***A year ago***


I know Iím pretty. I do have my bad days, but overall I donít suffer from low self esteem. I donít think Iím horribly vain either. Iíll go out without make up on. I had a friend who wouldnít ever let her boyfriends see her without make up. Jumped up first thing in the morning to put it on before they woke up. The way I see it, if youíre doing it right, the make up will melt off. Once a man has seen your sex faces is there really a point to this conversation? I donít think so. And I do work at a job where getting hit on is pretty common. Iím a lifeguard in central Florida, Orlando. Thatís not my "grown up" job, but that will come out in due time. Itís an exclusive club. Very cha-cha. Cracks me up. So . . . I wasnít surprised when this guy came up and was talking to me. Very mysterious. Dark sunglasses, lots of tattooís and peircings. Not exactly my type. Very smooth though. Called me "sweetheart", and in a way that didnít make me want to smack the holy shit out of him. We would sit and talk during my shift. Heíd bring me drinks and lunch on his way in and weíd make fun of the "rich chicks". You know, the oneís who wear make up to the pool, and gold lame swimsuits. I love to watch people and so did Alex. Friday we laughed ourselves stupid. At the end of the day he told me he was going to a party with a bunch of his friends at a club downtown, and if I wanted to come, bring a date or whatever, that heíd put me on the list. A list? I wasnít sure I wanted to do that again. But . . . he was awfully insistent. Heís a fruitloop. Crazy, but a heart of gold.

Loved this club, loved this party. I was wrong to hesitate. The music was blaring and the room was smoky. People lined the stairs trying to see into the VIP part ~ the list. I didnít know why there was a list, but whatever. At least I had a place to sit. I was laughing with some new acquaintances when Alex came by with a few of his friends. Talk about your assortment of hotties. Short, tall, blonde, dark, thin, muscular. Something for everyone. The cutest one, Nick, had a girlfriend, Pam. She didnít look happy to be here.


Pam was never happy to be anywhere unless it was home alone with Nick. With him kissing her ass. Iíve never met a more insecure woman. I donít get this at all. Weíre groped daily and he picks the most insecure of the lot. My girlfriend, Michelle, she just laughs it off. Good thing too. I wouldnít put up with that. And it pissed me off watching him do this. She had this way of making it seem like it was his fault. At least he thought it was. He thought there was something he could do, or that he wasnít doing. Whatever.

Tracie. AJ introduced her to us. Sheís not AJís type. She has this beautiful white blond hair half way down her back, great tan, the bluest eyes Iíve ever seen, and sheís little. Like 5í 6", size 4. Very pretty. Not that I was looking, but Iím a guy, I notice. Pam asked how she knew AJ. Tracie explained the whole lifeguard thing. I could see Pam pulling the judgmental thing.

"Iím guessing thatís not your for real job?" I said.

"Very smart. I needed a break. Broasting in the sun is a good break."

"Weíre all members of that club. We usually stick to the links though."

Nick laughed, "Iím going swimming now that we gotís friends at the pool." Thankfully he missed the look Pam gave him. Heíd get it later.

AJ came and went. I sat and talked. So did Nick, Pam, and Brian. Howie lived for the dance floor. I like these types of parties. Small, chilling with some friends. Tracie was cool. Never said a thing about the Backstreet Boys.


This was my kind of party. Small, laughing and meeting some new friends. These guys were fun. Pam? I donít think she likes me. Oh well. I got this vibe that a few of them werenít too crazy about her. Loved Nick though. I figured they dealt with her, because of him. What I liked best was they didnít ask too many questions. We just partied in the moment. AJ came by and looked at Kevin, I think, Iím bad with names, and said, "Party in the purple room." They started to leave. All but Nick.

I pouted, "Man, I feel unloved."

All five of them exchanged glances then AJ looked at me, "Do you smoke?"

I know my eyes lit up, "Yes."

He grabbed my hand, "Come on then. I donít push anyone."

We were halfway down the stairs when Nick caught up with us, "Screw it. Iíve had enough tonight."

It had been forever since Iíd been stoned. As soon as the buzz hit I remembered why I liked it. Peace and calm. And everything is hilarious. These guys were hilarious anyway. Nick and the little one, Brian I think, about made me pee in my pants. Well, skirt. They got up and were dancing. Hands on their knees, butts sticking out, and gyrating. Hilarious. Kevin fell off the couch. It was just those guys and me. In hindsight this wasnít the smartest thing. But they were cool. We hung out there for about an hour then rejoined the crowd. Once Alex was over his paranoia. He kept rattling on about girls pulling at his clothes. Whatever.


Did I fucking ever hear about it later. Pam was all up my ass. When we went back upstairs I got glared at. I respect that she doesnít get high. I donít push it. But I do get high. There are a lot worse things I could be into to. I mean, weíre offered shit all the time. Iíve tried things. Nothing I want to make a habit. Later when we got home I got, "You went with him because of that girl. I know you think sheís prettier than me. You wanted to be with her didnít you?" I donít know what it is but I can not make that woman see how much I want to be with her. She seemed so tiny and alone. I get pissed at her being so judgmental, but I love how she needs me. If I could just find the right thing to say, to do. I suck at relationships sometimes.


The next day was quite the eye opener. I didnít get home until about 8am. We had gotten the munchies and hit a Waffle House. Damn, bacon is good. I fought Kevin over the last piece. He won, bully. I had to be at work at 9. Saturdays are wild. The parents dump the kids at the pool then head out to the golf course. Iím a lifeguard not a baby sitter. About two I got visitors. Alex, Brian, Howie, and Kevin. They sat at the table with me and pointed out the children I should let drown, if not make drown. Work should not be this fun. They all had dates tonight and left about five. I was getting ready to leave, packing up when two of the other lifeguards approached me, "Tracie! Spill girl! How do you know the Backstreet Boys?"

"The who?"

"The Backstreet Boys. AJ, Nick, Howie, Kevin, and Brian. The Backstreet Boys."

"Again, who are these Backstreet Boys?" I was lost. I had obviously missed something.

"Singing group. From Orlando, about to release a new CD, Millenium. "I Want It That Way" already on Mtv."

"Oh Mtv, that station that used to play music videos. Sorry, donít watch it."

"How do you know them?"

"Alex and his friends? I met Alex, umm, yesterday and went to a party last night. Met a lot of people. So this group is big?"

"Not yet, but they will be."

I went home and crashed.

The next day I got this phone call at noon. I was still asleep. "Hey, sweetheart, cook out at my house. I got a pool, but I need a lifeguard."

"You canít afford me."

"Just come. Please, please, please."

"How did you get my phone number?"

"Called the club. I get what I want. Coming?"

"Yes, where and when?"

Nice house. Alex still lives with his mom. Sheís nice too. Overall, very good day. Met a bunch more people. Brianís girlfriend, Sara, she was cool. Michelle, Kevinís girlfriend. Liked her too. Still donít like Pam. And I donít think I like Nick around Pam. Heís too . . . subdued. Not at all like him. A relationship should enhance you, not diminish you. She made him less. Bad, bad, bad.

This went on for a couple of weeks. One or more of them would show up at the pool and hang out, invite me to something and Iíd hang out with them and their friends. I liked this, I needed this. People to play with, but no strings. Iím low on trust right now. I canít tell you who I liked best. They all have their good points, and bad points. Alex is like a hug. Thatís the best way I can describe him. Heís always giving hugs and even when heís not itís like his personality and love for life engulfs you. Down side, he has way too much energy. Nick, great away from Ďherí, they otherís call Ďherí that too. Heís funny as hell, and does everything he can to make you feel welcome. Letís himself be held back though. Brian, funny paired with Nick, but he seems to have the underlying religious fervor to him that really puts me off. Howie, if you need to be calm go to Howie. Heís so laid back, which can be . . . boring. Kevin is hard to describe. A big teddy bear . . . who gives looks that kill. Great to talk to . . . unless heís being a bitch. AND if he takes my bacon one more damn time!!!


I knew something wasnít right about Tracie. She never talked about anything before Orlando and sheíd been here a month. No life before that. Iím not one to invade privacy, lord knows Iím up to my eyebrows in that, but this was weird. I liked hanging out with her, we all did. She was just one of the guys. It had been a while since weíd had a girl being just one of the guys. Really, since weíd gotten together and achieved any success that hadnít happened. The girl always wanted one of us, or to hitch a ride. Not Tracie though. It was cool to have a girl guy friend again. It was like she didnít even know who we were.

Then again, we never really talked business when she was around. Not at parties and stuff. It was real short time until the CD was released and we were all crisp from the production and promotion, and nervous as hell. Sophomore slump, even though everywhere but the US this was our third cd. Iíll never understand the logic in that one. Another good reason to ditch Lou. Thatís probably another reason we didnít talk business at play. The last year had been hell, and when we werenít working, we were NOT working. Almost ended us, too much stress and wasnít fun anymore. We were gonna make it different. Our new management worked a deal for us to be on Mtvís big show TRL when the CD was released. That news had just come down. We were psyched, big time. We were telling everyone we could get a hold of. AJ and I decided to go tell Tracie. BIG party tonight!! We showed up at the pool giddy and watched her drag a kid off to the side and ream him a new one. He must have pissed her off. She dropped into her chair with a huff, "I should have let you drown him a week ago." I had offered. "You all are happy, whatís up?"

"We just got the news weíre debuting the CD on TRL."

Have you ever seen that face a dog makes when itís confused? Looks cute on her.


No clue what they were talking about, "Pass that by me again?"

AJ grabbed my nose and shook my head, "Our CD, Millenium, going out on Tuesday. Us on Mtv."

A tiny light somewhere went off. I did a quick memory search. Oh yeah. "Shit, I meant to check that out!"

Kevin was giving me that look, "Check what out?"

"Backstreet Boys. After you all were here that day I got quizzed on how I knew the Backstreet Boys."


That explains a lot. What the fuck! She has no idea. We, the guys, had talked about how cool it was to meet someone, a hot girl, who didnít give a shit who we were. She treated us like normal people. Hell, she even fought with a stoned me over bacon. The others knew better. I hope to hell this doesnít screw it all up. If she starts acting stupid Iím losing it. Iím prone to losing it anyway. But dammit, I like her. I like how she sees us. Us, not US~ TA DA!!! Fuck, this could be bad. Iím gonna think positive though. After all she did hear the name and didnít even check it out or ask us about. Wait, is that good or bad? I canít believe what I did next. Actually I can. Iím impulsive.

"Come with us." I got that Kevin look he had just given Tracie. "What? What a better way to find out."

"Come where?" She wasnít effected at all.

"New York. Come to New York. Oh, and the party tonight. BIG party tonight."

"Every night is a big party. New York, huh?" She thought for a few seconds, "Ok, I need to go back anyway. Iíll be right back." She took off to deal with that kid again.

Kevin smacked my head, "What did you do that for?"

"Did you not listen?"

"I donít want her caring who we are. I love that she doesnít care who we are."

"Kevin, she doesnít know who we are?"

"What if she cares once she knows? I like having a girl guy friend."

"Me too. Weíll have Brian pray or something."

She came back and sat down, "How many CDís do you guys have?"

Kevin answered, "Two in Europe, one in the US. You gonna go get them?"

She laughed, "No."

How many dumb looks can two grown men exchange? "Why not?"

"What if I donít like it? Then Iíve wasted thirty bucks. Iím sure one of you has a copy I can borrow."

It had never crossed my mind she might not like us.


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