She felt like she was floating as they locked eyes with one another and began to make their way across the dance floor.
"Chris..." He mouthed, as she reached him; taking her small hand in his and pulling it to his mouth for a short, yet sweet kiss. "Where have you been all my life?"
At the sensation of his soft lips on her hand, the butterflies in her stomach began to move around, the tears in her eyes began to slowly come down, and even though she wanted to say so much at this very moment, all she managed to say to him was the one thing she always wanted to say when he asked her that question. "Here, by your side...loving you."
With that being said, he gave her his famous mischievous grin, before dropping her hand, and cupping her face with both of his hands. "God, I love you, Chrissy."
She couldn't help but smile at his words, and lean in so that their foreheads were touching, "And I love you-"
"CHRISSY, WAKE UP!"
Christina jumped awake at the sound of someone calling her name, but then groaned, and shut her eyes completely, as she noticed who it was-and what the person was doing at the moment. "Nickolas Gene Carter, please tell me that you are NOT jumping on my bed right now. And that you are also NOT waking me up from my nap after the day I had."
"Can't do that, Chrissy." Nick said, smiling mischievously at her, before taking one last jump; landing on his stomach beside her-which caused her to open her eyes and glare at him. "Strict orders from the powers that be. I need you dressed, showered, and ready to go in two hours. But, please-not in that order. I tried it once, and it just left me clinging to my clothes in the most uncomfortable of places."
Christina laughed at Nick's statement, before moving her left hand, from the position it was in on the bed-and placing it on her friend's head; gently raking her nails through Nick's golden hair. "Even though that shower sounds pretty good right now, and I could stand to get out of this room for a few hours, I'm going to have to ask for a rain check, buddy boy."
Nick moved Christina's hand from his hair to his lips, giving her knuckles a soft kiss as he turned on the puppy dog eyes. "Chrissy.."
Christina, knowing that if he continued looking at her like that, she would give in, snatched her hand away from his, and got up off the bed; putting some distance in between her and Nick's miracle eyes. "The answer is no, Nikki. Besides, I've been to all of your guys concerts, and I know basically every dance routine there is in it, so there is no need for me to really go tonight, is there?"
"Chrissy.." Nick began, getting up from the bed, and making his way towards her. "It's your birthday, you're the birthday girl, and if that means you have to spend the night with five of the hottest guys in America, then so be it."
Christina rolled her eyes at Nick's slight humor, and gave him the same mischievous grin that he had given her before. "Five of the hottest guys in America, huh? Well, why didn't you say N'sync were going to be there, that makes all the bit of difference."
The expression written across Nick's face-as he realized what Christina meant by that-was priceless. "Fine, if you want to play like that, see if I care. I didn't want you to come with us anyway."
Christina couldn't help but laugh as Nick slid past her and made his way out of her hotel room, "Aww, don't take it personal, Nikki, I still love you."
As Nick flashed his middle finger to her over his shoulder, and slammed the door behind him, Christina couldn't help but continue to laugh at him. "God, I love my job."
Christina sighed happily as she leaned back in the tub; preparing to enjoy the relaxing bubble bath that she had made for herself. Unfortuantly though, that sigh soon turned into a low grumble as the phone in her room went off.
Fortunately though, for her and for whoever was calling, the suite that she was staying in put phones in the bathroom just for this purpose.
Raising her arm slightly, she unhooked the phone from it's resting place, and put the receiver up to her ear; ready to give, whoever was calling her at the moment, hell for interrupting her pampering session. "This better be good."
"And your reason for not coming with us tonight better be good as well, Miss. Liveri."
"AJ!" Christina said, half-whining and half-scolding; hating it when anyone, especially any of her guy friends, used her last name.
"Don't AJ me," Alex said, his voice changing from its usual perky tone to a tone that he only used when he was angry with her, "and don't say you're not coming tonight, because you are. And that's final."
Christina narrowed her eyes at his bossy tone. If it would've been anyone but him, she would've cursed them out in a heartbeat for trying to tell her what to do, but since it was him and she knew exactly how he was, she instead just rolled her eyes. "Thanks for your concern DAD, but like I told Nick, I'm going to have to ask for a rain check.... besides, I've got other plans."
Christina knew she was lying, and that AJ could always tell when she was lying as well, but was surprised when he asked her what her plans were.
"Well," Christina began, trying to quickly think of a lie that sounded as next to the truth as she possibly could get. But finding that she couldn't think of anything next to: my plans are to stay here at the hotel, thinking of you, while eating my heart out in room service, she sighed once again. "I have a date....actually he's here right now, and I think it's very impolite to talk to you while he's in the room."
"Oh really, you have a date, huh?" AJ asked, with a hint of disbelief in his voice; obviously knowing that Christina wasn't telling the truth. But with her feeling that she could be getting back to her bubble bath quicker if she played along, she continued, saying that indeed some guy was there-waiting to wine and dine her.
"If that's so, then why am I standing outside your bathroom door-watching you make up ridiculous stories while you shave your legs; which aren't half bad, if I say so myself."
Christina almost choked on air as her best friend's husky voice echoed, not only through the phone, but also through the room as well. "Alex...?"
"The one and only."
As the slightly ajar door to the bathroom opened fully, and AJ came in, holding his cellphone-with a mischievous, but determined look, on his face, Christina couldn't help but blush and sink further down into the tub.
"So, is your date in there with you, or is he hiding under the sink; waiting to wine and dine you with toiletries?"
Christina blushed further as AJ made his way into the room-taking a seat on the closed toilet, beside the bathtub; not the least bit phased at Christina's clothing-less body.
Not wanting him to see that he affected her in the least, she shot him a murderous glare, that would've made anyone, who didn't know her and AJ's friendship that well, frightened for the boy. "God, I hate you."
"You know, you've been saying that ever since we were six, and soon I'm going to think you actually mean it." AJ said, giving Christina another mischievous grin before playfully putting a hand in the tub, and throwing a handful of bubbles at her. "So, are you going to hurry up and get ready, or am I going to have to jump in there, and wash you myself....I particularly like the latter-but that's just me."
Even though Christina was used to AJ's shameless flirting, she couldn't help but blush at his comment, and then sigh as she realized AJ was serious; he wasn't going to move from where he was seated until she agreed to either come with him, or until she told him to jump in; which wouldn't be happening anytime soon. "You're not going to leave me alone until I agree to come with you guys, are you?"
"Nope," Alex said, flashing her an I knew you'd see it my way grin, before standing up and making his way towards the door. "So, hurry up in here...oh, and one more thing."
"What is it, Alex?" Christina asked, not bothering to hide her irritation at her friend at the moment.
"I just wanted to say," he began, making his way out the door, not turning around to continue until he partially closed it, "nice tits."
As the door slammed shut, and AJ's cackling laugh began, Christina looked down, mortified, as she saw that indeed her breast had been exposed for Alex's eyes to see.
"Oh God," she muttered, before sliding all the way down into the bathtub; figuring if she didn't die from embarrassment, she'd surely die from lack of oxygen.
It was quarter to five when Nick, AJ, and Christina arrived at the Kentucky Air Arena. They were supposed to have been there earlier to meet up with Brian and Kevin, who had stayed at their grandmother's house with Kristin and Leighanne, but with Christina's stubbornness in not wanting to go, and Nick falling asleep after he went to wake Christina up-they were running a little behind schedule; which was going to piss Kevin off.
"You know Trains going to have our heads on a stick when he sees us, right." Alex said, as he got out of the van behind Nick and Christina.
"When doesn't he have our, well, your heads on a stick?" Christina asked, getting behind Nick and Alex as the screams for the two Backstreet boy members grew closer.
As the group of three, followed by bodyguards, made their way towards the entrance of the back of the arena, they couldn't help but stop as people, mostly girls ranging from seven to twenty, asked for Nick and AJ's autographs. And surprisingly enough, Christina's as well-which even though almost everyone knew that she was AJ's best friend, who had been touring with the guys ever since the group had first started performing; she still felt was sort've strange.
Her, being a nobody, and all.
"So, who would you like me to make this out to?" Christina asked a little girl, whose scream for an autograph had almost been tuned out because of a few of the older girls, who had been trying to out yell each other in order to get Nick and AJ's attention.
"Me, duh!" The girl said, rolling her eyes, causing her mother to gasp in shock.
"Carol Anne Brady, what have I told you about getting sassy in public?" The woman said, scolding her daughter, before quickly changing the expression that was written across her face as she looked down at Christina, who was kneeling down on the floor, eye level to Carol.
"Its okay," Christina said, trying to stifle her laughter at the little girl's behavior; remembering a time when she had acted just like that as a child. "So, now that I've made it out to one, Miss Carol Anne Brady, is there anything else you'd like me to write?"
"You can do that?" The little girl asked, her eyes widening as Christina nodded, and then her face taking on a whole different form of concentration as she thought of something for Christina to write. "I want you to put To the princess of princess's, Carol Anne Brady, sincerely... no, LOVE, girlfriend of AJ's."
Christina had been so caught up in getting whatever Carol had told her to write on the small sheet of paper, that she hadn't noticed what exactly she had written until someone, a male, behind her read it over her shoulder. "Hmmm..girlfriend of AJ's?"
Christina blushed as she realized that indeed she had put that, and blushed even further when she realized who was behind her; Alex.
"He-Here you go, Carol," Christina said, handing the little girl her autograph, before standing up, so she was back to her original height. "I hope you enjoy the show."
Carol's Mom, either was shocked that she was standing so close to AJ, or must've realized just how embarrassed Christina was, because after giving the two brunettes a brief smile, she turned around on her heels and led Carol away from the crowd; leaving Christina alone with AJ.
Christina waited a few brief seconds before turning around, and making her way towards the entrance of the building, only stopping to glare at AJ, who was grinning his head off. "Oh, shut up."
With that being said, Christina pushed past him, and followed Nick inside the building, leaving AJ standing there, smiling at his fans. "She wants me."
It was another half-an-hour before AJ, Nick, and Christina met up with Kevin, Brian, Leighanne, and Kristin-who had all, but Kevin, been waiting patiently in the boys dressing room for everyone else to arrive.
"You guys are an hour late." Kevin said, glaring at Nick, AJ, and Christina as soon as the three entered the room.
"Sorry, dad," Christina said, before anyone else could reply, "we were on our way here when I remembered that I hadn't gotten my birthday spanking from Nikki yet, and you know how traditions go."
Everyone in the room began to laugh, which caused Kevin to glare harder at Christina, who just stood there, smirking, not bothered by the icy stare at all.
"You know, if you weren't a girl and today wasn't your birthday, I'd kick your butt for that," Kevin said, his glare instantly drifting off his face, and immediately being replaced by one of his few sly grins.
"Ha, and even if I wasn't a girl, I could still kick your butt." Christina said, in a know it all voice, before taking two steps forward, and throwing her arms around the father of the group.
"I'm sure you could," Kevin said, sarcastically, squeezing Christina's body against him, "I'm sure you could."
"Well, even though I don't want to get beat up or anything, can I get a hug from the birthday girl?" Brian asked, as Christina let go of Kevin, causing her to roll her eyes and laugh, before giving him, Leighanne, and Kristin, a hug as well.
"So, now that we've gotten all the love out the way, has anyone seen D, yet?" AJ asked, mockingly wincing as Christina, who had taken a seat next to him, playfully punched him.
"I think his plane was supposed to land a few hours ago." Brian answered, wrapping an arm around Leighanne as she took a seat on his lap.
Howie, who had gone back to Orlando for a couple of days, was supposed to be back late last night, but his flight had been delayed for a few hours, causing everyone's day to be hectic; especially Christina's, whose usual day job only consisted of keeping an eye on AJ, not Nick as well.
"So, Chrissy.." Kristin began, snuggling closer to Kevin on the couch, that was across from the love seat Alex and Christina were on. "How was it baby-sitting these two boys this weekend?"
Christina made a face before shrugging, pretending that she had hated every minute of it. "Let's just say I'm glad Howie comes back today. I don't think I could take any more of AJ's constant giving of attention and Nick's constant whining."
"Hey!" Nick screamed, from the recliner he was seated in; throwing the throw pillow, he was holding, at Christina's head while doing so. "I do not whine."
As everyone laughed, AJ grabbed Christina's face, and kissed her on the cheek; causing her to blush crimson red.
"Awww, don't pay any attention to her, Nikki. Christina knows she loves us."
Christina, once again, trying to pretend that AJ didn't effect her in the least, glared at Alex before pinching his arm, "Like I love a root canal."
The two couples, plus Nick, continued to laugh as they watched AJ and Christina banter back and fourth; only stopping when the door to the dressing room opened, and Raul, one of the guys from the security team, who also happened to be Howie's personal bodyguard, walked in, flashing a sly grin at everyone, "Did you miss me?"
Before anyone could respond, Nick grinned at the older man before repeating what Christina had said before. "Like I miss a root canal."
Everyone, including Raul, laughed at Nick's words, and laughed even harder as Raul made his way over to where Nick was seated, and slapped the younger man on his shoulder. "Carter, next time someone from Teen magazine asks what you wear to bed at night, I'm going to remember that, and tell them exactly what you wear; Minnie Mouse tighty whities."
At Nick's embarrassment, everyone, sans Kevin, who was too busy wondering where Howie was, busted out laughing. Seeing this, Raul waited until everyone calmed down before continuing. "Anyway, I just came in here to tell you that Howie would meet up with you guys in ten minutes for sound check-said something about some errands he needed to run involving those pictures you guys wanted for tonight."
"What pictures?" Christina asked, curiously, causing AJ, who seemed to be slightly fidgeting beside her, to bite his lip; something he only did when he had something to hide.
"The pictures from me and Leighanne's honeymoon," Brian said quickly, causing everyone, including his wife, to look at him strangely, "AJ wanted a copy of them so I gave my set to Howie for double prints."
"Oh," Everyone said at the same time, accepting Brian's answer; well, everyone except for two people that is:
Leighanne, who was still shooting her husband a questioning glance, and AJ, who was too busy mouthing the word: "thanks" to even realize that Christina was looking at him confusingly.
Christina couldn't believe how quickly time had flew by.
It seemed like as soon as Howie had arrived, the guy's sound check had finished, and their concert was in full effect.
True to her word, she was bored out of her mind, and wanted Leighanne and Kristin to strike up an interesting conversation with her. But on the other hand she was willing to let the rest of the concert go by just as quickly-and just as quietly as it had been for her up until that point; that was until Leighanne asked a question that Christina wanted to know the answer to as well. "What do you think those pictures were really of?"
"I don't know," Christina said, speaking up for the first time since they had taken their seats in the V.I.P area, "but I do know that AJ has something to do with them."
Leighanne nodded, agreeing with her friend. "Yeah, and that Brian does as well. What it is, is the question."
As the two women began to come up with ideas of what the pictures could be of, Kristin began to laugh, causing them both to look at her funny. "I'm sorry, but you two sound like you're solving a murder mystery. I mean, come on, maybe, and this is just a maybe, but, maybe the pictures are really of yours and Brian's honeymoon, Leighanne."
Christina and Leighanne both exchanged incredulous looks at this statement, both knowing full well that Kristin hadn't been a part of the backstreet boy clan as long as they had, but not realizing that the woman wasn't able to read the boys as well as they thought she could.
"Okay, let's say you're right," Christina began, already making plans in her had to transfer Kristin from the naive southern girl she was, to something more along the lines of a know-it-all like her and Leighanne were. "If these pictures are really of Leighanne and Brian's honeymoon, then why was AJ panicking when Raul brought them up earlier?"
Leighanne made a slight exactly noise, mentally telling Christina that her question was a good one. But not as good as she thought, since Kristin had an answer for the both of them. "That's easy, it's an ego thing."
Christina and Leighanne both raised an eyebrow at that statement, "An ego thing?"
"Yeah," Kristin said, before continuing, "I mean, think about it. If you were AJ, and had a reputation for being a man's man, would you want your friends to know that you were being quote, unquote, soft, and wanted pictures of your friends trip to Hawaii."
Leighanne and Christina shared another look, this one meaning she's good, before Leighanne decided it was her turn to try. "Okay, let's say you're right, even though you're not. How can the pictures be of Brian and my honeymoon in Hawaii, if we never took any pictures? We never even left our hotel room, well, only that one time, but that was just to go out to the balcony, and-"
"Leighanne!" Kristin and Christina said simultaneously, causing the older female to roll her eyes, and glare at the two.
"Look at the stars. God, get your heads out the gutter."
As Christina and Kristin began to laugh at what they had thought Leighanne was talking about, Leighanne couldn't help but shake her head and laugh as well; only stopping when she noticed something unusual.
"Don't the guys usually end with shape of my heart?"
"Yeah," Christina said, still laughing slightly as she turned her head, and looked down to the main stage where a beam of light was reflected on Howie-who was standing in the middle of the stage, alone, looking past the crowd to where they were seated. "What's he doing?"
The two girls shrugged, just as dumfounded as Christina was, before waiting for Howie to pick up his microphone and sing, or at least say something.
"Could I have your attention for a minute?" Howie asked the audience, after a second, causing deafening screams of I love you, Howie to echo throughout the building, "And, I love you, too."
As those words left his lips, more screams rang out, causing the three women to hold their fingers up to their ears; trying to silence some of the noise.
"Anyway, I came out here to tell you a little story...a love story."
Christina couldn't help but roll her eyes, and laugh slightly as Howie tried to use his Barry White voice; a voice that didn't work as well as he thought it would. "He needs to stop."
"See, the thing is for the past two days I've been in Orlando, FL.....you guys know where that is, right?" Howie began, waiting for the audience to make some more noise before he continued, "Well, see I went there to visit my parents, a few of my other relatives....and to do a little shopping as well."
"Shopping?" Leighanne gasped, unable to hide her disbelief, "That boy hates shopping, Brian had to practically drag him to pick up a tux for my wedding."
"Shhh.." Kristin said, slightly glaring at her friend; wanting to hear what else Howie had to say.
"Yes, I said shopping for some of you who don't believe me." Howie said, causing Christina to smirk at the blushing Leighanne, "Anyways, I went shopping to find the perfect birthday present for one of my close friends, you might know her as girlfriend of AJ's."
"Oh God," Christina said, blushing as the fans in the audience started to scream louder, and Leighanne and Kristin started throwing her identical is there something you're not telling us? looks.
"Well, today's her birthday, and after spending weeks and weeks trying to find the perfect gift, running a few errands here and there, and then asking for help from my fellow backstreet brothers, I'm here to present her with her gift from all of us....love."
Christina felt her blush deepen as a chorus of aww's rang out through the arena, especially from the two women sitting beside her, "Oh, grow up."
Leighanne and Kristin laughed at their friend, but didn't say anything else, choosing to turn back towards the stage where Howie was still speaking.
"So, without further ado..Christina, this one's for you."
With that being said, Howie snapped his fingers, and more beams of light hit the stage; exposing the rest of the guys to the audience. And also exposing a picture of AJ and Christina, as kids, on the titantron above them. "Oh, my God."
Christina was confused as to what was going on, but could only say Oh, my God once again, as the familiar beats of a song came on.
A song that Leighanne had teased Christina about a million of times.
As Howie started to sing, the picture of AJ and Christina, as kids, playing with a water hose changed from that, to them still in their exact same bathing suits, but with a beach towel wrapped around them as they leaned against each other, warming themselves up, while looking to be fast asleep as they did so.
At those words, the picture changed again. This one, from Christina's point of view, looked to be taken a couple of weeks ago-when AJ and her had stayed up one night on the bus, just talking, which had led to them both falling fast asleep; AJ's head resting on her lap, and her hand resting in his hair-which she had been combing through earlier on that day.
As the chorus of the song began, and each one of the guys picked up their mics to sing, Christina couldn't help but analyze the words of the song. And then afterwards over analyze them once again as she watched the pictures on the titantron change.
She couldn't help but gasp as the fourth picture came on the screen; it was from when she had first started touring with the guys and was a part time VJ; a person who went out before the band performed and introduced each one of the guys.
In this select picture of her-introducing the guys, whoever was taking the picture had zoomed in so you saw Christina as sort of a blur, and AJ standing to the far left of her; wearing a goofy grin, as he looked on at her.
Her eyes left the screen as AJ's verse in the song came up, wanting to not look at the pictures, but to see and hear the emotion he had on his face when he poured out his heart to the crowd..and to her.
As AJ hit the last note, he looked up towards the middle section of the audience, and Christina could've sworn he was looking right at her. And as the chorus played again, and Brian and him went to sing the bridge of the song, Christina was most certain he was looking at her.
Professing his heart to her.
I don't want to live this life,
I don't want to say good-bye
With you I wanna spend... The rest of my life
As the end of the song neared, and the chorus kept repeating over and over again, Christina couldn't help but look back to the screen as to where a picture of her and AJ were. A picture that was taken as the two had been playing touch football in Nick's hotel room-this she knew because AJ had grabbed her by the waist, and made Howie take a picture of them; laughing out loud.
What can I do, to make you mine... Falling so hard so fast this time
By the end of the song, Christina couldn't believe that she didn't have tears in her eyes, but her statement was answered with tears streaming down her face as her best friend, the one she was in love with, and the one she would be in love with for the rest of her life, placed the mic up to his mouth, and sang the last verse of the song by himself.
As the last note of the song played, the crowd screamed louder than Christina ever heard them scream before, and if she listened closely, she could've sworn that her heart was beating louder than it ever had before as well.
Turning towards Leighanne and Kristin, seeing that they were just as emotional as she was, Christina could only mutter one thing before turning to leave. "Told you AJ had something to do with this."
With that being the last word, she made her way out of the room, in hopes of finding Alex, and telling him what she really thought of the groups birthday present to her.
A present that she loved..and from the person she loved the most:
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