The scenery of Alberta was a little more like the Canada I had expected. The sound check and the concert the day before had gone well, even with the guy’s late start. Baylee had been grounded and relegated to the bus. I had a feeling Brian received an earful as well; but I wasn’t sure.
The busses had stopped at an IHOP right on the outskirts of Calgary. My mind couldn’t have been farther from breakfast; I was christening the busses toilet with another bout of morning sickness. Nick sat beside me, holding my hair and doing a word search.
“Doesn’t this gross you out?” I groaned, as I wiped my face with a cold washcloth.
“Nope,” Nick said. “Ooh, I found brisket. It was backwards.”
The thought of brisket reminded me of eating. The thought of eating brought around another round of toilet hugging. It was only nine o’clock in the morning and I was exhausted. After feeling fairly certain that I couldn’t possibly throw up any more, I crawled back to bed. Nick tucked me in and then ran inside the restaurant to get a quick bite to eat. Bitsy, who was not a fan of the bus, jumped up to provide an added layer of comfort. Her wet nose nuzzled my arm.
I was drifting off to sleep when I heard a knock at the bedroom door.
It was Leighanne.
“Come in Leigh,” I called out. She came in; I couldn’t help but envy her. She looked amazing while I looked…well, Bride of Frankenstein was the only description that came to my mind.
“I brought you something,” she said. I wrinkled my nose.
“Thank you, but I can’t eat. I think this is going to be another day where I can’t keep anything down.”
She shook her head. “No this will help.” She set a cup down on my nightstand. “Ginger tea. It’s nature’s wonder morning sickness reliever.”
I looked at her doubtfully. “Seriously?”
She smiled. “I absolutely thought I was going to die until my midwife suggested I start drinking a cup every morning. After that I could actually eat again.”
I took the mug and cautiously took a sip. It wasn’t half bad. I felt the warm liquid slide down my throat to my stomach. It felt kind of nice.
“Not bad, right?” she asked. She sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Not bad,” I agreed. We looked at each other.
We laughed. Leighanne spoke first. “Liv, I’ve got to admit something to you.”
I looked at her surprised. “Admit something?”
Leighanne sighed. “I think I'm going crazy thinking about the possibility that this baby could be Brian’s.”
“I wouldn’t expect any less,” I said quietly. I took another sip of tea just to avoid her eyes.
“No, you don’t understand,” she said quickly. I couldn’t help it; I looked over at her. She seemed to be choosing her words carefully.
“Every since you told me about this I can’t get the idea of another baby out of my mind. Like Brian told the fans, we had decided to count our blessings with Baylee. God gave us such a great gift. But then this happened and I…”
“What are you saying, Leigh?” I asked.
“I’m saying,” she smiled. “I wish it was me instead of you. I guess maybe, oh hell, I’m jealous.”
I couldn’t help it; I laughed a little. “Seriously? Jealous? Leighanne, this is definitely not the way I wanted things to work out.”
Leighanne nodded. “I know that. It’s just, I can’t exactly tell Brian how I feel. He already feels terrible. Not, that you don’t,” she amended. “But, woman to woman, I thought you out of everyone might be able to see where I’m coming from.”
I reached out and touched her arm. The ginger tea was already pepping me up. “As someone who was told she could never have children, I completely understand the jealousy thing.”
We shared a smile. She leaned over and gave me a hug.
“If it’s Brian’s, this is going to be one spoiled child,” she added before letting me go. I smiled. “No matter what it’s going to be one spoiled child,” I amended. She nodded, standing up.
“Thanks for the tea, Leighanne,” I said, holding up the cup. She nodded.
“Rest for a couple hours. I guarantee you’ll feel much more human when you wake up.”
After she walked out I finished the cup down to the last drop. Reclining into a massive pile of pillows I let my eyes close.
I had no doubt she was right. In fact, just our little talk had me feeling 100% better.
I slept so soundly that I didn’t hear Nick come back on the bus nor his phone ring. I woke up just as he was finishing up his call.
“No, this is perfect news. So, as soon as we hear the results we should get it wrapped up quickly, right? Wonderful. Thank you Jim.”
Nick hung up and slid the phone back in his pocket.
He spun around surprised. “I didn’t know you were up.”
“I just woke up,” I said, yawning loudly. “What’s going on?”
“Well,” Nick said, lying beside me. “Remember how you said I could contact a lawyer and see if I could find a loophole to the Hunter mess?”
I nodded. “I remember.”
“I just received a phone call from Jim, the lawyer that represents our group. Howie found him a couple years ago and he’s absolutely terrific. I told him what was going on with Hunter and the suspension of your divorce. I also told him that you had to have a test that could also be used for DNA.”
“Well, when we get the DNA results Jim said he can submit those to the court to prove that Hunter isn’t the father. After that’s done, he thinks the case could be closed in a matter of a month.”
I looked at Nick in surprise. “Seriously?”
“Jim looked at Wisconsin law. The only thing the law says is that the issue of paternity has to be settled. The CVS testing will solve that. So, when we get the results we pass them to Jim and he takes care of the rest.”
“That’s great, but what if the baby’s Brian’s?” I asked. “If Hunter insists on seeing the results he’ll see that and that’s going to open another can of worms.”
Nick shook his head. “The only thing that has to be disclosed is the fact that the results indicate with certainty that Hunter isn’t the father. He has no legal recourse to demand on knowing exactly who is the father.”
I smiled. “Seriously?”
Nick grinned. “Seriously. So by, oh, October 1 at the latest you should be a free woman.”
I hugged him tightly. “That’s amazing.”
A muffled laugh came from him. He pulled away. “That’s not the only thing that’s amazing.”
I looked at him in surprise. “What else?”
“Jim’s going to make sure that Hunter has to pay for the testing,” Nick grinned. “That test is hella expensive. I figure that’s the least he can do for making our lives a living hell.”
I smiled. “That sounds good to me.”
Nick picked at a piece of hair that was sticking to my cheek.“By the way, how are you feeling?” he asked.
I closed my eyes. I was actually hungry. “I feel much better. But I do have a request,” I said.
“Well, first, food. Second, a case of ginger tea.”
I figured I needed all I could get.
I was extremely thankful that I was feeling better by show time. If I had been laid up in bed, I would have missed the first Canadian prank. It was too great to be missed.
My assumption that Brian had gotten an earful about Baylee’s outburst was correct. As the boys were getting dressed, I spotted Brian sneaking out. Turning on my camera, I followed him.
As usual, the stagehands had placed a bottle of water for each boy at a certain place on the stage. AJ’s was on the far right. I tiptoed behind Brian as he kneeled down and picked up the bottle.
“What are you doing Littrell?” I whispered. He jumped.
“You scared me!” he said back in a loud whisper. I smiled. “What are you doing?”
His eyes sparkled mischievously. “I’m putting a soap mixture in his water bottle,” Brian said. “One sip should have him singing bubbles.”
I laughed. “Really?” I watched him put an eyedropper full in the bottle. “Won’t he notice?”
Brian shook his head. “It doesn’t bubble in the bottle, only once he takes a swallow will his mouth taste like soap.”
Brian laughed. “That’s the point. It came in a magic kit we got Baylee last year and I took it out for myself. Now we’ll see if it actually works.”
An hour later I crouched by the stage; my camera had been trained on AJ pretty much the whole time. I kept waiting for him to take a sip. He took his sweet time, but finally within the first few lines of If I Knew Then he took a big gulp.
The expression on his face was priceless. His tongue darted out of his mouth as his face screwed up in disgust. He looked at the other guys suspiciously; everyone, especially Brian was focused on the crowd.
AJ shook off the taste and opened his mouth to sing. I couldn’t suppress a laugh as a huge bubble flew out of his mouth. He tried again; a few more little bubbles escaped.
By this time Brian couldn’t help it anymore. As the crowd cheered, he fell on the floor laughing. AJ ran over and began to yell at him; a stream of bubbles sailed up into the air. Brian was laughing so hard he was crying; I saw him reach out and pop one of the last bubbles. The effect didn’t last long but for the few minutes it did, it was great. A stagehand finally swapped AJ’s tainted bottle with a fresh and after a big swig, he was good to go.
“What was that stuff?” Nick asked as they headed off stage. Brian grinned. “Payback.”
“That was not cool man; the stuff tasted like shit.”
“Watch the language McLean or else you’ll get another dose,” Brian warned. AJ rolled his eyes.
“Leighanne has you so whipped.”
Brian wrinkled his nose. “Just you wait AJ, just you wait.”
AJ just laughed. “It’s not going to happen; no one can tame me.”
I stopped short of the dressing room door as the guys went in to change. Rochelle came up beside me smirking.
“No one can tame him?” she snorted. “Oh that boy has no idea.”
I watched her walk off; she seemed to be devising a plan right in front of my eyes.
Somehow I feared it had something to do with whips and chains; in which case I didn’t want to be anywhere near them when the taming took place.