie were standing in front of her hotel room.
"Thanks so much for the ice cream," Katie said.
He shrugged. "It was my pleasure. Actually, I think you still have a little right there," Ben lied, touching the corner of his mouth.
"Where?" she asked, touching her own lips and finding nothing.
He moved her hand aside and wiped the imaginary speck of ice cream off for her. "There," he murmured, looking into her eyes. He slowly bent forward and kissed her.
Katie was going to push him away but was surprised by the passion that he displayed. When he pulled away, she was breathing hard. "Uh, Ben..."
"Should I not have done that? I'm sorry," he said frowning.
"No, it was...it was nice, but..." She looked at the hopeful expression on his face and sighed. "I'm sorry, Ben, but you're not really my type, and..." she trailed off.
He looked away. "Oh..."
"I'm really sorry," she repeated.
He forced a smile. "No, that's okay. I understand." He started to turn and walk away, but Katie touched his cheek. When he turned back, she kissed his lips softly.
"Goodbye, Ben," she said quietly, smiling unsurely at him.
"Bye, Katie," he mumbled. He turned and walked away.
A little ways down the hall, A.J. had been watching this scene, experiencing envy so fierce that it frightened him. Now Katie started to head in his direction, and he turned and walked the other way, thinking that she had seen him and not wanting to be found out. But she wasn't walking towards him, she was going to Nick and Brian's hotel room. She knocked, and Brian opened the door.
"What's up, Katie?" her cousin asked.
"Is Nick there?" Katie asked sweetly.
"Why? You want to thank him for setting you up?" Brian pried with a grin.
"Something like that," Katie replied.
"Just a second." Brian disappeared into the room and Nick came to the door.
"Yeah?" Nick asked somewhat groggily.
Katie hit him across the top of his head. "You're never setting me up with anyone again!" she informed him cheerfully. Then she turned on her heel and started for Kevin's room. She usually went to say goodnight to him before she went to sleep. But she saw something move down at the end of the hall. "A.J.? Is that you?" she asked.
He turned around. "Yeah."
"What are you doing?" Katie asked with a frown.
"Nothing, just...walking," he replied lamely, walking towards her. "I'm getting a little homesick...again," he lied, using his reputation to his advantage.
"Aw, I'm sorry," she replied, wrapping her arms around his neck.
A.J. smiled at her touch. "It's okay."
"Want to come back to my room? I've been bored to death all night, I could use someone to talk to," she suggested.
"Sure," he said, glad to be there for her.
"Okay, just a second," she said. She went to Kevin's door and knocked.
He opened it. "Hey, Katie."
"Hey, Ben and I went out for ice cream, he was boring, I had an awful time, I dumped him, goodnight Kevvy!" Katie said quickly, hugging him and kissing his cheek.
He laughed and managed to hug her back before she broke away. "'Night, sweets."
Katie rolled her eyes at him upon hearing that pet name as she linked her arm through A.J.'s and walked away down the hall. She heard Kevin shut his door.
"Wait...you dumped him?" A.J. asked a little too eagerly, withdrawing his arm.
Katie frowned. "Um...yeah...why is that so hard to believe?"
"Well...I was out in the hall and I couldn't help but notice that you were—"
"Kissing? Yeah, that wasn't really my doing," she explained as she opened the door to her hotel room and led him inside. They plopped down on the bed.
"Ohhhhh..." A.J. replied, understanding.
Katie's frown deepened. "Are you okay, A.J.?"
He laughed. "Why wouldn't I be okay?"
"I don't know...you're just acting really weird," she answered.
He laughed again. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Okay...so what about you?" Katie asked.
"What about me?" he echoed.
"Do you have your eye on anyone?" she clarified.
He looked away. "No, not really...I don't know, I'm not really focusing on that right now," he explained.
"Yeah...I guess I'm not really either. Ben was...just for fun...even though it wasn't any fun at all," she concluded illogically. "I guess it was a favor for Nick more than anything else."
"What was the matter with him?" A.J. wondered, figuring that he could take some pointers from Ben's mistakes.
"Nick? We'll be here for a long time, A.J."
A.J. laughed. "No, no, Ben."
"He wouldn't stop complimenting me," Katie explained.
"How is that a problem?"
"Oh, A.J., you know that part in 'Spanish Eyes' where you do the little cool thing with your voice? I love that!" Katie mimicked. "And then in 'The One' where you do the little cool thing, again, I love that too! And then in—"
"Okay, I get the point," A.J. interrupted, laughing.
She smiled. "It wasn't exactly the most enjoyable night of my life."
"Well, hey, you had fun at the show, right?"
"I always have fun at the show," Katie reminded him. "That's why I go through all the shit that I have to go through—the interviews, and autographs, and whatnot—so that I can be onstage and sing. Even if I only get to sing four songs," she said, laughing.
"That's the way it is for all of us in this business," A.J. empathized. "But hey, you're lucky. Our last opening acts only got to do two each," A.J. said, touching her arm.
"That's because I got the connections," Katie explained, grinning slyly. "But still, I do four, and you do, oh, twenty?"
"Yeah, well we're the feature presentation," A.J. explained smugly.
"And I'm just the coming attraction, I suppose?"
"Yeah, the coming attraction," he said with a firm nod, emphasizing the word "attraction."
Katie shot him an look of pretended annoyance. "Get the hell out of here, McLean."
A.J. pretended to sniffle as he stood up and started to walk out of the room. Katie jumped up and ran after him, putting her hand on his shoulder and pulling him back around to face her.
"No, don't..." she shouted, trailing off when his body was turned towards hers. He had the strangest expression in his dark brown eyes that for some reason she couldn't turn away from. The two of them just stayed like that for a second, until A.J. reached forward and rested a tentative hand on her hip.
"Wh-What are you doing?" Katie whispered.
"This." A.J. put his other hand on her other hip and pulled her close to him, kissing her lips with more passion than Katie had ever thought was possible.
"Mmm," she murmured through the kiss as he walked forward, making her walk backwards and climb onto the bed. "A.J., I—oh G-d." She cut herself off as he started to take off her clothes.
"Just let it happen," he whispered into her ear.
She nodded and started to kiss him again as he climbed on the bed next to her.