The olive green couch cushion sank as she curled into her favorite spot on the end of it. Next to her on the end table was a small glass of clear liquid with three big ice cubes in it, the entertainment center’s remote and a well-worn copy of TV Guide slightly covering a horoscope from last week’s paper.
As she found a comfortable spot she sipped her drink then held onto it resting the glass against the pale blue terry cloth yoga pants she’d changed into after work. Her T-shirt said PEACE in big letters across the chest, but there was nothing peaceful about her mood or life.
The condensation from the glass marked a wet O shape into the fabric of her pants, soaking quickly through to the curled leg beneath the material. Her mind ignored the cold sensation on her leg as she reached for the remote to the entertainment center to play a CD. Her fingers pressed the buttons until Track Four could be seen on the LCD screen on the player.
Her body began to relax. The easing of the tension in her neck and back came only from the artificial relief that the alcohol she sipped on provided.
Normally by her second glass she was asleep, but tonight the thoughts she was having about the state of affairs in her life were keeping her from slumber and the full effects of the vodka. It had been a long day and it was looking as if it was going to be a long evening also.
As quiet piano music joined a soft drumbeat, Heather Headley’s sensuous voice filled the room. Closing her eyes for a moment she prayed that the music would help ease more of the tension, but she found over and over again that her eyes were glued to the picture across the room on the mantle and more importantly on the one next to it, which was blocking out all of the therapeutic aspects of the song she was listening to.
The first was a shot of the two of them, in what she referred to as the Camelot days, when things were perfect and they were the happy little couple. The framed photo was them on the set of one of the videos for the group, his arm around her looking very plastic in his stage make-up, but the genuine smile he had and the one she returned showed that neither of them were at all plastic when it came to their relationship.
The second, and more important picture next to it, was the group standing outside of the 2000 Billboard awards posing on the red carpet. He had that same happy look on his face, which was important, but also the picture had caught her in the background looking upset about being there. No one ever noticed the frown on her face or the slight dimness of her eyes, but she was drawn to it over and over again as she stared at the picture.
Feeling more depressed about the picture, she lifted the glass to her lips again and stared across the room at the telephone. It had been silent for too long this time. She shivered wishing that he had been able to call her that day.
She wasn’t that girlie, but today she’d missed the feeling of coming home to him and to the warmth of his arms around her as they joked about being an old married couple. Today, even the sound of his voice would have been some consolation for the physical absence that he hadn’t been able to avoid the last few weeks.
Why was it at times like this that she secretively wished that they’d never met? If she could have, she’d go back and erase the past few years. If loving him caused her this much pain, she’d gladly trade the good days for no days at all, just to ease the strain on her mind and heart.
People had told her over and over again that she shouldn’t have dated him to begin with. He hadn’t even shown a slight interest in her until the third blind date that they’d been “encouraged” to go on by a few not so close friends that thought they’d be good together. Maybe that had been the one sign that she should have paid more attention to. It could have warned her of the troubles for their future.
The good times were like living the fairytale life, parties and presents, good music and amazing sex life, but it-all that show and glitter-couldn’t get her past the idea that she was alone about sixty-five percent of the time and that there didn’t seem to be a change coming in that aspect of their relationship.
The last straw had been almost two years ago, or at least at the time she'd claimed that it was the last straw. He'd told her flat out that his career was the driving force in his life and that he'd worked too hard to have anything--meaning her-- get in the way of that. She tended to ignore that comment with the desperate hope that all that would go away and that her naive love for him would pull her through the hard times.
It wasn't work, but staying mad at him that was hard to do. When he'd show up after a big trip with flowers or a present and make love to her just steps inside the door and promise her in soft whispers as she fell asleep, naked in his arms, that he loved her and missed her when he traveled so much. The promises seemed to tide her over until the next time he left her alone then it would all come rushing back to her like it was tonight.
Her sister said that he didn't deserve her patience or understanding and that sometimes love wasn't enough to bring a couple through. But her sister was too practical for her own good and of course this advice coming from a single woman wasn't taken too seriously.
Needing to move around she found the cordless phone and brought it back tot he couch. She speed-dialed his cell phone number but again got his voice mail.
"Hey," she said softly. She cleared her throat and prayed she wouldn't cry into the phone. "I called you earlier, but I guess you're still out and about with the guys." She couldn't help but to sigh. "I was just going to say goodnight. I guess I'll talk to you tomorrow."
She put the phone down onto the coffee table and frowned deeper. She'd known that he'd be busy that day being on the road and all, but it was almost three in the morning his time and he should have called her back by now. Maybe he was ignoring her because she'd been a bit more clingy since the latest tour had started. She had tried not to be, but he was back into his world and drastic measures had to be taken to get his attention these days.
Just as she was about to pull herself away from sitting by the phone to take a shower and maybe take a nap, the phone rang. It startled her a little, but when she recovered enough to pick up the extension she held her breath for a moment praying that it was who she wanted it to be. Anyone else would have been a disappointment.
"Hi Baby." His voice was like velvet, tickling her ear and making her smile even though she was surely in the middle of a soft depression.
"Hi," she said.
"You called earlier?"
"Yeah," she said.
There was background noise.
"Hold on a sec baby," he put the phone up against his chest, the material of his shirt or jacket wasn't a good dampener of the sound, but it probably was better than hearing the full bore of fans screaming at him as he walked by.
"Hey?" he said finally when the sound had calmed down. "Are you still there?"
"I'm here," she said. "Where are you?"
She heard him moving around a little then heard his breath come out hard as he sat down.
"In the bus," he said.
"Are you ok?"
Her mind reeled at the simple question. She couldn't tell him the truth about the true state of affairs. He'd have answers to her questions and concerns and diffuse the situation faster than the NSYNC public relations machine. He had been taught for years to slip and slide out of situations like this and just because she'd been with him for a few years didn't mean he'd use his tricks on her.
"Baby," he said, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she sighed and tried to keep her eyes off the pictures on the mantle. "I just miss you."
"Awwee," he sighed out. "Baby I miss you."
"Where were you today?" she asked. Her voice came out pouty automatically.
"We got caught up in sound check. I got your messages, but I didn't have enough time to call you back." He sighed, "But guess what?"
"You'll be excited tomorrow," he said.
"Because I'm flying home late tomorrow night for two days."
Her heart rate went through the roof and her eyes watered. "Really?"
"I was supposed to go into the studio with Rip, but he's sick so I thought I'd come home."
"That's great," she said. It wasn't exactly the most romantic thing in the world to say to her, but if he was coming home that's what counted.
"So are you gonna be ok until I get back?" he asked. "You don't sound like yourself."
"I'll be fine," she said, "I'll be busy tomorrow with work anyway."
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes," she said hating to know that he was going to have that on his mind when he should be working. She needed to be a little selfish at times, but she did realize that when he was working, his mind and heart needed to be in it.
"I should go and get to sleep," he said, "But I'll be back around five in the morning tomorrow."
"Ok," she said, "I should go to sleep too."
"I love you baby," he said.
"I love you too," she said.
Once the phone was put down she found herself feeling even worse than she had before; not that she hated him anymore, but now she realized what those word could do to her. Those three words were what made the rest of that Hell worth it.
Horoscope from: here .
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Last updated: 07/05/04.