After the concert in Washington in which all four boys were extremely alert, we boarded the busses and headed on our way to Canada. Our first stop was British Columbia.
I guess I had expected a vast wilderness, but in all actuality, Vancouver was a big bustling city. I was sitting backwards on the couch, my chin resting on the back as I looked out at the landscape of a Canadian morning. Nick came up behind me and leaned over me, his head resting on mine.
“It’s a city.”
Nick laughed; the sound reverberated on the top of my head. “Yeah, they have those here.”
He slid up on the couch, tugging me back from the window. My palms fell onto his shoulders as we went falling down in a heap. He began to nibble my neck; my eyes fluttered closed. His hand slid under my shirt.
Every time we had ever tried to do anything on the couch we were always interrupted. This time was no exception. Even though the bus was moving; Nick’s phone ended our pajama striptease.
“This couch has bad joojoo,” Nick said as he grabbed his phone from the windowsill. “Hello?” he answered a little huffily.
I headed to the bathroom. I was in the middle of a fairly warm shower when Nick walked in. The blast of cold air sent goosebumps up my arms.
“Hey!” I complained. He slid the door open. He was grinning ear to ear.
“You’re a genius,” he said with gusto. I raised an eyebrow.
“No, I’m naked,” I said. “And I’m freezing. Close the door.”
“No, that was Howie,” Nick said. “Masquerade hit the VH1 Top Twenty Countdown this week. We’re number eighteen and rising.”
I turned the water off quickly. “Really?” I said. “Really?”
Nick laughed. “Really!”
I jumped at him, wrapping my arms around my neck. I kissed him happily. “That’s terrific!”
He kissed me back. I was dripping water, but he didn’t seem to care. He scooped me up.
“Let’s see if the bed has better joojoo,” he said huskily.
I’m glad to report, it did.
“So do you have any more amazing ideas?” Howie said as we finished up lunch at a restaurant near the concert venue. He squeezed me. “I could kiss you right now.”
I laughed. I had already kissed two Backstreet Boys, I didn’t think I wanted to go for a hat trick.
“What do you mean amazing ideas?” I said.
Howie grinned. “C’mon Masquerade is the first video we’ve had in a countdown in forever. Plus, between the U.S. tour and the exposure, our album sales are up. Way up.”
I grinned. I couldn’t have asked for better news, but I still didn’t think I was the contributing force.
“That’s all you guys,” I said. “You’ve worked really hard.”
AJ shook his head. “No that video and working it back to Everybody was classic. At the Washington meet and greet I had fans coming up and saying they hadn’t thought about us in years. That’s something.”
“So, like I said, do you have another vision?” Howie asked.
I bit my lip. I did have another idea, but…
“That’s a classic sign. She does have something else brewing,” Nick said brushing past me. I narrowed my eyes. With a leap, I jumped on him from behind. His arms went quickly around my legs as my arms wrapped around his neck.
“Hey, be careful!” he complained. I rested my head on the top of his.
“You weren’t worried about careful earlier,” I whispered in his ear.
“My feet are tired,” I complained out loud for the sake of the others. My idea of snowy Canadian was completely ruined; my flip flops were basically melting on the pavement.
Nick laughed and continued to walk back to the venue, gripping me tightly. I looked over at Howie.
“I do have an idea,” I admitted. “But it involves the cruise. And an unreleased song.”
“We’re all ears,” Howie said.
Ten minutes later we were cooling off at the General Motors Place. Nick was holding a water fan up to Baylee’s face. His eyes were squished tight, his mouth open.
“Okay, spill,” AJ said.
“It involves Figured You Out,” I explained. “I love that song; it’s got a great beat. I hate that you guys didn’t put in on as a main track.”
“That was one of our favorites too,” Brian said. He scooped Baylee up and tipped him upside down; Baylee burst into giggles as water gushed out of his mouth. I smiled.
“I’m thinking that we could film some of the scenes a couple days before the cruise. I can see getting four really pretty girls and each of you acting out the scene.”
Howie had a notebook and pen ready. He started to scribble down notes. “Go on.”
“Let me see if I remember correctly,” I closed my eyes. “Brian begins with You had me waiting even on a second date/ I picked you up took you to your favorite place / I saw you flirting but I looked the other way. I’m thinking an interior restaurant scene with the girl flirting with the waiter and Brian burying his head in the menu.”
“I can drown my sorrows in food,” Brian said, setting Baylee right side up again. Baylee tackled him in a huge bear hug.
I laughed. “Then we turn to Nick. His lines are…”
Nick began to sing. “You woke me up and said you had a place to go / Just grabbed my keys you took my car and stole my phone / I knew I shouldn’t but I let you get away.”
I closed my eyes; I loved that voice. “That’s it. I can see Nick in bed and the girl waltzes by completely dressed and picks up his keys and phone from the dresser. Then we see Nick getting up and looking out his window as the girl gets into a red sports car and zooms off. Nick throws his hands in the air then places them on the windowpane.”
I cracked my knuckles. Without hearing the song I was having a hard time remembering.
“The chorus is next,” Howie said.
I reached into my equipment bag and quickly pulled out my Ipod and earphones. I located the song and sat for a minute listening to the words. The chorus was I’m not a player / I’m not a clown / I won’t be a puppet just hanging around / You need another man to put diamonds on your hands / and let you take his car / I found out who you are / I finally figured you out. I snapped my fingers.
“The chorus is the dance sequence with all four of you. I can almost see a kick back to N’Sync with the puppets on a string. It would be cool to put in some elements of The Call into it as well. Instead of you guys being the targets, the girls are. So after the chorus Brian and Nick’s girls are X’ed out. Then we have AJ’s verse.”
AJ’s verse went I should have seen it coming / You were just pretend / Used up my credit card and maxed it til the end / I wish I’d known before I hit the ATM / Oh no, it happened again. “I see AJ at an ATM. Remember how The Call zoomed in on the disconnected phone call? I’m seeing this video zooming in on the ATM screen with a message that says ‘Maxed’ or ‘Zero Balance.’ Then I see AJ turning and falling to the ground with his arms held out, screaming ‘again.’ The camera then zooms across town to where the girl is counting out all the money. Then there’s the chorus again and AJ’s girl is X’ed out.
“Then there’s my favorite part,” I finished a little breathlessly. “The part that goes I’m going away / far, far away/ I’m going away / so far away / I’m going away / far, far away. That’s where I’d love to see a shot from the dock of the cruise ship pulling away and you guys on deck singing.”
Howie paused in his writing. He looked at me and a grin spread across his face. “Excellent.”
“And, I think we could still work in a fourth girl so Howie gets to X someone out. The next lines are I’m gonna pack your bags and kick you out / I’m sorry, but I figured you out. I see Howie tossing this pink suitcase off the boat at a girl watching from the dock. The suitcase opens and all of her stuff flies into the water. Then her picture is X’ed out. The last repetition of the chorus is then danced out on the ship in front of the fans.”
I held out my hands. “That’s all I got.”
“The prego’s a fucking visionary,” AJ said. Brian covered Baylee’s ears. Baylee laughed, putting his small hands over Brian’s big ones.
“You’re killing me AJ,” Brian said. “Leighanne’s going to make the poor kid wear earmuffs around you.”
“I’m sorry!” AJ said.
“This is totally doable,” Howie said, holding up the notebook. “Maybe we could even rerelease the album with that song and one or two other unreleased tracks.”
“Like Happily Never After,” Nick said. I smiled. I wouldn’t forget what he did with that song anytime soon.
“So all we need for this video are four skanky girls,” AJ said. “Sweet.”
“Which puts all of us girls off the hook,” I added.
“Well especially you,” Nick said. “You’ll be like six months pregnant by then.”
It didn’t seem possible, but he was right.
“Hey guys, do you realize you should have started sound check five minutes ago?” Leighanne said, poking her head around the corner where we assembled in a circle of folding chairs.
“Fuck!” Baylee said loudly.
“BAYLEE THOMAS WYLEE LITTRELL!” Leighanne yelled. Baylee slid off Brian’s lap and took off like a madman. Leighanne turned angrily to Brian. He scooted down in the chair and pulled his hat down over his face.
AJ whistled innocently.
“Exit, stage right,” he said, doing a jig out to the crowd.
Nick walked by me grinning. “That was classic.”
Brian ducked by me, dodging a smack from Leighanne. As soon as he was sure she couldn’t see his face, even he grinned.
At that moment I prayed for a girl.