FIFTEEN:

 

The north shore of Hawaii was fairly calm by the time the summer was over, but the city of Honolulu was as busy as could be. As they exited the plane Joey threw his backpack on both shoulders and picked up Colton in his arms as Kelly carried Brianna and her backpack. Balancing Colton with one arm he grabbed for Kelly's hand in the crowd as they were escorted them to their limo.

Even though they'd been on the plane together for almost five hours, it was strange to even feel her hand in his, but he'd grabbed for it automatically and she'd accepted his hand automatically and only a quick glance between them was exchanged. Andy and Todd, their two bodyguards for the trip were on vacation too, as soon as Joey and Kelly were delivered to the condo. The group of six turned into eight as the guards girlfriends followed them and shared the limo that would later drop the two couples in a hotel not far away from the house that Joey and Kelly and the kids would be staying in.

"You ok?" Joey asked when he settled Colton onto his lap in the car making sure that Paddington Bear was still with them. He was glad that he didn't try the trip without the guards. It was a pain in the butt to pay for them to be on vacation for the week in case they were needed, but it was better than having something happen to them. For the most part they wouldn't see the other two couples on the trip, but this part and going back home would only remind him that his life wasn't at all normal.

"Yeah Joe," she said reaching over with her free hand to grab his baseball hat that had gotten knocked against the car as he'd gotten in.

"Thanks," he said and smiled at her.

It had been tense between them, but they'd been acting half-normal. In the hotel in LA they'd been civil to each other and slept the night in the same bed. They had been on opposite sides of the bed, but they'd stayed there the whole night without tears or any other incident. He knew that this time just acting normal and fine wasn't going to get them through, but he had a plan and he prayed that it would work.

"I forget how hectic it is with you guys," Frederica said with a laugh as she searched through her purse in her lap. Andy was climbing into the front seat and Todd was sliding in next to where his girlfriend Tami was sitting at the end of the limo. "Andy always told me that you guys got a lot of attention, but no one even knew you were coming and there were people taking pictures."

"You get used to it," Kelly said and smiled, "At least we won't have that this week."

"Mommy hot," Brianna said tugging at her T-shirt.

It had been warm in LA, but the cool clothes they'd worn on the plane still hadn't prepared them for the lingering hot weather in Hawaii. Joey had worn jeans and a T-shirt knowing that he hated to be cold on planes and that he was switching climates again, which he still couldn't get used to. He usually did ok in jeans, but he now was paying the price in the heat so he knew that little Brianna in her shorts and T-shirt must have been burning up if she was complaining.

"I know baby. We'll get the air conditioning going and we'll fix it."

A few moments later the car started to cool down and Andy looked back from the front seat. "The airline is going to send the bags to the house. I talked to the stewardess today and called the airline yesterday and your stuff should be up to the house by three. It's noon now. I hope that's not too long. Normally it would be fine, but I know you've got the kids."

"It's ok," Kelly said, "I've got diapers for Brianna and Colton should be good for a while."

"Look at that mountain daddy!" Colton said pointing out the window towards Diamond Head.

"That's Diamond Head," Joey said, "See that little point right at the top. You can climb all the way up to the top."

Colton looked back at him. "You can?" He stuck his hand in his mouth and looked at Kelly. "Can we climb up there?"

"It takes a few hours honey," Kelly said and pulled his hand from his mouth. "If your daddy says it's ok maybe we can do it."

Joey sighed, "I don't know." He remembered someone telling him that even adults had trouble walking up the mountain and he although he didn't want to tell Colton this, his idea of fun wasn't carrying him up a mountain. He'd rather lie out in the sand. "We'll see. It's vacation time. I'm planning to sleep for a few days first."

Colton nodded and looked a little disappointed. "Do you gotta go get on stage?"

"Nope," Joey said with a smile, "We're gonna be here for a whole week and the only thing that I have to do it spend time with you guys."

"Really?"

"Ana eat jeey ones?" Brianna asked.

"Yes jelly bean," he said, "All I have to do is eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with you."

When Kelly stayed quiet Joey noticed Kelly was uncomfortable with the girls and other guys in the car. She'd spent most of the flight from LA to Honolulu leaned against Joey's shoulder holding a very fussy Brianna in her arms while he read with Colton and helped him color. If it hadn't been for the guards and the other girls that had been in front of them and behind them it would have been the perfect family vacation, like any other person in the world, but it wasn't going to be just them until they got to the house.

*****

"Joey?"

He turned from where he was sitting on the back porch watching the water, half sleeping, to find Kelly standing in the doorway. The baggage had been delivered a few hours before and they'd all changed clothes and were more relaxed, but there was still tension between them. "What Hon?" he asked.

"I'm putting the kids to bed," she said, "If you want to tuck them in."

"Yeah," he said and pushed himself up. He followed her into the house and to the bedroom that they kids were sharing, watching Kelly walk in front of him. If things had been normal he would have pulled her back and kissed her before they'd gone to see the kids, but he knew he couldn't do it without a fight so he didn't.

"Didi!" Brianna said from bed and held out her arms. He went to the side of the huge bed that they'd set her up with and hugged her.

"You ready to go to bed jelly bean?" he asked.

"K," she said and yawned, "Go a pawk ina daytime?"

"What sweetie?"

"She thinks that the beach is a park and wants to go out there tomorrow," Kelly said from where she was sitting on the other bed with Colton making sure that Paddington was tucked in next to him.

Joey nodded, "Yeah Hon, we can go to the beach tomorrow. We need to get out bathing suits and go swimming."

"Isa fishy?"

"We might see a fish," Joey said and finally remembered that it had been months since he'd been to the beach. They'd done a concert in the Bahamas and the Chili's commercials were done on the beach, but they hadn't spent much time playing. It was all work then.

"Will they eat our toes?" Colton asked from his bed.

"Who told you that?" Joey asked with a laugh.

"I think we were watching animal planet or something and he saw someone in the water with piranhas or something," Kelly said.

"I don't think they have piranhas in Hawaii," Joey said, "Besides...I'll make sure that they don't eat your toes."

"Ok," Colton said.

Joey leaned and kissed Brianna then moved across to the other bed and kissed Colton goodnight.

"Kiss mommy," Brianna said from her bed.

"Yeah," Colton said, "Kiss Mommy."

Joey's breath caught in his throat when he heard Colton call Kelly Mommy and he noticed the shocked look on her face too. He leaned and kissed her quickly before the kids would make a bigger deal out of things then left the room with rushed I love you's to the kids.


When Joey left the room in a rush Kelly knew that their conversation over the state of their relationship needed to happen now instead of later. She tucked the kids in and grabbed the baby monitor then found her way down to the first floor. Joey had disappeared, but she soon found him out on the back porch again, sitting where she'd found him before. He looked extremely worried about something.

"Joey?" she asked mimicking the way she'd spoken to him a few minutes before when she'd come to get him to see the kids to bed.

"What Hon?" he asked.

"Are you ok?" she asked putting a hand over her own stomach. She knew that her stomach had been fine most of the day and the day before, but she was sure that if he acted this way the rest of the trip she'd probably end up throwing up on him due to the tension.

"I'm sorry about that--" He moved his arm out to point into the house then put it back on the armrest where it had been before. "I didn't mean to run out like that, but--"

"It's ok Joe," she said and went and took seat next to him. "Colton started to call me that last week and even though I explained to him that I'm not his mom, he said that he wanted to call me that because I was his second mom. Maybe I should tell him not to call me that anymore." She stared out at the horizon the way he was and waited to see if he would say anything more. With the waves and the wind, it wasn't quiet for them, but the silence in their conversation was almost too much to handle.

"We have to finish this Kelly. I mean really this time we need to just finish it."

"Finish it?" she said and found that her breath started to rush from her lungs. She didn't want to this to be finished. She didn't want it to end. She knew that she had spent the last month or so fighting the things that had happened to them, but in the last week she'd realized that she didn't want to be away from Joey. Any time with him, no matter how stressful, was still better than the thought of being without him.

"Kelly," Joey waved in front of her face. He was now sitting with his feet on the ground instead of on the lounge chair. He had pulled his chair up to hers. "Kelly honey don't cry."

She finally felt the tears running down her cheeks and reached to wipe her face, "How can I not cry? I'm sitting here listening to you tell me that you don't want to be with me anymore."

"That's not what I said--" He took her hands and made her sit facing him. "That's not what I said at all. I meant finishing our fight baby. I didn't mean finishing us. I don't think either of us could be finished. We've been through too much to ever be finished."

Kelly couldn't believe the honesty that he'd just used with her. Normally he would have stayed silent or said what she wanted to hear, but now she could see that his eyes spoke the truth. He wanted to finish their fight just as much as she wanted it to be over.

"You never let me say this to you three weeks ago, but that girl in the club--"

"Please Joe. I don't want to hear about the girl in the club," she said pulling her hands away.

"No," he said in a loud voice, "NO. You're gonna listen to me Kelly. I deserve that much."

"Fine," she said closing her eyes, "Fine tell me."

"Open your eyes and look at me," he said with a rough voice. "I want you to look me in the eyes when I say this. I don't know if you'll believe me, but I'm telling the truth when I say this." He didn't blink as he spoke. "Nothing happened. She sat down next to me and wanted to dance and I told her that I couldn't because I was thinking about you."

She took a deep breath and held it and saw in his eyes that he was telling the truth. "You were?"

"Of course I was," he said, "Why the hell wouldn't I be thinking about you?"

"I don't know Joey," she said and sighed, "I'm confused. I just--" Her tears started again and she shook her hands away from him. "I can't do this Joe. I thought that things were ok. I thought that you loved me and that all changed in that moment and I have no way of knowing if--" She broke down in tears.

"Kelly I love you. Of course I love you," he said.

"I can't trust that anymore Joey!" Kelly sat down again away from him and covered her face. "I want to. I love you. I love you with all my heart, but I can't...I'm always on edge with you. My whole world flips upside down every time you leave and it does it again every time you leave. I can't do this anymore Joey. I want to be with you and be with you for good, but you can't make that promise to me."

"Marriage," he said, "That's what this is all about?"

"Yes marriage," she said glaring at him, "I know I may be considered a bitch for saying it Joey, but it's important and I don't understand why you won't marry me. I mean am I not good enough for it?"

"Not good enough?" he asked, "Where did you get that idea?"

"Because I feel like a whore. You fly into town sleep with me and leave. I mean it's like fucking Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Richard Gere wanted to set her up with an apartment to keep her trapped there or whatever--"

"Kelly where is this coming from. I never trapped you. I never even thought about trapping you. I wanted to share what I had with you. I wanted there to be an US the way there always has been an US."

"There isn't an US Joe. There's me and then there is you."

"If that's the way you want it then I guess there isn't any use in me having this," he handed her a tiny box and stared at her. "If you want marriage so bad then have it--"

"What is this?" she asked.

Joey took the box back and opened it. "I wanted to propose to you on this trip, but I sure didn't think it would happen like this. I would have done it before, but before never seemed the right time or for the right reason."

"The right reason? Isn't you loving me enough reason?"

"I didn't want you to think that I was marrying you because I thought I had to. When I found out about Brianna I wanted to marry you right away, but then it became this thing people..." He took a breath. "...People that I had to marry you...but they made it sound like I had to do it because it was the right thing to do, not because I loved you."

"You wanted to marry me back then?"

"Of course. I wanted to marry you in high school, but with the group getting going and me being in Europe I knew that I couldn't marry you and be overseas."

"You did?" she asked.

"Yes," he said, "I know that I was dumb. I know I shouldn't have gotten together with Yvonne in the first place. It was stupid of me, but at the time I was upset. I'd asked you about waiting for me to get some things settled with the group and you weren't sure about us--I can't hate Colton, but I hate the fact that I let someone get in the way of you and me."

"I don't want you to hate Colton," she said, "I never said that. I just want for him to be able to call me Mommy and have it be true Joey."

Joey stared at her for a minute. "I don't get you Kelly. You say that you don't trust that I'll be there for you then say you want me and Colton and you and Brianna to be family. What do you want from me?"

Kelly stared at him. It had never been put out there so bluntly for her.

"Why don't you think about it," he said, "I'm gonna take a walk."

Kelly watched him go down the steps and disappear into the darkness that was now covering the beach.

 

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