Chapter 64

“Hey you!” he answered.

“Hey! Did you get my message?” she asked.

“Yeah, I laughed my ass off, too.” He said. “It’s much quieter there now, what happened?”

“Ugh, Baylee threw a fit because I wouldn’t let him go swimming in a thunderstorm so he started chucking apples and oranges at me. He went to time out, which did not make him happy.”

AJ laughed. “Fruit? Really? That’s funny!”

Emily laughed. “Yeah, we’ll see if you think it’s funny when you’re the one under attack!”

“Nah, Baylee would never get mad at me, I’m the cool one!” AJ said.

“Famous last words.” She muttered. “So what have you been up to today?”

“Actually, it was pretty cool. I went into the studio to work on my album and got a lot accomplished.”

“That’s great, AJ!”

Once Baylee woke up from his nap, Emily enlisted his help in baking some of her famous snickerdoodle cookies. She made the dough and he helped her roll it into little balls and roll them into the sugar. They rewarded themselves by having cookies and milk before dinner, which was chicken nuggets and green beans for Baylee and some leftover grilled chicken for Emily.

After two bedtime stories, Emily tucked Baylee in and set about opening up all the packages that had arrived for her that afternoon. Finally, all the stuff that had been stolen was replaced and waiting at the door! She dug until she found her brand new laptop and took it out, spending about an hour setting everything up just the way she wanted it. She opened up the word processor, turned on her portable CD player and began working on that report for AJ. She set her cell phone next to her just in case anyone happened to call her, meaning she was dying to hear from AJ but wasn’t willing to admit that to herself just yet.

She was halfway through the Never Gone album when her phone finally rang. She picked it up and saw that it was from a restricted number.

“Hello?” she answered.

“Hey! It’s just me!” It was AJ.

“Oh, hi! I didn’t know it was you, it said restricted number.” She said.

“Oh, yeah, I’m calling from my house phone this time. So how are you?”

“I’m pretty good. Baylee’s in bed, a lot of the stuff I ordered came today; I’m playing with my new laptop.”

“Awesome! Have you opened anything else yet?” he asked.

“No, tomorrow I’ll probably play with my new camera. Maybe I’ll just do it one box at a time or something. Prolong the excitement. So how was your day?”

“Well, it was ok. After I talked to you, I had a meeting with my lawyer, pretty lame and dull, and then I went back to the studio only it didn’t go as smoothly as this morning did, unfortunately. And, I miss you.” He said.

Emily smiled. “Well, you’ve done way more than I have in one day, that’s for sure. And I miss you too.”

Emily and AJ talked for two more hours until she forced him to hang up because he kept falling asleep. Then, she went back to her report. She knew it was silly, but he did tell her to and she was kind of enjoying listening to his voice on the CDs.

She finished at about two in the morning and typed the e-mail to AJ.

Hey, here’s that report you asked for. I know it’s early, but what can I say, I’m a teacher’s pet!

PS…check your mail for a package today!

AJ woke up early the next morning feeling grumpy and tired. He sat down and checked his e-mail and immediately cheered up to see that Emily had sent him something. He laughed as he read her message and downloaded and read the attached file.

Emily had managed to pull out damn near every sexual innuendo she could find.

He’ll eat you up from inside, slow” really? I mean, if he did that, would you really want to get another boyfriend? Is that what makes you Larger than Life? Is it because I Want it That Way? Well, I’ll make a deal with you. Next time you come to see me, we can Get Down and move it all around and then you can Lay Down Beside Me and rock my body right.

Also, I’m glad that Howie finally gets some lead vocals in How Did I Fall In Love With You, but it’s really too bad that he had to start writing his own songs for that to finally happen. And, what ever happened to Kevin’s sexy voice-overs? You actually let the guy sing now? Wow, things really have changed!

Now, in My Beautiful Woman, I got a little confused. I thought you were trying to spell the word Beautiful, you know, B is for beautiful as the sun shines, but then I thought maybe you’d forgotten how to spell it and I actually had to look up the lyrics to figure out how that whole part worked. For a minute, I was worried you let Nick do the spelling and we were going to have grammar problems like we did on Quit Play Games. Does his gifts come from the heart? Really? I was so relieved to hear that had been corrected on the acapella version.

Emily rambled on like that for about 6 pages and by the time AJ had finished reading it, he was nearly rolling on the floor laughing. He copied the part she had written about Howie and Kevin finally getting to sing and sent it to them, letting them know that they had an ally in her. He thought they’d get a kick out of that.

AJ read her ‘review’ a few more times before remembering she had mentioned to check for a package. Lucky for him, his mail tended to come fairly early in the morning. Actually, it wasn’t lucky for him because usually he was still sleeping when it came and for some reason the mailman always insisted on causing a huge racket every day. He figured it must have something to do with all the bulk fan mail he gets.

Sure enough, there was a package from Emily. He shook it, like any curious boy would, and heard some rattling inside. He tore it open and was pleased to find that Emily had sent him some fresh baked cookies overnight express. He called her to thank her.

“So did I pass?” she said as she picked up the phone.

“Pass what?” he asked.

“My review. Did I get a good grade?”

AJ laughed. “Honey, you get extra credit for that. You know I love sexual innuendo.”

“I thought you might enjoy it. Did you get your package yet?”

“I did indeed. I think it’ll make a great breakfast.” He said, pouring himself a glass of milk in preparation.

“You know, I was thinking the same thing, only I’ll have to do it before Baylee catches me.”

Chapter 65

The next few months sailed by. Brian and Leighanne would usually be home one week and gone the next. Baylee was sailing through his piano songs and Brian had actually taken him into a recording studio and made a CD of him playing. Emily, of course, had a signed copy.

AJ called her nearly every day, usually once he knew Baylee would be asleep for the night. They had spent endless hours talking about anything and everything. Each week, she managed to send him baked goods and he began returning the favor by sending her flowers the day after he’d receive his package. She didn’t want to know what his phone bill and flower bill must be. Lucky for him, he’s a Backstreet Boy.

Brian and Leighanne were to be gone for the first two weeks of October. They decided against having Baylee come visit them because this particular trip was jam packed with business. By the end of the two weeks, Emily was nearly burned out. It had rained nearly the entire time they’d been gone so she’d been forced to stay inside with Baylee, a little boy who loved being outside. Something about the remnants of a large hurricane that had come in the Gulf. AJ said he thought his house was sure to blow away, but he managed to survive.

After one particular stressful day dealing with a very cranky Baylee, Emily was not in a good mood. She thought perhaps a nice hot bath once Baylee had fallen asleep sounded perfect. She was at the top of the stairs when she ran into Tyke, who froze when he saw her and had an incredibly guilty look on his face. Emily knew that face. It meant he had been doing something he knew he shouldn’t have. Unfortunately for Emily, he’d been doing it in her room. She walked in to find that she had left her closet open and Tyke had invited himself to use her special ballroom shoe as his newest, and apparently most favorite, chew toy. That about did it for her stress level as she angrily punched Brian’s number into her cell phone. Of course, it went to voice mail.

“Brian, its Emily. Your dog hates me. Just thought you’d like to know.”

Emily took her bath and decided to sit out on the deck and enjoy a glass of wine while she waited for AJ’s nightly call. Her phone rang as soon as she sat down, but it was Brian returning her call.

“So my dog hates you?” he said.

“Yes. He got into my room and chewed up my dance shoe!”

Brian tried not to laugh, as she was obviously pretty irritated. “I’m sorry. Usually he starts to act up when he’s been inside too long. Did you let him out?”

“Well, gee Brian, I would have but seeing as how we’re getting all the hurricane rain it’s been a little hard to let him outside. It’s only now stopped raining! I’m surprised the whole house didn’t float away!”

“Oh, right. I heard something about that on the news. Everything else ok?” he knew he needed to tread lightly, he recognized the signs of an irrational woman when he saw them. It may have taken him several years to learn, but dammit he’d learned the hard way!

Emily sighed. “We’re all fine. Two more days until you get back! Is it still ok if I have the sixteenth off?”

“Yeah, that should be fine. We’re going to be home for awhile, don’t worry.” Brian answered.

“Ok, thanks. Hey listen, I gotta go. AJ’s calling. Talk to you later!”

Brian was amazed at how much happier she sounded when she hung up, knowing that AJ was calling her.

“How’s Emily?” Leighanne asked.

“She sounds a bit stressed. Tyke got into her closet.” Brian explained.

“Oh no! How bad is the damage?”

“A dance shoe. She says it’s been raining nonstop since we left. Maybe the weather’s got her down.”

“Brian, have you ever tried to keep Baylee inside for so long?” Leighanne asked.


“Well then, you have absolutely no idea what she’s dealing with!”

Brian sensed another irrational moment coming and decided to go take a shower.

Chapter 66

Finally, on October 14, Brian and Leighanne returned with the promise that they were going to be home until early December. It finally stopped raining and the weather was still unseasonably warm for October.

They arrived home after Baylee went to bed. Emily greeted them and talked for about an hour, catching each other up on events at home and on the road.

“Well, I hope you don’t mind but I’m exhausted and looking forward to a hot bath and bed.” Emily excused herself.

Once she was upstairs, Leighanne said, “Did you talk to AJ about her birthday?”

“Yeah. He was already planning on surprising her. He’ll be here on the sixteenth.” Brian whispered.

“What should we do for her party?”

“How about a fall barbeque? We can decorate with bales of hay and pumpkins and corn, grill some steaks and chicken. Can you order a cake from that bakery I like?” Brian asked.

“Sure. I wonder what kind she likes.” Leighanne asked.

“AJ told me that she told him that she only likes white cake with white frosting. No chocolate cake.”

“She doesn’t like chocolate cake? That’s just not normal!” Leighanne said.

Emily woke up the next morning feeling incredibly rested and happy to see that the sun was shining. She took a quick shower and threw on some clothes. The house was strangely quiet for this late in the morning and as she caught a glimpse into Brian and Leighanne’s room when she left her room, she found out why. Brian and Leighanne had decided to sleep in and they had Baylee curled in between them, the TV playing softly. She smiled as she quietly went downstairs and left them a note saying she was going out for the day and would most likely be back for dinner.

She changed her plans for the day when she climbed into her car and spent five minutes trying to get the damn thing to start. She had intended on doing some shopping and then getting a massage, facial and manicure at the spa. She decided to take a detour to the local car dealership instead. After all, Brian paid her more than enough and it was almost her birthday. A perfect time to buy a new car!

Emily remembered why it was she had put off buying a new car for so long. She absolutely hated dealing with the dealers. They always managed to treat her like she was some idiot woman who didn’t know the first thing about cars. She informed the young salesman that she just wanted to look around by herself for awhile, and that she would come and find him when she was ready for his help. She wandered around until she had found a few she was seriously interested in and compared their specs as much as she could. Finally, she was ready to let the salesman help her.

“I’m most interested in the Pacifica and the 300.” She informed him.

“Those are very nice cars. I’m sure your husband will be very impressed.”

Emily rolled her eyes and followed him into his office. He told her all about the options each car had to offer, gas mileage, safety ratings, blah blah blah. After test driving each one, she settled on the Pacifica. It cost a little more but she liked sitting up higher off the ground, something she liked since she was shorter than most. It made her feel like she could see better and was in more control. She decided to go with the dark blue car with the black leather interior and the upgraded stereo system. Once she had signed all 500 of the papers (or at least that’s how it felt), Tito, the salesman, handed her the keys. Emily cleaned out her old Sunfire, took a picture to remember its last day and told it goodbye. She climbed into the first new car she’d ever owned and felt a huge sense of pride as she cranked up the stereo and opened the sun roof, taking off for the mall.

Emily desperately wanted some new clothes. She had the clothes she wore when working with kids that she didn’t care what got on them. She had church clothes and job interview clothes and a few nice dresses but she felt that she seriously lacked some sexy outfits that could be worn for a casual night on the town. She had to admit that it was mostly because of AJ that she felt the sudden need to revamp her wardrobe a bit. She wandered through the trendier stores and wondered to herself if the country was experiencing a fabric shortage or something because it seemed that the skirts and shorts couldn’t possibly be shorter, and that the shirts all seemed to lack sleeves.

Emily finally wandered into one of the higher end department stores, Von Maur. She was approached by a young and friendly saleswoman named Sally.

“Is there something I can help you find?” Sally asked as Emily was eying a purple sweater.

“Well, I guess maybe you can help me. I’m looking for some new outfits.”

“What kind of outfits? Dress? Casual?” Sally asked.

“Well, actually, the sexy kind. Not dressy, not too casual. The kind of thing you’d put on for a date with a new guy or out clubbing or just to a movie.” Emily tried to explain what she was looking for.

“I think I get it. The kind that makes you look and feel sexy without being too much so that you could wear it to the local burger joint or out to a hot club. Is that it?”

“Exactly!” Emily said. “Without making me look like a tramp! I won’t do short skirts or tops that are too revealing.”

Sally led Emily into the dressing room, took her sizes and returned a few minutes later with her arms full of items to try on. As Emily tried on each outfit, Sally was nice enough to give her honest opinion on each one, pointing out which ones weren’t flattering and which ones made her look the best. Emily left with ten new outfits and felt very excited to get the chance to wear them. She thanked Sally profusely and promised to come back again and to refer friends. It really was a rare thing to have a salesperson that was so helpful and honest.

Emily made her final stop to the spa. She had her massage done first, followed by her mani-pedi and then decided to get her hair cut as well. She felt rejuvenated and excited as she pulled her new car into Brian’s driveway, honking the horn as she parked.

Brian peeked out the window at the sound of the horn. He didn’t know who it was until he saw Emily climb out of the car and open the back, pulling out several shopping bags. He went out front to check it out.

“Wow! Did you buy this today?” Brian asked, checking out her new ride.

“Yeah! I didn’t really plan on it but I had the darndest time trying to get my car to start this morning and decided it was time to treat myself. Do you like it?”

“I do! It’s stylish yet functional!”

“Hey, do you think you could grab the rest of the bags out of the back?” Emily asked.

“You mean there’s more? Did you buy out the mall?”

Emily laughed. “No. I just felt like upgrading my wardrobe to include some nicer things to wear, that’s all.”

Brian pulled out the large Victoria’s Secret bag. “This wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain guy named AJ, would it?”

Emily blushed, taking the big pink bag from him. “Maybe. Or maybe it’s just an early birthday present to myself!”

“Oh, that’s right! Your birthday is soon, isn’t it? When exactly?”

“Five more days, on the twentieth.” Emily said.

“Oh, right. Thanks for reminding me!” Brian said, playing dumb.

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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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