Chapter   One

One month later....
August 12, 1997
New York City

"What's going on over there?" Alisha asked.

She was pointing to the Virgin Mega Store down the street from where her and her friend, Alexis, were eating lunch. Little Nickolas Daniel Walker was cooing from his stroller. When he saw his mother look at him, he cracked a big smile.

"How's my 'lil Nicky doing?" Alisha smiled. "So, do you know what's up?"

"I heard from around the office that some group from Europe is releasing their album in the US today and their having a press conference at the All Star Cafe, then performing at the Virgin Mega Store," Alexis told her.

"What group?"

"I don't know. But I heard their single is pretty good. It hit number two on the Billboard Charts in about two weeks."

"Should we go check it out?"

"We could flash our MTV badges and get in with no problem. I've tried it dozens of times."

"Alright, cool. Let's go."

Alisha and Alexis quickly finshed eating, grabbed Nicky's toys, paid the check, and headed toward the Virgin Mega Store. They walked as fast as they could. Alisha didn't want to push the stroller too fast so Nicky wouldn't get scared. Finally, the two girls reached the store. They walked up to the security, showed their MTV badges, and walked in with no problem. The three of them sat in the last row of chairs.

"You girls came pretty late," the reporter sitting next to them said. "The press conference is over. The group is about to perform over there."

The reporter was pointing at a stage that was some ways away from where they were.

"That's okay," Alisha said. "I have my son with me and I don't think it's a good idea to take him that close to the stage."

"Come on, Anne," Alexis pleaded. "We'll stand towards the back. Nicky's hearing will be fine. Look at the crowd already there."

"I guess that's okay," Alisha said.

'Anne' is what Alexis knew her as. Sometimes it still took Alisha by surprise. Alexis had called Alisha 'Anne' for as long as she could remember. She doubted Alexis even remembered her real name. That's fine with me, Alisha thought to herself. I'm won't be telling her anytime soon, unless she brings it up. Alisha followed Alexis to where the crowd was standing. It's been almost a year since you've been living in New York City and she hasn't brought it up, so I guess she never will.

"Oh my goodness," Alexis breathed. "Look at that gorgeous-looking man up there."

Alisha looked at the stage and saw the guy Alexis was pointing at. He looks kind of familiar. Alisha watched as the next guy walked onto the stage. That next guy does, too. Then the next guy to walk onstage Alisha recognized right away. Brian? Oh no, don't tell me it's who I think it is. But Alisha's suspicions were confirmed when she saw the next two guys walk out. AJ and Nick. Wow, Kevin and Howie looked different. But AJ, Brian, and Nick haven't really changed at all.

The Boys introduced themselves to the crowd and started singing their first single, "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)". Alexis started dancing to the music. Alisha watch as Brian sang his heart out, then Nick took over the lead on the next verse.

"I live my life the way to keep you coming back to me. Everything I do is for you, so what is it that you can't see. Sometimes I wish I could turn back time, impossible as it may seem, but I wish I could so bad, baby. You better...." Then Brian and the whole group took over again.

Alisha couldn't take her eyes off of Nick. He has really grown up since the last time I saw him. Seventeen years old now. Still too young to be a father. But he is. Alisha looked down at her son. He was boucing around to the music in his stroller, smiling big and clapping his hands. 'Lil Nicky had looked exactly like his father with his blue eyes and straight blonde hair. It had looked for a while that he would have curly hair, like Alisha, but by the time it has grown out more, the curls disappeared. Then Alexis said something that grabbed Alisha's attention.

"Anne, I think the tall blond one is looking at you," said Alexis, excitedly.

"Where?" Alisha looked at and saw that Nick was indeed looking in her direction. But it was only for a few seconds, since the Boys were doing a dance routine with the song.

She quickly looked away. "Alexis, I'm going to go home," she said, loudly. "It's almost time for Nicky's bottle and then he has to take a nap."

"Alright." Alexis looked at her strangely. I wonder what's gotten into her, she thought. "Do you want me to walk you back?"

"No, that's okay," Alisha declined. "Stay here and enjoy the show." Just then, Nicky started to cry. "I think it's getting too much for Nicky. I'll see you later."

Alisha pushed the stroller out of the store quickly, so Nick wouldn't see her again. She just prayed Nick didn't recognize her. She hadn't changed all that much either in the last year. Her curly hair was still a reddish-brown, but way past her waist now. And of course, her eyes were still the same color. Please, God. Don't let him recognize me. Alisha took Nicky out of his stroller, calmed him down, put him back, then headed toward her apartment a few blocks away.


"Man, what a rush," Brian said, excitedly.

"It's great to be home," said Howie, smiling.

"You got that right," AJ agreed. "I'm gonna call BJ as soon as we get back to the hotel and tell her all about this."

"Tell her we said 'hi'," Brian told him.

"Alright, I will." AJ hadn't told them that VJ and BJ had moved into apartment together. BJ begged AJ not to, so he agreed. Then AJ saw Nick looking kind of lost.

"Nick, buddy," AJ said to get his attention. "What's up?"

Nick looked at him. "You guys are not gonna believe this, but I thought I saw Alisha standing at the back of the crowd."

Howie, AJ, Brian, and Kevin all looked at him in surprise.

"Are you sure?" Brian asked him.

"I don't know." Nick sat down on a chair. "I was scanning the crowd when I spotted this girl with the same colored hair." Nick thought back to it. "No, it couldn't have been her. This girl had a kid with her."

"Maybe she was watching this kid for a friend," Kevin suggested.

"Then why would she bring a baby to a concert with loud music?" Nick pointed out. "Nobody I know would allow their babysitter to do that."

"He speaks the truth," agreed Howie. "Nick, I know you miss Ali, but you have to move on. I'm sure she would want you to."

"I love Alisha, Howie. I can't just forget about her and what we had. And I can't give up the small flicker of hope that we'll be together again one day."

"Has BJ told you anything more about how Ali has been?" Brian asked.

"No. The last thing she told me was that she got a job about a month ago working for some TV network. But Ali didn't say which one."

"Well, did you get a good look at the girl?" asked AJ.

"Not really. All I noticed was the hair and the stroller she was pushing with the kid in it when she left. I didn't see her face. It looked like the baby started crying and she left."

"All I can tell you, Nick, is that when Alisha wants to found, she'll show up somewhere," Kevin said.

Nick nodded. The Boys finished changing and headed back to their hotel. But Nick couldn't forget the girl he saw.

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