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Chapter Two

May 1

So there you have it. I’m on a plane to Florida to see if I stand a chance. Going back to the rollercoaster analogy, I can officially say that sneaking out of the house last night and driving to the airport was pretty much a completely vertical drop where my stomach was concerned. When Hunter and I married I had promised to love and obey; I had done really well on the love part, but the obeying part was another story. Of course, I didn’t do it alone. My mom, an absolute feminist and my hero, was crucial in getting me to make the phone call and getting me on the plane.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You have way too much potential to let something like this pass. Don’t worry about Hunter, I’ll sweet talk things over for ya.” With a huge smile she winked and clung to me tightly. Looking at us, no one would peg her as my mother. She was sixty, but didn’t look a day over forty-five. Her blonde hair was at a complete contrast to my own dark brown locks and she was able to maintain her slender frame and eat all she wanted. I would hate her, except I loved her too much.

So, with a deep breath and a wave, I boarded the plane. Besides the aforementioned smell of baby puke that wafted from a few rows back and my heart beating out of my chest, the flight was fairly uneventful. In fact, the pilot announced just moments ago that the plane was making its descent into Orlando International Airport. I survived my first coaster, now for the many to follow.

After the plane landed, I walked down the tarmac with the rest of my fellow passengers. I looked through the sea of people, finally spotting a short guy holding a Live Entertainment sign.

“Olivia?” the man inquired as I walked towards him. I nodded my ascent.

We claimed my baggage and then walked out into the bright Florida sunshine. The man opened the door to a shiny black limousine and waved me inside.

I have never been in a limo before. As my butt sunk into the rich leather, I had a very Cinderella-like moment. I looked down, but instead of glass slippers I was still wearing my Crocs. Another look around. No fairy godmother. No rats. All was still real. I pressed my face against the tinted glass and enjoyed the landscape as the limo pulled away from the airport to our destination. Twenty minutes later we pulled up to a swank hotel. Once more, the door was opened for me.

“They’re waiting for you inside.” the man said simply before scurrying back into the limo.

Taking a deep breath, I hitched up the strap on my duffel bag and headed inside. I knew the “they” were Tony Sanders and Anderson Little, the two men in charge of the summer internship program. When I first walked up to them, I could scarcely believe they were high executives. Dressed in jeans and casual tees, they both held out a courteous hand.

“So nice to meet you Olivia,” said Tony or Anderson (I didn’t know which was which). Whoever he was had jet black hair and an absolutely perfect tan. “I’m Anderson Little.”

“And I’m Tony,” the other said with a laugh. Tony was the complete opposite. Pasty white and balding, he seemed to be more of the executive type.

“Good to meet you both,” I said, coughing slightly as my voice came out an octave higher than normal.

“Here’s your room key,” Anderson said in return. “Get settled and meet us in the hotel conference room in thirty minutes for specific assignment details.”

“Okay. Thirty minutes.” I repeated. Taking the key I headed towards the elevator and ascended to the fifth floor. Things were moving so fast, but I had learned a long time ago to go with the flow.

When I entered my hotel room, my jaw dropped. For someone who was only in the running for a possible internship, no money was spared. The hotel room seemed bigger than my entire house. A huge flat screen television and a plush seating area was the first thing I saw. In a room off to the left was the largest bed I had ever seen. Attached to the bedroom was a bathroom to die for. A huge Jacuzzi tub, double sinks, and large makeup mirror had me drooling. It was a far cry from my couch where I had spent the last few months moping.

Heading into the bathroom, I changed into a pair of dressy jeans, blouse, and jacket. With a quick splash of cold water and reapplied makeup I felt ready to go. I had my camera and recording equipment with me as well as my laptop. Gathering everything up I headed back down to the conference room for my assignment.

Tony and Anderson sat at a small conference table. With a smile I set my equipment aside and sat down, trying to hide my sweaty palms.

“Just to let you know. Five hundred people applied for this internship. However, you are one in a field of three candidates. Most everyone else was crap.” Tony said. He had one of those smiles where you almost needed sunglasses while looking directly at him.

Anderson slid a folder across the table towards me. “Your assignment.”

Flipping open the cover, I sucked in a breath.

“We want twelve photographs, a three minute video , and a blog entry of the band. You’ll be doing this in about twenty minutes in the hotel’s concert hall. Questions?”

Questions ? Was he kidding me? I was staring at a picture of my favorite band, The Backstreet Boys. These were the five guys that adorned my walls my junior and senior years of school. I’m not ashamed to admit that I still bought their new albums. I had gone to every single one of their U.S. concerts. I was a fan!

And I had twenty minutes to get my act together.

“Olivia, any questions?” Anderson repeated.

“Questions? No, no…I think I’ve got it.” I said with a smile.

“Well, let us show you the concert hall and you can prepare your equipment before the boys arrive.”

The concert hall was directly adjoining the hotel. It was a small, intimate venue. I set to work unloading my equipment. I silently cursed my outdated equipment, but I knew that I had to work with what I had. As I sat checking my battery, I heard voices from the stage.

“Olivia, I’d like you to meet A.J., Brian, Nick, and

Dusting off my jeans, I stood quickly, camera in hand. The four members of the Backstreet Boys stood onstage, all smiling warmly.

“Pleased to meet you,” I said, my voice cracking slightly.

“Here’s what’s going to happen.” Tony explained. “The boys are going to do a twenty minute warm-up set. During that time you can get most of your photographs and your video. After the performance you’ll have ten minutes to do an interview and from that you can get something for the blog. Got it?”

“Got it.” I said, crouching back down, camera posed.

I could go into detail about every shot I took or video I captured, but in all honesty I just began to shoot and pray. I felt like a football player tossing a Hail Mary pass and praying for a touchdown. Only after the music stopped did I come out of my zone.

“Alright, time for questions. Throw ‘em at us,” Brian said, sliding into a sitting position at the edge of the stage. The other boys quickly followed suit.

Somehow I knew that this portion was the make-or-break part of my task. Smiling, I took a seat in the front row and studied the boys in turn. I decided to throw out a question and wait for a taker.

“What are you looking forward to when heading back out on the road?”

“The fans.” “New music.” “Pranks.”

“Okay Brian, Nick,” I said. “You said it together. What pranks do you have in mind?”

“Well if you get the job you’ll see for yourself,” Nick said quickly. I smiled, taking in his blue eyes and his blonde hair. “What about you Brian?”

“Uh-uh, not telling,” he said with a laugh.

“Okay, well what’s going on with the beard growth?” I asked instead. As my favorite, I preferred a clean shaven Brian. His curly dirty blonde hair made him look adorable; the hint of the beard made him seem more worldly.

“I’m going for the more mature look.”

“Ah, a mature prankster. Got ya. Let’s see…are wives and mini-mes coming on tour?” I asked. Brian and Howie were happily married. Brian’s son Baylee was seven and absolutely adorable. Howie’s son James was a few weeks shy of a year and looked so much like his dad.

“Absolutely,” Howie said. “This will be the first U.S. tour that I’ll spend with my wife and boy. I can’t wait.”

“And let’s see. A.J., the fans want to know. When’s your wedding?”

“Ah, can’t say,” he said with a grin. I could only assume his eyes matched his smile, they were hidden behind large studded sunglasses.

I laughed. “That’s fair.” My brain was scrambling to find a question that I could blog about that would set me apart from the crowd.

“Last, but not least. Which one of you would win a wrestling match in a large baby pool of vegetable oil?”

I had hit pay dirt. The look on all of their faces was priceless.

“I’m going to say AJ,” Howie finally said. “Because out of all of us he’s the one that’s probably already done it.”

“I second AJ. One time I ate something that must have been soaked in vegetable oil for days and I got bad sick. Plus it would be hell on the hair. AJ’s almost bald so my money’s on him.” Nick said. He began laughing even as AJ punched him in the arm.

“I—“ Brian began to say.

“Time’s up!”

I sat back, pen in hand. Tony and Anderson walked out on stage.

“Thanks, guys,” I said with a smile.

“How’d she do?” Tony said, addressing the guys.

“She did great man. She was like a shadow. I didn’t even see her doing her thing,” Nick said, winking at me. “Plus she gave a mad interview. She gets my vote. Can we vote?”

“You guys will judge once we have all three candidates.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” I said, standing up. I shook each man’s hand in turn.

“Bye Livvy,” Nick said. “Can’t wait to see your work.”

I watched them disappear off stage. Part one was over. And Nick called me Livvy!