Chapter 61

AJ and Emily woke up a few hours later to the start of the sunrise.

“Morning.” He murmured, kissing her forehead.

Emily could only manage a grumble.

“Get up with me, we’ll go outside and watch the sunrise.”

More grumbling from Emily.

“Em, come on, I’ll let you snuggle with me out on the deck.” He took a risk and sat her up.

Definitely more grumbling, but she did get up. He grabbed a blanket and they sat out on the deck together in a lounge chair as the sun came up. Once it was up, AJ decided they could fall back asleep for a few more hours before they had to get up.

This time it was AJ’s turn to cook breakfast.

“So, did Leighanne come and talk to you last night?” AJ asked.

“She tried to, why?”

“Brian told me they were tag-teaming us. He took me, she took you.” AJ explained.

Emily laughed. “It really kills Brian to not know what’s going on with us, doesn’t it?”

“It most certainly does. I think he’s in the wrong profession. He should have gone into matchmaking. I hear Cupid’s looking to retire soon.” AJ said.

“Great…just what we need.” Emily groaned.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea. How would you like to mess with them a little?” he suggested.

“What do you mean?” Emily asked, intrigued.

AJ leaned forward and quietly explained his plan.

Brian and Leighanne came downstairs together. AJ gave her the cue.

AJ knelt down on one knee in front of Emily, who was standing in front of the sink.

“Emily, will you marry me?” he asked, softly.

Emily gasped and covered her mouth (which was really a tactic to conceal her laughter). “YES!” she screamed. “Yes I will!”

AJ jumped up and hugged her, before scooping her up in his arms and carrying her back upstairs.

Brian and Leighanne stood frozen in the kitchen with their mouths hanging open.

“Did he just…did they just….was that….” Leighanne stuttered.

“But they….she just said….and he…..” Brian responded.

AJ set Emily down once they were safe in her bathroom. They couldn’t contain their laughter anymore as the two of them bent over in hysterics.

“Did you…see their faces?” Emily panted out, still laughing.

“I know! It was great! And your face when I asked….classic!” AJ wiped the tears from his eyes. “They bought it hook, line and sinker!”

“I know! I bet they’re still standing there with their mouths open.” Emily exclaimed.

The two continued to laugh for a few more minutes before calming down.

“So now what happens?” Emily asked.

“Well, if I know them, and I think I do, they’ll try to tag-team us again in a few minutes. Only, we won’t split up so it won’t work and they’ll have to talk to us together.”

Sure enough, a few seconds later there was a knock on the door.

“How did you know?” Emily asked.

“Believe me, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen them do this.” AJ replied. “Just follow my lead.”

Emily nodded. AJ tore his shirt off and went to answer the door. He cracked it open just a little so that whoever was there would see him shirtless and get the message.

“What?” AJ asked. “We’re a little busy in here.”

“Well get un-busy!” Brian yelled. “I want to talk to you!”

Emily came up and wrapped her arms around AJ’s waist. “Hello, Brian.” She said.

“Emily, can you give us a minute please? I think Leighanne’s looking for you…”

Emily and AJ exchanged a look. “No, AJ and I really are busy at the moment.” She said.

Leighanne forced her way in. “Too bad! We’ve got to talk!” she demanded.

AJ sighed. “Alright, but make it quick.”

“What the hell are you doing?” Leighanne exclaimed.

“Leighanne, you’re a married woman with a child. I think you know what it is we’re doing in here….” Emily said, gesturing to the bed.

AJ had to bite his lip to keep from laughing.

“Not that, Emily. You two…in the kitchen…we saw you….he was down on one knee…he asked you to marry him…you said yes…”

“Leighanne, take a breath!” AJ said.

“Well, would you mind explaining to me this whole getting married thing?” Brian said. “Just last night, you were telling him you weren’t ready to be his girlfriend. Now you’re getting married?” He said, pointing his finger at Emily.

“Well, you’re always the one saying to look for signs. I’d say a guy down on bended knee is one hell of a sign, wouldn’t you?” Emily replied.

“Yeah, a sign that AJ’s gone nuts.” Brian muttered.

“Well….what are your plans?” Leighanne asked.

Emily took this one. “Well, don’t worry, I’m not quitting. We figured we’d have a very small ceremony and then AJ could move in here with me for awhile until we could find our own house near here.”

“AJ…living here…no, no….that’s a bad idea…” Brian stammered.

“Brian, take a breath.” Leighanne said.

“Look guys, we appreciate your concern, really, but we’re kind of in the middle of something here.” AJ said, all but shoving them out the door. Once they were out, he shut the door and locked it. Emily ran back into the bathroom and turned on the shower to cover up the sound of her laughter.

Chapter 62

Emily and AJ let Brian and Leighanne stew for about another ten minutes before they informed them that it was all a joke.

“A joke? You think that was funny?” Brian said.

“Well, yeah, actually, we do.” AJ said.

Leighanne hadn’t said anything yet, and Brian turned to her for some help. He got none. Leighanne finally gave in and started laughing hysterically, which started Emily and AJ.

Brian got irritated and left the room. “I knew you were kidding the whole time!” he called out behind him. This only caused them to laugh even harder.

“Did you see her face when I asked her?” AJ choked out between laughs.

“Classic!” Leighanne said.

“Best proposal of my life!” Emily said.

AJ stopped laughing. “Well that’s just sad!”

Emily bit her lip to keep from laughing. “What’s sad?”

“That was the best proposal of your life? Weren’t you engaged to Joe-the-asshole?” AJ asked.

Emily turned red. “Yeah.”

“And that was a better proposal?” Leighanne had now stopped laughing.

Emily sighed. “Well, yeah. Joe called me on the phone one night and after he finished his joke about the two lesbians and the bartender, he said, ‘Hey, let’s get married.’ And I said yes because I was stupid.”

Leighanne’s eyes got wide. “Didn’t he even get you a ring?!?”

Emily frowned. “No. He said he couldn’t afford one. Funny, he certainly could afford that nice new sports car he bought.”

Now AJ really wanted to kick some ass.

“I swear, men and their sports cars, it’s like they’re trying to compensate for something, if you get what I mean.” Leighanne ranted.

At this, Emily began cracking up again.

“What?” Leighanne asked.

“It’s so true!” Emily gasped. “He was definitely compensating!!”

Leighanne began to laugh again and AJ joined them for a minute before saying, “Wait, you don’t think I’m compensating for something do you?”

Emily and Leighanne laughed even harder.

“How many sports cars do you have now, AJ?” Leighanne asked.

“Three.” He muttered.

They laughed a bit longer before AJ realized it was time for him to get ready to head to the airport. Emily went up to help him pack his suitcase.

“I wish you didn’t have to leave.” She said softly.

AJ smiled. “I wish I didn’t have to leave too.”

“Well, you know what they say. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

AJ winked at her. “That’s what I’m counting on.” He said.

Brian helped AJ put his bags into the rental car before saying goodbye.

Baylee grabbed onto AJ’s legs.

“Uncle AJ, you should stay here!” he said.

AJ picked Baylee up and gave him a big hug. “You’ll see me again before you know it, Little Dude. You take care of Miss. Emily for me, ok?”

Baylee nodded. “Ok.”

AJ set Baylee down and hugged Leighanne. “Take care, gorgeous.” He said, kissing her cheek.

Brian and AJ exchanged their manly half handshake half hug ritual. “Be safe, man.” Brian said.

“You too.”

Brian and Leighanne took Baylee back inside so that AJ and Emily could have some privacy. That didn’t stop them from watching out the window.

“I’ll call you.” He said.

“You’d better. All next week it’s just me and Baylee. You’ll be my only voice of sanity.” She said.

I’m your voice of sanity? You’re screwed, you know that, right?” AJ chuckled.

Emily smiled. “Yeah well, it could be worse!”

AJ grabbed her into a big hug. She buried her face into his shoulder. He kissed the top of her head before saying, “I’ll miss you.”

Emily looked up at him. “I’ll miss you too.”

He leaned down slowly and kissed her on the lips. It was a gentle kiss, but it was long.

“Damn.” He whispered.


“You realize that the whole three years thing is a turn on, right?” He said.

“Huh?” Emily was very confused.

“Every time I kiss you, I think of how badly I want to show you exactly what you’ve been missing for the last three years.” He explained.

Emily smiled. “Well, you’re already off to a pretty good start.”

She kissed him again and then had to practically shove him in the car so he didn’t miss his flight. He honked the horn as he backed out of the driveway and she waved, watching until his car was out of sight before going back inside. She hadn’t expected to feel quite so sad when he left, but suddenly she felt very lonely and depressed. She decided to go play with Baylee to distract herself.

Brian and Leighanne ducked away from the window before Emily could catch them.

“Wow.” Leighanne said. “Did you see them?”

“Yeah.” Brian smiled. “I think they’re already in deeper than either one of them knows.”

Chapter 63

Later that evening, Emily was up in her room watching a movie when Brian knocked on her door.

“Hey, Brian. Come on in!” she said.

Brian came in, holding a small bag.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“AJ asked me to give this to you.” He said, with a grin.

Emily rolled her eyes. “Lord knows what might be in there!” she said, accepting the bag from Brian. There was a card attached to it that said:


I thought you might like these. Have your

full report on my desk (ok, on my e-mail)

by Tuesday night.



PS, don’t let Brian see you open this.

The curiosity will kill him!

Emily smiled.

“Well aren’t you going to open it?” Brian asked, obviously dying to know what was inside the bag.

“AJ says not to let you see. Sorry.” Emily smiled.

Brian sighed in exasperation. “Fine, fine. But I’ll find out, just you wait and see!” he promised as he left her room, closing the door behind him.

Emily opened up the bag and had to laugh to herself. Inside, was several Backstreet Boys CDs. She recalled telling him she was only familiar with their stuff up through Millennium. So, he had given her every CD released since then. She found Black and Blue, The Greatest Hits, Never Gone, and then a CD that AJ had burned himself that promised to have several unreleased songs and songs only released on singles. He had also given her a portable CD player so that she could listen wherever she went. She switched off the TV and put the Black and Blue album into the portable player. He wanted a review? She was definitely going to give him one!

Leighanne and Brian left the next morning, but not before Brian took several opportunities to ask her about the package from AJ. As soon as they were gone, she called AJ. He didn’t answer so she left him a message.

“Hey, it’s just me. You were right; Brian is definitely going nuts not knowing what was in that package you left for me. He pestered me all morning about it. Talk to you later!”

As promised, she taught Baylee some more piano songs and then he helped her make lunch. They had planned on swimming that afternoon but the sky had clouded up and it started storming outside. Baylee wasn’t very happy with this change of plans and promptly threw a huge fit.

“I WANT TO GO SWIMMING!” he wailed.

Emily sighed. “I know you do, Baylee, but it’s not safe to swim in a storm ok? I promise, if it stops storming today we’ll go later, or even tomorrow. But for now, you need to calm down.”

“NO! I WANT TO GO SWIMMING!” he simply wasn’t going to give in to reason on this one as he walked over to the fruit basket and started throwing apples across the room, one of which nearly hit Emily square in the face.

“Baylee, stop throwing fruit right now!” she scolded.

“No!” Baylee said, throwing an orange in her direction.

Emily gritted her teeth and did what needed to be done. She walked over, picked him up, and placed him on the naughty stool. “You need to sit here for three minutes.” She said, and walked away.

To Emily’s surprise, he did sit on the stool, but not quietly. And of course, it was now that AJ managed to call her back.

“Sorry, can’t talk now. I have a screaming child to deal with in 90 more seconds.” She said quickly when she picked up the phone.

AJ could hardly hear over Baylee’s screams. “What?” he said.

“I’ll call you later!” Emily screamed into the phone.

Finally, Baylee’s time was up and Emily went to talk to him.

She knelt down to his level and said, “Baylee, you’re sitting in time out because you didn’t listen to me when I asked you to stop throwing the fruit. Can I have an apology please?”

“NO!” Baylee said.

Emily sighed. Ok, so not as easy as I thought. She thought to herself. “Fine, I’ll come back in three more minutes. Maybe then you’ll be ready to.”

Emily went and sat in the kitchen where she could keep an eye on him. She really hated making kids mad at her. It was hard not to take it personally really, but she knew better than to let a three year old walk all over her. She learned that lesson the hard way years before.

Three minutes later, Baylee had stopped screaming and was sitting quietly.

“Baylee, are you ready to apologize?” she asked.

“I’m sorry I threw fruit at your head, Miss. Emily.” He said.

“Thank you, Baylee. Can I have a hug?” she asked.

Baylee jumped into her arms and hugged her.

“How about we go play with your blocks for awhile?” she suggested.


Emily kept Baylee playing until he was starting to fall asleep. She was worried he would protest when she sent him to take a nap, but to her surprise he didn’t. Once he was asleep, she located her phone amongst the strewn about fruit in the kitchen and called AJ back.

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"Never Gone" is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2006
All Rights Reserved
No part of this text may be copied or reprinted
without the author's permission.


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