Chapter   Eighteen

VJ was almost finished packing when she heard a knock on her door. Figuring it was BJ or Alisha, she yelled, "Come in!"

When she turned around, she saw Brian standing in the doorway. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you," Brian said.

"How'd you get in? I didn't hear BJ or Alisha talking to you."

"We ran into a maid in the hall and told her we forgot our key inside our room. She used her key to open the door."

"We?"

"Me, Nick, and AJ."

"Oh." VJ turned back to her bag and continued packing. "Well, you better leave. I wouln't want to cause you anymore trouble than I already have."

"Look, Donna and Johnny may be thinking about our careers, but they had no right to tell you to leave."

"What about AJ's mom? She was the one who said we had to." All the while, VJ wouldn't look at Brian. He went and took hold of her arms, turning her around to face him.

"Denise McLean is our publicist. She's the one who has to make sure everything said about us is true and that it doesn't give a bad impression to the fans. That includes information about girlfriends. Just one of us having a girlfriend can effect the whole group. We have to keep up that single status to keep our fans interested. At least until we have a stronger fan base."

"But why would the fans care if you had girlfriends or not?" VJ asked, frustrated. "If they like your music, your personal lives shouldn't even matter."

"It shouldn't," Brian agreed. "They do like for our music, but even I have to admit that they became even more interested when they saw what we looked like. But Johnny and Donna have pointed out to us, that by remaining single to the public eye, gives the fans a sense of feeling that we belong to them."

"How do they know this? When did they become the experts?" VJ looked at Brian expectantly.

"They were the managers for the 'New Kids On The Block'. Trust me, they know," Brian assured her.

"They were?" VJ looked at him in surprise. "I used to love them. My favorites were Jordan and Joey. I was in the ninth grade." VJ smiled at the memory. "My brothers took me and Alisha to one of their concerts. They sucked in concert and we were majorly disappointed. My brothers had to practically drag us backstage to meet them afterwards. I was fourteen years old trying to get a seventeen-year-old Joey McIntyre interested in me."

Brian laughed, picturing a fourteen-year-old VJ kissing up to a 'New Kid'. "Well, I'd say he passed up a great opportunity no matter how much older he was than you." Then Brian all of a sudden stopped laughing. "Wait a minute. If you met them back then, do you remember seeing Johnny and Donna?"

"No. All I was focusing on was Joey."

"Oh. Well, anyway, I'm really sorry about what happened. Who cares about what Johnny and Donna say. You could just stay here."

VJ gave him a skeptical look. "I wish I could. But now that I think about it, it probably would be best if we went home. Besides, BJ and I entered a talent contest that's next week. We were going to miss it, but now we won't have to. I don't want you to get in anymore trouble."

Brian sighed and sat on the bed. He looked at VJ as she put the rest of her clothes in her bag and zipped it up. She picked it up and put it by the door of her room. VJ walked over to the window and looked out at the surroundings. She'd never seen anything like it. But she couldn't stay here.

"BJ already made reservations for us on a midnight flight," VJ said, without turning around. "That gives us about ten hours."

Brian walked silently over to her and put his arms around VJ's waist. She leaned her body against his. She could feel all his strong chest touching her back. They just stood in silence at the window, savoring just being together.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

Nick and Alisha were lying on her bed, kissing like they were never going to see each other again. Nick had come in earlier and before Alisha could say anything, he kissed her and that's what they'd been doing for the past half hour. It was when Alisha felt Nick trying to unbutton her shirt did she start to panic.

"Whoa," she said, breathlessly. "Hold on, Nick. I've known you for only a week. We have to slow down."

"You're right," he said, also breathless. "I'm sorry. It's just that, I'm gonna miss you when you leave. I don't want you to go."

"I don't want to go either, but Johnny and Donna have made it clear that we could cause you and the group a lot of problems."

"Man, I hate this," Nick said, frustrated. "It isn't fair. I really like you and I want our fans to like you, too."

"Haven't you thought that some of the fans might not?" Alisha questioned him. "I don't think I'm ready to be the hate-object of half the girls on this planet."

"I admit some of the fans can be like that, but I think the majority of them wouldn't care. They wouldn't if they were real fans."

"I know." Alisha sighed and closed her eyes. "What are we going to do? What are you going to tell them?"

"One things for sure, I'm not gonna stop seeing you," Nick pointed out. "I really like being with you."

"I really like being with you, too. I wish it didn't have to be this way, but I don't want to jeopardize your career. You all worked too hard to let anything ruin it now."

"So what time are you, VJ, and BJ leaving?"

"Midnight. BJ called the airline and made us reservations."

Nick looked at his watch. "That's in about ten hours. I think I'll just stay here with you."

"What about the rest of the recording session?"

"Johnny and Donna probably canceled it."

"Oh." VJ looked at Nick. He looked tired to her. "How about we get some sleep then. You been getting up early and going to bed late all week. You could use the sleep."

"Yeah, I guess I could."

So, Nick and Alisha cuddled together on the bed with their arms around each other and went to sleep.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

AJ and BJ were in her room, sitting on the bed and talking about what had just happened.

"I can't believe my mom told you guys to leave," AJ said. "I thought she'd at least try to work something out other than have you leave."

"I can't believe you talked back to your mother with nine other people in the room," BJ told him. "But I appreciate you trying to convince her to let us stay, even if you didn't get to the actual convincing part."

"Anything to keep you by my side," AJ said, softly. "I like you a lot. I thought my mom would understand that. She saw what it was like for me after me and Marisa broke up."

"You never did tell me who she was."

"She was my girlfriend of two years. I met her a year before we got signed with Jive, at a party the Wright's gave at their house. Marisa is Donna's daughter and Johnny's step-daughter. She was thirteen when I met her and I was sixteen."

"And they let her go out with you?"

"It wasn't easy at first, but they finally eased up on us. A couple of months ago, she broke up with me 'cause she said she couldn't handle my being away all the time."

"How old is she now?"

"Fifteen."

"Damn. Even Alisha's older than her." Then a thought occured to BJ. "Are you over her? 'Cause if you're not, I shouldn't even be here."

"It took me a while to accept it, but I was almost completely over her when I met you. I think it was you that helped me finally put it all behind me."

BJ looked at AJ and knew he told her the truth. She leaned over and gave him a passionate kiss. AJ kept it going for a while before pulling away.

"When does your flight leave?" he asked, breathing heavily.

"In about ten hours. It's not the first flight back, but Johnny and Donna are just going to have to make do with that."

"That's fine with me. Just as long as I have some time with you before you go."

Then AJ ended all conversation when he leaned down and kissed BJ once again.


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