Chapter 4

Despite Emily's protests, AJ got the guys to cover for him at their press event the next day so he could stay locked up with Emily. They made love several times during the day before the concert.

You'd better save some of that strength for the stage!” she said.

I'd much rather use it on you.” he said as he kissed her. “Come on! I still have ten minutes before I have to leave!” he pleaded.

Emily sighed. “Alright, if you insist I guess I'll have sex with you again.” she winked at him.

AJ tossed her back on the bed and quickly climbed on top of her suckling her nipples roughly as he thrust himself inside of her.

Oh God!” she moaned. “That feels good.” She arched her back and took him deeper.

That's it baby, take it all in!” he encouraged her, shuddering as he felt her begin to tighten up around him.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door. “AJ! Come on, we gotta go!” Brian said through the door.

Ignore him!” Emily pleaded as she was so near her release.

AJ knew they were about out of time so he had to finish quickly. He bit down on Emily's shoulder and sucked, eliciting a gasp from her mouth and causing her to come intensely as she tried not to scream out loud, not wanting Brian to hear them. AJ came as soon as he felt Emily spasm around him.

Brian knocked again. This time AJ responded.

Dude, give me a minute, would you? I'll be right out!” He dashed into the bathroom to quickly clean up and get dressed while Emily threw on a robe and cracked the door.

Hello Brian.” she said.

Oh...hey Emily!” he said, noticing she was wearing only a bath robe.

AJ will be right out.”

Ok. Thanks. Nice hickey by the way.” Brian grinned as he walked away.

Emily gasped and looked in the mirror. AJ had definitely marked her when he bit her.

He flew out of the bathroom and gave her a quick kiss.

See you there?” he asked.

Yep. Love you!” she said.

Love you too!” he smiled at her as he walked out the door.

The next day Emily had to fly back home and AJ had to leave for the next city. Neither one of them wanted to say goodbye as they held on to each other in his hotel room.

I don't want to go.” she sniffed.

I know, I don't want you to either but you need to go finish school! You didn't come this far to quit now, right?”


Ok then. You're going to be so busy with everything that the next two moths are going to fly by!”

I wish you could come to my graduation.”

I wish I could to. I'm so sorry I have to miss it. But I'll be home two days after that and then we can celebrate, ok?”

Emily nodded. AJ picked up their bags and led them out of the room to their waiting van to the airport.

AJ was right about one thing, she was really busy and hardly even had time to think about how much she missed him. They didn't get to talk much, he was in Europe for a month and the time change made it difficult to find a time they were both free. The second month they were in Canada and in theory they would have been able to talk but Emily was busy with finals and preparing for her board exam that even when she did talk to him she was still distracted with other things.

AJ was fighting hard not to be cross with her. He knew she was under a lot of pressure but there were some nights when he knew without a doubt that she wasn't even listening to him when they were talking on the phone because he'd stop telling his story and start talking about purple people eaters and she would just keep saying, “Uh-huh....uh-huh...that's good....”

They didn't talk at all the week she was taking her finals until she was all done.

She called him the minute she stepped out of the room from her very last final ever at nursing school.

Hey babe!” he exclaimed when he answered. “Is everything ok? You don't usually call this early!”

Everything is fabulous and do you know why?”


Because I'm DONE WITH SCHOOL!” she shouted.


Yes really! I literally just finished my last final!”

That's terrific! How did it go?”

I feel really good about all of them, actually. I think all that hard work just might have paid off!”

I'm so proud of you!” he said. “I wish I were there so I could pick you up and give you a big kiss!”

Mmm...well I can just pretend!”

So, three more days until graduation!” he said. “Just think of all those times you didn't think you'd make it, and you really did it!”

I know! You have no idea how giddy I feel right now! I'm so excited I think I might go home and start looking for a job!”

AJ laughed. “Most people wouldn't think of that as something they look forward to!”

I know! I'll get my intern placement in two weeks. I had to pick a specialty yesterday when we filled out all the paperwork.”

Oh yeah? What did you finally settle on?”

Well see first I thought I wanted to do labor and delivery but then I thought, you know, seeing it in school was scary enough especially since I myself may be going through it soon so then I thought maybe I really didn't want to do that. Then I thought maybe an ER nurse but then I decided it would be too stressful and depressing. Same with NICU. My advisor was pushing for something like family practice where the hours would be good for someone wanting to start a family since they aren't open nights and not all of them are open weekends so then I figured, why not be a pediatrics nurse? I know she thought it'd be better for me to work in a clinic but I really think I'd rather work at the hospital. At least that way I can work like, three twelve-hour shifts a week and that'd be all I'd need to work. I'd have four other days off.”

Wow! Huh. You know I always thought you were going to end up in the OR after all those cool stories you told me from school!”

Yeah, I thought so too but it just didn't seem right.”

Listen, I'd really like to talk more but we're about to go do a radio show. Can I call you later?”

Yeah, sure! I'm going out with some girls from school to party but not until later tonight.”

Alright, I love you. I'm proud of you!” he said.

Love you too. Hey behave on the radio!”

He laughed as he hung up the phone.

Emily woke up Saturday, her graduation day, feeling depressed instead of excited. This was a really special day for her and the only people that would be attending to cheer her on were Leighanne and Baylee. She tried calling AJ but his phone was off and went straight to voice mail. He was probably busy anyway. As the tour was coming to an end in another week, he seemed to have even more engagements.

Emily took a long shower and put on her new graduation dress and did her hair and makeup. She was ready just in time and grabbed her cap and gown as she dashed out to her car. The closer it got the more excited she began to feel. Even if her husband couldn't be there that didn't mean she shouldn't enjoy this moment. She had just completed nursing school, one of her biggest dreams! She needed to keep that in mind and be proud of herself!

She parked and walked over to where all the other graduates were meeting, finding her place in line, the excitement among the group catching as butterflies grew in her stomach. It was finally happening! She was moving forward with her life. She was married, she had a great house, she had found a career path and hopefully soon she'd even be starting a family of her own. Suddenly her past life seemed a million miles away and her new life seemed bright and shiny just like she'd always imagined it would be.

Before she knew it they had marched into the auditorium and commencement had began. She half-listened to all the boring speeches, just wanting to get to the good part: her diploma! By the time they began calling names she found herself glad she'd decided to take AJ's name. At least that way she was in the M's instead of the W's at the very end.

Finally, her moment had arrived!

Emily Jane McLean.” the man called. Emily was stunned when she heard more than one person cheer for her. She turned to look in the audience as she received her diploma and was absolutely blown away to see Leighanne and Baylee standing up and cheering right beside AJ and Brian. She felt tears welling up in her eyes at the site of him, clapping as hard as he could and absolutely beaming at her.

AJ was glad he'd managed to come. He was so proud of her, seeing her stand up there in her cap and gown. He wouldn't have missed it for the world. He knew it meant a lot to her for him to be there and while she never said much about it he knew she was upset he was going to miss it. So, he'd decided to charter a private jet and fly out early that morning. They didn't have a lot of time, he had to be back in Cleveland by 7 that night but it was completely worth it. When Brian heard he was making the trip, he insisted on coming along. Brian still felt incredibly guilty for the way he'd treated Emily when she quit working for them and he took every chance he could to make it up to her. Emily had long since forgiven him, it was Brian who wouldn't let himself off the hook.

When the ceremony ended, Emily raced up the aisle and flung herself into AJ's arms.

What are you doing here?”

There was no way I was going to miss this, it just took me some time to figure out how to make it work!” he said.

Emily stood on her tip toes and gave him a kiss.

I'm so glad you came!”

Me too.” he kissed her forehead. “I'm so damn proud of you! My wife's a nurse!”

Emily hugged Brian. “And you! What are you doing? Don't you guys have to be someplace?”

AJ looked at his watch. “Not for a few hours.”

Congratulations!” Brian kissed her cheek. “I knew you'd do it!”

Emily hugged Leighanne and then Baylee presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

Good job Emily!” he said.

AJ took everyone out for a very nice lunch to celebrate. Emily couldn't believe all the hoops he went through to get here.

You have no idea how much it means to me that you were here today.” she said softly.

I do have an idea, that's why I knew I had to come.” he said.

Thank you.”

You don't have to thank me. I love you!”

Hey Uncle AJ, are you gonna take Emily back to your house to play Nurse?” Baylee asked, rather loudly.

Every adult at the table choked.

Where to you hear that, Baylee?” AJ asked, trying as hard as he could not to laugh.

I heard Daddy telling Mommy.”

Emily bit back a smile as she looked at Brian and Leighanne who couldn't possibly look more humiliated.

Well Little Dude, I don't think we have time to go home today. We have to fly back to Cleveland after lunch. But maybe you could help me convince Emily to fly back with me!” he said, glancing over at Emily.

You know, I probably could do that!” Emily said, thinking if she had anything important over the next few days she needed to be around for.

Really?” AJ asked, surprised. He wasn't used to her having free time anymore, it had been so long since she had.

Yeah! I don't start my training for another week. I just have to run home to get some clothes.”

AJ looked at his watch. “If we left right now I bet we could make it.”

Emily grinned. “OK!”

AJ handed Brian his credit card. “Here, you pay the bill for me. I'll meet you at the airport.”

Alright. Don't be late!” he said after them.

As tempting as it was to play nurse when they got to their house, they both knew they truly didn't have enough time.

Wow. It feels weird to be here. I wasn't expecting to get to see my house today!” he said.

Bet it looks a lot nicer than a hotel room, doesn't it?” Emily said.

Yeah, especially my bed. Even with the dogs in it.” he laughed at the site of his two dogs napping on his side of the bed.

Emily threw some things into her suitcase and went into the bathroom to grab her toiletries.

Did I forget anything?” she asked.

You forgot your graduation hat.” he said, putting it into her bag.

Why do I need that?”

Because I want you to wear it tonight. That and nothing else.” he said with a devilish smile on his face.

Oh...ok!” Emily said, suddenly feeling flushed at the thought of being in AJ's arms again.

If you forgot anything else I'm sure we can pick up a new one later.” AJ said.

Ok. Let me run next door and ask their son if he'll take care of the dogs again. Do you have any cash for me to give him?”

AJ dug out his wallet and forked over his money. “Make it quick ok? We need to go!”

I will! Go put my stuff in the car.”

Emily went next door and spoke with them about taking care of the animals and her mail and she dashed back to the car.

Let's roll!” she said.

Chapter 5

Emily watched the show that night from backstage but what she was really thinking about was what she wanted to do with him once they were alone in his hotel room. During a quick intermission she gave him a deep, passionate kiss just before he went back out.

Damn woman! If I go out there all aroused the fans will have a field day!”

Not half the field day I'm going to have with you after the show!” she winked at him.

AJ groaned as he ran back to the stage trying to think of things like dead puppies and his mother to take his mind of Emily's field day.

Once they were locked in the hotel room, Emily sent AJ to take a shower while she got ready for him. When he came out of the steamy bathroom wearing nothing but a towel around the waist, he found her sitting in the chair completely naked except for her graduation cap.

Well, congratulations graduate!” he smiled.

Why thank you!” she said, standing up and walking over to him.

In one sudden movement, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her tightly against him as his lips came crashing down on hers. His tongue forced her lips apart as he searched her mouth and teased her tongue. His hands wandered down over her rear, giving it a gentle squeeze before he moved them upward. He played with her hair for awhile before slowly moving down and around to cup her breasts. Emily moaned in his mouth as he seized her nipple between his fingers and gave it a tug. His hand played down further until he reached her warmth and he let his fingers gently glide over it causing her to shudder and lean into him.

Damn!” he remarked as he took in how wet she was already. “Someone is definitely ready for commencement to begin.”

Yes, well it has been awhile since I last graduated.....”

AJ removed his towel and led them over to the chair and sat down in it. He pulled Emily down on his lap, straddling her legs around him and resumed kissing her.

Emily took the opportunity to run her hands all over his hard chest as she trailed kisses along his neck and nibbled on his ear. She heard him gasp as she nibbled and licked her way to the nape of his neck, his arms tightening around her and lifting her hips to place her on his shaft without actually entering her.

Let's play a game.” she suggested as she seductively moved her hips to rub her warmth on him.

Oh yeah? What kind of game did you have in mind?”

Let's see who can last the longest before taking it.” she said, giving his ear another nibble and swirling her hips.

AJ groaned. “You're on.” he said as he grabbed one of her breasts and placing it in his mouth as he roughly sucked on her nipple, his other hand mimicking the motions of his tongue on her other breast.

Emily moaned loudly, her desires increasing. She bent her head down and sought out his favorite spot on his neck and bit down hard on it before gently licking it. She moved around, running her tongue all over him as she rubbed her now very aroused and wet warmth along his hard shaft , daring him to take her. She teased him by placing herself just on his tip letting him really feel how ready for him she was.

Feel that? It's right there!” she whispered into his ear. “All you have to do is take it!”

AJ wasn't giving in. He was far more competitive than that. He moved his hips until he was rubbing right up against her clit. Emily gasped as her nails dug into his arm in pleasure. She moaned in his ear as she felt herself giving in to him. In the end, they weren't really sure who took who as it seemed they both caved in at the same time but the next thing she knew, AJ was deep inside of her and she began riding him.

AJ placed his hands on her hips and helped guide her while his mouth paid attention to her breasts that were now right in front of his face. He knew he didn't have much longer and he could sense that she was close herself. He took a hand and reached down between them to stroke her clit as she rode him until she came, riding him even harder through the waves of pleasure that took both of them to a pure state of bliss.

After a few minutes, Emily realized her legs were starting to cramp in in the position they were in.

AJ, I have a problem.” she said.

What's wrong?”

I'm stuck! I can't get up!”

AJ laughed and wrapped his arms around her waist, standing both of them up and steadying her on her feet. “Better?”

Yeah, thanks.” she said, giving him a kiss. She walked over and sprawled out on the bed, motioning for AJ to join her. He lay down next to her and she nestled up on her side against his shoulder.

Thank you so much for everything you did today. Seeing you there was about the last thing I expected!”

You don't have to thank me, Em. I wanted to be there for you. I'm proud of you, did you know that?”

Emily smiled. “You may have told me a time or two.”

I's just that you've been through a lot and I'm so glad to see you finally take charge of your life. And I'm proud that I get to be the one to stand next to you.”

Emily yawned. “I'm exhausted! It's been a long week.”

AJ kissed her temple. “I know baby. Why don't you get some sleep?”

Because I want to take full advantage of being in the same bed as you!”

AJ chuckled. “I promise, we're not done yet. Get some rest first, I'll wake you up in a few hours for some more graduation activities!” he winked.

Emily smiled sleepily and closed her eyes, falling asleep almost immediately.

The day after AJ and Emily got home it was time to get back into the swing of things. Emily was to find out her placement for her clinical training in two days and then she'd be starting as soon as possible. AJ had a meeting that very day with his own record company to talk about his solo album that he really wanted to finally get out there this year.

What are you doing?” he asked as he found her sitting in the office circling dates on a calendar.

Well, there are all days that I'll be ovulating this month.” she said. those are the days we'll be spending in bed together, right?”

Exactly! It'll be prime baby making time. Unfortunately, we shouldn't do it a whole lot outside of that. You need to conserve your um...juices.” she said.

AJ nodded. “Well with any luck it'll only take a few months!” he said. “Then we can do it whenever we want to, right?”

Emily laughed. “Yeah, I guess so.”

He kissed her on the head. “I gotta go. Wish me luck!”

Good luck!” she said.

By seven that night Emily was starting to worry. She hadn't heard from him all day. Meetings never lasted that long and if he'd stayed to work in the studio he would have called her. She'd already called him several times but his phone was off. Finally, around eight he walked in the door.

Where have you been?” she asked. “I've been worried. Did you know your phone is off?”

Yeah, I turned it off.” he said, sinking down on the couch.

What's wrong?” she asked, immediately noticing his depressed stature.

There isn't going to be an album.” he said.


They terminated my contract. They said they didn't like my stuff, it wouldn't be a hit and they weren't going to waste any more money on it.”

But they can't do that!” Emily said.

Actually, they can. It's pretty standard in the contracts. You have a certain amount of time and if they don't like what you've come up with they aren't required to keep you as an artist. That's just the way the business rolls.”

But your stuff is great!”

Apparently it's shit!” AJ said. “But thanks for trying.”

No, its' not shit! You know that isn't true. Those assholes are just idiots! You'll get another contract, an even better one.”

Why bother?”

Because it's what you want and you know you've got what it takes!”

I poured my fucking soul into that album Emily. I can't do any better than that!”

Who says it has to be better? Just because they didn't appreciate it doesn't mean no one else will.”

You don't get it, do you?” he snapped at her. “It's not as easy as that. If one company doesn't like you chances are none of the others will be willing to touch you. I'm done!” he said.

Emily was speechless. She supposed she didn't understand the business that well but certainly he'd be able to find another label!

Look, I just want to be left alone right now.” he said, getting up and walking outside to sit on the dark deck.

Emily sighed. She knew there wasn't anything she could say right now that would make him feel better but she hated that he didn't even want her to try.

A few hours later he was still out there.

Are you coming to bed?” she asked.

I'm not tired.” he muttered. “I'll be up later.”

We don't have to sleep, we could just be together...” she tried.

No thanks.” he said.

Emily knew it was serious. He was refusing sex!

He was no better the next day. He'd fallen asleep in front of the tv and he never left the couch the whole day except to pee and find something to eat. Emily had tried several times to talk to him and get him to get up but he refused.

Emily would you just fucking leave me alone already?” he finally yelled at her after she tried to get him to go for a walk with her.

Fine!” she said and went for a walk by herself. She was sure that by the time she came back he'd realize what he'd done and be waiting with an apology but he wasn't. In fact, he wasn't even there. She found a note on the counter.

Needed some air. Be back later, don't wait up.” he'd written on it.

Emily rolled her eyes. He was so damn dramatic sometimes. She got ready to go meet with her advisor to discuss her training program and decided not to even bother trying to call AJ. She knew he wouldn't answer.

Hi Emily, come on in!” Meredith, her advisor said as she got to her office.

I'm so excited!” Emily said as she sat down.

Meredith smiled. “I remember the feeling. Let me find your file here, give me a second...” Meredith said as she dug through a stack of papers. “Ah-ha! got a spot working at Glenview Pediatrics.” she said.

Emily's eyes widened. “I'm sorry, did you just say Glenview Pediatrics?”

Sure did. You'll be working mostly with the nurses but ultimately Dr. Brown will be your supervisor.”

Dr. Brown.” Emily repeated, not believing her ears.

Is that a problem?” Meredith asked.

Yeah..I mean no...I there any way I could switch to another clinic?”

Meredith shook her head. “There are very few clinics willing to participate in our training program. You've gotten in a great spot. If I were you I'd keep it. It'll look great on your resume. What's the problem?”

Umm...well it's more of a personal problem. I kind of used to date Dr. Brown.” Emily tried to explain.

Meredith looked stern. “Is this going to be a problem?”

No, we parted on friendly terms. It just might be a bit awkward.”

I'm sure it will be but I'm sure you'll both be professional enough to work that out.”

Emily nodded. AJ was not going to like this one bit, especially with the mood he'd been in lately.

Chapter 6

AJ drove around for a few hours. He could feel the temptations, the cravings, building up inside of him. After awhile he couldn't turn it off. He stumbled into a dark, smoky bar and sat down, taking a deep breath.

Was this really what he wanted to do? Was he really going to throw away all those years of sobriety? Betray Emily? It was just that he felt like such a failure. Sure he'd done so well with the group but they weren't going to be together for ever. It had been his dream for years to have his own album and for the last few years he'd been strung along with the record label and now he had nothing. How was he supposed to admit to his wife that he was as good as unemployed until the Backstreet Boys decided to make another album, if they ever did? He suddenly felt lost and aimless. What was he going to tell his kids? Daddy couldn't get a record deal so he stays home all the time while Mommy works? No way!

Give me a vodka, rocks.” he ordered.

The bartender poured his drink and AJ slammed it down. Feeling that familiar burn in the back of his throat he suddenly felt very nauseous. He'd rather tell his kids he didn't have a job than to tell him he was a no good drunk. He threw some money down and quickly left the bar. He called the AA hot-line and immediately went to the nearest meeting he could find.

AJ couldn't bare to go home and face Emily after his meeting. He knew he had to tell her. He'd promised his new sponsor that he would. Larry, his new sponsor, seemed like a really great guy but he sure meant business in setting AJ straight. First he reamed him over the coals for not finding someone in Atlanta and then again for not having been to a meeting in two years. Nevertheless he was still compassionate and understanding and made AJ promise to tell his wife the truth.

He sighed as he climbed out of the car. The light up in the bedroom was still on. He said a prayer and vowed to just go and get it over with. Emily was understanding and supportive of him above all else. She might not like what he had to tell her but she would be there. He knew that much. He just hated to disappoint her. Again.

She was sitting up in bed reading when he opened their door.

Hey.” he said.

Hi!” she said, surprised to see him. “I thought you'd be out later.”

Clearly she was not happy with him and he couldn't blame her after the way he'd spoken to her earlier.

AJ sat down on the side of the bed. Emily glared at him. He cleared his throat. “I'm really sorry for yelling at you. You were just trying to help and you certainly didn't deserve that.”

OK.” she continued to glare. As understanding as she could be, she was also damn stubborn, especially when she was good and mad like she was tonight.

Look, I know you're really pissed and you have a right to be but right now I need you to set that aside because I have something difficult I need to tell you.”

Emily sighed. “Ok. I need to tell you something too.”

AJ decided it would be just like ripping a band-aid off. Just do it fast and it'll be done.

These last few months have been really tough on me. Tough on his both. And lately I'd been kind of feeling the temptation to drink again. Then with my contract being voided it just got even worse.”

Have you been to a meeting?” she asked, her eyes full of worry.

AJ nodded.

Well that's good, right?”

Yeah. Listen, I went to my first meeting tonight because I ended up in a bar and I had a drink,” He was unable to look her in the eye.

You had a drink.” she repeated.

Yes.” he said.

Just one drink?”

Yes. Just the one, I swear. I went straight to a meeting and I got myself a new sponsor and I promised him I'd tell you the truth, and I have.” he said, finally looking her in the eye.

Emily was quiet for a moment, thinking carefully about what she said next.

Are you ok?” she asked.

I will be, I think.” he said. “There's another meeting in the morning we're going to.”

Emily nodded. He could tell she was worried he was going to spiral out of control.

I promise you, it was one drink. As soon as I drank it I felt sick with regret. This isn't what I want Emily. I'm not going to lose control.”

Ok.” Emily said. “I trust you.”

Good. Now what did you need to tell me?” he asked, happy to try and change the subject.

Oh, it's nothing really. It can wait.”

Emily, I had a drink. I'm not broken. Don't baby me, ok? I promise I'll be fine whatever it is.”

Emily really wasn't sure if that was going to be the case or not but she could tell that he needed her to trust him and that meant not keeping things from him she thought would be difficult for him to handle.

I got my intern placement today.”

Oh that's right. How did it go?”

Umm....well I guess good and bad. The good news is that I got a spot at one of the best clinics in town and it'll look really good on my resume.” she said.

And what's the bad news?” he asked, trying to find what could be wrong with that.

The bad news is that the spot is at Glenview Pediatrics.”

Ok that means nothing to me.” he said.

Emily sighed. “My supervisor is Dr. Randy Brown.”

It took AJ a second to make the connection. “Your supervisor is that doctor guy you were dating?”

Yes...” Emily said hesitantly.

Well change it!” he demanded.

I tried, I really did but there's nothing I can do! If I don't take this spot I'll lose a placement all together!”

Well too bad!” AJ said. “You're not working with that guy!”

AJ come on, you're being totally unreasonable!”

Oh I am? Why is it unreasonable that I don't want you going to work for your ex boyfriend?”

Because it was almost 3 years ago for one thing! We're married AJ! He doesn't mean anything, you do! Don't you trust me?”

Of course I do. I don't trust him! For all I know he requested you!”

He doesn't even know I ever went to nursing school! We haven't talked since before the wedding!”

Word gets around, I'm sure.” AJ said. “Look, do what you have to do but no wife of mine is going to work for that guy. Got it?”

Emily gave him a scathing look. “No wife of yours? What like you own me now? AJ you're way over-reacting here! You really want me to throw all this away because you're jealous of Randy?”

Oh so now we're calling him Randy? He's not Dr. Brown? Hmm...not very professional of you.”

Emily rolled her eyes. “I knew I shouldn't have told you. I knew you wouldn't be able to handle it. I just didn't expect this out of you.”

Oh what, you think now I'm gonna go out and drink? Because then it would all be my fault? Right! I told you I'm not doing that again. I just don't want you around him.”

Get out!” Emily ordered.

No! It's my house!” AJ said.

Oh really? I thought it was ours!”

Well I'm still not leaving!” he said.

Fine. I will.” Emily yelled, grabbing her pillow and storming into the guest room where she slammed and locked the door behind her.

AJ had no idea he was capable of being so jealous but on the surface he knew he was right. Deep down inside, he felt like a failure. He failed at his album and now he was insecure and the thought of her going to work for her very successful ex boyfriend made him feel even worse. He was afraid Emily would start to think he was a loser compared to this guy. But he was so hot-headed and worked up that he couldn't think past his jealousy and anger to recognize all that was down inside of him.

Emily got no sleep that night. She was feeling unbelievably conflicted. The majority of her was deeply hurt and angry at the way he was acting. The other part of her was worried sick about him. He'd had a drink. He was behaving very irrationally. None of which were good signs as far as his mental health went. She didn't know him the last time he'd spiraled out of control but she wondered if it had started off similar to this. She was worried about her marriage. If he did lose control again, would they be able to make it through? No way could she start a family now, with the way things were going between them. Somewhere along the lines their communication had broken down. Now, instead of discussing difficult topics they were constantly fighting about them. She had no reason not to trust him about his drinking. If he said it was just one drink, it was just one drink. If he said he meant never to do it again, she had to believe him. If she could trust this of him, why couldn't he trust her about Randy? Where was all of that even coming from? Randy hadn't even been brought up since before they'd been married! Sure, she thought about him every now and then but certainly not in the romantic sense.

Around seven in the morning, she heard AJ get up, take a shower and leave. She assumed he was going to his meeting. Emily sighed and decided she might as well get out of bed, it wasn't like she was going to sleep anyway. She smiled when she walked into the bedroom and saw the dogs asleep on her side of the bed. Guapo was curled up on her pillow. After a long shower she made a large pot of coffee and went to sit out on the deck before the summer sun got too warm for her liking. As much as she hated to admit it, she loved the mornings. They were so peaceful. She leaned back in her chair and tried to come up with a solution to all their problems. The trouble was, there were too many problems right now to try and work through. Her working with Randy, AJ being jealous. AJ demanding she quit was a huge problem, she hated that he really expected her to just walk away from this and she hated even more that he actually thought he had the right to demand it of her. AJ had shut down and he had stopped letting her in. Emily didn't want to admit it but she was beginning to think that her marriage was in serious trouble.

Five cups of coffee later, AJ came home. He hadn't told Larry about their fight, he'd only said that they'd been having some problems lately and he wondered if they weren't more serious than he'd originally thought. Larry told him straight up that whatever the problems were needed to be dealt with first hand. What AJ didn't need right now was more stress to add to his temptations.

He saw Emily sitting out on the deck, staring off into space. He knew what was on her mind. He scratched his head and decided they needed to talk. He poured himself a cup of coffee and walked out to join her.

You look like shit.” he said, sitting next to her.

Wonder who's fault that is?” she retorted.

I think we need to talk.” he said.

Emily nodded. “I've been thinking the same thing only part of me wonders if we should even bother.”

What do you mean?

What happened to us? We used to be able to handle anything together! Where did we break down?”

AJ was quiet for a moment. “I don't know. But I really want to try and fix this.”

I do too. So I've been thinking....”

Yeah?” he asked, encouraging her to continue.

I think we should see a counselor.” she spat out.

You want to go to marriage counseling?”

Yeah. Look as much as I'd like to just let this go and try to move on, we've been doing that a lot and it isn't working. We aren't communicating anymore and I don't know why or what to do. I don't think we can do this on our own.”

AJ hated counseling, but he'd do it for Emily. “Ok.” he agreed. “I'll do whatever it takes.”

Thank you.” she smiled at him. “I'll do some research and see if we can get an appointment for the end of the week.....before I start work.” she added, cautiously.

She saw his jaw flex but he didn't say anything. They both knew she wasn't going to quit, AJ was going to have to find a way to deal with it. He simply nodded and got up to light a cigarette. did the meeting go?”

It was ok. Same old stuff.”

Are you feeling better about it?”

AJ shrugged. “I guess so.”

Emily sensed he didn't want to discuss it. Once again, he was shutting her out.

Emily stood up. “I'm going to the grocery store, do you want anything?”

He shook his head. “I don't think so.”

She waited a moment before she turned and went.

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