Two weeks dragged slowly by. The first leg of the U.S. tour was now over, and Katie and the guys were a few days into a week and a half long break. They were all staying in their homes in and around Orlando. Katie spent most of her time either by herself or with Kevin and Brian. Her mother was out of town, and Kevin was at his house, so she was alone at the Richardson home, besides the one night that Nick stayed over watching movies with her. Spending so much time by herself gave Katie a lot of time to think about the situation between her and A.J. She had ben considering what he had said to her. "If you and I were together, it would be so amazing." Now she was starting to believe that this might be true. But when she considered it more, she realized that what she had said to him was also true; she couldn't handle a serious relationship right now. Katie felt so torn that she decided that she needed another opinion.
On Wednesday afternoon, her doorbell rang, and she saw that it was Brian. "Hey," she said when she opened the door.
"Hey, cuz!" he greeted, hugging her cheerfully.
"Come in," Katie said softly, leading him into the living room. They sat on the couch.
"So what do you have to talk to me about?" Brian asked.
"I need your advice on something. But before I tell you what, you have to swear on your life that you won't tell Kev."
Brian raised an eyebrow. "Katie, what did you do?"
"It's not really that bad, but it's none of Kevin's business, and I don't want him to get involved and fuck everything up royally."
"Does this have something to do with a guy?" Brian asked, knowing how protective Kevin got when it came to his little sister and men.
Katie took a deep breath. "A.J."
Brian's jaw dropped. "A.J.? A.J. McLean?" he practically yelled.
She nodded again.
"Oh my G-d," Brian murmured. Then he made a face. "Ewww! How did that happen!"
"Remember the night when Nick set me up with Ben?" Katie said, feeling sick to her stomach.
"Well after I came to your room to yell at Nick, I found Bone out in the hall, and after I said goodnight to Kevin, A.J. and I want back to my room. We were talking, just playing around, when all of a sudden we started messing around, and we ended up sleeping together," Katie explained, her cheeks burning as she looked at the floor.
"So...it only happened that one time?" Brian said. Katie motioned for him to go higher. "Twice?" he guessed, his eyes widening. She indicated that it was still higher. "How many times, Katie?"
She grimaced and held up the five fingers of her right hand. "Five," she whispered.
"Five times?! Katie!" Brian reprimanded.
"He was really good!" Katie protested.
Brian closed his eyes. "Okay, I really didn't want to know that," he mumbled.
"Sorry, Brian," Katie replied. "But it wasn't like it just happened all five times."
Katie shook her head. "We decided that we would just have a physical relationship. Or...I decided, actually. That apparently wasn't enough for A.J. After the fifth time, he told me that the only physical thing wasn't working for him and said that we either needed to make it a real relationship or end it, soŚ"
"You ended it," Brian finished for her.
"How did you know?"
"For one thing, you and A.J. have both been acting really depressed lately, and for another thing, I've known you for twenty years," Brian replied, his warm smile relaxing her a little.
"So what should I do, Brian? I miss him."
Brian shrugged. "Find someone else to fuck?" he suggested, laughter dancing in his bright blue eyes.
Katie cracked a smile. "It's not that simple, though. I really miss him, not just the sex."
"So tell him that you want a relationship."
"But that's the problem. I don't. I can't handle that. Not after Brett..." Katie looked away.
"Katie," Brian said quietly, "what was Brett like?"
She frowned. "Cruel, drunk, controlling, abusiveŚ"
"Okay, okay, that's enough," Brian interrupted. "Is A.J. cruel?"
"No, he's one of the sweetest guys I know."
"Is he drunk?"
Katie smiled hesitantly. "Well..."
"Most of the time, I mean."
"No," she admitted.
"Is he controlling?"
"No, in bed, he lets me do all the work, and...I'm kidding, Brian!" she laughed, seeing the disgusted expression that crossed his face. "No, he's not controlling."
"And is he abusive?"
Katie laughed out loud. "No, not at all."
"So what's the point that I'm trying to make here?" Brian concluded.
"That A.J. is a good guy who's nothing like Brett and I'm just being stupid and paranoid about this because a relationship with A.J. McLean would be the best thing that's ever happened to me," she said all in one breath. "Thank you so much, Brian!" she squealed, throwing her arms around her cousin's neck.
"You're welcome, just don't tell Kevin that I helped you decide this, because if you, then I might lose a limb...or worse," he implied, glancing down at his pants.
Katie laughed. "Don't worry, I'm sure that even Kevin wouldn't deprive you of that."
"You're forgetting just who you're talking about here, Katie," Brian replied.
Katie's smile faded. "What is Kevin going to think when he finds out about me and A.J.?" she suddenly wondered softly.
"He might be upset at first, but if the two of you really care about each other, he'll eventually accept it, I promise," Brian soothed.
Katie nodded. "Okay...wow, that went a lot faster than I thought it would," she commented, glancing at the clock.
"You up for some lunch? My treat."
"Now there's an offer I can't refuse," Katie agreed,
pulling him to his feet and out the door. "Let's go!"