Chapter 52

Tuesday evening AJ and Emily went out for a nice dinner together and then Emily had to help AJ pick out which clothes he should pack for New York. Emily found she was a foul mood at work all day Wednesday as she dreaded his leaving. She had thought she'd be able to handle it a lot better than she actually was. While she was glad he was finally getting the chance to record his album after literally years of waiting, she was a little bitter at the timing of everything. Her only consolation was that on Saturday morning, Leighanne was picking her up to take her to the airport and catch a flight out to spend the weekend with him.

Her mood declined even more when she walked in the front door and saw his bags sitting just inside, waiting to be loaded into the car. AJ took one look at her face and knew she was having a hard time with the separation.

He walked over to her and gave her a hug.

Just say the word and I'll stay.” he said.

Emily looked up at his face and knew he meant every word. She smiled. “You most certainly will not stay! But it means a lot to me that you're willing to. How much time do we have before we have to go to the airport?”

AJ looked at his watch. “About twenty minutes.”

Emily raised her eyebrows. “Twenty minutes, huh? We could do a lot in twenty minutes....”

We certainly could. Did you have anything particular in mind?”

Well I think you should give your wife a proper goodbye.” she said, with a twinkle in her eye.

You're absolutely right. I should.” AJ said.

He scooped her up in her arms and carried her into the living room, lying her down on the couch. He removed his shirt and laid down on top of her. He gently kissed her neck before moving to her lips. It was a tender kiss that melted Emily's heart as she ran her fingers through the little curls at the base of his neck. He sat her up and removed her scrub top and bra, his hands already on her breasts as she leaned back down on the couch. He loved the way her pink buds swelled with his touch, the way they hardened as he put his hot mouth on them.

He sat up again and slowly untied her scrub pants, looking down into her beautiful blue eyes. He wished he had more time to love her, to show her how much he'd miss her when he was gone, but the clock was ticking and so he tugged her pants off. Emily reached out and unbuckled his belt and quickly undid his jeans as he stood and let them fall as he removed his boxers. He didn't even know when she'd done it but Emily had quickly removed her own underwear and was ready for him as he lay back on top of her. As he kissed her, he wrapped his arms around her and slowly sat them up and then flipped over so he was now actually sitting down on the couch and Emily was straddling him. She placed her hands on his toned chest as she sunk onto him. AJ moaned as she began to swirl her hips while she nibbled his ear.

Are you going to miss me?” she asked.

Oh God...I'm going to miss you so much...” he said.

Good.” she said. “I don't want you to forget what's waiting for you back home.” With that, she arched her back and put her hands behind her on his knees as she rode him wild. AJ placed his hands on her hips as he moved with her, loving the view in front of him. Emily was so in control that AJ actually came before she did but it was so good that he was still moaning when she came after.

She kissed his neck while he caught his breath.

Fuck.” he said. “I can't wait to see you again on Saturday!”

Emily laughed. “We'd better get dressed. You wouldn't want to miss your plane.”

For more of that, hell yeah I'd want to miss my plane!”

They threw their clothes back on and AJ loaded his his suitcases while Emily grabbed his carry-on stuff. They were pretty quiet on the ride to the airport, holding hands most of the way there.

I left the extra loft key for you on the kitchen table in case I'm not back from the studio or something when you get there. I have no idea what kind of hours to expect yet.” he said as she was pulling into the drop-off area.

Ok, thanks. Will you call when you get settled in tonight?”

Of course I will.” he said.

Emily pulled over and helped him get all his bags out. He turned to face her and put his hands on her hips, leaning down for one more kiss.

I love you, Em.” he said softly.

I love you too. Be safe, ok?”

I will, I promise.”

I'll talk to you later.” she said, trying her hardest not to cry.

You most certainly will.”

He gave her one last tight hug and then grabbed his bags and walked into the airport. He wanted to look back at her but he couldn't. He didn't want to see her face as he was leaving. It was hard enough as it was.

When Emily got home, she got a phone call from Amanda.

What's up Amanda?” she answered.

What's going on with my sister?”

What do you mean?”

She's doing that thing she does where she pretends nothing is wrong when clearly something is wrong only she won't tell me what it is.”

Emily sighed as she tried to decide whether or not to tell Amanda that her standoff with Brian had been going on longer than she let on.

I'm sorry Mandy. She didn't want you to know about it so you wouldn't worry.”

Come on Emily, don't let her pull that Big Sister crap on me. We're adults.”

Let me talk to her, ok? I'll make sure she's alright.”

You're seriously not going to tell me?” Amanda asked, sounding angry.

Emily cringed. “I'm sorry.”

Whatever.” Amanda said, hanging up the phone.

Emily knew there was a reason she'd never been friends with sisters before as she called Leighanne.

So guess who just called me?” she asked.

Who?”

Your sister.”

Oh yeah? What did she want?”

To know what's bothering you. She knows somethings up and she's pissed that I won't tell her.”

Leighanne laughed. “Amanda's as nosy as I am, she's just not as nice about it.”

What's going on, Leighanne? Did something else happen with Brian?”

We had another big fight last night.”

What happened?” Emily asked, concerned.

Just more of the same stuff. He asked me why I wasn't talking to him anymore and I asked him if he honestly didn't know why I wasn't talking to him and he of course tried to play dumb like he'd forgotten all about our fight before or something. He has this way of playing all innocent and spinning it around to make it look like I'm just being irrational about it all. I don't know, we said some things we shouldn't have. I called him selfish, he called me ungrateful, it went downhill from there. He slept in the guest room.”

Emily was shocked. She had a feeling based on what little Leighanne had told her that the fight was a lot worse than she was making it seem. And she'd already made it seem pretty bad.

I'm sorry sweetie. Is there anything I can do?”

No.” Leighanne sniffed. “I'm going to try and talk to him tonight.”

Ok. Well you call if you need me. And either consider telling your sister or make something up so she'll stop worrying.”

What should I tell her?”

I don't know, tell her you're just in a funk from being stuck at home with Baylee instead of out doing things.”

Why wouldn't I have just told her that in the first place?”

Uhhh....because you don't want to scare her away from having kids.” Emily answered.

Perfect. Ok thanks Emily.”

You know, you don't have to lie to her.....”

Yes I do. She gets upset every time Randy comes home late from work.”

Seriously? Because he's late a lot...”

Yeah. She doesn't always say anything to him but she calls me and asks me if I think he's seeing someone else, do I think he's avoiding her....”

Geez! He doesn't know how she feels?”

I think he'd have to know a little but I doubt he knows how deep it runs. Steve really screwed up her head, you know? I'm just trying to protect her.”

I understand.”

Emily had been tag teamed enough to know when a situation warranted it. She had made a promise not to get AJ involved but she hadn't promised not to get anyone else involved.

Kristin, it's Emily.”

Hey Emily! How are you? Kevin and I were so glad to hear you and AJ worked everything out!”

Thanks. Everything is pretty good, AJ left for New York tonight for his album.”

Oh I'm sorry! That really sucks!”

I know. But, we'll have weekends at least. So how have you been feeling, Mommy-to-be?”

Pretty well. I don't feel sick much, I've been exhausted but nothing too terrible.”

That's great! Listen, I need a favor.”

Sure, what can I do?”

Well, I'm tag-teaming right now only I'm kind of a one-woman team so I'm using outside resources. I can't really tell you why, but could you have Kevin call Brian for a nice chat to see how he's doing?”

Sure. What's going on, is it serious?”

No, I just think he might need to talk to someone is all. You're welcome to call Leighanne and see if she says anything to you about it but she kind of seems to not want anyone to know.”

I'll give her a call tomorrow. Do you want Kevin to call you back after he talks to Brian?”

No, that's ok. Just make sure he calls him.”

I will.”

So when are we going to see you guys again?” Emily asked.

I'm trying to convince Kevin to come out there for Thanksgiving. He wants to stay here.”

Oh you should! That would be awesome! Just tell him it's what the baby wants to do.”

Kristin laughed. “I don't know if he'll buy it but I'll certainly give it a shot!”


The next morning Emily went to work excited to get the day over with so she could be even closer to the weekend. Their first week of being open had been busy but with only a few minor kinks in the system. Dr. Keaton was efficient but gave each patient plenty of time for parents to ask all the questions they needed. Emily spent a lot of her time working with the other part time nurses making sure they stayed updated on any changes made in the way things were running as the operations got settled in. Dr. Keaton had hired another nurse who's only job was answering phone calls. All the other nurses were in charge of patient care and charting.

Emily was just getting her things to go home when Dr. Keaton called her into the office.

What's up?” she asked.

I was just curious how things went with your husband on Friday?”

They went very well. We had a great weekend together, and as soon as he gets back from New York things will be even better.” Emily answered, hoping this wouldn't end up in Laurie's ears for her to tell Margie.

Why is he in New York?”

He's recording a new album. He should be done by Christmas, and I'm planning on going up there most weekends.”

You guys just worked all that out and you have to be apart again?” Dr. Keaton said.

Yeah. It kinda stinks but that's just the way it works sometimes.”

Emily, I want you to take every Friday off! You need to have more time than a day and a half together.”

That really isn't necessary...” Emily started to say.

It absolutely is necessary! Your marriage has to come before your job, Emily. Trust me, I've made that mistake before. Besides, I have a new full-timer starting next week. We'll be fine.”

Are you sure?” Emily asked, amazed that her new boss was ordering her to work less.

Positive.”

Well....wow, thanks!”

I really meant it when I said I wanted my staff to have the flexibility to have real lives, not lives after five on weekdays and on the weekends only.”

So...I guess I'll see you Monday then?”

Sure thing! Hey, I didn't know you dated Dr. Brown!”

Emily rolled her eyes. “Goodnight Dr. Keaton.”

Dr. Keaton laughed. “Have a good weekend!” she called.

Emily couldn't stop smiling as she drove home. She decided that instead of telling AJ her news, she would surprise him and just show up tomorrow. She got a flight to New York that left at noon and she planned on just hanging out in the loft until he came home. It was really hard to keep it a secret when he called her that night.

Hey baby, how are you?” he asked.

I'm pretty good. It's almost the weekend!” she said.

AJ laughed. “I'm looking forward to it.”

How was your first day in the studio? Tell me all about it?” Emily had been dying to know how his first day had gone.

It went well for the most part. We had a few kinks we had to work out with one of the songs which took awhile but we got it eventually.”

What happened?”

Creative differences between the producer, Brent and I.”

Ew. Did you show them who's boss?”

For the most part. I had to work really hard to convince them to just try it my way and in the end, they liked it better than they thought so we reached a pretty good compromise. I'm actually kind of glad it happened because it gave me a little credit, you know? Like they'll probably be more likely to take me seriously the next time I want to try something.”

Well, then good. But I'm sorry you had to do that.”

It's to be expected, everyone thinks a little differently.”

So what are you up to right now?” she asked.

I am sitting in a big, fluffy chair facing the big windows that over look the park. What are you doing?”

I am laying on the couch with Guapo on my belly and Daisy on the floor beside me. Bernie is in the kitchen eating some dog food.”

Man, I should have brought the dogs with me!” he said. “It's lonely!”

Yeah but then I'd be lonely!”

Well, when you get here Saturday neither one of us will be lonely!” he joked.

Emily laughed. “That's true. And just think of the fortune our neighbors kids are making off of us in dog-sitting money each weekend!”


Chapter 53

While Emily was enjoying a pleasant conversation with AJ that night, Leighanne was having a not so pleasant conversation with Brian. She knew they needed to hammer this out. She was tired of things being so tense and so she took a few deep breaths and knocked on the office door.

Come in.” he called.

Leighanne opened the door slowly and walked in.

What's up?” he asked.

We need to talk.” she said, trying to keep her voice from sounding shaky.

Don't you think we've done enough talking lately?” he said with a bitter edge to his voice.

Leighanne closed her eyes for a moment and fought hard to keep her resolve. “No, all we've been doing is fighting. I want to talk to you. I'm tired of this.”

Brian signed and leaned back in his chair. “I am too. I just...don't know what to say.”

When did we stop being a team?” she asked. “We used to always work so well together. We talked about everything. What made it stop?”

I don't know. I guess maybe it was a lot easier when we were always on the same page. Now we're in completely different chapters.”

Do you not want another baby?” she asked, pointedly.

I thought I did. But when I agreed to it I didn't realize there would be so many stipulations to it. I don't want to resent a baby or you for putting this wedge in between us.”

What wedge is that?”

I feel like you're asking me to choose between a baby and everything else in my life.” he admitted.

I'm not asking you to give anything up, I'm just asking you to slow down for awhile.”

But what if I don't want to slow down?”

So it's all about what you want?”

Why can't we both have what we want? Why can't we have a baby and a new album at the same time?”

Because I want you around! I can't take care of a new baby and Baylee all alone or on the road!”

Well we hired help for Baylee, let's hire a baby nurse or something.” he suggested.

I don't want to hire help, Brian! I want my husband around to help support me. It isn't about taking care of the kids or the house, I need you there to support me!” she said, her eyes filling with tears.

Well if I can't be supportive enough for you while I'm gone a lot, how on earth did you survive our marriage this long? It never seemed to be a problem before!”

Because I kept waiting for things to calm down. I told myself it wouldn't be so crazy forever, that one day you'd be ready to slow down and take a break for a few years. But as time goes on I'm starting to see that you're never going to. It's lonely without you! When you're recording and doing shows and meetings all the time, I am so incredibly alone here.”

So you've basically just been pretending to be happy all these years then, just waiting for my career to slow down?” he said, his eyes starting to blaze.

I never said I was unhappy. Just lonely.” Leighanne said, realizing this talk was going nowhere but downhill. “Look, I don't want to fight with you I just want to get to the bottom of this so we can work it out and move on.”

Can we?” he asked.

Can we what?”

Work it out.”

If we're both willing to, yes.” she said, looking him in the eye.


Brian was still in the office hiding from his wife a few hours later when his cell rang.

Hey Kevin, what's up?” he said, dully.

You ok? You don't sound so great.” Kevin said, starting to realize perhaps Emily was not being over-dramatic after all with her insistence that he call Brian.

Eh, it's nothing.” Brian sighed. “What's up?”

Honestly? I got bored and I realized it had been awhile since we talked.”

How's the wife doing?”

She's great. She's already picking out cribs and everything. How's Leigh doing?”

Brian didn't want to talk about his wife. “Are you guys still thinking about coming out for Thanksgiving?”

Kevin didn't miss Brian's dodging his question. “Yeah, Kris really wants to come and she played the pregnant wife card on me so how could I say no?”

Yeah, it's really bad form to say no when they do that.”

Bri...man, what's going on? I can hear it written all over your voice that something is bugging you. You know you can talk to me, right?”

Brian squeezed his eyes shut and ran his fingers through his hair. “Leigh and I are just...having a standoff.”

What happened?” Kevin asked, sitting down.

How could you just walk away from it all?”

You mean the group?”

Yeah.”

It was easy. I knew it was just time. You and I both know I was done and if I'd have stayed I would have started holding you guys back. I was ready for things to slow down, to try some new things. Start a new chapter.”

So...you didn't do it just because Kris wanted you to?”

I'm not going to lie, Kris was very glad to have me around more, especially to be able to start a family but she would have understood if I wasn't ready yet. Why, is that what's going on?”

Not exactly. We're both looking for a new chapter, it's just that we seem to be headed in different directions and it's like we can't even talk about it anymore. We sound more like AJ and Emily lately.”

Kevin laughed. “Look, you two have been blessed with a great relationship. But don't panic because you hit a rough spell. You've been lucky to have gone this long without hitting one. Every marriage has them, some worse than others but they all have them. The trick is learning how to get through them in one piece.”

Right. And how exactly does one do that?”

You just have to keep your temper in check, bro. You just need to be able to sit down and hash it over without yelling and insulting. Get to what the root of the problem really is.”

Sure.” Brian said, not sure if that was even possible right now.

Are you going to be ok?” Kevin asked.

Yeah. I'm just tired I guess.”

Get some sleep, ok? Go tell your wife you love her and go to bed. Things will be better in the morning.”

Yeah, thanks Kevin. Hey, tell Kristin I said hi would you?”

I sure will. Talk to you later.” Kevin said.

Is everything ok?” Kristin asked as Kevin walked back into the living room.

I don't know. I think so.”

So Emily wasn't just freaking out over nothing?”

It would seem not. I guess I should have known, Emily doesn't get involved very often so I guess whenever she does, it must be serious.”

Did he tell you what's going on?”

Not really. Just that they're butting heads over something important. He didn't give details.”

Thank you for agreeing to go see them for Thanksgiving.” she said, resting her head on his shoulder.

You're welcome.” he said, kissing the top of her head as he rested his warm, large hand on her belly.


Friday morning Emily slept in a little since she didn't have to go to work that morning. She had packed nearly all her things the night before so all she needed to do was get dressed and throw her last minute items into her bag. Leighanne picked her up right on time.

I wish I was going to New York!” Leighanne said.

Well, maybe you could come with me one of these weekends!” Emily suggested.

Yeah right! Like I'm going to stay with you and AJ while you play catch up with each other!”

Emily laughed. “There's an extra bedroom!”

Well, if things don't get better soon I just might take my chances and go with you.”

I thought you were going to talk to him?”

I tried.” Leighanne said, as she got on the highway. “It just didn't go as well as I'd planned.”

Things will get better. Maybe a vacation away is just what you need.”

Amanda offered to take Baylee for the weekend, maybe I should let her and go spend the day at the spa or something tomorrow.”

I think that sounds like a great idea! And Baylee will have a blast.”

So AJ really doesn't know you're coming today?” Leighanne asked, changing the subject.

Nope! It was so hard to talk to him last night and not slip but I did it! He's been getting done at the studio around 8 each night so I hope tonight it the same.”

Do you know how to get to his apartment?”

Kind of. I'm kind of nervous to go wandering around New York by myself.”

All you have to do is look like you know what you're doing and you'll get left alone.” Leighanne said. “The minute you start looking like a lost tourist, people will try to take advantage of you.”

I'll try to keep that in mind.”

Emily was relieved to finally get to the airport so she could get on her way to New York. Leighanne helped get her bag out of the trunk and gave her a hug.

Have a great weekend!” she said.

You too. Send Baylee to Mandy's and find something fun to do, ok? Don't sit at home upset all weekend.”

I'll try.”

Don't try. Do it!” Emily ordered.

Leighanne laughed. “Have a safe trip! See you Sunday night!”

Emily waved and went into the airport to check in. By some miracle, her flight was on time and even began boarding a few minutes early. Emily got situated and put her bag in the overhead compartment. The flight was mostly business people who were all absorbed in their laptops and paperwork and Emily suddenly became glad that she picked a profession in which she rarely had to take work home with her let alone go on business trips. AJ did enough traveling for the both of them anyway. She put in her ear buds and turned on her ipod, listening to Duffy as the plane took off.

After a few excited hours of keeping herself distracted by reading magazines, she was in New York! She'd been before but she'd never been by herself and suddenly the busy and crowded airport seemed a little bigger and a little more intimidating. Hearing Leighanne's advice echo in her ears, she squared her shoulders and followed the signs to baggage claim. Once she had retrieved her suitcase she stepped outside and found a row of Taxi's. She got into one and gave the driver the address to the loft. It took about thirty minutes to get there and she paid the driver and walked inside the building, the door held open for her by a doorman. The apartment was up on the fifth floor and she swore she saw George Clooney walking into the door next to AJ's but she couldn't get a good enough look to be sure.

Once she was inside, she smiled as she saw his breakfast dishes still on the kitchen table. She locked the door behind her and walked around the apartment, checking it out. She could hear the muffled sounds of the traffic below as she looked out the window overlooking Central Park with the skyscrapers in the background. She found his bedroom and moved her suitcase in there and, Leighanne would be glad to know, found that the second bedroom was on the other side of the living room from AJ's. She found some lunch in his fridge and sat down in the big fluffy chair by the window and watched tv as she anxiously waited for AJ to come home.

After talk shows and a Friends mini-marathon, she heard his keys in the door at 8:30. He walked in wearing jeans and a green, long sleeve t-shirt with a bag of Chinese food on his arm, flipping through some mail. He was so distracted that he didn't even see her sitting across the room from him as he shut the door.

I hope you brought enough for two.” she said, smiling at him.

AJ was so surprised that he dropped everything when he heard her voice.

After a few seconds, his face broke out into a huge grin. “What are you doing here?” he asked as he walked across the room and picked her up, giving her a big hug before he set her down.

Emily laughed. “Dr. Keaton found out you were in New York and ordered me to take Fridays off so I could spend more time with you. So, I thought it would be more fun to surprise you instead of telling you!”

AJ leaned down and kissed her. “I think I like this new boss of yours. And here I was all set to watch tv all by myself again tonight.”

This place is really cool!” Emily said.

You like it?”

Yeah, I do. I love the view!”

Me too. Although I like it a lot better with you in it.”

Emily smiled. “So...what kind of Chinese did you bring? I'm starving!”

AJ laughed. “I got a little of everything actually. I couldn't make up my mind.” He set the cartons out on the table and got some plates and forks.

Emily and AJ shared his Chinese food while he told her about his day in the studio and about what he wanted to do this weekend with her. When they were done eating, they sat at the table staring at each other.

I missed you.” she said.

Yeah, I missed you too.” he said softly.

So...you want to continue this in the bedroom?” she asked, her eyes going dark as they turned seductive.

Always.” he said, getting up and offering her his hand. He pulled her up and led her into the bedroom. He flipped on the stereo and the room filled with soft jazz music.

Emily raised an eyebrow at him.

I've been having trouble falling asleep to the sounds of the traffic outside so I put this in when I go to bed.” he admitted.

Well, I certainly hope it isn't going to put you to sleep now.”

Honey I doubt even the strongest anesthesia could put me to sleep right now.” he said as she reached her arms around his neck.

Well good.” Emily stood up on her tip toes and planted a very soft kiss on his lips, pulling away only slightly.

AJ could feel her breath on his lips. “I know I've only been gone for two days but right now it seems like it's been an eternity.” he whispered.

Mmm. I know what you mean.” she said.

He wrapped his arms around her waist and slipped his hands underneath her sweater. He heard her sigh a little at his touch before kissing him again, running her tongue along his bottom lip in a teasing fashion. He led her over to the bed and they fell onto it together as they kept kissing. She pulled his shirt off and ran her hands all over his hot skin, feeling a fine layer of perspiration already starting to build up. The rest of their clothes soon followed in a mess of exploring hands and mouths. He kissed nearly every inch of her body. Every inch except the places she wanted to feel his mouth the most.

AJ knew he was driving her wild as she panted and squirmed beneath his lips, all but begging him for more. When she couldn't take it anymore, she retaliated. She flipped him onto his back and lightly ran her tongue down his chest and then kissed her way around his muscles, feeling them dance beneath her lips.

When they'd had enough teasing, he grabbed her and laid her down beside him, spooning her as he slowly put himself inside her. Emily smiled as she felt him. It was one of AJ's favorite positions but he only seemed to do it when he'd been lonely, so he could hold her in his arms better. He ran his hands along her front and cupped a breast, loving the way it fit perfectly in his warm hand. He brought her to a climax but he kept going. Satisfying his desire for some tender loving, he was ready to step it up a notch. He rolled her onto her back and roughly plunged back inside of her. Emily moaned loudly, her body still shaking from her orgasm. He rode her hard and deep, his eyes squeezed shut trying to keep control of himself. Emily reached up and put her hands on either side of his face and brought his lips down to hers, kissing him passionately as she felt pleasure stirring inside of her once again. As soon as he felt her begin to shake again, he opened his eyes and watched her face as she came intensely, the sensation enough to take him with her.

AJ was exhausted as they lie cuddled up, catching their breath.

You'd better be careful.” she said, sleepily.

Why?”

All that moaning you're doing might make it hard for you to sing in the studio!”

AJ laughed and kissed the top of her head.


Chapter 54

Oh God...you can wake me up like that any time you want!” Emily said as she lie sweaty and breathless in AJ's arms the next morning.

Well, I always have liked a good workout in the mornings.” he said. “Helps jump start the day!”

So what are our plans today?” she asked.

Well I thought I'd take you out for a nice breakfast at this awesome cafe down the street and then maybe we could relax together or do whatever you want and then for dinner I made a reservation at the Tavern on the Green in the park followed by tickets to see Phantom on Broadway.”

I've always wanted to see Phantom of the Opera!”

I remembered you saying that the last time we were here.”

I think you'd be perfect for the part of the Phantom. Just like in the video for Everybody!”

AJ laughed. “Jesus, that was years ago!”

Do you ever look back at some of your really old shows and videos and just laugh at yourself?”

I try really hard not to watch a lot of it. It makes me kinda sad too. To see it all slowly coming to an end. I mean we kept on without Kevin but we've all also done our own thing and let's face it we aren't as huge as we used to be. Sometimes I kind of miss the glory days, you know? I mean I know there was a lot more stress that went along with it from working with Pearlman to not having any say in our music but it was also just an amazing time in our lives.”

I bet it was. Your shows are a far cry from the Millennium tour but I don't think that's a bad thing. You've grown and you've managed to keep your feet in the door and you're still enjoying it. What more can you ask for?”

Exactly!” he said.

I'm going to take a shower now. Want to join me?”

I can't believe you even need to ask!” he said, jumping out of bed.

Emily loved showering with him because she loved the way he washed her hair, gently massaging her scalp as he did so. AJ always enjoyed how she ran her soapy hands all over his chest. He also loved how she always wanted to get dirty again after she was all clean.

Thirty minutes later, they got out of the shower.

Hey, would you mind if Leighanne came up with me in a week or two?”

AJ gave her a weird look. “That's what you thought about after sex in the shower?”

Emily laughed. “It's an interesting train of thought.”

Enlighten me please.” he said. “So I don't wonder when else you're thinking of Leighanne.”

Well I was thinking about our rather loud shower sex and it reminded me of the conversation I had in the car with her on the way to the airport. She was talking about how she wished she was going to New York and I said maybe she could could come with me and she said that she really didn't want to be staying with us when we've been apart.”

Ah, ok. That makes sense. But if she wants to go to New York I'm sure she could just go. Brian loves New York.”

Well, I think the idea was more of running away for a few days than taking a trip with Brian.”

AJ frowned. “I know I'm not supposed to know about it, but is this something I should know about? I mean, do you think this is something I should get involved in? I didn't think whatever it was would still be going on.” AJ had never known Brian and Leighanne to not get along for more than a day or two at a time.

Emily shrugged. “Honestly, I don't know. I made Kristin make Kevin call to talk to him but I didn't give her any details. I just told her to tell Kevin that I thought Brian might need someone to talk to. And I guess maybe I'll say the same to you. If he chooses to talk to you about it, that's his prerogative.”

Well, maybe I'll call him Sunday night.”


Back in Atlanta, Brian was shooting some hoops outside. Amanda had taken Baylee for the weekend and Leighanne was off at the spa, no doubt avoiding him. He hated fighting with her so much but he couldn't figure out where all of this anger was coming from in both of them. Had this been boiling for a long time without either one noticing it? Or did something just snap?

After missing about fiftieth shot, he decided basketball was just too frustrating at the moment. He went inside and got some water and sat down at the table. Brian was a very methodical person by nature and so he decided the best way to try and sort it all out was to write it down on paper so he could see it in front of his face. He decided to start with his own feelings.

When Leighanne had approached him about having another baby, he thought she wasn't totally serious about it, that maybe it was just an impulse. But after a few months he realized she was serious about it and so he agreed to talk about it. Ever since they'd miscarried when Baylee was two, they knew that they would like to someday have another baby but they agreed to wait until the time was right. And, as Leighanne pointed out, they were beginning to run out of time. They had both admitted that maybe there never was a perfect time to have a baby and that they'd have to do the best they can. They agreed that now would make sense. He was in between Backstreet albums and wasn't doing a lot of personal appearances for his own solo gig. It did make sense, but he was still hesitant about it. Seeing how much Leighanne wanted it was what made him cave in.

It wasn't that he didn't want another baby, it was more that he was indifferent to it. He'd be more than happy to have another child but he'd be perfectly content not to. But he knew that Leighanne didn't feel the same way and so he agreed. He knew Leighanne wanted him around more this time but he was shocked at how angry she'd been when she discovered he was planning another album.

Brian sighed. He knew if he was going to solve this he had to be honest with himself. There was a part of him that wondered if the reason he didn't talk to Leighanne about the album was because he was hoping it would make her change her mind about the whole baby thing. He loved being a father and he loved Baylee more than anything else in the world but the thought of starting all over again was a little hard for him to handle. Hell, maybe he was having a midlife crisis or something because all week he'd been kind of glad that his wife wasn't speaking to him. He'd welcomed the space and that didn't make a damn bit of sense to him either because the thing he loved second to Baylee was his wife. So why was it that he just couldn't stand her at the moment?


AJ and Emily were seated at Sunrise Cafe a block from their building sipping on coffee and enjoying amazing omelets and pastries.

How's your food?” he asked.

Oh my God, it's so good!” she said with a mouth full of egg.

AJ laughed. “I'm glad you like it!”

Well, I think it helps that I seem to have worked up quite an appetite.” she said with a devilish smile.

It's called the AJ diet. It works amazingly well.” he said with a wink.

Well, too bad for all the other women out there that I'm the only one that gets to be on it.”

You know I kind of figure we should enjoy ourselves while we still can. I mean someday we'll have kids and then we'll get old and I hope to God nothing stops functioning but you just never know, right? So, we should just keep doing it a lot so that we never regret it!”

Emily laughed at his childlike logic. But he did have a point. “Speaking of having kids...” she cleared her throat. “There's kind of something I wanted to talk to you about.”

What is it?” AJ said, setting his coffee down and looking concerned.

Oh it's nothing serious!” Emily promised. “It's just kind of...awkward...to bring up.”

It's ok, you can talk to me.” he assured.

Well, I mean, we haven't really talked about starting a family since before rehab and it hasn't come up lately and I just thought that maybe I should at least tell you that I am back on the pill. I went back on right after the miscarriage.” she said, looking away.

AJ squeezed her hand. “I kind of figured you had.”

How did you know?” she said, looking back at him.

I just figured you wouldn't be ready to have a baby yet, hell I know I'm not right now, and we've been having a lot of sex without condoms....so I used my powers of deduction.”

Emily relaxed as she smiled. “I was just worried that maybe you were expecting a baby soon or something.”

I know that we need some time right now before we go off making huge decisions. The dust needs to settle.”

Exactly!” Emily agreed. “The girls asked me when I was going to have a baby and all I said was that I at least wanted to make it to the end of the year without anything huge happening and then I'd at least think about it.”

That sounds good to me.”

But...you know...when the time comes, I want you to be honest. I want you to tell me when you're ready even if I'm not and I want you to tell me if you're not ready even if I am.”

I promise. Now my mother on the other hand is desperate to become a grandmother and actually asked me to get a move on.”

Emily laughed. “I'm sure my mom is feeling the same way.”

You're going to have to teach me so much stuff about taking care of a baby! I don't know anything!”

You know what? A lot of it comes naturally. I mean it seems like you have to know all kinds of things and in some ways you do need to learn things but there's also this instinct that takes over. It just makes a lot more sense when you actually have a baby.”

Well, I guess I'll just have to take your word for it. And read a lot of books in the meantime.”

After they finished their breakfast, AJ and Emily went back to the apartment to hang out. It was a chilly, gray day outside and they ended up snuggled up together in bed watching tv. They eventually got dressed for dinner and since it wasn't all that far away they decided to walk. Emily loved the excitement of the city and the crowds of all sorts of people. When they got to Tavern On The Green, they were seated immediately.

Ok, if you see any famous people, tell me immediately!” Emily said as she opened her menu.

AJ did a quick scan of the room. “I don't see anyone right now but I promise to alert you if I do.”

They enjoyed an incredibly delicious dinner and Emily did manage to catch a glimpse of Tori Spelling and her husband Dean sitting down at their table. They took a cab down to the theater to see Phantom and took their seats a few minutes before the show started. Emily chuckled when she first saw the Phantom appear as she pictured him being played by AJ.

The cab ride back to the apartment proved to be quite interesting. AJ turned a simple ride into a game of foreplay as he slid a hand inside her coat and gently played with her nipples hardened from the cold outside. Emily closed her eyes and concentrated on not moaning as she enjoyed his touch. He took his hand away from her chest and slid it slowly up her thigh and under her skirt, gently grazing over her, more teasing than anything else. Emily tried her best not to squirm around and had to focus on breathing regularly. She decided to give him a taste of his own medicine as she slid her hand into his pants pocket and slowly stroked him through the fabric. When they pulled up in front of the building AJ handed the driver a wad of cash and dragged Emily from the back seat and inside the lobby.

I might have just given that guy a huge tip, I didn't pay that much attention.” AJ said as he gazed into her eyes while they waited for the elevator.

I'd say it was well worth it.”

The elevator opened and they stepped in. As soon as the doors were closed, AJ grabbed her and kissed her deeply until they heard the ding and the doors opened on his floor. He led her by the hand into the apartment and kicked the door shut with his foot as he grabbed her again, smiling seductively at her as he took off her shirt while backing her up towards the bedroom.

I had a great time tonight.” she said as they stood next to the bed, staring at each other.

Me too. And I think it's about to get even better.” he whispered. He bent his head down and kissed her softly.

Emily pulled away and shoved him back on the bed.

What are you doing?” he asked.

I'm undressing for you.” she said, turning around and every so slowly unzipping her skirt, letting it fall slowly to the ground.

AJ laid back and got comfortable as he enjoyed the show in front of him. She stepped out of her skirt and ran her hands up the sides of her body, reaching her bra straps and slowly sliding them down and pulling her arms through them. It unhooked in the front and she slowly removed it and dropped it to the ground. He took a deep breath as he looked at her breasts, her nipples hard and tight. She slid her hands back down her sides and hooked her thumbs underneath the elastic of her underwear and slowly slid it down her legs.

Do you like what you see?” she asked as she stood back up, now completely naked.

I love what I see.” he said, his voice husky. “Come here.” he ordered, holding his hand out for her.

Emily walked over to the bed and gently climbed on top of him, kissing his neck as she slowly began to unbutton his shirt. AJ groaned softly and had to use all his self control to let Emily run the show instead of ripping off his own clothes and taking her right away. She pushed his shirt off his shoulders and he pulled his arms out of the sleeves leaving him in his tight, white t-shirt. She sat up and grinned at him as she undid his belt buckle and slowly undid his pants. As she pulled them down, she kissed his legs, forcing AJ to grip the sheets to keep from gripping her. She slid her hand inside his boxers and caressed him, totally unexpectedly to AJ. He let out a groan of frustration and Emily smiled, knowing exactly what she was doing to him. When he simply couldn't take it any longer, he sat up and flipped her on to her back.

So you're in the mood for some teasing, are you?” he whispered into her ear.

Emily nodded.

Good.” he said, sitting up and taking off his undershirt, leaving him only in his boxers. He began kissing her while his hands roughly fondled her breasts. Had it not felt so good, it probably would have hurt. He trailed one hand down her stomach and began lightly stroking up and down her inner thighs. Every so often he'd let his hand graze over her now very aroused core and keep right on moving past it. He moved his lips down to seize a nipple in his warm mouth, alternating between gentle licking and rougher nibbling and he inserted a finger into her, finding her to be incredibly wet for him. He swirled it around a few times and then removed it as he went back to running his hand over her skin. He repeated this routine several times until he knew he'd pushed her past her tolerance level.

Oh God, just fuck me already!” she begged.

Are you sure you want it?” he asked.

Yes.”

What will you do if I refuse?”

I think I might actually die.”

AJ laughed softly. “Well I certainly don't want that to happen.”

He took off his boxers with lightening speed and entered her unbelievably slowly. Emily gasped as she felt him fill her up and wrapped her legs tightly around his waist as he slowly began to thrust. Emily let him ride her, knowing bliss was on the way.

AJ fought hard to keep control and go slowly. Sweat had built up all over his body as he restrained himself, knowing the payout would be well worth the effort. As soon as he felt her nails digging into her back, he knew she was almost there. Emily had never imagined an orgasm from gentle, slow sex could feel so powerful as she felt her body explode beneath him. As soon as he felt her spasm he let himself loose and rode her hard and deep. He'd never seen her have such a long orgasm before as she was still moaning after his own release.

She kissed him as he lay beside her. “That....was unbelievable.” she said, her hand on her chest as she caught her breath, her body still quivering. “I guess there really is something to be said for foreplay, isn't there?”

AJ laughed. “That's the word on the street.”

I am absolutely exhausted.”

Me too.” he yawned, pulling her into his arms and spooning her. They were asleep within minutes and they were still wrapped up together when the woke up the next morning.




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"Realize" is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2008
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No part of this text may be copied or reprinted
without the author's permission.

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