By the time AJ made it outside it was just on time to see Tierja drive away in a cab with Luke. He reached in his pocket to pull out his cell phone to call one himself when he felt the familiar touch of his bodyguard and one of his best friends. He turned and looked at him and he gently squeezed his shoulder.
“Hang tight, I already took care of your ride. Kev insisted I go back with you, not that I was waiting for his permission or anything, I was already right behind you.”
“If it doesn’t get here fast I’m going to run back myself, Q, I can’t wait.” AJ insisted while running his fingers through his hair in agitation. “I can’t lose her over this. Not over a misunderstanding, not when I’ve been trying, really trying with her lately. I didn’t ask for that.”
“I know you didn’t J, it’s going to be all right. When has Tierja ever not listened to you?” AJ looked at him as he fought desperately to keep his tears at bay. “She’s upset but she’ll listen,” Q reassured just as a cab pulled up. AJ opened the door and crawled into the other side so that Q could get in after and the driver drove off in the direction of the hotel, already knowing where to go. Q had stressed that they needed to get there quick.
When the cab driver arrived at the hotel he came to a stop right in front of the door. AJ thanked him and got out and while Q remained behind and paid the guy, AJ burst into the hotel and hurried up to their floor, taking the stairs. There is no way he would survive going up in the elevator. When he got to the suite he shares with Tierja he let himself in with his own card and found her standing at the foot of their bed with her suitcase open and she was in the middle of packing. Luke sat on the bed next to it holding her hand.
“Get out,” AJ ordered, giving Luke a look that clearly stated you really don’t want to mess with me right now.
“Not without Tierja. She asked if she could stay in my room for the night and I told her she could. There is an extra bed in there and everything.”
“Well that’s not happening, so get out before I throw you out.”
“Really AJ?” Tierja demanded, finally looking at him for the first time and revealing eyes full of tears and pain. “Who are you to decide what I will or will not do? You don’t get to walk in here after what you did to me tonight and start ordering me or anyone else around – especially the one person who has been here for me lately when it should’ve been you!”
“I didn’t do anything to you baby, at least let me explain before you decide to walk out on me! I at least deserve that.” She looked away from him and down at her suitcase as she hugged her stomach stressfully. “Please,” he pleaded and when she heard the catch in his voice as he tried not to cry, she rubbed at her eyes and looked at Luke and gave him a look that he understood. He squeezed her hand gently before letting go and getting to his feet.
“You know where I’m at if you need me,” He told her gently before leaving the room without so much as a glance at AJ. When he was gone AJ crossed the room to her till he was standing behind her and he slid his arms around her waist and hugged her close to him possessively.
“What is there to explain AJ? I was there, I saw it happen” She told him tearfully, her voice faltering as she tried not to cry again.
“Then you had to have seen that I wasn’t enjoying that in the least bit, Tierja. I wasn’t kissing her back.”
“You weren’t pulling away either.”
“It’s not something I expected to happen in a million years, sweetheart. It came out of nowhere and it shocked me…my first reaction was to freeze up. By the time I finally regained my composure and pushed her away, the first thing I thought was you and the fear of losing you. It’s the only thing I thought about.” Tierja turned her head to the side and he leaned down and rested his forehead against hers and looked into her watery stormy blue eyes. “Please believe me…I can’t lose you, baby…” he pleaded softly, hugging her closer to him.
“How am I supposed to believe you Alex? I give you everything and you give me nothing to hold onto in return. I didn’t see the events leading up to the moment, I just looked and saw her wrap her arms around you and kiss you. How am I supposed to know that tonight’s stunt wasn’t you acting out because we were getting too close and you got scared?”
“That’s not how it happened baby,” AJ insisted. He moved in front of her and sat down on the edge of the bed before sliding his arms around her waist once more and pulling her close. Tierja slid her arms around his neck in return and once again pressed her forehead against his, looking into his desperate brown eyes. “She was a crazy fan who came out of nowhere and kissed me. I swear to god and everyone I know I didn’t ask for it.”
“You have to give me something to hold onto, Alex” she told him softly after a moment. “What am I to you? Tonight during the concert when you were singing Shape of My Heart, was I just imagining things when you looked my way? Because I let my heart believe you were singing to me. I let myself hope all night and then this happened and it took that feeling away in an instant and I felt sucker punched.” AJ gently pulled her down into his lap so she was straddling him and he tightened his arms around her and placed soft kisses on various parts of her face, making her close her eyes and tears spilled out of them. “I can’t do the no strings attached thing with you anymore, I can’t be just the woman you sleep with I need to mean more than that to you.”
“You already do mean more to me than that baby,” AJ insisted softly and she opened her eyes and looked into his chocolate brown ones, causing him to lightly rub his nose over hers in an Eskimo’s kiss. “You’ve always meant more to me than that and I told you so the day after we first started sleeping together remember?”
“You said you respect me too much to make it be all about sex with us.”
“And I meant it,” AJ insisted while gently sliding his fingers through her hair in an endearing way. “It’s never been about the sex, Tierja. You mean the world to me…you scare me to death, yes. But that’s just because there’s been no other woman in my life that was as important as you and I don’t want to lose you and I have a habit of losing people that I love.” Tierja tightened her arms around him and buried her face in his neck causing him to hug her close to him affectionately.
“Well you’ve got me, Alexander James…and I’m not going anywhere. So there is no reason for you to be afraid.”
“Really?” AJ asked softly. “What is this half packed suitcase all about then?”
“Well we are switching towns tomorrow after all…” She spoke softly in his neck and though still terrified that he came so close to her walking out on him, he chuckled softly. She pulled back and looked into his eyes and he brushed her tears away with his fingertips.
“I wasn’t going far, baby, just across the hall. I was upset and just wanted space to calm down and think. I would never really leave you…I’ve put so much time and effort into you to just give up on you. And I don’t have it in me either.”
“Next time you want space to calm down and think choose one of the girls…or my bandmates. Not a man who is clearly out to steal you away from me okay?”
“Okay,” She told him softly, smiling a little at his obvious jealousy and she rested her head against his shoulder. “Don’t ever stop being jealous Alex, it shows me that you care.”
“You don’t ever have to worry about that,” AJ insisted and leaned down and kissed her softly on the lips. “You’re the all-important woman in my life who is going to save me. No one is taking that away from me. You will be seeing the shape of my heart a lot from now on.” She felt her eyes fill up with tears once more and spill over her cheeks and he brushed them away with his fingers before kissing her some more. “You weren’t imagining things earlier…I was asking you in the best way I know how to have patience with me and stay.” he told her between kisses and she brought her hand up to his cheek and kissed him back as she felt the pain in her heart and stomach melt away. “Give me a chance to turn this night around, please? I made plans and I want a chance to carry them out.”
“Okay,” she told him softly, nestling her head into his shoulder a little more and he got to his feet with her and carried her out of the room. Just as he stepped out in the hall he noticed Q standing there dutifully in case he’s needed. AJ kissed Tierja’s forehead softly and hugged her close to him possessively.
“If anyone comes looking for us, tell them we’re out on our date. I don’t know when we’ll be back.”
“Okay,” Q responded and he gently squeezed AJ’s shoulder as he walked by.
“Help keep an extra eye on my sister tonight, please” He added, looking back at him as he went to the elevator.
“You don’t have to tell me that twice, I’ve got her.” Q reassured as AJ disappeared in the elevator with the doors closed.
“Hey Q, what are you doing back so early?” Ava asked curiously when her favorite security guard walked in the door. “The party isn’t over already is it?” she asked slightly worried and she looked up from the pasta she was making.
“Nah, it’s still going strong, no worries” Q reassured. “And even if it wasn’t, you asked Brian to distract him remember? He’s very good at that job and he wouldn’t let you down.”
“So what are you doing back so soon then?” Ava repeated, noticing he avoided her other question.
“Your brother and Tierja had some drama going on, she came running back here crying and he had to chase her back here and sort things out. Everything is better now though, they’re on their date and from what I gather, won’t be back til probably the crack of dawn.” Ava exchanged worried looks with Kathryn, but otherwise didn’t pry.
“Since you are back and everything, do you want to take over watching them for a while since they’re staying here in one place? Stefan, Demyan and I want to do a quick coffee run.”
“Yeah, go ahead I’ve got this.” Q replied readily.
“Are you sure? I can just tell them what I want and stay behind to help,” Stefan responded and Q shook his head.
“You’ve been at her side all day long; even a security guard needs a break. I’ve got her.”
“Okay then, we will be back shortly” he responded, and after eyeing Ava protectively for a moment longer, he followed the others out.
“Someone sure did get attached in such a short amount of time,” Kathryn spoke up in amusement as she sat comfortably on the counter holding Zara in her lap and watching Ava and Jade cook.
“And that surprises you?” Q asked, laughing slightly, and he slid an arm around Ava and kissed her cheek. “Everyone falls in love with Ava after spending just one day with her. He’ll be wrapped around her finger like everyone else in no time.” Ava rolled her eyes playfully.
“Yeah, yeah enough about me…I want to know what’s going on between Kat and a certain brooding but very sexy security guard” she responded, becoming slightly serious now. Kathryn raised her eyebrow.
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Oh please…you can’t take your eyes off of him, I’ve been watching you. To everyone else, he fades completely in the background when he wants to, but you are aware of him all the time,” Ava insisted, looking at her best friend with a brief knowing look before continuing with what she is doing. “You’ve been making excuses to be around him a lot lately too.” When Kathryn remained silent, Ava once again glanced over at her. “It’s not just you that I’ve noticed either. He changes whenever you are around too, his bossy side comes out.”
“Yeah, because he thinks he can order me around. But he’s in for a very rude awakening…” Kathryn admitted after a minute, deciding it would be useless to try and hide anything from her best friend. She knows her too well.
“And you and Howie? You looked hurt when you mentioned talking to him earlier.” Kathryn shrugged her shoulders and hugged Zara a bit closer to her.
“Argued with him is more like it. He knows me as well as you do and knew full well why I was coming back here.”
“He’s probably jealous, can you blame him?”
“He’s not jealous,” Kathryn insisted and Ava looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Protective, but not jealous...we don’t have anything going on between us but friendship, I know it looks that way, but we don’t. All those times that I slept in his room back at home, we did just that – slept.”
“Why does he feel the need to be protective? And why were you sleeping in his room to begin with if nothing is going on?”
“As soon as Raven and Tierja moved into Brian and AJ’s room I was left alone on the couch. You know Howie; he’s too sweet to let that happen.” Kathryn explained, and Ava looked at her with a raised eyebrow, waiting for the rest of the answer to her question. “And he just knows things about me that I’m not ready to discuss with anyone,” she added, giving Ava a pleading look. Knowing full well what it’s like to have secrets that you aren’t comfortable sharing, Ava wrapped an arm around her and kissed her cheek before going back to what she was doing. “He’s my best guy friend and he takes very good care of me. Much like Nick always has for you, minus the hidden feelings.”
“I think Demyan would be one of the safest people to be around. No one will mess with you when he’s there.”
“Yeah, the whole dark and dangerous thing is what worries Howie the most about him. Again, he has his reasons for being protective…”
“Yet I haven’t heard a single protest made on his part about him protecting me and Jade,” Ava responded amusedly.
“You haven’t heard them is the keyword there. But AJ and Nick make the decisions where your safety is concerned, not him…and an officer brought him on too, so he kept quiet.”
“AJ and Nick make the decisions…I would like to think I had part in those decisions, they’re not my keeper” Ava responded somewhat indignantly.
“I’m afraid until the world is safe for you again, they sort of are honey” Q spoke up gently and he ruffled her hair. “Sorry.” Ava scowled.
“We’ll see. I could just stop cooking for them and then we’ll see who feels up to bossing me around.” Q chuckled in amusement at just how quickly her temper flared. He knows there’s nothing she hates more than being told what to do. She always had since she was a little girl, but David made it worse. “I’m serious…they’ll find their bossiness real funny one evening when everybody else sits down for dinner and there’s somehow mysteriously not enough food for them.”
“And if no dinner doesn’t work, there are other ways I can punish Nick too,” she added with a small wicked grin. “He knows better than to not treat us like a team.” Q shook his head smiling, but otherwise didn’t respond. “I’m about finished up here, can you text Brian and ask him what’s going on?” She added when she managed to get her temper under control, only to have a million butterflies take flight in her stomach and make her feel nervous instead.
“Yup, will do” Q replied and pulled out his cell phone.
“Did Ava tell you how long you are supposed to be baby-sitting me for? The party is about over, we have to go home some time” Nick spoke in Brian’s ear as soon as he had the last song for the night playing and the other boys were interacting with their fans. “And I for one miss my girlfriend. I only got to spend a couple of hours with her before the concert when she was whisked away from me again – I’m ready to call it a night.” Brian rolled his eyes playfully.
“It’s funny you should ask, because I was just going to tell you that Q. texted me and said she was almost done.”
“Almost done with what?” Nick asked slyly and Brian laughed.
“Nice try. Almost done with what…really?” Nick huffed.
“So we’re allowed to leave then?” He pouted somewhat and Brian nodded.
“We just have to make a stop along the way,” Brian added, making stuff up as he goes along as he knows Q said almost done. “Raven wants to get some apple juice for Zee to have when she wakes up in the morning.”
“Kay,” Nick replied and he waited it out till the song was over so the two of them could say goodbye to their fans properly. He doesn’t want any of them to feel gipped, especially since AJ had to leave early already. Not that he didn’t have a legitimate reason or anything…he hopes he got to Tierja on time, though he knows she would never actually leave him, especially not without hearing him out first. She always listens to him no matter how upset she is. But the question is, why was he put in this position in the first place? The fan had somehow mysteriously disappeared as soon as he did, just as quickly as she appeared which was out of nowhere. Shaking his head, he turned his full focus back on his fans. As soon as the song was over and they finished wrapping things up and were backstage again, Brian and Nick looked at Kevin as he spoke up.
“Someone should go back and check how things turned out with AJ and Tierja.”
“It will have to be you and Howie, because Raven and I are running to the nearest convenient store and Nick is coming with us.” Raven looked at Brian curiously.
“We are?” she asked and Brian gave her a look she would understand.
“Yeah honey, remember you told me that Zee will want apple juice when she wakes up in the morning? We have to go get some.”
“Oh, right – yeah, Zee loves her apple juice” she responded, catching on quickly and Nick rolled his eyes playfully, but otherwise didn’t respond.
“We will see you all later,” Brian insisted, before gently grabbing Nick by the arm and tugging him in the direction of the door. Kevin shook his head and looked at Howie and the two of them followed their lead so they can catch a cab back to the hotel.
“Brian is taking Nick to the convenient store with him on the false pretense that Zee needs apple juice in the morning. He’s waiting on my text for the okay to bring him back, so just let me know when” Q explained to Ava when he got a response out of Brian.
“Okay,” Ava responded busily, just as Stefan, Demyan, and Drake returned with their coffee and Drake handed some over to Q. He had texted him earlier and asked him if he wanted any.
“In the meantime we will just be right out in the hall talking to Q,” Stefan told her gently, before giving Q a look that clearly said he has questions. Q nodded and followed him and Demyan out into the hall, shutting the door behind them while Drake stayed behind. Ava raised her eyebrow, but otherwise continued what she is doing. Ever since Q’s cheeky comment earlier, she’s been feeling pretty sensitive about the bossy men in her life, but she is in too much of a hurry to follow them out there too.
“What’s up?” Q asked curiously when they were out of Ava’s hearing point.
“What’s this drama that happened between AJ and Tierja? Is it something that we need to worry about? You were pretty tight lipped about it toward Ava earlier…”
“Yeah, because she worries too much…especially over her brother so I didn’t think she needed to know the details. A random fan came out of nowhere and kissed AJ and understandably, Tierja got upset and ran back here with Luke. It’s resolved now though, like I said.”
“Raven mentioned earlier that AJ looked like he was ready to punch Luke,” Stefan stated. “Does their band usually attend their parties?”
“Not the after parties, those are just for the fans so it’s generally just the boys but Luke has grown a friendship with them.”
“Especially Tierja, it seems” Demyan responded and Q nodded.
“I’ve got AJ under control, no worries. He won’t be starting any fights under my watch.” Just then Ava poked her head out of the door.
“I’m setting the table Q, text Brian for me please”
“Okay honey, I will get right on that” Q promised while pulling out his phone again just as Kathryn gently made her way past Ava and out the door with Zara on her hip and she hugged Ava and kissed her cheek affectionately.
“I’m taking Zara back to her room and getting her settled down to watch cartoons since her mommy and Brian will be on their way back shortly.”
“Okay, thanks for keeping me company, don’t be a stranger” Ava responded and Kathryn gave her a small smile and headed back to Brian and Raven’s suite. Demyan followed her protectively.