“Jade!” AJ stops me in the lobby as I’m about to go and pack for the next stop on the tour.
“Yeah?” I smile brightly at him, knowing what he is gonna say.
“Ali’s mom isn’t ill.”
“She isn’t?” I act innocent and he sighs.
“You’re a crap actress Jady. I called my mom and she knew nothing about it. So I called Cathy and she said she was fine. I didn’t tell her about what Ali said. I just bluffed my way outta it and hung up. But you gotta tell me the truth now Jady. Why’s Ali lying to Nick?”
“Ok,” I sigh and take him arm to walk him someplace more private. “Something happened to her…”
“She fall out with Nick?”
“Then what happened?”
“She had a miscarriage,” I tell him quietly and his eyes widen.
“She was PREGNANT?! Did Nick know?”
“Nup. She was gonna tell him but then she lost the baby.”
“Fuck,” he runs his hand over his eyes and I slip my arm around his shoulders.
“I know, but she will be ok. She’s Ali.”
“It’s a pretty shitty thing to get over,” he sighs. “Is she goin’ to tell Nick?”
“I don’t know. I think she should but she doesn’t want him to hurt like she does.”
“But he would help her!”
“I know that,” I say and then shrug. “You know what Ali’s like once she’s made up her mind about something.”
“Yeah, I do,” he rolls his eyes.
“She says she’ll be back in a week.”
“Ok, fine. I’ll help cover for her.”
“Thanks Aje,” I smile.
“You think I could call her?”
“Sure, but don’t let her know that you know,” I advise.
“Okies,” he nods. “So, how are you? I haven’t seen you much lately.”
“I know. Uh, I’m good. Doin’ a little freelance writing for Musik. It’s cool.”
“Cool,” he repeats and we lapse into silence.
“I miss you Aje,” I tell him after a while and he looks straight into my eyes, sending a weird kind of feeling through my body. It unnerves me.
“I miss you too Jady,” he murmurs. “Wanna go shopping?” he asks lightly and the sudden change of mood makes me giggle.
“Oh lordy!” Jade exclaims as she grabs a deep pink top and holds it up against her body.
“Lordy?!” AJ laughs.
“I said lordy?!” Jade realises, clapping a hand over her mouth.
“You did,” AJ tell her seriously.
“I spend way too much time with Britney Spears,” Jade decides. “But this is cool!”
“Go try on,” AJ gives her a little push and she heads off to the changing cubicles.
He sits down on a couch and dumps the bags next to him. After two hours of shopping AJ knows three things. He’s going closet shopping when he gets home, pink is NOT his colour and he’s in love with Jade. Completely and totally in love with the girl and there’s nothing he can do to help himself. She’s the most beautiful girl in the world as far as he is concerned, her body is enough to make a grown man cry, he can talk to her about anything and everything, she knows the worst things about him and it’s ok, just hearing her laugh or seeing her smile is enough to change a rainy day into the best day ever, but the thing he loves most is just being able to look into her eyes as she talks to him. She’s everything that is good in his life but she’s also everything that’s bad. She’s with another guy, and not just ANY guy – one of his best friends. She’s married. She’s not in love with him…
“You like?” she interrupts his thoughts and he looks at her.
“Yeah. It’s cute,” he smiles and she walks back into the cubicle. He rests his head against the back of the couch and closes his eyes. He can’t see a way out of this situation anymore.
“Where’ve you BEEN all day?!” Brian exclaims the minute I walk through our room door.
“Uh, shopping Einstein,” I hold up my bags and giggle at him before dropping them on the floor.
“AJ, of course,” I sit by him on the bed. “He was feelin’ a little down so we hung out a little.”
“I wish you’d told me. I spent all day wondering where you’d gone,” he mutters.
“Aw, I’m sorry. I thought I told you?”
“Well, I’m sorry baby,” I tell him and run my hand along his thigh. “Any way I can make it up to ya?”
“Don’t,” he stands up. “I was really worried about ya. I mean, Ali had a MISCARRIAGE and shot through. I was scared you’d gone after her or something but instead you were SHOPPING with AJ! Man, you don’t seem like you care about Ali.”
“Whoa,” I stare at him. “What do you want me to do?! Ali has gone home to get her head straight. She doesn’t want to talk to ME. Just yet anyways. Am I supposed to just mooch around all day and feel bad for her? I DO feel bad. I feel AWFUL,” I stand up. “And just in case you forgot – I’m the one who took her to hospital Brian! I stood by her and listened while the doctor told her her baby was dead. I held her hand and I listened to her cry herself to sleep. So don’t you DARE tell me I don’t care!” I yell at him angrily.
“She needs you NOW Jade!”
“And she’s got me!” I tell him. “I’m right here. She’s the one who left. And if you care so much, why don’t you go after her?!”
“Because she’s not my best friend.”
“No, she’s mine,” I say quietly. “And part of bein’ best friends is knowing when somebody needs a little time alone to deal with things.”
“But you went SHOPPING with AJ!”
“Jeez,” I sit down again with a sigh. “So AJ’s the issue here huh? You’re just tryin’ to make me feel bad about Ali instead of gettin’ to the real point – you are jealous.”
“I am NOT jealous of AJ!”
“Whatever,” I stand up and walk past him into the bathroom. A few minutes later I hear the door slam. I never realised that Brian still feels this way about my spending time with AJ. I thought he’d gotten over it already but I guess not. Nothing I can do about it.