~*~Howie~*~

I wasnít looking forward to more studio time. AJ had jumped my shit once Kevin left. I was just kidding. I swear crossing one of them has always been like crossing both of them. Itís not like either of them needs a protector. Nick chimed in reminding me that this has been going on for a long time and to back off. This is a switch. Iím the bad guy. Kevin was his typical late, "Now thatís the Kevin I know and love."

He laughed and hugged me, "Sorry I freaked on you."

"Iím sorry I was fucking with you. I donít want to hear details about Tracie. That is wrong." I had thought about that, and it was too far for me.

"I need to chill out. Itís still so new and weird as hell. Keep teasing. Iíll be fine."

It was a much better day. We got things done, and got some songs at least partly written. Jive was arranging for us to hook up with some writers and producers in a couple of weeks to polish things up. I liked what we were doing. It was us. Thatís good.

~*~AJ~*~

Sweet harmony. Kevin and Howie kissed and made up, and the next few days went good. Kevin came after me a few days in and wanted to go get lunch and talk. We headed off to a Mexican place and ordered tequila. I laughed, "Am I released from my promise? Itís been over almost a week."

"Yes, you may rag on my ass now." He rolled his eyes.

"You are such a dumb ass. I have been watching this for months. We have been plotting on how to get you two to see what all of us saw. You have been all over her. I wish you could have seen you two. It was priceless. Holding hands, hugging, sleeping on the couch, the way you would watch her ass when she walked by."

"Dammit! I swear I do not remember watching her ass. Ever. Ok, maybe when we all first met, but not in a long time."

"I think itís pretty damned impressive that you wonít talk about the sex with all of us, but you can admit to doing some ass watching. Thatís not disrespectful." I was rolling. He was lost as shit.

"Iíd admit it if I remembered it. The first time I remember watching her ass was in that damned dress Friday night. I let her go in front of me when I picked her up. Big mistake." He closed his eyes, "She had nothing on under that dress."

"Of course not. The lines where too smooth."

"You knew that!"

"Kevin, I admit that I watch her ass. I always check out her ass, her boobs. All of it. Sheís hot. Always has been. I look. Hell, I think about how she must be in bed." I got right in his face, "Even now that youíre fucking her."

"Donít be jacking off to fantasies about my woman!" We laughed for a long time, "It is good. Everything. The sex is amazing! I can remember a long time ago joking with her that we were too much alike sexual. Both of us into it, both of us sluts. Although sheís far behind me."

"That would be you. I bet itís a little different with you two hooking up. I bet youíre not quite as selfish."

"Donít have to be, she makes sure I get mine. I make sure she gets hers. Itís more a battle over who can kill the other better and faster, or slower." He pulled out his phone, "Hey, what time will you be home? Good, Iím gonna cook. Later, baby."

"You called her baby. How couple of you?"

"Shut up! What you said Monday was dead on by the way, about us being friends with different topics."

I smiled, "I love being right. Nick and Pam will never make it. Heís finally seeing that. I think thatís why he was asking all those questions. I think heís got a replacement in mind."

"Lee?"

"Yup! If it takes them as long as it did you guys Iíll fucking kill him."

He put down his fajita, "Serious for a minute?"

I stopped eating, "Sure."

"It is very strange having sex with my best friend. Itís like weíve jumped into the middle. Thereís no dating and getting to know each other. She knows me better than almost anyone. Itís like weíve been dating for a long time, but no sex. All those sex things I do seem fake with her. Canít use the old moves. Iím winging this. Thereís no seducing, she isnít impressed with who I am, she was my best man. Itís all very real. No lines. I know that she would laugh her ass off at me."

I was laughing, "She definitely would. I guess that is a disadvantage of being friends first."

"Itís not a problem. Itís different, easier. If I want to know something I can just ask and she just tells me. If weíre feeling weird we talk about it. None of that gamey guessing shit. You know how I hate games. But, Aje, it does get really weird sometimes." He took a bite needing a second.

"What gets weird? I understand if you donít want to say."

"Na, I canít talk about this with everyone, but I need to talk about this. Trace and I have talked. I need a guys opinion. I donít even know how to explain this. Iíve operated for over a year with her as my best friend, and I will agree that hasnít changed . . . but hearing her moaning and saying my name as I go down on her is fucked up." He had gotten louder and faster as he said that last part and ended up laughing hard.

I joined him, "I bet it is. I hadnít really thought of that."

"Iíve seen her just one way for so long and now when I see her differently itís hard to put the two together. Iíve looked into her eyes hundreds of times, and never noticed how blue they are, and never more that when sheís looking at me as we fuck. Itís like sheís someone brand new, then I realize sheís not. Sheís having the same problem. That and neither of us wanting to lose what weíve always been. How do you move from one to the other and make it normal?"

I understood this, "Your girlfriend rules donít apply to Tracie."

Another light went off, "Jesus! Thatís it exactly. Tracie has always had 24 hour access to me, no limits anywhere. No girlfriend has ever had that."

"Yep, girlfriends are asked out on dates, Tracie hangs out. Girlfriends are kept quiet, Tracie is part of the group. Girlfriends donít get a say, have their place, Tracie is in on everything. Hell, I donít think any of us have had a girlfriend with access the way Tracie does. The way other women friends have. So does she back up and go by girlfriend rules, or do you deal with an all access girlfriend?"

"Youíre kidding right? I sure as hell donít see Tracie backing off, and you know, I donít want her too. If Iíve wanted her around all the time why would that change? Itís not like sheís gonna start being like Pam. I canít imagine her being a clingy suck of a girlfriend. Thank you, J, this is exactly what I needed. To figure it out."

"You gonna tell her all about it?"

He smiled, "Of course. I still tell her everything. I donít know how this will work, but weíll make it work. I want this to work."

"Scared?"

"Hell yes, and excited, and happy."

"In love?"

"What?"

I knew that would get him, "I know that you love her. We all love her. But are you in love with her?"

He was speechless for several minutes, "I donít know. I havenít been in love in ages."

"Thatís sad. Think about it, you didnít see that you wanted her. Open your eyes and see what else is there. I know that you have always been happier when sheís been around. Iíve never seen you goofy in love. You do know that this will go fast, you two are too close. Are you ready for that? Your annulment isnít final."

"I know. I donít think that I could have seen her different if I wasnít ready. I want her."

"Glad to hear that. We gotta get back."

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