When she bumped into Leighanne at the Century City Plaza she didn't know what to think. Seeing Brian again was bound to happen. He lives here. Hell, come to think of it, most of the celebrity lexicon lives in Los Angeles. And the fact that Leighanne was so saccharine made things really uneasy. Amelia never thought of her as vile. Just, its nearly impossible to be jealous anymore. They were perfect for each other.
There's that word again. Jealousy. Oh boy. Amelia thought she was over this already. When did seeing red trump being happy for someone else? She let him go. Its what he wanted. He's happy. Its all that matters. Its all that should matter. She knew this. She just didn't assume it was going to be this challenging. Its a party. People go to parties all the time. This should be no different.
She jumped as Will wrapped his arms around her and pulled her so she was lying with him on the bed. He kissed her forehead and hugged her body against his.
"What time is this thing again?" He asked gently.
She sighed and laced her fingers with his burying her head in his chest. "I think like 9 tonight. Leighanne told me its mostly going to be family and close friends. I said I would go."
They sat up closer to where the front of the bed was. "Do you want to go? I mean I know you said you would but its cool if you'd just call her up."
She took a deep breath and thought about it for a second. This wasn't a mandatory thing. Did she have to show up? No. She didn't have to do anything she wasn't comfortable doing. Still, it wasn't up to her. She could do this.
"Nah, I think we should. It'd be fun. Plus, hey, free food. We know how you love anything free." She said, nuzzling her nose in the crook of his neck, smelling his after shave.
"Yeah, are you going to be ok?" He whispered near her ear, moving her dark brown hair from her face.
She nodded, feeling him smile. She turned and looked in his eyes, "Let's get out of here. We don't go out enough anyway. It could be a lot of fun."
He laughed, "But seriously, should I be worried? I mean, because, its you know, Bri-"
She broke him off with a light kiss, relaxing as she put her head on his chest. "Don't worry about that. Its over."
After a few seconds her breathing became even. He could sense she was relaxing.
"You're falling asleep on me?" He said in a playful manner.
She smiled and closed her eyes, shaking her head. She opened them up as she felt her sides being tickled.
"Alright, alright," She dragged herself from the bed, trying to get away from his hands, "You need to get ready too."
Will looked at her as if she just told a confusing joke. "What's wrong with what I have on?"
"Didn't you wear that to the audition today?"
"Yeah? I like it. Its decent. Its a guy thing. What, you don't like suede?"
"Sort of reminds me of a cowboy. All that's missing is the chaps and the Garth Brooks 10 gallon hat."
He pouted and scoffed as he went to the closet to find something else. Sometimes he didn't know what was going on between them. Lately she was criticizing him for the weirdest things. He shook it off mostly because its no big deal, but it nipped at him. Like a puppy gnawing on your fingers. He was going to let it go for now. But who was he to complain? This is what he liked about her. She's always been about being straight and good.
He fumbled with a few dress pants and just went with the cobalt colored ones he used for dressier auditions. They looked more like the same NYPD gear he wore on the show when he was shooting. Eh, they pass. He shrugged, slipping them on as he looped a belt through the top holes.
"Hey, don't take too long. Its kind of a drive." She shouted from the bedroom and clicked on the TV.
He craned his head to look in the room. "Where'd you say they're having it at?"
Amelia racked her brain taking a few seconds to remember. "Oh, for a sec I thought it was Atlanta. Its Santa Barbara I'm sure of it. I'll get the directions, wrote them down somewhere."
She went to look for the directions in the night stand. When she pulled them out, she checked them over. They were pretty clear, it's impossible for them to be lost. She put the piece of paper on the bed and walked back to the dresser mirror. The diamond studs she was wearing didn't look that bad. What was she stressing over? She's with an amazing guy who doesn't care about how she looks. She adores that about him. Even with his schedule and all the auditions he goes on, he comes back to her like it's the first day they met.
She reached on her neck to touch the necklace he gave her recently on her birthday. Silver snowflakes overlapping each other with her initials on the back; it was her favorite.
"Think we should take PCH or just stay on the 101 north? How far is it anyway?" Will's voice made her jump again.
She looked up and licked her lips. Maybe driving through the ocean would be best. She always felt a thousand times better about everything when she looked out to the coast. "PCH, it's kind of prettier actually. Duration should be a little over an hour. We could check out the views, maybe watch the sun set on the way. What do you think?"
He grabbed hold of her waist and pulled her close. He smelled her scent, closing his eyes, "Whatever you want. Are you sure you wanna do this? Remember what I said? I don't like to see you gloomy when you get there. You're terrible when you're in a bad mood."
She smirked, lightly bonking the back of his head, "I'm too obvious sometimes. I wear it on my sleeve I guess. No, I really think this'll be good. We could mingle, meet new people. Brian's got some connections I'm sure you'd be interested in."
He rolled his eyes and squeezed her waist, snaking his hand inside the back of her slacks. "Oh come on, I'm good in that department. When you first met me, I was struggling. I'm just riding this wave now. Thank god I still look young."
"Yes you do!" She pinched his backside, running her hands under his shirt up and down his back.
"I love you." He gave a soft kiss on the corner of her lips, making three slow kisses down her neck.
She purred as he whispered and kissed down her collarbone. This was getting heavy pretty fast. She laughed as he began tickling her. Its sad Will Estes knew all her spots and he wasn't shy on showing he does. She needed to pull him off before it got any further.
"We need to get going Billie. Ha, OK, jeez, calm down horsy. Keep it in the cage."
He looked up and pouted. It was all it took for her to blush and relent. "For now."
He grinned and kissed her forehead, "I can't help it. You drive me nuts. All of you. How did I get this lucky?"
"God finally felt sorry for both of us. Now get ready." She said, pushing him away.
He laughed, kissing her cheek as he stood away from her, modeling what he had on, "So, what do you think? Is it me?"
She giggled, took a step back reviewing his ensemble in her best serious expression, "I'd fuck you."
"You already do." He said, giving her a hard but mock stare.
"Well then if we never met, I'd seriously come up to you and say, stick it in! Better?"
"Wow, that's exactly what I thought you'd say. What are the odds?" He said fixing his collar up.
She finished for him and looked in his eyes, "Ready to do this?"
"Smoozing is what I do best. It's all method, baby."
"You forget, it's not acting if I can see it."
He lifted an eyebrow, "Who said anything about acting? I'm a natural charmer thank you."
She gave him a long passionate kiss and pulled away touching her forehead to his, "That's why I fell for you."
The drive to the Littrells was shorter than Amelia expected. During the ride a lot of past memories kept coming up. She couldn't ignore them. She had to push them away as she stepped out of the car. She was here, things weren't going to be weird. Will came incase that happens. Maybe she was thinking he could be a safety net just on the off chance things would get tense.
No doubt about it there will be friction. She knew it. She just had to put her best fake smile on and be happy for them. That's right. They are lucky, as was she.
She looked at the house for a second. It reminded her of images she'd seen in movies of families arriving, greeting each other with warm genuine arms stretched out. A stone and brick layer covered the exterior. It looked like a huge log cabin mansion. Almost resembled a picture out of some Christmas card illustration. The perfect house. It made her feel at ease. She watched as an elderly couple came up the stairs. He held her hand so sweetly. She smiled. Guess love knows no age. It's pretty universal.
She felt her hand grasped and turned to find Will with a lopsided grin on his face. "I know it's nice to look at and all but the free stuff is inside."
"I have a really good feeling about this." She meant that, something about this felt right.
Will put his arm around his girlfriend and they walked to the front door. The front door was suddenly flung open to reveal the most perfect little blond boy ever. He had grown the last time Amelia had seen him. A lot has changed in two years.
"Honey, what are you doing? I told you to keep the door closed sweetie pie, it's cold, oh-Hello-" It was Leighanne. She was perfectly dressed in a short long sleeve green V-neck with a matching skirt.
Amelia felt a little awkward and extended her hand, "Hello Leighanne. I'm sorry if we came a little late. Thanks for inviting us."
Leighanne smiled warmly, "We're just getting started. Brian's parents haven't arrived yet. Come inside. Make yourself comfortable. I don't believe we're met?"
Will reached out his hand, "Will, nice to meet you. You have a beautiful home."
Leighanne pulled back her hand still smiling, "Thank you. Come on guys, we're going to have lots of fun things going on. Everybody's in the living room."
Will took Amelia's hand and they walked inside closer to where all the voices they heard were. It was quite a turn out. Thick Kentucky drawls were overlapping in conversations every which way. The foyer had been dressed in reds and greens along with banners spreading the holiday spirit. It was warming to be around, but Amelia suddenly felt out of place. Her hand was sweating and Will felt it. She slowly let her hand slip from his and excused herself to the restroom. Leighanne said to use the one upstairs near the master bedroom.
As she walked up the stairs she started to get an eerie feeling. Not this again!She climbed up the stairs the rest of the way to the main room of the house. She felt slightly weird being in the room he shared with her. She shook her head. She was going to be in and out. No dilly dallying. She didn't come here to fret over what was. It was time to move on. He made his choice. She made hers. She was happy. She was...
She crossed the room and came to a closed door. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a figure out on the balcony. She wasn't so sure about this. She flinched as he took his hat, messing up his matted hair letting out a deep breath.
In and out, she kept telling herself. She knocked on the door and that was when she saw him. He'd changed a little in the last couple years. A few things haven't. She could still make out the powerful bright blueness in his eyes. But now they held a somber expression. Still, he was the same. Still amazingly beautiful and gentle. That's the best way to describe Brian every time she thought of him. Some things are just hard to erase. She didn't know what to do. This was something she couldn't escape. Making the best of it was what needed to happen.
Amelia smiled and waved to him, staying put. "How are you?"
"Is that you?" Brian came closer, squinting to get a better look.
She forced a smile but it came out a little pensive. Being around him was going to be a little strange.
"I-I, yes." She stammered, regrouping herself.
His face was unreadable. It was safe to conclude he didn't know she was coming. He wasn't sure what he was going to do or how he was going react if he saw her again. He was certain Leighanne had something to do with this.
A slow smile came to his face as he looked her over as if reading a novel. She was just like he remembered her. But one thing he couldn't ignore; she was looking anywhere but him. It was making him uncomfortable. He understood. Things weren't going to get weird. Would they?
When he found his voice he got her attention finally, "H-how are you?"
"Good, I'm great. Life is good." She was surprised at how quickly she answered.
"Life is…" he trailed off.
She looked at him strongly, leaning on his answer. She hadn't known this side of him. It was scaring her a little. She took a small step back, very subtle, not soundlessly, but small so he wouldn't notice her trepidation.
"...you changed your hair?" He reached out and felt her slightly shorter straight caramel streaked locks at the ends.
She would fight through this. She would. "Yeah I uh, cut it a few months ago. You look good."
"So do you. It's good to see you Mia." He whispered, although he hadn't meant for it to come out that way.
She realized she forgot to breathe and took a sharp breath. "Why aren't you downstairs?"
He laughed inwardly biting his lip as he looked outside. "Just needed to prepare I guess."
When she got silence she continued, "Are you alright?"
"I should go downstairs. Excuse me." He said flatly and walked out of the room.
She frowned and went inside the bathroom. She closed the door, sitting on the edge of the tub and closed her eyes. She leaned her head back and rolled her neck hearing the small cracks as she started to relax. That had to be one of the tensest moments of her life. She could feel his breathing and his heart start to beat like it was going to scream. She made a mistake approaching him. She should have just not done anything. She understood this would be weird but didn't know the extent.
She wouldn't cry. She has a great life. Brian isn't part of it. He just isn't. She was so spaced out she forgot she was leaning so far into the tub and caught herself. She let out a breath and pulled herself up so she sat straighter.
"Ugh, no point. Stop letting this fuck with your mind. Its probably nothing, just leave it alone." She rambled and went over to the sink.
She checked out her eyes. Thank god the mascara was waterproof. She splashed a little cool water under her eyes erasing the tear streaks.
She heard a knock and jumped, "Who is it?"
"Oh, wow, didn't know anyone was there. How much longer are you gonna be?" A booming female voice asked.
She looked at the door and rolled her eyes. "Hold on, I'll be out in a sec."
She opened the door and came face to face with the most over-processed face she'd seen. In fact, the whole appearance was trying too hard. She didn't look like she was family. More like the tramps she saw walking along the pier in Santa Monica.
"All yours." Amelia said, pushing a smile and scooted as far away from her as she could.
She practically coughed her way out of the bathroom from getting a strong whiff of that disgusting perfume she wore. It reminded her of the make-up department at the malls.
Last thing she wanted to do was butt heads with some skank over something as silly as bogarting a bathroom. Amelia wondered around the house for a bit, hugging her shoulders from the slight draft that was starting to build.
She passed the corner and turned down the hall to see various photos of childhood and family snapshots. Mostly of Brian and his brother, a bunch of other pictures of the Backstreet Boys too, the early years. There was a platinum plaque from their first album hanging in the center of the room leading to what looked like a recording studio. Amelia heard what she thought were guitar riffs followed by a pause, then she'd heard that melody again. It was so beautiful. The instrumental alone sounded like a lullaby. Just needed lyrics.
The door wasn't shut all the way. The crack of the door barely showed anything. Did she want to know? She felt like she was intruding. She thought against it and turned on her heel as the floor creaked.
"Shit!" She swore.
"Brian, is that you? Lauren? Hold up, I'm coming, just gotta finish this thing." A gruff voice answered.
"Babe, what are you doing? Everything OK?" Will's voice came out of nowhere.
She sighed and caught her breathing. She straightened herself walked to him, "Oh... Just got lost. What's going on?"
He pursed his lips in boredem bored. He was always obvious with that stuff. "I think they're having dinner now. Everybody's pretty much there. Brian's got a huge family."
"He does, yeah." She looked away glumly.
Will turned her face to his, cupping her cheek, "Are you OK? Seriously you know, you could say so."
"Let's just go downstairs. I don't wanna be rude." She said as they slowly sauntered down to the living room.
As soon as she stepped in the room she could feel Brian's eyes on her. When she looked at him he quickly averted his eyes and touched Leighanne's knee to distract himself. Inside, his stomach was burning.
Brian was highly uncomfortable about all this. He didn't know much about this guy Will, other than the actor thing. The way he was touching her shouldn't be making him flinch. Why should he care so much who she's with? They looked nearly perfect together. Like he and Leighanne. Too perfect. Seeing her again put him in knots all over again. He had no idea she was coming and it showed. She saw it, he knew it. Forgetting her wasn't in the cards. He thought of her constantly while they were touring. While he was on stage, he tried to hide his emotions but during the ballads he just let go; to the point of being in tears on his knees during "Show Me the Meaning..." Even Howie came up to him one day and asked him what was wrong. Kevin called him the next day after having heard what Howie told him. Brian didn't want to talk about it, instead saying its just the stress of the tour. He's not as young as he used to be and sleep was becoming non-existent. The guys didn't know about Amelia; and right so. They were only together for a month. Besides, everybody would have thought he was going through a crisis if he mentioned anything. So he turned his cheek and kept his mouth shut. Leighanne knew very little. It was the way it should be. She thought Brian and Mia were just friends and never suspected anything. Leighanne and Brian weren't together 2 years ago, it shouldn't matter. But somehow if Leighanne found out, hell, he didn't want to know the answer to that. She isn't going to.
Seeing her again almost did him in. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Will whispered something causing her to laugh. Brian's grip on Leighanne's knee tightened slightly. She looked back at him raising an eyebrow, asking him what was wrong, he smiled back and gave his best assuring nod.
Brian reconciled with Leighanne around the holidays. It was the perfect time; according to his parents, the guys thought so too. Everyone except Nick. He always suspected something weird was going on. Brian never acted so skittish even when he was tired. There were times on past tours where he was roaring drunk and acted out; but he was grateful it never out of control. Whenever Nick asked Brian to be straight with him, he would brush it off, using the same excuse, claiming it was just all the stress. He became even more suspicious when Brian would check his phone in private. Or what he thought was private. As if he was waiting for an important call. Brian would go out of his way to keep things from the group and when confronted from any of the guys, he'd act like nothing was going on.
Everyone turned around when Nick and Lauren trotted down the stairs arm in arm. Amelia looked anywhere but the couple. Something about that girl just irked her. Nothing about her seemed authentic. Sure she wasn't a beauty, least in her eyes. She had a peek of her outfit from the corner of her eye. She was wearing some sort of push-up black mini with a white faux fur juicy couture jacket that was about 3 sizes too tight; along with matching black clog stilettos that looked like she stole them off an exotic dancer.
Girls like that really bother her. At least Leighanne resembled a Disney princess. This one needed a lesson badly in etiquette.
Will whispered something in her ear. She only heard the last part. "Wonder how much her chest cost?"
Amelia pushed him a little giving him a look as she laughed.
It was wrong of her to laugh but she couldn't help it. This girl was so obvious it was like she was asking for it. Its also apparent the terms PDA is something she's familiar with. Guess its true what they say about Nick too. He really is attracted to trash. Amelia made a mental note to avoid him. A man's choice in girls shows his character. She can bet he was always like this.
She clutched the bear close to her chest as she sat outside the waiting room. A sour mood obvious on her face. Her mom was late again.
A boy sat next to her suddenly but she didn't look at him, "What's wrong?"
"My mommy's late. She's always late."
"Oh, my mom and dad are just outside. How long have you been waiting?"
She hugged her bear tighter, "My daddy dropped me off now. He said mommy's coming but she's not here."
"Don't worry, she'll be here. How old are you?"
"Four and a half. How old are you?"
"Me? I'm eight. This is only my second audition here. Your mom won't leave you here. Don't worry."
Her eyes filled with tears. She wanted to believe that so badly. She looked at him and noticed a Yankees cap covering his eyes.
"I just want her here. She never comes. I had to tell that lady inside the room last time to call my daddy and he was late too." She cried into her bear and hung her head low.
The boy began rubbing her back slowly whispering to her, "Don't cry, I hate seeing anyone cry, I'm sure she'll be here. If you want my mom will cheer you on. She does that a lot."
She looked at him and started laughing. She didn't know why but she did but out of nowhere she was laughing uncontrollably.
He looked at her at first, a little strangely but then joined in. After they calmed down he asked her about her bear.
"I've had her since I was born. Her name is Penny. My grandma gave her to me. She's my only friend." She said, handing him the bear to look at.
"I could be your friend." He said sweetly.
She looked at him with wide eyes. "Amelia, we're ready for you honey."
Amelia shook in place. She was suddenly brought back to the party. She looked around the room breathing rapidly. She looked over at Will who was talking with Jackie, Brian's mother about the pilot he was shooting. Brian was out of the room and left Leighanne who was having a deep conversation with Brian's dad. She didn't want to make a scene. She excused herself for the second time and went out to the backyard picking up her speed as she passed the patrons. Air. She needed air. She caught her breath, trying to calm her hands from shaking. She thought she was going to start seizuring. Her breathing hadn't slowed down.
"Amelia?" Oh no, at her most vulnerable, why now?
She turned around slowly, ready to face him, "Brian?"
"Are you alright?" He said softly, advancing closer.
Amelia didn't know what to think. She thought she was going crazy. Her mind was racing and her hands were sweaty. She ravenously wiped them on her skirt and frantically looked around. Was she losing it? The chilly air barely did much to kill the heat radiating off her body.
Brian ran up and grabbed her shoulders, "Amelia, look at me? What? What's going on? You're scaring me."
She shook her head, blinking several times as if she'd been possessed. "I don't know. Please let go."
He loosened his grip and trailed his hand down her arms near her elbow. She closed her eyes. Something she shouldn't have done.
"I saw something. I don't know what but I saw something." She whispered, hanging her head down.
He lifted her chin with his finger, "Saw what?"
She just looked at him blankly. She wasn't sure if she was scared or indifferent. She never felt a sensation like this before. What in the world did that flash mean? She'd never had a feeling this intense like this before. Her headache was building again. She roughly shook her head and turned her back to him. "I don't know. I think-god I don't know what all this means."
He took her hand nearly forcing her body to face him. "What's going on?"
She bit her lip, stuck in quick sand. How did she get here? Why in the world did she come here? Looking at Brian always made her weak. She couldn't stand it anymore. The touching, the stares, the jealousy. She never stopped loving this man. His blue eyes seared into her petrified hazel ones. The way he was looking at her, she just wanted to surrender. She didn't want to stop. She couldn't shake that image from her memory. Did it really happen? His face. What did it look like? His voice. That little boy. Where did he come from?
"Hey! What's going on here? Get your hands off my girlfriend." Will's crowding voice boomed loud enough for both of them to separate.
Amelia couldn't look at Brian so she glanced at Will, an unreadable expression on her face. "Will, I'm sorry."
She ran to him but he just would not tear his eyes from Brian. She turned his face to meet her eyes. "Will stop. We weren't doing anything."
His face softened somewhat, but he wasn't done. "I know you weren't. Not sure about him. Let's go inside OK?"
She nodded slowly, took his hand, "Don't worry about me, OK? Brian didn't do anything wrong."
He said nothing for a few seconds. She sighed loudly, it wasn't any use. Will was the jealous type. One of his more annoying traits. Sometimes she wondered if he really trusted her. She didn't want to be around him like this. She can't even get away for 5 seconds without him crowding her. Amelia's the type that when she is ready, she'll talk. Will didn't see eye to eye with her sometimes and almost forced her to reveal her secrets. They weren't perfect, but who is? Leighanne and Brian. Even their names sounded like they belong together.
"Maybe you're right. Look, I'm sorry. When I saw his hands on you I snapped. Wasn't the way to handle it. I'm really sorry." He cupped her cheeks gently.
She pulled him into the kitchen, giving him a soft look before pressing her lips over his. "Let's just forget it. I don't wanna be all hung up on drama. We came here to have fun, didn't we?"
"That we did. Come to think of it, I was having a great lengthy conversation with Brian's mother. She told me Leighanne's an actress too. Isn't that cool? She stopped doing films because of her son. I really don't wanna hate Brian. But when he was touching you, god, I can't help myself. I love you so much. You're my life. Goes without saying you know?"
"We show each other enough. So, what'd you and Jackie talk about?" Mia asked, taking a swing of her light beer.
"Oh, told her about the Blue Bloods pilot. A bunch of other things. Left out the embarrassing auditions for that children's thing. She gave me some great advice on handling something fresh like that. Just because you know, she has a son trying new things. That lady knows her stuff."
"Yeah, she's a talker that's for sure. I once had a 2 hour debate with Harold, Brian's dad about how much the music industry's changed and its so difficult to get your foot in the door. Kinda know how that feels. I lost my chance a long time ago." She pressed her lips tightly together.
He hugged her and kissed the corner of her mouth, "You shouldn't say that. Its never too late to get you some gigs. I'm not Mark Walhberg but I can pull the right strings. Get you doing what you've always wanted."
"Don't worry about me. I could always try new things. Still have time." She shrugged. It was the best she could come up with.
He pulled her in for another kiss, this time, he lingered, taking his time. He completely forgot they were in public, well, in some married couples' kitchen. Amelia didn't. She wanted to pull away but the way he kissed her suddenly made her knees go weak. Eventually things broke apart. Not in that soft gentle way. At the sound of a distracting cough, the couple abruptly broke contact.
Amelia could only think of one person.