Chapter 121

AJ had no idea where Emily had run off to but to be perfectly honest, he didn’t really feel up to chasing her anyway. The concert was in two days and he needed to start focusing on that. It had been awhile since they’d all be on stage together he could hardly wait. He decided to go to the gym and work out a little to help him feel more pumped up for it all.

Kevin, on the other hand, went to the bar. He tried explaining the whole thing to Kristin but she really didn’t seem to get it. Meaning, he felt that she was much too sympathetic towards Emily.

“Women. Always did stick together.” He muttered.

He was still caught off guard by the whole thing. He’d had no idea whatsoever that he’d offended Emily so badly. And then AJ certainly didn’t help things by scolding her in front of him even if Emily was out of line. He didn’t really want to be so mad at Emily but he couldn’t help it. She’d made some very unkind remarks, hitting below the belt and she knew it. She’d done it on purpose, was his guess.

Three hours and too many shots to count later, he saw Emily walk in and sit down to order a drink. He managed to make his way over to her and sit beside her.

“I don’t think you can be in here. This bar is for half-assed celebrities only.” He said, downing another shot.

Emily rolled her eyes. “Oh really? Guess you’d better leave too because you’re not even half-assed anymore.”

“No? What am I then?”

Emily took a swig of her drink. “I don’t know, like a quarter-assed celebrity?”

Kevin chuckled. “Funny. Very funny. Highly offensive, but funny. I bet you I could have any piece of hot tail in this room I wanted.”

“Yeah, I’m sure your wife would love that!”

“You don’t believe me?” he said, leaning in closely to her face.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I know you can’t have mine.”

Kevin chuckled. “That’s where you’re wrong. You see, I said I could have any tail I wanted I don’t want yours.”

“Well you got me there, Richardson. You win.”

“What’s your problem, anyway?” he demanded, standing up.

“Don’t you know? Haven’t I already told you?” she said, leaning back away from his tall, intimidating stature.

“I understand your point of view but I don’t understand why you’re taking it so personally. Grow up, Emily! Not everyone agrees with you, it doesn’t mean you have to act like a big bitch!”

Emily set her drink down and turned to face him. “What did you just call me?”

Kevin smiled. “A bitch. A big one, at that. Come to think of it, you always have been.”

Emily rolled her eyes. “You’re drunk.”

“Yes I am! Because you’re a bitch! And you know what? I think you’re just using AJ. All this crap about being too scared to be serious and honest with him, what’s that all about anyway? What’d, you see his bank statement or something? Decide you could use a sugar daddy? Was your baby’s daddy not rich enough for you?”

Emily slapped him across the face. Kevin was stunned into silence. She didn’t know how he even knew she had a son or why he hadn’t said anything until now but he had definitely crossed the line now. She tried to think of something to say, anything, but there were just no words. She threw some money down on the bar for her drink and ran into the elevator. “Why didn’t I throw the drink on him?” she said aloud to herself.

AJ was watching tv when she let herself into the room.

“Where’ve you been?” he asked.

“Downstairs in the bar with Kevin.”

“Oh really? Did you two work it out?” he asked, hopeful.

“Oh, I guess you could say we’ve come to an understanding.” She replied.

“Well good!” he said. “How about ordering room service for dinner? I’m beat.”

“Yeah, sure. Order whatever, I’m going to go take a long bath. Let me know when the food comes.”

“Alright. Em, are you ok?” he asked, sensing something still wasn’t right.

Emily paused for a moment. “I’m fine.” She said, before shutting herself into the bathroom.

Unfortunately, even with the lavish bubble bath she used, it did no good for her spirit. For once in her life she’d actually wished it had taken longer for the food to come. She really didn’t feel like getting out and facing AJ. She wrapped the long, white bathrobe around herself and came out to join AJ for dinner.

“I hope you feel like steak!” he said.

Emily smiled. “That sounds nice, thanks.” She said, sitting down next to him at the table.

“Are you sure you’re ok?” he asked.

“Really. I’m fine.”

“Look, I’m sorry for what I said to you. You have a right to be upset with me; you don’t have to go on pretending you’re not hurt by it.” AJ said.

“It’s ok. I mean, yes, I’m upset but that’s really nothing.”

Now AJ was even more concerned. Emily didn’t want to argue? That was not at all like her!

“What did you and Kevin talk about, anyway?” he asked, suddenly suspicious. He did, after all, know how tough Kevin could be to deal with. He’d certainly succeeded in breaking AJ’s spirit once.

“Oh, you know, just stuff. Hey, I have to ask you something.”

“Go ahead.”

“You didn’t ever tell anyone about me having a son or anything did you?”

AJ scratched his head. Where was this coming from? “No, you asked me not to and I didn’t. Why?”

That about did it for Emily. She must have been in a state of shock when she came back to the room but now the calm was wearing off, and AJ lying right to her face threw her way over the edge.

“You know, you don’t have to lie to me. You could have just told me the truth.” She said, setting down her fork.

AJ was really confused now.

“I’m not! Honest!”

“Well then how the hell does Kevin know?”

“Kevin knows?”

“Oh don’t play dumb, AJ! Of course he knows, you told him!”

“But I didn’t tell him!”

“Ok, whatever, don’t admit to it. Just keep lying to my face.”

“I’M NOT LYING!!” he said. What was her deal?

Emily sat there silently with her arms crossed.

“What exactly happened between you and Kevin?” AJ asked, trying to piece it all together.

“Well. I ran into him at the bar downstairs.” Emily said.

Oh Lord! AJ thought. Whenever Kevin drank because he was upset it was never, ever a pretty sight.

“I don’t really remember many details but it ended with him calling me a big bitch who was only dating you for your money because my ‘baby’s daddy’ as he referred to it didn’t have enough. And since you were the only person I told about Payton I can only assume that he found out from you!”

“He called you a bitch?” AJ asked, quietly.

“Yuh-huh.”

AJ thought for a moment. That didn’t sound like Kevin at all. “Were you being one?”

“What?!”

“Well, I mean, were you being civil or were you being yourself….”

“Myself?” Emily cut him off. “What the hell does that mean?”

“Emily, you didn’t let me finish. I mean yourself when you’re angry.”

“Right. Myself when I’m a bitch. Because that’s me apparently. Would you say I’m being myself right now?”

AJ rolled his eyes. He wasn’t falling for that trap.

“No, actually right now you’re a little psycho.”

“Ohhhh so now I’m a psycho bitch! Well that’s just great, isn’t it?”

“Look, Emily I didn’t mean it that way. I was just trying to find out what happened down there.”

“I see. So, let me get this straight. Kevin was horrid to me, and not only do you agree with his assessment of my personality, you also lie to my face about telling him something that I told you in absolute confidence! Is that right?”

“No!”

“So you’re just going to keep lying? Ok. I get it. He’s like your brother, you have to side with him. Blood is thicker than water and all that. Tell you what. You and your ‘brother’ can have a great night together, I certainly won’t be sleeping in here!” Emily said, grabbing her suitcase, thankful she hadn’t yet unpacked.

“Where the hell are you going? You’re not even dressed!” he said, grabbing her arm.

“Let go.” She said, quietly.

AJ dropped her arm. “Don’t do this, Emily.” He warned.

She stood silent for a minute before walking out the door, letting it slam behind her.

AJ stood there completely dumbfounded. Something was just not right. If he didn’t know her better he’d have thought she’d completely lost it. What exactly had Kevin said to her? He thought maybe he was just defending himself against her attacks but the way she was acting made him question whether Kevin actually had flat out called her a bitch. And if he had, there’d be hell to pay.

Emily knocked softly on Brian and Leighanne’s door.

“Emily, what’s up?” Leighanne asked, surprised at seeing Emily in her robe. “You locked out of your room or something?”

“Umm, no actually I was wondering if I could use your phone? I need another place to stay tonight. And a place to put some clothes on….”

Leighanne immediately let Emily in. “Listen, we have an extra room for Baylee but he’s sleeping with us tonight. Why don’t you just crash in there? You’ll even have your own tv so you don’t have to watch cartoons!”

Emily gave a slight smile. “Thanks, Leighanne.” She said, following her back to the bedroom.

Once she had Emily settled, Leighanne closed the bedroom door behind her and sat next to Brian.

“What do you think he did?” she asked him.

Brian sighed. “I don’t know but I don’t think it’s going to be a pretty one. Do you think I should go talk to him?”

“Maybe tomorrow. He probably won’t talk anyway. She’s being pretty tight-lipped about it herself.”


Meanwhile, Kristin was down in the bar ripping Kevin a new one. She’d come looking for Kevin to apologize for not being more understanding and got there just in time to witness his conversation with Emily.

Kevin wasn’t completely stupid. He knew when he’d been caught red-handed and quietly sat while she dished it out. She talked for quite awhile, claiming her disbelief in his behavior and how dare he treat Emily that way and no matter how a person treats him it doesn’t make it ok to behave the way he did and what the hell did he mean he could have any piece of tail he wanted?

“Kris, I didn’t really mean I’d actually go after someone else….”

“Kevin, now is not a good time for you to talk. I can tell you one thing for sure, you won’t be having a piece of my tail for awhile, got it? And find someplace else to sleep tonight!” she said, storming out of the bar. She’d hoped to find Emily but when she went to AJ’s room he told her she wasn’t there and didn’t know when she’d be back.

She decided to try Brian’s room.

“Hey, Leighanne. Have you seen Emily?” she asked.

“Yeah, she’s here. Why, what’s going on?”

“She didn’t tell you?” Kristin asked.

“No, she just showed up here in her bathrobe with her suitcase and asked if she could come in. She was going to go get her own room but I convinced her to stay here.”

“Oh shit!” Kristin said as she sat down to fill Brian and Leighanne in on what she’d witnessed in the bar.

“But what’s that got to do with AJ?”

Nobody could figure that one out.

Emily could hear them all talking about her through the door but she certainly didn’t feel like going out there and talking to them all about what happened. She knew AJ was right about one thing, she sure was feeling psycho at the moment as she tried to sort everything out.

So there was the obvious anger at Kevin. That was a given. But what about AJ? He was always honest with her. Always. So why was he lying now? Or was he? It had never occurred to her before that he might actually be telling the truth! But then how had Kevin found out about her son? Did he know the whole story? But why had he taken Kevin’s side instead of hers? She never would have done that to him. Even if he hadn’t agreed with her behavior, which wasn’t all that great if she was being honest with herself, he should have taken that up with her in private, not in front of Kevin. That had been embarrassing and hurtful.

She knew she’d acted like a bitch to Kevin and she decided she could only explain her behavior from the constant state of worry she’d been in ever since John had left the country. She didn’t really let on to it because it was easier to pretend she was ok but she wasn’t ok. Not a day went by that she didn’t wonder if he was ok or not over there. Then to hear someone close to her act like what he was doing wasn’t an act of total bravery really hit home and released a lot of those pent up worries. If only boys were smart enough to read the minds of women, the world would be a much better place, she decided.

An hour later, Kristin had gone back to her room and Brian and Leighanne were getting ready for bed when there was a knock on the door. This time it was Kevin. Leighanne crossed her arms and blocked the doorway.

Kevin sighed. “Kris beat me here?”

“Yeah.” Leighanne said.

“Look, ok I know I was wrong. Really wrong. But I really need a place to stay! AJ’s pissed at me, obviously and Nick and Howie don’t want company with their girls staying with them tonight. Oh, and, the real kicker, the hotel is completely booked.”

“Well, normally I might take pity on you and let you in but unfortunately for you, Emily’s already crashing here for the night.”

Kevin looked puzzled. “Why isn’t she sleeping with AJ?”

“Well that’s the part no one can figure out.”

“Where the hell am I supposed to sleep?”

“My advice, go crawling back to your wife’s room and get the groveling apology over with.” Leighanne said, shutting the door.


Chapter 122

Despite the drama of the following evening, the next morning went fairly smoothly. The boys had an early rehearsal and Emily stayed with Baylee and Leighanne, relaxing up in the room.

“So, do I ever get to know why you didn’t sleep with AJ last night?” Leighanne finally asked.

Emily chuckled. “You’ve been dying to ask all morning, haven’t you?”

“Yes!!” Leighanne exclaimed.

“Well, to keep it simple, AJ lied to me , at least I think he did,and took Kevin’s side instead of mine.”

“What’d he lie to you about?”

“Nevermind that. It’s beside the point.”

“Miss Emily, wanna play Go Fish with me?” Baylee asked.

“I sure would!” Emily said, happy to have something to distract from the conversation.


The rehearsal was….interesting to say the least. AJ wouldn’t speak to Kevin and Kevin wouldn’t really speak to anyone he was so hung-over and grumpy. They were all glad when it was over.

“Great rehearsal guys.” Howie said, sarcastically.

Kevin and AJ rolled their eyes at him.

“AJ, man I think we need to talk.” Kevin said.

AJ nodded. “Yeah, I think we do. Listen, let’s go get cleaned up and we can talk about it over lunch in the hotel café.”

“Sounds good. I’ll meet you there.” Kevin said, fully prepared to receive and earful from AJ just as he had from Kristin.

“Hey Kev, you ok?” Nick asked as Kevin, Nick and Howie stepped off the elevator onto their floor together.

“Yeah, I’m ok Nick, thanks.”

“Hey, do you think those soldiers down there are coming to the protest concert?” Nick asked, pointing out two Army officers in their dress uniforms. Kevin got a sinking feeling in his gut as he watched them talking to their tour manager.

“Something tells me not.” Kevin answered as he walked over to Chris, their manager.

“Something I can help you boys with?” Kevin asked.

“Kevin, they’re looking for Emily. Do you know where she is?”

Kevin’s heart sank. He knew what they were here for. Kevin nodded. “I do, she’s in with Baylee.”

“Could you please take us to her, sir?” the officer asked.

“Sure, she’s right down the hall but could you give me a few minutes first?” Kevin asked.

“Sir, we really need to be the ones to speak with her. It’s urgent.”

“Look I know that but she’s in there with a six year old boy and he doesn’t need to see this, ok? Just let me get him out of there and then you can talk to her.”

The officers exchanged a glance before agreeing.

Kevin walked back over to where Nick and Howie were standing, looking concerned. “What’s going on?”

“They’re looking for Emily.”

“Why are they looking for Emily?” Nick asked.

“Look I don’t have time to explain right now, you’ll find out soon enough anyway. Nick, I need you to do something.”

“Anything!” Nick said!

“Is Brian already back in his room?”

“Yeah, he left before we did.”

“Go knock on his door and ask him if Baylee can come play video games with you in your room for a bit. If he hesitates tell him Kevin said it would be best if he went with you. And don’t say anything to Baylee about any of this.”

Nick looked concerned. “Ok.” He said, taking off to knock on Brian’s door.

Kevin turned to Howie. “Howie, I need you to literally run and find AJ. Bring him up here right away.”

Howie didn’t need to be told twice. He took off for AJ’s room, which was three floors below them.

Once he saw Baylee tucked safely away in Nick’s room, Kevin nodded to the soldiers and knocked on Brian’s door.

“I’ll get it. Baylee probably forgot something.” He heard Emily say from inside.

She froze when she saw Kevin. “What do you want?” she asked.

“Emily, you need to let me in.” Kevin said, softly.

Brian and Leighanne were hovering close by, Nick’s cryptic message had them a little concerned.

“I do not!” she said, trying to shut the door. Kevin quickly inserted his body into the doorway, preventing her from shutting it.

“Em, listen, there are some men here to see you.” He said, gesturing to the soldiers in the hall.

Emily’s heart sank. “No! They’re not coming in here. Kevin, you can’t let them in!” she said, her chest tightening up as she tried to shut the door.

“I’m sorry sweetie, I really am but you have to.” Kevin said, forcing the door open and allowing the soldiers in.

“Are you Miss. Emily Watkins?” they asked.

Emily nodded as she started to shake.

“On behalf of the United States Army we regret to inform you that your brother John was killed in the line of duty two days ago….” And that was all Emily heard before she began sobbing hysterically. One of the soldiers gave Brian a packet of information and their card should she need to contact them and quietly excused themselves.

Emily turned to Kevin and started pounding her fists on his chest.

“This is all your fault!” she screamed at him. “You let them in here! You let them in!” she screamed through her tears. “He’s gone….oh God….he can’t be gone!” she sobbed as she continued to beat her fists at him. Kevin pulled her in tightly to him and hugged her tight so she couldn’t hit him anymore. He wasn’t concerned about her hurting him, he was worried she was going to hurt herself.

Leighanne had her hand over her mouth, crying silently as Brian wrapped his arm around her waist. Finally, AJ arrived with a breathless Howie. All Howie had been able to tell him was that there were two soldiers looking for Emily, and once he saw Emily completely hysterical he was able to figure out what had happened. He pushed up his sleeves and took her from Kevin.

“God, Em, I’m so sorry.” He said softly, kissing her head as he held her tightly. He held her tightly for a few minutes while she sobbed into his chest. Finally, he scooped her up into his arms and walked her back into the bedroom she had stayed in the night before and sat down on the bed with her, trying to comfort her as best he could.

AJ had been in with Emily for a few hours before he came out again.

“How is she?” Brian sprang up.

“She’s sleeping.” He said, quietly.

“What can we do?” Leighanne asked.

“I don’t think there’s anything we can do right now besides pray.”

“Listen, if you need to bow out of the concert we’d all understand.” Kevin said.

AJ turned to look at him.

“I didn’t know you were still here.” AJ said, surprised.

Kevin nodded. “I wanted to make sure she was ok.”

AJ nodded at him. As pissed as he might have been at Kevin, that was nothing compared to what was going on now. It didn’t even matter anymore.

“She’s insisting that I stay. She said there’s no point in missing it. I’ll ask her again tomorrow and let you know.”

“What about a funeral?” Brian asked.

AJ sighed. “She needs to tell her mom. We’re going to fly out to Ohio tomorrow night after the concert. I’m assuming they’ll work out the arrangements together. I’d better get back in there; I just wanted to let you know she’s ok. I think I’m going to crash here tonight with her. Where is Baylee?”

“He’s spending the night with Nick.” Leighanne answered.

When AJ went back into the bedroom he saw Emily up, looking out the window.

“You’re awake!” he said, softly.

“Yeah.” She said.

“What can I do?” he asked, wrapping his arms around her waist.

Emily turned around and looked up into his eyes.

“I just really need you to hold me and love me.”

AJ gave her a soft kiss. “I think I can do that. Why don’t I take you back to your room? Would that be ok?”

Emily nodded. “I just really don’t want to talk to anyone right now. I know they mean well I just don’t think I’m up to it. Would you mind telling them we’re leaving?”

“No problem.” AJ said, walking back out into the sitting room.

“Guys, Emily’s actually awake. We’re going to head back to our room but she doesn’t really feel quite up to talking just yet so we’re just going to slip out. I’ll be in touch with you in the morning.”

Kevin got up from the couch and walked over to AJ. “Make sure you take care of her, ok?”

“I will, man.” AJ said, giving Kevin a manly hug.

“I need to get back to my room. Kris has no idea what’s going on and she’s probably wondering where I’ve been all day.”


Chapter 123

AJ and Emily walked back to his room in silence. There really weren’t any words to be said. Everything that had happened between them over the last two days didn’t even matter anymore. It was the furthest thing from their minds. AJ unlocked the door and tossed the key on the dresser.

“Do you want to take a bath or anything?” he offered.

Emily shrugged. “Not really.”

AJ sat on the bed and took off his shoes. “Come here.” He said, patting the bed.

Emily sat down next to him. AJ turned and began to massage her back. Emily moaned in pleasure.

“AJ…” she started.

“Shhh…just relax baby. Let me take care of you.”

Emily sighed and gave into him.

AJ slowly removed her shirt and started lightly kissing along her spine as he massaged her tense shoulders. He leaned her back and laid her down on the bed. He lay right next to her and captured her lips with his in a slow yet intensely passionate kiss. His hand gently stroked her stomach, enjoying feeling the muscles tense up to the sensation of pleasure and tickle. His hand worked its way up, gently stroking the valley between her breasts. He could feel little beads of sweat beginning to build up on her soft skin. He let his fingers ever so softly graze her nipple causing her to moan into his mouth. God did he love how she moaned. He let his kisses trail over her neck, finding her favorite spot just below the ear. He didn’t want to wait any longer. He needed this just as badly as she did. He wanted to take care of her, make her feel safe and loved. It was almost as if some protective instinct had taken over his body making him barely aware of his actions.

Emily could sense his urgency as well as her own. She quickly undid his pants and pushed them down. AJ unzipped hers and with one smooth tug had her out of both pants and underwear all at once.

Their eyes met as he lay on top of her and slowly entered her warmth. Emily’s mouth opened as if to let out a loud moan but she was unable to even make a sound as he moved within her. She clung to him as if her life depended on it, her fingernails digging into his back as his picked up the pace, thrusting deeper inside of her. He felt her body begin to tense up with pleasure and lifted her leg up over his shoulder, allowing him to go even deeper as she climaxed, taking AJ over the edge with her.

He collapsed beside her and wrapped her up in his arms, breathless. It had been intense and somehow incredibly meaningful. Emily was asleep within minutes.

The next morning Emily promised AJ she'd be ok by herself for a few hours while he went to their final rehearsal. As soon as he walked in they all cornered him asking him how Emily was doing.

“She's doing about as well as you could expect I suppose.” he answered.

“Look if you need to pull out of the show tonight we'd all understand.” Howie said. “It's more important for you to be there for Emily”

“Emily insists I stay. We have a flight out tonight after the show.”

“Will you let us know what the arrangements are?” Kevin asked. “I'd like to go if can.”

AJ was surprised. “Yeah man, I'll give you a call when I know something. She still needs to tell her mom. She doesn't know yet.”

“Tell her we're praying for her, ok?” Howie said, clapping AJ on the back.

“Thanks man, I will.”

Emily stayed in bed most of the day. AJ called her a few times to see if she needed anything. Leighanne brought her a cup of tea and asked if there was anything she could do. Baylee had made her a card and Kristin called to see if she needed anything.

A few hours before they were set to go on stage, AJ called the guys together for a private meeting.

“Guys, I want to do something a little different tonight.” he said. “And I'm not sure how well it'll go over.”

The rest of the group grew a little concerned. Usually when AJ had ideas like that they were never good ones so they were surprised at what he wanted to do this time.

They opened their show normally and at their first break in the songs the five of them walked to the front of the stage and Kevin stepped forward.

“Now we all know why we're here tonight ladies and gentleman.” he said. “We're trying to promote peace for our country. But there is one thing I want to remind you all of. We can all be against the war but we still need to support our troops. Agree or not, these guys are out there laying their lives on the line for you and I and that kind of bravery deserves respect. So pray for the war to end but let's also remember to pray for our soldiers' safety.”

AJ stepped up. “A friend of mine lost her brother a few days ago fighting in Iraq and I've now seen first hand the effect this has on families. So let's also keep the families and loved ones of the troops in our thoughts as well. We'd like to dedicate this next song to the troops and their families.”

“Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light.” AJ sang the first line of the Star Spangled Banner alone before the group launched into Show Me The Meaning. In the end, it was fairly well received by the crowd. There had been only a few boos to Kevin's speech but it was followed up by many cheers at the end of their song.

Emily had been back stage waiting for AJ so they could go to the airport. She'd had no idea they were going to do that and was moved to tears by Kevin's speech. Actions could sometimes speak a lot louder than words and Emily knew that deep down Kevin was sorry.

They were all surprised to see Emily backstage waiting for AJ when they were done.

“I thought I was going to meet you at the hotel.” he said, kissing her cheek and studying her face to see how she was doing.

“I thought it'd be easier if I just came here.” she said.

“Just let me get changed and I'll be ready ok?” he said.

Howie approached her next. “I know you're not ready to talk right now but when you are, I'm here if you need me. I know the circumstances are completely different but when I lost my sister I probably felt a lot of the things you're feeling.”

“Thanks Howie. That's really sweet.” Emily said, hugging him.

Nick wasn't really sure what to say so he settled for giving her a big hug.

Brian was next. “Do you need anything?” he asked.

Emily shook her head. “I don't think so but thanks for offering.”

Kevin hung back looking a bit sheepish. “Great show tonight Kevin.” Emily said.

“Really?” he asked.

“Yeah. I really appreciated what you said out there.”

“Thanks.” he said. After an awkward moment of silence he said, “Well, I'd better get changed.”


AJ and Emily arrived in Ohio very late that night. They stayed in a hotel near Emily's mom's house and waited until a decent hour to break the news.

“AJ, I think you should stay here.” Emily said as she was getting ready to leave.

“Why?” he asked.

“Well, my mom's never met you before and, you know, this is kind of a private thing and it'll be hard enough for her without some strange guy there watching her.”

AJ thought for a moment and had to admit that Emily had a point.

“Ok.” he said. “I'll wait here but I'll be there in a heartbeat if you need anything.”

Emily knew breaking the news to her mom would be hard but she had no idea how hard it would really be. She told her mom everything she knew, which at this point wasn't a whole lot. After a few heartbreaking hours she got her mom settled down and started making phone calls to family. She called her mom's sister first who lived an hour away. She left immediately to drive down and be with them. After she called everyone she needed to, she checked on her mom and stepped outside to call AJ.

“How are you?” he asked, his voice filled with concern.

“Not great.” she admitted.

“How did it go?”

“Worse than you can imagine. She's sitting up in her room right now. I called all my family members. They're coming over. Would you mind coming over? I'm kind of running out of my strength.” she said.

“Of course.” AJ said. “I'll be right there.”

AJ met her family and offered help wherever he could but mostly hung back and stayed out of the way. He was there when Emily needed him and even when she didn't, she felt his support just in knowing he was there.

The next day they planned out the funeral service. They had to wait a few more days for the body to be flown back. Emily's aunt kicked her out during those few days of downtime insisting she would take care of her mom and she should go relax. AJ could not have been more supportive and understanding. He held her when she cried, he stood back when she pushed him away, when she was angry he let her yell and when she needed love he loved her.

The funeral ended up being rather large as many family and friends came to pay their respects. Emily was shocked when not only Brian and Leighanne showed up but Kevin and Kristin as well.

At the reception afterwards AJ asked Kevin if they could talk outside.

“What's up?” Kevin asked.

“I have sort of a strange question to ask you. When you and Emily had that fight in the bar, you said something to her about her baby's daddy. What did you mean by that?”

Kevin sighed. “It was nothing man. I was wasted.”

“Well, see here's the thing. I think you know something. I know all about it but what I need to know is how you know about it. Emily thinks I told you and I need know the truth.”

Kevin cringed as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Back when Brian first hired her and I heard about that whole thing with the mayor I didn't really have a good feeling about her. I know it wasn't really my place but I was worried about not only Brian and the group's privacy but Baylee's as well. So I hired a private investigator to just check her out. Obviously he didn't turn up anything incriminating but he did show me a birth certificate for her son.”

“Jesus Kevin!” AJ said.

“I know. Look I know I shouldn't have done it but at the time it felt right. I got a weird feeling about it and I wanted to make sure she was legit. We've been screwed over by so many people, you know?”

“So that's all you know is that she had a son?” AJ asked.

“Yeah. I don't know what happened to him. I figured she gave him up or left him behind or something.”

“Not exactly.” AJ said.

“Are you going to tell her?” Kevin asked.

“Only if I have to. Hopefully she's let that whole thing go and it won't come up again.”

“Thanks man.” Kevin said. “And I'm sorry for the way I treated her. You know that, right?”

AJ lit a cigarette. “Yeah, I know.”


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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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