"Caro mio ben, credimi al men
Senza di te, languisce il cor."
Angela Littrell held the last note of the Italian aria perfectly until the recording of the accompaniment came to an end.
As soon as she finished, her audience, which was comprised of Brian and Leighanne Littrell, burst into eager applause. Leighanne gave her a standing ovation.
Angela smiled momentarily before scrunching her face up in hesitation. "Was it okay? I thought the last phrase was a little breathy," she worried.
Leighanne shook her head, walking forward to hug her daughter. "It sounded beautiful, honey," she said, smiling.
"Thanks, Mom," Angela replied, squeezing her mother tightly before letting go and turning to her father. "Dad?" she asked tentatively. He had much more musical know-how than her mother. That was probably because he had been a world famous singer with a little group called the Backstreet Boys back in the day, when he and Angela's mother had just gotten married.
Brian frowned, and Angela groaned inwardly. That frown was never good, she knew that by now.
"Well, your technique..." Brian began seriously. Then his frown melted away into a smile. "Has improved so much!" he finished, grinning. "That sounded beautiful."
Angela grinned. "Thank you!" she said.
"My little baby's gonna be a star," he added, wiping away a fake tear.
Angela rolled her eyes. "Dad, you were a star, and so was Mom," she reminded him.
"I know, but this is more exciting!" he exclaimed, rubbing his hands together.
"I can see it now," Leighanne cut in, grinning. "'Former Backstreeter Brian Littrell Living Vicariously Through Teenage Daughter?'" she said, imitating the newspaper headlines.
Angela started laughing.
"Hey, aren't I allowed to be excited for my gorgeous, talented daughter?" Brian protested, tousling her hair.
"Daaad," Angela groaned, reaching up to fix it.
He laughed. "Sorry."
"Words of advice, Bri. Never mess with a 17-year-old girl's hair," Leighanne said.
"Sorry again, hon. You know I was just playin'," Brian said to his daughter.
"You're always just playin'," Angela shot back, grinning. "So anyway when am I going to get head shots?" she asked eagerly.
"Tomorrow afternoon," Leighanne told her. "You have a hair appointment two hours before."
Angela clapped her hands. "I'm so excited!" she remarked.
"And then Sunday you have the audition for the agent," Leighanne went on.
Brian grinned. "Nervous?" he asked her, poking her in the ribs.
Angela shook her head. "Piece of cake."
Brian patted her on the back. "That's my girl."
Just then the phone rang.
"I'll get it," Leighanne said, smiling at them before stepping out of the room and heading towards the kitchen.
"Oh, I almost forgot," Brian said after she left. "Your mother and I are going out tonight, and I'm expecting a call, so do you think you could stay at home and give them my cell number when they call?"
"Actually I already have plans," Angela said. "Sorry."
"Plans? With who? Jessa?" he asked, referring to her best friend.
"Nope," Angela said, shaking her head.
"A guy friend."
Brian raised his eyebrows. "Which guy friend?" he asked, his voice suddenly dangerous.
Angela sighed. "Parker. He's taking me to the movies," she informed her father reluctantly.
"Parker? As in Parker Williams?"
Angela rolled her eyes. "No, Dad, the other Parker I'm friends with," she said sarcastically. Parker Williams was her boyfriend of five months. His name was kind of preppy, but his appearance was anything but preppy. Basically he looked like your typical bad ass, and because of this, her father had formed a permanent bad opinion of him. Parker didn't act the way he looked, though. He was actually a really sweet and pretty sensitive guy. However, her dad chose to overlook this fact. That or he just didn't know.
Brian sighed sharply. "Sweetheart, I thought we talked about this," he said.
Angela smiled sweetly at him. "We did, Daddy."
"And didn't we decide that you weren't going to see him any more?" Brian recalled.
"No, we didn't decide anything," she returned, her voice still sugary sweet. "You stormed out of my room, and I slammed the door after you."
"I did not storm out of the room. I went to get your mother."
"Oh, there was some definite storming," Angela said.
"This is beside the point," Brian cut in, waving his hand impatiently.
"And what is the point?" Angela demanded. "Trying to keep me from being happy?"
"Honey, you know I want you to be happy," Brian said quickly. "Why do you think I want you to be successful as a singer?"
"Forget singing for one second and focus on this," Angela said. "Parker makes me happy. He makes me feel...loved."
"So your mother and I don't make you feel loved?"
"That's not the same thing!" Angela cried. "Look, what the hell do you have against him?"
"You watch your language," Brian said in a warning tone.
"Fine, what the heck do you have against him?" Angela said exaggeratedly.
"He's not good for you."
"How is he not good for me?"
"Just look at him, Ange," Brian said. "Look at how he dresses. Look at who his friends are."
"Daddy, that's ridiculous!" Angela exclaimed. "He's like A.J. used to be! He looks kinda freaky, but he's the sweetest guy."
"If he's anything like A.J., then I certainly don't want you dating him. Do you know how many woman A.J. had in his hotel room back when we were touring?"
Angela grinned, raising an eyebrow. "Simultaneously? Kinky." She received a deadly look from her father, and she stifled a laugh. "Dad, I'm not going to have sex with Parker, all right? I've only been dating him for five months!"
"What makes you so sure of that? What if he convinces you to change your mind?"
"You think I'm so weak that I can't stand up for myself? He's not going change my mind! I do have a spine, you know! And I also have principles, and I intend to stick to them!" she snapped. "Besides, Parker wouldn't pressure me into anything I wouldn't want to do."
"Speaking of principles, has Parker been to church lately?" Brian asked sarcastically, knowing that the answer was no.
"I cannot believe this!" Angela practically shrieked. "You are discriminating against a perfectly good guy just because he isn't as religious as you'd like him to be!"
"What is going on here?" Leighanne asked, appearing in the doorway.
"Your daughter is going out tonight with Parker Williams!" Brian reported to his wife.
Angela pointed to her father. "He's prejudiced against my boyfriend for stupid reasons!" she defended.
"He doesn't have good morals!" Brian protested.
"You don't know that!" Angela yelled.
"Enough!" Leighanne interrupted, raising her hand to stop the argument. "Stop acting like children. Angela, you are seventeen years old, and Brian, you are a grown man."
"But—" they both began simultaneously.
"No," Leighanne said firmly. "Stop this fighting. It's getting you nowhere. Now, let's discuss this calmly, like adults," she said. "Sit down, both of you. This is a family, not a free-for- all."
Angela sat down in the armchair, and Brian took a seat on the couch next to Leighanne. Father and daughter were eying each other angrily.
"Now, what exactly is the problem?" Leighanne asked.
They both started to speak at once, both gesturing wildly.
"One at a time," Leighanne interrupted.
"Go ahead, Daddy-O," Angela muttered under her breath, folding her arms across her chest.
He ignored her crack and turned to his wife. "Your daughter—"
"Has a name," Angela finished for him.
"Angela, don't interrupt. Brian, please refer to your daughter as Angela," Leighanne said, quickly resolving the situation.
"Fine. Angela wants to go out with Parker Williams, who dresses like he's in a gang..."
Angela let out a little sniff. She received a look from her mother. "What?"
"Brian, please continue," was all that Leighanne said. "He dresses differently..."
"He's friends with the wrong people, and he doesn't go to church, to name a few," Brian finished.
"Is that all?"
"What do you mean, is that all?" Brian sputtered. "He's dangerous! Do you want her going out with someone like that?"
"All right, calm down," Leighanne said, putting a hand on his knee. "Angela? What's your side of the story?"
"Dad is completely wrong!" she declared. "Parker dresses like A.J. used to dress. His friends are great and love music just like I do—they're in a band with him, for heaven's sake! And so he doesn't go to church. He has a right to his own beliefs, doesn't he?" she pointed out.
Leighanne sighed and turned to her husband. "Now, Brian—"
"Don't 'now Brian' me!" he objected.
"You're blowing this a little out of proportion," Leighanne said.
"Maybe, but I just don't want to take any chances with her safety."
"But I've met Parker before, and he seemed like a perfectly nice young man," Leighanne said calmly.
"You see?!" Angela interrupted. "You see?! I was telling the truth!"
"And it is her love life, not yours," Leighanne went on.
"Thank you!" Angela muttered.
"I cannot believe you are taking her side!" said Brian.
"Well hers is the one that makes more sense," Leighanne said factually.
"So I can go get ready now? It's five o'clock, and he's supposed to pick me up at six," Angela told them impatiently.
"Yes. Go ahead," Leighanne said.
Angela got to her feet and flashed her mother a grin before turning and starting out of the room.
"Just a minute," Brian said.
Angela groaned and turned back around, looking appealingly to her mother.
"I didn't give you permission," Brian said.
"But I did," Leighanne finished, grinning. "Go ahead."
Smirking, Angela turned and ran out of the room before her father could say anything else.
Victory at last! she thought as she hurried up the stairs of the spacious house. She remembered the
angry expression on her father's face, and her smile faded a little. Well, for now, anyway, she
corrected as she slipped inside her room to prepare for her date.