~*~Kevin~*~

Where the hell is she? Itís seven oíclock. Jessica had till five. Fucking bitch had better not being giving Tracie shit. Pacing.

I heard the car pull up and opened the door, "Finally! What took so long?"

She patted my face, "I went through and made sure all her stuff was gone, and spread things out again. And I had to root through files to find receipts." She handed me a credit card slip.

"You returned her rings?" Now that was above the call of duty.

"Yep, sixty day money back guarantee. Where is yours?"

"In a lake."

"Uhmm, thatís a good place for it."

"I thought so. Wanna go get dinner?"

I went home the next day. It was all my house again. Tracie had done a great job removing all traces of Jessica. I didnít want to think of her anymore than I could get away from. There was nothing to remind me.

~*~AJ~*~

Jessica must have fucked up royally. The wrath of Kevin is swift and painful.

He was back in the studio the next day, "Guys, Jessica is gone. Marriage is over. Didnít happen. Letís get to work."

He walked in the studio. We looked at each other and followed.

After that it was business as usual. Kevin did his job and was back to hanging out all night and partying. He ignored all women in his path except Tracie and Lee. I know he got hit on and he ignored them. Didnít want a thing to do with them.

Letís talk about Nick for a moment. It seems that Kevin is "stable" for a second. I donít like Pam. She moved in, and in effect she moved Nick out. But itís ok, she asked permission before she did it, "Nick, thereís no place for my collection of ceramic skunks, can I move your awards and put them there." You get the picture. Nick let her do it all. He said he wanted her to feel at home and a part of his life. Angela and I went over there for dinner. I nearly threw up. She is so damn needy. We went out dancing and she watched his eyes. He Ďlookedí in the direction of a woman, and she pouted, "You think sheís prettier than me." He reassured her. She got drunk and it got worse, "You regret me moving in donít you? You donít get to hang out with your friends and hook up with the groupies anymore, and you hate me for it." It kept going. Nick tried to get her to stop, but it didnít help. I said something about her needing to sober up and her not meaning it. He said this wasnít about being drunk. She felt like this. He tried to get her to see how much she means to him, but he couldnít do it. He was still making it all about him. I didnít know how to make him see it wasnít about him. It was about her. I believed that she had no self-esteem, but she used that to make him feel like shit. Then I realized that I was doing the same thing, taking responsibility for him, trying to make him see it wasnít about him. He had to figure it out for himself. I needed to back off, support him, but not pester. Disagree, but support. Then be there when he figured it out.

~*~Kevin~*~

I talked to Nick. Lord knows Iíd been through enough shit that I felt I had some level of expertise in the matter. We had all watched this go on. "Nick, you canít make this all about you. Itís not. Sheís insecure, and she makes you feel like shit. I hate this. I hate watching this. Get pissed if you want, but I have to say it."

"Kev, I love you for trying to make it right. I know sheís not perfect, but I love her. I want this to work and itís getting better since she moved in. Most of the time itís fine. Just every now and then I screw up and she gets insecure. Itís ok, donít worry about me. You have yourself to worry about. Are you ok?"

"Iím fine. Moving on. Trying to forget it all."

"Can you do that? You havenít gone out or anything."

"Nick, itís been two weeks since I kicked her out."

"Thatís a long time for you."

I realized his was right. I went out that night with Howie. Picked up a girl, got laid, then left. She was nice. But she said something about going out. No thanks.

~*~Tracie~*~

The next month was bizarre. I remember when we all met about a year ago and we were "young and free". We had a ball and were invincible. Now I sat back and looked at us. We were like casualties in some war that no one won. Nick was living with a vampire that was slowly sucking the life out of him. Like all good vampires she did it so slowly that he didnít notice and no one could battle it. AJ was still with Angela, but he was drinking more. He needed lots of attention, and made sure he got it. Howie never settled down, always something new. Nothing new for him. Brian was fine. Lee went from guy to guy, short lived, but nothing significant. Kevin was fucking his way through his annulment, but never went out on a date. Me. I donít know what the fuck is wrong with me. We would still all get together and we had fun, but there were things there that werenít before. Scar tissue. Kevin and I still stayed up talked to all hours and crashing on couches. Our relationship was the one thing I counted on to stay the same. We never talked more about what had happened with Jessica. There were times I could see the hurt there. When a mom and a baby went by. Iíd watch him picked up the nightís conquest, and see the total distrust there. I hated it all.

The guys went to California for two weeks. Making a video and doing some early promotional stuff. The CD was nowhere near ready, but they were putting out a single just to keep their name out there. Lee and I were laying in the pool at Kevinís drinking Margaritaís, "I miss how things were. Three months ago even."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. Back before Kevin didnít get married, before Nick moved the vampire in, when AJ didnít crave so much attention. Before you swore off men."

I took a long drink, "I havenít sworn off men."

~*~Lee~*~

Yes, she had. "Tracie, when is the last time you had a date?"

"Long time ago."

"Whenís the last time you had sex?"

She smiled, "Last night."

"You and Kevin are doing this non-dating sex thing. Which is fine. But both of you want more." Anyone besides me see where Iím going? AJ and I had a little talk before they left. "I understand him more than I do you. Whatever it is she did left some wounds, and the annulment isnít final yet. What is it youíre doing?"

"Iím not going to settle for non-exciting again. I want what I want. And with all the shit thatís going on I donít want the hassle."

Wow. She seemed to believe this. My theory, which AJ supports, is that she is rating every man she meets against Kevin. Not physically, but that intimacy and emotional connectedness. There is not a chance in hell someone will measure up. I know very few people who ever have the type of relationship they have. She wants the same thing only in a lover. I say, why recreate it, just fuck the original. "I think youíre deluding yourself. You know exactly what you want, youíre just to scared to see it."

"What are you talking about?"

"See, Iíve thought about just telling you. But you wouldnít believe me. You need to work this one out on your own. Just remember that when you figure it out and it all hits you, Iíll be here. I promise I wonít say "I told you so". Iíll just be your friend."

We went back to floating. She is really good at blocking out what she doesnít want to see. Filtering it all. I wish I could float like a fluffball too. I wish I felt like she does about him. I wish I could be as happy as sheíll be once she "remembers" that she loves him. Maybe her being really drunk is a good idea.

All night teen movie fest for us. "Sixteen Candles", "Breakfast Club", "St. Elmoís Fire", "Pretty in Pink." Ah to be 13 again. Iíd kill myself first. About three am the phone rang. I knew who it was, "Hello, Kevin."

Loud, he was really loud, "Hey! What you doing? Who is this? Didnít I call my house? Hello!"

I held the phone away from my ear, "Trace, itís your best friend, Drunky Poo." Said that best friend thing on purpose. I donít think a day has gone by without them talking. Maybe once when they were shooting the video late.

Should have seen her jump for the phone, "Hey, Kevlyn!"

 

~*~Tracie~*~

"Hey, there you are? Guess what . . . I am so fucking wasted."

She laughed, "I can tell. How are things going?"

"Excellent. Finished the video today. Partying. Ok, so weíve been partying all along. Dammit, leave me alone." There was rustling sound.

"Tracie, oh Tracie. I love you, Tracie."

"Hi Nick. You drunk too?"

"Hell, yes. Way drunk. Way way way way way way way drunk. Ouch, fuck off."

"I smacked his arm. He just got a new tattoo." Kevin was laughing.

"Thatís not nice."

"Itís MY phone call. I wish the hell you were out here. This is the most fun Iíve had in a long time. But I miss you."

"I miss you too. Youíll be home in a week right?" I was formulating a plan.

"Na, early. Weíre done. Weíll be home in three days. I want to sleep in my bed. Alone. I havenít slept alone since weíve been here."

~*~AJ~*~

Things were better with all of us on the other side of the country from everyone else in our life. Well, for everyone but Kevin. Away from our Ďrealí lives. I wonder if the fans realize that we have Ďrealí lives too. I know that they use BSB as a way to escape their real lives, we do too. Thatís part of what was making things better, the other was we had some time to re-connect. Just us. It was the first time we had a chance to do that since everything started. It got Nick away from Pam, and he was fun again. We kept him really busy and didnít give him time to call her. We knew sheíd be playing those head games. We knew heíd get it for not calling when he got home, but at least it would be once, not every day. And there was that little part of us that hoped she would get pissed and leave him. Heíd be better off.

We used the opposite approach with Kevin, "Have you talked to Tracie?" "I miss Tracie, canít wait to get home." As much as we kept Nick away from Pam, we threw Kevin into Tracie. He was pretty much staying drunk or stoned. Became very clear that she was the one who grounded him. He didnít do this in Orlando, not to this degree. He also was fucking with a vengeance. I watched him feel nothing. Like if he fucked enough and walked away it would stop his pain. If he kept fucking he wouldnít miss having more, as long as his libido was satisfied. Bad thing about empty sex, it does a bad job of that. There was a little humor in watching him get all his emotional strength and needs met with Tracie, then go out and fuck someone. Maybe he was really looking for her and couldnít find her.

I drank less. I get bored and starved for attention when Iím not performing. So I go out more, and drink more. At least I know what Iím doing.

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