[ a week later... ]

"Kelly, it's me again." He sighed and moved his baseball hat off his head and looked out the window of the hotel they were staying in as tears filled his eyes. It was the fatigue of the day and not the thoughts of Kelly being mad at him that got his eyes watering. He rubbed his bare head with his hand and shoved the hat back on. He'd wanted to hear her voice, but he'd been calling all day and hadn't gotten a hold of her yet. "I don't know where you are or what is going on, but call me ok? I'm going out with JC and Justin tonight, but call me and leave me a message. I'll try and call you back." He stared out the window at the crowd below them and tried to think about the million possible explanations for her whereabouts. "I love to you soon." He hung up the phone and shoved it in his pocket.

Mike tapped him on the shoulder and motioned towards the elevator to tell him that it was there for him. "Are you ok?"

"I'm fine." Joey moved into the small compartment and stared at the strange patterned carpet for a moment waiting for his eyes to dry up a little. His eyebrows stayed pinched together as he tried to figure out where she was. He always knew that he got disconnected from what was going on at home, but today he had no clue where she was. "Kelly's been busy today I guess. I'm just--" He sighed and wiped his hands over his face. "I just am freaking out because I can't get a hold of her. Usually she calls me back. I thought that she'd call me by now."

"You're being such a girl right now." Mike joked, "You're acting so clingy." There was a pause then he spoke again, "How are things going for you guys?"

He took a moment before answering. If someone had asked him that morning how things were going he would have said better or fine, but now he wasn't sure. He thought that even though their love making before he'd left on tour hadn't been earthshaking for him he actually thought that things were on the way back to getting normal.

Finally he sighed, "I thought it was getting better, but who knows now. Maybe I'm wrong though. She probably is just busy, but it's usually not like her to not call me back. I've left her five messages today."

"She's probably just running around." Mike seemed relaxed as he spoke, trying to calm his nerves. "She's got the two kids now. I know from experience that one is a blessing and two is a job. She's probably just running around after them."

Joey leaned back against the wall to think about how stupid he'd been in the last few weeks. he hadn't even asked her if she'd take care of Colton. He'd just assumed that she would. "I should have hired a nanny or something to help out."

"Don't even start that," Mike said, "I shouldn't have even mentioned it. Just stop your thinking for now and get ready to party with the guys or they'll give you more shit than I will."

"Yeah, yeah," he said and fixed his hat again before taking another deep breath to get himself ready to have a good time that night.


The green beer bottle in front of him was taking up his full attention that night. He had ordered this third one about twenty minutes before and had yet to finish it, a slow in his trend of drink until you get drunk then wait to see if you puke or not. He was tired, and it wasn't just the dancing that had done it to him that night. He'd taken some time to be on the dance floor the group's dancer Michele and even Wade's sister Chantal had convinced him to dance with her for a while, but he'd gotten tired of the scene. The people and the music were like every other night and he wanted out of this pattern.

Despite wanting to go back to the hotel he knew that he shouldn't leave early because it would start more rumors, so he'd taken a seat in the corner of the VIP section of the club. For a while he'd stared at the blank screen on his phone telling him that he had no messages, then had slammed a beer and sat back and watched people. He'd again taken up staring at his bottle for a while when a few girls tried to flirt with him from across the room.

It wasn't that Joey was even that tired really, he was just tired of being without Kelly. She was his partner in crime and he hated the feeling of knowing that she was home and he was there and he had no clue what the status of their relationship was. He wanted to believe that he could make things better with her. He wanted to get back to how things were before he and she had gotten so messed up.

He wanted to be able to reach across the bed in the middle of the night and find her there next to him, instead of finding himself in some empty bed on the other side of the country.


"You're naked," she pointed out.

"Yeah?" He looked over, "Is there a problem with that?"

"No...just why?"

"I always sleep nude," he said.

"No you don't."

"Yes I do," he replied back looking at her with a goofy smile on his face. "Easy access."

"Great," she said, "My man the whore."

His hands slid out from under his head and snaked across the bed towards her. He curled his arms around her middle and pulled her across the bed, letting her book drop to the floor.

"Joe!" she said in mock protest then slid her arms around her middle to cover his.

"Baby," he said, "It's my last night home for two weeks." His hand slid up a little under her shirt and moved across her breast a little.

"Joe?" she said.

"Yes?" he said, "That's my name."

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"I'm trying to seduce you," he said the pulled away, turning away from her to playfully pout about the situation, knowing that if he did so Kelly would play along. "But I guess I'm losing my touch. I walk around naked, touch you, use all my little tricks, but I guess it's not working."

Moments later the lamp next to her side of the bed was switched off and he felt her move across the bed. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, pulling in the scent of her as she pressed her body against his bare back. Her hands slid around his hips and across his stomach as she whispered, "Turn out the lights Joe."

Joey reached and flipped the lights off then turned and pulled Kelly against him. He held her there for a moment against him. He ran a hand over her hair and kissed her temple then moved his hands to her cheeks to pull her face close to his for a kiss. He ravished her lips with his for a time before pulling back breathlessly to ask, "Kel, take off your clothes baby."

"What?" she asked smiling against his lips. "No foreplay? Just wham bam thank you ma'am?"

"Kel?" He rolled them over so that he was lying on top of her. He reached and spread her legs out a little to settle himself between them then propped himself up so that he could look at her in the low light of the room. He didn't let that sigh of contentment from her pass from his attention. She liked this as much as he did.

The streetlights from outside left them with just enough light to see each other. She licked her lips and smiled. In return he leaned and kissed the exposed skin of her neck and chest before panting out, "I want to make love to you then get to the foreplay and do it all over again."


"You ok man?" JC asked sliding into the booth next to him, pulling him from his thoughts of Kelly.

"Yeah," he said and forced a yawn. "I didn't sleep good last night and this beer is getting to me."

"You sure?" JC asked, "I know you've been tired before, but you always dance with everyone."

"I'm fine," he said, "I'm just trying to wait and see if Kelly calls me. She hasn't called me back from earlier and I'm starting to get a little worried." He pushed his beer bottle across the table and grabbed a sugar packet from the container and began to push it around the tabletop.

"You've really changed you know Joe?" JC said, "I mean not just the fucked up fighting shit, but there's a new you around here lately."

"I've got kids to think about JC," Joey said, "I want to be there with them every moment and being here and being the playboy of the group really takes me away from them. I mean I can handle the touring and the shows, but right now I'd rather be at the hotel on the phone with them instead of sitting here."

"Why don't you go then?" JC suggested.

"I'll try and head out in a while," he said, "If I go back to the hotel and call and she doesn't pick up I'm gonna go stir crazy so I'm trying to drag it out as much as possible." He pulled his beer bottle over to him again and took another drink.

"Well I'll leave you to it. Chantal is trying to teach me something new her brother was talking about." JC patted his shoulder when he was standing and said, "Good luck with that Joe."

"Thanks," he said and stared again at his bottle.

When a manicured hand slid across the table and grabbed for his beer Joey looked up at the girl. He couldn't hear a thing as she spoke to him so he motioned for her to sit down and watched as she scooted around to sit next to him.

"I'm Nat," she said leaning close to him.

Even though he figured she knew his name he moved his hand, wiped the condensation from the bottle on his jeans then reached to shake her hand. "Joey."

"I know," she laughed and adjusted her shirt a little, making sure, Joey could see, to touch the front of her shirt near her breasts. He'd seen it done a million times before and normally he would let his eyes linger for a while, to make the girl feel like he was paying attention, but that night his mind had been on Kelly and he didn't want this girl sitting next to him tempting him.

In his mood and with the help of alcohol he could get himself into trouble.

"So what are you doing sitting over here?" she said, "I always thought that you were the partier."

Joey could answer a few different ways, but he decided to be truthful for once. "Actually I'm praying that my phone rings tonight," he said. He grabbed out his phone and looked at it in the dim light, "I'm waiting for my girlfriend to call me back."

"You have a girlfriend?" she asked with a pout.

"Yeah," he asked. He didn't care that she was pouting. He always was trying to make other people feel like they were important when he met them, but he was starting to feel that maybe that was partly his problem. His priority hadn't been Kelly and his kids. It had been everything BUT them. "I've known her for a million years." His mind immediately clicked to the next thought, but he didn't say it out loud I'm gonna marry her.

"That's too bad," she said and leaned and kissed his cheek.

"Bad why?" he asked angrily wiping at his face, "Bad because I'm in love with a woman who is in love with me?" He pushed himself away from the table knocking into someone.

When he turned and looked at the person he saw that it was Kelly. The anger on her face was devastating to him. He'd completely lost her just then. He'd broken her heart in the two seconds that it had taken him to stand there and bump into her.

Fans surrounded the hotel when her cab pulled up to the curb. She pulled her jacket's hood over her head and made her way inside, wincing at the sight of the fans who recognized her and wanted autographs. She hated acting so snobbish, but she didn't want to talk to them. It was hard enough for her to get her bearings as it was, tears and other people asking about what had happened would only make her even more disoriented.


She looked up and found Chris standing near a vending machine near the phones off to the side of the lobby. "I can't talk right now Chris," she said and hurried passed him.

"Kelly!" he said and jumped into the elevator as she pressed the button to go up to the floor where her things had been taken to Joey's room.

"Chris I can't talk right now," she said, "I have to get my things and get back to the airport."

"Didn't you just get here?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said, "I was planning on meeting up with Joey for two or three days, but I got to the club--" Her eyes shut against the memory of the lipstick on his cheek and the surprised look on his face when he bumped into her. "I shouldn't be here. I need to go home."

"Kelly what happened?" Chris asked.

"What are you doing at the hotel anyway?" she asked wiping her face trying to get him to talk about something else. "I thought that you and Michele were seeing each other a little."

Chris punched every floor between the lobby and the floor she'd pressed, to slow them down then turned and put his hands on her shoulders and turned to face him. "I'm a tired old man here Kelly, don't fuck around. What's going on with you?"

"I went to go see him and he was cuddled up with this girl in a booth and she kissed him."

The elevator door opened and a moment later closed again. They only spoke when they knew they were alone.

"Are you sure?" Chris asked then rolled his eyes when she looked at him angrily. "I just wanted to make sure you knew what you saw because the last few days the only thing Joey has been talking about is you."

"I'm sure what I saw. I saw him and a blond and lipstick on his cheek and him looking at me like he was surprised to see me."

When the door opened on the next floor they caught some girl off guard and even though she recognized who Chris was, she only screamed and stayed where she was as Chris pressed the button to close the door again.

"You were there to surprise him weren't you?" Chris asked.

"That's not the point Chris!" she said, "I don't want him to get himself into things that would make him look at me the way he did. He looked guilty. He looked like he knew what he was doing and that he was surprised to get caught, not that he was surprised to see me there."

The door opened again, this time no one was around.

Chris pressed the button to shut the door again and leaned back against the wall. "You're making me dizzy here. What are you talking about? I'm not getting your thinking here"

"It's not that I caught him that gets me upset. It's the fact that he was there at all that makes me so pissed off. I guess I should have known. Surprises always seem to get fucked up." She took a deep breath. "I guess now it just proves it. Joey and I need to just break things off. I can't go through this. I can't watch him with other women. I can't."

"Joey loves you Kelly. I don't know what you saw, but that guy is in love with you."

Kelly moved out of the elevator when they got to her floor and Chris followed her. "You know everyone tells that to me, but it's not something that's come from him. I thought that before he left things were getting back to normal, but I was naive to think that he was changing."


Her head turned and she saw Joey coming out of the stairway. He was running towards her with a worried look on her face.

"Don't talk to me Joey."

"Kelly wait!" He slid to his knees in front of her and grabbed onto her hand. "Kelly please hear me out."

"You still have lipstick on your cheek Joey," she said and wiped it off his face and wiped it on his shirt. "Don't talk to me." She pushed his hands off hers and turned away from him and looked at Chris. "Can you arrange for a car for me to get back to the airport Chris? I need to grab my bag."

"Yeah," Chris said and she watched him looking at Joey.

"Kelly don't leave," he said, "I'll do anything you want...just let me explain."

"No," she said. She reached for the door handle to Joey's room and held onto it for a moment, feeling her stomach lurch. She pushed her way into the room and turned around to face both the men. "I'm tired of having you explain things to me." She slammed the door angrily and took a deep breath before she broke into hysterical tears.


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