I awoke the next morning with my little bus window slightly open. The air had a certain sweetness to it and the smell of grass tickled my senses. Rolling over onto my back I stared out the window. The sun shone brightly. All was quiet. I was either the first to awake or I had overslept. Considering I was the last asleep, my money was on the latter.
Pulling back the curtain, I swung my bare feet down onto the cold ground. Not a sound. I took a cold shower (everyone else had used the lukewarm water; it never seemed to get hot) and dressed for the day. I was sitting on the couch, making sure I had all my equipment when I heard a knock on the bus door.
“Come in!” I called. The door creaked open and Leighanne poked her head in.
“I thought you might want to spend a girl’s morning with me in my hometown,” she said, smiling. “I don’t know about you but a little hair and nail therapy sounds good to me.”
“You’re an angel,” I said with a laugh. “But,” I glanced at my watch. It was 11 o’clock – ugh. “The sound check begins in an hour.”
“I hope I don’t sound like a horrible wife,” Leighanne said. “but trust me you can miss one soundcheck. I have a feeling the guys will want to party after the concert tonight and you can make up for it then.”
“Well---“ she had me at hello…I mean at hair and nails. “You’ve made me an offer I can’t refuse!”
It was obviously an offer that Leigh and Rochelle couldn’t refuse either. Leighanne had her own car for the day; the Littrell household was right in Atlanta so she wasn’t kidding when she said we were in her hometown. Baylee was spending the day at a friend’s house and Leigh had James tucked safely by her.
As Leighanne drove she pointed out some of Atlanta’s finest landmarks.
“And this, ladies, is Atlanta’s greatest landmark,” she said parking and pointing to a small building in the center of downtown.
It was a cozy hair salon. We all bustled out of the car and into the shop. Leighanne made the introductions and we were all ushered to chairs. After a consultation, the hairdressers got to work and the conversation picked up.
“I found out what was bothering Nick,” Leigh said, one eye on her hair, the other on James.
“What? Besides carpal tunnel, that is. He was outside his bus texting the whole time Brian and I were double checking our bags,” Leighanne said, pointing out a stubborn strand of blonde hair. The hairdresser nodded and continued.
A chorus of “Oh’s” answered.
“That sums it up,” Rochelle said. Her hairdresser was slathering her hair with an interesting shade of dye.
“Lauren?” I asked, curiosity getting the best of me.
“His girlfriend,” Leighanne said. “Well, ex-girlfriend. But she’s not leaving him alone.”
“She doesn’t realize he’s not ready to commit,” Leigh added. “He’s still working on finding himself.”
I had completely forgotten about Lauren. I had read on Perez Hilton a little about their relationship and about it being on the rocks. In fact, Perez Hilton and VH1 were the equivalent of crack cocaine for me – I was withdrawing from VH1, but I could check Perez on my laptop daily. Of course, it was even better getting the scoop personally.
“I don’t think she was right for him,” Rochelle added. “I only met her a few times but she seemed way too reserved.”
“Says the girl that’s getting her hair dyed what color?” I said teasingly.
“Pink. Just highlights. It’ll look really cute with this one shirt I have that AJ loves,” she said sending a wink my way from the mirror.
We all shared a laugh and settled in for a few hours of pampering. Afterwards, we stopped for salads at a beautiful outdoor bistro before heading back to the Entertainment Center. I felt completely refreshed. My nails didn’t look like they had been nibbled on by piranhas and I felt sexier with perfectly placed blonde highlights and a fresh cut. I had never paid so much in my life, but it was well worth it.
“Well, look who finally showed up,” AJ called out loudly as we made our way backstage. The boys sat in folding chairs, paper plates loaded down with food – nothing that remotely looked as healthy as our salads. Howie licked his fingers and whistled.
“Looking good, ladies,” he said. Setting down his plate, he took James’ carrier and kissed Leigh lovingly. “Muy bonita.” he purred.
“Your PDA-A-A-A-,” I sang. AJ laughed.
“Well?” Rochelle said, tapping her boot impatiently.
“Lookin good,” AJ nodded, picking up a barbequed wing.
“That’s it?” she said haughtily. AJ swallowed quickly, puckering up his sauced lips.
“Not until you wipe, McLean.”
As I stood watching the love fest around me, I didn’t notice Nick sneak up behind me.
“I like the hair,” he whispered in my ear. I turned, but he was already walking off, his face buried to his phone screen.
Stealing away from the couples, I took a moment to call home. Finding a quiet hallway, I sat down, resting against the cool wall. The phone rang once, twice…finally on the third ring Hunter picked up.
“Hey babe,” I said, smiling slightly. “What’s up?”
“It’s Olivia. I was just calling to say I missed you.
How are things going?”
I heard a large yawn and the sound of the alarm clock being picked up. He was checking the time.
“Are you sleeping?” I asked. I checked my watch. It was three o’clock.
“Just, just waking up,” he mumbled.
“Well I just wanted to tell you things are going fine and
that I miss you.”
“I miss you too.”
I waited for him to say something else, but I feared he was already nodding back off to sleep.
“I love you.” I said.
“Hmm? Love you too,” he mumbled even more softly.
I hung up the phone and knocked my head very gently back against the wall. I reasoned that he must have had a late shift the night before. Even still, I was hoping for more.
“I’m guessing that went as well as my phone call.”
I looked up to see Nick towering above me. He smiled a little sardonically, holding up his cellphone. “Women.
Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t live without them.”
“Men. Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t live without them.” I retorted. We both smiled. Nick stuck his hand out. Hesitating just a second, I placed my hand in his large warm one and he pulled me gently to my feet.
“Let’s get to work,” he said, heading off down the hall. I quickly followed. He stopped in front of the Boys dressing room.
“Want to come in?” he said teasingly. “You might get a good video out of it.”
“In the dressing room?” I said with a squeak.
Laughing, Nick opened the door and pulled me inside. My
heart did a nice little rhythmic thump-da-thump-thump as I flew through the door.
AJ, Brian, and Howie looked up surprised. Each one was in a various stage of dress. Luckily (or some might say unfortunately) each was decent. Brian snapped his suspenders, grinning.
“Nick, you’re late,” Brian said, tossing him his jacket.
“Livvy wanted to record,” Nick said in way of explanation.
I rolled my eyes, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity. I reached into my bag and pulled out the camcorder. Howie saw it first, and snatched it up. Holding it at arms length he stared into the lens.
“Welcome to the dressing room. For anyone interested in a real behind the scenes look, search no farther. Ladies, I give you Nick Carter getting dressed.”
As if on cue, Howie swung the camera in Nick’s direction. I stifled a gasp at how quickly he had undressed when I wasn’t looking. Standing in his skivvies, Nick smiled cockily, putting his hands on his hips. I had seen pictures, but the sight of his abs gave me a hot flash. Resisting the urge to fan myself, I stood stock still, wondering how this was going to play out.
“Nick, describe what you’re doing,” Howie said in a mock serious voice.
“Well, ladies, you see, I’m getting dressed. These are pants,” Nick explained, holding the pants right up to the lens. At this point Brian grabbed the camera from Howie. Flashing a quick cheeky grin into the lens, he turned the recorder back on Nick.
“Now, Nick. The world wants to know. Do you put your pants on one leg at a time?”
“Why, it’s funny you mention that Bri,” Nick said. “I actually just jump right in.”
It all seemed to happen so fast, but the best way to describe what happened is that it was a scene out of the movie Jackass. Nick held his pants and jumped. At the same time AJ sidled up and tripped Nick’s legs out from under him. With what looked like a painful crash, Nick landed face down on the floor, his pants bunched under him and his red and white striped covered ass flying up in the air like a ship’s mast.
Reviewing the tape I heard a gasp that could only be mine. The only thing I remember is running and kneeling down beside him.
“Shit. Are you okay?” I screamed, touching Nick’s shoulder. He was shaking violently.
I heard him gargle and a thousand horrible images floated through my head. He swallowed his tongue. He would never be able to sing again. He—
He was laughing uncontrollably.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” I heard Brian say. “That does it for this edition of In the Dressing Room. Until tomorrow…put your pants on one leg at a time. We’re out!”
Brian kneeled down and handed me my camera. Meanwhile, Nick had managed to get into a sitting position. He was laughing so hard that the tears were streaming down his face. Grinning, Howie handed him a Kleenex.
“Dude, that was awesome,” Nick finally said, gasping for air. “I didn’t see it coming.”
“You guys are insane,” I said. I didn’t think my legs would support me if I tried standing. All four of them just grinned at me.
“You haven’t seen insane yet. Wait until after the concert,” AJ said, putting the finishing touches on his outfit.
“AJ’s right,” Nick said, standing up. I reached up, handing him his pants. “We’re going to rock Atlanta tonight, baby!”
I was scared. Very scared.