Chapter   Eleven

A year later....

It seemed like all the girls had moved on. But the experience in Florida changed them all in the same way. Tricia, Ariana, Valerie, Tamera, and Anissa were all afraid to get too close to a guy. They just showed it in a different way.

Tricia was in her last year at medical school. She already had a residency lined up at a children's hospital. Everything on the outside seemed fine, but she was still healing on the inside. Every time she got too close to a guy she was dating, she would break it off with no explanation. Tricia's relationship with Anissa never got any better. The two sisters just headed off in different directions.

Ariana was heading into her last year of college, which she was extremely thankful for. She used to love going to college, now she just wanted it to go away so she could get out Chicago and move somewhere to get her career started. As for the dating scene, she didn't have one. Ariana rarely went out on dates and never seemed to go out with a guy more than three times.

Valerie was going into her third year of college. Her way of dealing was to pretend the whole experience down in Florida never happened. She kept in touch with the guy she met down there. They had a long-distance relationship and were planning on getting married. Meanwhile, Valerie signed with one of the top modeling agencies in the country and busy enough to not even think about spring break.

Tamera went into her senior year of high school kind of unhappy, but she seemed to be recovering from her broken heart pretty well. She continued to get good grades in school and applied to all the top colleges around. She even had a steady boyfriend and they planned on going to the same college, or at least ones that are nearby.

Anissa, however, changed from good to less than good. She went into her senior year completely changed. She wore flashier clothes, hung out with the "popular" crowd, which pretty much made her popular, too. She never stayed with one guy for more than a week and her attitude toward life was everything will take care of itself. Despite her changed behavior, Anissa still made good grades in school, and her and Tamera were still friends, just not as close as they used to be.

As for Nick, Kevin, Howie, Brian, and AJ, they continued to work and tour around the world, being successful in every other country, except their home country. They never forgot about Anissa, Tricia, Ariana, Valerie, and Tamera. Brian was the first to break up with his girlfriend, Lisa. It created sort of a domino effect. AJ broke up with Jazzmine, Howie broke up with Sarah, Kevin broke up with Marianna, and Nick broke up with Laura. One time they all decided to get together and watch movies together during a small break they were taking.

"Hey, Rok, what's this tape?" AJ held up a tape with no label.

"I don't know," Brian shrugged. "Put it in and find out."

AJ put the tape into the VCR as Nick, Howie, Kevin, and Brian lounged around Kevin's, Brian's, and Howie's apartment. AJ grabbed the remote and laid down in front of the couch Kevin was on. He pressed the play button and the guys all looked at the TV screen, wondering what would come on.

All the guys dropped whatever it was that was in their hands and stared at the TV in awe. There on the TV were the five girls who had their hearts. They watched AJ and Tamera walk along the boardwalk, hand in hand. They laughed as AJ spotted the jewelry stand and pulled Tamera over to it. They got quiet as AJ bought a ring for Tamera, put it on her finger, and they shared a kiss. Then it moved onto Howie and Ariana.

All of them watched as the couple skated down to the dock, arms around each other, like they'd been doing it for years. They guys watched as they talked and stopped to look out at the ocean as it got closer to sunset. Howie looked down at Ariana, who looked up at him. The Boys started whistling as Ariana gave Howie a kiss on the cheek. Howie turned red.

They continued to watch Brian and Valerie share an ice cream on the boardwalk, Nick and Anissa take a romantic walk along the beach at sunset, and Kevin and Tricia sitting by a fire on the beach, arms around each other, and looking up at the stars. As the video came to an end, they saw the girls by themselves, looking sad and themselves looking sad. But the video had a happy ending when all the couples are together once again. Everyone was quiet as the TV went blue screen.

"I remember how mad the JIVE execs were when we didn't want to release the video," Brian said. "We had to do 'Quit Playing Games' in a hurry."

"I don't think it would've been smart to release this video with the girls being in it," AJ said. "We look too natural together. Next thing you know, Tamera, Anissa, Valerie, Tricia, and Ariana are getting visitors at their houses."

"I'm gonna call Anissa," Nick said. He grabbed the phone, got Anissa's number from information, and dialed. The others looked on as he waited for someone to pick up.

"Hello?" a woman said into the phone.

"Hi, is Anissa there?" Nick asked.

"No, she isn't. She won't be back 'til who knows when," the woman said. "This is her mother. You can leave a message if you want."

"No thanks. Sorry to bother you. Bye." Nick hung up.

"I take it she wasnt' home," Kevin said.

"Nope. That was her mom. Apparently, Anissa is out with friends and won't be back, and I quote, ' 'til who knows when'." Nick shook his head. "I guess she comes home whenever she wants."

"Maybe Tamera has some answers," AJ said. AJ got her number and called. The guys listened as he had a conversation with one of the parents. When he hung up, he looked at the guys. "She's over at her boyfriend's house studying for the SAT's and won't be back until late, if at all. Her mom didn't seem to mind her daughter staying the night at her boyfriend's house."

"My turn," Brian said. A few minutes later, he hung up. "Valerie wasn't home, but her finace was. He thought I was calling about the wedding invitations."

"Valerie's getting married?" Howie said, astounded.

"Looks like things have definitely been changed," Kevin said. "I'm not even gonna waste my time finding out about Tricia."

"Me either," said Howie. "I'd rather not know."

They put in another movie in hopes of forgetting about the girls. It seemed to work, but in the back of their minds was an image of "their" girl with them.

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