Chapter   Twenty-Four

Brian, VJ, Nick, and Alisha walked into the living room. VJ saw BJ there with her family and AJ. VJ looked at her curiously and BJ gave her an 'I'll tell you later' look. VJ and Alisha let go of Brian's and Nick's hands, and walked over to their families, while Brian and Nick just kind of stood there and watched. AJ got up from his seat next to BJ and walked over to them.

"Man, where have you guys been?" he asked. "I've been sitting here for the past fifteen minutes being interrogated."

"Interrogated?" Nick asked.

"By the parents," AJ told them. "All three sets."

"About just you? Or all three of us?" Brian asked.

"Just me." AJ looked over at the three girls and their families. "Get ready to asked every question in the book by their fathers. All of them."

Brian and Nick looked at each other nervously. Then VJ's father, Joshua Sr. asked for everyone's attention. Everyone got quiet.

"All right. Let's begin the introductions," Joshua Sr. said. "Victoria, you start."

"Okay, Daddy." VJ walked over to Brian. "Everybody, this is Brian Littrell. Brian, these are my parents, Joshua Sr. and Elizabeth Johnson; this is my sister-in-law, Christy; and these are my older brothers, Joshua Jr., Adam, and Paul."

VJ watched as Brian shook hands with her father and brothers, then received brief hugs from her mother and Christy. VJ noticed that Brian was around the same height as her father and brothers. At least they can't intimidate him with size, she thought. Then she looked at Nick and smiled. He towered over Alisha's family. He was about three inches taller than her father and brother. Alisha then started her introductions.

"Everyone," she began, "this is Nick Carter. Nick, these are my parents, Daniel Sr. and Cindy Walker; my older half-sisters, Danielle and Kimberly; and my older brother, Daniel Jr."

Alisha watched as Nick shook hands with her father and brother, and almost laughed when he received hugs from her mother and sisters. He was so much taller than them, he had to lean down a little to hug them back. Alisha looked over at VJ, Brian, BJ, and AJ and saw them trying to hold in their laughter. Then BJ introduced Brian and Nick to her family.

"Brian, Nick," she started. "These are my parents, David and Helen Jackson; and my younger sisters, Sarah and Liza."

Brian and Nick shook hands with them all.

"Why don't we all sit," Joshua Sr. said.

All the parents sat by each other, all the brothers sat by each other, all the sisters sat by each other, and all three couples sat by each other, holding hands. Brian and Nick felt like they were about to be put on trial for committing the crime of going out with their daughters and/or sisters.

"So, Brian, how old are you?" Adam asked, looking at him.

"I'm twenty-one," Brian answered.

"What about you, Nick?" Daniel Jr. asked him. "How old are you?"

"I'm sixteen," Nick answered.

"Check this out, people," Alisha spoke up, in hopes of easing the tension. "Both of our birthdays are on January twenty-eighth. Cool, huh?"

"So you're a year older," Elizabeth asked her.

"Yeah." Alisha looked at her aunt in surprise. She thought she'd heard disapproval in her voice.

"What do you two do for a living?" Joshua Sr. asked Brian and Nick.

"Daddy, you already know Brian and Nick are in a music group with AJ," VJ said.

"Oh, yes," Joshua Sr. said. "Must've slipped my mind."

VJ and Alisha looked at each other. They knew the name of the game now and they didn't like it.

"I thought your music group was on tour," Cindy said. "At least, that's what Alisha's told me."

"We are," Nick said. "We're came back to Florida for a few days off and to shoot a video for our new single being released next week overseas."

"What's it called?" Kimberly asked.

"It's called 'Get Down (You're The One For Me)'," Brian answered. "It sort of like dance club song. You know, upbeat, energetic, fun."

"How long are you staying?" David asked.

"Almost two weeks," AJ said. "Then we'll go back to.... where are we going?"

"I think it's Switzerland," Nick said.

"Yeah. Then we'll go to France, Spain, England, and finish off the tour in Germany."

"What's the name of your album?" Danielle asked.

"We haven't released one yet," Brian said. "We've been touring different countries for almost a year, and doing interviews for magazines and TV shows. But we expect to release our album by August or September."

"Is it just you three or are there more members in your group?" Helen asked.

"We have two more members," AJ said. "Howie Dorough, and Brian's cousin, Kevin Richardson."

"Brian, how long have you known my daughter?" Elizabeth asked him.

"I met her in March, so it's been about three months," Brian told her.

"Victoria's never mentioned you before April," Paul said. VJ gave him an evil look, but he ignored it.

"We were just getting to know each other before I had to leave," Brian said. "I was supposed to have two weeks off before the tour began again, but we had some scheduling conflicts and I left a week early."

VJ gave Brian's hand a squeeze, silently thanking him for not mentioning the fact they had parted on bad terms.

"Where did you meet my daughter, Nick?" Daniel Sr. asked.

"I met her in Sweden when Victoria and Brianna went to visit Brian and AJ," Nick said. "We were in Sweden recording some tracks for our first album."

"I'm assuming your talking about songs," Helen said.

"Yes." Nick turned kind of red.

"Victoria mentioned a little trouble in Sweden," Elizabeth said, looking at all three guys. "Something about your management having a problem with you guys having girlfriends and they asked Victoria, Alisha, and Brianna to leave. What was that all about?"

"Well, our managers, Johnny and Donna Wright, are a little strict about those matters," Brian explained. "They feel that anyone in the group having girlfriends would result in a problem with the fans. They're afraid if the fans find out we're not single, then the popularity of the group will go down."

"When pictures of us with Victoria, Alisha, and Brianna came out in several tabloids, they.... had a major freak out, to say the least," Nick said. Luckily, it got a laugh out of the adults. The female portion of the adults, at least.

"After Johnny, Donna, and my mom Denise McLean, who's our publicist, found out, they thought it would be best if Victoria, Alisha, and Brianna left while the situation was just getting started. So the girls left earlier than planned."

"Why would the fans care if you have girlfriends?" Paul asked. "If they like your music, it shouldn't matter."

"We couldn't agree more," Brian said. "But we have to keep up the single status. We've come to learn that it's better to stay single in the eyes of the fans and keep that very small possibility one of them will someday get together with one of us."

"We don't like to do that, but it's necessary to keep at least part of lives private and to protect the privacy of whoever we're involved with," Nick said. "You wouldn't believe what some fans know. They know about practically our whole lives and they even know about past girlfriends. Except me."

"Nick, they know about Bryn," AJ said. Nick was about to say something, but AJ cut him off. "But Nick is right. There are some fans that know where we live, some get our cell phone numbers, I don't know how, but they do. Now we change our numbers every month."

"The fans will do everything they can to find out everything about you," Brian continued. "And that's why the pictures of us with the girls was such a problem. The fans could and would find out everything they can about them, from their birthdates to where they live, find old pictures of them and put the all over the internet. Anything they find out, they will tell."

"Well, enough about that," Christy said. "What about family? How do they feel about what you're doing?"

"Our families are so supportive of what we do," AJ said. "My mom goes on tour with us sometimes, as our publicist and she's started a couple fan clubs for us overseas."

"Do you guys have any brothers or sisters?" David asked.

"I have one older brother," Brian said.

"I have an older half-sister, three younger sisters, and one younger brother," Nick said.

"As for me, I'm an only child," AJ said. "I would've had younger twin sisters, but they died at birth."

BJ looked at him sympathetically. "You never told me that."

"It doesn't exactly fit in the dinner topic category," AJ said. "I just didn't know how to bring it up."

Right then, the butler came in and announced that dinner was ready. Everyone got up from their seats and headed to the dining room. The three girls pulled the guys aside.

"You guys were great," VJ said.

"That was the most scary moment of my life," Nick said. "I thought they were going to get up and jump us at any moment."

"I'm sorry about that guys," Alisha said. "Sometimes our families can be a litte too overprotective. They're all business people, and they like to ask questions about every possible subject."

"It really did seem like they were about to gang up on you three," BJ said. "But you guys handled yourselves really well."

"At least that part is over. Maybe we can all actually be friends now," AJ said.

"Us standing out here in the hall isn't going to help," VJ said. "Let's go into the dining room and eat. I'm sure you guys are hungry after being grill about your whole lives."

"I am kind of hungry," Nick said.

"Nick, you're always hungry," AJ said.

"Then let's go feed him," Brian said.

All three couples went into the dining room where everyone already was. Dinner was served and much to the girls surprise, their parents and families had loosened up and were talking to Brian, Nick, and AJ like they were new members of the family. VJ, BJ, and Alisha looked at each other in relief. Maybe this will turn out to be a good night after all, VJ thought. The rest of the evening went by without an incident.

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