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Both of them listened to the tires turn on the pavement beneath them. Kevin cuddled closer not wanting to talk, he wanted to sort his thoughts and try and gain some perspective. A.J. wouldn’t listen to any of them one and one, now they had decided that a group confrontation after the next show would be the next step. Logically, Kevin tried to put everything in its proper place. They had all gone through a wild phase, and on occasion, sometimes still did. The problem was that A.J. wasn’t taking any time off from the constant partying. He would do a show, party all night, crawl in at the crack of dawn. Then he would sleep all day and the process would start all over again that evening.
Kevin’s wake up call came a few hours later as a small finger poked him in the shoulder. “Mister Carlos said you need to get up now.” Rolling over, he blinked twice at the small blonde figure standing on his side of the bed.
“Mister Carlos is a big chicken,” Kevin yawned as he casually bumped Bron with his arm. He was stuck, his habit of sleeping in the raw had finally caught up with him.
Bron opened her eyes and smiled, “Morning baby.”
“Morning,” Kevin and Bounce chimed in unison. Bron shook her head, then she chuckled, Kevin had a grip on the sheets, reaching down she brushed his bare hip. His head turned to the side as he gave her the ‘Are you nuts?’ look.
“Carlos said you have to get up now!” Kaylin frowned since neither of them had moved.
“I’m coming. Go out there and wait,” Kevin’s usual morning attitude kicking in.
Kaylin shook her head no. “Carlos said I’m to stay here until you get up.”
Carlos’s laugh from the other side of the door gave him away.
Kevin winked at Bounce while directing his voice towards Carlos; “Mister Carlos is going to get fired if he ever does this to me again! He knows old habits die hard.”
Bounce took off when Carlos called for her.
Slipping on his clothes, he left Bron to dress with some privacy. “Hey Carlos, my man, cute, real cute.” Kevin began tossing stuff in a duffel bag.
“Hey if you can, get in unnoticed and get some more sleep,” Carlos smirked.
“Yeah right, but thank you,” Bron waddled by both of them. Kevin beamed watching her walk; Carlos slapped him for his rudeness much to Kaylin’s delight.
“Let’s go,” Kevin grabbed some bags as well as Carlos and Keith did the same. Sneaking into the hotel, they settled in for a week long haul in Boston.
Kevin met with all the guys except A.J. before the concert Friday night. It was a unanimous vote. Kevin took the time and the kindness to include Mary and Denise. He didn’t want Denise to feel that all of the guys were against A.J., they weren’t. They all understood that it would have to be done after the concert tonight. They had a full schedule in the afternoon, some radio and press, then the show. They had the same schedule for tomorrow too. Sunday they had off but they were going to throw out the first ball for a game at Fenway park.
Performing Friday night seemed difficult for the guys. Everyone but A.J. seemed a little nervous and keyed up. A.J. missed every cue, yet again. After the show, they were going to confront A.J., all of them, face to face, in the privacy of their hotel. A decision had been made that people were going to go out first and catch A.J. off guard. Some of them headed for a bar called Jillian’s. Once they left Jillian’s they would meet up with Brian and Howie and then confront A.J.
Reaching the hotel A.J. ditched them. He managed to get away from Mary and Denise too.
The group disbanded in the early hours of the morning on Saturday. “Forget it, we’ll do it tomorrow,” Kevin rubbed his eyes. “Even if we do find him, he wouldn’t be sober enough tonight to remember a damn thing we said.” The door slammed shut, loudly.
The next day, A.J. naturally missed all of the promo work setting Kevin off once again.
Kevin swore and Nick slammed his fist into the doorframe of A.J.’s door that Kevin had just slammed shut. “Oww, oww! Fuck!!!!” Nick was holding his hand tightly to his chest now. Tears threatening to burst out, too late they poured.
“Nick let me see your hand,” Mary tried to grab onto his arm as they stood in the hallway.
“No! Leave it alone, it hurts.” Nick jerked away.
Mary saw a slight distortion in Nick’s wrist, it could be nothing but it could be something. “Nick you need an x-ray.”
“Forget it we’re gonna to talk to A.J. today,” Nick yanked his hand back.
But, as the day wore on Nick’s hand became worse. Nick ended up at Tuft’s and they did an x-ray. He came back with a temporary cast to keep the bone aligned. A simple hairline fracture that in most cases wouldn’t be worth the trouble but Nick played drums so they put a cast on it to be safe.
The Boys were going to try to talk to A.J. again tonight after their concert. “Two days in row he has ditched us,” Kevin shut the suite door. The amount of bad feelings and irritation with A.J. was growing by leaps and bounds. Silently the hotel room doors shut one by one. A.J. had succeeded in slipping his security and the fellas again.
Sadness seemed to be the mood on Sunday as everyone readied themselves for another challenging day of finding A.J. Excuses had been made at every turn, they no longer could afford to give lousy excuses. Management was asking questions, fans were noticing, not to mention what A.J. was doing to himself. Denise and Mary had given up hope of ever trying to help. Howie had made the comment late into the night, “Why are we paying counselors?”
Bron had ordered breakfast and had asked Suzie and Nick to join them. It had been a stressful few days for all of them.
It didn’t take too long for Nick and Suzie to join them.
“You still here?” Kevin began to rib Suzie. They were all desperate to try to break the tension.
“I love you too Kevin,” Suzie sat down in an attempt to enjoy breakfast. Nick wandered in and dropped in a chair.
“Did I suddenly adopt you too or something?” Kevin began to badger Nick as well.
Nick stuck his tongue out at Kevin as he flexed his fingers in his cast.
Kaylin was trying to not to let the interaction make her laugh, but Uncle Nick was funny. Nobody had laughed since they had gotten there.
Kevin redirected his gaze to Suzie. “I know you work for Bron and all but I didn’t think I would see so much of you,” his eyes were laughing so she didn’t take offense.
Suzie leaned closer, “If I’d have known that her husband was so anal, I wouldn’t have agreed to take the job.”
“Cool it,” Bron broke up the verbal sparing match.
A.J. and Mary quietly entered the suite. All heads and eyes turned towards them. Bron stood up and waved them in. “Come on in,” she pulled two chairs out.
A.J. tripped over a non-existent object as he made his way to the table.
“Fuck,” Kevin muttered under his breath.
Bron inhaled quickly and then her brain began to buzz. “Kaylin, take your plate and go watch cartoons.”
“I’m not allowed to eat in the living room.”
“Today you are,” as Kevin grabbed her plate, picking up on Bron’s cue.
“Yes,” Kaylin whizzed by him snagging her plate as she passed by him.
Sitting back down, Kevin didn’t speak. He didn’t know what to say, A.J. was either drunk or stoned or both. The fact that he would even appear in front of a kid in this shape was inappropriate, especially Kaylin of all kids.
“What’s up with you guys?” A.J. sat down next to Bron. When he spoke the amount of alcohol on his breath would have started a flame had a spark been present.
The smell made Bron’s stomach lurch. Trying to calm her queasiness, she looked at Kevin.
“A.J. we are suppose to leave in an hour for the park, you’ve missed most of our stuff so far. Go shower and change, you smell and you’re making Bron sick.” Kevin never picked up his head as he spoke. He felt for A.J. but now Bone’s drinking and drugs were infringing on his family.
“Well excuse me bud, your ass don’t always smell so damn beautiful either.” A.J. was not taking the comment well.
“Yeah, but he doesn’t smell like a damn bottle of Jack this early in the morning,” Nick fidgeted in his seat. His fingers wiggled in the cast as he held his arm to his chest.
“Okay I’ll go shower,” A.J. watched Bron bolt from the table. “Man I must be bad or you really knocked her ass up good.”
Nick cursed at A.J.’s rude comment.
Kaylin heard Nick and Kevin making noises; she turned to see why like any other curious kid.
“Hey kiddo, Uncle A.J. is here!” he smiled and waved.
“Uncle A.J. is leaving,” Kevin stood up, grabbed A.J.’s arm and ushered him quickly to the door. Standing at the door, Kevin hissed at him. “You stay away from her when you are in this kind of shape.”
“Fuck you Train,” A.J. said as he wandered down the hall.
“No, Fuck you! Go.” Watching him leave, Kevin grabbed the phone as he whispered to Bron. He had sent Bron to go find Howie and Brian.
Bron left quickly after telling Bounce to stay in her place and not move. It wasn’t too difficult for her to find Howie, he was on his way to their suite. Brian proved to be a problem. She knocked on A.J.’s door thinking maybe he was already inside. He didn’t answer but the door was unlocked. What surprised her was A.J. standing in front of her, half-undressed. He had no shirt on and his pants were half undone.
“They hate me,” he walked around the room.
“No they don’t. They love you, they don’t like what you are doing to yourself.” Bron dropped her head.
“None of them have a right, they have all done this.” A.J. took a drag off his cigarette.
“I wouldn’t know, but I know that they aren’t doing it to the limit, right now, like you are.”
Bron had no room to talk, she may be older but he knew her background and her lifestyle. Now she was standing before him being so self-righteous and the ‘Mommy’ of the family; that had just married the ‘Daddy’ of the Backstreet family. A.J. shook his head, “Come on Bron, do you think you were Kevin’s first road fuck? The only thing that saved your ass is that he knocked you up. I doubt if you two would still be married if you weren’t pregnant. It would have been a quickie divorce and he would be back with Kris.”
Bron tried in vain to shake it off, she had often wondered the same thing herself. The notes that Lenny had been sending reiterated the same thoughts. As she stood motionless, old feelings and insecurities flooded her mind. For several minutes they stood and stared at each other, not sure what to do or say next. Shrugging her shoulders, she walked out. “You’re probably right A.J.”
Bron was startled when her husband ran past her with Nick. The two large men seem to fill the hall. She was shoved up against the wall as Brian and Howie ran behind them. Glancing up to her room, she saw Carlos watching the commotion behind her..
The sound of Kevin shouting, ‘Get the fuck out here Bone!’ was followed by the noise of wood splintering and a loud crash. A quick glance behind her told her that something had happened. Lingering in the hallway wouldn’t get her an answer. Turning on her heel, she headed right back to A.J.’s room.
A.J.’s suite door had been ripped off the hinges, the screws pulled from the frame. Kevin now stood in the middle of the room. A.J. was being held at the throat by Kevin’s right arm. Kevin’s left arm cocked back ready to lay him out. “I hate you, I really hate you right now! You can screw with us all you want but you don’t screw with any of the families!”
“Kevin stop!” Bron yelled. Before she could move, Backstreet security swarmed into the suite.
The two men were yanked away from each other.
A.J. had been scared sober.
Carlos had Kevin in an old wrestling hold. A.J. didn’t prove to be much of a challenge for Marcus. Kevin surged forward; Carlos called for Billy to help.
“You guys can’t do this to each other,” Marcus held a limp A.J.
A.J.’s face turned towards every person in the room. A tear slipped down his face, “Do all of you hate me?” One by one, heads dropped, no they didn’t hate A.J., they loved him, but they wanted him to stop and deal with his depression. A.J. had turned to drugs and alcohol to alter his mental state. He wasn’t happy but coke and booze changed those feeling for him, or at least numbed him so he didn’t have to feel them.
Kevin whispered to Carlos, Carlos let go of him. A.J. looked at Kevin more afraid than he had ever been of him in his entire life.
Kevin’s eyes went to his wife who was obviously upset by what A.J. had said to her. Kevin wouldn’t have known had Brian not overheard the conversation and came immediately to him with it. “Bron, go down to our room and wait for me.”
Bron looked upset, “But I...”
“NOW! You are not part of this!” Kevin had never taken his eyes off A.J. as he heard her leave the suite.
A.J. thought that the one person who could redeem him in Kevin’s eyes had just been ordered to leave. He said the wrong thing, he really didn’t mean it but everyone was always on his back. It’s not like they hadn’t partied or over indulged. Becoming defensive about his choices had become a way of life now.
“You have some choices to make and we’re going to sit down right now and figure something out.” Kevin walked to a chair in the suite and waited for everyone to join them. A.J.’s intervention had begun.
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