Chapter   Twenty

Four years later....

"Are you sure you're okay?" Nick asked Karen. " 'Cause I could go get Kevin if you want."

"No, that's okay," said Karen. "No need to worry him over nothing."

Kevin and Karen were celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary by having a BBQ party. Angela was playing with her little cousin Brian Jr. and Howie's daughter, Caroline. Nick and his newly-made wife Michelle were sitting at the picnic table. Nick was feeding his two-month-old son Robert. AJ and his wife of two years, Anastasia (or Stacey) were playing with their one-year-old twin girls, Amy and Andrea. Brian and his wife, Lynn, were keeping an eye on Angela, Brian Jr., and Caroline. Howie and his wife of two years, Tina, were helping Kevin cook the food.

Karen was happy to have all of them over. It had been a while since all of them were together since the Backstreet Boys decided to go their separate ways. Some had solo careers, others chose to work behind the music scenes writing, producing, or managing. Brian and Nick went on to have solo careers and started up their own label, Millennium Music, and had three of the most popular acts around signed with them. Kevin decided to go into songwriting and producing. AJ had a solo career going while Howie went into acting and real estate.

Nick gave Karen one last look before turning his attention back to his son. Michelle asked him if she should tell Kevin something was up with Karen, he shook his head. Karen went into the house and was getting a bag of chips when she started feeling some pain in her chest. It was a sharp pain, but it was gone as quickly as it had come. Karen got the chips and started back to the backyard. She got the pain in her chest again. Karen tried to yell Kevin's name, but her pain was too much for her and she fell to the ground in the doorway of the kitchen.

Angela noticed her mother was gone and went over to Kevin. "Daddy, where's Mommy?"

Kevin looked around. "I don't know, sweetheart."

"She went into the house to get more chips," said Tina.

Kevin looked down at Angela. "Angel, why don't you go see if you mom needs help with anything in the kitchen."

"Okay, Daddy." Angela ran to the slide door and walked inside. "Mommy! Do you need any help?!" When she didn't get a reply, she ran to the kitchen and saw her mom lying on the floor. "DADDY! DADDY!!"

"Guys, do you hear someone yelling?" Kevin asked.

Everyone got quiet except the kids. They listened for a second. They heard Angela yelling as she ran to the slide door. Kevin jogged over to her.

"What is it, Angela?" Kevin said.

"Something's wrong with Mommy," Angela told him. She had tears coming down her cheeks.

Kevin picked her up and ran to the kitchen. When he saw Karen lying unconscious on the floor, he put Angela down and kneeled down next to his wife.

"Karen! Karen!" Kevin yelled. "Kare Bear, can you hear me?!"

Karen didn't respond. Kevin called Brian. "BRIAN!! I NEED YOUR HELP!! IT'S KAREN!!"

A few seconds later, Brian appeared by his side. "Oh my God." He turned to the slide door. "HOWIE, CALL 911!! HURRY!!" He turned back to Kevin. "Come on, Kev, let's get her onto the couch."

"Do you think it would be a good idea to move her?"

"You're right. It could make things worse. Let's just turn her over, so she lying on her back."

"Daddy, what's wrong with Mommy? Is she hurt?" Angela was on the verge of crying.

Kevin momentarily forgot about Angela. "Everything's okay, sweetie. Mommy's gonna be fine. Go find your Uncle Nick and stay with him."

Angela gave one last look at her mother, then went back into the backyard. Kevin helped Brian lay Karen on her back. Then Howie, AJ, and Nick came into the house.

"The ambulance is on the way," Howie told them.

"What happened?" Nick asked.

"I don't know," said Kevin. "Angela found her lying the floor, unconscious." He held Karen's head in his lap. "Come on, baby, keep on living. Please, baby, don't leave me now. I love you so much. I don't know what I'd do if you weren't a part of my life. Please, Karen, open your eyes."

Karen remained still. Kevin stroked her hair with his hand. Anastasia walked in, saw Karen lying on the floor and panicked. AJ went to her and told her to keep the kids in the backyard. He told his wife what he knew of the situation, which wasn't too much. When he got back, they heard the siren of the ambulance. Howie went to the door and let in the medical staff. They started in examination immediately.

"Her breathing is shallow," one of them said.

"Her heartbeat is faint," said another. "So is her pulse."

"Come on, let's get her on a stretcher and get her to the hospital," said a third person. "Who's responsible for this woman?"

"I am," Kevin said. "She's my wife."

"Come with me, sir. You can ride in back with your wife."

Karen was put onto a stretcher and taken to the ambulance. Howie agreed to watch Angela while Kevin was at the hospital. A few minutes later, the ambulance was on its way to the hospital. Nick, Brian, AJ, and Howie went out back, gathered up the kids and went home. It wasn't long before the guys told their wives they had to go to the hospital and be with Kevin. They found Kevin pacing the waiting room. They all waited for a long time before a doctor finally came in.

Kevin jumped out of his seat. "How is she? What's wrong?"

"Are you a relative?"

"I'm her husband."

"I need to talk to you in private."

Kevin nodded. He turned to Brian. "I need you to call Karen's father."

"Sure thing, cuz." Brian took his cell phone and started dialing.

Kevin went with the doctor to the other side of the waiting room. The others watched the two have a conversation. They saw Kevin's shoulders slump and knew it wasn't good. Kevin walked over with tears in his eyes.

"Karen's in a coma," Kevin said, his voice trembling. "They don't know if she'll come out of it. They said the longer it lasts, the slimmer her chances are."

Kevin fell into a chair and put his head in his hands, crying. All the fellas could do was hope and pray Karen would be okay. Kevin felt as if his whole life just slid out of control.

Days passed, but Karen remained in a coma. After a few weeks, the doctors told Kevin to start making funeral arrangements. Kevin didn't want to do it, he told them he would start, but before he did anything, he wanted Angela to say goodbye to her mother.

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