One Dark Night
Standard Disclaimer: This story is a complete work of fiction. The author does not know the members of *Nsync or any other celebrities who may just happen to appear in the following fictitious account, and certainly does not have the slightest clue as to their sexual orientation. Quite frankly, the author does not care, although one does always love to speculate! Again, the scenes that follow are taken solely from the author's overactive imagination, are most definitely not true, and do not make any implications about the sexuality of the persons named. On another note, if reading such stories that depict relationships between men is illegal in your area, you are under the age of 18, or viewing such stories is against any beliefs you may have, stop reading and go do something else. Last, but certainly not least, if you are looking for a story with tons of steamy sex scenes, stop reading. You won't find a lot of that here either. Now with that said, enjoy the show!!
"Remember that meeting Johnny called for today?"
"Yeah. What about it?"
"It looks like you and I are going to be the only ones there."
"Lance called me a while ago. Joey went with Will to Montreal because
Will's grandmother isn't doing well," Josh began, "and
for some reason, Justin went too. Lance seems to think that Justin is going
to cause trouble, so he went as well."
"Justin went? Why?" Chris asked.
"Don't know, but Lance is all in a tizzy over it."
"Think we ought to go too?"
"I suppose we could, but what about the meeting?" Josh asked.
"Screw Johnny," Chris said. "The way he's been acting,
I think this would be deserved, don't you?"
"I guess," Josh replied hesitantly. "Do you think Will is
going to be okay with all of us there?"
"Well, he's already got Joey, Justin, and Lance," Chris
said. "What difference is the two of us going to make?"
"You've got a point," Josh answered. "I'll see
if I can get us tickets on the same flight Lance is on, and you call Jerrica
and tell her what's going on if she doesn't already know."
"Okay then. See you later," Chris said before hanging up. He too
began to wonder why Justin felt the need to go to Canada. Granted, they were
all close friends of mine, and they knew that my grandmother had some health
problems, but it wasn't really necessary for Justin to be there, especially
since Joey was already there. The more he thought about it, the more it made
his head hurt. Giving up, he started dialing my house number. He hoped that
Jerrica would be awake and in a good mood, because he wasn't entirely
sure how he was going to explain this.
Chapter Fifteen: Il Y A Toujours Une Crise (There Is Always a Crisis)
It was not one of my better trips. I was already exhausted, for one, and things,
as it always seems is the norm in life, didn't go the way I wanted them to.
Thankfully, Joey and I managed to get to Montréal without rolling a
flight, but by the end my nerves were a bit rattled. In Los Angeles, we arrived
at the airport with plenty of time. We checked in and were put on the standby
list. The agent at the ticket counter smiled warmly at me; something I was
not accustomed to seeing at four-thirty in the morning. I asked her how the
flight looked, and she said that while it was fairly full, she didn't foresee
any trouble getting on the plane, especially since we were now traveling on
an emergency priority due to my grandmother's condition.
When our flight was called, I waited patiently for the gate agent to call
us. The flight was indeed quite full. I mentally started counting the number
of people boarding, bearing in mind the capacity of the aircraft. As more and
more people boarded, I started to get a little nervous. I knew, as a last resort,
that I could always run back to the counter and purchase a standby ticket for
the non-stop Air Canada flight at quarter to ten, but then that meant he and
I wouldn't be able to travel together unless he purchased a one-way ticket
at a cost of twelve hundred dollars—something I would not, no, could
not, ask him to do. It turned out that wouldn't be necessary, much
to my immediate relief, but that was just the beginning. The gate agent finally
called us and, much to my dismay, there were only two seats left on the plane:
one in first, and one in coach. I didn't like the idea of sitting apart from
Joey, but I decided that he was a big boy after all, and what was the worst
that could happen on an airplane? The agent ran our boarding passes and handed
them both to me. She had sat me in first and Joey in coach. Since, in my mind,
that wasn't an option, I grabbed Joey and hustled him toward the aircraft door.
After having our boarding passes run, I handed Joey my first class boarding
pass and proceeded to the far back of the plane. Taking my spot in 48B, the
middle seat in the last row of the 757 we were on, I tried to settle myself
in for what was probably going to be a very uncomfortable flight.
Joey was having issues of his own. He still wasn't a big fan of takeoffs,
and while he seemed to handle them better when I was sitting next to him, that
was no longer the case. He was still uncertain about the whole standby deal,
and was worried that something might happen to cause him to get kicked off
the plane without my knowledge. All I had time to tell him was to be polite
and not ask for anything unessential from the flight attendants. When flying
as an employee, the goal is to try to be as invisible as possible.
It seemed invisible was not an option that morning. We were just about ready
to leave when news of a small commotion in the front part of the aircraft made
its way back to 48B. My heart leapt into my throat and began to beat rapidly. Please
don't be Joey. Please don't be Joey, I thought as panic started to
set in. It seemed that, whatever the fuss was, it was short-lived. I assumed
that if Joey was involved, he would have had someone come back and find me.
Eventually, I felt the plane push back and I calmed down some. Given that I
had three hours of alone time, save the fact that I had a person on either
side of me, I opened up my notebook and began to write down some notes for
my next book, The Cat and the Missing Star. Regardless of what happened
in the rest of my life, Tony still wanted updates on the continued progress
of each new book, and as of yet, I hadn't had much to tell him. That reminds
me, I realized suddenly, I need to have Kimber contact Tony. My guess
is that he'll want some part of this whole mess.
I continued to jot down notes and wrote a few sentences here and there. I
had a rough idea in my head about what was going to happen, but trying to formulate
those thoughts into coherent sentences was something entirely different. After
two hours of work, my brain had pretty much ceased all but vital functions,
so I stuck my notebook back into the shoulder bag that I typically carried
all of my book notes in. I lay my head back and closed my eyes, hoping that
I might possibly drift off for a few, well-deserved minutes of rest. Like I
could ever get that lucky. The woman on the window kept shifting in her seat,
so she would elbow me fairly often. The man on the aisle would start to snore
obnoxiously every time he drifted off. I just sat there, twiddled my thumbs,
and stared at my watch as I counted down the remaining minutes of the flight.
Upon arrival in Kansas City, since I was in the last row, I had to wait for
everyone else to get off the plane before I could finally try to catch up with
Joey. As soon as I was able to deplane with my bag, I darted up the jetbridge
into the gate area and scanned wildly for Joey, but couldn't find him anywhere.
I was about to become frantic when I felt someone tapping me on the shoulder,
causing me to nearly jump out of my skin. I whirled around to find Joey standing
"There you are," I said in relief. "I was worried something
might have happened to you."
"You sped right past me on the plane," Joey said. "I was a
bit surprised you didn't see me sitting there."
"I was kind of on a mission to find you," I said, slightly embarrassed. "I
assumed you had already deplaned, so my focus was getting off the plane and
coming after you."
"Well, I guess I found you instead," Joey said with a laugh.
I smiled, and then looked at him questioningly. "Any idea what happened
when we were leaving Los Angeles? There seemed to be some commotion at the
front of the plane. You weren't involved in that, were you?"
It was Joey's turn to look embarrassed. "Sort of, but it wasn't my fault!" he
said as we started to walk away from the gate.
I held up my hand to stop him while I checked the monitor for the gate information. "Gate
60," I said with a sigh.
"And we're where?" Joey asked.
"Gate 31. Our gate is actually right across from us," I said, pointing
out the window, "but it's all the way around the circle. We had better
start walking. We've only got forty-five minutes." We started to walk
at a brisk pace and had gone about three gates when I said, "Anyway, you
"About leaving Los Angeles?"
"Oh, right. Well, I took my seat, and the girl sitting in front of me
recognized me and started flipping out. From what I gathered, she and her family
were going on vacation to somewhere in Florida. Anyway," he said, shaking
his head, "I think she was about fourteen, and kept telling me how she
loved me, and could she have my autograph, and so on. I asked her if she had
a pen, because I didn't have one, and when she realized she didn't, she burst
into tears. Then, the stewardess..."
"Flight attendant," I corrected.
"Right. Flight attendant," Joey said. "Anyway, the flight attendant
comes over and asks what's going on. The girl is in, like, hysterics, and everyone
is staring at us. All I could think was, 'they're going to kick me off this
plane.' So, I quickly explained to her what happened, as best I could, and
she pulled out a pen and a pad of paper from her pocket. I gave the girl her
autograph, which caused her to quiet down. Then, and I'm not sure why, the
stewardess—I mean, flight attendant—asked me for my boarding pass.
I pulled it out, and that was when I realized you had given me yours." He
gave me an odd look, and I just glanced down at the floor sheepishly.
"Sorry. I just figured that if one of us had to sit in the cattle section,
it might as well be me. Besides, it costs less for me to fly in first than
for you," I said, not thinking.
Joey stopped and turned to face me. "How much is this costing you for
me to travel?"
"Joe, don't worry about it. I'm not."
"About a hundred and forty dollars."
"For all of it?"
Joey seemed to mull this over in his head before he said, "I'm going
to pay you back for this."
"Joe, like I said, don't worry about it." Then, in a lower voice,
I said, "As far as I'm concerned, what's mine is yours." Seeing that
Joey still seemed to have some issues, I said, "I guess, if it will make
you feel better, you can give me some money for this, but I'm not expecting
it nor asking for it. I don't want to fight about money."
Joey laughed. "You know, in my last relationship, that's all we did—fight
about money. That time, though, it was me who footed the bill for everything
while she went on spending sprees."
I could just picture it in my head, and I felt bad that Joey had been taken
advantage of. "I don't think that will be an issue with me," I said
with a smile. "I admit I'm a bit frugal at times, but I've been that way
my whole life. Don't get me wrong. I know how to be extravagant and can blow
some dough as well as the rest of the world." Then, as an afterthought,
I said, "Especially if it's for someone I care about." Sensing the
atmosphere was starting to get too mushy for my taste, and in public too, I
said quickly, "So what did the flight attendant want with your boarding
"I guess she was curious about who I was, to generate such a fuss like
that. So she looked at my boarding pass, and then she got this odd look on
her face. She squatted down next to me, pointed at the code '4N' on it, and
said quietly, 'I know who you are, but I'm curious about something. Why do
you have someone else's boarding pass, especially one who is traveling standby?'
I told her that you were my friend and an employee, that you had gone to sit
in the back, and that we were going to visit your grandmother in the hospital.
I fudged a little and said that she was like a parent to me, and that since
I had trouble getting a ticket for the flight, you offered to let me go standby
with you, and that you thought I should sit up front instead of in coach. She
thought it was sweet and then wouldn't leave me alone the whole flight!"
"I bet I know why she wouldn't leave you alone," I said with a sly
grin, "and it's not because you're famous."
"Huh?" Joey said with a puzzled look.
"She probably thought you were cute," I said slyly, and then continued
in a very hushed tone, "and who could blame her?"
Joey turned bright red and lightly whacked me in the arm. "Stop that!" he
said through gritted teeth, but the grin on his face couldn't be ignored.
"No!" I exclaimed. "That would be no fun."
We fell silent as we continued to walk around the long circle to our gate
for the flight to Montréal, and as we approached the gate, I heard the
gate agent call my name and Joey's. It took about five seconds before the shrieking
started. Apparently, there was a girls hockey team that was on its way to Montréal
to play in some tournament, and the mention of Joey's name set them off into
a frenzy. We hadn't quite reached the gate area yet, but I wasn't taking any
Looking wildly around me, I grabbed Joey's arm, spun on my heel, and took
off for the nearest men's restroom. We had barely gone ten steps when I heard
a young girl's voice shout, "There he is!"
"Ay, Dios mio!," I exclaimed, my eyes widening as I watched the
surge of girls heading for us. "Run!"
I pushed Joey in front of me as we dashed for the men's room. We barely made
it, and I could hear the groans from the group of girls outside. Joey ran into
a stall and locked it; not a bad idea, considering that some of those girls
might not take the taboo of entering the opposite gender's restroom as a deterrent.
We waited for a few minutes before I heard Joey whisper, "Do you think
"I have no idea, but I guess I had better go check. Besides, I'm guessing
the gate agent was calling us to give us our seats, and the flight should be
just about ready to board."
I wandered out of the restroom and was immediately accosted by a young girl,
who couldn't have been more than thirteen. "Where is he? Where is he?"
I gave her a puzzled look and said, "Where is who, and why are you grabbing
"Joey Fatone! I saw you go in there with him. Where is he? Oh my God,
he is soooo cute. I wonder if he has a girlfriend?"
Giving her a hard stare, I said, "Miss, I have no idea what you are talking
about. I ran into the bathroom because I saw a stampeding horde of people who
were once young ladies heading in my direction, and I felt it best to not get
trampled. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go check in for my flight." The
girl glared at me as I walked away, and I shook my head as I thought about
my first encounter with an obsessed group of fans. That was definitely going
to take some getting used to.
I walked up to the desk and gave her my name. A guilty look immediately appeared
on her face as she said, "I'm sorry about that. I didn't recognize the
name at first, and didn't realize that would happen. Please tell Mr. Fatone
that I apologize."
I gave her a smile. "I'm sure he knows this stuff happens, and that it
was a mistake. Besides, it was my silly idea to have him fly standby. I guess
we've just gotten really lucky so far."
"Why is he flying standby?" she asked.
I explained the story to her, using Joey's slightly embellished version instead
of the complete truth. When I was done, I asked, "Now, how do we get him
on the plane without inciting a riot?"
She seemed to muse over this for a moment, and then said, "That group,
if I recall correctly, is in the back of the plane. I'll board them first,
and then you all should be able to board without too much of a problem. I stuck
you in the bulkhead, so you can get on last, if you'd like, and also get off
first when you reach Montreal."
"That's really nice of you," I said, a bit impressed by her efforts.
"I just felt kind of bad about what happened. It was an honest mistake,
I assure you." Then, looking at her watch, she said, "Now, if you'll
excuse me, I have some cattle to herd." I giggled at her little joke;
there were times when the boarding of an aircraft felt a little like rounding
I headed back to the restroom to find Joey, who had ventured out of the stall. "The
flight is boarding, and they are putting those girls on first. Thank goodness
this is a 757 and they are way in the back. Since we're sitting in the bulkhead
of first class, we can hopefully be most of the way through customs in Montréal
before they get there."
Joey still seemed a bit shaken and nervous, but he nonetheless followed me
out of the bathroom to the gate, where, indeed, all of the girls had boarded
as well as many other passengers. I handed the gate agent our boarding passes
and we made out way down the jetbridge. Stowing my bag in the overhead bin,
I had Joey sit on the window while I took the aisle. The flight attendant came
over, and I'm assuming he had spoken with the gate agent because he asked Joey
if he would like something to drink. "Would you like some champagne?" he
"Sure," Joey said automatically. "That might be good."
"And you sir?" he asked, looking at me.
"Diet Coke, please," I replied, trying to settle into my seat.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"It's okay," I assured him. "I don't drink, so Diet Coke is
good for me."
"All right," the flight attendant said in a surprised tone. Considering
that all drinks in first class are free, I guess he was a little taken aback
that someone would turn it down.
As soon as he was out of earshot, Joey turned to me and said, "You don't
I shook my head. "No. Don't care for it, and besides, it often makes
people act silly, foolish, or stupid. I have enough trouble not doing that
sober, let alone drunk. Besides, I don't like the taste of the alcohol itself,
and while I'm sure it is an acquired taste, it's one I never bothered with.
It doesn't bother me if other people drink," I said, sensing Joey's feeling
of awkwardness, "as long as they do it reasonably and responsibly." I
stopped for a second and said, "My God, that almost sounded like a lecture."
"I know what you meant, and don't worry. This will be my only one."
I didn't get any further into that conversation because the flight attendant
came back with Joey's drink. Unless I was mistaken, he was subtly flirting
with Joey. All the alarms on my gaydar were going off loudly, and were it not
for the fact that he had to move out of the way to let the last few passengers
board, I might have gotten really annoyed with him.
The aircraft door was still open, and recalling my earlier thoughts from the
last flight, I pulled out my cell phone and called Kimber. I only reached her
voice mail, so I gave her Tony Sanderson's number in Boston and told her it
might be a good idea to get in contact with him at some point. I hung up and
turned off my phone as we got ready to depart.
Other than the takeoff, which still made Joey jittery, the flight itself was
uneventful. There was some bad turbulence as we crossed over Lake Michigan
which freaked Joey out a little, but he made it through that as well. We arrived
into Montréal just before four o'clock that afternoon, and once the
aircraft door was open, we hightailed it out of there and made our way to the
Unlike in the United States, where the passengers are separated into two groups—citizens
and everyone else—it wasn't that way in Canada. Therefore, Joey and I
queued together in the same line and waited for our turn to see the immigration
agent. Joey and I had both filled out our customs declarations on the plane,
so while we were waiting, I dug into the front pocket of my bag and pulled
out my Canadian passport. Joey, who had just finished digging out his American
passport, noticed mine and said, "Wait a second. I thought you were an
"I am. I'm also Canadian. I'm, uh, Americanadian," I said, chuckling
at my own joke.
"How is that possible?" Joey asked.
"I was born in California, which makes me an American citizen by virtue
of where I was born. I'm a Canadian citizen because my mother is a Canadian
citizen. Therefore, I hold citizenship in both countries and carry a passport
for each one. Each country requires I present their passport upon arrival,
so I have to have both when I travel between the States and Canada."
"Oh, I understand now," Joey said. In his mind, he was adding this
latest piece to the puzzle that I was to him. He seemed to learn something
new about me every day, and the next piece always seemed to come as a rather
At that point, it was Joey's turn to go up to the desk. On the plane, I had
written out some information for him that he would likely be asked: length
of stay, reason for trip, where he was staying, and so forth. It's always a
gamble when one goes through immigration on whether or not the authorities
will decide to cause you problems that day. They seemed to be having a longer
than normal discussion, which caused me to start worrying that there might
be a problem. I saw Joey hand a piece of paper to the immigration official,
who then handed him his passport and customs form and directed him to the customs
hall. I found out later that the immigration official happened to be an *Nsync
fan and had asked for Joey's autograph. What are the odds?
I breezed through customs much more quickly than Joey did, considering I was
holding a Canadian passport. I hurried to catch up with Joey, and then we exited
the area into the main area of the terminal. We had barely gone five steps
when I heard a voice calling my name.
"Will! Joey! Over here!" someone to my right hissed. I turned and
was surprised to see, of all people, Jerrica waving at me.
"What the hell?" I said aloud as I tapped Joey's arm. "Joey,
any idea why Jerrica's here?"
"Not a clue," Joey replied, "but I'm guessing we're about to
We walked over to Jerrica, who quickly grabbed our arms and said, "It's
about time you two got here."
"Jerrica, not that I don't always enjoy your company," I began, "but
what the heck are you doing here?"
"I'll tell you in the car. Come on. Chris and Josh are waiting."
"They're here too?" Joey asked as we headed for the door.
"Yeah," Jerrica replied. "We were about to go get a rental
car when we realized that your flight had landed. Besides, we figured it would
be better if you drove, considering the fact that you know your way around
this city and all the signs are in French. Knowing my luck, I would forget
what "Arrêt" means and run a stop sign."
"Fine. Whatever. Let's go," I said hastily. The longer we stood
there, the longer it took for me to get some answers.
Meanwhile, Justin and Lance were just arriving into Montréal on their
flight from Orlando. As the flight had been sold out, Josh and Chris had to
take an earlier Air Canada flight, which was just as well. Chris had gotten
Jerrica a ticket on an Air Canada flight from Baltimore that arrived about
the same time as theirs, and they met up inside the customs hall. Justin, who
had no clue that Lance was coming, was quite surprised to see him on the plane.
They were assigned aisle seats across from each other, and when Lance sat down,
Justin immediately began to interrogate him.
"What are you doing here?" Justin hissed.
"Thought I'd take a break and go visit a friend," Lance said wryly.
"Don't you think Will has enough to deal with besides you?" Justin
"I would think the same question could be applied to you," Lance
replied. "I don't know exactly what you're up to, but you're acting crazy."
"I am not acting crazy. Will is my friend and he needs me."
Leaning across the aisle, Lance whispered, "What? Joey's not enough?"
Justin looked away for a moment, and then turned to Lance and said, "It's
Lance stared into Justin's eyes and confirmed his suspicions. Justin was falling
for me in a bad way. "Justin, don't do this," Lance pleaded. "It's
only going to cause problems."
Justin stared hard at Lance and said pointedly, "I have no idea what
you are getting at. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to try to catch a nap." He
then shut his eyes and ignored all attempts by Lance to talk to him.
Lance was frustrated. He knew what Justin was up to, but couldn't figure out
how it had happened. As far as he knew, Justin had never given any suggestion
he was interested in guys, and furthermore, he was interested in a guy, namely
me, who was completely unavailable. To further complicate matters, I was dating
one of his best friends, which made matters even worse. After repeated attempts
of trying to talk to Justin, Lance gave up and settled himself in for the flight.
"And that's all we know," Josh said as I navigated the car onto
"So all Justin told you was that he was coming here?" I asked,
not sure I truly understood what was going on.
"Right. Gave no real explanation why; just said he was coming and that
was it," Josh said. "Or, at least that's what Lance told
me he said."
I shook my head as I contemplated everything, only taking a moment to mumble
a bad word in French at the guy who cut me off as I tried to get onto Highway
13. "How am I going to explain all of this?" I wondered aloud,
keeping a watchful eye for my exit to Highway 40. It had been a while since
I had been back to Montréal to visit my grandmother, and a lot had changed
over the years.
"How are you going to explain what?" Chris asked.
"Why all of you are here," I replied. "Jerrica, I can explain.
She's practically a member of this family anyway, so her being here isn't
that unusual. Joey, I can explain, although I don't know if I was quite
ready to have this conversation with my parents so soon, but c'est la
vie. Then there are the rest of you. How do I explain why you, Josh, Justin,
and Lance are here?"
"Once you tell them about Joey, you can tell them that the rest of the
guys are a part of your harem," Jerrica said, giggling.
"Jerrica!" I yelled. "Ça ne m'aide pas maintenant!"
"Sorry! It was just the first thing I thought of," she said weakly,
noting that her joke hadn't gone over with anyone else in the car.
"What did he say?" Chris hissed at Jerrica.
"That I wasn't helping," Jerrica said, rolling her eyes. "Good
grief. Lighten up a little people. Your mom and Kate are not going to care.
You know that," she said to me.
"They're not going to care that seven people have
mysteriously dropped into the house when they were only expecting one?" I
said with a laugh. "I thought you knew my mother better than that by
now. She's not big on surprises." I fell silent for a moment before
a thought occurred to me. "When are Justin and Lance arriving at the
"I think their flight was about thirty minutes behind yours," Chris
"Why didn't you say something?" I exclaimed. "We could
have waited for them!"
"If Justin can decide that he is going to come up here without asking
you first, then he can figure out what to do when he gets here," Chris
said firmly. "Besides, Lance is with him, poor guy. They'll make
do. If Justin is smart, he'll call you and ask where to go."
"Well, at least he has the name of the hospital. I wonder if I told
him which campus it was?"
"How many are there?" Jerrica asked.
"Five, but Montréal General is the main campus. If they ask for
directions, hopefully they'll get sent there," I said.
We rode for a while in silence until Josh finally asked, "Will, where
are we going?"
The scenery had started to change from urban to rural as we headed west out
of the city. "My grandmother's house," I replied. "We
might as well ditch all of this stuff, and to be quite honest, I'm not
quite sure if I'm ready to deal with my family just yet."
"Aren't they expecting you to go to the hospital?" Joey
"Yeah, but it's going to have to wait. Jerrica, do me a favor
and call my mother's cell phone," I said as I handed it back to
her. "Tell her we're going to the house and that we'll be
"And how do you want me to explain to her why I'm here?" she
"I'll leave that to your imagination," I said, "and
please don't say anything that's likely to get me killed later,
"Would I do that?" she asked innocently.
"Yes!" chimed Joey, Josh, and Chris.
"Traitors," she muttered as she paged through the entries in my
phone book. Finding the number she wanted, she dialed the number, and after
a few moments, the line answered.
"Allô, Robért-James? Où es-tu?" my mother
"Anne-Marie? It's not Rob. It's Jerrica, and we're
in Montréal. We're heading out to the house to drop some things
"Oh, Jerrica!" my mother exclaimed. "How nice to hear from
you. You came with him, did you? I'm a little surprised, but that's
all right. We have plenty of space. I'm guessing you went down to Baltimore
for a visit?"
"Yeah," Jerrica said, "and then he got your letter and phone
call. I told him I was coming along for moral support, whether he liked it
My mother laughed. "He's lucky to have a friend like you," she
said, "whether or not he's willing to admit it."
"I know," Jerrica said. "I'm one of a kind."
"One of what kind is the question," I said from the front seat.
"Shut up you," Jerrica said. "Oh, no! Not you Anne-Marie!
Your brat of a son is picking on me."
"Tell him I said to be nice, and that he's in trouble for not
calling me first before deciding to go to the house. I would have preferred
he come directly to the hospital, but I'm guessing you're probably
already too far away to turn around at this point."
"I have no idea where we are, but I think we're out of the city," Jerrica
said, glancing out the window.
"You're more than halfway there," said my mother. "Tell
Robért-James to call me as soon as you get to the house. The door is
unlocked, but he knows where the spare key is. I need to go. Au revoir."
"Au revoir," Jerrica replied before hanging up the phone. Handing
the phone back to me, she said, "Anne-Marie says you're in trouble
for not coming to the hospital, to call her as soon as we get to the house,
and to stop picking on a perfect angel like me."
"I highly doubt she said that," I said, glaring at her in the
rearview mirror. "And if she thinks I'm in trouble now, just wait."
Lance and Justin had to wait a long time to get through the now busy customs
hall, but eventually they made their way out and went to the rental car company's
booth in silence. Neither had said nary a word to each other the entire time,
yet the two kept exchanging furtive glances at one another. When they arrived
at the car rental booth, Justin was about to tell Lance to get his own car,
but then he decided that two heads were probably better than one, especially
since neither of them understood a lick of French, and whoever was doing the
driving would need the other to help navigate.
After acquiring directions from the car rental agent, the two set off for
the hospital. It didn't take them long, and after a minor misdirection,
they reached the hospital. Parking the car, they went inside and headed for
the information desk.
"Hi. We're looking for Mrs. Williamson's room," Justin
said to the nurse working the front desk.
The nurse cocked her head to one side and said, "Je ne comprends pas.
Je ne parle pas anglais."
Lance and Justin looked at each other with blank looks. "I don't
think she understands us," Lance whispered.
"It appears what we have here is a failure to communicate," Justin
said. Turning back to the nurse, he said slowly, "Does anyone here speak
"Un moment, s'il vous plait," the nurse replied before going
back into the office. A moment later, she returned with a young gentleman in
tow, speaking quickly and pointing at the two young men.
The gentleman came over and said in a thick accent, "Hello. My name
is Dr. Charles Jeansonne. Can I help you?"
"Uh, hi. You said your name was Dr. Johnson?" Justin asked.
"Close enough," Dr. Jeansonne replied. "What can I do for
"We're friends of Mrs. Williamson's grandson, and we were
looking for her room."
"Mrs. Williamson? Do you know what she is here for?"
Justin's face went blank. "I have no idea. I know she's
been here for a few days. Like I said, her grandson is a good friend of ours,
and he was quite upset."
"I'm sorry sir, but this is a large hospital and it will be very
difficult to find her without more information. I wish I could be of more help." Before
either Lance or Justin could say anything further, the doctor turned around
and walked away.
"Great. Now what do we do?" Justin asked.
"Well, we have two options. We either sit and wait for Will to find
us, or you call him," Lance suggested.
"I'm not calling him," Justin said adamantly.
"Then I guess we sit," Lance said with a sigh.
The two found a couple of seats in the lobby and sat down. Lance cupped his
head in his hands, wondering what possessed him to follow Justin like this.
Here he was in another country—in an area where he didn't speak
the language—with one of his best friends who had to be completely out
of his mind. Furthermore, he knew that Johnny was going to be pissed at them
for skipping the meeting. They had only been in Québec for a little
over an hour and a half, and already things were a mess. Lance decided he would
give it an hour, and if they hadn't figured anything out by then, he
was going to call me, regardless of what Justin thought.
We had turned off of Highway 40 and proceeded down a couple of two-lane roads.
As we entered the village of Vaudreuil-Sur-Le-Lac, I said, "I hope everyone
thought to bring a jacket. It might be May, but there is almost always a stiff
breeze off the lake." Glancing at Joey, I said, "Don't worry.
You can use mine. I usually run around without one most of the time anyway."
"Cute little town," Josh said as we drove through. "Is this
where she lives?"
"No, she lives out on L'Île-Cadieux. We'll be there
in about five minutes or so."
We drove across the short bridge onto the island, and eventually turned down
the drive to my grandmother's house. It had been built in the 1700s and
had been in her family for generations. Maybe that's where I discovered
my affinity for old houses in the middle of nowhere. It was a large, rambling
house—much larger than mine—and was situated a few hundred yards
from Lac des Deux-Montagnes, or the Lake of the Two Mountains.
"It's only been half an hour since we left the airport, and it
feels like we're in the middle of nowhere," Josh said.
"No kidding," I said, "but the house is almost right under
the flight path for Dorval airport, so that's a bit of a reminder that
Montréal isn't far."
We got out of the car and were immediately hit by a blast of cold wind. I
could see Josh and Chris start to shiver a little; Jerrica was prepared, as
she had been here once before, and it didn't seem to bother Joey much
at all. I was used to cold weather, having lived in Michigan for so many years.
"Dang it's cold out here!" Josh exclaimed.
"I did warn you," I said. "It's worse on this side
of the island, which gets the brunt of it. Come on, let's go inside."
We ran up to the house and let ourselves inside. It was still just as I remembered,
as it had been a couple of years since I had last been up to visit. It was
a mix of modern and antique; it was quite up to date in modern style and appliances
while retaining much of its Old World charm. It had four bedrooms and two bathrooms,
the second one having been installed four years ago as an attempt to raise
the value of the property. Since my grandmother was staying at the hospital,
I presumed—in this instance correctly—that Mom and Kate would be
staying in her room. Sure enough, I found their bags sitting at the end of
the bed. Upstairs were the other three bedrooms, which were ready to accommodate
guests at a moment's notice.
"So, where should we stow our stuff?" Jerrica asked.
I did the math in my head and realized that one of the rooms was going to
have to have three people. "Good question. There are three rooms and
seven of us. Either someone is going to have to sleep three to a room or someone
is going to have to sleep on the couch."
"I'll take the couch," Jerrica offered. "It's
just for one night, and that way no one will have to sleep on the floor."
"Great. In that case, we'll take our stuff upstairs," I
said. "Josh, do you want a hand with yours?"
"If you don't mind," Josh replied. "I'm moving
around a lot better now, but it wouldn't be a bad idea."
"Okay," I said. I grabbed his bag along with mine and raced up
the narrow steps.
Behind me, I heard Joey say, "I could have taken one of them."
"Don't bother," Jerrica said. "He's always going
to try to do it himself, so unless he asks, and he probably won't, the
only way he's going to let you help is if you force him."
She was right, of course. I was so used to doing things myself that I never
bothered to ask anyone else for assistance. It never occurred to me that Joey
might take it personally. Oops.
Lance was getting restless. It had been almost an hour and he had been sitting
there, twiddling his thumbs while watching Justin stare at the ceiling. He
debated about what he was going to do when his stomach rumbled. Jumping out
of his chair, he said, "I'm going to see if I can find something
to eat. I'll be back in a bit."
"Whatever," Justin mumbled.
Lance wandered around the hospital until he found a directory which, thankfully,
was in both English and French. He took the elevator to the fourth floor and
picked up a sandwich in the cafeteria along with a cup of coffee. He sat down
at an empty table next to an attractive young, blonde lady who appeared to
be in her late twenties or early thirties. He took off the plastic wrap that
encased the sandwich and took a bite, chewing methodically, followed by a sip
of coffee. Neither was very good, but it was definitely better than nothing.
He had been sitting there for about five minutes when the woman said to him, "You
After hearing so many people in the past hour passing by babbling in French,
to hear someone speaking English surprised him. Turning to face her, Lance
said, "Yeah, I guess."
The woman smiled brightly at him, her blue eyes sparkling. "I'm
sorry if I startled you, but you looked like you might need someone to talk
For the first time all day, a smile crossed Lance's face. "That's
okay. It was just a little startling to hear someone say something I understood
"I know what you mean," the woman said. "I have a very basic
grasp on the language, but I'm far from fluent. My partner and her son
both speak it, so I kind of rely on them to help me out when I have no clue
what's going on." She looked away briefly for a moment, and then
continued. "Like these past two days. Anne's mother hasn't
been doing well, and no one seems to know what's wrong with her. Every
time the doctor comes in, the two of them chatter back and forth, and I only
catch, like, every fifth word. After he leaves, she seems so drained by the
whole thing, I hate to ask her about it. When I do, she just says 'They
don't know' and leaves it at that."
There was something about this conversation that struck a chord with Lance—something
that seemed vaguely familiar. He knew the chances were slim at best, but he
decided to give it a shot. If he was right... "By the way, my name
is Lance. Lance Bass," he said, extending his hand out to her.
"Oh! Nice to meet you Lance. My name is Kathryn Ashford, but everyone
calls me Kate." The two shook hands, and then Kate said, "So, Lance,
who are you visiting here?"
"My friend Justin and I are visiting another friend's grandmother," he
said. "His mother seemed to be quite distressed about it, so he was supposed
to be on his way here. He told Justin about it, and Justin thought it would
be a good idea if we came along for moral support. The only problem is, he's
not here, and we have no idea how to find his grandmother's room." So
this woman's name is Kate! I wonder if this is Will's mom's
partner? Lance wondered.
Kate beamed at Lance. "This guy is lucky to have friends like you. He
didn't come with you?"
Lance shook his head. "No. We came from Florida, and he was in California
at the time. Will told Justin he was leaving around six-thirty, and for some
reason when I called the airline I was under the impression that his flight
was supposed to arrive before ours, but when we got here, I didn't have
time to check and see if his flight arrived."
"I wonder if your friend Will and Anne's son were on the same
flight," Kate speculated. "He was coming from California too, I
think, although Anne talked to Robért-James earlier, and he went out
to the house instead of coming here first."
Lance was right! This was the Kate! What are the odds of
this happening? he thought happily. "Actually, Kate, they're
the same person. Well, at least I know he's here somewhere."
A look of confusion crossed Kate's face. "They are?"
"Yes!" Lance exclaimed. "Didn't he tell you about
changing his name and all that?"
Kate's eyes shifted back and forth for a moment before she said, "Oh,
right. I remember now. He told us he was changing his name after he got some
nasty letters from Allison." Kate looked at her watch and, noting the
time, said, "Listen, Lance, it was great talking to you, but I should
probably go. I expect I will see you again once Robért-James gets here.
If you see him before I do, Mireille is in room D9-114. If they only went to
the house to drop stuff off, then it should be about forty minutes or so before
they get here."
"Thanks Kate," said Lance. "I'll see you later." He
watched as Kate dashed off, and he relaxed in his seat. Mystery solved, Lance
thought, but I wonder why she ran away so quickly?
I ran into the hospital with my entourage, for lack of a better word, in tow.
I checked with the information desk and proceeded up to the ninth floor. Kate
had called a little earlier to inform me that my friend Lance was already there,
which probably meant that Justin was with him. Kate didn't ask me why
they were there, and I didn't ask how the two had had found each other.
Mostly, I was just concerned with how I was going to explain everything and
not get yelled at.
I had gotten off the elevator and was about halfway down the hall when I was
suddenly pulled into a huge hug by someone from behind. "Es-tu arrivé," my
mother said from behind me.
I turned around and returned the hug. "Yeah, I'm here," I
said, trying to gauge my mother's emotional state. She was all over the
place—far from the usual norm—so I decided I had better be careful
with what I said, lest I upset her.
"Why did you go out to the house instead of coming here directly?" Mom
asked, switching from French to English. "You know she's not well!"
"Je sais, maman," I said. "I know. I just needed a minute
to get myself together before coming down here. I figured going out to the
house and dropping the stuff off was sufficient. It's not that far."
"I wish you would have told me. Thank goodness Jerrica called, or else
I would have been frantic. Where is she, anyway?"
"I'm right here," Jerrica said from behind her.
"Oh, ma petite Jerrica," Mom cooed. "It is so good of you
"No problem," Jerrica said. "Mireille is like my own grandmother.
I would have wanted to be here anyway."
Behind Jerrica, Chris coughed, causing my mother's attention to shift
away from Jerrica and on to the three young men behind her. "And who
are these gentlemen?" she asked, looking back at me.
"Mom, these are some friends of mine. This is Chris Kirkpatrick, Josh
Chasez, and, uh, Joey Fatone," I said, pointing at each in turn. "Guys,
this is my mother, Anne-Marie Williamson."
"It is nice to meet you," Mom said, walking over to shake Chris' hand. "Please,
call me Anne."
As she moved over to shake Josh's hand, Jerrica pulled Chris aside and
whispered in his ear, "I bet you five dollars she figures out Joey is
Will's boyfriend before he ever says a word to her."
Chris shot her an odd look. "How do you figure that?" he asked.
"She's empathic," Jerrica replied. "They both are.
At first I found it a little creepy, but you get used to it, I suppose."
"You know, that suddenly makes a lot of things make sense," Chris
said as he stared at me. "I always thought it was weird how I knew he
was in the room before I ever saw him."
"You get used to that too," Jerrica said with a grin.
"So why didn't he say anything?" Chris asked.
"What? And have people think he's more of a freak than he already
is? The only way he'd tell you was if you confronted him on it, and I
wouldn't suggest it." She paused for a moment, and then said, "So,
is that a bet?"
Chris mulled it over in his head and said, "Sure, why not?"
She glanced over Chris' shoulder at my mother, who had moved on to Joey.
Joey was smiling, but it seemed, to her, to be a bit forced. She's
gonna nail him, she thought smugly.
The two shook hands, and as they did, the smile on Mom's face started
to fade. Like Jerrica, I was watching this meeting with great interest. I prayed
that my mother would like Joey, because I was going to have to tell her that
night, whether I liked it or not. As I watched her face fall, I knew something
was up. Don't let her have figured it out yet! I screamed in my
head. Please don't let her have figured it out!
My mother slowly dropped Joey's hand and stared hard at him, which was
making Joey even more nervous than he had been to start with. This hardly went
unnoticed by Mom, who quickly sensed his nervousness before she came in contact
with him. She also noticed his eyes tended to shift between herself and me.
After a moment or two, she smiled brightly and pulled Joey into a big hug.
Whispering into his ear, she said, "Welcome to the family, Joey. Take
care of my little boy." Before he could react, she broke the embrace,
turned to me, and said, "Your grandmother is waiting for you. Why don't
you, Jerrica, and Joey go in to see her? She's a bit temperamental right
now, so hopefully an unfamiliar face in the room will keep her calm."
Mom then grabbed my arm and nearly dragged me down the hallway. The moment
she touched me, I knew she had figured it out. "So, what do you think
of the guys?" I asked.
"They seem really nice. Your other friends, Justin and Lance, seem nice
too." She glanced around her, and then, in a low voice, said, "I
really like Joey. I think he'll be really good for you. We do need to
talk later about this, though." As she watched my shoulders sink, she
chuckled lightly and said, "Don't worry. It's nothing bad.
Besides, did you honestly think I wouldn't figure it out? You should
give me more credit than that. Like I said, we'll talk about this later,
just the four of us."
"Four of us?" I queried.
"You, me, Joey, and Kate. You didn't think I would leave her out
of this discussion, did you?"
"No. I was just hoping you would say Kate and not Grandmère," I
"There are many appropriate conversations to have with your grandmother," Mom
said lightly, "but this is not one of them. That, and it's none
of her business anyway what you do with your life and who you fall in love
with. If you decide to tell her, that's your business, but she won't
hear it from me, I promise. I've already fought this battle with her
many times over the years; I hope she has learned something in that time and
won't treat you the way she treated me."
She leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "Thanks Mom," I
said, kissing her on the cheek in return. She went off to find Kate, leaving
me alone with Joey and Jerrica, who had only been a few steps behind. Jerrica
was sort of guiding Joey, who seemed to be in a complete daze. "Is he
all right?" I asked.
"I think so," Jerrica replied, shrugging her shoulders.
"How did she know?" Joey mumbled. "How did she know?"
"I suppose I should sit down with him and have a little talk," I
said, indicating a nearby bench.
We made our way over to the bench, but never made it that far, as we were
intercepted by Justin and Lance. "There you all are," Justin said
as he gave me a hug. "We thought you got lost."
"Hi Justin. Hi Lance," I said, giving Lance a quick, friendly
hug. "Please don't think me rude, but do you mind if Joe and I
have a moment to ourselves?"
"Oh, sure," Lance replied. "Come on Justin, Jerrica. Let's
go." He then grabbed Justin's arm and pulled him away from Joey
and me over to where the other three guys were standing. Jerrica, true to fashion,
just shrugged her shoulders and followed.
I sat Joey down and took his hand in mine. "Joey, the first thing you
have to understand is that there are some aspects of myself and my life I like
to keep buried. Of course, if I was really smart, I wouldn't have told
Jerrica half the things she knows, but it's a bit late for that, I suppose," I
said with a slight chuckle, but Joey's eyes never left mine. "My
mother is empathic, and to a degree, I guess I am too. She can read other people's
feelings and emotions. She sensed you were nervous, and considering you kept
looking at me the entire time, she figured it out. Don't worry Joe. She
likes you, and she thinks you'll be good for me. Don't ask me how
she figures that, but I'm inclined to agree with her."
This was a lot of stuff for Joey to take. He always knew there was something
special about me, and he knew that I had this knack for sensing his mood, but
this was a little unreal. "Is she a mind reader like you are?" Joey
I tried very hard not to laugh, but I wasn't very successful. "Joey,
I can't read your mind any better than I can read my own, which isn't
saying much, I assure you. There's no science to it, and, to be honest,
it's a gift we all possess. More often than not, it's referred
to as the human 'sixth sense.' Some of us," I said, pointing
in my mother's direction, "are much better at using it than others.
As for me, I tend to find it to be more of a burden than anything else. Not
only can I sense what other people are feeling, but I oftentimes end up feeling
what they do as well, and a lot of the time it's not by choice. I have
almost no control over it, and it really gets quite frustrating when I start
crying for no good reason!" I said as I began to tear up. "See?
Like now. I'm crying and I have no idea why!"
Joey pulled me into a hug and held me until my tears started to subside. There
was a happy feeling deep inside of Joey, and I did what I could to latch onto
that to calm me down. After a minute or so, Joey released me and said, "Do
you feel better now?"
I nodded my head. "Yeah. I should have known a hospital would probably
cause this to happen. At least if it happens again, you know why." I
sniffled a couple of times and took a deep breath. "Joe, most of the
time, I just get lucky, and a lot of times I'm wrong. I'm sorry
I didn't tell you sooner, but I was afraid it might freak you out."
"Why should it?" Joey asked. "If everyone is to some degree,
then it shouldn't bother anyone, and it certainly doesn't bother
me." He gave me a warm smile, and then said, "So if you can receive
other people's emotions, can you send yours out as well? The reason I
ask is that, from time to time, I get these brief flashes of, emotion, I guess,
when you're around. Like the time when we were watching movies and I
was lying with my head on your leg. Every so often, I would fell unexplainably
happy. It wouldn't last for very long, and sometimes it would go away
as soon as it came. I'm guessing that was you?"
I shook my head. "I don't know. I guess it's a possibility.
Chris said something similar about always knowing when I was nearby, but I
didn't understand what he meant. Like I said, it's not deliberate.
Either time, I guess it happened without me ever knowing it. I just keep getting
weirder and weirder as the days go by."
"You're not weird. You're perfect," Joey said lightly, "and
I wouldn't trade you like this for anything. It's just another
thing that makes you special."
"Oy, is it getting mushy in here or what?" I joked. "Seriously,
I appreciate the compliment. Now, let's grab Jerrica and go say hello
to my grandmother. I'm going to warn you though—this could get
"You make her sound like a nasty person," Joey said as he stood
"She's not a nasty person, per se," I said as I too stood
up, "but she's highly opinionated, and nobody else's opinion
matters but hers as far as she is concerned. She can say some pretty mean
things, and considering she's been cooped up here in the hospital for
the past few days, I would expect her to be in rare form tonight." I
wandered over to Jerrica who was in the middle of getting a kiss on the cheek
from Chris. Shaking my head, I glanced over at Joey and, with a grin, said, "Okay,
break it up. We've got places to go, people to see, things to do, et
cetera, et cetera."
"Bastard," Jerrica muttered, glaring at me.
"Takes one to know one, doesn't it dear?" I said playfully.
Before she could respond, I said, "Now get your rear into gear so we
can get this over with!"
I spun on my heel and headed in the direction of my grandmother's room.
Behind me, Jerrica sighed and gave Chris an apologetic look. "The brat
calls. I'll be back in a bit, and don't forget. Five bucks!" Grabbing
Joey's elbow, the two followed behind me at a slower pace. "If
I were you," she said, "I would try to say as little as possible.
Grandmère isn't like the two of them, but she's quite sharp
nonetheless. She's always been suspicious of him and the fact that he's
never had a relationship outside of Allison. She's petrified that he'll
turn out to be what he is: gay. Don't give her any reason to suspect
there is something going on between the two of you unless Will says something
first." She paused for a moment, and then said, "You know, there
is still something really weird about calling him that, but at least I'm
"And you're doing a fine job. I'm sure he appreciates it," Joey
"The only problem is, I have to remember which name goes with which
group of people. It just gets more and more confusing by the day," she
said with a sigh.
They finally reached my grandmother's room, and I was already standing
at the door tapping my foot impatiently. "Okay," I said, "if
we're lucky, we'll be in and out in five minutes." I opened
the door and called out, "Bonjour, Grandmère! C'est moi,
"Ah, James. Entrez!" my grandmother called back.
"James?" I heard Joey inquire behind me.
"Don't...ask," I said forcefully out of the corner
of my mouth. Putting on a fake smile, I walked all the way into the room and
over to my grandmother, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Grandmère,
it's so good to see you. How are you feeling?"
"How do you think?" Grandmère replied. "I've
been in this stupid bed for days. I'm ready to go home."
"I know," I said, "and as soon as the doctor thinks you
are okay to leave, you will go home."
Grandmère smiled lightly at me and then turned her attention to the
other two people in the room. "Who's that?" she asked.
"Grandmère, you remember my friend Jerrica, right?"
"Mireille, it's good to see you again," Jerrica said, coming
over to the side of the bed and giving her a light hug.
"I wasn't talking about you, Jerrica dear, although it is good to see
you too, and you can call me Grandmère if you like. I don't mind," Grandmère
said with a smile. "I was talking about this young man who is hiding
over in the corner."
"Uh, hi Mrs. Williamson," Joey said nervously, stepping forward
a few steps. "My name is Joey, and I'm a friend of your grandson's."
"Hello, uh, Joey, is it?" she asked. When Joey nodded, she said, "It's
nice to meet you. Why are you here?"
Joey's throat went dry while he tried to quickly think of something.
There was something about the woman's steel grey eyes that seemed to
bore right through him. "Well, when, uh, James," Joey
said, the unfamiliar name having difficulty rolling off his tongue, "heard
that you weren't doing well, he seemed rather upset by it, so Jerrica
and I offered to come with him for support."
Grandmère seemed to buy this and smiled at me. "Oh, were you
worried about me?"
"Yes, Grandmère. You're the only grandmother I have, and
I'd hate to lose you."
"Well, you're not going to lose me any time soon," she said
adamantly, "but while we're on the topic of losing things..." She
turned and stared hard at Joey. "Young man," she said, "I'm
sure you are a nice fellow, but spiky hair, a beard, an earring, and is that
a tattoo?" Joey turned red with embarrassment. Things that had seemed
so innocuous until now were suddenly a problem. "My boy, you are going
to get nowhere looking like that, and I don't think it is a good idea
for you to be hanging around my grandson. Isn't that right James?" When
she received no response from me, she turned to face me and said, "Isn't
Like Joey, my mouth too had gone dry. I was trying very hard to control my
temper, and I was starting to fight a losing battle. We had hardly been in
the room two minutes, and she was already ragging on Joey and trying to dictate
my life, again! "Grandmère," I said slowly, "I think
Joey likes the way he looks, and I have no problem with it. How he looks should
not be used to judge his character."
"You know, your grandfather was a nice, clean-cut boy, and it's
the nice, clean-cut boys who get good jobs and have nice families. Isn't
that what you want? Do you even have a girlfriend?" I immediately shook
my head no, and then chastised myself inside for doing so. I should have nodded
and lied. That's what I should have done. "Well, why don't
you and Jerrica get together? You've been around each other for so long!"
"Uh, with all due respect Mireille," Jerrica began, "I don't
think Rob and I mix very well in that regard. We're content being best
friends and nothing more."
"All right, fine," Grandmère said, "and his name
is James, dear, not Rob. He was named after my late husband, you know. Anyway," she
continued, looking back at me, "I would think it would be best if you
didn't hang around with—Joey—over here. Looking like that,
I'm sure he'll be nothing but a bad influence on you."
I was quickly losing my temper, and it wasn't long before I was about
to blow. "Grandmère, that's enough."
"My dear, I think I am a better judge of people than you are. After
all, when you are as old as I am, you learn what type of people are the good
sort and what kind are not. I don't think he is good for you, and I think
you should learn to have better judgment in the people you associate with.
Now take that other friend of yours I met. What was his name? Lance? Again
with the spiky hair, but aside from that, he was a nice, clean-cut fellow."
Jerrica had already started to slowly back away from the bed toward Joey.
When she had finally reached him, she grabbed his arm and muttered, "Stand
back. One of them is going to blow, and my money is on Rob."
Joey stared helplessly at me as he stepped back. He wanted to jump in and
defend me, but he was afraid of saying the wrong thing. "So what do we
do?" he whispered.
"Just wait until it happens," Jerrica said, watching the two of
us with interest.
"So tell me, what is it specifically about him that bothers you so much?
There must be something," I said angrily.
"He's trouble and I know it," Grandmère said. "I
can spot a loser a mile away."
That one went right to every nerve in my body. Eyes blazing, I said loudly, "Grandmère,
Joey is my boyfriend and you have NO RIGHT to say such things
about him! HOW DARE YOU? So what if he's not perfect? I'm
not, and you definitely aren't!"
Grandmère's jaw dropped, and I was too angry to pay much attention
to the impact the words coming out of my mouth were having. I heard a collective
gasp from Jerrica and Joey, but it was too late now. I had already said it. "Qu'est-ce
que tu as dit?" Grandmère asked quietly. Then, more loudly, she
said, "QU'EST-CE QUE TU AS DIT?!"
"Uh oh," Jerrica said. "Here it comes."
"You heard me! How dare you act like that!" I yelled, "and
if you're going to fight with me, at least have the courtesy to do it
in English so the rest of the room can understand you."
"Je n'en ferai pas," Grandmère said, indicating she
was not about to do anything I asked of her. "C'est pas importante
qu'ils nous comprennent."
The two of us then starting bickering back and forth in French. My resolve
to get her to speak English had waned too much, and I was going to battle with
her any way I needed to at that point. The shouts had attracted attention from
outside the room, and Lance, Justin, Josh, and Chris came running inside. "What's
going on?" Josh asked. "What are they saying?"
Everyone looked to Jerrica, who appeared to be a little uncomfortable. "I'm
not sure," she stammered. "I know Mireille said that it wasn't
important that we understand what they were saying, and after that, they kind
of went into overdrive. They're speaking so quickly, I can't make
heads or tails of it. The little bit I do catch doesn't make any sense."
Grandmère and I had fought for another two minutes or so when my mother
came bursting into the room with Kate in tow. My mother soon joined in the
argument, and Kate stood back with the rest of the group. "Any idea what
they're saying?" Jerrica asked Kate.
"Not a one," Kate replied, shaking her head, "but I have
never seen Anne-Marie this angry in a long time."
Not more than thirty seconds had passed when I finally yelled, "Fine!
If you want to be like that, then I hope you lead a very happy life without
Joey and me in it, because at this point, I never want to see you again!" I
ran around the bed and stormed past the group of spectators out of the room.
Behind me, I heard Josh say, "Now that I understood."
My mom glanced over at Joey and said, "Joey?" When she had his
attention, she motioned her hands in my direction. Joey took the hint and left
the room to find me.
He didn't have to go very far, as I was sitting on a bench in the hallway
a couple of rooms down. Joey didn't need to be empathic to figure out
how I was feeling; it was written all over my face. He didn't know what
to say or do, so he just put his arm around my shoulder and sat there. Things
were bad enough already, and they got worse when, from out of nowhere, a swarm
of nurses and doctors flocked to my grandmother's room. All of the guys,
Kate, and Jerrica were pushed out of the room, and suddenly I saw my grandmother's
bed being wheeled down the hall with Mom right behind.
I glanced up at the group, who had slowly come over to us with puzzled looks
on their faces. "What was that all about?" I asked quietly.
No one seemed to know anything, until Josh said, "I heard one of the
doctors say something like, 'Sewn cur set are and tay,' but I'm
not sure if I'm remembering that right, and I know I'm not saying
I sighed heavily. "Close enough," I said. "The doctor said, 'Son
cœur s'est arêté.' It means 'her heart stopped.' She's
had a heart attack."
"Oh Rob," Jerrica said softly, her eyes brimming with tears. Sitting
next to me, she pulled me into a hug, and Joey embraced both of us together.
"Why don't you all go home," Kate suggested, "and
we'll call you later if we have any news."
"I think that's a good idea," Lance said. "Let's
My whole body felt numb as I stood up, and my legs tried desperately to give
out on me. Joey and Jerrica both caught me as my knees started to buckle, and
I clutched onto Joey. I started to cry again—my own tears, this time—and
we slowly made our way out of the hospital. If I thought my day was bad enough
already, it was about to get worse. It seems the press somehow got wind of
*Nsync's arrival in Montréal and, as I found later, had been chased
away from the lobby after some rather mean-looking security guards came after
them. Nevertheless, many reporters were camped out on the sidewalk awaiting
our exit, and the minute they saw us, it was pandemonium.
"JC! JC!" one of them called. "What are all of you doing
here in Montreal?"
"Lance! Are you here to put on a surprise concert or something?"
"Justin? Is it true you came up here to get away from Britney Spears?"
"Joey! Who is that young man and why is he hanging all over you?"
The entire group was content to ignore the media as we made our way to the
parking structure, but the last question had to be answered before someone
in the press decided to draw their own conclusions. I was not in any right
state of mind, so I let go of Joey's arm, yelled, "Allez! Vous êtes
des vautours, tout le monde!" I then ran through the crowd and dashed
into the parking structure.
The French-speaking press were not amused by my comments and continued to
press on. Finally, Jerrica said, "Look at yourselves! He's right,
you know. You are acting like a pack of vultures! Now, y'all are lucky
we're at a hospital, because if some people don't back off in the
next five seconds, you're going to be thankful the ER is right inside."
The press stopped moving forward, intimidated slightly by Jerrica's
glaring eye, but that didn't stop them from continuing to pepper Joey
and the others with questions. Finally being able to take no more, Joey held
up his hands and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, and I use that term very lightly,
that guy is a very good friend of ours whose grandmother has been in this hospital
for some days now, and we thought it was best for us to come along and show
him our support. His grandmother has only moments ago just suffered from a
heart attack, and as I'm sure you can understand, he is quite distressed
by the whole ordeal. Now, if you will excuse us, we are going to continue to
be the good friends we are and be with our friend in his time of need." They
then began to push through the crowd, which quickly dispersed, and made their
way into the parking structure.
They reached Lance and Justin's car first, and Lance said, "Joey,
why don't you and Jerrica go with Will, and we'll follow. I think
he needs both of you right now."
"Are you all going to be okay following us?" Jerrica asked.
"If we're following Joey, yes. If we're following you, not
a chance," Josh joked. The others laughed, and Jerrica stuck her tongue
out at him. Truth be told, they needed a little bit of levity at the moment.
"Come on Joey," Jerrica said, again grabbing Joey by the arm. "Let's
go find him."
I was already at the car and was sitting on the trunk, my head buried in my
hands. I was bawling quite freely now, and it broke Joey's heart to see
me in such distress. He came up to me and started to give me a hug, but I pushed
him away. "We can't," I whispered between sobs. "We
"Yes we can," Joey said as he tried to hug me again, but once
again I rejected his advance.
"No," I said pitifully, shaking my head. "No."
Joey looked over at Jerrica for help, but she shook her head and shrugged
her shoulders. She didn't know what to do either. "Will, come here," Joey
said firmly, wrapping his arms around me. I tired to push him off me again,
but this time he persisted. He could be just as stubborn as I was, and after
a minute of fighting, I finally relented and let him hold me. He slowly slid
my body off the car as I buried my face in his shoulder and cried hard. Jerrica
came up behind me and joined in, wrapping her arms around me from behind. Moments
later, the other four pulled up in their car with Lance at the wheel. Lance
pulled in to the spot next to where I had parked and everyone got out. They
too came and joined in the now group hug, wherever they saw fit. Justin tried
to get as close to me as he could, but it was rather difficult since both Joey
and Jerrica were blocking him most of the way.
At last, my tears quieted and I began to catch my breath. My head was spinning
a little and I needed to be anywhere but there. I started to break away from
Jerrica's grip on me, and the rest of the group broke apart. Only Joey
refused to let go, and it took about thirty seconds of normal breathing before
Joey finally let go of me. Pulling the keys out of my pocket, I said clearly, "Well,
I guess we better go."
Joey snatched the keys out of my hand and said adamantly, "You are not
"But..." I started to object, but Joey would hear nothing
"Will, you're a wreck right now, are in no condition to be driving,
and that's final!" he said. Tossing Jerrica the keys, he said, "Jerrica,
"What are you trying to do? Kill me?" I said with a half-hearted
"Oh, sure. Everyone pick on me," Jerrica said, but she was silenced
by an evil glare from Joey. "Right. Let's go then." Jerrica
climbed into the front seat while Joey steered himself and me into the back. "If
you can direct me to the highway," Jerrica said, "I can get us
the rest of the way."
Both cars pulled out of their respective parking spots and made their way
out of the parking structure. After paying the parking fees, I directed Jerrica
to the highway and then fell silent. Joey held me the entire way back, but
the car was quiet the entire time.
We had been back at the house for over an hour, and I had been sitting in
the bedroom Joey and I were using by myself the entire time. I had asked him
to leave me alone, and surprisingly, he did so, although it I would guess it
was against his better judgment. I had lain on the bed for about fifteen minutes
or so, and then had paced the room for another forty-five. Needing a breath
of fresh air in more ways than one, I went over to the window and opened it
all the way. There was hardly any breeze, which in this case was a good thing
since the room I was in faced the lake. I sat down on the ledge next to the
window and stared at the lake outside.
I was beside myself. The last words I said to my grandmother were that I never
wanted to see her again, and if she died, I wouldn't. The fact that I
had been so callous toward her tore at me, yet I was still angry with her over
the way she treated Joey. Neither of them deserved what was said, especially
Joey, but what I said to Grandmère couldn't be taken back right
now. I sighed heavily and took solace in the one thing that always made me
feel better: singing. I had to let some of the emotions in me out, and it was
often a good way to do so.
At the same time, Joey peeked in on me as he had done every fifteen minutes
or so. He felt that it was his way of making sure I knew he was there without
invading my space. He presumed that I would probably know that he was nearby,
but he was mistaken in this case. I was too wrapped up in myself to notice
anything about the world around me. He watched me as I gazed out the window,
and then was surprised when he heard me start to sing.
How could you know that behind my eyes a sad boy cried?
And how could you know that I hurt so much inside?
And how could you know that I'm not like the other boys and girls?
I'm carrying the weight of the world.
Justin had come up the stairs and was about to head over to the bedroom he
was sharing with Josh when he heard Joey quietly call out to him. Joey motioned
him over, so Justin went to investigate. Joey pointed at me inside the room
and smiled. I had just climbed off the ledge and had walked to the center of
the room, completely oblivious I was being watched as I sang the next verse
and spun around in a circle, once again à la Julie Andrews in The
Sound of Music.
So can you get me out of here?
Take me away.
We'll jump in the car.
Drive 'til the gas runs out and then walk so far
That we can't see this place anymore.
Take a day off,
Give it a rest,
So I can forget about this mess.
If I lighten up a little bit,
Then I will be over it.
I finally spotted Joey watching me and motioned him inside, but it didn't
cause me to stop singing. Instead of singing to myself, I sung to Joey instead.
I'm playin' the role of the happy boy but no one knows
Inside I'm alone, but I would never let it show.
I get everyday too much work and not enough play.
Over and over it's always the same.
But you can make everything okay.
I poked a finger into Joey's chest as I sang the last line. I gave him a broad smile, the first real one it felt like I'd
had all day, and grabbed Joey's hands to dance with him. Justin, little
twerp that he is, decided that was the perfect time to go round up the rest
of the house to come watch.
Take me away.
We'll jump in the car.
Drive 'til the gas runs out and then walk so far
That we can't see this place anymore.
Take a day off.
Give it a rest.
So I can forget about this mess.
If I lighten up a little bit,
Then I will be over it.
I let go of Joey's hands and let my body and hands "talk" while
I sang the rest of the song.
And when the world is closin' in,
I can leave it all and just walk away.
I can always start all over again.
I am closer to a better day!
I belted the note and held it, which was just
about the time when the rest of the house showed up to peek through the door.
They all grinned as they heard me sing. This was no longer a new or amazing
occurrence for them, but the fact that it was happening so soon after a catastrophic
afternoon had to be a good sign. What did surprise them was not only that this
was a song they hadn't ever heard before—and it was one they fast
decided they liked—but that Jerrica had begun to sing it along with me.
Take me away.
We'll jump in the car.
Drive 'til the gas runs out and then walk so far
That we can't see this place anymore.
Take a day off.
Give it a rest.
So I can forget about this mess.
If I lighten up a little bit,
Then I will be
I swept my arms wide and then grabbed Joey, pulling him toward the window.
As I continued to sing, I gestured outside to the dark lake and star-studded
sky and hoped that he took the hint that I was no longer just singing words,
but truly begging him to do what the lyrics said. I wanted out. I wanted to
be far away from Montréal. I wanted to go back to Baltimore, to Los
Angeles, to Orlando, to anywhere but here!
Take me away.
Take me away.
Take me away.
We'll jump in the car.
Drive 'til the gas runs out and then walk so far
That we can't see this place anymore.
Take a day off.
Give it a rest.
So I can forget about this mess.
If I lighten up a little bit,
Then I will be
If I lighten up a little bit,
Then I will be over it.
I am over it.
My voice faltered a little on the last line as I stared out
at the clear night sky. Jerrica gazed at me sadly as she watched Joey pull me into a hug while the
two of us just stared out the window. Chris noticed the melancholy look on
her face and asked, "Is something wrong Jerrica?"
Jerrica sighed. "I don't know. It's been a long time since
I've heard that song."
"It's a good song," Josh, the resident lyricist, said. "Who
is it by?"
"Us," Jerrica replied, not taking her eyes off of me. "He
wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music. He wrote it during the whole legal
mess with Allison, and after it was over, I haven't heard him sing it
"When you put it that way," Lance remarked, "It almost sounds
"...cry for help." Justin finished.
The group had a renewed sense of sympathy for me which, collectively, made
its presence known to me. I slowly turned around to find the lot of them watching
Joey and me. When my eyes met theirs, they all looked a little guilty, but
I could hardly be upset with them. They were only trying to be supportive.
I waved them in and went to close the window, as it was starting to get a
bit chilly inside. Both Lance and Josh came over to give me a hug, which I
accepted without argument. Justin hesitated for a moment, making eye contact
with Joey, but then he decided that he didn't care what Joey thought
and gave me a hug as well. Chris and Jerrica gave me a group hug, and the outpouring
of emotion and support from them nearly brought me to tears. Then again, there
wasn't much that day that didn't.
Everyone took a seat where they could find one. Joey, Josh, and I squeezed
onto the bed; Lance and Justin both found a chair to sit in; and Chris and
Jerrica took a seat on the floor. "That was wonderful," Josh said
at last. The others murmured in agreement.
I blushed a little. "Thanks," I said. "It's just a
little song Jerrica and I wrote years ago. Nothing big."
"But it is!" Josh said. "It was wonderful, but I'm
sensing there is a reason why you picked that song in particular tonight?"
"And I'm supposed to be the empathic one," I mumbled.
"What??" shouted Lance, Justin, and Josh.
"Oops," I said, closing my eyes and whacking myself in the forehead.
I had forgotten they weren't privy to that conversation I had with Joey,
and I guessed quickly that Jerrica had told Chris. "I'm kinda,
sorta empathic. I can pick up on other people's feelings and, unbeknownst
to me, I can apparently send mine out as well."
"You know, that explains a lot," Justin said. Turning to me, he
said, "And all this time, you never told us? I even asked you once, and
you lied to me!"
"Uh, Justin..." I started softly.
"I never thought you would really lie to us, Will," Justin said
I didn't know whether to be angry or upset. I could feel tears starting
to form in my eyes, and the voice that I had discovered only minutes ago to
sing had suddenly disappeared. All I seemed to be able to do was shake my head.
"What did he say exactly?" Joey asked pointedly.
"Well, I asked him how he always knew what I was feeling, and then he
said that it was because he had been there before," Justin replied, "but
that wasn't true, was it?"
"I have been there," I whispered softly, so softly in fact I wasn't
sure I said it out loud. I sniffled a little and said in a slightly louder
voice, "Justin, you left out the part where you said, 'It's
kind of creepy, you know?' What was I supposed to do? Creep you out more?" My
voice started to rise as anger started to set in. "We had only known
each other for not even twenty-four stinking hours yet, and the fact that you stuck
around even after you heard my tales of woe with...with..." Saying
her name still made me shudder, but I forced it out nonetheless. "With Allison surprised
me. I told you about my sexuality and you still stayed. What would you have
thought if I told you that? You would have thought I was off my rocker and
hightailed it out of there."
I stood up, my hands starting to shake from the anger building inside of me. "I
didn't tell Jerrica until we had been best friends for what? Four years?" I
asked, looking over at her for confirmation. She just nodded slightly, not
saying anything to interrupt me. Unless we were in the middle of an appropriate
fight, she knew better than to try to stop me when I was in the middle of a
rant. "If I had my way, none of you would know. Jerrica found out because
I was in the middle of a depression and needed a confidante besides my mother,
and even then, it slipped out accidentally. If my mother hadn't acted
the way she did today, none of you would know unless someone," I
said, glaring at Jerrica, "decided not to keep her big yap shut." Jerrica
stared at the floor with a guilty look on her face. Looking back at Justin,
I said defiantly, "In my eyes, Justin, I never lied to you, but you can
call it as you see fit. I would never lie to you unless I thought doing so
would protect you in some way. However, since once again I have been deemed
untrustworthy and a liar by someone..." I could almost feel Joey
cringe behind me, as it was he who had made the accusations the last time. "I
said it before and I'll say it again. If you don't trust me, there's
the door. You have a car. You know where the airport is. GO!! I'm not
stopping you! Here, I'll even open the door for you! As for the rest,
if anyone chooses to stay here, I'll see you later." I yanked the
door open and ran out of the room.
All eyes turned to Justin, who was beginning to look quite upset. "What
just happened here?" he asked quietly.
"You happened!" Joey said fiercely as he stood up and took a step
toward Justin. "You and your damn mouth!"
"Joey, sit and calm down," Jerrica said as she too stood up.
"Back off Jerrica," Joey warned. "Don't get involved."
Jerrica marched over to Joey and pushed him onto the bed. "When I say
sit, I MEAN SIT!!" Joey's eyes went wide but he made no movement
against her. He quickly decided that, for as angry as he was, Jerrica meant
business and he already knew that she was not one to be taken lightly. Content
that Joey was going to stay put for a moment, she turned to Justin. "And
you!" Justin squirmed a little as he could feel Jerrica's wrath
coming. "Oh, don't think you're safe, boy. You know darn
good and well that I'm a worse force to be reckoned with than him. What
in the hell possessed you to say that? After everything that's happened
today, you thought now would be a good time to put him on trial?"
"I didn't mean..." Justin began, but it was useless.
Like myself, you just have to wait until Jerrica's done before you try
to talk. Otherwise, it just adds fuel to the fire.
"You didn't mean what? You didn't mean to upset him more
by calling him a liar? What did you think he was going to do? Dance the rumba
"The rumba?" Chris said aloud accidentally, but he clamped his
hands over his mouth when Jerrica's glare briefly turned on him.
"Whatever! Now, you listen and listen good, you little twit, because
I'm only going to say this once. As usual, once he cools down he'll
forgive you, but I'm not nearly so nice. You do anything, and I mean ANYTHING
LIKE THAT AGAIN, I WILL MAKE SURE YOU CAN NEVER HAVE CHILDREN, BECAUSE I WILL
RIP YOUR DICK AND BALLS OFF WITH MY BARE HANDS! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME???"
Justin cowered away from her in terror. There had been a few instances over
the years where he had feared for his life, and this was fast becoming one
of them. "Y-Y-Yes," Justin stammered weakly.
"GOOD! Oooh!" Jerrica let out a disgusted groan. "I'm
out of here. I'm going to see if I can do some damage control." Without
saying another word, she turned and left the room.
The guys of *Nsync glanced at each other and then over at Justin, who was
still shaking. They had faced some pretty formidable people over the years,
especially Eric, but Jerrica wasn't kidding when she said she was a force
to be reckoned with, and a fairly dangerous one at that. They sat in silence
for a moment before Lance said, "Justin?" When he saw Justin jump,
he said, "I'm not going to bite your head off, I promise. I would
just like some answers. Why are we all here?" Justin seemed a little
confused by Lance's question, so Lance clarified. "Josh, Chris,
Jerrica, and I are here because you made some decision that you needed to be
here too. I think I know why, but I want to hear it from you."
"I'm sorry," Justin said shakily. "I'm sorry.
I didn't mean for this to happen. I didn't mean to call him a liar.
It's like my mouth was on auto-pilot. I don't even know where those
words came from!" Justin slid off of his chair onto the floor as he continued
to ramble, pulling his knees to his chest. "I was just so shocked when
he said that, and I felt a little hurt that he hadn't told us sooner!
Believe me guys! I would never want to hurt him. I...I love him too much
for that, and all I wanted was for him to love me too."
It took about five seconds before Joey jumped off the bed and stared hard
at Justin. "I should have known. You always want what you can't
have, Justin. I told you before to keep your hands off of Will, but did you
listen? I ought to pound you, but between Jerrica's threats and knowing
that the chances of Will speaking to you anytime in the immediate future aren't
too good right now, I'd say you've had enough. However, this isn't
over Justin. Not by a long shot." Like Jerrica and me before him, he
quickly left the room in his own fury.
Once Joey left, the room went back to being silent. It stayed that way for
what seemed like eternity, until Josh finally said, "Jus?"
Justin was softly crying to himself, having been berated by myself, Jerrica,
and Joey, and he was not really ready for a fourth round. Nevertheless, he
figured if they were going to yell, better do it all at once instead of waiting
for it to hit him later. Sniffling, Justin said, "Go ahead and say it
Josh. Might as well."
"Look, I don't necessarily agree with your actions, especially
when you called Will a liar, but I don't fault you too much for coming
here. Love makes us do crazy things at times, and if you truly believe or believed
you were in love with him, it actually makes a lot of sense.'
"It does?" Lance, Justin, and Chris said in unison.
"Yeah. Love is blinding, you know, and I believe him when he says he
didn't mean for this to happen. We often say things we don't mean
when we find out things that shock us. Look at what happened today with Will's
"Yeah. If she dies, he's never going to forgive himself," Lance
They all thought about what emotional agony I must have already been going
through, how Justin had made it worse, how grateful they were that they weren't
in my shoes, and how they didn't envy Jerrica and Joey, who had appointed
themselves to look after me. Noticing the clock on the wall as it was about
to strike ten, Josh stood up and said, "Well, there's not much
we can do about anything now. Let's all go to bed. We have seven o'clock
flights to catch. Justin, let's go."
"Okay," Justin said quietly as he allowed Josh to lead him out
of the room.
As soon as Chris heard Josh and Justin's door shut, he said to Lance, "What
are we going to do with him?"
Lance shrugged. "I don't know, but we're going to have to
figure something out fast, because life on the road is going to be hell if
he and Joey are at war."
"No kidding," Chris said as he walked over to the window. Staring
out at the starry sky and the calm lake, he said, "If there was ever
a time I could use Will's advice, now would be it."
It was a sweet sentiment from Chris, and I would have been pleased to hear
it under normal circumstances, but, as Joey and Jerrica found out quickly,
I was not capable of giving or receiving advice on any level. A creature of
habit, it didn't take the two of them very long to find me sitting on
the dock by the lake. I had a handful of pebbles sitting next to me and I was
methodically tossing them haphazardly into the lake. When the two spotted me,
they called out my name and ran toward me, but I just ignored them. The cold
breeze off the frigid lake was beginning to make me feel as numb on the outside
as I was starting to feel on the inside, and I was, at the moment, perfectly
content with that.
Everything is such a freaking mess, I thought as I continued to throw
the pebbles into the lake. Why can't I be normal? Why did I have to
be gay? Why did I have to fall in love with Joey, of all people? Why
did I have to tell my grandmother, for crying out loud? That was stupid! STUPID!
I left the world of reality as I once again started to go to war with the
voice in my head, just as I had done the day the guys arrived and announced
their desire to stay with me. I had gone to war with myself over telling them
I was gay, and that had worked out well, but this was different. I was slowly
slipping into a suicidal depression, and it was no longer a matter of being
scared over whether or not someone would accept me for who I was, but I was
beginning to question whether or not there was a reason for my continuing to
exist at all.
You're right, that was stupid, the voice in my head said. Incredibly
stupid. You know that if she dies, it's all your fault.
I didn't mean to! I cried. It wasn't supposed to happen
But it did happen like that, the voice continued, and it's
all on your head. If she dies, it's on your head. You know why Justin
came up here, don't you? He came up here to get you, and if Joey and
Justin can't get along and the band breaks up, that's on your
I had nothing to do with that! I thought indignantly. That is not
So whose fault is it? Joey's? My self-destructive side was getting
cockier by the minute. Did you, or did you not, kiss him behind Mama Celia's?
Did you think that would prove something? Did you think that would magically
make him realize he's not gay? You just wanted to kiss him, didn't
you? You've been leading him on this whole time!
NO! It's not true! I screamed in my head. It's not true!
It can't be true. I love Joey too much for that.
Do you? Do you really? the voice cackled. If you loved Joey so much,
then why did you kiss Justin? You know you enjoyed it. Don't deny it.
I didn't. I swear I didn't. I was trying to get Justin to realize
he can't love me, and I hoped he would see it was just a fleeting moment.
He said he would get over it!
Looks like it backfired, the voice said. All you seem to bring to
people is misery.
By this time, Jerrica and Joey were running down the dock toward me. They
were a little worried that I hadn't answered them, and once they arrived
next to me, they became even more worried. I was no longer throwing pebbles
into the lake, I had closed my eyes, and my breathing had become a bit labored.
The look of concern that immediately appeared on Jerrica's face set
Joey to worry. "Is he okay?" he asked.
Jerrica's eyes met his, and for the first time since he had met her,
he could see fear and panic in her eyes. "I don't know," she
said. "I'd like to think he's meditating, but the pained
expression on his face seems to throw that notion out the window."
Joey's mind flashed back to that first night at my house when I had
a similar experience, and the fear he'd had when they couldn't
immediately snap me out of it. His state of panic rose when he concluded I
was probably having the same problem. "I think he's fighting with
himself," Joey said. "That's what happened the last time.
He was so worked up over telling us that he was gay when we asked to stay at
his house with him that he did this. It's no wonder though. This has
got to be twenty times worse than that."
Joey was right on all levels, but I didn't really hear him. I was too
busy fighting with the voice in my head. It's kind of funny really. Last
time it was trying to help me. This time it was bent on destroying me, and
it was starting to succeed. I continued to fight with it, but my resolve was
starting to weaken. I'm a good person. I am. I don't bring people
Look at your grandmother. Look at Justin. Look at Allison. Yeah, Allison.
You destroyed her life completely.
She brought that on herself, I thought. That wasn't my fault.
You could have said nothing. Life would have gone on just fine, but you
had to blab about it to Jerrica and your mother and the courts and everyone.
You wanted her life destroyed, just like everyone else's. It won't
be long until you destroy Joey's too. As a matter of fact, it looks
like you've already started.
The voice struck a nerve. What do you mean, I've already started?
He's already threatened to quit once. As soon as he and Justin become
at odds with one another, one of them will go, and then the whole band falls
apart. The best part is that it's all because of you.
My resolve to fight was shattered at that moment. Maybe the voice was right
after all. I couldn't hurt Joey. I couldn't destroy his life. "I
can't hurt him," I murmured. "I can't."
"Jerrica!" Joey shouted as he tried to get her attention. She
was trying desperately to call my mother, but she kept getting no answer. "Jerrica!
He said something!"
"What did he say?" she asked, rushing over to his side.
"He said, 'I can't hurt him.' Hurt who? Will!" he
shouted as he shook me again as he had been doing off and on for the last few
minutes. "Snap out of it!"
Inside my head, my destructive side was pushing me ever closer to the edge. He
believes he loves you too much to let you go willingly. He's so loyal,
he won't just walk away. Of course, you could always resolve that problem
What do you mean? How? I asked.
Take yourself out of the picture. Completely. In such a way that you'll
never hurt anyone again.
You mean...kill myself? I groaned inside my head and vocally as
"Have you reached Anne-Marie yet?" Joey asked Jerrica, who was
still frantically dialing.
"No! I've called the hospital twice to page her or Kate, but no
one is coming!"
"Keep trying!" Joey shouted. He was at a complete loss at what
to do. If it was a physical battle, he could jump in and protect me, but there
was no helping me when I was fighting an internal battle. Joey just prayed
that I would be okay at the end of it. "Come back to me, Will. It's
okay. Everything will be all right. Just come back to me. Come back."
Joey needs me, I thought happily, the first happy thought I'd
had in who knows how long. Joey's voice was slowly seeping into my brain,
and it was as if his words were putting up a barrier between my destructive
voice and the rest of me. I need to go back to Joey.
Why? So you can ruin his life more? He's better off without you and
you know it. Just go. Just slip right off the dock and into the water.
But the water's only two feet deep, I thought. What good will
The lake is cold. Even if you don't drown, you'll go from hypothermia.
I don't know...
Do it before someone tries to stop you, or do you want to mess up everyone
else's life? You've already doomed Allison to a life of misery.
What's a few more? Joey doesn't need happiness.
Yes he does. Joey deserves to be happy, I thought sadly, not noticing
the tears that were coming to my eyes. He deserves to be happy whether I'm
around or not.
"Jerrica! He's...crying, but I don't know if it's
a good thing or not," Joey said as he wiped the tears from my eyes. "Will,
I know you're upset. I know you're probably scared and confused.
I know you think the world is against you, but it's not! Just snap out
of it!" He shook me again, but it was to no avail.
Joey's words were helping stave off the seemingly inevitable. Every
time his words would reach me, it pulled me back a little toward the real world. Joey
wants me back. He wants me.
He's a fool. He's blinded by love. He can't see the truth.
You see the truth. Do it now, the voice said. Say good-bye and do
I can't. I'm scared.
You're being selfish. If you really loved him, you'd help him
help himself. Now do it and get it over with.
My self-destructive side, after years of battling, had finally won. Heaving
a sigh in my head, as well as one audibly, I said and thought, "Good-bye
Joey. I love you." Then, in a methodical fashion, I pushed my arms against
the wood and forced my body off the dock toward the cold water below.
To Be Continued...
So what did you think? This has to be the hardest chapter I've ever
written, and the scary part is that this ending was unintentional. I'm
still not sure where it came from or how it manifested itself, but it
sort of seemed to fit all of a sudden after I went back through and read
it. Now, before the hate mail starts, don't worry. I plan for this story
to go on for a long time, so you can make some good assumptions about
whether or not Will is going to be all right. There are still some other
unaswered questions though. Is Will's grandmother going to be okay? Is
the press going to give the guys any more trouble, and do they suspect
anything? What do Will's parents have in store for him and Joey, and how
are they going to react when they find out what has just happened? Will
everything go as planned in Baltimore the next day? Please, drop
me a line and let me know your thoughts.
I'm a little surprised I got this chapter out so quickly, especially since
this is the longest one to date. I went out of the country for a week right
after I posted the last one, so I think I made great time. Now to get Chapter
Sixteen started! Also, for those that are interested, I have started a second
story, called The Glamorous Life,
which I am co-writing with a very talented author and can also be found on
Thanks to everyone who has written to me!! A special thanks goes out to
my editors, Mandy and Dreamy, who keep me in line. Thanks also to my good friend
Brogan, who keeps me inspired.
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My Website: For all the latest info
on my stories (Continual Work in progress)
Extra disclaimers: Song lyrics for "Over It" are protected under copyright by the original author and its recording label. No attempt to infringe on this copyright should be assumed or implied.