Kayla's heart was beating so loudly she was sure that everyone in the building could hear it as she, her father, and Sara and Linz walked through the Delta terminal towards gate 14A. Kayla's little sister had gotten sick at the last minute, so her mother had been forced to stay home with her instead of coming to the airport to meet the Boys and see her off. Kayla and Mrs. Prescott had already had a rather tearful goodbye, so on top of her weak nerves, she was still recovering from that. The effect was slightly dizzying.
"Hey Richardson," Linz said, noticing her friend's unusually quiet attitude. "You okay?"
"Doing just fine, McLean," Kayla replied. But her voice was shaking.
Sara grinned. "Nervous, huh?"
Kayla laughed dryly. "You think? Do you know how long I've been waiting for this?" She gulped. "I'm just afraid I'm going to say something stupid and make a fool of myself."
Linz smiled. "You won't," she assured Kayla. Then she sighed. "Can you believe we're actually going to meet them?"
Kayla shook her head. "No. That's part of my problem."
Her father nudged her in the ribs with his elbow. "Are you going to hit on Kevin?"
Kayla laughed, rolling her eyes. "Yes, Dad, I'm going to hit on a 28-year-old, happily married man," she answered sarcastically.
"Hey, we're almost there," Sara observed suddenly.
Everyone fell silent, looking to see if she was right.
She was. They were passing gate 13A. 14A would be right around the upcoming corner.
Kayla drew in a quick breath and unconsciously started to slow down her pace so that the other three ended up walking ahead of her. "I think I'm going to throw up," she murmured, stopping altogether.
Her father and friends stopped too. "Seriously?" Sara asked.
"Honestly, I don't know," she answered, rubbing her stomach.
Linz rolled her eyes. "You'll be fine. Come on. I wanna meet A.J. already."
"Oh, Linz, you're always so selfless," Sara remarked.
Kayla was still rubbing her stomach and looking like she would spew.
"Oh, you big baby!" her father said, nudging her forward gently. "Let's go already!"
Kayla smiled weakly. "Okay, fine. But if I drop dead when we step around that corner, I'm coming back to haunt you."
"Sounds good. Now come on," Mr. Prescott urged.
Kayla swallowed hard and, summoning up all of her courage, walked forward and around the corner.
The Backstreet Boys were not there.
The first thing that Kayla felt was immense relief. But then she realized what their not being there meant, and she started to worry. She gulped and turned around to face her father with a question on her lips. Before she could say anything there was a tap on her shoulder. Kayla jumped and turned around to find herself facing a uniformed security guard with a stern expression on his face.
"You're Miss Kayla Prescott?" the guard asked harshly.
"Y-Yes," she stammered, taken slightly by surprise.
"Come with me, please. You'll need to have some identification ready. Security in the VIP lounges just got tighter." With that the guard started off in the other direction.
Kayla just stood there until Linz gave her a push. Shaking her head quickly, Kayla started after him, stumbling slightly once or twice but miraculously not falling on her face.
Soon they reached a pair of glass doors. An even more austere-looking guard with crossed arms and a square stance stood in front of those. Kayla showed him her driver's license, as did Linz, Sara, and Mr. Prescott. The guard checked the ID he was given, grunted, and stepped grudgingly aside to let them pass through. Kayla's hands were trembling as she reached for the door and pushed it open.
She and her companions went through the doors and found themselves in a fairly short carpeted hall. At the end of the hall was a wooden door. "VIP LOUNGE" was carved in the door next to the knob. Faint laughter could already be heard from inside the room behind it.
Somehow Kayla managed to walk down the hall to that door. Her hand rested on the cold metal of the knob for what seemed like a long time before she turned it and slowly started to push the door open. It let out a little creak, and she felt a more intense nervous feeling pass through her heart at the noise.
When the door was open all the way, she took one look at who was sitting in the cheerful room's overstuffed couches,
and she immediately covered her face with her hands.