The Miscellaneous Adventures Of Uncertainy

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ialwayzbesingin
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The Miscellaneous Adventures Of Uncertainy

Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 6:30 pm

Hey I'm new to this board. xoinnocentjrtgrl referred me, so i figured i would post. hope yall like it. You can view the banner img.photobucket.com/albums/v74/ialwayzbesingin/my%20pics/theadvbanner.jpg

Chapter One

I make friends easily. I always have. And when that friend gets to know me really well, and I feel that I can trust them…that’s when I tell them about him. And most of the time, I wish I could have kept my mouth shut. After I tell them…they treat me differently…like they owe me something. Well most of the time anyway. I have a few friends that could care less who I know or what I’ve done in my lifetime…they’re the ones who I consider my true friends. Everybody else is simply an acquaintance, people I wouldn‘t call on for a favor if my life depended on it.

“Damn, there’s a whole plane here and my mom got me a seat next to you?�

I glance at him quickly, and roll my eyes before I turn my gaze back out the window again. I feel him annoyingly plop down in the seat beside me, and then I hear him turn his walkman on…the music blaring much too loudly from his headphones. Why bother having a walkman at all?

“Kerri…do you know what movie they’re showin?�

I don’t answer him, but he expects that. Justin and I haven’t spoken in three years…because he decided his ‘priorities’ were more important than his supposed best friend. Well I’m sorry Justin…just because I’m not some glamorous superstar like the rest of your friends doesn’t mean you can treat me like I’m less of a person.

God, I hate this.

“Kerri?�

“What?,� I grumble.

“Do you know what movie--�

“No!� I snap at him. “Ask somebody who gives a damn.�

He smiles sarcastically and shakes his head. “Damn girl, I know it’s been awhile since we talked and all but…�

“It’s been three years, Justin,� I remind him. “Look…I don’t need to hear your excuses or whatever else…I just want to get through this flight…this weekend, and get back to my life. I’m sure you want to do the same.�

He chuckles. “I guess I do now. Why do you always have to be so negative Kerri?�

“How would you know if I’m always negative? You haven‘t been around in three damn years.� I don’t know why I’m bothering to answer him. If anything, our conversation is only going to piss me off more, and I really don’t want to be in a pissed off mood for my parent’s anniversary. Me being away nine months out of the year is hard enough on them as it is…I want to be in good spirits.

But Justin isn’t going to help the situation.

“Oh so that’s what this is about?� he snaps at me. “You know Kerri…it works both ways. You didn’t call me either.�

“I tried to call,� I inform him. “And the one time somebody actually picked up the phone…it was some b'itch, who wanted to know ‘who the hell I was’ and ‘how I got the number’. I didn’t have time for that…so I just stopped calling.�

His shoulders sag and he sinks lower in his seat. “Look…we’re both at fault--�

“No,� I interrupt him. “I didn’t do anything. It was your stupid ego that broke up our friendship.�

“Oh okay,� he says sarcastically. “That’s fine.� He slips his headphones over his ears and closes his eyes.

I allow my eyes to linger on him for several moments. Now, with his eyes closed he doesn’t seem so bad. He looks like the same guy I knew three years ago. That guy who used to call me at three am from Germany because he was so confused about what his life was turning into. Most people think Justin was born to do what he does, and he was in a sense. I mean he really has a lot of natural talent. But the rest of it…the promotional side to being famous…Justin isn’t about that. I mean I’m sure he doesn’t mind all these girls wanting a piece of him…but at the same time Justin is a private person. He always has been. That’s why he used to call me way back when…because he didn’t know who he could trust.

But I know that Justin isn’t like that anymore.

The flight attendant announces that the seat belt prompt has been turned on and that we are going to be taking off in a moment. This is the only reason I tear my gaze from Justin. I’m so mad at myself right now. I hate him…I know I hate him. I don’t want this weekend to make me think that he’s changed or…that we can be friends again. Because I know we can’t. I have too much going on right now…and I can’t be sitting up at night, crying because he didn’t call. I can’t go through that again.

But somewhere…deep inside of me, I know there’s that part of me that still loves him.

The flight continues without incident. I watch the crappy @#%$ movie, and Justin sleeps the whole time. I find myself in baggage claim before I know it, with a bleary eyed Justin lagging behind me. He seems so tired, and I wonder why. Doesn’t he get enough sleep? Well…he did just finished touring.

I don’t care.

Our limo is ready and waiting for us outside of the terminal, and we pile our bags in front of the car and let the driver do the rest of the work. Soon we are on our way home. I’ve never been so happy to sit in a car before. I hate planes. They’re so uncomfortable, I can’t get to sleep.

“You sleep?�

I look over at him for the first time since we left the airport. “No. I can’t sleep on planes.�

“Oh,� he nods. “Too bad we weren’t going to England. They have those chairs that turn into beds.�

“Mmm,� I grunt. I shut my eyes, hoping I can get an hour of sleep in before we arrive in Millington. But Justin…he keeps talking. He’s always been like this. When we were little we would sleep at each others houses, and he would keep me up all night talking about the stupidest s'hit.

“Kerri…did you see those pictures?�

I hate him. “What?�

“They took new pictures…of Hailey’s comet. Did you see?�

How can he bring this up right now? How…how did he even remember that? “You care?� I say to him.

He narrows his blue eyes at me. “I love that comet. Come on Kerri…I’m not like…this new person. I still like the same things, I still do the same things I used to do before you stopped talking to me.�

“I didn’t stop talking to you,� I snap. “You stopped calling.�

“Well whatever. Anyway, you didn’t answer my question.�

I roll my eyes. “I saw them,� I admit, reluctantly. “I did a paper on it, actually.�

“It was really awesome this time. I went up on my roof and watched it,� he tells me. “I wish you could have been there.�

“That’s such bull Justin, and you know it,� I laugh. “I probably didn’t cross your mind until you saw me on the plane this morning.�

“How do you know what I have and haven’t thought about?� he asks me angrily. “You know Kerri, I’m tired of getting the third degree from you.�

“Just drop it,� I tell him. I close my eyes again and turn away from him.

“Just drop it,� he mocks. “You’re a little b'itch Kerri.�

Now I remember why I hate him. I sit up and look over at him again. “And you’re a fu'cking a'sshole,� I inform him. I think I said it too loud because now the limo driver is glancing back at us through the rearview mirror. I smile at him, just to spite him, and he looks away from us again.

“I’ve been called worse,� he tells me. Then he proceeds to tune me out with his walkman, and I’m glad because I really don’t want to start a screaming match with him when we’re so close to home. I think Justin is thinking the same thing too. He doesn’t get to see his whole family that often, and when he does he likes to be in a good mood. I think the boys are going to be there too…yeah…I’m sure he doesn’t want to be in a bad mood for them.

My phone starts to ring, and for once I’m thankful. Usually I hate talking on the phone…I get bored with conversations very easily unless you are right in front of me. But Justin has made me so uncomfortable, I’m ready to try anything to get the feeling to go away. “Hello?�

“Hey girl. Is Justin with you? He’s not answering his phone.�

Trace hasn’t called my phone in over two weeks. I was beginning to think he didn’t care either, and hell, maybe he doesn’t. I mean after all, he is asking for Justin. “He’s with me,� I reply glumly. “Nice to hear from you too.�

“Hey…I’m sorry Kerri,� he laughs. “I guess I’ve been kind of a jerk…not calling you for all this time. The damn tour has kept me so busy though, it’s been hard for me to even call my girlfriend. You know how J’s schedule is.�

I know how his schedule is…but Trace has never been one to not call to keep me posted. He’s always been good like that. During the weeks I wouldn’t hear from Justin, Trace would call to tell me that he was eating at least once a day. When he stopped calling though…that’s when I really started to doubt him. Trace has never done this before…and to be honest, I’m hurt.

“I know…you don’t have to tell me,� he speaks up before I can answer. “It’s not an excuse. But hell…it’s the truth. You know I wouldn’t stop calling you on purpose.�

“Right,� I mutter. “That’s Justin’s job.�

“Oh god,� he groans. “Don’t tell me….you’ve been fighting this whole time?�

“So what if we have?�

“You realize that your mom and Lynn planned your little carpool so you could reunite don’t you?� he points out.

I roll my eyes. “I’m not stupid Trace.�

“I never said that. All I’m saying is that everybody is expecting you two to put the bad s'hit behind you and be friends again. I mean, come on Kerri…it was three years ago.�

Trace is the only person that knows what went down between Justin and I. And he has a right to know…I mean he’s like a brother to Justin…and the three of us have been friends our entire lives. At the time, I also knew if I didn’t talk to Trace about it…Justin would tell him anyway. Then he would have been mad that I kept what happened from him. I didn’t want that…I didn’t want both of them being mad at me…so I talked to him. I’m glad I did too…because Trace is great to talk to when you have a problem. He’s the type that listens to you, and doesn’t interrupt. That was the kind of person I needed to talk to then. “It’s not my fault that he’s an a'sshole,� I grumble.

“But he’s not,� Trace laughs. “He’s the same guy you were in love with three years ago, Kerri. You guys just got weirded out from all that…stuff that went on.�

“I was never in love with him,� I protest. I wasn’t. It was just a stupid little thing that lasted for a couple of weeks. I thought I liked him. I thought he liked me. But then…I was so totally wrong. He proved that to me…after it happened.

“Okay okay,� he says. “Look…I gotta go pick up the pizzas for everybody. You need to try to lighten up. Nobody wants you two in a mood…you know that don’t you?�

I sigh. “Yes Trace…I’ll try to be accommodating.�

“Great. Hey…do you like pineapples on your pizza?�

I scrunch up my nose. “That’s gross. You better not put that s'hit on my pizza.�

“If you’re not careful I just might,� he threatens. “I’ll see you in a bit.�

“Oh, I can’t wait,� I say sarcastically.

“I know,� he snickers. “Bye.�

I hear him hang up, and let out a long sigh. This is going to be one long weekend.
***************
“KerriKerriKerriKerri!!� My four year old sister Mary, throws her arms around my legs the moment I open the door, and I can’t help but smile. I pick her up and swing her around in my arms a few times, not being able to help but be a little sad. She’s grown so much since the last time I saw her. I feel like I’m missing huge portions of her life the more I’m away at school. But I know it can’t be helped. I wanted to go to school in New York, so I guess it’s my fault that I’m missing out on everything.

“Hey you,� I smile, and peck her on the forehead. “You got so big.�

She leans her head on my shoulder and toys with the necklace that I’m wearing. “I miss you,� she sighs.

“I miss you too,� I whisper. “But…I brought you a present. How does that sound?�

She shrugs her little shoulders. “Don’t want present. Want you.�

“Well I’m here,� I reassure her. “You don’t need to be sad anymore.�

“Kerri…is that you?� I hear my mothers voice echoing from somewhere in the house and I smile. I feel like its been ages since I’ve stood in this house, Mary in my arms…waiting for my mother to greet me at the doorway. I guess it has been a long time. I left for school two months early this semester to get some intern work in. I’m a communications major, and I really want to do radio. With Trace’s ‘connections’, I got the opportunity to intern at Z100, which is like the most popular radio station in New York. I didn’t want to leave Mary behind so early of course…but I didn’t want to pass up a great opportunity either. I’m glad I didn’t. I had a lot of fun interning there.

“Yeah mom!� I call back. I set Mary down, and she runs back to her cartoons. I hate to see that she’s becoming attached to the television…but that’s the age she’s at right now. My mother isn’t’ one to let the television baby-sit the children…but she’s not one to keep rules about how often her children watch it either. My father was always the one to turn the television off when he felt I was getting too much of it…I think I’m more like him.

“Kerri!� My mother appears in front of me a few moments later. She immediately rushes over to me and throws her arms around me in a warm embrace. “Oh…it’s so good to see you again!�

“Hi mom.� I’m not as enthusiastic as she is either. I know where Mary gets it from though…and I’m sure she’s going to grow up and be just as loud and outspoken as my mother is. I guess that’s good. She probably won’t have too much trouble fitting in…and when you’re a kid there is nothing worse than not being able to fit in. “How are you?�

“Oh I’m fine,� she smiles, finally detaching herself from me. “I’ve had my hands full all day though. This anniversary party is going to be something else,� she laughs.

“I’m sure it’s going to be great,� I smile. “Is there anything I can do?�

“Oh no,� she says. “You’ve had a long flight. Why don’t you get settled and I’ll make you something to eat?�

I sigh. “Mom…I want to help. This is your anniversary party--�

“And you’ve done enough by being here,� she says. “Now go…sit down and relax.�

I don’t try to put up a fight, because I know she’s not going to let me help her no matter what I say…so I give in and head toward the staircase leading up to my bedroom. Then I hear it…his voice. Why is he here? I thought he was going home. I don’t want to deal with him.

“Hi Mrs. Donovan.� He smiles his boyish ‘I’m such a charmer’ smile, and approaches her.

I can’t stand him.

“Justin!� My mother greets him the same way she greeted me. At times, I think she wishes Justin were her son too. In fact…I don’t even think she wishes it anymore…I think she has pretty much adopted him. He and I were so inseparable when we were younger though, I can’t say I blame her. I begin to wonder when I’ll be seeing his mother and the rest of his family. I have to admit, I’m a little nervous to see Lynn again. I don’t know if she has an ‘opinion’ about me now that Justin and I aren’t close anymore. I know that Justin has a big influence over her…he always has. And I know he can make her think anything he wants.

“It’s great to see you.� He pulls away from her finally, and steals a glance at me. He smiles a little, but I don’t return the offer. Then he frowns, and I’m proud of myself. That’s right Justin. You can’t win me over…not anymore anyway.

“Who wants pizza!�

I turn to find Trace standing behind me. He’s such a dumb @#%$, but I smile anyway and practically run across the room to greet him. He hugs me, and I let him hold me for a few minutes. He knows I need this. He knows how hard the flight and the car ride were for me. I need a friend right now. A friend that knows me inside and out.

“Hey you,� he whispers. “You okay?�

I nod. “Now I am.�

“Oh girl…why couldn’t you have acted like this a year ago? We could have had something,� he laughs.

“Yeah right,� I chuckle. “I wouldn’t date your skuzzy @#%$.�

“Hey,� he pouts. “Elisha happens to think my @#%$ is far from skuzzy.�

I smile. “You got lucky with her.�

“Trace.� I hear Justin’s voice interrupt our playful conversation, and I pull away from Trace. I turn slightly, and see him standing there. He doesn’t make eye contact with me though. I’m thankful.

“Hey man.� Trace steps forward and performs their routine ‘homeboy’ handshake. “I got the pizza.�

“Cool,� he nods. He glances at me again, before moving past us. “I’ll be at mom’s.�

“Alright,� Trace responds, watching him walk out the door. He looks back at me after a moment. “That bad huh?�

“Of course,� I mutter. “Why would you think any different?�

He shoots me a knowing smile. “You started it didn’t you?�

“Trace!� I whine. “What the hell?�

“You did,� he says, pointing his finger at me. “You were a b'itch to him from the moment he sat down on the plane, weren’t you?�

“I had no reason to be nice to him,� I defend, stupidly. “You don’t just…fu'ck somebody over like Justin fu'cked me over.�

“He didn’t fu'ck you over. You both fu'cked yourselves alright?,� he tells me. “I wish you two would drop it…it’s getting old. I’m tired of hearing ‘oh Trace…what did I do to drive her away…�

“Wait,� I interrupt. “He said that?�

He sucks in a breath, and smiles a little. “S'hit…I really need to learn to keep my mouth shut.�

“It’s too late,� I say quickly.

“The pizza is getting cold,� he informs me. “I just came by to say hey to you…I gotta go.�

I grab onto his arm. “You better not,� I warn. “You need to fill me in.�

He pulls away from me. “You hate him though…remember?� He slides himself past me and out the door. “I’ll see you a little later, Kerri.�

“Trace!�

But he’s gone already.

Damn him. Damn him for being such…a friend.

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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 6:38 pm

Chapter Two

“Have some more.â€￾

I suck in a breath as Nana plops another piece of her peach cobbler on my plate. I really shouldn’t be eating like this. My nutritionist would totally s'hit himself. This stuff is terrible for my diet…but I just finished a long ass tour, so I guess I’m entitled to a little sin right? “Thanks Nana,â€￾ I smile, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Where is Kerri?,â€￾ she asks me. “She loves my pies.â€￾

“She’s home,â€￾ I grumble. I don’t want to talk about her right now. This is my time with Nana. Kerri doesn’t need to be a part of it. Man, I’m so pissed at that girl. It’s been three years since we’ve spoken, and she still holds the same grudges against me that she did back then. I mean sure, at the time I understood why we couldn’t really talk. The whole situation was f'ucked up. I wouldn’t have wanted to talk to me either. But now…it’s been three years. She needs to let this go already. We’ve known each other too long to never talk again. It’s like…if Trace and I got into a fight.

Okay…well maybe not exactly like that.

“Hey my baby babe.â€￾ My mom struts into the kitchen and kisses me on the cheek.

If any of my friends were around I would totally act like I was too old for that name. But right now…when it’s just me momma and Nana, I let my true feelings show. My smile is a mile wide, and I drop my fork and hug and kiss my mom. “Hi momma.â€￾

The she asks me the million dollar question. “Where’s Kerri?â€￾

“Home,â€￾ I reply quickly. “Look…Nana made pie.â€￾

My mom eyes my plate disapprovingly. “And how many pieces have you had?â€￾

“He’s fine,â€￾ Nana interrupts before I can tell my mom the awful truth. “You just let your boy eat.â€￾

My mom laughs. “Mom…you’re too much.â€￾

“Have some pie,â€￾ she tells her, plopping a plate in front of my mother. “Stop thinking about business so much, Lynn.â€￾ She winks at me before retreating into the living room.

My mother sighs, but doesn’t hesitate to dig into her pie. She pops a piece into her mouth and closes her eyes, savoring the flavor. I smile. I do the same thing. “So,â€￾ she says finally. “Kerri is home?â€￾

I nod.

“Well…did you two talk at least?â€￾ My mother loves Kerri. She has from the moment we met in preschool. I think she always dreamed that we would turn into this beautiful couple and get married one day. I used to think we would too. But now, I don’t think it will ever happen. She won’t even talk to me, but it’s mostly my fault that she won’t. She was right, I did stop calling. I stopped calling because it hurt too much to try and explain myself to her. Then Britney came back into my life, and I fell…hard.

“We’re not on good terms mom,â€￾ I admit. “Sorry to crush your dreams of a romantic reunion.â€￾

“You need to try,â€￾ she tells me, pointing at me with her fork. “You’ve known each other too long to never speak to each other again.â€￾

“Try telling Kerri that,â€￾ I laugh. “She’s so stubborn mom. I mean, I guess what happened between us was devastating, but still…she acts like I killed somebody.â€￾

“You broke her heart,â€￾ my mom nods. “For a girl…there’s nothing worse than that.â€￾

“It wasn’t my intention…we’ve been through this a thousand times, momma. What happened just…happened. I think deep down, we both knew it would happen eventually…but we didn’t know it would freak us out.â€￾

“Sex,â€￾ she says, while I almost choke on my pie. “Is a delicate subject, Justin. Especially when…it’s your first time.â€￾

“She said she wanted to do it. And…I wanted to do it. Hell, it wasn’t my first time at stake.â€￾

“You should have acted like the man I raised and thought about how she would feel,â€￾ she says. “Maybe if you did that you wouldn’t be in this mess with her.â€￾

Okay…so I told my mom about what happened. But I tell my mom everything. She’s a great listener. Like, she understands. I guess it’s because she had me when she was so young, that she can relate to what I go through. I need that kind of a parent in my mom though, because my life is so crazy. Besides my mom, Trace is the only other person I trust to talk about this kind of stuff with. If I couldn’t talk to my mom like I do…I’d probably go crazy. “It just happened,â€￾ I shrug. “And we were younger than we are now. We just got caught up. I don’t think she regrets it as much as she acts like she does.â€￾

“You didn’t call her,â€￾ she reminds me. “I think that hurt her most of all.â€￾

“Britney happened,â€￾ I say. “How could I go and call Kerri with Britney hanging over my head?â€￾

“Well,â€￾ she smirks. “Britney certainly had no problem stabbing you in the back.â€￾

My mom really loved Brit. She treated her like a daughter, and that was one of the reasons I allowed myself to fall in love with her. When she went and cheated on me…I think it hurt my mom as much as it hurt me. As far as I know, they haven’t really spoken since we split. I feel a little bad for Brit, because they were really close. But then again…she brought this on herself. “Let’s not go there today,â€￾ I say, shoving more pie in my mouth. I chew what’s in my mouth and swallow before continuing. “I have enough on my mind.â€￾

She scoops the last of her pie into her mouth and nods. “You’re right. Let’s just try to enjoy the weekend.â€￾ She kisses me on the cheek again, and gets up from the table to put her plate in the sink. “Oh s'hit!â€￾ she exclaims.

I nearly jump out of my seat. “What!â€￾

“The cake! I was supposed to send somebody for it an hour ago! Oh Justin…can you go? I just have so much to do…I don’t think I can go.â€￾

I groan. I’m so tired, and I really don’t feel like driving anyplace. But I know my mom has her hands full with all these party plans. The least I can do is pick up the damn cake for her. “Okay mom.â€￾ I force a smile and rise from the table. “You got it from Leonard’s right?â€￾

“Yes,â€￾ she smiles. “Thanks honey…I owe you.â€￾

“I’m having two big huge pieces of this cake,â€￾ I tell her. “And there’s nothing you can do.â€￾

“Fine,â€￾ she laughs. “You can work it off at the gym on Monday.â€￾

The thought of breaking a sweat at the gym makes me feel more tired than I already am But I like working out, so I don’t know why the thought of it is pissing me off. Oh well…whatever.

I’ll just go get the cake.
********************
This is the first car I ever bought for myself. I don’t know why I picked burgundy though. It’s really an ugly color. The guy really talked the car up though…told me all about its luxury features and junk. My father was there when I bought it, but he said I should have explored my options beforehand. I didn’t care then…but now I do. I mean, okay…I know I have a lot of money, but your first car is your first car. You can’t just get another first car. Oh well…it’s a Benz. That’s all that really matters I guess.

I’m driving past Kerri’s house now. I can see the tree we used to climb from here. When we were seven, I got really mad at her and pushed her out of it. I can’t even remember what she did that was so wrong…all I can remember is how much she cried, and how all I wanted to do was make her pain go away. I think that was the moment I realized that I really cared about her. Of course, when you’re seven you don’t really understand those kind of feelings. But I do know…after my mother punished me I didn’t care. All I wanted to know was if she was okay. That’s probably why, even though I was grounded, my mom still let me go to Kerri’s house. She always knew how close we were, and that’s why she gave me that lecture before. She wants to see us happy together.

But I just don’t think it’s possible.

I didn’t even realized I parked in front of her house. I feel really stupid, because she’s standing on the porch now, rolling her eyes at me. I wave a little, and she flips me off. You know what? Fu'ck her. I roll down the window. “What the hell?â€￾

“Why are you stalking me?â€￾ she grunts.

“I’m not stalking you,â€￾ I reply, turning my music down a little. “I was looking at the tree.â€￾

She glances behind her. “Oh…you mean the one you pushed me out of?â€￾

I roll my eyes. “We were seven Kerri.â€￾

“Yeah,â€￾ she laughs. “And you’re still the same a'sshole you were then.â€￾

She’s so bitter. I would find it sexy if it was anybody else. Anybody else I can win over…but not her. Kerri is her own person…she doesn’t need a man to live her life. Britney did. That’s why she did what she did…because I wasn’t around enough for her. “Look Kerri,â€￾ I say. “Can we just pretend we don’t hate each other for this weekend?â€￾

She walks over to the car and sticks her head in the window. “No,â€￾ she says. She glances around my car interior. “How many of these do you have now?â€￾

“Just the one,â€￾ I tell her. “You wanna go for a ride?â€￾

She laughs out loud. “That’s funny. You’ll probably kill me….throw me out of the car or something.â€￾

“Oh come on,â€￾ I say. “That’s stupid.â€￾

“Where are you going anyway?,â€￾ she asks. “The festivities are going to start soon.â€￾

“I have to pick up the cake, or there won’t be any festivities,â€￾ I inform her. “Come on, get in. You can help me.â€￾ I press the unlock button on my door panel and the lock pops up.

She starts to chew the corner of her bottom lip. She always does that when she’s nervous…or when she doesn’t know what to do. I know she wants to give in. I know she wants to talk to me. She’s so stubborn though, that she won’t allow herself to give in. “Look…Kerri…it was my fault. This whole thing okay?â€￾ I say, even though I don’t believe that.

“You don’t believe that,â€￾ she whispers.

I hate that she knows me so well. “How about I believe it, just for this weekend.â€￾

She sighs. “My mom wont let me help her do anything…so I guess….I’ll do it to help my parents out.â€￾ She walks around to the passenger side of the car and gets in.

It’s been entirely too long since we’ve driven around together. I let my gaze fall on her, and can’t help but stare at her for several moments. She looks even better than she did….

Never mind.

“Well,â€￾ she says after a moment. “Are you going to drive or sit here and look at me funny?â€￾

I don’t answer and step on the gas. She turns the music up, and scrunches up her nose when she hears what CD I’m playing.

“I hate Eminem,â€￾ she grumbles. “What else do you have in here?â€￾

“I dunno,â€￾ I huff. “There’s like a hundred CD’s in the player. Just hit a number on the remote.â€￾ I hand her the tiny remote, and she stares at it for several moments before punching in her selection. I can’t help but smile when ‘Girlfriend’ begins to fill the car. Man…what an awesome feeling. When I was a kid, I would go out with my mom and pretend to listen to my first single playing on the radio. My mom thought it was cute of course…that was before she really started to take me seriously. I think I’ve always taken myself seriously when it comes to music. I wasn’t like the other kids in my class. I was always so focused…such a perfectionist. I’m the same way today. Pharrell wanted to smack me when I was recording the album, because I kept changing things that he thought were perfect.

“Why me?â€￾ she moans.

I look over at her, and turn the music down a bit. “You used to love this song.â€￾

“I didn’t come here to listen to your stupid CD,â€￾ she snaps at me. She quickly punches in another number, and Coldplay begins to flow through the car’s interior, and I’m glad because I know it’s something we both like. “Thank god,â€￾ she says, leaning back into the leather seat.

“Kerri, I don’t know how I’m gonna make it through this weekend with you being so bitter about every little thing I say or do. I didn’t come home for this,â€￾ I tell her. “I came home to be with my family and have fun.â€￾

“So then stay away from me,â€￾ she replies. “Nobody is telling you to make an effort to be nice to me.â€￾

I really hate her.

“That’s gonna be hard to do,â€￾ I tell her. “You and I both wanna hang out with Trace…there’s no way he’s gonna split his time in half. Can’t you grow up?â€￾

“Me grow up!â€￾ she exclaims. “You’re the one who didn’t call me. You’re the one who let me sit up at night and wonder if you gave a damn about what went on between us. F'@#%$ you, Justin.â€￾ She shakes her head angrily and looks out the window.

Apparently three years apart from each other hasn’t been enough for Kerri. She’s still as mad as the day we blew up and said all of those ridiculous things to each other. Maybe…we just aren’t meant to be friends anymore. It makes me a little sad, because my whole childhood was spent with her…but what can I do? I’m not gonna kill myself to get her to come around. I have a lot of friends…and plenty of best friend in Trace. You know what?

I don’t care anymore.

“Fine,â€￾ I say. “After we pick up the cake I’ll drop you off, and we can both get on with our lives.â€￾

She doesn’t reply. I should be happy…but I’m not. Actually, I feel like s'hit. I want her to say something…even if it’s negative. I hate myself right now. Britney…she f'ucked me up. That’s what’s wrong with me. You know…I should have invited Cameron to come home with me. At least then I could focus my attention on somebody else besides Kerri. But I was afraid of the tension it might cause. I didn’t think my mom was ready for me to bring another girl home so soon. I mean, she wants me to be happy, but I know she’s not ready to trust somebody else around me yet. But, it’s only two days…yeah. Only two days and then I won’t have to deal with Kerri anymore. Hell, if I can handle being asked the same god damn questions about Britney over and over again, I can handle anything.

I take the road that leads to the local shopping center, and I’m thankful when I’m finally able to pull into the parking lot. Now we just have to get the cake and I’ll be done with this stupid s'hit.

Who’s that guy coming over here?
*******************
There’s some guy standing by Justin’s car. I think he’s one of those paparazzi guys. Ooo fun. Maybe I’ll get to see a live version of celebrities uncensored. Too bad I don’t have my video camera. I could make so much money off of that. They’d call it, JUSTIN UNCENSORED. Ha. Classic.

“Who the fu'ck is that?â€￾ Justin asks.

I look over at him again. “How should I know? Maybe he wants an autograph.â€￾

“He can fu'ck off,â€￾ Justin snaps. “I’m on vacation.â€￾

I glare at him. “So that means you can’t take time out for your fans? Wow Justin…that’s pretty shallow.â€￾

“That’s not a fan,â€￾ he informs me. “That’s probably some paparazzi a'sshole that followed me home. I’m not doing this on my vacation. I swear…I’ll throw his camera across the parking lot.â€￾

“Right, and then he’ll sue you.â€￾ Awhile back, Justin was involved in this lawsuit. Some girl filed charges against him saying he slammed her up against wall after she got an attitude with him. I was there that night. It didn’t happen like that, but Justin wasn’t exactly nice to her. She was a fan…she wanted a picture. He basically told her to go screw herself. It was wrong…but nobody thought she would have taken it as far as she did. “Like that girl,â€￾ I giggle.

“Don’t even go there,â€￾ he says to me. “Let’s just get the cake and get out of here before he starts taking pictures. I don’t want the world to think that I have some ‘mystery woman’ traveling around with me.â€￾

I feel my heart sink. I don’t know why. I don’t care if Justin wants to be seen with me or not. Hell, I don’t want to be seen with him either. So why do I feel this way? Dammit…where is Trace when I need moral support?

Justin opens his car door and starts to get out of the car. I see the man walk briskly over to his side, and I feel myself go numb. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. He’s probably just going to ask for an autograph or something.

“Can I help you?â€￾ Justin asks, still halfway out of the car.

“Yeah,â€￾ he says. “I think you can.â€￾

I open my door and start to get out of the car, wanting to get the cake out of the bakery while Justin is doing his ‘work’.

“Stay in the car Kerri,â€￾ he says to me.

“I’m getting the cake,â€￾ I tell him. “Relax.â€￾

“I said stay in the car,â€￾ he repeats.

“You’re not my f'ucking owner, Justin.â€￾

“Actually,â€￾ the mystery man speaks up. “I think it’s good idea if y’all get back into the car…right now.â€￾

Something is wrong. I slide myself back into the car, and turn my head in time to see the man pull a gun out of his back pocket. “Oh god,â€￾ I croak out. I feel lightheaded, and I want to run and hide someplace. But there isn’t anywhere to go. If I try to run, he’ll probably shoot me…or shoot Justin. I know we aren’t on the best terms…but I don’t want him to get hurt because of something I did.

“Whoa man,â€￾ Justin says. “What’s the problem? You want the car? Take it…just leave us alone okay?â€￾

“Get in the back,â€￾ he orders. “Do it quick.â€￾

Phone!, my mind screams at me. I realize that my cell is in my back pocket, but I don’t pull it out. I should…I should pull it out and dial 911 right now. But I’m terrified. That gun…it’s making me paralyzed. I’m a slave to it. What the hell do I do?

“Move!â€￾ the man yells at us.

I glance out the window quickly, hoping that there are people around who can help us. But it’s after six…and in this town, everybody is at home eating dinner with their families. The businesses are closing up. This place is a ghost town. Damn it, I wish I were in the city. People can’t pull s'hit off in New York this easily. I watch with wide eyes as Justin gets out of the car and gets into the back seat. I know I’m supposed to follow, but I can’t get myself to move. I’m still frozen in my seat.

“Kerri,â€￾ Justin whispers to me. “Kerri come on…come back here with me.â€￾

“That means you too sweetness,â€￾ the man says with a twisted smile. “Get a move on.â€￾

Now he’s pointing the gun at me, squeezing the trigger ever so slightly to get a rise out of me. I feel myself start to cry. This is not what you’re supposed to do when something like this happens. You’re supposed to remain calm. Oh my god…now I’m nearly hysterical. I need to stop. Please stop Kerri.

“I said move!â€￾ he yells. He rushes around to the other side of the car and wrenches the door open. He pushes the gun to my temple. I try to scream, but no sound will come out. I’m terrified. I’ve never been this terrified in my life.

“Hey!â€￾ Justin says. “Just leave her alone…she’s not a part of this. I know it’s me that you want.â€￾

“You shut the fu'ck up,â€￾ the man sneers. He yanks me out of the car and opens up the back door, shoving me inside next to Justin. “Don’t move,â€￾ he grunts, before slamming the door in my face.

I’m still crying. I don’t know what to do with myself. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to normal people. It happens in movies and on television. You see it on the news and say ‘that’s sick, how could somebody do that?’. But now it’s happening to me. I look at Justin. He’s staring at me with this guilty look on his face.

“Don’t cry,â€￾ he whispers.

I don’t answer. A moment later the man gets into the front seat and speeds off. I glance out the back window…and there is nobody there. All this has just happened, and nobody was there to see any of it.

We are so screwed.
***************
We are about an hour outside of Millington. I have no idea where this guy is taking us. Justin tried asking him before…and he told him to shut his mouth before he shut it for him. Other than that, and a spur of the moment conversation the man held on his cell phone, there has been no conversation at all since we left the shopping center. Well…no spoken conversation anyway. Justin happened to find a pen and paper on the floor, and we’ve been writing back and forth to each other. Somehow, our captor hasn’t caught onto us yet. Not that I can say I’m thankful. I’m still not over everything Justin and I have been through today, and I really don’t want to talk to him.

But I would say the situation doesn’t give me much of a choice.

Is your phone on?

Yes…

Can you text message?

I can but I doubt our friend will be happy about it when he sees me doing it.

If you’re careful he won’t see you. Look he’s not even paying attention.

I’m not getting shot Justin.

Then give me the phone and I’ll do it.

Why? So you can get shot too?

Just give me the phone Kerri.


I shoot him a dirty look. He’s acting like he knows exactly what to do. He doesn’t. He’s trying to be brave and all it’s going to do is get us both killed in about twenty minutes. If he thinks he’s getting my phone he’s sadly mistaken. No. I’d like to remain in tact for the time being.

“I have to use the bathroom,â€￾ Justin says immediately.

“Hold it,â€￾ the man says.

“I can’t,â€￾ he complains. “I have a bladder problem.â€￾

The man laughs at him. “Right. So I’m supposed to stop at some gas station so you can use the bathroom. Then you’ll get recognized, and I’ll be fu'cked. Kid…I’m not as stupid as you think I am.â€￾

Justin’s expression doesn’t waver. He’s always been a good actor. “Seriously dude,â€￾ he says. “I have to piss. If I don’t…it’s gonna end up in the car.â€￾

“Who cares?â€￾ the mans say. “We’re dumping this car anyway. Piss all you want.â€￾

“Dumping it?,â€￾ Justin whines. “You can’t…this car is like my baby…â€￾

Justin continues to complain, and the man seems to be getting a kick out of it. Every so often Justin glances over at me, and quickly looks away again. It only takes me a moment or two to realize what Justin is doing. He’s distracting the guy…so I can text for help. It’s risky, but I guess it’s the best shot we have of getting out of this before this guy gets us where he wants us to be. I slowly, silently pull my phone out of my back pocket, pretending to scratch an itch as I do so. The man doesn’t notice my movements though. Justin is keeping him busy…complaining about the air conditioning…that he still has to go to the bathroom…

His annoying tendencies are actually helpful right now.

I flip open my phone, and pull up Trace’s number. He’s the only one I know that will have a cell phone handy right now. I’d dial 911 but really, how would that help? I can’t talk, and they can’t trace a cell phone location. At least I don’t think they can. With a shaky hand I type out: In trouble, not a joke, call police, and push send, praying that Trace has his phone on him and that it’s turned on. I nod at Justin, telling him that I’ve done it.

“Kid if you don’t shut the fu'ck up…â€￾ the man snaps, as Justin rambles on. “I’m gonna kick the s'hit out of you on the side of the road.â€￾

“Well how would you like it if you had to piss and you couldn’t?â€￾ Justin says.

“If I was in your situation kid…I’d be a little more concerned about my life than my d'ick.â€￾

I see him lose his composure slightly. It’s apparent now that he’s just as scared as I am, but he’s trying to keep his feelings locked away. He doesn’t say anything else to the man after that. He sits back in his seat, and after a moment starts to write on the pad again.

Who did you text

Trace

What did you tell him


I stare at the back of the man’s head for several moments, making sure he isn’t looking before I write a response. I put: In trouble, not a joke, call police.

You idiot. He’s gonna think you’re screwing around.


I shoot him a hateful look. What the hell was I supposed to say?

You could have put: the car was hijacked
.

I almost laugh at his stupid response, but I catch myself in time. I can’t laugh now. The guy would figure something was up…or he would see the pad. Then we’d really be fu'cked over. Right. That’s a lot more believable than what I put.

It is.

You’re stupid.

Don’t argue with me. Do you realize what’s going on right now?

Of course I do.

Then start working with me inst----


My phone is ringing. This is not happening. It’s not. Jesus Christ. I thought it was on vibrate. Why couldn’t I have checked? I look at it quickly. Of course it’s Trace. Of course it is. The man slams on the brakes almost immediately, and it causes me to let out a frightening whimper. “What the hell is that!â€￾ he yells.

“My watch,â€￾ Justin supplies, shoving the pad underneath him.

“Bullsh'it it is.â€￾ He parks at the side of the road and turns around to look at us. His eyes widen when he spots the phone resting beside me. He points the gun at me again. He’s really pissed off now, and I’m completely terrified. There isn’t a worse combination. “Give it up, girl,â€￾ he snaps, motioning to the phone with his gun. “Right now.â€￾

With a trembling hand, I pick up the phone…which is still blaring it’s annoying rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, and start to hand it to him. I pretend to let my hand slip on the way though, and ‘accidentally’ flip the phone open. I hear Trace’s voice immediately. He’s shouting something…I think “Kerri are you there?â€￾ I pray that the guy decides to say something menacing…something that will give Trace a clue that I’m not joking around.

“Do you think this is a f'ucking joke!â€￾ the man yells. He snaps the phone closed and throws it out the window.

Yes…good. There is no way Trace didn’t hear that. He’s probably dialing the police right now…we’ll be home tonight, I’m sure of it.

“You know, I should just shoot you right now,â€￾ the man laughs. “I don’t need you. I came for him,â€￾ he motions to Justin with his gun. “You’re starting to be more trouble than you’re worth, girl.â€￾

“I…,â€￾ I begin, hardly above a whisper. “I’m sorry…â€￾

He presses the barrel of the gun to my forehead a moment later, and I close my eyes, hoping that if he’s going to shoot me…he’ll do it quick. I feel a wetness in my underwear…oh my god I think I just pissed my pants.

“Put the gun down,â€￾ I hear Justin say. “She’s not gonna try anything.â€￾

Justin knows this guy won’t shoot him, that’s why he’s saying whatever he wants. He is this guy’s ticket to a few million dollars. I…I’m just an accessory. My family could never raise the kind of money that Justin has. This guy could kill me, and still get what he wants. He knows it too.

“Looks like your boyfriend cares more about you than I thought,â€￾ I hear the man say. His comment causes me to open my eyes, and for the first time…I get a really good look at our captor, and I begin to create a mental file of him…for later. He’s surprisingly young…maybe a little older than me, although his gruff sounding voice makes him sound much older. I guess he must smoke a lot or something, because his raspy tone isn’t natural.

He has a boyish look about him. His lips are curled at the ends like he’s about to smile…but he never does. His nose is small and straight, and the tip of it curls up slightly like an elf‘s would. It almost causes me to look at his ears to see if they are pointed at tops, but his eyes prevent me from doing so. They are deep and dark, the color of the midnight sky. There’s a coldness in them, that sends a chill down my spine. It’s not an everyday look. It’s predatory, evil. He has a small scar on his left cheek and I think of all the ways he might have gotten it. But then I put that thought away…it’s just the facts for now. It’s the facts that are important. His hair is tousled like he didn’t bother to brush it this morning…he just ran a hand through it instead. It’s an unlikely mix of dirty blond and brown, lighter at the ends and darker at the roots. It makes me wonder if he could have dyed it himself to disguise his real color. Whatever. It’s a crappy dye job. He has a scruffy looking half beard covering his chin and cheeks, like he hasn’t shaved in a day or two.

“What are you looking at?,â€￾ he says, drawing the gun back slightly.

Between the gun being pressed to my head, and taking in the b'astard’s features, I can’t seem to find my voice again. I open my mouth to respond, but the only answer I can provide is a weak croak.

Then he hits me…slams me across the face with his free hand.

“B'itch, you better answer me when I talk to you!â€￾

I let out a pathetic sounding moan, and clutch the throbbing portion of my face with my hand. I still can’t answer him though. I can’t say anything. My mind won’t allow me to. So I just sit silently, probably with the same dumb look on my face that I had before. It’s pissing him off even more. I don’t know him well enough yet to know what he’s capable of. But right now I’m sure he’s capable of shooting me and dumping me in the grass.

“Just calm down,â€￾ Justin says. “Come on man…she didn’t do anything to you.â€￾

Now he’s pressing the gun to the side of Justin’s head. I see him flinch once…but that is the extent of any emotion. He’s being so calm, it’s like he’s been through this before. I can’t understand him, not at all.

“Don’t think I won’t shoot you,â€￾ he says to Justin. “You’re not f'uckin privileged here. You’re not the one with the gun…I am. I’m the one in control.â€￾

“I…I know,â€￾ Justin replies, his voice trembling slightly. “You’re in control.â€￾

“Then stop f'ucking with me,â€￾ the man snaps. He begins to turn back around, but pauses halfway and shoots me another cold look. “Especially you.â€￾

A car passes by us, and I wish that it would slow down in time to see us parked here. Surely they would think something was wrong and then stop to help. But it doesn’t stop. It keeps going, oblivious to the hell that Justin and I are experiencing right now. ‘Scar face’, as I have decided to call him for now, starts up the car again, and speeds off. In a moment we are on the road again.

I look to Justin, hoping like hell that he’ll have some sort of remark to scribble on the pad. But he won’t even look at me. His eyes are wide and intense…focused on the road ahead. It seems as if he’s forgotten I’m even here…

And I feel so alone.

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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 6:44 pm

Chapter Three

This couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I just finished touring like…two days ago. I’m exhausted, and all I wanted to do today was sit at the table with my family and friends and eat about ten slices of pepperoni pizza. That’s probably what Trace is doing right now…damn him. Now, I don’t even know where my next meal is coming from, or even if…I’ll be around to eat another meal after today. It’s scary, and I probably should be nervous, or freaking out like Kerri is. But I’m not…and it’s weird. It’s like, I’ve been ready for this. Maybe it’s because my bodyguard, Horace or to put it normally…Tiny, constantly sits me down and tells me that this sort of thing can happen if I’m not ‘alert’. I always think he’s doing it to put a scare in me, because he usually gives me that lecture after I’ve been drinking after a show or whatever. But now, I guess he was being serious…because now here I am.

Or rather…here we are…

I feel horrible. It was my idea to bring Kerri along to get the cake. She wouldn’t have come with me if I hadn’t parked in front of her house. Now, because of me, she’s been slapped across the face once and had her life threatened several times. She’s curled up in her seat, crying softly. I wish she wouldn’t do that. It shows this guy that she’s weak…vulnerable. I think that’s why he hit her. He wanted to feel powerful. I bet he’s one of those types that has deep emotional problems. I know he’s not working alone either, because he’s had two phone calls since he abducted us from the shopping center. I don’t know who it was…but I’m figuring it’s the person that’s running this show.

I don’t want to meet that person.

This was planned, I know it now…and that scares me. These people have been stalking me, planning to get me at just the right moment. If I hadn’t stopped in front of Kerri’s house, I would have been alone too. How could they have known that I was picking up a cake though? I mean, my mom was supposed to do that. Unless…

Unless, they’ve been watching me since I landed today. If that’s the case, then they did a damn good job of keeping themselves hidden.

I wish I could have been driving my Escalade today. It has one of those tracing devices built into it, so if your car gets stolen the police can trace where it goes. I always meant to put one of those in this car, but I got so busy I never got around to it. I never drive this car anyway, unless I’m here staying with momma. I guess this is all my fault then. Yeah.

The p'rick’s phone is ringing again, and I perk up a little bit. He’s been driving us around in this car for almost three hours now, and I want some damn answers already. And I need to pee too…for real this time. The last time I peed was on the damn plane. I don’t know how much longer I can hold it. When we get there…wherever there is, I hope they let us go to the bathroom. I don’t even want to think about where we’re going to end up though. What if they tie us to some tree in the middle of the woods? I know Kerri will lose it like…right away. Then I’ll have to try to calm her down, but it will be hard you know…being tied to a tree. God, I hope these people aren’t that shallow…but then, there is probably a lot of money at stake here so I would imagine they would bring us somewhere they can watch us.

I hope to god that I‘m right..

“I’m getting tired of driving around,â€￾ the man whines into his phone. “Where are you?â€￾

He sounds tired, and agitated…like I feel. I’m sure he wants to get to wherever ‘there’ is too. I wish these people could make up their minds already. I need to get ‘there’ and pee and think about what the hell I’m gonna do to get us out of this. I need to make sure Kerri is okay too…even though I know she’s not.

“I guess,â€￾ the man continues. “I could probably be there in ten minutes.â€￾

Ten minutes sounds great to me. Damn, I wonder what Trace did after that phone call. Did he hear anything? Even if he did…he probably wouldn’t think much of it. He knows I’ve been trying to get him back ever since that PUNK’D sh'it he pulled on me. Trace is a hard person to fool. I hope he catches on soon. I don’t want to be stuck someplace with a gun to my head…and I know Kerri isn’t gonna last long. She freaks out over everything and I know she’s gonna bring us down before we have a chance to overpower these b'astards…

Damn, I shouldn’t be thinking badly about her right now. Granted, seeing her for the first time in three years was tough for me. And it was even tougher to take her crap on the plane and on the ride home. But I know if we’re going to get out of this, we have to stick together. Our minds have to be on the same level. We have to be in sync with one another. But at the rate Kerri is going right now, I don’t see how I can get her to toughen up.

The p'rick ends his phone conversation, and continues to drive on in silence. I’m tempted to ask him what the hell is going on, but I don’t want to piss him off again. I know all it will do is freak Kerri out more, and I don’t want that to happen. The calmer she is when we have to get out of the car the better.

I sit back for the moment, and look out the window. I realize I have no idea where we are. Somewhere between Millington and here I completely lost track of where we were going. He’s been using back roads. Back roads that I’ve never taken the time to use. He could march us out of the car right now and even if we got away and ran, I don’t know where we would go. It’s dark now, and impossible to see anything. He’d probably shoot us before we got anywhere close to freedom.

He continues down the road a for about ten more minutes before turning onto another, more desolate one. It’s some sort of dirt road, that’s obviously been closed down for awhile. I see a bright light in the distance, and I’m assuming that it’s coming from whoever the prick was talking to before. I see Kerri perk up a little. Then she looks over at me, with that terrified look on her face again. I put a finger to my lips, warning her not to make any noise. This is getting really serious.

We’re going to dump the car now.
***************
After roughly yanking me out of my own car, along with Kerri, the p'rick leads us closer to the waiting vehicle in the distance, his gun poking me in the back the entire time. I think he knows Kerri won’t try anything at this point. She’s walking around in a daze…like some sort of a zombie. He knows he has complete control over her. It’s a bad thing, because it means that I’m alone in this right now. I know I said I wasn’t going to try and get away before, but I might have reconsidered if Kerri was acting like a human being. Now though…I know I can’t do it. Kerri would be too scared to follow, and there is no way I’m leaving her here by herself with the p'rick.

This day has been so insane that I forgot we’ve been fighting since the plane. I guess it doesn’t matter who did what to who anymore. The whole thing is ridiculous anyway. Sex is sex…okay so maybe it’s not. It was her first time…but damn it she wanted it. She wanted me, and she proved that she wanted me. And I…I thought that I wanted her too. I thought I belonged with her. But after…it was so weird. I didn’t feel like…you’re supposed to feel after you sleep with somebody. I felt different. I felt like…well…actually I don’t know what my exact feelings were. All I know is I got scared, and I pushed her away. I shouldn’t have…I really shouldn’t have. Kerri is a great girl. She knows me better than most people, and she’s brought me out of some of the worst moods I’ve ever been in. I used to love it when NSYNC would tour in the summer and her parents would let her come along. Man, we’d have so much fun…her, Trace, and I. Sometimes, when I’m all alone I think back to those times. It was during one of those summers that we first kissed. It was nothing spectacular of course. It was one of those spur of the moment things. We were talking and laughing, and then…I kissed her. Then we both got weirded out and she said she was tired, and went back to her own hotel room.

Sometimes when I’m all alone…I realize how much I miss her too.

We get close to the car, an Oldsmobile that looks like it’s seen better days, and the p'rick has us stop walking. On instinct, I grab Kerri by the hand and yank her next to me. She doesn’t seem to notice, or if she does notice, she doesn’t care. I start to worry about her again, and look over at her quickly. She’s staring straight ahead, but it’s a blank stare. I wonder if she even knows what’s happening right now. It’s like she’s having some kind of panic attack and this is the only way she knows how to deal with it. I know she’s never been through anything this traumatic before, and I’m sure that’s the reason she’s reacting like she is. But I’ve never been through something like this either…but I’ve been able to keep my wits about me and not freak out. I guess I’m just used to intense situations. I’ve dealt with massive, screaming crowds right…what’s a gun or two?

What am I saying?

The drivers side door to the Oldsmobile opens, and another guy gets out. I’m assuming this is p'rick number two. He’s taller and a lot more muscular than his companion. He also looks like he’s not about to take any s'hit from either of us. “You didn’t tell me about her.â€￾ Are the first words out of his mouth. He looks at Kerri menacingly, like he wants to kill her. I squeeze her hand tighter. He’ll have to kill me first before he touches her.

“I didn’t know how to tell you,â€￾ the p'rick says to him. He doesn’t look him in the eye when he speaks, and I’m assuming that this guy has a lot of clout over the prick. “She was in the car…I couldn’t leave her behind.â€￾

He smiles just slightly. “You could have shot her.â€￾

The p'rick doesn’t answer.

“Don’t worry about it. Just get the stuff out of the backseat,â€￾ he says, pointing his gun at me.

The p'rick obeys, and a moment later we are left alone with our new friend.

“So Justin,â€￾ he says to me, with a twisted smile. “You have a good flight?â€￾

I meet his gaze, feeling Kerri start to tremble as I do. I’m praying she doesn’t lose it right now. She can’t…not in front of this guy. He won’t care. He’ll just hit her, or worse…shoot her. “What is this,â€￾ I say to him. “What do you want?â€￾

“Oh come on,â€￾ he says with a roll of his eyes. “You know what this is f'uckin’ about.â€￾

“Money,â€￾ I say. I knew it was about money from the start. I guess a part of me hoped that wasn’t what it was going to come down to. I guess…I feel like less of a person…being pulled into something like this because of the money I have. People like this…they think I don’t deserve the money I have. I wish I could tell him that he is wrong. I wish I could tell him how hard I worked to get where I am today. But I won’t. He doesn’t care. He only cares about getting what he wants.

“That’s right,â€￾ he nods. “And if you cooperate, and get me what I want…you’ll be fine.â€￾

The pr'ick reemerges from the car a few moments later. This time he has some handcuffs and tape. I physically shudder. I wasn’t expecting this. I look at Kerri again…but she still has that same look on her face. Oh god Kerri…please tell me you know what’s happening to us.

“Do ‘em,â€￾ the second man orders, keeping his gun pointed at us.

The p'rick does as he’s told. He yanks me away from Kerri, and I try to be brave and take what I know is coming to me. But Kerri…she starts to freak out the moment I am forced to let go of her hand.

“No!â€￾ she cries, reaching out toward me. “Justin!â€￾

The second mans small smile quickly fades, and he storms over to her. He grabs her shoulder length hair and pulls her head back, shoving the gun into her temple roughly.

“No!,â€￾ she screams. “Please!â€￾

“Kerri stop!â€￾ I say to her, as my arms are yanked behind me. I feel the cuffs being fastened around my wrists, binding them together from behind me. I flinch as they are fastened too tight, cutting into my skin. “Stop f'ucking freaking out!â€￾ I yell again, the tears I’ve been holding back threatening to make themselves known. I can’t stand seeing her like this. I can’t stand that this b'astard has control of her. I wish this was all some horrible dream. That I would wake up and knock on Kerri’s door and tell her that I never meant to hurt her…

That I still care.

I watch in horror as the second man pushes Kerri to the ground, and stands over her. His gun is pointed directly at her, and he has this look in his eyes…like he’s going to do it. Like he’s going to kill her. Kerri curls into a ball. She’s crying, begging him to spare her life. I don’t know what to do. He can’t kill her…he can’t. She doesn’t deserve this. He doesn’t know what a good person she is. He doesn’t know that she has a little sister that adores her and a family that cries when she goes back to college every fall. He doesn’t know any of it.

“Don’t!â€￾ It’s the only thing I can think of to say.

He looks at me. “You should worry about yourself,â€￾ he sneers. “Gag him,â€￾ he snaps at the p rick.

I hear the ripping sound of the tape and know I only have a few precious seconds before the inevitable happens. “I’ll get you…I’ll get you anything you want…any money you want. It’s yours,â€￾ I say frantically. “Anything you want.â€￾ Then the tape is slapped over my mouth, and there is nothing left to do but wait. I start to breath heavily. Now I’m the one having a panic attack. I feel the p rick jabbing me in the ribs with his gun. It doesn’t even matter. All I can focus on right now is Kerri and the gun that is pointed at her. All I can hear are her pathetic cries for the help that isn’t ever going to come.

But then he looks at me. He actually looks at me. “What kind of money are we talking about, Timberlake?â€￾

I can’t very well answer him can I? I shrug, and moan pathetically through the tape over my mouth.

“Two million?â€￾ he asks.

I nod.

“Each?â€￾

I nod again. I don’t care. I know I’m good for it…and I know no amount of money is worth either of our lives. He doesn’t lift his gun off of her though, and I start to pray. My mother…she’s always told me that when you have nobody else to confide in…that the lord will always be there to hear you. Well lord, now’s your time to shine.

Just as I’m expecting him to pull the trigger, he backs off a little, and points the gun away from her. I can’t help it. My legs turn to jelly and I fall to my knees. I’m relieved. Thankful and relieved. It’s only now that I allow myself to cry…thanking the lord for hearing my prayers. I don’t care if those b'astards are watching me either. I know I look ridiculous…handcuffed and sh'it. But I don’t care. I really don’t.

Thank you god.

The p'rick hauls me to my feet a moment later. Still in shock, I can barely stand and I hear him groan as he tries to support me. Then the second man comes over and pushes the prick away. He grabs onto my upper arm before I have the chance to fall again, and jabs his gun into my back. I can tell already that he’s a lot stronger than the prick is. It’s a good thing to know…for later. “We have a deal, Timberlake. If one thing goes wrong…if I don’t get my f'uckin' money when I want it…she’s the first one to go. You get it?â€￾

I nod again.

“Good.â€￾ He looks back at the prick. “Put her in the trunk,â€￾ he says, shooting me a menacing smile.

I try to manage a ‘no’ through the tape…but it’s no use. It’s just a moan, and nothing more. I look on helplessly as the p'rick rushes to Kerri’s side, and handcuffs her like he handcuffed me. She protests a little, but not enough to cause a scene. Then he gags her and lifts her off of the ground. She’s not making a fuss anymore…and I think it’s because she’s passed out. He tosses her into the trunk of the Oldsmobile, and I cringe as the lid is slammed down on her helpless form.

“Just so you won’t get any ideas,â€￾ the second man says to me. He forces me into the back of the car and the prick gets into the front seat, while the second man sits in the back with me…his gun jammed into my ribs.

As the car roars to life and starts off down the road, I look back and get one last glimpse of my Mercedes before it fades away into the night. It’s funny how alike that car and I are now. We’re both getting further away from our reality…our lives fading away into the night as if we never existed.

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ialwayzbesingin
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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 6:48 pm

Chapter Four

It’s dark. I guess I must have passed out, because I don’t remember being put in here. Where is Justin? Is he in the car with them? What the hell is going on?

I need to calm down. Calm down, and think…

When I was little, I went to a sleepover party this girl in my class was having. It was exciting for me because it was my first real sleepover. My mother naturally, was worried that I was going to be homesick and cry all night. I knew I wasn’t going to do that though…I was always an overly confident child. So, after a lot of indecision on her part, she dropped me off. At first it was so much fun. We did most of the things that a group of six year old girls do at a slumber party. We put too much makeup on, and dressed in clothes that were much too big for us. We jammed our faces with candy and cookies until her mother caught us and took the junk food away.

Then one of the girls had the brilliant idea to play hide and seek.

The house was a big one…perfect for playing that sort of game. There were so many closets and hallways and rooms that a group of small children could play for a good hour before finding everybody. Being the adventurous type, I ventured to the upper level of the house. There was this closet up there…the perfect hiding place. I remember opening it…I remember getting inside…and I remember the door closing behind me. About twenty minutes passed, and nobody seemed to be coming to find me. I thought I’d won, and decided to come out and see what everybody was doing. When I went to open the door though, it wouldn’t budge.

I came to find out much later on that the door had been broken for some time, and the girl I was friends with had been told repeatedly not to go near it. I was locked in there for a good three hours before anybody decided to go looking for me. By that time I was a wreck of course. It was such a small closet…and it was so dark. I didn’t think I’d ever get out. Ever since then…I haven’t been able to sit in a closed space for more than an hour at a time.

I’m starting to feel it now. The panic rising inside of me. It’s so dark in here, and it smells…it smells like a big bottle of beer. I’m starting to have trouble breathing, and it isn’t helping that I have a big old piece of tape stuck to my mouth. The handcuffs are chaffing the skin on my wrists too. It hurts like hell. I close my eyes…maybe I can sleep it off. Maybe I can fall asleep and not wake up until we get to wherever we are supposed to be going. But the trunk lid…it’s closing in on me. If I fall asleep it might smother me. No…sleep isn’t an option.

Scar face’s friend wants four million dollars for our safe return. I really thought he was going to kill me. I was ready…freaking out, but still ready. Then Justin said…he said he’d do anything as long as the guy didn‘t shoot me. But, I can’t have him paying that kind of money for my ass. I could never repay him. My parents are well off…but they aren’t millionaires. And I…I’m not even out of college yet. I’d probably be better off dead. At least that way Lynn or whoever is gonna get the call won’t have to take that much money out of Justin’s account. Does this guy even know how hard it is to get that much money together on short notice? Probably. And he probably doesn’t care either.

Like he said…just as long as he gets what he wants.

After hearing Justin beg that guy to spare my life, I feel horrible about the way I’ve been treating him so far. I guess Trace was right…I did start our argument this morning. But…I was in a normal situation then…and I hadn’t wanted to deal with Justin. Now…I don’t know what to think. I know that it’s been way too long since we’ve had that special connection between us. But the way he acted…it was like we were never apart. He had that look on his face…the one that used to tell me how much he cared about me. I don’t think I could be mad at him right now, even if I wanted to be.

We hit a pot hole in the road, and my head smacks against the lid of the trunk. I moan through the gag, and feel my head begin to throb. Then I hear Justin’s voice. It’s muffled and hard to hear what he’s saying. He sounds panicked though…God I hope everything is okay out there. I hope we get where we’re supposed to be soon. I don’t know how long I can hold out in here. I’ll probably black out again, like I did before when that guy was about to shoot me.

The car continues on for miles…well at least I think it’s miles. It’s hard to tell how much time has gone by in here. It’s so dark, and it’s not like there is a window I can look out. Then I feel it…the car stops. I’m relieved, because I’m starting to feel really closed in now. My breathing is getting more rapid, and I know I need to calm down. There’s only so much air in here, and the harder I breath and freak out, the less air there will be for me.

I hear a car door open and slam shut again. Then there is a shuffle of feet against…rocks? Gravel? I hear Justin. He’s asking about me. Oh God Justin…don’t worry about me. Take care of yourself. The trunk is wrenched opened a moment later. I see scar face standing over me, his gun pointed at me. This time he doesn’t look so tough. He looks young…and scared. For the first time today, I’m not so frightened of him. He seemed big and strong to me before. But he’s nothing compared to the other guy. In fact…he’s pretty scrawny. I think Justin might even be stronger than him. The only thing he has going for him is that gun in his hand. That’s good to know…for later.

He rips the tape off of my mouth, and I’m thankful. The air rushes into my lungs, and I find that I can breathe much easier now. I look away from scar face, and try to figure out my new surroundings. But all I can see are the tops of trees and the night sky. Then I hear the other guy. He’s yelling at Justin…screaming at him.

“You’re lucky!,â€￾ he yells. “You’re lucky I even let you talk to somebody! You don’t take f'ucking advantage of me!â€￾

I cringe when I hear Justin cry out in pain. I’m guessing scar face’s friend just hit him or something. I grimace, but I don’t make a sound. Then scar face yanks me up and out of the trunk. I’m standing on my own two feet, surprisingly. After that trunk, I didn’t think I’d be able to. The gun is shoved into the side of my head again, but I barely notice this time. Justin is on the ground, still handcuffed, coughing and gasping for air. I see the man kick him harshly in the stomach, and I know it’s not the first blow he’s dealt to him in the past five minutes.

I know Justin wouldn’t want me to be focusing on him right now. He’d want me to look around and try to find out where the hell we are. I glance around. It’s a woodsy area, and I realize that I can’t tell him where we are, let alone if we are still in Tennessee. I feel stupid and helpless.

“You don’t fu'ck with me!â€￾ the man screams, while Justin moans in pain. “I told you that before.â€￾ He hauls him to his feet, but Justin can’t even stand right now. He falls to his knees, still trying to catch his breath.

“Get up,â€￾ scar face’s friend spits out. “You piece of s'hit.â€￾

He can’t get up. Doesn’t that guy realize this? He’s handcuffed…and he’s just had the wind knocked out of him. He can’t just get up. I wish I was bold…I wish I could say what I feel. But that wouldn’t help right now. Right now…anything I could say would probably get me killed. The only reason I’m alive right now is because of Justin, and I know that…I know how lucky I am.

“J-just…j-just wait,â€￾ Justin manages. “I…I can’t…breathe.â€￾

Scar face’s friend angrily pulls him to his feet, and puts his gun to Justin’s head. I see his finger on the trigger, squeezing it like scar face did to me before. He must have taught scar face that technique, and I wonder how close they really are. “You should have thought about that before you opened your mouth to your fu'ckin' friend.â€￾

Justin must have talked to somebody on the phone. That was probably what I heard while I was in the trunk. He was probably talking to somebody at the house…and he probably got brave and said something he shouldn’t have. S'hit Justin. You can’t pull that with this guy.

“Move.â€￾ Scar face’s friend shoves Justin forward, and he stumbles a little, nearly losing his balance again. The man has such a firm grip on him though, that Justin can’t fall. I guess that’s good…but then it’s bad too.

Scar face maintains a firm grip on my upper arm and shoves me along behind Justin and the other man. We reach a clearing, and I see a house… a really old house. It looks like it’s been deserted, and why wouldn’t it be? Who would want to live all the way out here? Scar face’s friend leads us into the house, and I cough a little…the dust overwhelming me immediately. I have terrible allergies, and I know within a few minutes I’m going to be coughing and sneezing like crazy. I wish I had my Allegra, but it’s in my purse. And my purse is in Justin’s car. Yeah…I’m not getting that anytime soon.

We are lead down a long hallway, and then scar face’s friend stops in front of one of the doors. He undoes Justin’s handcuffs, and wrenches the door open, pushing him through it. I hear him stumbling around…there are stairs. I know I’m next. I feel scar face take my handcuffs off, and I’ve never been more thankful to be able to move my hands. He shoves me forward, mumbling something about ‘moving faster’.

For a moment, scar face relaxes his grip on me. I guess he thinks I’m not a threat. I don’t know why I do it…I don’t know what I’m thinking. But…I take my chance. I break away from him. Then I run. I hear scar face’s friend screaming at him to grab me. I’m nearly to the door…I can almost touch it.. Then I hear a gun shot, and I scream and get down on the floor. Within three seconds, I feel the familiar coldness of the gun to my head, and I know I’m caught.

“If I wasn’t sure you’re boyfriend was going to get me all this money…I would have shot you before.â€￾ It’s scar face’s friend. I press my face into the dirty hardwood floor. I can’t look at him. I know if I do, I’ll completely lose it. He pulls me to my feet, and angrily shoves me forward. He’s not holding onto me, but he doesn’t need to. If I tried to run now, he would shoot me…there is no doubt in my mind about that. I don’t even know why I tried to run in the first place. I think it was one of those psychological things…a human longing to be freed from her chains or whatever.

He forces me over to the door, and wrenches it open again. I see a short staircase leading down into some kind of storage cellar. It’s no bigger than my parent’s master bathroom, and I know that it’s too small for me to be confined in. There’s not much to it. There is some kind of old looking mattress laid out, with a grundgy looking blanket. There is no toilet. There is no running water. I don’t want to go. But then I see Justin. He’s standing there, waiting for me to join him. It’s a dimly lit room, but I can already tell that he has a fat lip and a black eye from before. He looks shaken, and it’s probably because of the gunshot. I guess he must have thought that something happened. Running was a stupid idea. I need to be brave, I realize. I need to be in this with Justin. If he doesn’t have me…he doesn’t have anybody.

“Get down there!â€￾ he screams at me, giving me a hard shove down the stairs. It causes me to trip and I almost fall flat on my face, but then Justin rushes over and grabs me before I have the chance to. I’m physically trying to pull away from him…I don’t want to be touched right now…but my mind won’t allow me to. I find myself letting him wrap his arms around me. I’m clinging to him, burying my face in his chest. I’m terrified for my life, and it’s the only reason that I’m acting this way.

Scar face’s friend points the gun at us, and walks down the steps. “I don’t want to hear a sound comin from this room.“ He wags the gun at us menacingly. “Understand?â€￾

I don’t answer, I’m too shocked to speak right now. After a moment, I hear Justin mutter a ‘yes’ and I hope that it’s enough to make the man go back to wherever it is that lies beyond those stairs.

“Good,â€￾ he grunts. He jogs up the steps and ducks out the door. It slams shut behind him, and the clicking sounds of the lock being turned makes my skin crawl. Then it hits me. We’re stuck here. We can’t get out.

I’m stuck in a room with Justin.

Finally, I’m able to pull myself away from him. I walk over to the mattress and slide it over to one side of the room before sitting down on it. It’s lumpy, and uncomfortable. I try not to think about how it was obtained…about who might have slept on it…who might have died on it. I wrap my arms around my knees and rock myself back and forth a little. Then I let myself cry, not caring if Justin is watching. Hell, I’m sure he wants to do exactly what I’m doing right now too…but he’s too focused on his pride to let his emotions show.

“Kerri,â€￾ I hear him say. His voice is raspy and weak. “Please don’t do this…not now.â€￾

“Why?â€￾ I finally manage to choke out between my sobbing. “Because you can’t take it?â€￾

“I’m not about to argue with you right now. Kerri…this is serious.â€￾

“I know it’s serious.â€￾ I look up at him, and wipe the tears from my eyes. He’s standing before me, hands shoved in his pockets. Now, in the light…I can see what that b'astard did to him. His lip and black eye were a given. But there are other bruises too…his entire face is one big black and blue mark, and there is a big gash on his forehead. He’s acting like he doesn’t know what I’m staring at. He’s so serious…he looks so…hopeless. I don’t know what to do. I could cry some more…but really, what would that solve? Nothing. It would only waste energy that I’m sure I’ll need later on. “What am I supposed to do?â€￾ I ask him.

He sits down beside me and lets out a long sigh, tilting his head back against the wall. “Not flip out,â€￾ he says after awhile. “There’s a way out of this.â€￾

It’s funny…it’s almost like he’s been trained how to act in a situation such as this. I mean, I’m sure his bodyguards and such have went over with him how to handle a hostage situation…but I never thought Justin could take a conversation like that seriously. He‘s as inexperienced with this kind of thing as I am, and I’m surprised he hasn’t broken down yet. “Really?â€￾ I sniffle. “Well then what is it? Because I can’t be stuck here…not like this.â€￾ The cut on his forehead is really nasty. Instinctively I take the blanket and spit on it. Then I take it to his forehead and try to wipe the excess blood off. It helps a little, but I know in the morning it’s going to look really bad. He needs antiseptic for that…which of course…we don’t have.

After I finish ‘cleaning’ his cut, he looks over at me. Despite his rugged appearance, his eyes still have that light…that beauty that they‘ve always had. He sits up a little, and examines the side of my face that scar face slapped. Then he frowns. I guess there must be a bruise there. “That mother fu'cker,â€￾ he says quietly, stroking the side of my face quickly before pulling his hand away. “You okay?â€￾

It’s hard for me to answer him. I know I’m not okay. But I don’t want to tell him that…I don’t want to bring him down more than he already is. So I change the subject. “You talked to somebody?â€￾

He’s silent, and he looks away from me. I hear him sob a little bit, and I gently place my hand on his shoulder. “Justin…it’s okay.â€￾

He turns back to me. For the first time, I see tears running down his face. He’s terrified, and I…I don’t know what the hell to do for him. I’m terrified too, probably even more than he is. “It’s not okay,â€￾ he says finally. “I dragged you into this,â€￾ he shakes his head and buries his face in his hands. “Jesus,â€￾ he sobs. “What the hell did I do?â€￾

I feel like I should hold him, and tell him that this isn’t his fault. But I can’t make myself do it. I still feel awkward…caring about him again. I know that there is a part of me that still has a lot of hate for Justin, it’s just on a temporary leave of absence for the moment. When we get out of here…when this blows over…I’m sure it will come back to me. “I’m scared,â€￾ I tell him. I don’t know why. I shouldn’t have said that. He needs me to be positive right now and I know that.

He picks his head up slowly, and nods. “I’m scared too.â€￾

I don’t think he was ready to admit that to me yet, because his eyes widen and he gets up from the mattress and starts to pace the room. That serious look has taken over him again. He’s snapped out of his frightened state for the moment. I guess he feels he has to be the strong one because he’s a guy. It makes me feel like the weaker one. I mean…I guess I am. Scar face and his friend have already proven that I’m under their rule now.

“I talked to Trace.â€￾

My eyes widen at his comment. “W-what happened?â€￾

“He’s freaked out, Kerri,â€￾ Justin says to me. He continues to pace back and forth across the room. I’m guessing that this is keeping him calm, and that’s okay by me. Whatever he has to do. “At first he thought I was joking you know? Because…hell, I didn’t know what to tell him. They just had me call whoever I needed to call…and then he picked up. It was so @#%$ weird.â€￾ He shakes his head roughly, before continuing. “I said…Trace, I’m in trouble, and at first he laughed and told me to shut the hell up and get home already.â€￾ Justin smiles a little, but it quickly fades. “You know how Trace is.â€￾

I try to smile, but it doesn’t happen. The thought of Trace being on the receiving end of a phone call that extreme sends chills through me. I can’t imagine how helpless he must feel right now. If I know Trace, he probably doesn’t know what to do …and he’s probably angry at himself for not being able to help out more. Justin and I are his closest friends. I know he’s a wreck, and I feel terrible that this has all suddenly been saddled on his shoulders.

“But then…,â€￾ Justin continues. “I told him I wasn’t joking, and I said…I said that my car got dumped in the woods somewhere and that I didn‘t know where I was…that’s when he took he phone away from me. It pissed that guy off that I told him about the car…that’s why he beat the crap out of me before.â€￾ He touches his hand to the swollen part of his lip, and winces in pain. “Damn it,â€￾ he says. “Every part of me hurts right now, Kerri.â€￾

He crosses the room and sits down on the mattress again. Once again I feel compelled to soothe him…to make his pain go away, and once again…I force myself not to. “Did they tell him…what they wanted?,â€￾ I ask him.

He nods slowly. “Four million dollars…in forty eight hours.â€￾

I feel the tears begin to seep out of my eyes again. “I can’t pay you,â€￾ I sob. “Justin…I know I can’t pay you back for this.â€￾

“Hey,â€￾ he says, his voice a little stronger than before. He takes one of my hands in his. “You don’t worry about it,â€￾ he tells me. “It’s just money Kerri…that’s all it is.â€￾

I pull my hand away. It’s not just money though. This is his money. The money he worked his ass off to earn. I remember the days when he couldn’t even get a record producer to look at him. He used to say he would never make it, and he would get so upset sometimes. In those days all I wanted was for him to achieve his goals….and when he did, I was so happy for him. Those were probably our best days. I went to a lot of his auditions with him. I went to all of NSYNC’s little high school performances. I was always there. And I know he appreciated that. “You earned that money…I didn’t,â€￾ I say to him. “I’m not going to let you buy my way out of here.â€￾

“So what then?â€￾ he asks me. “I’m supposed to leave you here at the mercy of those fu'ck heads upstairs? No fu'cking way. Kerri…I…I care about you,â€￾ he says, more to the wall than to me. “I know that everything is crazy and we haven’t talked in fu'ckin forever. But today…tonight…it’s shown me that I never really stopped caring about you, even though I told myself that I was done with you.â€￾

I shift away from him slightly. What he just said isn’t making any sense. He’s just confused…he doesn’t care about me like that, not anymore. This is just a scary, intense situation and he is trying to make the best of it. I give him props for that…for being mature. But I’m not about to sit here and believe that we can be friends again. I’m not going to put myself through that kind of pain. After this is all over, I’m going to be messed up enough as it is. I don’t need him hanging over my head.

“Kerri,â€￾ he says softly.

I don’t answer him. I lay down at the edge of the mattress and curl myself into a ball. I close my eyes, and I shudder. My body wants me to cry again. Damn it. I’m so tired of crying. My eyes hurt from crying…my insides hurt from sobbing so hard. My throat hurts from screaming. Sleep is the cure. But I know I can’t sleep tonight. Too much has happened in a short span of time. I’m still in shock from it all, I realize…and I probably will be for some time.

“I’m sorry that this is happening,â€￾ he says. His tone is sad, and defeated. “I--I wish there was something I could do, Kerri. But I really don’t know what to do. I just got the crap kicked out of me. That guy…he almost killed you. I‘m trying my best here. I’m trying to tell you exactly how I feel, and you’re just ignoring me. You‘re bein selfish, Kerriâ€￾

Now its happening. The a'sshole in him is coming back. “Stop arguing with me and leave me alone,â€￾ I mutter. “Go to sleep or something. I’m a mess, Justin…I can‘t put up with your attitude problem right now.â€￾

“If we’re going to outsmart these guys, you need to stop hating me so much,â€￾ he tells me. “After this is all over…then you can ignore me. But to do this…to make it out of here alive, we need to be a team…understand?â€￾

To make it out of here alive… My eyes snap open at his words. “You say it like we’re going to die or something.â€￾

He doesn’t answer.

“Justin?â€￾

“Jesus Christ Kerri! I don’t know what these guys have planned for us.â€￾

He says it too loud, and I tense up, expecting scar face or his friend to come bursting through the door at any moment. Scar face’s friend said no noise. Is Justin stupid? “Keep your voice down,â€￾ I say to him angrily. “Do you want one of them to come in here?â€￾

“F'@#%$ them,â€￾ he grunts. “Nobody is in control of me.â€￾

I roll my eyes. “They have guns, Justin. I think they’re plenty in control of you.â€￾

“Screw you, Kerri.â€￾

I pull the blanket over to me, and bury myself underneath it. But it’s dark. So dark…just like the trunk. I gasp and throw it off of me. I’m crying again. I officially hate crying now. I try to stop, but I just…I can’t. I’m sobbing and wailing and carrying on. I don’t even know why. Was it the dark? Or is it a combination of everything?

“I’m sorry,â€￾ I hear Justin say. I feel him next to me, and then…his hand is running up and down my back. I wish I had the strength to push him away from me, but I don’t. All I can do is cry. I’m so pathetic. So f'ucking pathetic. “That was messed up,â€￾ he whispers. “I’m not thinking right now okay? Please…try to relax Kerri.â€￾

I look at him finally. My vision is so blurred from the tears in my eyes, I can barely make him out. I feel his hand on my cheek. He’s brushing my tears away…and I don’t want him to. I can’t draw away from him though. I’m too tired…too mentally exhausted to bother. Now I’m in his arms. He’s whispering in my ear, but my mind is so jumbled right now I can’t even focus on the things he’s saying to me.

I feel my eyes close again after a few moments, and I don’t realize that I am falling asleep…until it actually happens.
**************
I have never been in this much pain before.

During the tour, Trace and I got into a fight with this guy at a club. He was trying to make a move on Elisha and he wouldn’t leave her alone. We could tell that she was really bothered by it too, because Elisha is usually able to laugh stuff like that off. This time, she wasn‘t laughing about it, and so, we figured the guy might have tried to grab her ass or something. Anyway, we didn’t really wait to find out the whole story. We just went over and started to beat the s'hit out of the guy. Tiny was the one that ended up breaking up the fight, and after we were through with the guy, he looked like…god…he looked like I probably look right now. I didn’t care then, because I’d never been beat up like that before, and nobody called the police…so I guess I felt I didn’t have to care. When you’re up in VIP…that kind of s'hit doesn’t happen. What happens there stays up there, and it’s great…it’s like fu'ckin Vegas. But now…I don’t think I’ll ever lay a hand on anybody else for the rest of my life. Unless it’s the prick or his comrade of course.

My whole face hurts. My bottom lip is swelled to the point that it hurts to move my mouth even a little bit. My right eye feels the same way. The skin around it has swollen to the point that I can barely open my eye, and it’s making it hard for me to see. Great. So now, if they come in here and try to shoot me, I won’t be able to see properly and in turn, won’t be able to defend myself well enough to survive the battle. But really…why would that happen tonight? They haven’t even made arrangements to initiate the ransom drop yet. They have to keep me alive…I’m their meal ticket.

As for the rest of my face…I know it’s pretty banged up too. That guy punched me so many times I lost count. I saw how Kerri was looking at me too…I know I look like hell. When I take a breath, it hurts a little, and I’m beginning to wonder if one of my ribs might be bruised or broken. He kicked me really hard…I mean really really hard. I’ve have never, ever in my life experienced the kind of pain he dished out to me tonight. And I pray to god that I never have to again. The b'astard was wearing steel toe boots. F'@#%$. He did it on purpose. He knew he was going to kick my ass tonight…

He knew he was going to do it…and he couldn’t wait to get his chance either.

I lift up my shirt and survey the damage. There are welts all over my body, and I groan a little. Jason and Katherine won’t be happy about this. I think…I think I have a photo shoot on Wednesday. Yeah…I do, I remember now…mom was telling me about it. But I know now, there is no way in hell I’m making that, and I’m kinda pissed. It’s supposed to be a big cover. I think maybe…Details? GQ? Hell, I can’t keep track anymore. But I can’t shoot like this…all bruised and s'hit. The photographer would have a coronary.

Damn, I hate missing work. Johnny…Johnny is gonna be so pissed. Now we have to reschedule, and hell, with my luck I probably won’t get a new date. Big mags like that…they deal with so many high profile stars they don’t need to accommodate them if something goes wrong really…unless you’re like fu'ckin…Madonna or the President. Somebody like me…if I miss, it’s my tough luck. They’ll find a replacement in a couple of hours.

Getting to speak with Trace, although I think it’s the briefest phone conversation we’ve ever held, reassured me a little bit. Hearing his voice calmed me down some…it was familiar. It reminded me of home, and for a brief moment, I think I forgot why I was calling him in the first place. Then…then I felt that gun pressing into the side of my head again. Yeah, I remembered after that. Somehow, I managed to say that I was in trouble…but Trace, being the smart ass that he is, didn’t buy my story. His response was “See? I told you if you just got the girl alone, she’d realize what she was missing out on.â€￾ And I almost laughed…as crazy as it sounds. Maybe it’s because he’s my best friend in the world…or maybe it’s just because I needed to have some sense of normalcy in my life at that moment I didn’t laugh though. I knew if I did, the prick’s friend would have taken the phone away. Instead I said: “I’m not joking.â€￾

Then he got really quiet. Like the time I told him I saw his girlfriend making out with Charlie behind the Soda Shack. That wasn’t a good day. “What’s going on?â€￾ Was his response.

That was when I completely lost my wits. I told him that some guys with guns were taking me somewhere, and that they dumped my car in the woods. The two b'astards didn’t seem to care that I’d told Trace that…so I got even bolder. I told him that Kerri was in the trunk of the Oldsmobile.

The prick’s friend didn’t like that…that I told Trace the car make. To prove this, he snatched the phone away from me, and punched me in the face. I think that’s where my black eye came from. I was so busy trying to make the pain stop…I almost didn’t hear him continue the conversation with Trace. I came to my senses just in time to hear him say: “Four million, forty eight hours, no cops, no b'ullsh**. I’ll call you.â€￾ Then he hung up…and started to beat on me for what I’d done.

Even though I was getting the beating of a lifetime, I still couldn’t get the fact that Trace was probably standing in the middle of my mother’s living room, his eyes wide…his mouth hanging open, staring at his cell phone like it was made of gold out of my mind. I know it probably took him a good twenty minutes to say something to somebody too…unless they noticed him first.

I know it’s late now…and by this time I’m sure everybody knows what’s going on. My mother is probably frantic. She’s probably on the phone with my dad. She always calls my dad when she’s upset about something. I don’t know…they’ve always had something more between them I guess. Sure, they got divorced but it was like a mutual thing….they simply weren’t in love anymore. They got married so young, and knew each other for years beforehand. Sometimes the only reason I think they stayed together for so long was because of me. They’re kinda like me and Kerri, except…me and Kerri didn’t get married and have a kid. I hope daddy is helping her to calm down some…but then, I know my dad. He’s not the type to totally freak out. I mean, I know he’s worried, but he won’t show how worried he is. I’m a lot like him I guess. Aside from the time I thought Kerri was about to die, I haven’t really broken down at all tonight.

I have confidence in daddy. I know he’s going to help my mother through this.

I know the boys are at my mom’s by now. I actually spoke to my father earlier, when he was putting them on the plane. He would have come down here with them, but he has some big contracting job he has to take care of. Christ, I really hope the boys don’t know what’s going on. But I know Jonathan. He’s too old to keep secrets from anymore. I know…because he knew that Britney broke my heart. He didn’t come right out and say it…but he was so attached to me after the breakup happened…I knew he had to know. And when I went to Virginia Beach to record Justified…he got so mad at me. He said… “You always leave me behind for a girl…and then she‘s not nice with youâ€￾. That was when I knew he was getting too old for ’grown up secrets’. Steven’s still young though. I hope he doesn’t catch on. But it’s going to be hard…with everybody in such a state of panic. I know he’s going to want to know what’s going on, and he’ll probably freak out when I’m not there in the morning to watch his cartoons with him.

Nothing like this has ever happened in my family before. Hell, it hasn’t happened in Kerri’s either, well…not that I’m aware of anyway. Christ, so it’s like…twice the panic. I hope Trace or somebody can keep everybody’s tempers in check. This is not a good time for a family reunion. Christ, my family and Kerri’s family…in this mess? It’s never going to work. I hope my mother won’t lose her nerve. I know Trace isn’t going to listen to what they said about not getting the police involved. I know he’s going to get Tiny involved. And I know Tiny is going to get the FBI or some crazy s'hit. They’re going to need my mother to get through this. Those b'astards…they’ll never take Trace seriously if he deals with their phone calls. He’s a great friend…the best friend in I have the world. But man, he’s the worst damn liar on the face of the earth. I don’t condone cheating on women. I think it’s the lowest thing a guy can do to a girl besides hit her. But I know if Trace had to cheat on his girlfriend…if he was miserable beyond repair…he would. And he wouldn’t be able to lie his way around what he did. He gets all red faced when he lies, and he stutters. If they asked him… ‘there aren’t any cops with you are there?’…I know he’d be like “Well…uh…no…â€￾ Yeah, then we’d really be fu'cked over. We’d be dead…we’d probably get buried in that mulch outside.

Christ, now I’m shaking.

“Wait…no…wait…â€￾

Kerri’s weak voice causes me to fill with alarm, and I glance over at her. She was crying so hard before, I guess she exhausted herself. She fell asleep what seems like hours ago`. I laid her out on the mattress and covered her with that blanket so she could be comfortable. She’s tossing and turning now though…like she’s having a nightmare. I don’t think about it…I get up from my spot on the floor and walk over to her. “Ker…Kerri.“ I shake her a little. I want to wake her up before she hits the climax of her nightmare and starts screaming. Those b'astards are probably sleeping, and I’m not about to wake them up now.

“Wha--â€￾ She gasps, and opens her eyes. “Justin?â€￾

She’s looking at me like she doesn’t know what I’m doing here. She must not remember what‘s happened…maybe that’s a good thing. “Yeah,â€￾ I nod. “You were…having a dream.â€￾

She sits up and leans back against the wall. She looks around the room again, and I see her shoulders sag a little. Then she frowns. She’s remembering now. “You were in the dream,â€￾ she tells me. “You were…you were just walking away from me. I couldn’t move either. Like…I was glued to the ground or something, and then there was this wave…I think it was a wave. And then you were running from it…like, leaving me behind.â€￾ She shakes her head, as if she doesn’t understand herself, and then looks back at me again. Her eyes are this deep, intense blue. Even deeper than my own. They’re beautiful. I used to look into them years ago, and get lost in them for hours. Now though…

Well…things are different now.

“I wouldn’t leave you behind,â€￾ I reassure her. I reach out for her hand, but she moves it so I can’t grab it.

“I know,â€￾ she says softly. “Is it morning?â€￾

I shrug. I glance around the room quickly, looking for a boarded up window. There isn’t one of course. “I don’t know,â€￾ I say.

“Are they coming back soon?,â€￾ she whispers.

I sit down next to her. “I…I don’t know,â€￾ I repeat. I wish I had answers for her. I hate not being able to tell her when tomorrow is…when we’ll eat…when we’ll go home. Hell, I hate not being able to know those answers myself. We need a clock in here. If we don’t have a clock in here…it’s not going to be a good thing. I heard about this experiment they did at Harvard. They locked two people in a room for a week without a watch. I heard they both went crazy. Now, I don’t know how true that story is of course. I mean…Chris told me the damn story for Christ’s sake. But thinking about it now, I think it’s possible. If you’re in a confined area, with no windows and no sense of time, it’s like you’re living in total emptiness. You don’t have anything to wait for, because you don’t know when anything is supposed to happen.

I don’t want to lose my mind in this room. I don’t want to see Kerri lose her mind either. We’re so young, and we have so much to experience, and Kerri…she has even more to experience than I do. I’m twenty three, and I’ve been around the world more times than I can count. Kerri…she never got to go overseas with me when I was touring with the guys. When I was touring the UK for Justified, I remember trying to get in touch with her so she could come with me. I knew it was risky, but I thought it was time that we got to talking again. And I knew she’d always wanted to go to England…so I figured she wouldn’t be able to say no. I never got in touch with her though. Apparently, Kerri is an impossible person to reach when she’s away at school.

I’ve always resented Kerri’s parents for making her miss out on touring Europe with me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the Donovan’s. They’re like a second family to me…but they are so overprotective when it comes to Kerri. In fact, if it wasn’t for my mother’s sweet talking, she wouldn’t have gotten to come on the US tours with me either. Her parents felt that she was going to go off with me and get caught up in the business and never come home. I guess her parents are like that because until Mary, she was their only child. But hey, I’m an only child too, and my mom never stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do. But then again…my life has been a lot different from most people’s. Kerri wouldn’t have done that though…run off with me. By the time she hit junior high she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. All she used to fu'ckin’ talk about was getting accepted at NYU, and how she was going to have her own radio show one day.

It was me who got her that internship at Z100 too…even though Trace told her it was all him. I was pretty pissed off at him for that too. I wanted her to know that I still respected her dreams, even if we weren’t talking anymore. But Trace…I guess he felt she might have turned the job down if she knew it was my doing, so he told her he set it up. I know he was right doing what he did. But, at the time I didn’t want to believe that she would turn down the opportunity of a lifetime over a stupid grudge. She would have though…I know that now. When we get home, I have to remember to thank Trace for doing that, because I totally b'itched his ass out when it happened originally and I’ve never really forgiven him for it either.

“Justin.â€￾

I look at her. She looks frightened, and I really wish she would let me comfort her, but I know she’ll either start telling me what an a'sshole I am or she’ll go curl up at the other end of the mattress. It’s like she’s afraid of me. When I was talking to her before…I really thought she might have given in and held me for a minute or two. I needed her to…but…she just wouldn’t. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because we haven’t talked…or maybe it’s because she’s afraid I’ll hurt her like I hurt her before. I want to ask her what the answer is. But I don’t think this is the time or the place. “Yeah?â€￾

“Do you think…they‘ll let us go home after they get the money?â€￾

I haven’t started to think about that kind of stuff yet. I mean, I know that the question is one I can’t avoid for long, but I guess I‘m scared to start thinking about that kind of stuff. It makes this all so much more real, knowing that something could go wrong with the money…or that they could get the money and still kill us both. I guess I have to start thinking about it now though. If I hold out, it’s only going to make things harder to deal with later on.

Honestly, I have no idea what’s going to happen when they get the money. They haven’t made any sort of attempt to disguise themselves…and they haven’t blindfolded us. We know what they look like. In the movies, when the hostage knows what the bad guy looks like…the bad guy usually kills them. So…is that what’s going to happen to us? Are they going to put my family and Kerri’s family through this? Are they going to take my money…celebrate a little bit, and then take us outside and shoot us? “I…â€￾ I try to say something to her. I try to look her in those beautiful deep blue eyes of hers, and tell her that everything is going to turn out for the best. I can’t do it though. I can’t give her an answer when I don’t know what the answer is. “Kerri, I just…I just don’t know.â€￾

She wraps her arms around her knees, and stares up at the ceiling for a moment. She’s trying not to break down again, and I commend her for that. She wants to be strong for me…for us. Us. It’s weird to think of me and Kerri and an ‘us’ right now. Once upon a time I used to think that we were an ‘us’. I miss thinking that way. I miss her…I miss her so much. The last couple of weeks…I haven’t been sleeping. I talked to Cam about it in bed one night, and she told me it was probably just the tour catching up with me. She explained that I was so used to staying up all hours, that when I tried to sleep, my body didn‘t want me to. Then we had sex, and I felt okay again. I guess that could have been part of the problem…staying up all hours. But at the same time, I also knew I was going to see Kerri again….and I think it was making me more nervous than I wanted to admit.

I’ve haven’t told Cameron about Kerri yet. I’m afraid to, because…I think I might care about Cam a little bit, even though we‘ve only been dating for two months, and I don‘t want us to fight over something like Kerri. Cameron…she really understands me. She knows where I come from, and the kind of person I am. And she listens to me too. I’ve never really had a girlfriend that listens to me like she does. I guess, I probably could have told her about Kerri before I flew home, and I’m sure she would have been fine with it. She’s way past that jealousy phase that most women through. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I told her about Kerri, she would have told me to suck it up and apologize. I smile…just a little. I can totally see her saying it. I’m really glad I have Cam in my life. I can’t wait to go home, and call her and talk to her about all of this. She’s better than any shrink. I know I’ll call her, and we’ll talk, and she’ll cry…and then a few days later I’ll fly back home. Then we’ll sit in the bed together and she’ll let me put her head in her lap. Then she’ll run her hands through my hair…that way I like, and we’ll be happy. I know we will.

But right now, I know I need to stop thinking about Cameron. I need to focus on Kerri…because I know she needs me. “Hey,â€￾ I say to her.

She doesn’t look at me right away. When she finally does, I see that her eyes are still filled with tears, and when she blinks, they start to travel down her face. “Yeah?,â€￾ she croaks.

“I know…we don’t really have any answers right now,â€￾ I say. “But…we have to believe that everything is going to work out. We have to stay positive about this whole thing. If we don’t…then they’ll have us right where they want us.â€￾

“They already have us where they want us, Justin,â€￾ she tells me sadly. “We’re trapped in here.â€￾

“They don‘t have control over our emotions, Kerri. And that’s the important thing,â€￾ I say. Damn…why is it that I’m able to keep my head straight right now? I should be a mess like Kerri…but I’m not. I feel like one of those guys on a soap opera. Like…when he’s stuck in some cave with his girlfriend, and he knows exactly what to say. I don’t understand. I’ve never been prepared to handle something like this. No lecture from Tiny could have ever prepared me for the stuff that went down tonight. Am I brave? I’ve never thought myself to be brave…just confident. Maybe…maybe that’s it. Maybe I have so much confidence in who I am and what I do that it’s hard for anybody, including the prick and his friend, to tear me down. It’s a good thing that I’m able to be this confident though. They won’t be expecting it. They probably think I’m going to lose my mind before this is all over.

But I’ll show them….

I’ll show them that I can handle this….that we can handle this.

“I don’t…Justin…â€￾ She looks at me again. Her eyes are big, frightened. “Justin, I don’t want to die.â€￾

This time I don’t think about what she might do. I move closer to her, and drape an arm around her shoulders. “We’re not going to die,â€￾ I whisper, cupping her face with my free hand. “I promise you okay? We’re going to get out of here…you’ll see.â€￾ I stroke her face and hair, and lightly kiss her on the forehead. I feel her tense up a little, and I know that I shouldn’t have crossed that line with her…but I don’t know what else to do. I want her to know that I’m going to try as hard as I can to protect us.

She leans her head on my shoulder, and closes her eyes. I’m a little surprised. I thought she would have pulled away from me by now and moved to the other end of the mattress. Maybe she’s finally starting to realize that we need to be in this together. I hope that’s the case. Two against two is a lot better than two against one. I pull the blanket over us, giving Kerri more than I give myself, and close my eyes, hoping that when I wake up again it will be time to get down to business. For a moment, I don’t think I can sleep, but the sound of Kerri’s rythmic breathing eventually helps me to drift off.

And I’m thankful.

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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 6:59 pm

Chapter Five

It‘s three am on a Saturday morning. I’m wide awake because my roommate is having sex with her boyfriend in the next room and her headboard keeps colliding with the wall. It’s annoying…I know I have to be up for that stupid foreign language class in a few hours, and at this rate, I‘ll be falling asleep in my book.

Justin is in the city though…so I call him, just to pass the time. He seems happy to hear from me even though it‘s the middle of the night, but why wouldn’t he be? We had a lot of fun yesterday. I love spending time with him. He really gets me…

I think…I think I like him. Like…more than a friend like him. Trace is going to sh'it.

“What are you doing right now?â€￾ he asks me, the hint of playfulness in his voice not going unnoticed by me.

“Well,â€￾ I smile. “I was sleeping, but my roommate is banging her boyfriend in the next room…so I‘ve basically abandoned that idea.â€￾

“Awww,â€￾ he chuckles. “Well hey…you can come here.â€￾

I sit up a little. “To the Trump?

“Yeah,â€￾ he yawns. “It‘ll be…fun…..

My eyes open, and I realize that I’ve been dreaming. It causes me to groan a little bit, because I know that means I‘m still in the same place I was before I fell asleep…here in this hell. For a moment, I really thought I was back in the city, about to go to Justin‘s hotel suite. I have that dream a lot, and the more I have it…the more realistic it seems. Sometimes I almost think that I’m going to wake up, and I’ll have changed the past. But then…I wake up and realize that my life is exactly the way it was before I went to sleep. It’s stupid for me to think that my life could change so easily. What happened that night happened, and I think…I’ll probably be paying for my stupid decision for the rest of my life.

I turn to my right, and it’s only then that I realize Justin is gone. I feel the panic rise in my throat. “Justin?â€￾ I call out. I don’t know why. This room is only so big, and there isn’t anywhere to hide. He’s definitely not here. What happened to him? Why didn’t he wake me up when they came in? Damn it…what if they took him and left me here to die? What if they killed him? Oh my god.

I hear the lock turn, and my breath catches in my throat. I freeze in my position, half expecting one of them to open the door and shoot me. Then the door is thrust open, and I see Justin and scar face’s friend standing at the top of the stairs. Justin is visibly shaken, and there is a trickle of blood running from his mouth. My mouth gapes open, but no sound comes out. What happened? Where did they take him? Scarface’s friend shoves Justin roughly down the stairs, and he trips on the last step, falling roughly on his backside. He moans a little, and he doesn’t get up right away. When he finally does, he staggers over to me and sits down on the mattress. I look at him, and he meets my gaze. He seems so tired…so worn out. I want to ask him what happened, but I’m not about to say anything with scar face’s friend standing at the top of the stairs.

“Hey girl. Let’s go,â€￾ scar face’s friend says to me.

I look at him. I don’t want to go anywhere with him. He’s crazy. But if I don’t listen to him, I know he’s only going to make things harder for the both of us. “W-why?â€￾ I manage to ask him.

He walks down the stairs. There’s this look in his eyes. It’s the same one I saw in scar face’s. It’s predatory, evil. He reaches me and points the gun at me. “You don’t ask questions,â€￾ he tells me. “You do what I tell you, when I tell you to do it. You understand?â€￾

I flinch as the barrel of the gun is pressed into the side of my head. “Yes,â€￾ I croak.

He pulls me to my feet, and forces me over to the stairs. I glance back at Justin once more before I’m forced to walk up them. He isn’t paying attention though. He’s sitting on the mattress, with his legs tucked under him, his head buried in his hands. I don’t know what happened. Damn it…what did they do to him?

“Quit stalling,â€￾ scar face’s friend barks.

This time I listen. I walk up the stairs, and he pushes me through the door, making sure to close and lock it behind us before shoving me on. There is a window straight ahead…something I didn’t notice last night. It’s morning now…maybe eight or nine o’clock. I’m relieved to know what time it is. It was driving me crazy before. I hope they find the decency to give us a clock in there. It’s really horrible being confined, and not knowing what time it is. I think it makes time go so much slower. Like…I know dogs have no sense of time. It’s like that. This big long never ending stretch.

He leads me down the long hallway and eventually we reach what seems to be the living room. There’s a couch against one wall and a little television set in the middle of the floor. The place is dirty and dusty…like it hasn’t been cleaned in about ten years. I start to cough. It’s a lot dustier in here than it is in that cellar, and I know it won’t be long until my allergies start to kick in full swing.

Scar face is sprawled out across the sofa, one arm resting behind his head. He’s watching the tv. How can he be so calm? Doesn’t he know what’s happening?

“You need to piss?â€￾ I hear scar face’s friend say to me.

I’ve been so busy thinking about what’s going to happen to me that I haven’t had time to think about peeing or eating or any of that. My body seems to take his question as a green light to activate my bladder again…because all of a sudden, I have to pee very badly. I look at him, and I nod. He pushes me a little further along. There is a door just outside of the living room, and he wrenches it open. There’s a toilet, and a tiny sink.

My entire life, I’ve hated using other people’s bathrooms. I don’t know why. Something about…other people’s bare asses being on the seat before mine grosses me out I guess. When I’m away at school, I always put toilet paper on the seat in my dorm room. My roommate has all kinds of friends traipsing through our place, and I know they use our bathroom. She makes fun of me for it of course, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. But this toilet…I don’t even think toilet paper would make me feel better about using it. It looks about a thousand years old, and it’s dirty…grimy. How can I pee like this? I almost ask him, but then I come to my senses. This isn’t luxury. This is a kidnapping, and I should be thankful he’s letting me use the bathroom at all.

After a moment, he shoves me inside the tiny bathroom and slams the door on me. I know it’s not locked, but I know he’s standing right outside the door. There is nowhere to go. I run the faucet first, and splash some cold water on my face. It feels good. I look around for some soap, even though it’s not logical for there to be soap in such a nasty little bathroom, and I don’t find any. I pick my head up and look straight ahead, expecting there to be a mirror above the sink…but there isn’t one of those either. I guess it’s better this way though. I must look horrendous, having barely slept at all last night, and being dragged around like I was. I know I have a big bruise on my face too…from scar face. Yeah, it’s better if I can’t see that right now either.

I turn toward the toilet, and become nauseated at the thought of how many germs are crawling around on it. To help the situation a little, I try to find the toilet paper. There is no toilet paper. Fu'ckin’ christ. I can’t pee this way. I need toilet paper. I know I peed in my pants a little yesterday, and I still feel disgusting about that even though it’s dried up now. I don’t want to feel all wet down there again. Not thinking about it, I knock on the door a little. “Hey,â€￾ I call through the door.

“You done?â€￾ I hear him grunt.

“No…I need toilet paper. There‘s nothing here.â€￾

“You don’t need sh'it. Take a piss and get it over with.â€￾

I realize that it was never his intention to provide me with toilet paper. Obviously, he wasn’t expecting me to have toilet bowl anxiety. “I need something,â€￾ I protest. “I…I can’t go without it.â€￾

“You want me to come in there and shoot you, girl?â€￾

I realize I’m not going to get anywhere this way. The more I complain, the angrier he’s going to get. And that’s either going to get me slapped around or killed. I need to get back to Justin I realize, and the only way I’m going to do that is if I pee. Drawing in a breath, I ease myself down onto the toilet bowl. It’s cold, and a little moist. I’m nauseous, but somehow, I manage to get over my anxiety and pee. I jump up from the toilet seat immediately after I’m done, and do my best to wipe my rear off with my hands. I’m still disgusted, but I feel a little refreshed. I didn’t realize that I needed to pee that badly. I pull up my pants, and flush the toilet, before knocking on the door again.

This time the door is wrenched open, and the gun is pointed in my face. “You better be done,â€￾ scar face’s friend mutters.

I flinch. “I’m…I’m done,â€￾ I stutter.

“Good.â€￾ He yanks me out of the bathroom and back into the living room. A chair has been put out, and there is a little tray with some kind of sandwich and a can of soda. Food. My stomach growls a little. I forgot about food…that I haven’t eaten since yesterday afternoon. My mom made me a grilled cheese sandwich and I split it with Mary. I would have eaten more, but I didn’t want to spoil dinner.

He shoves me down into the chair. “Eat,â€￾ he orders. “And don’t try to fu'ckin’ run.â€￾ He looks at scar face. “Watch her.â€￾

Scar face glances away from the television for a moment and nods at him, pulling his gun out of his pocket. Scar face’s friend shoots me another menacing look, and retreats out of the room. I can hear his footsteps getting further and further away…and a moment later I hear a door…maybe the front door, open and shut again.

I wonder where he’s going, and turn back to scar face, hoping that he’ll give me a clue. But all he does is wave his gun at me, reminding me that he’s got his eye on me. Then he focuses his gaze on the television again. I peer over at the screen, and realize that he’s watching Tom and Jerry. That’s Mary’s favorite cartoon, and I smile a little. The way my parents are, I’m sure they haven’t attempted to tell Mary what’s happened to me. She probably thinks I went back to school. Whenever I’m home for a visit, and I leave to go to the store or something, she always thinks I’m going back to school…and she gives me the goodbye card she drew. It’s better that she thinks I went to school though. She’s much too young to understand that I might not survive all of this. I’m sure she’s on the sofa right now, still in her pajama’s, eating her cereal and watching Tom and Jerry. I wish I was with her right now…

I wish I was anywhere but here.

I hear scar face laugh at the cartoon, and I cringe a little bit. Then I look down at the sandwich. I think it’s ham. Not my choice of breakfast foods…but I’m thankful they’ve decided to feed me at all. I hope Justin got to eat. He was bleeding though. Did he piss them off? I hope not. I hope they fed him. He needs food just like I do. I pop open my soda can, and pour the liquid into my mouth eagerly. I was so thirsty…strange, I hadn’t noticed that until now. I start to bring the sandwich to my mouth, but stop halfway. Scar face is sitting up now, his gaze focused on me instead of the cartoon.

“Hey,â€￾ he says.

I don’t answer.

“Hey is your face okay?â€￾

I drop my sandwich. I’m not hungry anymore. Why is he talking to me? Why is he asking if my face is okay? He’s the one that hit me and he didn’t seem to give a damn about it either. But I don’t want him to get angry and hit me again, so I answer him quickly. “It’s okay,â€￾ I whisper.

“Sorry about that,â€￾ he nods. “You just…gotta behave okay?.â€￾

His voice isn’t as raspy and fearsome as it seemed to be yesterday. I meet his gaze. He doesn’t seem like the type of person who would do something like this…he seems too immature. I can’t get the fact that he is probably the same age as me out of my head. It’s scary to know that somebody from my generation could be so cold blooded…so heartless.

The question of exactly who these people are and how they know each other starts to nag at me again. I sit up a little. Maybe…if I’m nice. Maybe if I’m brave and show a little confidence in myself…I can get to know him…and get him to be on our side. I mean, now that I’m sitting here with him, he doesn’t seem so evil. He’s watching cartoons, and enjoying himself. That doesn’t mean he’s not scum…but I know he’s not as bad as his friend is. “How old are you?â€￾ I hear the question slip out of my mouth and I tremble. I shouldn’t have asked.

He’ll probably hit me now.

Scar face is silent. He seems to be considering what I’ve just asked him very carefully. “How old are you?â€￾ he shoots back.

I guess that’s fair. “Twenty three.â€￾ My appetite is starting to come back. I pick up my sandwich again and take a bite. I make a face. It’s cheap deli meat…certainly not the good kind my mother has. She goes to this little deli right outside of town. All their meats and stuff are imported and of the highest quality. My mom has me so spoiled by the place, that when I’m away at school I hardly eat cold cuts, even though New York City supposedly has the ‘best deli‘s in the world. They just aren’t the same. I remember when I was little mom would take me there sometimes, and the butcher would cut me a slice of cheese. What was his name? Mister…Zellman, yeah that was his name. I wonder if he’s still running the place now. I’ll have to ask my mom when I see her again…

If I see her again.

Too bad there isn’t any mustard. I love mustard on my ham sandwiches.

God, I feel so selfish and spoiled right now. What’s wrong with me? These ruthless men…they’ve just done the first decent thing for me since this all started, and all I can do is complain about how the meat tastes. I feel like…Britney. Britney always complained about everything, especially when it came to Justin and how he wanted to live his life. I don’t know what he ever saw in her personally. I think he might have fallen for her because he’d known her so long and she was the first girl that he’d ever really kissed. I never objected his decision to date her. I mean, she was always nice to me, even before she and Justin started dating. She would come out on tour with us and we would hang out and smoke weed together. But still…there was always something about her that got to me. She always acted…above me for some reason. Not in the very very beginning…but later on, after she’d released her album. She would come around, and hang all over Justin, and barely give me the time of day. I was a little hurt by it at first, because we were friends for a while, and I didn’t think she would just turn around and change her attitude like that. But then I got over it…figuring she was probably never my real friend in the first place. The whole time…she was probably just using me as an excuse to get close to Justin again.

I never told Justin about the time Britney sat down and ‘talked’ to me. It happened right before…well…right before we spent the night together. They’d gotten into an argument and broken up. She told me I was the cause of it. I didn’t’ understand why. I was just his good friend then, and all I wanted to do was spend time with him when he came around. Britney didn’t seem to think it was a good idea. She said I was a girl…a pretty one, and explained that ‘pretty girls brought temptation‘. Then she said she thought it was better if I didn’t talk to Justin so much anymore. I wanted to laugh at her. It was like…she thought she owned Justin, and nobody else was allowed to share any type of special bond with him. I clued her in quick. I informed her of who I was…that I wasn’t some groupie or some bimbo. I told her that she knew how close Justin and I were, and that she had no business trying to control went on between us. She didn’t’ like that…but there was really nothing she could say. She left soon after, and I haven’t spoken to her since.

“I’m twenty one.â€￾

I look at him. He’s twenty one? That’s crazy. He has his whole life ahead of him. Why would he want to get mixed up in something like this? He’s going to ruin his life. “That’s…young,â€￾ I say quietly.

He @#%$ the gun, and toys with it in his hands. “I guess,â€￾ he shrugs. “When we get the money though…I’m gonna fix it all up so I’m older. I’m gonna move to Canada. There’s this house up there that I saw two summers ago…it’s amazing, and it‘s only two hundred and fifty grand.â€￾ He pauses and gets a faraway gaze in his eyes. I can tell that this is his dream…to buy this house and live up there for the rest of his life. I catch myself in a smile, and I make myself stop. He’s going to buy a house in Canada with Justin’s money. He’s kidnapped us. He’s a @#%$.

“The house…it’s by this lake. Shane says I could open up a little boat shop there,â€￾ he tells me, keeping more of his attention focused on the television than on what he‘s saying. “Those places make so much money.â€￾

Who the hell is Shane?

“But I dunno,â€￾ he continues, letting out a tired yawn. “I might just live off of this money for awhile, ya know?â€￾

I finish the last of my sandwich. My stomach is still growling though. I wonder when they’ll feed us again. Tomorrow? God, I hope not. I need to eat again today. Even if it is a crappy ham sandwich…it’s still food….

“So what about you?â€￾

He’s still talking. I realize that if I’m going to get on scar face’s good side, now is the time to do it. I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to be alone with him again. His friend…he’s like this obsessive control freak. I’m surprised he left us alone in the first place. “Me?â€￾ I say.

“Yeah,â€￾ he nods. “What’s your story? I’ve never seen you before.â€￾

He means he’s never seen me with Justin before. Geez, these guys must have been stalking Justin for a long time. They must have known he was going home by himself, and figured they had a golden opportunity to get what they wanted. They didn’t count on me being with him yesterday though. “I…I’m just me,â€￾ I say nervously.

“You live in Tennessee?â€￾

I’m thankful he’s asked me this. I thought that they might have driven us into another state…but since he’s asked me, and since I know he’s not the brightest person in the world, I’m guessing we’re still in state. I’ll have to tell Justin. He’ll probably be a little relieved, and that’s good because he looked really upset before. I nod at scar face. “Yeah, well…I go to school most of the year, but when I’m not in school I come back here.â€￾

“Oh you’re in school?â€￾ His eyes get wider as he asks me the question. “I wanted to go to school…but Shane didn’t have the money to send me. I might take some classes after I get my house though. I think I’d like to do some kind of culinary arts thing. I love to cook.â€￾

Scar face has put the fear of god in me, and I can’t picture him going to school like everybody else my age. What if he’s a rapist or something? What if he like, takes unsuspecting girls and gets them drunk and forces himself on them? It will be all my fault…all my fault for letting them get away with what they’re doing to us.. I don’t let my feelings show though. Instead I force a half smile and say, “That sounds cool.â€￾

“So what’s the deal with you and Justin? You go out with him?â€￾ he asks me, an all too knowing smile on his face.

I look away from him. I want them to think that I’m his girlfriend. For some reason, I think I have a better chance of staying alive if they think that I am. Only…they might hold me over Justin’s head But what can I do? I don’t want to risk telling scar face that I’m not…that I’m just a friend…a friend that hasn’t even spoken to Justin in three years. He’ll probably tell his friend, and his friend will probably shoot me because he won’t think I’m worth all this trouble. “Yes.â€￾

“Liar.â€￾

I‘m starting to get angry. I don’t want them to know about my relationship with Justin. It’s none of their business. “I’m not lying.â€￾

“I heard the way he was talking to you…how he was telling you to get back in the car,â€￾ he snickers. “That isn’t how a guy treats his girl.â€￾

I glare at him. I shouldn’t be glaring at him though. I should be terrified because he’s sitting on the couch with his gun pointed at me. But now he’s getting into this…Justin and me, and he has no place in it…none. “How would you know,â€￾ I snap. “You hit women. That’s low. But I guess you’re used to it…being the scum that you are.â€￾ I immediately bite my lip. That was too bold. Way too bold.

“What?â€￾ he says, getting off the sofa. “What did you say?â€￾

I feel my heart begin to beat faster, as he starts to approach me. “I…nothing…â€￾

“It didn’t sound like nothing, girl,â€￾ he yanks me out of the chair, and presses his gun to my forehead. “I think you just insulted me…and I hate to be insulted.â€￾ I hear him c'ock the gun again, and I flinch slightly. He could very well kill me right now, and it wouldn’t matter. With me gone, it’s one less mouth to feed for them…it’s one less person that they have to keep an eye on. They would still get their four million for Justin, and his friend would probably get enjoyment out of burying me in the woods someplace.

But that doesn’t mean I want to die.

“Please,â€￾ I manage. “I didn‘t mean to.â€￾

He spins the chamber of the gun a few times, and smiles at me before slapping it back into place. “Now,â€￾ he says. His breath is hot in my ear, and I get a whiff of something…whisky maybe? “There’s one bullet in there. If I pull the trigger, do you think you’ll get off lucky?â€￾

I shrug. I’m terrified right now, but I’m trying as hard as I can not to let my feelings show. I realize that I can do that with scar face. It’s easier for me to stay calm around him now. He’s so young…and a little nicer than his companion. But I know I can’t trust him. His gun to my head is proving that to me. “I don’t know,â€￾ I say finally.

“How about we see?â€￾

His smile is evil. I don’t know what I was thinking telling him that he was scum. Scar face isn’t just some ordinary run of the mill a'sshole. He’s a kidnapper…a killer. “No,â€￾ I croak. “Don’t.â€￾

“Nate!â€￾

The smile on his face fades, and he pushes me back down into the chair. I whimper a little. That was scary. What if he pulled the trigger? Would it have gone off? I guess I’ll never know. Knowing scar face, the gun is probably fully loaded. I’m sure I was only seconds away from being killed…for the second time since our ordeal began.

“What the hell Nathan?â€￾

I glance over my shoulder in time to see the other man storm into the room. He looks more upset than angry, and that‘s probably a good thing. I wonder where he went before. “What are you doing?â€￾ he asks him.

Scar face…or now I guess I can call him Nate, frowns and looks down at the floor. “I was just…f'uckin’ with her.â€￾

He takes the gun out of Nate’s hand and pokes him roughly in the chest with his finger. “Don’t be fu'ckin with the merchandise.â€￾

Nate doesn‘t take his gaze from the floor. “I’m sorry, Shane.â€￾

Shane…so that’s who he is.

Shane pats him on the shoulder, like I saw him do last night by the car. “It’s okay…it’s alright,â€￾ he reassures him. “Just…think okay? This isn’t one of those small time jobs like before. This is high profile.â€￾

Shawn nods.

“Okay.â€￾ Shane half smiles, and then looks back at me. “You givin him trouble?â€￾

I shake my head.

He sighs. “Whatever…lets go.â€￾ He grabs me by my arm and forces me out of the living room. He leads me back down that same hallway, his gun to my back the entire time. I start to wonder about the rest of the house. Just how big is it? What other rooms lie beyond this hallway? I’m sure there is a second floor. When we were outside the house it looked like it did. I wonder what’s up there. Probably nothing…just some old furniture and things. I wish I could go exploring though…it would make the time go by a lot faster.

We reach the door to the cellar, and he opens it again. I see Justin. He’s leaning against the wall, his arms wrapped around his knees. He looks at me tiredly, not moving from his position. I can tell he’s had enough of being locked in a room for hours on end. I have too. I want to get out of here so badly. How much longer do we have to go through this? I know the drop is supposed to be tomorrow. But tomorrow seems like it’s never going to get here.

“Go on,â€￾ Shane grumbles.

“Can we…have that watch?â€￾ I ask him, pointing to the watch on his wrist. “It’s really driving us crazy not knowing what time it is in there.â€￾

“This ain’t no Hilton,â€￾ he snaps. “Be thankful you’re not dead yet.â€￾ He motions to the door with his gun. “Go.â€￾ He pushes me through the door, and it slams shut behind me. Then I hear the lock being turned, and I know I’m back to square one.

I walk down the steps, and over to Justin. He barely acknowledges me, but I sit down next to him anyway. “Hey.â€￾

“Hi,â€￾ he whispers sadly.

I know there‘s something wrong. Last night…he seemed so confident last night, so sure that we could beat these two guys. Right now it seems like he‘s lost his head though. His face is pale, and he looks so…lost. I study his face. The bruises he received last night are still there…some lighter than others. But he has a few fresh ones too. Now I’m worried. What did he do this time? Did he say the wrong thing? Did he try to get away? I don’t want to ask him about it…I know he’s probably not in the mood to discuss it, but at the same time I’m too worried about him not to say anything at all. “What happened to you earlier?â€￾ I ask him.

For a moment he doesn‘t answer me. He runs a hand through his short curls and down the back of his neck. His face is turning red…and I know he‘s trying not to cry. I wish he would. I wish he would break down just once so I know that I‘m not as weak as I think I am. “He took me to pee,â€￾ he tells me, much too quickly.

I frown. I know it‘s a lie. “That’s all?â€￾ I say.

“Yes,â€￾ he groans with annoyance. “That’s fu'ckin’ all Kerri. If I had something to tell you I would…but I don’t…so just go and lay down or something. Leave me alone.â€￾

My mouth gapes a little bit. I’m a little shocked by his sudden change of attitude. Last night it seemed that all he wanted to do was hold me and tell me everything was going to be okay. For a little while, I thought things were starting to change for us. Like…we could be friends again or something. But right now…he’s pushing me away again. I don’t understand. Is he scared? So scared now that he can’t stand the thought of confiding in me? “Justin…â€￾

He looks at me. He‘s not angry…I don‘t think he ever was. He looks hurt or something. Like somebody did something to him that was so wrong, it‘s killing him inside. After he and Britney broke up, Trace would call and tell me that he was walking around in this daze, like the whole world had come crashing down around him. I’m pretty sure that he was trying to guilt trip me into calling Justin, and at the time…I didn’t believe that Justin could get that depressed over a girl, because of how he treated me. This is probably what he looked like then. Tired…worn out…hurt. I want to pull him close and tell him its going to be okay, but he doesn’t seem like he wants to be comforted that way right now. His arms are wrapped around himself protectively. He doesn’t want to be touched…and that’s okay.

“I didn’t mean to snap at you,â€￾ he says finally. He shifts himself closer to me and inspects my face a little, as if he’s trying to make sure they didn’t do anything to me. “I’m just…really confused, and really tired right now. It‘s not you Ker.â€￾

I nod a little.

“They didn’t…â€￾ he pauses and scratches the side of his mouth. “They didn’t touch you did they?â€￾

“No,â€￾ I say, my eyes widening a little. I should tell him about the Russian roulette thing, but I don’t want to make him more upset than he obviously already is. I feel bad about not telling him though. I know he would want me to. I know he would tell me if they did it to him. “They let me pee and they gave me a sandwich.â€￾

“Good,â€￾ he nods. “That’s good Kerri.â€￾ He closes his eyes and leans his head back against the wall. I see his bottom lip tremble a little, but he seems to catch himself before losing control.

“Did you get to eat,â€￾ I ask him.

He opens his eyes, and glances at me quickly. “I wasn’t hungry,â€￾ he replies.

That’s a flat out lie. I don’t know how much Justin ate when he went home, but it couldn’t have been that much. I know him…and I know he has a big appetite…he’s gotta be starving by now. When he first started out in the business, he had to cut back on so many things. He couldn’t eat fast food…those little chocolate truffles he loves so much…his grandmother’s pie. It was all salads, and protein shakes, and hours at the gym. He hated it at first, and he used to get pissed off at his mother when she wouldn‘t let him cheat. They had a lot of really bad arguments about it…and I was kind of shocked because Justin and his mother never really fought before that. I guess he felt like he was missing out, but he really wasn’t…he was getting the opportunity of a lifetime and he had to follow the rules. Justin doesn’t like to follow the rules.

Then his hard work started to pay off. He wasn’t scrawny little Justin anymore. He was big…built. Hell, he was hot and he knew it too. After awhile he started to like the attention he was getting because of his lean, muscular form. All the girls wanted him, and record producers looked at him and started to see ‘potential‘. At first, it kind of pushed us apart a little…because he was turning into a teen icon and I was still little Kerri from Millington. We got past that phase though, when he realized that even though these girls loved him and wanted him…they couldn’t understand him like I could.

“We’re still in Tennessee,â€￾ I say, trying to sound positive.

He shoots me a confused glance. “How do you know?â€￾

“The younger guy…he was talking to me a little bit,â€￾ I say. “He asked me if I was from Tennessee.â€￾

“That doesn’t mean we’re still in Tennessee,â€￾ he replies, matter-of-factly. “And why were you talking to him? Don’t you know how sick these guys are?â€￾

I shrug, but don’t meet his gaze. I feel stupid now. I really thought that telling Justin that would give him some hope. But all it did was make me look like a fool. “He just…he started talking to me about himself and--â€￾

“Don’t talk to them,â€￾ he says harshly. “Don’t tell them about yourself…don’t tell them anything. Jesus Christ…you can’t befriend these people. They’re murderers Kerri…they have no regard for either of our lives. Do you understand? Talking to him…it’s like letting your guard down. This is about money okay? It‘s not about us.â€￾

Everything he’s saying is totally making sense. What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I thinking I can befriend Shawn, and convince him to drop this whole thing? I can’t…I know I can’t. There is four million dollars at stake here. He’s not going to give that up for anything in the world.

“Promise me you won’t do it again,â€￾ he says forcefully.

I look into his eyes. They, like the rest of his expression are lost…and full of pain. I’ve always envied the color of Justin’s eyes. It’s this angelic crystal looking blue. I’ve never seen anything like them on anybody else. My eyes…they’re this dull blue color. I hate them. “I…I promise. Justin, I’m sorry.â€￾

He shakes his head and kisses me on the forehead. “Don’t be sorry. Just…be careful okay?â€￾

I nod. Then to my surprise he takes my hand and interlocks his fingers with mine. I don’t let go. Last night…before we covered up together I know I would have. But right now…he seems to need this from me. I watch him close his eyes, and a moment later his head is resting on my shoulder. I’m wide awake, and I know I’d much rather talk to him than sit here in silence while he recovers from whatever traumas he faced before…but I’m not going to be selfish right now. I’m going to sit here and let him have his few hours of peace before the chaos starts again.

Just as I am about to drift off myself, I hear him moan and I gasp a little. “Justin?â€￾

His eyes fly open and he pulls away from me. For a moment he‘s frightened. His eyes are wide, and he‘s looking at me like he has no idea who I am. “Huh? Oh…Kerri, it‘s just you.â€￾ The realization seems to calm him slightly, and he relaxes against me again.

Something is going on with him. Something horrible. I don‘t know if it‘s these guys who are doing it to him…or if its something that‘s been going on in his life recently. All I know is that I can‘t bare to see him this terrified, and not know the cause of it. “Justin,â€￾ I say, stroking his face lightly with my hand. “What’s the matter?â€￾

“Oh…â€￾ he whispers. He quickly moves my hand away from his face, and then smiles a little. It’s a forced smile. “Nothin’,â€￾ he reassures me. “Nothin’ at all.â€￾

And I believe him, because right now…he’s the only person in this world I can trust.

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Postby xoinnocentjrtgrl » Sat May 21, 2005 7:02 pm

Girl, you know I LOVE love love this story :wub: Keep postin!

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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 7:03 pm

Chapter Six

I don’t know how long it’s been since Kerri came back from the bathroom. It seems like days have gone by though. I hate this time thing. Before this, I thought I had a good sense of time. I would be on the road, and I wouldn’t even need to look at my watch…I would just know what time it was. It amazed Trace, because even when he has a watch on he still can’t keep track of the time. I swear, if I depended on him, I’d be late for everything.

But, it’s easier to have a sense of time when you’re out in the world living your life. You can see the sky, you can see when it’s early in the morning or late at night Here…it’s just four stone walls and a mattress…a prison. If they left us here to die, we’d never know what day it was or anything like that. I mean, we could always guess, but it would be hard. I wish the pervert would have given Kerri the watch before. Maybe…maybe later I can ask him. I think he might give in, if I give him what he wants. He better. I need a sense of time. Chris was right about that whole Harvard experiment. It really could drive somebody crazy.

I talked to my mom this morning. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to sit there and hear the worry and panic in her voice. I told the pervert I’d rather deal with Tiny or somebody. Then he asked me who the hell Tiny was. I didn’t want to tell him he’s my head of security…because security means police. So I told him Tiny was one of my friends. He didn’t seem to believe me, but then again…he doesn’t believe anything I tell him. He told me I had two options. I could either talk to my mother or I could ‘talk to that mother fu'cker I talked to last night‘. I wasn’t about to get on the phone with Trace of course. If the cops are involved, he’d give it away in a heartbeat. So in the end, it was my mother who came on the line.

After the pervert barked an order to put my mother on the phone, he handed it over to me. Then I heard it…my mother’s voice, weaker than I’ve ever heard it before. She said, “Baby?â€￾, and I nearly lost it right there in front of the ba'stard. Somehow I managed to control myself and save my tears for later, even though the only image in my mind was of my mother sitting on the sofa, her eyes swollen from crying all night long. I know my mother…and I know she has no idea what to do right now. She doesn’t know where I am…she doesn’t know how banged up I am. She can’t help me, and it’s killing her…I know it is. The images of her in my mind made me so upset…I kind of lost myself for a moment. I started to say the craziest sh'it to her, about how much I love her and how much I appreciate her…like I was never coming home or something. It wasn’t the best thing I could have done, and I know that now…but I was panicking, and I couldn’t stop myself at the time. Then she started to cry, and the pervert…he was smiling. He was smiling because it was exactly the kind of reaction he wanted from me, and I wanted to kick myself for letting him get his way.

Then he took the phone away.

But I wasn’t done. I wanted to talk to my mom. My mom…she’s like my rock. Nobody in this world has been there for me and supported me like she has. When I was young, and first starting out with the guys, she willingly quit her job and traveled around with me, even though the hours were long, there was no guarantee I would make it, and I was in a pissed off mood most of the time because I never got to sleep. She put up with it…and I’ve never forgotten that. When I heard her crying and sounding like she didn’t know what to do, all I wanted to do was reach through the phone and hug her. I wanted her to know that I loved her no matter what. I…I needed to talk to her some more, and having the phone taken away from me set me off. I was so blinded by my anger, I didn’t realize that I’d gotten up to take the phone back until it was too late. I never saw the pervert turn around, but I did see his fist fly in my face. He punched me, and knocked me to the ground. Then his gun was pressed to my forehead, and I knew if I tried to move again I’d be dead. The pervert finished the conversation, telling her he wanted the money first thing in the morning, and that he would call her with the details when he was ready to give them to her.

I don’t want to think about what my mom did after she got off the phone.

I can’t help but think about what this is doing to Nanna and Poppa. I just saw them yesterday, and everything was fine. I ate about a pound of pie, and I couldn’t’ have been happier to be around them. I knew they were excited too because I’ve been on tour practically all year and they only got to come to one show. I know they would have gone to more, but Poppa’s heart hasn’t been it’s best. He had a heart attack two years ago, and the doctor told him that it would be best if he didn’t do a lot of heavy traveling anymore. It upset me…because he was sick, and because I knew he wouldn’t be able to come out to a lot of my shows anymore. When I was touring with the guys he and Nana used to go all over the south to see me. Those were my best performances with the guys I think. With my grandparents…I’ve always had this fear that I’m going to see them one day and the next day one of them won’t be here, so when I’m around them I try to give them the best of myself. Thinking about it now…I know that this has to be strenuous on the two of them. They’ve never been through something this tragic before. Nobody in my family has ever died a tragic death, or mysteriously disappeared. I hope Poppa can be strong…I hope Nanna can be too. I don’t know what I’d do if one of them died because of this whole thing.

Man, I could really go for a Big Mac right now. But then my calorie count would get thrown way off…not that it isn’t already. I’m really self conscious about my weight and appearance. Before NSYNC, when I was just this little nobody from Tennessee, I didn’t’ really care. Yeah, I worked out then…but I still ate what I wanted to. The second we were signed though, all of that was out. We were all put on these strict, low carb…low sugar diets. Basically the salad, water, and protein shake diet. Oh god, those protein shakes…some of them tasted like chalk. I remember a few times…Chris and I would sneak out and buy milkshakes and pretend they were the protein shakes. It worked for awhile, but then my mom caught us. I fought with her a lot about that whole diet thing. I didn’t’ really understand why it was so mandatory at first. But…after so many years in the spotlight, I’ve come to understand…in this business you have to look the part. The camera adds thirty pounds to you, so in order too look the part you have to look…sickly I guess. I’ve met a lot of supermodels with eating disorders. They say it’s nearly impossible to stay so skinny, even if all they eat is salad and drink water. A lot of them are on laxatives…a lot of them simply don’t eat at all. It’s really sad, because a lot of those girls have good hearts…but in this business…it doesn’t matter. In this business, sometimes perfection isn’t even good enough.

This tour, I had a lot of problems with my weight. One week I would be up five pounds, and the next I would be down ten or fifteen. I guess it was partially because of all the hours of dancing and performing I put in, but I know a lot of it had to do with my being too busy to get enough food in my stomach. Trace was the only one around me enough to notice. I mean, Cam was there too but she doesn’t really notice things like that. She’s used to losing weight…she has to be. In the movies, you always have to look perfect. You always have to be that ideal weight. So when I lost all that weight…she would just smile and say ‘you look hot babe’, and I wouldn’t think it was such a bad thing. Trace though…he knew better. He started to get really worried about me mid tour. Some days, I would hardly eat anything at all…and then I would go do a two hour show. Then I would be so exhausted, I would barely be able to function at whatever club we went to after. He would ask me all the time ‘J, are you eating?’ and I would tell him yes, even though I knew I wasn’t.

Sometimes I wonder if I put off eating because I really was too busy…or if it was something else. Like, I think I might have been afraid to gain the weight back after I lost it. Even though I knew I was too thin, Johnny and everybody in production would tell me I was looking great, and…I wanted them to tell me that. I think I’ve lost count of how many times Johnny has sat with me and talked to me about ’the right weight’ and ’the right look’. All I know is when it seems that I’ve gained too much…he gets pissed. Then my mom talks to me. “Are you dieting properly honey…because you know…you have that big shoot…â€￾ Then I’ll go look at myself in the mirror and weigh myself…and I’ll feel so fat…so gross, that I have to rush out to the gym right away. My mother…she doesn’t mean to put this kind of pressure on me. I don’t think she realizes she does it. I’ve always been a perfectionist though, and when somebody tells me I’m not up to par or I feel that something I’m doing isn’t one hundred percent, I’ll do whatever it takes to fix the problem.

I’ve spent hours at the gym, trying to get in the best shape I can. But still…even though Jason says he’s really proud of the way I’ve been sticking to my diet and excersice program, and how my body is in the best shape its ever been, I still don’t feel perfect. I still feel off…awkward…fat. I don’t let anybody know that though. Not even Trace…and I know it would hurt him if he found out I’ve been keeping so much from him. I can’t tell him though. He’d think I was crazy or something. Then he’d tell my mom, and my mom would tell Johnny…

It would turn into a big mess that I’m not ready to handle.

Kind of like this mess…

The pervert gave me a sandwich, but I couldn’t eat it. Not after…that. I’m regretting it now though. I’m so hungry…it hurts. It‘s a good thing I decided to drink the soda. If I held out, I’d be more dehydrated than I know I am already. I didn’t realize how thirsty I was until I felt the liquid touch my tounge. I took a sip, and then…I didn’t stop drinking until the can was empty. I got to piss too…in that nasty little bathroom. I’m guessing they made Kerri use it too. I feel horrible about that. Kerri hates using other people’s bathrooms. It’s like this anxiety disorder she has. Years ago, when we were friends and she would come out on tour with us, sometimes the only bathroom around would be the one on the bus, and the idea of sharing a bathroom with five guys completely grossed her out. She actually made our driver pull over one time because Joey took a big sh'it, and she refused to use the bathroom on the bus. We all laughed our asses off of course. Right now though, I’m not amused at all. That toilet was so disgusting…I was thankful I only had to pee. Kerri though…I know she had to sit on it. I know there was no toilet paper either. Poor girl…what the hell did I get her into?

I touch a trembling hand to my mouth, and wipe it off for what seems like the thousandth time today. It doesn’t help though. I still feel dirty. I still feel ashamed. I was peeing, that’s all I was doing. I wasn’t trying to run…I wasn’t trying to put up a fight. Why? Why did he start this with me? I…I was peeing, and then he opened the door. I was humiliated…that he saw everything, but I couldn’t very well conceal myself, because I was in the middle of it all. Then he shut the door, and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t really know why he was in there with me. I hoped it was because he had to pee or something, but deep down I knew it was something more.

And I was right.

After I finished peeing, I told him I was done, but he didn’t seem to hear me. He backed me into the corner, and he started…saying all this crazy sh'it. Like…how he’s been watching me for a long time, and that…that he wants me so bad. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, what could I do? He still had his gun…he was still in control. He told me he wanted me to kiss him, and when I didn’t say anything…he held his gun to my head and forced me to. He forced me to kiss him. Then he started…touching me, and I…I couldn’t stop him because I was so afraid if I tried to, he would kill me. He pressed on…kissing my neck and my face. He lifted up my shirt and…he started to kiss my chest and my stomach. I didn’t realize I was crying until I felt the tears running down my face. I remember looking down, and his hands…they were on my chest, then my stomach…working their way down, further and further… until…

“I’m so thirsty.â€￾

Kerri’s voice pulls me out of the horrible memory. I glance down at her, and shoot her a reassuring half smile. “I’m sure they’ll give us some water soon,â€￾ I say. I know the chances of them caring enough about our health to bring us water is slim to none…but I’m not going to tell Kerri that. Just like I’m not going to tell her about my episode in the bathroom. It would only bring her down more…and with the drop happening tomorrow I need her to keep her wits about her.

She smiles at me a little, and I know she doesn’t believe what I’ve just told her. She leans her head on my shoulder anyway though…and I know she’s only doing it because she doesn’t want to bring me down. She’s…she’s sort of my friend now. It’s weird to be thinking this way, because it’s been so long since we’ve shared any kind of bond…but it’s the truth. After this is all over, and we’re out of here, I know we’re going to be able to talk a little. You don’t just…go through something like this with somebody you know without growing closer. It’s human nature.

“I watched the meteor shower.â€￾ She tells me, her smile widening a little. “I went up on the roof, even though I could have gotten kicked out of school for it. I don’t know..I just…I really wanted to see it. I mean, they were streaming it online…but I knew it wouldn’t be the same.â€￾

I smile, and stroke the top of her head. The thought that we were both up on our roofs watching those meteors soaring high above us, makes me feel like we were never really apart in the first place. We were both doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. I don’t know about Kerri…but that whole time, all I could think about was her and how the last time there was a meteor shower like that…we were making out up on that hill in Sacramento. “It wouldn’t have been,â€￾ I say. “That was an awesome shower.â€￾

She nods. “Yea. It was beautiful. Remember when we used to sit outside and watch for them?â€￾ she asks.

“I do,â€￾ I whisper.

“Those were my favorite moments with you, Justin,â€￾ she admits. “And even though…I had so much hate for you because of what went on between us…it hurt like hell watching it without you.â€￾

Hate. I never meant for her to hate me. When we had sex, I’ll be honest…it scared the hell out of me. I don’t think I was ready to be that physical with Kerri then. I mean, we’d kissed before and stuff…but it never went further than that. It was such a spur of the moment decision…sleeping together. One moment we were on the phone, and the next she was knocking on the door of my room at the Trump. She came in and we watched Mall Rats for a little while. Then…I started kissing her, and she wanted it…she wanted it so bad, and we were in the bed. Then one thing led to another…and we were naked, exploring each other in a way we never had before. Afterwards…she fell sleep, and all I could do was lie there and think about how much things were going to change between us. We wouldn’t be able to just hang out anymore…we wouldn’t be able to be the friends that we‘d been our entire lives. I understood that I had a choice to make…I could either be with her, or move on with my life. I guess I was so scared, that I chose to move on. I shouldn’t have…I really shouldn’t have. It was her first time, and I know that hurt her most of all. Here I was…her supposed best friend. The one person she trusted more than anybody…and I just fu'cked her over, because I was Justin Timberlake and I could. She still hates me for it to this day, and I know if we weren’t in this mess…she wouldn’t be talking to me. We’d be at the party…I’d be at one side of the room and she’d be on the other, and we wouldn’t talk at all. Then I’d get on my plane Monday and go back to Los Angeles, not having talked to her once the entire weekend. Trace would yell at me, but I wouldn’t care. I would set my focus on Cam, and push Kerri even further out of my mind and my life.

But this situation is forcing us to come to terms with everything. Maybe…it’s God’s will. Maybe he’s trying to show me that things can be good between us, that Kerri is too good of a friend for me to just toss to the side. “I’ve always wanted to tell you…how sorry I am for everything,â€￾ I say softly in her ear. “I guess I’ve just been too much of a p'ussy to pick up the phone and tell you.â€￾

“No.â€￾ She sits up a little and stares me down with those deep blue eyes of hers. “I wouldn’t have wanted to listen.â€￾

It’s the truth. Kerri is so stubborn, she would have hung up the moment she heard my voice on the other end of the line. It was that thought that prevented me from trying to call her. Once in awhile I would get the guts up to do it…after Trace would give me a lecture about how he knew I still cared about her…and that he was sure she still cared about me. I would pick up the phone, and dial. Then I would hang up after the first ring. I remember, she answered once, and I’ll admit…hearing her voice made me feel a lot better. It was the night before Justified came out, and I was so nervous…I was throwing up most of the night. I wanted to talk to Kerri, because I really didn’t know anybody else I could call that would understand my feelings. I’d already talked Trace’s ear off and he was sleeping…and my mom…she’d already heard me yak enough. I really thought I would be able to talk to Kerri, as it had been two and a half years…but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to hear her yell at me…I didn’t want her to remind me of what I did to her. Now, I wish I hadn’t been such a pu'ssy. I might have been able to work things out between us…then maybe, just maybe…she wouldn’t have come to get the cake with me yesterday…and she would be safe right now. “If I knew how things were going to turn out, I would have never taken that step with you,â€￾ I say. “I never wanted to lose you. I just…I got so scared Ker. I…I don’t know…â€￾

“You didn’t want to love me,â€￾ she says.

My eyes widen. She’s right…so right, and it’s weird. I didn’t want to love her. Loving her was dangerous…because I knew if something really bad happened, I would never recover. Not that recovering from Britney hasn’t been hard. That girl had my whole heart, and I think…she’s the only girl that I’ve cared about as much as Kerri. When it ended…it was horrible. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep…all I could do was sit in my house and cry. I was never more thankful when Rel invited me down to his studio in Virgina Beach to start recording Justified. It was an escape from everything…my mom babying me…getting the rest of my stuff out of Brit’s house, and the fu'cking paparazzi trying to find out what ’really’ happened. It was a place I could sit with my friends and get all of my aggressions out. If I didn’t spend that summer away…I don’t think I would have gotten somewhat past it all. Yeah, my heart still aches when I think about her…but not nearly as bad as it did. “I’m sorry,â€￾ I tell her. “It’s just…you’re not like other girls Kerri. You never have been.â€￾

She nods, but doesn’t say anything for a moment. Her expression is sad, but thoughtful. And then she looks at me again…this time though, she looks almost relieved. Like a huge burden has just been lifted off of her shoulders. I feel her sink into me a little more, and for a brief moment…it seems as if she’s forgiven me, just a little bit. “I knew it was going to be weird after,â€￾ she tells me. “I knew it while it was happening. But…it felt so right. Like, it was supposed to happen. Like…you were supposed to be my first. And now that I think about it…I wouldn’t have wanted it to be anybody else. I just wish things didn’t end up like they did. I can’t even tell you…how much I’ve missed talking to you, and how much I‘ve missed…being friends with you. I’ve felt…incomplete for all this time, Justin. But…I was too stubborn to pick up the phone and tell you that. I didn’t want to be the one to give in.â€￾ She smiles at me. “You know how stubborn I can be.â€￾

I let out a short burst of laughter, and it feels good. After everything that’s gone on today, I’m surprised I can manage to laugh at all. “I do.â€￾

“Remember that time…,â€￾ she giggles. “I didn’t talk to you for a week because you cheated at Monopoly.â€￾

“Huh?â€￾ I have to think for a moment. So much stuff goes on in my life, it’s takes a lot for me to even remember stuff that Trace tells me about. But then…the memory flashes through my mind, and I feel myself start to laugh. We were eleven, and it was…it was a rainy day. Trace was at his grandparents for the weekend…so that left Kerri and I to amuse ourselves. I went to her house, and we decided to play Monopoly. As it turned out, Kerri landed on both Boardwalk and Park Place and totally started to kick my a'ss. I hate losing…at anything. So…I took some extra money out of the bank, thinking that I would fool her. When she noticed that all the hundreds were gone from the bank though…she knew I’d cheated. Man, she got so pissed…she was screaming at me. The girl didn’t talk to me for a week. Yeah…that’s how stubborn Kerri Donovan is. “Oh yeah,â€￾ I smile. “You went nuts that day.â€￾

She laughs. “I’ve always been a big over reactor. I think Mary is starting to get that way too. My mom told me she flipped out the other day because one of her cartoons got interrupted by a news broadcast.â€￾

Her smile fades a bit. I know she’s worried about her sister…about how she’s holding up back home. She’s always had a special bond with Mary because there is such a big age difference between them. When she was younger, her parents wanted to give her a brother or sister, but her mother had a lot of complications and had to have her tubes tied. For years, they abandoned the idea…but I guess when Kerri got older, they realized that they weren’t done being parents yet. Four years ago they adopted Mary, but the kid is so much like Kerri that you can’t even tell she‘s adopted. She talks like her…she acts like her, she even looks a little bit like her. I think it was one of those things…like, God put Mary on this earth to be a Donovan. I love that little girl, I have from the moment I laid eyes on her at the christening, and I feel horrible that I’ve missed so much of her life because of my falling out with Kerri.

“I really hope she’s oblivious to all of this,â€￾ Kerri continues. “But really…how can a four year old understand what a kidnapping is?â€￾ She shrugs her shoulders, and starts to bit on her thumb nail. “I was supposed to take her to the zoo tomorrow…I promised her. She’s going to hate me.â€￾ She runs her hands through her hair and sighs heavily. “I’m never around for her, Justin. I want to be…but school and everything keeps me so busy. Sometimes, I feel like I won’t get to spend any time with her until she’s practically in middle school. And then…she won’t care anymore.â€￾

It’s funny. I feel the same way about my brothers. Sometimes I’ll promise them things. Like Thursday morning, I was talking to Steven on the phone and he made me promise to take him for an ice cream at Hickory Farm. Now, when I say promise…it’s not like any ordinary promise. Years ago, daddy had a long talk with me about ‘promising’ something to the boys and ‘saying maybe’ to the boys. He told me only to promise them something if I was absolutely sure that I could do it and if I wasn‘t sure I was to tell them ‘maybe‘. I understood where he was coming from. I mean, he knows how attached the boys are to me, and he doesn’t want to see them get hurt. I have a habit of doing that too…breaking promises. In fact, before my father had that talk with me I used to break promises to them all the time. I never meant to, but I would get so busy…I would forget a lot of the things I would tell them. Then I would hear about how Jonathan was crying because I forgot to call him during Rugrats like I said would, so we could watch it together over the phone.

I remember when we did that NSYNC concert in Disney World… the boys got to come down and spend the day with me and the guys. I was excited, because we’d been in Europe for most of the year, and I hadn’t seen them at all. I was so excited though…I made the mistake of telling Jonathan that I would spend the entire day with him and Steven the day after the concert. I never meant to break my promise…I really thought I was going to be off the next day. But as it turned out, a couple of local radio stations wanted to interview us the next day…so I couldn’t do what I said I was going to. At first I didn’t think much about it, but my mom…she said that she took the boys to the park, and she could tell something was wrong with Jonathan. She told me he wasn’t talkative at all, and that he didn’t seem excited to be there…even when they hit his favorite rides. I knew it was my fault, and I felt horrible. A few weeks later I found myself in New York, and I remember buying him this ridiculously expensive toy from FAO. It didn’t make me feel any better though. I knew he didn’t want a toy…he wanted me, and I was ready to tell Johnny I needed to go to my dad‘s for a couple of days. But then…we did TRL, and then…NSYNC was huge. Every talk show wanted us, and I didn’t have time for my brothers. I only had time for the group…Trace, and Kerri when she could get away from her parents.

I’ve never forgiven myself for that.

“If it makes you feel better,â€￾ I say to her. “I promised Steven an ice cream from Hickory’s. He’s going to throw a fit.â€￾

“You’re not supposed to promise them things,â€￾ she says with a disapproving tone. “Your father tells you that all the time.â€￾

I sigh. “But I was positive I would be able to do it, Kerri. I didn’t count on…this.â€￾

“So we both have little people problems.â€￾ She smiles slightly. “Maybe they’ll band together and rebel against us.â€￾

I laugh out loud. “Can you picture the three of them…with their water guns. I want ice cream!â€￾

“I swear,â€￾ she says, not showing much amusement. “When we get out of this, I’m going to spend as much time with Mary as I can. I don’t even care about school…or whatever else. She’s more important.â€￾

It kills me that I can’t make the same promise to myself. I mean, I guess I could…but it would just fall through in the end. When I get home, I’m guessing I’ll probably get about three days to myself with my family before the phone calls start. Everybody will want an interview, and the next week will be spent deciding who is worthy enough of hearing my story. Kerri doesn’t realize how lucky she is. She’ll get as much time as she needs to recover because hell, there is no way I’m dragging her into these interviews with me. She doesn’t deserve that. She deserves privacy. Maybe I do too…but when you’re famous…sometimes you’re simply not entitled to privacy. It comes with the job description. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I live a great lifestyle. But even the greatest lifestyles have their downfalls. And the privacy issue…it’s definitely one of them. “You should,â€￾ I nod. “You owe it to yourself Kerri. I know you never get to spend enough time with Mary.â€￾

She stares at me for a moment, as if she’s just realizing something…something bad. “The press is going to be all over you, aren’t they?â€￾

I shrug and smile a little. “I’ll deal.â€￾

“You just went through that whole Britney thing,â€￾ she says. “I know I wasn’t talking to you…but it was kind of hard to ignore that whole thing. It was everywhere. Like, I’d be in line at the grocery store and there you would be…on the cover of People. That must have been hard…for you,â€￾ she nods, but doesn’t quite meet my gaze. The topic is making her nervous, and we both know that if we didn’t sleep together and kept our heads on straight…hell, we’d probably be together right now, and the Britney thing…it would have never happened. I mean, I saw me and Kerri together. I used to have dreams about it and sh'it. Sleeping together was the wrong choice…I know that now, three years too late.

“It was hard,â€￾ I agree. “But, it was awhile ago. I’m basically over it now, ya know? I mean…I have Cam and…â€￾

Sh'it.

I didn’t want to tell her about Cam. This isn’t the right time or place. My mom doesn’t even know about Cam. She just thinks we’re friends. She doesn’t know that we’ve been planning…that a lot of her stuff is dumped in my house.

Kerri pulls away from me and sits up a little. “Cam?â€￾

I sigh. “Please don’t tell my mom.â€￾

She co'cks her head to the side. “What?â€￾

“I…I have a girlfriend,â€￾ I confess, keeping my eyes locked on hers. She frowns…I don’t know why. “Ker?â€￾

“Trace said that you had some stuff going on,â€￾ she nods. “But he wouldn’t tell me exactly what. Now…I guess I know why. I don‘t get what the big secret is though…I barely talk to your mom anymore.â€￾

I bite my bottom lip. I wasn’t prepared to deal with this now. Cam is my thing, and Trace…he’s lucky he knows about it. And I know Cam…she doesn’t really like talking about me and her either. She wouldn’t want me discussing it with Kerri…I know it. But then…how will she ever find out? “We met a few months ago,â€￾ I say. “I guess we hit it off better than I thought we would.â€￾

She rolls her eyes. “Good for you. I don’t care.â€￾

She seems bitter. I don’t get it. It’ s not like we’re on the best terms right now…why should she care if I have a girlfriend or not? Hell, I barely know Kerri anymore. Cam and me… it’s not her business…and actually, the only thing her mind should be focused on right now is getting the hell out of here. God, I need to stop being so personal with her. This isn’t like before. Kerri and I…we’re not connected like we used to be, and I need to get that through my mind. Yeah, I can comfort her and sh'it…but that’s as far as it needs to go. I can’t let myself become so attached to her that I lose sight of what my life is now. My life is Cam…my life is Trace…my life is momma daddy and the boys. It’s not Kerri. That’s history.

Ancient history.
*************
The rest of today has crawled by slower than the last day of school on a hot June afternoon. I remember those days…how after the school bell would ring I would race Justin and Trace to the doors of Millington Elementary, and try to be the first one in line for the ice cream truck. We would sit on the steps for hours afterwards, eating our drippy ice cream cones and playing with the deck of cards Trace would always carry in his back pocket. During the summer of fifth grade I started to get really good at poker. I actually taught Justin how to play. When we were older, Justin and I would play team poker on the tour bus with the rest of the guys, and end up beating them all. It got so bad that they wouldn’t allow us to play with them if we were on the same team.

Justin and I…we were always this inseparable team. In the summers you never saw one of us without the other. A lot of the NSYNC fans nicknamed me ‘the female Trace’…but really, I’m nothing like Trace. Trace is a guy for one…and I think that his relationship with Justin is more of a brotherhood than a friendship. They slept in the same crib when they were babies, which is more than I can say about me. I didn’t meet Justin until I was almost five years old. I’ve always been the little ‘girlfriend’. The girl he brought with him to premieres and parties before he had a serious relationship with Britney. And I loved it. I loved sharing his lifestyle. I loved going to parties and racing around in flashy limos, Benzes and Beamers with him and the other guys. I loved the people who would point at me and take pictures, not knowing who I was or why I was around. I loved the fans…how they always knew who I was, and how they tried to relate to me. It was fun….it was halfway to being famous, and I have to admit…when that all ended, I couldn’t help but be a little sad.

But all that…it wasn’t the reason I stayed so close to Justin. There was more. There was this bond between us…one that even to this day makes my head spin with a thousand questions. Sometimes, we would be able to read each others minds…like some sort of weird psychic connection. Originally, Justin was supposed to have been a twin, but the other baby…a girl…died soon after being born. Lynn used to tell me she thought I was Justin’s reincarnated twin, because I could understand him better than even she could at times. I guess she was right. It used to scare me…when I would sit back and know exactly what he was thinking. It scared Justin too. But…he went with it. He never ran away, and I guess…it’s because he liked having that bond with me. It was special…one of those once in a lifetime kind of friendships.

And we ruined it.

Nathan came in before, and gave us a big bottle of water to share. I was thankful, and wanted to drink it all right away. But Justin, being the survival expert that he is (haha), told us we have to conserve what we have. The @#%$ only let me have a couple of swallows. I can’t take this. I need water…I need my bed, I need a shower and a toilet with some toilet paper. I need to cuddle up with Mary and BearBear and sleep until my body won’t allow me to sleep anymore But I can’t, because I’m stuck here…with him.

It has to be after eleven by now. Nathan was kind enough to tell us what time it was when he was in here before. You know, he’s not so bad. Yeah, I know he’s twisted and sick and fu'cked up…but he’s not like Shane…not at all. I know I can’t trust him, and Justin…he hates him, but still…it’s nice that he’s making an effort to take care of us a little. The water helped a lot. My mouth was so dry, I had to stop talking to Justin. Then he fell asleep, and I tried to do the same, but I couldn’t. I’m scared…that we’ll both fall asleep and I’ll wake up and Justin will be gone again like he was this morning. The worst thing they could do is separate us. I wonder if they realize that. Probably. God, I hope they don’t separate us. I’d die if I had to be in here by myself.

About a month ago, Siobhan told me she heard a rumor that Justin and Cameron Diaz were dating. I laughed at her though…then I told her I didn’t care. Then she corrected me, as she tends to do with everything I tell her, and told me that she knew Justin still meant something to me even though I acted like he didn’t. Sometimes I really can’t stand Siobhan. She thinks because we’ve known each other for four years…and that she’s the only one I’ve confided in about what happened between me and Justin, that she knows everything about him and how I feel about him. Well she doesn‘t know everything. I told her that too. Then…then she laughed at me! I told her I was going to file for a new roommate…yeah, she didn’t believe that for a minute.

I don’t care if Justin is dating fu'cking drop dead gorgeous Cameron Diaz. I don’t care if he’s dating anybody…

Okay so maybe it hurts…just a little. Three years ago I really, truly cared about him with my whole heart. And he cared about me. That last year we were friends, it seemed like every time we would get together…we would grow even closer, as if that was possible. All we wanted to do was hang out together, and Trace…he even felt left out a few times because we would sneak out for a night by ourselves, leaving him to amuse himself. It was the height of NSYNC’s popularity. They’d released No Strings Attached a little over a year ago and were one of the top selling artists in the world. Due to their high demand, I hardly got see Justin at all that year…and I think it’s one of the reasons why we were so excited to see each other when given the chance. It was my freshman year of college too, so I was in New York City…a place I’d only frequented a few times with Justin and the guys. I was scared, and it took Siobhan and I awhile to warm up to each other. She was a snotty little rich girl from the Hamptons, and I was a southern belle from the outskirts of Memphis. We had nothing in common in those days, and most nights I would find myself alone in my dorm while she went out with a group of friends she had no desire to introduce me to.

In May, Justin and the guys spent a couple of weeks in New York. They were starting to lay down plans for their next album, Celebrity. It meant that Justin and I would be getting some much needed quality time in, and I couldn’t have been happier. I was so lonely…and desperate for a friend then. Justin didn’t know about that of course, and I didn’t tell him. I knew the time we had to spend together was limited, and there was no sense in making him worry about me the whole time.

Britney was around for that first week, but I could tell things weren’t going well between her and Justin. When she would talk to him, it seemed like he was off in another world. And when I was talking to him…I had his complete attention. I could tell it was pissing Britney off something fierce, but I didn’t care. We weren’t really friends, and I hadn’t seen Justin in a long time. Maybe it was selfish of me…but I didn’t give a damn. Justin was my best friend, and that was all that mattered. She even stormed out on us one day, because Justin and I were involved in a deep conversation about…god…what was it?

Oh yeah. Sex.

Anyway, she tried to interrupt us, and Justin totally ignored her. He did that hand wave thing he does when he’s on an important call. She didn’t like that I guess…because five minutes later she grabbed her bag and stormed out. But Justin…he didn’t care. He stared after her…but after she was gone, he continued our conversation. I was convinced their relationship was hanging by its last thread, and…I know that’s why I didn’t think about it when we started to do…what we did. I never thought he would go back to her after that…

Boy was I wrong.

That day went like any other. Justin and I shopped like crazed idiots, buying the most ridiculous, random things. I remember, he bought this big hat with this humungous feather sticking out of the top of it. I think it was like a hundred dollars. I bet he doesn’t even have it anymore. It was the funniest thing though…he looked like such an a'sshole. But he was having fun, and I think he needed that. This business has made Justin so mature, at such a young age. He doesn’t ever really get to kick back and goof off. When he does though, he can’t help but turn back into the fifteen year old he barely got the chance to know.

Then the night came, and I went back to my dorm because I had an early class. I could tell Justin didn’t want me to leave, because he had to leave for LA the next night. I felt bad too…leaving him like that, but school has always come first with me…and I don‘t like to interrupt my focus for anybody. I felt I didn’t have a choice…so I left. Then Siobhan…oh god, her and that boyfriend of hers. I couldn’t sleep…

And then I called him.

An hour later I found myself getting off the elevator at the Trump, nearly knocking Trace over on the way out. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he saw me. It was like…he knew what was about to go down, because he said to me… “you know what you’re doing right?â€￾. Then I laughed at him, and told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was just there to see Justin…it wasn’t different from any other time. But Trace knew better. I wish I hadn’t been so naïve.

Justin opened the door before I finished my first knock, and practically yanked me inside the room. I was laughing, and so was he. Then he turned on the movie…I think it was Mall Rats…yeah it was…and we watched it for fifteen or twenty minutes, before we got bored. Then Justin yawned, and turned the TV off. Then…then it was just us. I remember feeling slightly uneasy, but not in a bad way. I was kind of curious. I mean, I’d been alone with Justin in his hotel before…but that night…there was something different about that night. It was the middle of the night for one, and he seemed…I don’t know…so happy that I was there beside him.

Then he turned to me, and said: “If I kissed you right now, Kerri…would it be a bad thing?â€￾

I kind of froze for a moment. I’d been kissed by Justin before, but not like that…in his bed. I didn’t really know what to say to him. I mean, I wanted him to kiss me, and I knew that. But I wasn’t’ sure about what would happen after. I’d never had sex with anybody before, and I knew that if I kissed him I would lose control of myself. I knew I was going to have sex with him if I let his lips touch mine. But I thought…I thought that if we did have sex, we would end up together in the end, and that was a good thing. I wanted to be with Justin. I wanted him to be my boyfriend. I…wanted to love him.

So I said: “I want you to kiss me.â€￾

The rest of the time in Justin’s bed was mostly a blur. I was so into him…so busy kissing him and feeling his hands on my body I didn’t notice my clothes being pulled off of me. Then I felt it…him slowly entering me. I looked into his eyes, and he was staring right back into mine. Then I remember him kissing me…and then…

Then it happened. And it was beautiful and passionate and sexy and everything I always dreamed having sex for the first time would be. When it was over we collapsed against each other, and he wrapped me up in his arms and told me…and told me he never wanted to let me go. I fell asleep after that, and I was positive that when I woke up he would be there, staring at me with his angelic blue eyes.

But when I woke up he wasn’t sleeping beside me. He was sitting by the window talking on his phone and eating a bowl of cereal. At first I thought it was kind of cute, and I got up to join him. But when I sat down, and smiled at him…he hardly looked at me. He continued his conversation with who I eventually figured out was Trace, and didn’t give me the time of day. I felt so lost…so empty. I didn’t know what to think about what happened. Hell, I didn’t even know if he cared. This was my virginity…and he was just tossing it to the side. When he got off the phone, I asked him what was going on, and he told me that…he was confused and he needed to be alone.

I was hurt, but I tried to understand his perspective on the whole thing. After all, we were best friends, and I figured that Justin just needed some time alone to think about what happened. So I kissed him on the cheek and told him to call me before he left for the airport. He told me he would, and quickly helped me get dressed and called me a cab. Then I was back in my dorm before I knew it…feeling more uncomfortable about myself and my friendship with Justin than ever before. I wanted to cry…I wanted to call him and ask him what was going on. I wanted to know if we could still be friends after what we did. But I didn’t want to pester him. I thought I knew him. The Justin I knew would have called. So I waited…

And waited…and waited…

I’m still fu'cking waiting.

“You okay?â€￾

I look over him, for the first time in hours. He was sleeping, so I started to veg out. I don’t know what I look like. I don’t even know if I started to cry…remembering all of this sh'it. “I’m fine,â€￾ I tell him. “Go back to sleep.â€￾

He touches my face, but I push his hand away. I’m so disgusted with the memory of what happened between us, that I don’t want anything to do with him right now. I’m so…angry. I want to scream at him, and ask him why he did what he did. But, I doubt this is the right time to get my true feelings out about all of this. I’ll probably start freaking out…and then Shane or Nate will come in here and make us shut up. I shudder a little. I don’t want them to come in here.

“What happened?â€￾ he asks me. He’s confused, and its understandable because we were talking before. “You look angry or something.â€￾

“Just…leave me alone,â€￾ I tell him, shifting down to the other end of the mattress. “Being stuck in here with you…it’s making me think about everything again.â€￾

The compassion on his face fades. Now he looks hurt, angry…confused. “Like I’m not thinking about it?â€￾ he spits. “See…this is the thing with you Kerri. Something happened between us…and you think you’re the only one that was affected by it. I hate to clue you in girl…but I was a wreck after it happened.â€￾

“Oh okay.â€￾ I shoot him a sarcastic smirk. “That’s why you didn’t call and got back with Britney a month later. Yeah, I’m sure you were an emotional mess the entire time you were fu'cking that wh'ore--â€￾

“She’s not a wh'ore,â€￾ he says darkly. “You don’t fu'ckin know. I loved her.â€￾

“Oh good…you were in love,â€￾ I say. “I can sleep at night now, knowing you weren’t just on the rebound for three years.â€￾

He laughs a little. “On the rebound? Kerri we were never together…we fu'cked okay? It was just that…it wasn’t anything more. I know it wasn’t the best choice…I know it was your first time. But I…I was so full of myself then, and I knew I could have you and….be done with it.â€￾

My mouth hangs open a little. I was expecting him to say a lot of things…but I really wasn’t expecting him to say that. We fu'cked? He had me…and then he was done with me? I feel lower than I felt after it happened. I feel cheap…I feel used. My bottom lip starts to quiver, and I quickly cover my mouth with my hand. Then a sharp sob escapes me, and I start to cry again. I don’t want to. But, what he just said…it’s worse than what happened originally. I don’t know him anymore…and maybe, I never really did.

“Kerri…hang on…I didn’t mean to--â€￾ I feel him slide over to me, and then he tries to pull me close to him.

“No!â€￾ I roughly push him away from me. “Don’t! Don’t you fu'ckin touch me!â€￾ I’m screaming at him, but I really don’t care. I’m so angry now…if Shane or Nate came in here I would probably try to hit them if they came near me.

Justin’s eyes are wide, and he knows he’s just blown it with me. We were doing okay for a minute there. No, we weren’t’ close or anything…but we were sticking together. Now though, I don’t even know if I would try to stop Shane if he tried to kill him. I hate Justin. I hate him so much.

“Kerri look,â€￾ he sighs. “Just calm down and talk to me.â€￾

I wipe the tears out of my eyes so I can see him more clearly. “I’m not gonna fu'cking calm down,â€￾ I snap at him. “You’re an a'sshole.â€￾

“I said the wrong thing,â€￾ he informs me. “Can you blame me Kerri? Look where we are.â€￾

“You always have an excuse Justin!â€￾ I yell. “That’s your problem! It doesn’t matter if we’re here or if we were at home…or if we were on your tour bus! You still would have said it…that you fu'cked me.â€￾

“I didn’t fu'ck you…it meant more to me than that. I wasn‘t thinking alright? Kerri--â€￾

“You‘re a liar!â€￾ I point my finger at him. “You fu'cked me. That’s what you wanted right? You wanted a taste and you got it!â€￾

“You’re being impossible,â€￾ he says. “I can’t talk to you if all you’re going to do is stand here and scream at me.â€￾

He’s so calm and it’s making me even angrier. I’m about ready to kick him in the stomach like Shane did. But then I hear it…the door being unlocked. I freeze. “Oh no,â€￾ I whisper.

The door is wrenched open, and I see Shane standing there. He’s pissed…really pissed. “What the fu'ck is goin on in here?â€￾ He storms down the stairs, and pulls his gun out.

I slide down the wall, and wrap my arms around myself protectively. Who am I kidding? I could never try to hit this guy. He would shoot me before I got more than two steps toward him.

“I said I didn’t want to hear any noise.â€￾ He points his gun at the two of us. “Justin…didn’t you hear me say that?â€￾

I look at Justin again. He won’t look at me though…only at Shane. There’s this look in his eyes. This intense look of hatred. He didn’t look at Nate that way when he brought us the water. I’m so confused…so fu'cking confused.

Shane slams Justin against the wall and shoves his gun into the side of his head. “Answer me,â€￾ he barks.

I cringe, but don’t make a sound.

“Yes,â€￾ Justin manages weakly. “That’s what you said.â€￾

“You need to learn how to follow the rules.â€￾ Shane laughs a little, then slams him across the face with his gun.

Justin cries out in pain, and rolls over, covering his face with his hands. But Shane doesn’t stop. He rises from his crouched position and starts punching him in the face and kicking him in the stomach. This is my fault. It’s all my fault. I was the one who was yelling…I was the one who made him come in here. I’m crying now. I want him to stop. He’s beat Justin up enough. “Stop it!â€￾ I scream. “Stop!â€￾

And he does stop, a few minutes later. But Justin…he’s not moving. I think he’s been knocked out. Oh my god. On instinct, I get up to see if he’s okay. But Shane stops me before I can reach him. His grip is firm, and I don’t bother struggling against it.

He presses the gun to my head. “Whoa sweetness,â€￾ he says, with a twisted smile. “Where are you going?â€￾

“Please,â€￾ I say to him. “Just let me see if he’s okay.â€￾

“He’s fine,â€￾ Shane tells me.

Yeah, that’s real reassuring.

“Let’s go.â€￾ He starts to drag me away. But I don’t want to go…I don’t want to be separated from Justin…dear God…I’m sorry. I’m sorry I got mad…I’m sorry I couldn’t calm down and be rational.

“Please don’t do this,â€￾ I cry, as Shane drags me toward the stairs. “Just leave me here!â€￾

But he won’t listen. I look back at Justin, but he’s still not moving. He’s just…laying there. My god what if something is really wrong with him? What if he has a concussion or something horrible like that? Why did I lose it? Why did I yell? I know I don’t really hate him. I know he only said what he said because he’s scared and sh'it.

Shane forces me up the stairs, and I know I can’t concentrate on what I did before at the moment. Not with his gun pressed into my back…and not when he’s twisting my arm behind me so hard that it’s really starting to hurt. He leads me down the hallway, and out the front door. It’s dark…the middle of the night. What’s going on? Is he going to kill me? Is he going to bury me here, and take Justin somewhere else?

He leads me around the back of the house, and then I see it…this little shed. He’s leading me towards it. It’s really small…and it doesn’t have any windows. Please don’t’ tell me he’s putting me in there. I won’t last. The walls…they’ll suffocate me. It’s too small.

“Now,â€￾ he says, stopping me a few feet from the shed. “If Justin behaves himself, you’ll be fine.â€￾ What is he saying? If Justin behaves himself? He’s not a child…I don’t understand. He’s been punched and kicked so many times now, I’m sure he has no energy to fight back against anything. Why can’t Shane just leave us alone? We were fighting…doesn’t he understand how stressed out we both are? It’s nearly impossible to stay calm when you’re locked in a little room with somebody that you used to have feelings for.

Or…still have feelings for.

Shane relaxes his grip on me. Then he starts to pull something out of his pocket. For a moment, it all seems surreal. Here I am, outside…and he’s not holding onto me. Do I run…or do I stay and get locked in that god awful shed? I’m shaking…I don’t know what to do. But…I just can’t be locked in there. I just can’t be.

I take a step forward…

“I’ll shoot you,â€￾ I hear him say. “Don’t fu'ckin’ run. You‘ll be dead before you can get to that tree over there.â€￾ He finishes pulling the object out of his pocket…a pair of handcuffs, before pointing to a tree a few yards away. Then he grabs me and pulls me towards him. I’ve just blown any chance I have of getting away from him. Now I have to face this. He’s going to handcuff me…he’s going to lock me in there. And there’s nothing I can do. He yanks my arms behind me, and a moment later I feel the cuffs locking around my wrists. They’re too tight, and I almost say something to him about it, but he forces a piece of tape over my mouth before I can.

Then he starts pushing me inside of the shed. I moan and protest against his pushing, dragging my feet and doing whatever I can to prevent myself from being forced inside. I don’t want to go in there. I’d rather be in the basement, hating Justin’s guts. But Shane…he slaps me across the face, and pushes me to the ground. I start to cry, but stop when the gun is pointed in my face again. He kneels down next to me, and wipes the new tears off of my cheeks. I cringe at his touch. His hands are cold, and evil. They’re a killers hands. “Don’t do this to yourself baby,â€￾ he says quietly. “You’re just making it harder on yourself.â€￾ He tapes up my ankles and my upper thighs. I can’t move at all. I know he’s won. He drags me inside the small shed. It’s horrible. It’s dirty…worse than the house. I know there must be a million spiders in here…or worse…mice. I’d rather that he just killed me. But I know he won’t. He’s enjoying this. And he knows Justin will do whatever he wants him to do if he keeps me locked in here.

What does he want from Justin though? He’s already giving him four million dollars. That’s what this is all about isn’t it? Money?

“Be a good girl,â€￾ Shane nods. “And maybe later I’ll take that gag off.â€￾

I don’t believe him. He’s not going to come back. He’s going to leave me in here…probably until I die from starvation or dehydration…whichever happens to come first. I moan a little bit, but Shane doesn’t say anything else to me. He slides the door open and walks out. Then it closes again, and I hear some kind of scratching noise coming from the outside. Maybe a lock…or a board being put into place. I bend my knees and try to curl up the best I can, but it’s not helping at all. The darkness…it’s not just around me anymore, it’s reaching inside me, closing around my throat like some cold alien hand.

And I start to pray.

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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 7:08 pm

Warning: This chapter contains very strong, sexual behavior. I.E. Sexual abuse. If you are offended by this, I will ask you not to read further. I can't help but put this scene in as it is a basis for the rest of the story. Thank you.

Chapter Seven

I don’t know how long I’ve been out. All I know is that I’m starting to come around…and it hurts like hell when I start to open my eyes. When I finally manage to get that far, the room comes into view…but its unfamiliar. It’s not the basement…and it’s not that dirty living room. It’s somewhere else. I try to sit up, but it hurts…it hurts so bad. I try to stretch…to do anything that will make me feel better. But my arms, the feel like they’re stuck together or something. Dammit…I need to snap out of it. I need to figure out where I am…and why the hell I’m like…stuck to myself. And wait…

Where the hell is Kerri?

She’s gone. Realizing this, I force myself to sit up, and then…I realize why I can’t move my arms. My wrists are handcuffed behind me. I try to call out, but my mouth…that tape is there again. I glance around. I’m on a bed. It’s old and when I shift around it wobbles as if it could collapse at any moment. This mattress…it smells. It’s more uncomfortable than the one in the basement. I know I still have to be in the house. But why did they put me in here? Why did they separate us? God, I hope they didn’t do anything bad to Kerri. I…I don’t know what I would do if she died. I dragged her into this mess, and I promised her I would get her out of it and back home. But before…we were fighting before. I said something so stupid…god, why did I say that? I know why. This whole thing is driving us both to the brink of our sanity…that’s why I said it. I guess I didn’t count on Kerri getting that upset…but she did, and the pervert got pissed. Now…now I don’t know what he did with her. I wish he would come in here and tell me.

Uncertainty is a horrible thing.

I hear a door open somewhere behind me. I gasp, and my eyes widen. Then my muscles lock up, and my breath catches in my throat. I think I might be in the early stages of a panic attack. Then I see him…the pervert. He’s here…standing in the doorway. He’s got that look on his face…the same one he had in the bathroom, and I…I don’t know what to think. I’m helpless like this…handcuffed. If he tries to…Jesus…touch me…I can’t fight back. Please god…please don’t let this happen to me. Give me give me strength…give me hope. Let me walk out of this with my dignity.

“Hey,â€￾ he says softly. He crosses the room and swaggers over to the bedside. “You sleep okay?â€￾

I look up at him. He’s got his gun tucked into the front of his pants. I nod at him, but don’t make a sound. I don’t want to give him another reason to hit me or touch me. I just want to be left alone. I almost wish he would knock me out again, and do what he wants with me. At least then…I’d be oblivious to it all.

He gently peels the tape off of my mouth, and runs his hand down my cheek, letting the tips of his fingers linger under my chin for a moment before pulling his hand away. “That’s better. Your face…it’s too pretty to be covered like that.â€￾ He smiles at me, and sits down on the edge of the bed.

I close my eyes. When I was sixteen, we got signed to BMG Germany, and had to live overseas for most of that year. It was a lot of fun. We got to perform for thousands of people, and we built a good reputation for ourselves. We also got closer, closer than we’d ever been. We confided in one another, and trusted each other…even with our most personal secrets. When I Want You Back went gold…I remember…Lou and the label threw us a huge party. We were all excited, because it was our first real achievement as a group. It was at this big palace in Hamburg. Man, that place was huge, and that party was crazy. We had everything…a DJ, a dance floor, kick a'ss food, a bar…and women…

Oh God, the women.

I was just sixteen, and had yet to experience sex for the first time. And the women…they were all at least twice my age, but that was okay. I’ve always had a thing for older women, which probably explains why I was so attracted to Cam in the first place. There was this one model there…Thalia. I remember we met at the bar, and I ordered her a drink. Even then, I was quite the charmer I guess…because she was flattered at my offer. She took the drink, and then told me ‘you have beautiful face…like sun’. No, she couldn’t really speak much English…but hell, I didn’t care. She was hot. I mean really hot. So we sat on the sofa and sipped our drinks and talked about what was going on in our lives. She was a model who was trying to make it to the big time, and I was a teenager on his way to superstardom.

I lied to her though. I told her I’d just turned nineteen…and she bought it. But, most people would have believed me. I was so built by then…and so mature, even the fans…they couldn’t believe it when I would tell them I was sixteen.

We had sex in the bathroom. It was so weird, because it was my first time. But for some reason, it didn’t feel like it. I felt like I’d been doing it for a long time. I guess it’s different for guys. All we have to do is put it in. For a girl, the experience is much more intense. It wasn’t her first time though, I knew it wasn’t. She was at least twenty eight…if not older. The sex was amazing. At one point, we were moaning and groaning so loud, I thought for sure that my mom was going to walk in or something. But she never did.

After…Thalia let me hold her, and kiss her, and tell her how beautiful she was. Then, after we’d regained control of ourselves a little, we got dressed and headed right back out to the dance floor. That was my first time. I called Trace later that night and told him all about it. To this day he still talks about it like it was the greatest thing I ever did. I don’t know though…I mean, at the time I was pretty impressed with myself. But I know it didn’t’ really mean anything to Thalia…and hell, I’m sure she’s forgotten all about it by now…wherever she is…

Kerri though…having sex with Kerri was entirely different. I knew it was her first time, and I knew I was taking a big chance with her and with our friendship. We cared about each other…if Kerri cared about me as much as I cared about her, I’ll never know. But…I was positive that I was in love with her. I didn’t know I would get as freaked out as I did afterwards. I never told anybody that though, that I was in love with her then. Not even Trace. And I certainly didn’t tell Kerri. Maybe I should have told her that before, instead of getting pissed and saying ‘oh I fu'cked you and that was it’. Maybe…if I had just been rational, and told her that I was so in love with her that I got scared…we could have had a normal conversation. But no. This situation has fu'cked me up so much ,I totally blew it. I fu'cked our friendship over for good. And god, if we ever get out of this, I pray she gets a restraining order against me so she’ll be able to live the rest of her life in peace.

I hate myself.

The pervert runs his hand down my chest, and over the groin area of my jeans. I cringe. “Where is she,â€￾ I say to him, hating the sound of my own voice. It’s raspy and gravely...I sound like I’m dying. I need some water, but I’m not about to ask him for a favor. He’ll make me do him one. I know it’s a bad time to be thinking about this…but I guess I’m this insane about my career that I can’t help but wonder… What if my voice get effected by all of this? I mean, what if we get out of here, and I have to go and sing or something and I just…I can’t? I don’t know what I’ll do. My voice is the most precious thing I possess. When I get a cold, I freak out because I’m so afraid my voice will change. That’s why I pay Robin three hundred dollars an hour…so he can do my scales with me and tell me that my tone is natural. That I shouldn’t worry nearly as much as I do. But…like I said, I’m a perfectionist. Everything about me has to be a hundred percent, and I freak out if it’s not. Trace says that I might need a shrink…he says I might be obsessive compulsive. I always tell him that he’s all the shrink I need…

After this though, I think I might just have to take his advice.

The pervert frowns, and I wait for him to punch me in the face again, but he doesn’t. “She’s alive,â€￾ he tells me. “That’s good enough for you.â€￾

I lick my lips. They’re big, swollen. God, I must look like complete hell right now. My mom probably won’t recognize me when she sees me…I’m so banged up. “What did you do?â€￾ I ask him. I don’t care if he doesn’t like my questions either. This isn’t about me or how much pain I’m in. I don’t even care if he hurts me more than he already has…so long as long as Kerri is okay. “Where did you put her?â€￾

“I told you…â€￾ He leans down and presses his face close to mine. “She’s alive. And…if you want her to stay alive…you’re gonna do what I want you to do, right now.â€￾

I feel the panic rise in my throat, and I quickly swallow it back. I know what he wants. Dammit…I know what he fu'cking wants. I look at him again, and I can see it on his face. He’s horny. He wants…he wants me. I physically shudder. “Don’t do this,â€￾ I whisper. I don’t want to sound pathetic, but I don’t know how else to reason with him. I don’t want him to…do what people like him do. I…I can’t do things with a man. I can’t do it.

“Oh hey,â€￾ he says, giving me a soft kiss on the cheek. He caresses my face with his hand, before grabbing my lips with his mouth. He breaks the kiss, and gives me a reassuring rub on the shoulder. I’ve seen him do that to the pr'ick. Maybe…they’re lovers? God…that’s fu'ckin' disgusting. “It’s okay you know,â€￾ he continues. “I know you’ve been looking at me…I know that you want me, Justin. And…it’s okay. I won’t tell your girlfriend. It’ll be our secret.â€￾

I bite my bottom lip, so hard that I taste blood in my mouth a moment later. I want to spit in his face…but I can’t. I don’t know what he would do. He might kill Kerri. I can’t risk that…not at this stage of the game.

“I’m gonna take those cuffs off,â€￾ he tells me with a small smile. “But,â€￾ he warns me. “You have to behave. If you don’t behave…I’m gonna have to kill her. And…I really don’t want to do that to you right now.â€￾

He’s crazy. He’s sick. He’s the kind of guy they have to lock away in solitary confinement because he’s a danger to others. This guy…he’s not human. He’s an animal…a reptile. God…I hope he didn’t touch Kerri like…he’s touching me. But then, I doubt he’s interested in the female anatomy. I nod in response to his demands, and a moment later, the cuffs come off. I’m relieved, and I take a moment to stretch out my arms. It feels good, but it’s short lived. The pervert is kneeling on the bed now, and…he’s taking his clothes off. I close my eyes again, but then…I feel the gun to my head.

“Open your eyes,â€￾ he tells me. “They’re your best feature.â€￾

I don’t at first. But then I hear him co'ck the gun, and know if I don’t listen, he’s going to pull the trigger. My mind forces my eyes to fly open, and I look at him. He’s stripped down to his boxers, and I…I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Then his hand…he puts it…down his boxer shorts, and pulls his piece out. I grimace. This isn’t human. This is…this is evil.

“You like to give head don’t you,â€￾ he smiles. “It tastes good.â€￾

I stare at him. I’m terrified and I know it‘s fu'ckin pathetic…but I want my mother. I need her right now. I‘m losing control of myself. She’s the only one who could help me right now…but she’s not here. She’s sitting at home, praying to god that I’m safe, that I’m not being harmed. But I am being harmed…I’m being…molested. And the horrible thing is, when all is said and done, and I’m back home with her…I don’t think I’ll be able to talk to her about it. I‘ve never been through any kind of experience in my life, without talking about it with momma. She knows everything. She knows about the first time I ever whacked off in the bathroom…she knows about my first kiss with Britney. She knows about Thalia…god, she really does doesn’t she? She even knows the exact details of the night Kerri and I slept together. Kerri would be pissed if she knew I told my mother all of that, but I couldn’t keep it from her. My mom isn’t just my mom. She’s my best friend too. Everything I have…the cars, the money…the fame, none of it matters without her. And this…I should be able to tell her about this. But…it’s so humiliating. I just…I don’t know if I can talk about it.

I’m shaking now, harder that I was before…my teeth are chattering. I feel like I could vomit at any moment. The pervert probably wouldn’t like that…that I messed up his plans. He’d kill Kerri. No…I can’t get sick. I can’t.

“Don’t be scared,â€￾ he says. “Go on…you can touch.â€￾

I don’t move.

“Do it,â€￾ he says roughly. “D-do it no-ow…or, she‘s g-gonna get a bullet in her h-head.â€￾

He’s stuttering like some kind of lunatic. But I know he’s serious when he says he’ll kill Kerri. There’s a part of me that’s saying she could be dead already, but I’m not going to listen…I‘m not going to believe that.. I have to tell myself that she’s alive somewhere, and I have do this with the pervert to keep her alive. I shift my body forward a little…and then…I touch it…god, I’m touching it. I feel the tears building up behind my eyelids, but I’m not allowing them to come out. I can’t let him break me. I have to be strong.

“Mmmm,â€￾ he groans. “Now suck it off.â€￾

No. God no. I can’t. This is bad enough… Why does he think I can do this? My god…I’m not gay.

“I know you heard me,â€￾ he says. “Come on.â€￾

I don’t know what in God’s name is giving me the strength to move forward with this, but…I start to lean down toward his groin. Then he pushes me down the rest of the way, and…he shoves it in my mouth. He says something…something about how he’s too heated up to wait. I can’t move fast enough though. I’m in shock. His penis is in my mouth.

I gag.

“Oh god,â€￾ I hear myself say. I curl up in a ball, and let out a loud, horrible sounding sob. I don’t care what he does to me now. I can’t do this. I wasn’t meant to do this…I‘m not gay. I shudder, and wrap my arms around myself protectively, before I start to sob uncontrollably. I realize I’ve probably just killed Kerri, and I know I’ll never be able to get over it…but there is no way on this earth I can do what he wants me to do. My mind and body will not allow me to.

“Aww baby, what’s wrong?â€￾

He’s still here. He hasn’t stormed out…he’s not on his way to kill Kerri. He’s still here…calling me baby, and rubbing me over with his hands. It’s sick. Disgusting. But I’d rather put up with this than watch Kerri get shot or something. I find that I can’t stop crying. I want to. I want to be a man about this. But…it’s just so disgusting, I can’t control my emotions right now.

“Shh,â€￾ he tells me. “It’s okay. Don’t cry.â€￾ He kisses me, but I barely feel it. I’m getting away…back home…back to momma’s house. I’m with her, Nana and Trace. Momma doesn’t want me to eat more pie, but then…she let’s me because she knows what I’ve been through. I hug her. I hug her forever and ever…

“I know what you need.â€￾ His voice breaks me out of my thoughts. He pulls my shirt off, and…he starts touching me…kissing my chest and my nipples. Then I feel him undo my belt buckle. I look down, and his hand is down my pants. I’m numb. Numb and thankful to be numb.

But this isn’t enough for him.

I don’t know how I wound up naked…but I am now. I didn’t feel my pants coming off, I didn’t’ feel my boxers sliding off of my body. But now here I am. I try to conceal myself with something…anything, but there is nothing to use. I’m embarrassed, humiliated…and about to be raped by this sicko, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“You relax,â€￾ he says, forcing me to lie down on the bed. “I’m going to take it from here.â€￾ He rolls me over on my stomach, and a moment later…I feel him get on top of me. He kisses down the back of my neck and along my spine. Then I feel it. He’s grinding against me.

“Don’t,â€￾ I whimper.

But he doesn’t stop. There is no sense trying to coax him out of this anymore…because he won’t hear me. He’s too into the moment, and too psycho to care. I feel him enter me, and I squeeze my eyes shut, beginning to deal with a type of pain I never imagined was possible. All the punches and kicks to the stomach in the world can’t compare to this. This is…excruciating. Just as I think it can’t get worse…it does. He pushes further into me, and I cry out. It hurts…it burns. I feel like he’s tearing me apart. Hell, I could be bleeding…I dunno. Despite my cries, he still doesn’t stop. He’s moving in and out of me now…moving deeper and further inside of me with each forceful thrust. At one point, I can’t take it…and I try to push him off of me. But I’m so weak now…so exhausted from the crying and the yelling. The lack of food and water in my system isn’t helping either. I’m defenseless against him. The only thing I can do is wait until its over.

Then it ends, what seems like years later. I feel him end it with a kiss or two on my neck, and then he turns me over. He’s looking down upon me…this crazed look of compassion on his face. I’m hysterical. I’m crying like a five year old whose been told he can’t have the toy he wants most from Santa. I cover my face with my hands. I can’t even look at him. I can’t…I can’t stop thinking about what’s just happened…about what I let him do to me.

“Shh,â€￾ he hisses. “You’re okay. I promise…this is our secret.â€￾ He lifts my hands away from my face, and presses his lips into mine. I try to resist now. I want him off of me…away from me. I want to be alone…I want to cry until I pass out. But he still…he still won’t leave me be. His hands are fumbling around down there…with my…stuff. Then I feel it. Oh my god…this isn’t happening. Why is this happening?

I have an erection. I don’t think…I slap his hands away, not caring what he thinks about it. I’m not getting hard now…I’m not…I wont’ allow myself to. My god, what the hell is wrong with me? Why am I getting pleasure out of this? I’m not fu'cking gay…I’m not…

Right?

“Hey hey, easy,â€￾ he says gruffly. He brings his hands back to where they were, and I know better than to try to get them off of me again. “I’m not gonna hurt you…see?,â€￾ he smiles. “I can be good…when I want to be.â€￾

“Stop touching me,â€￾ I demand. I sound pathetic. My voice is hardly audible anymore. “It’s gone on long enough.â€￾

“Long enough?â€￾ He laughs a little. “Honey, I’m just getting started.â€￾

I start to cry again…so hard that I can’t focus on what he’s doing to me…if he’s even touching me still. I wish he would shoot me…take me away from this pain. I’m a mess…an emotional, torn up mess. If by some grace of God I get out of this alive…I don’t know how I’m supposed to go on and live my life. How will I function day to day…knowing that I had…sex with a man? Oh Jesus…this is insane. Maybe…maybe it’s all a dream. Maybe I’ve been so malnourished and sh'it, that my mind is playing games with me. I close my eyes, and open them again…

But everything is still the same.

“Do you know how beautiful you are?â€￾ I hear him say.

I feel pressure…down there. I don’t know what the hell he’s doing. I don’t want to fu'cking know. God…please help me….I swear, if you do, I’ll go to church every day for the rest of my life. I’m sorry I did all that sh'it to Kerri. I’m sorry I’m selfish and full of myself sometimes. I’ll do anything…anything…

“Shane!â€￾

Somebody is banging on the door. It sounds like the pr'ick. My eyes widen a little, and I pray that the pr'ick is enough of a distraction to make the pervert get off of me.

“What!â€￾ he yells. “I told you not to bother me!â€￾

“I can’t…I can’t deal with this woman!â€￾

“I thought I told you to handle it,â€￾ the pervert barks. “Can’t you do anything on your own?â€￾

“She’s askin’ too many questions Shane!,â€￾ he whines. “Come on…help me…please?â€￾

The pervert…or I guess, ‘Shane‘, groans miserably. Then he moves up a little and gazes down at me. I want to close my eyes, but I don’t…because I know he’ll only make me open them again. I shudder. His eyes…they’re so dark…so evil.

“I gotta go baby,â€￾ he whispers, his expression full of regret. “But I’ll see you a little later okay?â€￾

He kisses me, and cuffs one of my hands to the bedpost. I start to shake uncontrollably…I’m so cold. I’m still naked, but really…I’m too exhausted to say anything about it. I ache all over…especially…down there. It feels like somebody took a baseball bat to my a'ss. I can’t help but moan a little. I want it to stop…please make it stop…

“Behave,â€￾ is the last thing I hear him say. Then the room starts to tilt first one way and then the other. It‘s like I‘m strapped in a Tilt-A-Whirl ride going up and back and round and round. Slowly at first, but then we pick up speed. I’m helpless

Roundandaroundandaround we go

Now everything is a blur, which is nice because I can just go with it, let it take me away. The room is spinning so fast…I can’t keep up with it.

And then the light is gone.
***************
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten


After my episode in the closet, I used to get really bad nightmares whenever the light would go off at night. My mother was in a state of panic, so naturally, she talked my father into taking me to a child psychologist. I was only six, so I didn’t really understand why they took me to see some strange man. All I knew was that he had a gigantic Barbie dream house in his office…the one that my parents wouldn’t buy me. It was because of this that I practically begged them to take me there every week. I never knew how much his coaching about the dark and how to get my mind off of it would help me later in life…

It’s kept me alive in here. Well that and one other thing too. There’s this little white mouse scampering around in here. It’s freaking me out. I hate little creatures like that. They’re dirty, and carry all kinds of diseases. It’s the strangest little mouse though. It won’t crawl on me or anything. Every once in a while it will come around where I can see it, and just stare at me. It must be curious as to why I’ve so suddenly invaded its living space, and even more curious as to why I’m tied up like this. I wish it was one of those super mice who were smart enough to chew through tape and pick locks with their little paws. Hell, maybe it is. Oh little mouse…little mouse?

God, now I’m delusional.

I let my mind wander for a moment. I think about Justin. I wonder what he’s doing, what he’s thinking about. Is he alone? Is he with one of them? Did he get to talk to his mom or anybody? Is he freaking out because he doesn’t know where I am? I wish I could talk to him, like, send him some kind of telepathic message. But this isn’t a fu'ckin’ movie. People don’t do those things in real life. There isn’t a way to get a message to him. God, I hope Shane didn’t tell him I’m dead. At this stage, I have no idea how he would react. He’s already been through so much. He’s been punched and kicked, and fu'cked around with. And…

Then there’s that other thing.

I’m not sure what happened to Justin. I’ve been trying to figure it out since Shane locked me in here earlier. I just…I can’t put my finger on it. Justin…he seemed so withdrawn, and he didn’t want me to touch him or anything. He was so protective of himself…and when we were fighting, it was like he didn’t care what he said to me. That’s not how Justin is. Well, at least not the Justin I remember. Even if he did ‘fu'ck’ me, he would never have the guts to come out and tell me that. He’s too full of himself to admit that he treated me like a piece of trash. He’s got too much pride. My god, what the hell? As if this thing hasn’t made me confused enough…now my mind is filling with even more unanswerable questions.

We really need to get out of this mess.

It’s so dark. The walls are closing in around me again. My breath catches in my throat, and I start to panic. They’ve seemed to get closer and closer together as time has passed. Soon, I’ll probably be crushed. I sob. I don’t want to die in here…alone. If I do die, I want to be with Justin I want to see him smile one more time, and tell me that he still cares about me. I don’t think I would be so scared then, although, I would really want my mother and father to be with me too.

The shakes are back. I used to get them really bad when I was younger, but after my shrink prescribed me some medication they eventually wore off. I forgot how bad they would get. Right now…I’m shaking so hard, I can’t control myself. It’s probably good that I’m all tied up, because if I wasn’t, I would probably start thrashing around, and hurt myself. That happened when I was younger. I was at Justin’s house, and we were playing in his basement. Then he thought it would be cool if we shut the door. At first it was okay…but then he turned the light off, forgetting that ‘Kerri’s ascared of the dark’. Yeah, I freaked out and lost control of myself. I fell and hit my head. Then Lynn came running in with my mother, my mom totally overreacted and took me home, and Justin cried. My mother…she wouldn’t let me play with Justin for a week afterwards. Then Lynn sat down and had a long talk with her, because I guess…Justin wasn’t eating because he felt like everything was his fault.

And inevitably, the next day…I was at Justin’s house again.

I feel like I might vomit. It’s bad, because this tape over my mouth isn’t going to allow anything out. If I vomit, I’ll choke. I’ll die. I don’t want to die like this…on my own vomit…because of my own fu'cked up insecurity about the dark. I take a deep breath through my nose…two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve…

Then the feeling passes, and now, I’m just sweating like an animal. God, this is disgusting. I can’t wait to take a shower…but even then, I don’t think I’ll feel clean. I’m still cringing about sitting on that toilet, that I might get warts on my butt because of it or something. I don’t think I should have stopped seeing my shrink. Sitting here now, is making me realize that I’m more fu'cked up than I thought I was before this all happened. First things first…get out of her…get home…go to the zoo with Mary…make an appointment with a shrink…

Oh, and talk to Justin about…whatever they did to him. I know him. And I know if it’s really bad, he won’t want to talk about it with anybody. But he has to. If he doesn’t, it will only drive him more crazy than this whole thing has already made him. He’ll be a mess…and he can’t have the kind of career he does if he’s a mess. The press will eat him alive in interviews and sh'it. I know it. I’ve seen it happen to him. And in the entertainment business it’s a horrible thing to be ridiculed about your personal life.

I hear it again…that scratching outside the door. Somebody is here. I start to shake again. I know it’s either going to be Shane or Nathan, and…this time, they might be back to kill me. There’s a little hole in the corner of the shed, probably the mouse’s hole. It’s just big enough for me to be able to tell if it’s light out or not. I’m confused, because it seems like it‘s twilight. But then, I haven’t been paying much attention to the hole since I‘ve been in here. It‘s been a long time since Shane locked me in here…hours and hours. For all I know, it could be well into the next day. My god, I haven’t slept at all. When they make me stand up, it’s going to hit me all too soon, and I’m not going to have any energy when and if the time comes to run from these ba'stards.

“Stop whining.â€￾ I hear Shane’s voice outside the door, and my eyes widen. I don’t want him to come in here. I don’t want him to push me around and tell me what to do. I’d rather just die. I’m tired of being controlled like some sort of slave. “You knew what was going down when we decided to do this.â€￾

“It’s wrong.â€￾ Now I hear Nate’s voice. It means they are here together, and there is no way I’m getting away with both of them here. “You said…you said we were just going to fu'ck with ‘em. You never said anything about shooting somebody, Shane.â€￾

“Do you want to go to jail? Do you…because if we don’t get rid of her, that’s what’s going to happen! I can take one, I can’t take them both…and she’s worthless to us. That‘s why I told you in the beginning, make sure he‘s alone…but no, you had to go and take them both. Dammit Nate…you should have shot her in the beginning.â€￾

“I can‘t just…kill somebody Shane!â€￾

It sounds like Nate is crying. That makes two of us. Regardless of what Nate says, it‘s not going to change Shane‘s mind. He came out here to kill me. It means that they’ve gotten the money, and now…they don’t need me anymore. What does that mean about Justin though? Are they going to let him go? No…because if that was the case they would be letting me go too. They’re…god…they’re taking him somewhere else. This can’t be happening. They can’t just…keep him. He’s a human being. God…so am I, and Shane is about to shoot me as if my life doesn’t’ even matter.

The door is thrust open. But Nate isn’t there now. It’s only Shane, and his gun.

“Hey, sweetness,â€￾ he smiles at me menacingly and steps inside the shed. I moan a little, and then, I lose control of my bladder. My pants are soaked with urine now, and my mind is racing…knowing that I’m about to be killed.

He crouches down beside me. “You sleep well?,â€￾ he whispers.

I close my eyes, and then I feel the barrel of the gun to my forehead. I start to think…about every important memory in my life. I think about the day Mary was flown in from Hungary. I think about the day that NSYNC got signed and how Justin‘s smile just wouldn’t go away.. I think about my mother and father sitting at the piano, singing Christmas carols together, like two love struck fools. I think about Siobhan and the way she can turn any situation into a hilarious story…how she’s made my college experience more enlightening than I’d ever imagined it to be.

I think about…that hot summer night on tour. How…Justin kissed me, and how I knew I was falling in love for the first time. And I realize I have no regrets in this life. I know that most every decision I’ve made, I made with my whole heart. Even when it came to Justin and what we did together. I’m still happy that it happened, that I got that chance to be so in love with somebody that I didn’t want to spend a single day without that person. And that it hurt like hell when we were apart.

I can die knowing that. I can die knowing…that I was loved, and will always be loved. Even when I’m gone.

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ialwayzbesingin
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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 7:14 pm

Chapter Eight

I’m awake. Well, I guess I am. There’s this buzzing sound though…it’s so loud, it’s making me think that I might still be sleeping. I try to snap out of it and force myself back into reality, but I realize I can’t. This is as awake as I’m going to get for now. I wonder what time it is…what day it is. I have no idea how long it’s been since…since…

I push the thought out of my head and I sit up a little, expecting to feel the pull of the chain against the bedpost when I move my hand. But I realize that I’m not on the god damn bed anymore. I’m back in this cellar again…and my clothes are back on. When did this happen? Was I so out of it that I couldn’t even dress myself? Who dressed me…

Shane.

The very thought of him causes me to shudder. Then I cough, and a moment later, I’m vomiting all over the place. I don’t know what’s coming out of me, because I haven’t eaten since Friday night. It’s gross though, and it’s burning my throat. It must be some weird combination of stomach acid, water, and that soft drink I guzzled down the other day. When I’m through, I collapse onto the floor again, and roll onto my side. I can’t move now. I have no energy left in my body. I’m in so much pain too…my entire body is one big throbbing bruise. I don’t even know if I can walk. But…I realize I can’t be acting like this. What if I get my chance? What if I get that split second to get out of here, and I blow it because I’m too much of a pu'ssy to suck it up and run?

I need to toughen up and be a man.

But…how can I be a man? After what happened…I don’t know if I deserve that title anymore. I let Shane…do that to me. I laid there, like a little pu'ssy and let him shove his @#%$ inside of me. I thought I was tough. I thought I was strong and invincible…but I guess I don’t know myself at all. I could have stopped Shane. I could have sucked it up and pushed him off of me. But I didn’t even try. I just…dammit…I just laid there and let him rape me. It was almost like I wanted it…like I wanted him. Maybe he was right. Maybe I have been looking at him…watching him…wanting him. Maybe I am gay. Hell, I don’t know what I am anymore.

It’s our secret…I keep hearing him say it, over and over. It’s our secret…it has to be a secret, because if anybody found out what I did with him…they would lose all of their respect for me. Momma, daddy, Trace, Marty…Nick…my management, my label…my fans…if any of them find out, I’ll never work again. It’s our secret…will he keep his end of the bargain? Will he tell Kerri…

Kerri…

I force myself to sit up straight, and I yelp in pain as I move some part of my body the wrong way. Kerri…she’s not back. He said he wouldn’t kill her if I did what he wanted. Well, I did it Shane. I fu'cking did it…so where is she? “Dammit!â€￾ I try to yell. I can’t yell though. I can barely get the words out, my throat is so dry and sore. I’m pathetic. Where the fu'ck is that @#%$? I want some answers. I want Kerri back in here with me. I want her to be safe…I have to protect her. Fu'ck, how could I let him just take her away like that? It’s my responsibility to make sure she’s okay. Now…I don’t even know if she’s alive or not. I let out a pathetic sounding sob, and then…I lose it, my cries getting more pathetic by the minute. I don’t want to be hysterical, I know it’s only going to work against me, but I don’t know what else to do. This whole thing has gotten out of hand. Maybe…Shane has been after something else this entire time. The money…it’s just a bonus.

I was the real prize.

I hear the lock being turned, but I don’t stop crying. I barely move. I don’t care right now. I don’t care if it’s Shane…I don’t care if it’s his fu'ckin’ friend. They can kill me for all I care. I’m halfway to dead as it is. A gunshot would be a bonus right now. It would take all of my physical and mental strain away. I wouldn’t have to sit here and think about…what I did with Shane anymore. I would just go…go with God. But really…I don’t even know if I want to go with God. He hasn’t shown me mercy at all. He…let this horrible thing happen to Kerri and me. Why? I’ve always been a faithful Christian. I go to church when my life allows me time to, and I try to pray at least once everyday. But where is the lord when I need him huh? Why can’t He show me a little grace? Maybe there is no God…

Maybe all those crazy anarchists are right.

I hear the door slowly squeak open, and I glance up. It’s the pr'ick. I don’t care. Kill me. Go ahead. I’m more than ready. He slowly walks down the stairs, his gun in one hand, and a burlap sack in another. Maybe he’s going to shoot me and put me inside of it, and drag my dead body up the stairs. I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s not strong enough to carry me…

He’s not strong enough to fight me either…

Oh my god. What if this is my chance?

“You awake?â€￾ His tone is cold, and serious.

I look at him and nod. Then I say, “Where’s Kerri?â€￾

“Never mind,â€￾ he tells me. “Just shut up and take what’s coming to you.â€￾

What’s coming to me? “You’re going to kill me,â€￾ I tell him.

He shakes his head. “No. We’re takin a ride.â€￾ He approaches me and crouches down beside me. “You’re momma was good…she followed the rules. We got what we wanted out of her.â€￾

They got the money. My god, they saw momma? I don’t want to think about it…but I can’t help it. She must have had to meet them somewhere…she must have been so scared. And when…they met her, and I wasn’t there…she must have been enraged. But I know they probably pointed a gun at her and took the money, and she couldn’t do anything to stop them…

They pointed a gun at my mother.

I feel myself grown angrier than I’ve been the past few days. My mother…nobody fu'cks with my mother.

“You have the money,â€￾ I croak. I clench my fists and grit my teeth. I’m waiting…waiting for my chance…

“Yea,â€￾ he grunts. Then he turns away from me and begins to reach inside the sack.

His gun is resting on the floor beside him. He’s not even paying attention. I can’t believe my luck. I’m in a room…an unlocked room, with the weaker of my two assailants…and there’s a gun within my reach. It seems almost too good to be true…but only an idiot would let an opportunity like this pass him by. I know I said I‘m ready to die. It’s the truth. But it’s not like death is what I truly want. I don’t want to die…I want to go home to my family. I want to get out of this house and get Kerri out of whatever predicament she’s in. He’s not expecting me to make a move. He thinks I’m weak…he probably knows what Shane did.

But I’m not going to let him get his way with me. Shane already did it…and I’m not letting it happen again. I inch forward, trembling the entire time. His back is still turned, and I reach out for the gun. My heart skips a beat when my hand makes contact with the cold steel of the handle. I pick it up. I have a gun…

I have control.

The pr'ick turns back around, just seconds after I’ve taken the gun in my hand It’s so weird…if I’d hesitated even a moment longer, I’d probably be handcuffed and halfway to god knows where by now. His eyes widen when he sees what he’s let me do. “Put it down,â€￾ he orders.

Like I’m going to listen. I’m not that weak. I point the gun at him. “Fu'ck you,â€￾ I manage, with a weak voice.

“I’ll fu'ckin…â€￾ he stands up and runs a hand down the back of his neck. He’s nervous…he doesn’t know what to do. He’s probably thinking ‘Sh'it, what did I just do?’. The thought makes me want to smile, but I find that I can’t smile. My mind won’t allow me to. That part of me…the happy part…it’s gone. All that’s left is this stone cold, emotional mess. But I’m going to stay in control. I’ll be damned if he gets this gun away from me. He’ll have to kill me before I‘ll allow it.

“I’ll fu'ckin go and shoot your girlfriend,â€￾ he threatens.

“How?â€￾ I say. Somehow I manage to stand up, not without almost losing my balance on the way. “You don’t have a fu'ckin’ gun. I have a gun.â€￾ I step towards him and press the gun firmly into the middle of his forehead. “How does it feel to not be in control anymore, you motherfu'cker?â€￾

“Shane!â€￾ he yells.

I punch him in the face, and my blow knocks him to the ground. Then I stand over him, and point the gun in his face. “This is what I’ve had to deal with for three days,â€￾ I say angrily. I kick him in the stomach, and he groans like the little pu'ssy that he is. “How does it fu'ckin feel!â€￾ I co'ck the gun and aim it at him. I’ve never handled a gun before, but I do know…my emotions are so out of whack I won’t have a problem shooting him right now.

“Dude please,â€￾ he pleads. He’s trembling. He doesn’t want to die. “Please don’t shoot me…I’ll do whatever you want.â€￾

“Funny…that’s what I said when you hijacked my car,â€￾ I nod. “But you took us anyway…and then…you locked us in here.â€￾ I kick him again, harder this time to get my point across. “Maybe that’s what I should do…lock you in some fu'ckin’ basement without a fu'ckin bathroom…without food and water. Then maybe you’ll understand.â€￾

“I…I brought you water,â€￾ he supplies.

He’s fu'cking ridiculous. I stare down at him, and suck in a breath. I never realized how much the pr'ick looks like Shane. They have the same deep set eyes, and slightly pointed noses. I close my eyes and open them again. The pri'ck is gone…and now Shane is cowering before me. Good. Now you know what it feels like to be seconds away from death. Now you know what it feels like to be helpless and scared. Did I just say that? I have no idea.

“Please,â€￾ he whimpers.

“Shut the fu'ck up Shane!â€￾ I yell. “Do you even know how I feel right now? Do you even know…,â€￾ I pause, and let sob escape me. “Do you even know how much you fu'cked me up? You deserve what’s comin to you!â€￾ I’m done with him. I’m done talking to him, and I’m done hearing his excuses. I’m going to kill him. He deserves it after what he did to me…to us. I point…aim…and…

Shoot.

There is a ragged scream, which causes me to focus more closely on my victim. It’s not Shane. “Fu'ck.â€￾ I drop the gun. It’s the pr'ick, and now…he’s dead. I shot him in the head and there is blood everywhere. On the walls, on my shirt…on my jeans…on my skin. I whimper. I…I would never have done that if…if I knew. Oh my god…

I slide down the wall, and pick the gun up again. He…he was so young. Young and stupid, and probably didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into. Granted, he was scum…granted, he hit Kerri and threatened both of our lives. But still…he never went through with his threats, and…I’m pretty sure he didn’t lay another hand on Kerri after the incident in the car. I shouldn’t have killed him. I should have left him for the police to deal with. But…I wasn’t trying to kill him. I was trying to kill Shane…

Shane.

He’s still out there somewhere, and Kerri…she must be with him.

There isn’t any time to sit here and dwell on what I did, or what I should have done. Kerri…I know she’s in a lot of trouble. And I…I have the chance to save her before something really bad happens to her. With a grunt and a groan, I somehow manage to get up from the floor. I stagger over to the staircase, feeling strange that I’m leaving the room without a gun to my head. Before I start up them, I glance over my shoulder and get one last look at the pr'ick. I realize I never knew his name, or how he even got into this whole mess with Kerri and me. “I’m sorry,â€￾ I hear myself say. “I’m sure it wasn’t your fault.â€￾
**********
It’s so weird, walking down this hallway by myself. I’m just noticing now…this house is barely a house. Some of the rooms don’t even have walls, and I wonder how a place in such poor condition is still standing. The foundation must be strong. Daddy says there is nothing more important on a house than a strong foundation. But I shouldn’t be thinking about the damn house. I have to get out of here…

I feel like one of those detectives on NYPD Blue or something. I’m like, slinking along the walls, holding the gun like they do when they are about to surprise the bad guy on the other side of some wall. I wonder if this is really the right way to hold a gun? I mean…I guess it is. Why would they hold it wrong on tv for? That’s a pretty realistic show. God…why am I thinking about this stuff? I must be losing my mind.

The door…I see it now. It’s straight ahead, and there is nothing to prevent me from going outside. Shane…he probably thinks that the pr'ick took care of me. He has no idea though…no idea that I’m the one who got the best of him. I reach the door, and push it open. It creaks open loudly, and I gasp, expecting Shane to come up from behind me with a gun. I whirl around…but there isn’t anybody there. It’s just the empty, dark house. I let out a little sigh and continue on.

I don’t even know where to look. For all I know, Shane could have gotten the money, killed Kerri and taken off without the pr'ick. I wouldn’t put it past him. But then…the pri'ck seemed to mean something to Shane. I saw it the night they took us away in the Oldsmobile. The pr'ick apologized, and Shane seemed to forgive him…like a father would forgive a son. But I know the pr'ick couldn’t have been Shane’s son. They were too close in age. Maybe brothers…that’s a possibility, since the pr'ick looked so much like Shane. Or…lovers…

I cringe again.

There’s some kind of hacking sound in the distance. I stop walking and listen, trying to figure out where it’s coming from. It sounds like it’s coming from the back of the house. I’m scared, because I know that Shane is probably back there. What if I go back there, and he’s hacking Kerri to death or something? I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll be so overcome with grief I won’t be able to focus. Then he’ll kill me too. But…if Kerri’s dead…I don’t think I want to get out of this. Her death will have been my fault, and I can’t have that on my head…

My god…what am I standing around for?

I slowly make my way around to the back of the house, not hesitating to check over my shoulder every few seconds. I can’t be too careful. Then I reach the backyard, and then…then I see Kerri. She’s on the ground, all tied up. She’s still alive, but she’s terrified. I can tell. She’s shaking…so bad. Like the time when we were eight and she had that panic attack in my basement. I’d never seen her like that, and it scared the hell out of me. It’s scaring the hell out of me now too. I almost call out to her, but then I come to my senses. If she’s out here like this…Shane can’t be too far away. I look around, trying to find out where he is.

Then I hear it…that hacking sound again. It’s coming from the left, and I step out a little further. What I see makes my skin crawl and my emotions flare. He’s digging a ditch. He’s standing there, digging a ditch like it doesn’t even matter. He’s going to shoot Kerri, and toss her in there…like she’s nothing. Well…that’s his plan anyway. But his plan has just been fu'cked.

I look back to Kerri, and after a moment, her eyes open. Then she stops shaking. She’s seen me. I try to smile, and I think I manage a small smirk. Then I press a finger to my lips, warning her not to make any noise. She nods a little. She knows her part. This is killing me. All I want to do is run to her and get those damn restraints off of her. I want to hug her and hold her…and just cry. I need her right now…even if she has no idea what’s happened to me. I still need that…that warmth she’s always been able to provide for me. But it’s going to have to wait…yes. I have to get Shane out of the way.

I slowly creep up behind the @#%$, and he doesn’t even notice I’m there, until I press the gun to the back of his head. “Don’t….don’t fu'ckin’ move,â€￾ I say to him.

He drops the shovel, and straightens himself. Then he turns to me, and…he smiles. I whimper a little, but don’t allow myself to lose my composure. I press the gun to his forehead, and squeeze the trigger a little.

“My,â€￾ Shane snickers. “Don’t you look sexy with that gun in your hand.â€￾

“Shut up!â€￾ I push him to the ground angrily, and place my foot on top of his chest. He’s still staring at me though…with those dark, menacing eyes. And he’s smiling too. He’s loving this, and all it’s doing is making me angrier. I don’t want him to enjoy this. I want him to be scared…I want him to be confused and helpless like he made me. I strike him across the face with the gun. Then I kick him in the stomach. I wish I had steel toe boots. I want him to feel what he put me through.

He coughs a little, and clutches his stomach. “Tough huh?â€￾ he manages. “You tough now, Justin?â€￾

I feel the tears rolling down my face. I can’t hide them anymore. It’s a release. My mind needs it. I’m ready to kill him this time…for real. I raise the gun…I aim…

“You know, I didn’t keep my promise,â€￾ he says to me, as if nothing at all is happening. “I…I went and told her about us. I thought you would understand, because I know you love me now. And it’s okay…â€￾

I kick him in the stomach again before he can finish. “You didn’t tell her anything!â€￾ I yell. “You didn’t!â€￾

He coughs again and take a few raspy gulps of air. Now…he’s laughing again. The gun feels warm in my hand…nice, almost seductive, almost willing me to pull the trigger. “It was our secret!â€￾ I scream. “You promised Shane!â€￾

“What does it matter if I told her or not?â€￾ he asks me. “I was going to kill her…we could have been together. Don’t you see?â€￾

I shudder. I think about what would have happened if his plan had worked. Kerri would have been killed, and then…they would have taken me somewhere. Then Shane would have locked me away, and raped me whenever he felt the urge. In the end, I would have gotten a gun, oh yes…but I would have used it on myself. I look up at the sky. Maybe…maybe the lord has been here with me all along.

“We can still be together,â€￾ he continues. “We can get rid of her, and leave this place together.â€￾

“I’m not…I’m not gay,â€￾ I stutter.

“Oh come on,â€￾ he says. “Don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy what you got. I saw you…I saw the look in your eyes and the smile on your face. I felt your hard on. I know you wanted me, and you can’t say anything that’s going to make me believe otherwise.â€￾

I grimace. He’s wrong. I…I wasn’t smiling. He’s wrong. “You’re sick,â€￾ I tell him. “You don’t deserve to live.â€￾

He shrugs. “Maybe not. But, you’re too much of a pu'ssy to do anything about it.â€￾

I crack him across the skull with the gun butt. But I don’t realize how hard I actually hit him until I see the blood gushing from the side of his head, and down his neck. Is he dead? I can’t be sure. I crouch down beside him. His eyes are closed, and he isn’t moving. I…almost check for his pulse, but draw my hand away. I…I can’t touch him.

Then I hear Kerri. She’s moaning, and crying. I tuck the gun into my pants and run over to her. I’m not concerned about Shane. He won’t be coming out of that for awhile…if he’s even still alive to begin with. “Ker,â€￾ I say. I peel the tape off of her mouth, and she begins to cough. She looks horrible. Her face is full of sweat and dirt, and her skin is so pale. I can’t imagine where the @#%$ has been keeping her for all this time. Wherever it was…it couldn’t have been very pleasant.

“Oh my god,â€￾ she whimpers, after a moment. “Justin…â€￾

“Shh,â€￾ I say, caressing her face with my hand. “It’s okay…you’re okay.â€￾ I try to get her hands undone first, but then I realize she’s been handcuffed. “Sh'it,â€￾ I mutter. Who knows where the keys are? I move down to her legs, and pull the tape from her ankles and thighs.

She sits up and leans into me. “I didn’t think I would ever see you again,â€￾ she whispers. “Justin…â€￾ she looks up at me. Her deep blue eyes haven’t lost that beautiful intensity I‘ve always loved, despite everything that we’ve been through. “Justin I love you okay?,â€￾ she sobs. “All that stuff I said before…I didn’t mean any of it.â€￾

I bite my bottom lip, and nod a little bit. “I know,â€￾ I say. It’s not the best response, but I don’t know what to say to her right now…my mind is so jumbled. “Come on,â€￾ I say. “Let’s try to fix you.â€￾ I help her to her feet, and we start to walk forward. But then…

BANG.

I push Kerri down to the ground and wrap myself around her protectively. Shane…I underestimated him. He’s obviously had a gun this whole time. Why couldn’t I have checked? God dammit…is this ever going to end? I sit up and turn back toward him. I quickly pull my gun out again, and point it at him. Shane isn’t standing up…I don’t think he can. He’s sitting against a dirt pile, pointing his gun at us. “Don’t make me kill you!â€￾ I yell.

He doesn’t answer. He just smiles, and raises the gun again. Kerri screams. Then there is a shot…and I’m in such a daze I can’t tell whether I’m the one who pulled the trigger or not. All I know is that there is blood…again.
***************
I can’t open my eyes. If I do, I’m so afraid that I’m going to see Justin laying beside me…shot to death. After everything we’ve been through this weekend, I just don’t think I could handle it. I don’t…want him to die now. He got out…he got away. God dammit, he doesn’t deserve this now. He deserves to go home and be with his family again…just like I do. But, I know I can’t just lie here with my eyes closed forever. If Justin is dead, it means that Shane is still alive. I have to be ready to run, even if I’m still handcuffed. Taking the deepest breath of my lifetime, I open my eyes. Justin is still half on top of me, his arms surrounding me in a protective embrace. There is blood on his shirt…on his face…it‘s on me too. His eyes are closed, and he’s not moving. I don’t know what to think. Did Shane shoot him? Is Justin dead?

“Justin?â€￾ I say. “Justin please wake up…please.â€￾

Then his eyes, they open…just a little.

Thank you God.

I manage to push myself upright, and Justin releases me from his embrace. I look in the direction that Shane was digging before. Then I see him. He’s lying against the dirtpile like he was before…with a gunshot wound in his chest. He’s not moving, and I know that he’s dead. I wince. I’ve never seen a dead body before…and it’s starting to freak me out. Shane, he doesn’t look evil anymore. Now, lying there with his eyes closed…he looks at peace with himself…he looks like a normal person…

I hope he goes straight to hell.

“Justin,â€￾ I manage to say after a moment. He doesn’t look at me though. He‘s sitting a few feet from me, his legs tucked underneath him. His head is buried in his hands and he‘s crying…he‘s crying so hard.. I’ve yet to see him so torn during our experience together. But now…I guess it’s coming out. He killed Shane, and since I don’t see Nate anywhere I’m guessing that Justin did away with him too. It’s gotta be fu'cking him up, because as far as I know, Justin has never handled a gun before today. But he shouldn’t feel bad about this. Those men were evil, and deserved what they got. I mean, who knows how many people they hurt…or even killed, before they did this to us? “Justin, please look at me,â€￾ I say.

He whimpers a little more, before picking up his head to look at me. “Kerri,â€￾ he whispers. “I didn’t mean to kill anybody.â€￾ He brings his knees out from under him and tucks them under his chin. “I…I really didn’t.â€￾

He’s rocking himself back and forth now, and he’s got this faraway gaze in his eyes. He’s messed up. Messed up even more than I am. He doesn’t seem to care where we are, or that Shane’s dead body is lying just several feet away. He’s in his own world right now. What happened to him? I know Justin isn’t weak. Granted, this thing has taken a toll on his sanity and sh'it…but he’s stronger than that. Something…something happened to him. Something so horrible, it’s killing him more and more with each passing second. I know he needs me to go over there and wrap my arms around him, and this time…I really want to do it for him. But these fu'ckin’ handcuffs….dammit, why is there always something stopping me!

It was our secret! You promised Shane! I hear Justin’s panicked voice in the back of my mind. I don’t really know what to think about that…what Justin said. What secret? What happened? What did Shane do to him? I can’t even imagine, I don’t want to. It will probably make me sick to my stomach. I’ve had enough of that for one weekend. “Justin,â€￾ I speak up again. “Justin…will you help me up?â€￾

He looks over at me, and his eyes widen. It’s almost like he forgot everything for a moment… Where we are…what we’ve been through…what just happened a few moments ago. He jumps to his feet. “Damn, I’m so sorry…â€￾ He rushes to my side. “I’m so fu'ckin’ sorry, Kerri.â€￾

I let him help me to my feet, and then I turn to look at him. His complextion is frightening…the bruises and scratches on his face have made him look like something out of a horror film. I’ve never seen him look so…bad before. Justin has always taken great pride in his appearance. I guess he’s always had to..being in show business and all. His clothes…his hair…his teeth…his body…he’s always been incredibly focused on keeping them in the best condition they could ever be. I used to envy him at times, because he would look better than me when we would go somewhere. I would tell him I wasn’t good enough to hang around with him too…and he would frown and tell me not to talk like that. Then he would kiss me on the forehead and tell me I was beautiful, and that I was lucky I could look like a girl my age should…that I didn’t have to constantly judge myself.

It didn’t take me long after that to realize how insecure Justin was with himself. I would see it more and more…how he would stop and look at himself in the mirror for a good ten minutes…how he would sometimes frown and run into the bathroom for another twenty. I used to tell Trace about it, but he would act like it was nothing. I guess…he couldn’t really understand why it would worry me. But Trace is a guy…he doesn’t notice the same things I do. Trace would just say it was ‘the professional in him acting out’. But I always knew that wasn’t the case. There was something really wrong…in his head. Like…he wasn’t good enough for himself, or for anybody else. It’s been three years, and I don’t know if that insecure part of him has gotten any better. But I do know one thing…after this…it’s only going to get worse.

“Are you okay?,â€￾ I whisper. I know the answer already, but I want to see if he’ll tell me something…anything. I’m so worried about him right now, and I’m not sure if he’s going to be strong enough to move forward and get back to civilization. I know he wants to get home as badly as I do…but I can already tell…getting help isn’t going to be easy. We’re in the middle of nowhere, and I highly doubt there is a telephone back at the house.

“I…â€￾ He looks deep into my eyes. He doesn’t have to say anything. I know he’s not okay. He’s a mess…a horrible emotional mess. “I…I don‘t think so, Kerri.â€￾

My bottom lip quivers, and I bite down on it to make it stop. I realize I can’t cry right now…I can’t cry for awhile. I know if I lose it, Justin will lose it too, and if we both lose it…we’ll never make it out of here alive. One of us has to be strong, and for the first time since this whole thing started…it looks like that person is going to be me. “Is…is Nathan still alive?â€￾ I ask him.

He looks at me strangely. “Who?â€￾

He never found out his name…that’s so weird, because he knew Shane’s. “The other one.â€￾

“Oh.â€￾ He doesn’t look at me, and shakes his head. “No. I…he…came downstairs. He said they had the money and that they were gonna take me for a ride. And then…he…he wasn’t looking so I grabbed his gun. And then…I…I…I just…â€￾ He whimpers, and closes his eyes. “God, Kerri…I didn‘t know what else to do.â€￾

“Justin,â€￾ I say, not understanding how I’m keeping my emotions under control right now. “Justin, it wasn’t your fault. If…you didn’t…do what you did, I would be dead right now. You…saved my life.â€￾

He nods a little. I’m tempted to dig deeper into the subject, but really, why should I do it now? Shane is dead, and so is Nathan. The only thing we should be thinking about right now is getting out of here…getting help. There will be plenty of time to talk later on. Right…after, when we’re both safe, and rested…that’s when I’ll try to talk to him about it. About everything.

He looks back at Shane’s lifeless body. “I can’t believe it,â€￾ he whispers. “I…I never thought I’d be the one to get him. I thought he was going to be the one to win…â€￾

“Well he didn’t win,â€￾ I say roughly, trying to get my point across. “We beat him at his own sick game. We beat them Justin…we’re alive.â€￾ I try to force a positive smile, but I fail when he looks back at me again, and I see the expression on his face. It’s a sad one…a defeated one. It’s like he doesn’t feel he’s won the battle at all.

I’m so confused.

“Yeah,â€￾ he says, unconfidently. “I guess we are alive.â€￾

I don’t say anything else to him. I let him lead me forward, and we start back towards the house. I feel slightly renewed, like I’ve beaten a difficult level in a video game. We’re moving on now…moving onto a new level…a new part of our lives…

And neither of us knows what to expect.

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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 7:17 pm

Chapter Nine

I’ve always had a small anxiety problem when it comes to people getting too close to me. People that I don’t know anyway. It’s the fans mostly. When they hug me, I want it to end as quickly as it starts. I feel weird…having these girls touching me. I don’t know them, I don’t know where they’ve been. Maybe I’m just fu'ckin’ parranoid…I dunno. I’ve made some of them feel weird too I think. After Britney and I split I didn’t want to be touched at all. It got so extreme, that I would get nauseated if somebody I didn’t know touched me. My fans…I made a lot of them feel like sh'it that year. I would ignore them on the streets…I would make Tiny get them away from me. I didn’t want to be bothered with their ‘I love you’s’ and ‘You’re so great’s’. I wanted to be left alone for once in my life. But, I think I’ve changed a lot since then. This tour I did a bunch of meet and greets for my charity, and I felt that I was pretty decent to the girls. But what about now? If I had to do a show next week…what the hell would I do at the meet and greet? I wouldn’t want anybody near me…I wouldn’t want their arms around me. I wouldn’t want to feel their hands rubbing my back. Every touch…every smile and hug would remind me of Shane. I would lose my mind, but I would be obligated to do it…and it would turn into a mess all too quickly.

“Justin!â€￾

I flinch, as I pinch Kerri’s skin with the pliers again. “I…I’m sorry,â€￾ I stutter.

The key never turned up. We looked everywhere too…well, everywhere except Shane and Nate’s dead bodies. Kerri wouldn’t let me go there, even though I told her I would do it for her. I’m grateful that she refused to let me do it though. If I had to…touch them, I think I would have ended up losing what little nerve I have left. As it is…my hands, they’re shaking and I can’t get them to stop. That’s why every time I try to snap this damn chain with the pliers I found, they keep pinching Kerri’s skin. The first few times it happened weren’t a big deal, but I know I’m starting to piss Kerri off now. It’s been awhile since I shot those two…at least an hour, and I still can’t steady my hands long enough to get a firm grip on this chain.

“Would you just calm down for a second,â€￾ Kerri says. “If you keep fu'ckin’ panicking we’ll never get out of here.â€￾

“I’m not panicking,â€￾ I defend. “I’m just…my mind is shot right now.â€￾

“Focus,â€￾ she grunts with annoyance. “Just fu'cking focus Justin!â€￾

She’s yelling at me, and I know she doesn’t mean too. She’s aggravated…tired…miserable. So am I, probably more so than she is. I close my eyes for a moment, hoping it will help me to get a grip. But it’s not helping me. The darkness closes in around me, and then Shane is there…

Open your eyes. They’re your best feature.

“Stop it!â€￾ I scream. I open my eyes, and glance around, looking for any sign of Shane. I can’t let him get me…get us. I can’t let him touch me again. My gun…where is it? I reach into my pocket and let out a breath of relief when I feel my hand close around it.

Kerri glances over her shoulder, and sighs heavily. “What’s the matter?â€￾ she asks me. She turns around. “Justin…â€￾ She eyes the gun in my hand, and I see a sense of panic rise to her face. “Justin put the gun down. You don‘t need it now.â€￾

But I can’t let it go. I’m afraid of what will happen if I do. Shane, he might not be dead. I mean, I never checked his pulse. He could very well be waiting around a corner…behind a door. Waiting for his chance. I’m not going to give in again…never again. “No,â€￾ I say quietly. I shove the gun back into my pocket and pick the pliers up from the floor. “It’s protecting us,â€￾ I tell her.

She is silent for a moment, and I turn her around to try and work the chain apart again. Then she says, “They’re dead, Justin. They aren’t coming back, okay? You don’t need a gun anymore.â€￾

Kerri doesn’t know what she’s saying. She’s too gullible…that’s her problem. She thinks that just because I shot Shane, it means that hes not going to hurt us anymore. Well…she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know what the ba'stard is capable of. “I need it,â€￾ I say. My hands start to shake harder, and I bite down on my lip, willing them to stop. But they won’t. They’re out of control. I drop the pliers. “Dammit!â€￾ I yell. I run my trembling hands over my head…down my neck. Then I bring them out in front of me and watch them…

“What’s the matter with your hands?â€￾

I look at Kerri. Shes standing there looking at me like I‘ve gone crazy. I don’t have an explanation for her though, so I just shrug. “I don’t know,â€￾ I whisper. “They…just won’t stop.â€￾ My bottom lip starts to tremble, and then…I just lose it. I fu'cking lose it. I’m sobbing…crying…wailing. Everything has started to hit me at once. My thoughts…they’re one big jumbled clump of everything that’s happened to me. I see Shane…I see that bed…that room. I smell him…the disgusting smell of his sweat and cologne. I feel his lips on my body…I feel…I feel that pain again…down below. I see Nate, the intense look of fear on his face right before I shot him. I hear the shot…I hear his scream.

“Justin…Justin calm down,â€￾ I hear Kerri say. “Just pull yourself together a little, and help me. Then I’ll help you okay?â€￾

Her voice pulls me out of my horrible memories. I’m still crying, but now, I’m looking at her. I want her to hold me…she’s the only one I would let do that right now. But she can’t even do it. Her hands and arms, they’re unusable until I pull myself together and get those fu'cking handcuffs off of her. I force myself to stop crying for the moment. Then I pick up the pliers yet again. My hands are still trembling, but not as badly. I focus…I take the pliers to the chain, and start to work on it again. I don’t think, I barely breath. I just twist and pull and tug. And then…then it comes…

Immediately, I am wrapped up in her arms. It feels wonderful. I feel safe. Nothing can hurt me right now…not as long as she’s here. I sob a little, and bury my face in between her neck and shoulder. She rocks me a little, and starts to whisper in my ear. “I’m here,â€￾ she says. “I’m here and I’m not going to leave you. You’re safe okay? We’re safe Justin.â€￾

It seems like years pass before I gain enough control of myself to look at her again. Her face is tearstained, but I guess I was crying so hard I couldn’t hear her sobbing along with me. She touches her hand to my face and caresses it gently.

“What happened to you?,â€￾ she whispers.

I wish like hell that I could tell her. I used to be able to tell Kerri everything that was going on with me…good or bad, and after this is all over, I think we’ll be able to regain part of the bond we used to share. But when it comes to talking about Shane…about the rape, I know I can’t tell her. I can’t tell anybody. Not Trace, not daddy, not momma. It’s too humiliating…too disgusting to share with anybody. I know they’ll point their fingers at me, accusing me of letting it happen. They’ll all tell me…I could have stopped him. Why couldn’t I have stopped him?

“This happened,â€￾ I say quickly. I clear my throat a little, and pull away from her. “You know, I’m just messed up right now.â€￾

She nods, but I can tell she doesn’t believe me. “I’m messed up too,â€￾ she says. “But my hands aren’t shaking like that…I’m not the one who’s losing her mentality. I know there’s more to this, Justin. And if you don’t tell me…I don’t know who you’re going to be able to tell. I’m here, I’ve seen everything…I can understand.â€￾

I take one of her hands and look deep into her eyes. I’m trying as hard as I can to be convincing right now. I want her to get this idea that there is something wrong with me out of her head. “I just shot two people,â€￾ I say to her. “You didn’t. Can you blame me for acting this way?â€￾

She looks away from me. “I know you did,â€￾ she whispers. “I…I’m sorry.â€￾

“Don’t be.â€￾ I’m winning. She believes me. She doesn’t suspect. Good…good Justin. Keep going…keep lying. Maybe if you lie well enough, you’ll get yourself to believe that nothing ever happened. Maybe you can forget…let the memory fade away.

“I just want you to know,â€￾ she says to me. “If you need to talk about this stuff, I want you to get in touch with me…no matter where you are or where I am okay? Even if it’s five in the morning…I want you to.â€￾

I nod, but in my heart I know I won’t call her to talk. If I’m having some kind of breakdown, which I’m sure I will…I’ll end up locking myself away from the world, from my friends and family. From anybody that cares. That’s what I do when I’m depressed. Britney is a perfect example. Soon after we broke it off, I locked myself inside my house. I wouldn’t answer the phone, or the doorbell. I would just lay in the middle of my bedroom, wondering how the hell I let the love of my life walk away from me. Eventually it got so bad, that Trace climbed into one of my windows and forced me back into civilization. He made me take a shower because I hadn’t bathed …and then he made me eat. This time I’ll be ready for a situation like that though. I’ll get in my car and check into some random motel if I have to. I’ll be alone if I want to be.

“Promise me,â€￾ she urges.

I don’t quite meet her gaze. “I promise.â€￾

“I don’t believe you.â€￾

Here come the acting skills again. I look into her eyes again, and kiss her on the forehead. “I promise Kerri,â€￾ I say with more force. “I’ll call you.â€￾

She pulls me into another hug, but this time I don’t want her to. I don’t want to be touched anymore. Later, when we see everybody again, I’m going to have to put up with too much of it. Hell, I don’t even know how I’m going to react. My mom…she’s going to be the clingiest. What if I snap and push her or something? It’s not going to be good if that happens. I need to control myself.

I pull back from her. “Let’s get out of here,â€￾ I tell her. She nods in response, and tries to take my hand but I pull it away from her.

“Justin?â€￾

I’m not going to lie to her this time. “I don’t want you to touch me anymore,â€￾ I say quickly.

She seems a little surprised, but then…she knows I’m not all there right now. “O--okay,â€￾ she says nervously. “I won’t if you don’t want me to.â€￾

“It’s not you,â€￾ I reassure her. “I just need my space, Kerri.â€￾

“I know that,â€￾ she tells me, as we begin to make our way out of the house. “Don’t worry about it anymore now. Let’s just get help okay?â€￾

“Okay, Ker.â€￾

Soon we are outside again. It’s dark now, and I don’t know how we are going to find our way through the woods in this darkness. But I don’t want to stay in that house another night. Especially with two dead bodies on the property. For a brief moment, I think about the ransom money…should we look for it? No. It doesn’t matter. The money, it’s dirty money. If somebody else finds it…good for them. I don’t want any part of it now. I just want to get home…and try to get on with my life. I’m sure Kerri does too.

But that’s going to be easier said than done.
*****************
I feel like we’ve been walking for twenty years. These woods are horrible. It’s so dark, and the brush is so thick, it’s hard to tell what direction we’re walking. I feel like we’ve past the same tree about a thousand times, but then I can’t really be sure…because everything looks the same. The tree branches hang down low from the trees, constantly brushing against my face and my arms. It hurts…the branches are sharp, and they dig into the scratches that are already there. My feet are freezing. I guess it must have rained, because the ground is soaked. Every so often I’ll accidentally step in a deep puddle, and more water will seep into my shoes. My shoes…they are those cheap white ones that you buy at Walmart for 5.99. I remember…I put them on to go outside because I saw Justin parked in front of my house. If I knew I was going to have to play Jane of the Jungle, I would have worn my Nike’s.

“Hey…hey wait,â€￾ I hear Justin say. His voice is weaker now than it’s ever been. I hear him cough violently. He’s not doing good…not at all. He has less energy than I do for some reason, and it’s weird because guys naturally have more energy than girls do. I think he might be coming down with something. I stop walking and turn to face him. He’s sitting against a tree, trying to catch his breath.

I sit down beside him, and nearly start to rub his shoulder, before I remember his no touching rule. I quickly draw my hand away. It’s the strangest thing…him not wanting to be touched by me. When he broke down in the house, it was all he seemed to want. I just don’t get it. I know something really traumatizing must have happened to him in that house. I’m starting to think…that one of them did something sexual to him, as crazy as it sounds. I shudder at the thought.

When Siobhan and I were sophomores, we got invited to this big fraternity party up in Yonkers. Normally, freshies and sophomores don’t get invites to stuff like that. You have to know somebody, or be sleeping with one of the brothers. But Siobhan’s cousin happened to be dating one of the brothers, so she got us in. I remember we were both excited, because it was our first really big college party. At first it was a lot of fun. There were so many people there, and so much to do. It reminded me of a few of the clubs I went to with Justin and the guys.

We met up with Siobhan’s cousin after awhile, and she introduced us around. I met this one guy, Drake. He was a business major, trying to get in with a prominent New York firm. He told me that he was from California, and had the tan and rock solid body to prove it. We spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other. He seemed really mature, like Justin. I think that’s why I took to him so well…why I started to like him. He bought me all kinds of drinks, and I didn’t even notice how much time had passed or how tipsy I was becoming until I found myself in his car. Then it hit me that I didn’t know where Siobhan was. I tried to get out of the car…but he didn’t want me to go. He tried to make me kiss him, but I didn’t want to. Lucky for me I wasn’t that drunk, and I managed to clock him one in the nose before getting out of the car. I never saw him again. When I think about it now, it scares me. If I’d been a little bit more gullible, I probably would have gotten raped by that a'sshole.

I don’t want to believe that one of those @#%$ was sick enough to do something like that to Justin. Stuff like that…it doesn’t happen to guys. It happens to women. Justin is strong too. He could have easily pushed either one of them off of him if they tried to…god…kiss him or something…

Unless…he had a gun to his head. God, I’m nauseated.

“You okay?â€￾ I ask him, knowing the answer already.

He shrugs and rubs his face with his hands. “I’m running out of gas,â€￾ he tells me. “I…I don’t know how much longer I can do this Ker.â€￾

“Just a little further,â€￾ I insist. I figure, the further along we get, the closer we’ll be to civilization. I mean, there has to be an opening somewhere…to some road. This isn’t Yellowstone Park. These woods can’t be that big. “We must be close…we’ve been at it this for hours.â€￾

“I dunno,â€￾ he says. “I’m…so tired,â€￾ he says. “I don’t want to move anymore. I just want to sleep.â€￾ He leans his head back against the tree trunk, and closes his eyes. “Just for a few minutes.â€￾

I know I can’t let him fall asleep here. Even though we’re down south, it’s still pretty chilly out…the rain made the temperature drop. If he falls asleep, his body temperature will drop, then he’ll really be sick. “You can’t,â€￾ I say. “Not now. Justin…we have to keep going okay? We can’t stop now.â€￾

He lifts his head to meet my gaze. “I can’t.â€￾

“Yes you can.â€￾ I stand up and hold out my hand. “We’ve made it this far. Come on, I’ll help you.â€￾

He starts to cough again. “I feel like sh'it,â€￾ he manages to say. “I’m not going to kill myself like this. Go if you want. I’m staying here.â€￾

I reluctantly sit down again, knowing that he’s not going to follow me if I start to walk away. “I wouldn’t leave you behind,â€￾ I say to him.

He shifts away from me a little. “Look, I’m sorry okay? I’m just tired…and…weak. God, and my chest hurts. Well…maybe it’s my chest. Hell,â€￾ he runs his hands though his hair. “What am I saying?,â€￾ he chuckles a little. “Everything hurts me right now.â€￾

“That’s why we need to keep moving,â€￾ I persist. “If we don’t get help, the pain isn’t going to get better. It’s just going to get worse.â€￾

He looks at me with a tired expression. “And if we keep going, and don’t find help, what then? We’ll drain all of our energy and fu'ckin’ die. Do you want to die Kerri?,â€￾ he snaps.

I glare at him. Why does he have to be impossible right now? I don’t want to yell at him. He’s reached his last nerve and so have I. We don’t need to hate each other…we need to stick together right now. “We won’t die if you decide make a fu'ckin’ effort,â€￾ I say, trying to not lose my temper. I get up from the ground again. “Come on Justin. Let’s go.â€￾

“No.â€￾

What is he, five? Do I have to tell him I’m going to count to three? “Stop being so damn stubborn! Damn it, you’re not going to quit now!â€￾

He won’t look at me. “I’ll quit if I want to,â€￾ he mutters. “I’m tired of everything. I didn’t ask for this. I worked my a'ss off all year…touring and sh'it. Where’s my payoff huh? Where’s my fu'ckin break?â€￾

He’s not really directing his speech to me, but I’m so pissed off right now, I’m taking his comments to heart. “Your payoff is in the bank,â€￾ I snap at him. “Or is having millions of dollars not enough for you?â€￾

“Don’t talk to me about money, bi'tch,â€￾ he grumbles. “My money is what brought us here in the first place.â€￾

“Don’t talk to me that way,â€￾ I say.

“I’ll say what I want!â€￾ he yells. “You’re not my fu'ckin’ owner Kerri. Just because you’re not beat to a pulp, just because your body isn’t one big throbbing bruise, doesn’t give you the right to act like you’ve got all the clout here. If it wasn’t for my fu'cking money…you’d be dead now.â€￾ He crosses his arms over his chest. “You can fu'ckin thank me later.â€￾

I hate him. I really do. “Fine,â€￾ I say. “Stay here and rot then. I’m going to get help.â€￾

“Good!â€￾ he yells, once my back is turned. “Go get your god damn help Kerri! Go get lost! I don’t need you anymore!â€￾

He’s crying. Yeah, Justin, you really don’t need me do you? Sh'it, I don’t know what I should do. I know if we sit here long enough, Justin is going to fall asleep…and his energy will be gone. Then I won’t be able to get him up again. We’ll be stuck here. But if I go off on my own, he’ll be all by himself. He’ll get freaked out, and I don’t want to think about what condition he’ll be in when we come back to find him. Damn it. Will this ever end? “God dammit!â€￾ I scream.

His eyes widen, and he stares at me. I don’t think he was expecting that reaction from me. “Wha?â€￾

“There isn’t a way out of this is there?,â€￾ I sob. “If I leave…you’ll be all alone. If I stay…we’ll both end up dead. What the hell Justin? What the hell am I supposed to do? You’re not helping me…and I can’t save us. This is all fu'cked up…all of it! It’s like…we’re not supposed to make it out of here alive.â€￾

I hear the sound of birds chirping. It’s so weird. We’re in so much pain…we’ve just endured the weekend from hell, but yet, the world is still spinning. Birds are still chirping…life still goes on. It’s not fair. I want to chirp…I want to be happy. “I’d rather be a bird right now,â€￾ I say. I feel like I’m going insane. Hell, maybe I am. “At least that way I could fly away from here, and get help for us.â€￾

“Ker…â€￾

I start to pace back and forth. “I mean, I’m trying here,â€￾ I tell him. “I’m trying to keep my head straight, and help you and help me…and just get out of this. But it’s not happening…it’s just not…â€￾

“Kerri!â€￾ Justin yells, interrupting my rambling.

I stop talking, and stare at him. “What now!â€￾ I yell.

“Look.â€￾ He points somewhere behind me.

I turn around. It’s a little lighter now…nearly dawn. I squint a little bit. I rub my eyes. There is a patch of land a few feet away, with some kind of race track built on it. There are little jumps, and hills, and tires and things. What is it? Am I seeing things? “Justin…â€￾

I feel him behind me. “It’s a dirt bike pit,â€￾ he whispers. “Trace and I used to make them in the woods behind the house…and we wouldn’t let you come with us, remember?â€￾

I remember. I used to get so mad at them when they would ditch me. I wanted to go with them, but I didn’t have a dirt bike, and my mother refused to let me have one. I remember…I would sit on my porch and mope until Trace and Justin got back from their adventures. Justin though…he would always pick me dandelions to make up for it. “I remember,â€￾ I say quietly.

“There has to be a house around here,â€￾ he says to me. “It can’t be that far.â€￾

I meet his gaze. “You think?â€￾

“I’m positive,â€￾ he tells me. For the first time since we left the house, he takes my hand. His hand is clammy, and it’s trembling…but I hold onto it anyway. “Kerri, I really didn‘t mean to--â€￾ he starts to say, probably wanting to apologize for the fighting.

“Shh,â€￾ I hush him. “No explanations right now okay? Let’s just go…we’ll talk later.â€￾

He seems happy that I’ve said this to him, and I see a small smile appear on his face…but it quickly fades away. I lead him forward and we make our way across the dirt bike track. It looks like it gets a lot of use, and I feel a new sense of hope take over me. We’re going to make it. We’re going to survive…go home…see our loved ones again. I glance at Justin, hoping his face is filled with the same sense of hope I’m feeling. But it’s not. He looks just as exhausted and confused as he did before.

We break through another set of trees…and then I see it. There is a little white house a few feet away. There’s a pool and a swing set and a clothesline. There are people in there…a family. A family that has no idea of the terror that took place just miles from their home. I wonder what they’re like…what they do to make a living. Are they rich…are they poor? Are they happy with their existence? I guess we’ll find out.

“It looks safe,â€￾ Justin says. “Right?â€￾

“They have kids,â€￾ I point out. “You can’t get much safer than that.â€￾

He seems confident in my answer, and it’s not long before I find myself walking up the back porch steps, Justin close behind me. I raise my fist to knock on the door, but then I remember…it’s probably not even six yet. Everybody in that house is still sleeping. I feel bad about waking them…about dragging them all into our nightmare. But really…what other choice do I have?

“Go ahead,â€￾ Justin says.

I chew on my lip nervously as I knock on the screen door. I don’t really know what or who to expect. After a moment, I hear footsteps, and then I hear somebody fumbling with the doorknob. I hold my breath. God, I hope whoever it is doesn’t think we’re a couple of homeless freaks…

The inner door slowly opens, and I when I see who‘s opened it, I can‘t help but smile a little bit. There is a little boy standing there, and I know he can’t be much older than Mary. He has his teddy shoved under one arm, and his thumb shoved in his mouth. He’s adorable too…I almost want to squeeze him. It would fill me with a warmth I haven’t felt in days.

“Hey, buddy,â€￾ Justin says softly. “We wake you up?â€￾

He nods, but doesn’t take his thumb out of his mouth. He looks a little scared, but that’s natural. This is his house…it’s the middle of the night, and there are two strange people standing at the door.

“Brian…â€￾

My eyes widen at the woman’s voice. I’m guessing it’s the child’s mother, but I can’t be sure. A few seconds later a woman appears behind him. Her hair is done up in curlers, and her night mask is still smeared all over her face. She doesn’t even notice us at first. “Brian…what are you doing out of…â€￾

Then she sees us. Her eyes get wide…she’s scared. She probably thinks we’re a couple of freaks that want to kidnap her son. Sorry lady…the people you want are shot and bleeding a few miles back.

“Craig!â€￾ she screams. She draws the little boy closer to her, and he starts to cry. “Craig get out here!â€￾

I don’t know what to do. We aren’t criminals…we’ve been kidnapped and we’re trying to find help. But if I tell her that, I know she won’t want to listen to me. I’m sure living out in the boondocks like this has made her wary about people knocking on her door unannounced.

“Hang on.â€￾ Justin forces himself past me and stands in front of me. “We’re not gonna hurt you, ma‘am. We just need some help.â€￾

For the first time in a long time, it dawns on me that Justin isn’t just some guy. He’s a celebrity. That’s why he pushed in front of me…he’s hoping this lady will recognize him. But she doesn’t, probably because it‘s so early in the morning and Justin is beat up past recognition. She continues to stare at us, like we’re the scum of the earth. “My husband has a rifle, and a license to use it,“ she grunts. “So, get off our property, and stay away from my kids.â€￾

“Damn it Caroline!â€￾ A mans voice bellows from somewhere in the house. “You’ll wake the heavens with that tone of yours!â€￾

A man appears at the doorway a moment later, still in his pajamas. My vision is blurred by my tears now, and I feel them start to crawl down my face. What else could possibly go wrong? I know…this guy will get his rifle and kill us before he knows the whole story.

The man opens the screen door and stands in-between us and his wife and son. “What’s this all about,â€￾ he asks us. “It’s damn near six in the morning. What the hell are you kids doing here?â€￾

“We were kidnapped, sir,â€￾ Justin provides. “We’ve been walking all night.â€￾

Justin is so professional when it comes to dealing with people. Even now, even though he’s been through hell and back, he can still address this guy as ‘sir‘, and speak in a calm, rational tone. I have to commend him. Even if I was famous, and used to dealing with people all the time…I still don’t think I could be as calm as he’s being right now.

The man studies us for a few moments, before speaking again. “Well son, you certainly look like you‘ve been through something.â€￾

Justin nods. “Yes sir.â€￾

“Caroline,â€￾ he calls back to his wife. “Go call the police.â€￾

I swallow hard. “Please don’t call the police on us,â€￾ I plead with him. “We didn’t do anything.â€￾ I start to cry, and I feel Justin pull me close to him. “I just want to go home okay?â€￾

“I’m getting you two help,â€￾ the man smiles. “You’re just fine. You‘re safe here.â€￾

I can’t answer him. I can barely hear what he’s saying. I’m too busy sobbing into Justin’s chest.

“Sorry about her,â€￾ I hear Justin say. “We’ve been through…a lot.â€￾

I look at him. When did the tables turn? When did he become the strong one again? I’m so confused…and so tired. I just want to go home…right now.

“Let’s get you two inside,â€￾ the man says. “I’ll have Caroline fix you up some food, and you can call whoever you need to.â€￾

Justin nods, and drapes an arm over my shoulder. “Thanks…thanks a lot. We really appreciate it.â€￾ He sticks out a dirty hand for the man to shake. “I’m Justin…and this is my best friend Kerri.â€￾

“Craig Tripton.â€￾ The man shakes Justin’s hand and leads us into his home. “Sorry about the wife,â€￾ he chuckles lightly. “Living out here can be kind of nerve wracking. She’s trying to convince me to move to Nashville next year, but I don’t know. I like the wilderness…it’s nice and quiet. My boys like it too. Seems the only one on my wife’s side is my oldest, Shelly.â€￾

The house is so clean…so homey. A world away from that disgusting excuse for a house…a world away from that damn basement. I take a seat at the kitchen table, and bury my face in my hands. Then I start to cry again, the fact that we are finally safe…that the nightmare is finally over being almost too much for me to bear. I feel Justin’s hand on my shoulder, and I grab hold of it. “We’re okay,â€￾ I say after a moment. It’s more of a question than a statement.

He gives my hand a squeeze. “We’re okay Kerri.â€￾
************
After the initial shock of seeing two shabby looking people standing at her door passed, Mrs. Tripton turned out to be one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met. She wouldn’t stop apologizing about the whole gun thing, until her husband told her to. I insisted it wasn’t a big deal, that we’d been through a lot and understood that our situation was a lot to spring on somebody at five thirty in the morning. I’ve thanked her for her graciousness repeatedly, and I’m hoping that it cures her of her insecurities. She didn’t do anything but try to protect her family. Lord knows, Kerri and I would have done the same thing.

It’s still early…only six forty five. Mrs. Tripton phoned the police a little while ago and I talked to them for a few minutes. I would have had Kerri talk too, but she fell asleep on this little sofa in the den. I don’t think she meant to. That little boy…Brian…he came running in and started tugging at her hand. So Kerri went into the other room with him. Brian reminds me a lot of Jonathan when he was little. He would always wake up at ungodly hours of the morning, wanting to watch cartoons.

When I first explained to the police who I was, and what happened, they seemed flabbergasted. The Sheriff said ‘Boy, do you know how many people are looking for you two?’. I explained to him that I didn’t have any idea…that I only found out where I was a little while ago, and that I hadn’t been able to watch any kind of news broadcasts. It turns out, my mother dropped the ransom, and then drove to another location where she was supposed to meet me. But I wasn’t there. The Sheriff told me the FBI was already involved, unbeknownst to our captors …so when Kerri and I didn’t turn up, that gave them the green light to send the news out there that we were missing. Apparently, my hometown is has been a media circus since last night. This is bad. The last thing I need…the last thing Kerri needs, is to be harassed by the press upon our return home. I guess it was inevitable though…the news was going to get out eventually.

Craig told me that we are in Corinth, Mississippi, which is right on the border of Tennessee. It’s about five hours from Millington, and I’m not surprised how far away we are, because that first day…we were riding around in cars for about that long. I still haven’t called my mother, or anybody yet. I have the phone in my hand…I’m staring at it, ready to dial…but I’m almost scared to. I’m afraid I’ll hear my mothers voice and I’ll end up having a nervous breakdown. But I don’t want to keep her wondering anymore. She’s probably an even bigger mess now than she was when this whole thing started. If I don’t call her, she’s going to get worse. I steal a glance into the den to check on Kerri one more time. She’s still sleeping, and Brian…he’s still watching his cartoons. He spots me a waves a little, and I smile a little and wave back. Then I click the phone on…and dial my mother’s house number.

The phone doesn’t complete it’s first ring before somebody picks up. “Hello?â€￾

It’s Trace. I almost start to sob, but I manage to stay in control for the time being. “Trace,â€￾ I get out. “Hey…it’s Justin.â€￾

Silence.

“Trace, are you there?â€￾

“I’m here,â€￾ he says quickly. “Are those men still with you?â€￾

“No,â€￾ I reply. “I got out of there.â€￾

“Jesus,â€￾ he says. “You have no idea…we thought…we thought you were dead, Justin. Your mom…she fainted and all. I’ve been trying to keep things in order around here, with the press and everything, but it’s been real hard Justin. They‘ve been camped out in front of your mom‘s since about seven o‘clock last night.â€￾

I nod, as if he can see me. “Thank you,â€￾ I whisper. “I know you’re doing whatever you can, Trace.â€￾

“You shouldn‘t be saying thank you. You would have done the same thing, if all this happened to me,â€￾ he says.

He’s right. If he and Kerri had gotten kidnapped, I would have done anything to get them out of it…no questions asked. That’s what friends are for I guess. And I’m realizing now, that I have the best friends anybody could ask for.

“Where are you, anyway?â€￾ he asks after a moment.

“Um…we’re in Mississippi,â€￾ I tell him. “Right on the border though, about five hours from Millington. We found a house and people to help us. The police station is pretty far from here though…they said they’d be here in an hour or two.â€￾

“A fu'ckin hour?â€￾ Trace yells. “Dude you’re not some hick…don’t these people know who you are? Tell them to forget it, we’ll have the feds come out there.â€￾

I suck in a breath. “Trace, I’m not going to be egotistical right now. I’m thankful to be alive okay? Christ, I almost…I almost died.â€￾ I can’t help but let a sob escape me.

More silence follows. I take the time to wipe the tears out of my eyes. I wish I knew what was running through his head right now. I’m sure he’s messed up…not as much as Kerri and I are of course, but messed up all the same.

“I’m sorry,â€￾ he says finally. “I’m…I’ve just been so worried. Everybody has…,â€￾ his voice trails off. “Um…is, is Kerri okay?,â€￾ he whispers, sounding like he’s afraid to hear the answer.

For the first time I realize that she didn’t get to talk to anybody the entire time we were stuck in that place. Trace is as close to Kerri friendship wise, as I am. This whole time, he had no idea how she was or anything. I realize that I need to get her on the phone. I get up from the chair, wincing as I do so. The pain has settled in since I’ve been here, and now everything hurts worse than it did before. “She’s okay,â€￾ I say. “She’s asleep…but I’ll wake her…â€￾

“No,â€￾ he says gruffly. “Let her sleep if she’s sleepin. I’ll just…get your mom okay?â€￾

“Oh,â€￾ I say. “Okay.â€￾

“You’re my best friend Justin,â€￾ he tells me sadly. “And my god…when I thought you were dead, I felt like part of me died with you. I just…I’m so thankful. I would say I love you,â€￾ he chuckles a bit. “But you might think I’m gay or something.â€￾

Gay. I shudder at the word, but I’m not about to let my emotions be heard over the phone. “I already thought you were…gay,â€￾ I try and kid, but really…I just sound more miserable as the joke comes out of my mouth.

“I’ll see you soon,â€￾ he says. “Tell Kerri I love her okay?â€￾

“I will.â€￾ I’m glad Trace has been able to keep somewhat calm, but he’s never really been the type to flip out over anything. Only when it comes to somebody screwing around with his girl or something to those extremes. God knows, I’m eccentric enough for the both of us. “Here’s your mom.â€￾

I hear the shuffle of his feet across what I’m pretty sure is the kitchen floor. Then I hear him say, very softly. “Lynn, they’re alive.â€￾

“Oh my god.â€￾ My mother sounds shocked, and I hold my breath as I wait for her to come on the line. I hear her ask him how he knows, and I guess Trace handed her the phone because the next thing I hear is, “Justin?â€￾

“Hi, momma,â€￾ I manage. “I love you.â€￾

She starts to sob almost immediately. I wish she wouldn’t, because she’s going to make me cry along with her. “Momma,â€￾ I say weakly. “Momma please don’t cry. I’m okay, and so is Kerri…we got out of there. The Sheriff is on his way now, and I guess…he’s going to bring us back or something.â€￾

“I…I didn’t know what to do,â€￾ she tells me. “After I gave them the money, I went to the place that they said to go…but all we found was your car. They had a search…they brought dogs and the whole community came out, but we still couldn’t find you. I just…I thought you might have been killed. Trace was something else,â€￾ she says, still trying to control her sobbing. “He’s been with me this entire time. He’s been keeping what little hope I had, alive. Justin, I love you very much…very, very much. Anything I did this year to make you stressed, or insecure…I want you to know that I never meant to do it. Sometimes I get so caught up in this business--â€￾

“Mom,â€￾ I say. I don’t know why she’s apologizing right now. She didn’t do anything. She takes care of me…my career. Sure, sometimes things suck and I get all freaked out and upset, but it’s not her fault. I wonder if Trace opened up to her about the stuff I’ve told him. I hope not. I told Trace that stuff about my mom in confidence. God, I don’t want to think about this stuff right now…I just want to settle in…talk to my mom…eat a ton of food. “It’s okay,â€￾ I say finally. “Don’t apologize to me. You didn’t do anything wrong. Look…I’m gonna be home in a little while and then…we can cry and talk and all that stuff. I just need to get my head together before then okay?â€￾

“Of course,â€￾ she sniffles. “Can Kerri talk? Her mother is just in the other room.â€￾

“Um…she’s sleeping,â€￾ I say. I walk into the den, and take seat in the overstuffed chair adjacent to the sofa. She doesn’t wake…she doesn’t stir. She’s in a deep sleep. “I’d try to wake her,â€￾ I chuckle. “But I don’t think she’s gonna want to wake up, mom.â€￾

“Oh, I see,â€￾ my mother says. “Well, have her call here when she wakes up okay? And give me the number there…I don’t know what Tiny or the FBI will want to do. Don’t go anywhere with that Sheriff…this isn’t his matter okay? We have our own detective for your case, and I’m sure he’ll want to go and question you and Kerri and whoever else is there right now.â€￾

“Okay, momma,â€￾ I say softly, barely paying attention to her rambling. Right now…it’s hit me that Cam is probably sitting at home, watching the news for any kind of reports about me. I’m sure Trace has been keeping in contact with her though…in secret. I should have asked him about Cam. I need to call her, like…right now. “Listen,â€￾ I say. “They’re making some food, and I hate run off like this…but I’m starving.â€￾

“Oh…of course, you must be,â€￾ she says sadly. “You go and eat. Can you just put whoever owns the house on the phone for a minute? I just want thank them.â€￾

I sigh. “Sure.â€￾ I hope they have more than one phone line here. I know my mother. She’s going to talk these people’s ears off. I love her though. And I’m really glad I’m going to get to go home and hug her and talk to her again. “I love you,â€￾ I say one last time, before venturing down the hall to find Craig.

“I love you too, honey.â€￾

I put my hand over the receiver, and make my way down the hall. I pass the bathroom…I can hear the shower running, and I‘m guessing Craig is in there. I venture a little further down and I pass by a bedroom. I smile when I see Mrs. Tripton standing there, trying to coax another small boy out of his bed. He tosses and turns and groans. Ah, the joys of getting up for school. “Um, excuse me ma’am,â€￾ I say.

She looks over at me. “Oh, hello dear,â€￾ she says. “Sorry I haven’t started breakfast yet…I know you kids must be half starved. But believe me when I say, getting these children out of bed is a project in itself, and Craig doesn’t cook. Feel free to help yourself to whatever you need though, and after…I’ll try to fix those nasty cuts on your face. My dear god, how did you ever get so banged up?â€￾

I swallow hard. “Thank you. I um…just had a few falls,â€￾ I lie. “My mom is on the phone. She just wants to say hi, and thank y’all for your hospitality.â€￾

“Oh, of course,â€￾ she smiles and takes the phone from me. “I’ll be just a few minutes,â€￾ she tells me, before greeting my mother with a warm hello.

I smile as I leave the room, knowing that Mrs. Tripton will be able to give my mother the reassurance she needs before I’m able to go home. I start down the hallway again, but stop halfway when I hear it…music. It’s coming from behind a closed door…and as I lean closer, I realize exactly what song it is.

Ever since I saw your face…nothing in my life has been the same…I walk around just sayin’ your name without you my world would end yeah…

Whoever is behind that door, is obviously going to know who I am the moment they see me. I’m a little nervous. I really don’t want one of my fans to see me this way. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will just be the radio…yeah. Then the door opens, and my heart sinks. There are NSYNC posters everywhere. I’m a little surprised Craig and his wife haven’t recognized me yet, but then…I’m so banged up that they probably couldn’t tell who I am.

There is a teenage girl, probably about sixteen or seventeen, standing before me. I’m assuming that it’s Shelly…the daughter Craig mentioned to me before. She’s staring at me…just staring. She knows who I am…exactly who I am. And she’s shocked beyond belief. “Hi,â€￾ I say softly.

“Justin?â€￾ She rubs her eyes a little, and glances at one of the posters on her wall before looking back at me. “No,â€￾ she laughs. “That’s not possible.â€￾ She waves her hand at me and walks past me. Then she stops, and I snort out a laugh as she turns back around.

“Wait a second.â€￾ She points a finger at me. “You look just like him. Am I having that dream again?,â€￾ she asks. “I mean, because I’ve had it before.â€￾

I shrug. “I wish I could tell you it was,â€￾ I say. “I wish this was all a dream.â€￾

“But you’re so…dirty and beat up,â€￾ she says, scrunching up her nose. “What happened?â€￾

This is very, very odd. I’ve never been in such a personal situation with a fan before, aside from the time I fu'cked that girl in Cinci…okay lets not go there. “I got into some trouble,â€￾ I nod. “Your folks have been nice enough to help me out.â€￾ I peer into her room again and smile a little. “Nice collection,â€￾ I say.

“Oh my god,â€￾ she says, her eyes getting wider. “Oh my god so you are…you are Justin?â€￾

I laugh. It feels good to laugh, to be able to pull myself away from the nightmare for a few moments. “Yeah,â€￾ I tell her. “Sorry about the short notice.â€￾

“It’s okay,â€￾ she laughs nervously. “I’m Shelly.â€￾

I shake her hand quickly, and draw it away from her. “It’s nice to meet you.â€￾

She looks at me some more, as if she’s trying to be absolutely certain that I am who I say I am. “Those must hurt,â€￾ she says, pointing to my bruises. “You want me to help you? I know my mom is going to be tied up with the twins for awhile.â€￾

I shrug. I think it’s sweet of her to offer, but I feel funny about having her touch me, even though I can tell she’s a sweetheart. I’ll have to do something, I realize. Like…give her some kind of backstage access to one of my tours or whatever. It’s the least I could do. “Um, maybe in a bit,â€￾ I nod. “I just have to make a phone call, but your mom is on the phone. Do y’all have an extra line?â€￾

“Oh okay,â€￾ she says, with slight disappointment. “Well…I have my own line. I just got it. My parents were getting tired of me always tying up theirs.â€￾ She giggles a little. “You can sit in my room if you want to.â€￾

“You sure you don’t mind?â€￾ I ask. “Because I mean…I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but I just need some privacy. I don’t want to lock you out of your room.â€￾

“Oh I don’t care,â€￾ she says. “With all of this going on, there is no way I’m going to school today anyway. Use my shrine, as if its your own.â€￾

I smile. She’s a funny kid. “Thanks, girl.â€￾

“My pleasure. This is amazing!â€￾ she squeals, before walking down the hallway.

I walk into the NSYNC shrine, and push the door closed, making sure to lock it. I glance around, and can’t help but smile. Each and every picture on her wall brings back a different memory of me and the guys. I realize I really haven’t been calling them as much as I should be. I wonder if they know what’s happened…I’m sure they must by now. Trace is good like that…at calling people. I wonder when I’ll be able to see them, any of them. And when I do…what is it going to be like?

I sit down on the bed, and pick up the ‘NSYNC phone’. Damn, after everything I’ve been through, the last place I imagined to find myself was in a room plastered with my face. It’s so weird how things turn out sometimes. I dial my home phone number, almost positive that Cameron will be there. She said she was bringing the rest of her stuff over this weekend, and that she was going to ‘straighten up’. She’s crazy, I swear. I mean, I have a cleaning lady for that kind of stuff. The phone rings once…twice…

“Hello?â€￾ The female voice on the other end of the line sounds miserable, stuffy…like she’s been crying for a long time.

“Cam?â€￾ I say gently. “Babe, it’s me.â€￾

“Oh my god,â€￾ she gasps. “Justin?â€￾

“Yeah,â€￾ I say, allowing myself to let some of my emotions out. I don’t mind crying on the phone with Cam. She understands, and I know she won’t be brought down by it. “It’s me,â€￾ I sob. “I…I didn’t know if you talked to Trace or whatever…â€￾

“Yeah,â€￾ she says quickly. “Yeah…he called me like ten minutes ago,â€￾ she says. “He said you were safe. Baby, I was so worried. Are you okay?â€￾

“I’m in one piece, if that means anything,â€￾ I tell her. “God, all I want to do is hold you,â€￾ I tell her. “But I don’t know when I’ll get to do that, Cam. I don’t know how long it’s gonna take to get all the police crap out of the way. Damn, baby…I’m really sorry. I was gonna come home and surprise you. I booked us two tickets to Hawaii. We were supposed to leave tomorrow.â€￾ I shake my head. Damn it…I’m so fu'cking pissed. It was supposed to be one of those vacations you take, where you find out exactly where your relationship is going. It was going to be so awesome, and now it’s totally ruined.

“Justin…you’re safe, that in itself means more to me than any romantic getaway to Hawaii okay? We can go anytime, my god…don’t think that way anymore. You’re too important to me Justin. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking Justin, a lot…since we parted ways in Baltimore. I don’t think this relationship is just some random fling, Justin. I really think that I care about you…more than any other guy I’ve ever been with. I know it, because when Trace told me about the kidnapping, I couldn’t function. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat. All I could do was think about you, and the hell you were going through. God,â€￾ she sobs. “I can’t even imagine…you must feel horrible.â€￾

“You have no idea,â€￾ I say softly. “I thought about you a lot in there,â€￾ I tell her. “I wanted to be with you so badly, Cam. I’m so glad…that I’ll be able to see you again.â€￾ I catch myself in a half smile, and I wipe the tears from my eyes. “Can you come out here?,â€￾ I ask her, even though I don’t know things will go once she meets my family and such. That’s a big step…especially right now. But I know I need her. I know my mother is going to drive me crazy with questions and bombard me with hugs and kisses like I’m five years old. Trace will be around of course, but there’s a big difference between Trace and Cameron.

“I was going to ask you if you wanted me to,â€￾ she tells me. “With your mom and everything, I wasn’t sure if it was the best time for me to show myself.â€￾

“Aw babe,â€￾ I say. “You’re a part of my life. I want you to be here with me. My mom will understand. She’ll probably love you actually. She’ll just be mad at me because I didn’t tell her. Call Trace and tell him you need the jet…I really want you to come down okay?â€￾

I can hear her smile. “Okay,â€￾ she whispers. “Um, there’s just one other thing.â€￾

“What’s that?â€￾ I say, leaning over to glance at a picture of myself on Shelly’s nightstand. It’s some magazine cutout. Damn, I don’t know what I was thinking when I had that fro. I pick it up, to examine my hair more closely. Then my eyes widen. I can see a girl in the background. Damn…it’s fu'ckin Kerri.

“I just…Trace told me that your friend was taken along with you,â€￾ Cameron says softly. “Some girl named Kerri? Justin, he told me that you grew up together…that you had this long, weird relationship going on for awhile. You never told me about her.â€￾

I knew this was going to happen. I’m not really in the mood to sit on the phone and retell my history with Kerri right now though. My stomach is growling, and now…I can smell bacon frying. God. I need to eat. “I was gonna tell you,â€￾ I say, leaning back into the pillows. “We had a big falling out about three years ago. It was really devastating, okay? I’m sorry…I know I should have said something. I guess I just had a lot on my mind before I left. I was nervous about seeing her again and stuff. But really, it’s fine. She’s fine, and I dunno…I think we might be able to be friends now. But that’s as far as it’s going to go.â€￾

Cameron laughs a little. “Justin you don’t need to explain yourself to me. I just…want to know about who your friends are and everything. I’d really like to meet her…if that isn’t too much trouble.â€￾

I don’t want to make Cam any promises. I mean, I don’t care if she meets Kerri, that’s fine with me. But I don’t know if Kerri will want to meet her. Hell, I don’t even know if Kerri will want anything to do with me after we get settled and back to our normal routines. Knowing her, she’ll probably high tail it back to New York, and tell Siobhan what a horrible pr'ick I am. Damn, I can’t stand that girl either…Siobhan. Since the day I met her…all she’s done is kissed my a'ss. I hate people like that. “Sure you can meet her,â€￾ I say, forgetting to include ‘if she wants to meet you’, in there.

“Great,â€￾ she says. “Have you eaten?â€￾

“I’m about to,â€￾ I tell her. “These people we found are really great. They’re taking good care of us. And whatever they’re cooking smells awesome. Can I call you a little later?â€￾

“Sure,â€￾ she says, a little regretfully. “I’ll keep my phone on for you.â€￾

“Okay, baby,â€￾ I smile. “It’s great to hear your voice. I have so much more to tell you…I can‘t wait until you’re here with me.â€￾

“I can‘t wait to see you,â€￾ she says. “Take care of yourself until I get there though, okay?â€￾

“I will. Bye Cam.â€￾ I hang up. I feel a little bit renewed. Hearing Cam’s reassuring tone, has put my mind at ease a little. I still feel like hell, and I know that everything that happened to me is going to come rushing back to me all too soon. But right now…at this moment, I feel better. I feel like everything is going to be okay…that Cam is going to come and make me feel like nothing ever happened. We’ll kiss…we’ll have sex, and Shane…the rape, it will all be a distant memory. I mean, really…it wasn’t that big of a deal. He did it to me because he was sick, and I was too weak to stop him. It was just a rape…just rape. Rape isn’t that big of a deal.

It wasn’t like I wanted it…

At least, I’m pretty sure I didn’t want it.

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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Sat May 21, 2005 7:22 pm

Chapter Ten

I woke up a little while ago, but only because Caroline coaxed me out of my sleep. She told me that my mother was on the phone, and wanted to speak with me. I almost made the mistake of saying that I didn’t want to speak with her, but I caught myself in time. I didn’t want the woman to think that I hated my mother or anything. I mean, I don’t hate my mother…but she’s so eccentric, that I knew getting on the phone with her was only going to involve listening to her wail and cry and carry on. But given the circumstances, that I was kidnapped…that I almost died; I figured I owed it to my mother to at least say hello. So I took the phone from Caroline, and said ‘Mom?’

Naturally, her response was a burst of eccentric rambling, that included, but was not limited to: ‘Kerrigan! My god, are you alright? Are you in pain…did they hurt you, did they touch you…’

I tried to get a couple of words in here or there, but with no success. She kept rambling, and all I could do was lean my head against my hand and listen. She seemed to be talking more to herself, than she was to me…and I nearly hung up on the woman. My head was pounding as it was, and all I really wanted to do was put on a clean change of clothes and go to the bathroom. The remains of the handcuffs were starting to get on my nerves too, and I knew I needed to try and get them off. “Mom please,â€￾ I finally interrupted, not being able to take her whining anymore. “I’ll be home in a little while, but I need to change and get my act together before the police get here. I really don‘t have time for this right now.â€￾

Then she was silent. That always happens when she realizes how whacko she’s acting. I thought I could hear her sob a little, but I didn’t say anything. I was so tired, and so…bitter towards the world, I really didn’t care about her feelings. I feel @#%$ about it now though. I mean, she’s my mother, and she thought I was lying dead in a gutter someplace. I guess I could have been a little more compassionate…but then, I wasn’t anywhere near the state of mind I’m in right now. I was still shocked…still very much shaken. I still am of course, but I have more control of my emotions than I did when I was on the phone. If I had to, I could probably walk around and force a smile for everybody…

I’m sure I’ll have to do it later. I know Justin is bad…really bad. Everybody will probably be so worried about him, they won’t have time to comfort me. It won’t help me if I’m an emotional mess, so I’ll just suck it up and keep my feelings to myself. I’ll talk to Trace…yeah. He’ll listen.

“I love you Kerrigan,â€￾ was the next thing my mother said to me. I told her that I loved her too, that I would talk to her more when I saw her, and to send daddy and Mary my love. I really hate talking to anybody on the phone for long periods of time anyway, so I figured she would understand. She agreed of course, the reluctance in her voice not going unnoticed by me. Then I hung up. I was tempted to call back and talk to Trace. I think I could have used one of his many spouts of wisdom at that moment…but I didn’t want my mom to feel like I was shutting her out. I figured it would have to wait. Anyway, it’s better if I see Trace face to face. If I talk to him over the phone…I’ll only end up crying or something.

I’m so fu'cking tired of crying.

After I got off the phone, Craig took on the task of picking the locks on my cuffs. At first I told him I could wait for the police, but then he smiled and told me that he’s one of those on-call locksmiths. One of those guys that has to drive around to different places and get people back into their cars…or into their houses or whatever. I guess it’s a good profession. Calling up a locksmith like that usually costs a good chunk of change. It’s weird that he wants to live all the way out here though. I’m sure his work takes him into Tennessee all the time. Hell, maybe it’s why his wife wants to move to Nashville, or wherever he said. I guess I picked the right door to knock on today, because it didn’t take him long to jimmy the locks open. I told him if I ever needed a locksmith, he would be my first choice. Then he sort of smiled at me and patted my knee like I was his daughter or something. I felt warm inside…for the first time in a long time…

My father never pats my knee.

The skin that the cuffs were rubbing against is chafed to sh'it. My wrists were all bloody before Craig wrapped this gauze around them. One of my wrists is really bad…when I bend it the wrong way, the cut opens up, and it’s so damn deep that the blood comes gushing out of it. I’ve had to replace the gauze three times already. Craig said that I might need a stitch or two. I really don’t care if I need stitches though. Anything is better than having those things locked onto me.

It felt so good to get rid of the dirty clothes I was wearing. The Tripton’s daughter, Shelly, gave me a pair of her jeans and one of her sweatshirts to wear before. My other clothes…they smelled like urine. I was so embarrassed when I took them off and had to give them to her. I thought she was going to tell me I was dirty…but she didn’t. I think she knew why they were all full of urine. She knew I’d been given the scare of my lifetime…and peeing is a natural reaction to fear. So instead of acting like she was disgusted with me, she just smiled, and told me that it was okay…that she understood. Then she left me alone so I could take a shower.

I think I took the longest shower of my lifetime. At first, I just stood under the spray, letting the water work its magic on my body. Then I scrubbed myself down and washed my hair. I loved the way the soap felt against my dirty skin, and the way the shampoo left my hair and scalp feeling healthy and renewed. I guess I never realized how good it felt to take a shower before…because I’ve never gone more than a day without taking one. After this, I’ll probably start taking two or three a day. Hell, I might even take another one when I get back home tonight. I never want to feel dirty like that again. It’s disgusting, barbaric. Nobody should have to sit around in their own filth like that. It’s not human.

The Triptons have one of those massaging shower heads. Sometimes Siobhan and I go to Bed Bath and Beyond and debate about whether or not we should get one. But we always chicken out in the end…telling each other that we won’t be able to install it. After using it though, I know I can’t go without one any longer. This year, when Siobhan and I go dorm shopping…it’s going to be the first thing on my list. Hell, I don’t care if we don’t know how to install it. I’ll make Scott do it. He never does anything but make out with Siobhan, and raid our fridge anyway.

I just got out of the shower a few minutes ago, and I wrapped a towel around myself, instead of getting dressed right away. I felt like letting myself air dry. I wanted to feel the cool air against my bare skin. The towel, it’s one of those big fluffy white ones…my favorite. It’s warm and soft, and smells like fresh linen. I love clean…I love everything about clean. It’s freaking me out a little, like…what if I end up like Danny Tanner on Full House? What if I go crazy and tape sponges to my kneecaps and make one of those belts with the pockets for my spray bottle and squeegee?

God, I’m so fu'cking weird.

I wipe my hand across the mirror, and clear some of the condensation away. The girl I see nearly scares the daylights out of me. “Jesus,â€￾ I hear myself say. I don’t recognize myself. I don’t look…normal. My eyes are small, and tired, and there are huge bags underneath them. There are scratches all over me, as well as a couple of welts on my face…left behind by our captors. One isn’t so bad…it’s a little faded. I think that’s the one Nathan gave me in the car. The other one is the bad one. I remember…it’s the one Shane gave me out by the shed. It’s a mixture of blacks, blues, and purples, and when I poke it I flinch a little. It still hurts. I hate looking at it, because it reminds me of everything I’ve gone through. I tremble a little, and I start to feel a little faint. I lean over the sink to steady myself. And then I remember…I see it…

He starts pushing me inside of the shed. I moan and protest against his pushing, dragging my feet and doing whatever I can to prevent myself from being forced inside. I don’t want to go in there. I’d rather be in the basement, hating Justin’s guts. But Shane…he slaps me across the face, and pushes me to the ground. I start to cry, but stop when the gun is pointed in my face again. He kneels down next to me, and wipes the new tears off of my cheeks. I cringe at his touch. His hands are cold, and evil. They’re a killers hands. “Don’t do this to yourself baby,â€￾ he says quietly. “You’re just making it harder on yourself…

I cough a few times, and then my stomach surrenders to my nerves. I vomit violently into the sink. I‘m confused, I don’t even know what my body has to give up right now. It feels horrible coming up, and it looks equally as bad. It’s yellow…it’s nothing but stomach acid and water. There’s nothing in my system…nothing but emptiness and the constant reminder of what’s happened. Or rather…what’s still happening. After I manage to regain control of myself, I run the faucet and splash some cold water on my face. Then I look at myself in the mirror again. Damn, I look like I’ve just awoken from the dead. But…I guess I could look worse. Yes, sadly, there’s always a worse side to this story.

Justin is a prime example.

God I hope he’s doing okay. Craig and Caroline took him into their bedroom to get him cleaned up before. Although, I doubt there is anything they can do with a household first aid kit that can heal Justin’s horrible welts and bruises. My bruises…they’ll probably be gone in a day or two. But Justin’s…it’s going to take a long time for all of that to clear up. It’s a bad thing. For weeks to come he’s going to wake up, look in the mirror, and be reminded of everything that happened to him. It will pull at him…tear him apart, and it’s not fu'cking fair. What happened to us was horrible, but Justin…he got it a thousand times worse than I did. I don’t want to think about the images and memories running through his mind, of all the pain he’s going to have to overcome in the next year. I’m afraid he won’t be able to handle himself…that he’ll be all alone with nobody who understands. He’ll want to talk to me, but I’ll be in New York, and I’m sure he’ll be back in California, with that girlfriend of his. I’ll want him to call me, but he won’t, because he’s stubborn like that. Then I’ll call him and ask him how he is, and he’ll give me some @#%$ about how he‘s fine. Eventually, I’ll get tired of getting the runaround, and…then I’ll stop calling…

Like he stopped calling me.

Taptaptap

Hearing a knock at the door, I straighten myself and run a hand through my wet hair. I clear my throat the best I can. I don’t want them to know that I got sick just now. I manage a strong sounding ‘yes?’, and I’m relieved.

“Are you okay um…Kerri?â€￾

Shelly is at the door again. I manage to smile a little. She’s really a nice girl, but I have to admit, it was weird seeing her room. Seeing all those pictures of Justin plastered on her wall sort of knocked me back into reality a bit. Justin is a star. Shelly is a fan. It’s so strange…that Justin isn’t just some guy I grew up with. That millions of teenage girls just like Shelly have their rooms plastered with pictures of him. They think about him, dream about him…they wish they could know him like Trace and I know him. It almost makes me angry. Justin can’t just be my friend…or Trace’s friend, or Lynn’s son He has to be more…he has to be up on this crazy pedestal for the world to see. Even now, despite the horror he‘s experienced…he still can’t hide from who the world thinks he is, and wants him to be. He still has to be Justin Timberlake, superstar extraordinaire. He’s going to go home, and everybody will want to hear about what happened to him. They’ll all be so damn interested…they’ll all feel so sorry for him. And Justin, he’ll sit there and smile and answer their questions because he has to…

Then he’ll go back to his life, and be even more fu'cked up, because he’ll have had to relive the whole experience in front of everyone: his public, his management, his friends, and his family. He’ll never really be normal again, but he’ll keep that part of him tucked away for when he’s alone. He’ll need to get some help of course, but if I know him, I know he won’t get any. He’ll just make do, until the day comes where he just can’t take it anymore…

Then I don’t know what he’ll do, and that really scares me.

“I’m okay,â€￾ I call back. “I just got out of the shower.â€￾

“Oh, okay. Justin is finished getting cleaned up too. He wants you to know that some guys named Tiny and Trace are here with the police.â€￾

My eyes widen. Trace is here? I rip the towel off of myself and throw my clothes on faster than I’ve ever done in my life. I can’t believe he came…well okay I guess I can believe it. I guess it’s more like…I can’t believe Tiny would let him come along. Tiny is so strict, so down to business. I mean, I love him and all…if you get him going he’s the funniest guy in the world. But I know him, and I know how he is when it comes to Justin and keeping him and his family safe. He probably wanted Trace to meet us later on with his mom and everybody else. But then, I know Trace probably went through hell trying to keep his head together during this whole thing. He probably told Tiny he was coming along, and that he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Then Tiny probably rolled his eyes and said ‘come on’.

I fold the towel I was using nicely, and drape it over the tub. I try to leave the rest of the bathroom as it was before I came in as well, making sure to wipe the sink clean of any residue my vomiting left behind. I take a deep breath, and run my hand through my hair again before I open the door. Everything seems newer now…not so dark…not so lonely. Shelly is standing off to the side, still in her pajama’s. I feel bad. All this time, she’s probably been waiting to get her shower in too. It’s my fault. “Sorry to keep you waiting,â€￾ I say softly.

“You don’t need to be sorry,â€￾ she says quietly. “I’m sure you needed a shower worse than me.â€￾

I nod quickly. I’m about to say something else…about how I appreciate everything she’s doing. But then I hear Trace’s voice down at the other end of the hallway, and I can’t find the words. I want to see him. I want him to hug me and tell me that everything is okay…

“You should go see your friend,â€￾ she tells me, as if she can read my mind. “He was asking about you.â€￾ She walks past me, into the bathroom. “It’s been nice meeting you. If you‘re ever around, and you feel better, maybe we could hang out or something. Me and my friends go to Nashville on the weekends and go to the clubs downtown.â€￾

I smile at her. I‘m glad she isn‘t so interested in Justin that she‘s lost interest in getting to know about me. “Yeah,â€￾ I say warmly. “That would be fun.â€￾

“Bye,â€￾ she says, flashing me another reassuring smile before closing the door.

“Kerri?â€￾

I turn around. It’s too late for me to go see Trace, because he’s standing at the end of the hallway now. He’s a mess. His expression is an exhausted, withdrawn one, and he looks like he’s been wearing the same clothes for about three days. His baseball cap is pulled over his mess of hair, which I’m sure he didn’t bother to brush before he came out here, and his face is full of stubble. If I could manage to joke right now, I would tell him he looks like river trash…but I can’t joke right now. I can’t say anything. All I can do is stand here, and think how lucky I am to be here right now, alive and almost in tact. “Hi,â€￾ I manage to say, as the hot tears start to glide down my cheeks.

He quickly makes his way down the hall and over to me. “Hey,â€￾ he says softly. He wraps his arms around me, and I close my eyes, as I feel him press his lips to my forehead. “You okay?â€￾

I open my eyes again. I’m not going to lie to him. “No,â€￾ I whisper, leaning my head on his chest. “Not at all.â€￾

My response doesn‘t seem to surprise him. He knows what I‘ve been through, and he knows that I‘m beyond fu'cked up right now. “Y’all gave me a scare,â€￾ he says after a moment. “You know that?â€￾

I pull back from him so I can look him in the eye, and I nod. “I didn’t think…I would see you so soon, Trace,â€￾ I whisper.

“I wanted to come,â€￾ he nods. “And Lynn wanted me to come too.â€￾ He shrugs and glances down at the floor for a moment, before looking back at me. “So here I am…it’s Trace to the rescue.â€￾ He smiles a little, but it fades when I don’t do the same. “That’s okay isn’t it?â€￾

“Of course it is,â€￾ I tell him. “I’m glad you came. I…need you right now. We both do.â€￾ I take one of his hands in mine. It feels so good…to make that connection with him again. It’s familiar, welcoming, a feeling I never thought I would experience again. “Thank you for being here.â€￾ I kiss his cheek, and let him hold me again. Then we get over ourselves and let go. I think we both know we can’t be doing this right now. Justin is out there with the police, and I know I have to be there, help him retell our story.

“How did you guys get away?,â€￾ Trace asks me, as we start down the hallway together. “If you don’t my me prying.â€￾

I swallow hard. Should I tell him about Justin and the gun? Is it the right time? Would Justin want me to say anything…or does he want to be the one to tell Trace how he shot those @#%$? I don’t really have an answer, but I do know, that if I don’t tell Trace, I don’t know when Justin will…and I don’t want Trace to feel in the dark about everything. Not after all he’s been through. “Justin did it,â€￾ I whisper.

He stops walking, and looks at me strangely. “What do you mean?â€￾

“I mean…â€￾ I don’t look at him for a moment. I stare down at the plush beige carpeting and trace a pattern into it with my big toe, before I meet his gaze again. “Justin…he got one of their guns, and he just…he had to do something or--or they would have…â€￾ I bite my lip, knowing that if I try to say anymore, I’ll end up crying again.

“Hey,â€￾ he says to me, squeezing my hand a little. “Hey Ker, it’s okay. I’m…I’m sorry. This is hard to talk about right now, I know. You just take it slow okay? When…when you’re ready though, I’ll be here to listen okay?â€￾

I manage a slight smile. “Okay.â€￾

He smiles. “Okay.â€￾ He takes my hand in his, and we walk out into the living room together. I see Justin. He’s sitting on the couch, and a paramedic is kneeling before him, checking him out. Good…that’s what he needs. They were smart to bring somebody like that along. I look around the room. There are FBI agents everywhere. They’re so official looking, with their navy blue jackets with the big yellow FBI letters on the back. Damn, it’s just like…

“It’s just like the movies,â€￾ Trace whispers, completing my thoughts. “All we need now is Mel Gibson and that Gary Sinese guy having it out in the middle of the street.â€￾

I smile at him, and hear myself giggle just a tiny bit. I’m really, really glad he came.
**********
I don’t want to be touched. I really really don’t want to be. But I know if I don’t let this paramedic finish what he’s doing, I’m not going to feel better. He’s not here to hurt me, I know that. He’s here to find out what, if anything, is physically wrong with me. So far he’s discovered that I might have a fractured rib…but I sort of suspected that myself. He told me that I would need to go to the hospital and get some x-rays taken. I asked him if I would be able to go home first, and he sort of sighed and told me that he didn’t think so. He said that I’m probably going to spend the night in the hospital. I’m not happy about this. I want to see my mom and everybody. I want to see Cam. I mean, I’m sure they can come to the hospital…but it just won’t be the same. I won’t be in the house…where everything is familiar and safe. But I guess I don’t have a choice. If I do have a broken rib, it has to be fixed. And the only way it’s going to be fixed is if I do what the paramedic says I have to do.

Tiny is sitting beside me, yakking away on his cell phone. I think he might be talking to Johnny, or somebody along those lines. Maybe Renee? I’m tempted to ask him, but know that if I go there…I’ll end up on the phone with whoever it is. I’d rather not. It’s only going to involve business, and business isn’t something I have the patience to deal with right now. There’s too much going on…too many other things to think about. I need a few days to clear my head and rest. Then I can think about what I’m going to do about the press…my career. Momma will be there, so that will help a lot too.

In all the years I’ve known him, this is the first time I’ve ever seen Tiny get emotional. When he first came into the house, I couldn’t really tell what kind of mood he was in. He scoped out the house first, before he even started to talk to me. It was like he was looking for a reason to blame the Tripton’s for my discomfort. Then he finally sat down with me and asked me how I felt, if I was in any pain. When I told him I was having a lot of chest pain, he practically screamed at the agents to get the paramedic in the house. Tiny, sometimes I think he’d rather be my father than my bodyguard. But, he’s known me since I was fifteen years old, even though he didn’t become my personal head of security until last year, so I can‘t say I blame him for acting like that. I told him that I was in a lot of pain, but that I didn’t want him to worry because I was safe now, and that was all that mattered. Then he looked away from me, and I think…I think I might have seen him flick a tear off of his face, but I can’t be sure. I would never ask him about it of course. Tiny has too much pride to admit that he gets emotional over my welfare. It’s ‘his job to care’. That’s what he’s always told me anyway.

I wasn’t expecting Trace to be here. I didn’t think Tiny or the feds would have allowed to him to tag along. He told me that it was at my mother’s request that he come along, but I know he probably made a big stink about being able to come along too. Then I’m sure Tiny said ‘just let him come, he won’t be in the way’…yeah, and on the way out the door he probably said ‘don’t fu'ck around, Trace. This is business’. I smile. That’s exactly how Tiny is. It’s really great to see Trace again though. It’s familiar…normal. We talked for a bit in the kitchen, before the paramedic started to examine me. Caroline finally made breakfast and Trace and I chowed down together while we waited for Kerri to get out of the bathroom. We talked about a lot of things…that new demo Rell sent me the other day, that new single from Outkast…last Sunday’s game. We talked a little bit about work, about how the press was going crazy back at momma‘s house. We made fun of them a little bit, about how eccentric they are and all. The conversation was so laid back, I felt like I was back at momma’s, and Nana had just made breakfast for us. Trace has always been good like that though. He’s always been able to make me feel comfortable, even in the most stressful of situations.

But the best thing is…he hasn’t brought up the kidnapping once since he arrived. He‘s been by my side this whole time, acting as if everything is normal. That I didn’t get taken somewhere and have a gun held to my head for three days. I think he knows I’m not ready to go there and talk about it yet, and that when I am I’ll sit down with him myself and talk to him about it. But, that’s how it’s always been between Trace and I. Even when I was going through my break up with Brit, he didn’t just bring the subject up Sure, he made me get out of bed and helped me to get my act together, but he never made me talk about how I felt about it. I talked to him when I was ready to, and I was grateful to him for giving me that space. I’m so proud to call him my best friend. He’s really kept his emotions in check throughout all of this…he’s been strong, he’s handled himself well. He knows his place, and he knows what he should and shouldn’t be asking me. He knows I need a friend to laugh and joke with right now…not somebody that’s going to sit here and baby me. I’m going to get enough of that from momma and my girlfriend. I don’t need it from anybody else.

“Hey.â€￾ Kerri sits down next to me, as the paramedic wraps the blood pressure cuff around my bicep. She looks a little better, a little renewed. I think she just got out of the shower, she smells like it. I got to take a shower too, but it wasn’t easy…I was in pain for the entire time. When I lifted my arms above my head, I could feel the pain in my ribcage, and I’m almost certain the paramedic is right about my fractured rib. I didn’t really get to wash myself all that well, and I‘m sure I still smell a little bit like the inside of a garbage can. I guess I’ll have to have somebody help me with that later. God…I really don’t want anybody touching me. Not even Cameron, even though when I was on the phone with her I felt like I would able to handle it. I can’t handle it. I can’t even handle this paramedic’s examination. My hands are trembling, almost as badly as they were back at the house, and I‘m bobbing one of my legs up and down, nervously. I want it to stop…I bite my lip…

“Don’t be scared,â€￾ he says. “Go on, you can touch.â€￾

I shift my body forward a little…and then…I touch it…god, I’m touching it…


“Justin,â€￾ she whispers. “You’re shaking.â€￾

I take a breath, and look at her. Her eyes are full of concern. She knows I’m not okay. She’s the only one that can really understand. But I don‘t want to explain myself, so I simply nod and ask: “You feel better?â€￾

She shrugs. “I took a shower,â€￾ she tells me. “I feel clean.â€￾

“Well…that’s something,â€￾ I whisper. It’s a pathetic answer, but I don’t know what else to say. I know she’s not okay. She’s messed up, just like I am, and I know it’s going to take a long time for her to feel somewhat normal again. I know she’ll never be the same girl she was before all of this happened. The happy go luckiness in her will be nonexistent. She’ll always be looking over her shoulder now. She won’t want to be alone…or in the dark. Her claustrophobia will have reached a new level. And why?

Because I had to take her for a ride in my car. Because I thought being alone with her would ‘help the situation’. It’s my fault…yeah. It’s funny…I didn’t think it was possible to ruin somebody’s life twice, but I guess I proved myself wrong this weekend. My god, I’ll never forgive myself for getting her into this…for as long as I live. The guilt will plague me until the day I die. Kerri didn’t deserve this. Three years ago we both moved on with our lives. She was done with me, with our friendship, and I thought I was too. I hope she pushes me away after we get settled in back home. I hope that she doesn’t feel the need to call me or see how I’m doing. She doesn’t need me around, ruining her life. If she doesn’t push me away, I think I‘m going to have to cut myself off from her. It’s a horrible thing to do, a selfish thing to do…

But I know if I keep her around me all the time, I’ll never be able to stop remembering all the horrible things that happened to us. I want to try and forget about it all, as impossible as it sounds. I think that maybe if I’m just by myself, without Kerri…I might be able to get over everything a little bit easier. At least, I hope that’s the case. It’s a big gamble though, and I know that…but I think the risk is worth taking if it means pushing the awful memory of what Shane did to me out of my head for good.

“Are you in any pain,â€￾ the paramedic asks her, when he finishes taking my blood pressure.

“I think I might need some stitches,“ she tells him quietly. “One of my wrists is cut really bad.â€￾

He has her hold out her wrists, and removes the gauze from them. I see her flinch a little, and I make myself look down at her wrists. They’re bad. They’re all chafed and bloody. I know she must be in pain. I look at her again, and she manages a small smile, but I don’t return it. It’s my fault she ended up that way…handcuffed. It’s my fault that I let Shane want me…it’s my fault. I look away from her, and rub my face with my hand, trying to prevent myself from crying.

“J, you alright?â€￾ I hear Tiny ask me.

I feel the tears now. They‘re trickling out of my eyes and down my face. “Fine,â€￾ I lie. “I’m fine.â€￾

“Justin.â€￾ Now Trace is talking to me. I make myself look at him. He doesn’t point out the fact that I’m not fine…that I’ve started to cry in front of everybody. “The detectives want to talk to you inside.â€￾

Talk. They want to talk. They want to hear about what happened…they want to know every last detail. They want me to tell them how those @#%$ held a gun to my head and beat the crap out of me. They…they want me to tell them about Shane. But I won’t tell them about Shane. I wont. That’s my secret…our secret. “Now?â€￾ I ask.

Trace nods. “You want me to tell them you’re not in the mood?â€￾

I almost say yes, but then I think about it and I know if I put it off, I’m going to have to talk about it later on…and I won’t want to do it then either. It’s better if I get it over with now…yeah. That way later, when I’m at the hospital I’ll just be able to relax with momma and Cam. I won’t have to talk about anything I don’t want to talk about. Drawing in a deep breath, I stand up. I flinch a little. I’m still in a lot of pain. “No,â€￾ I say. “Tell them I’m coming.â€￾

“Alright,â€￾ Trace whispers. “But only if you’re sure.â€￾

I nod at him. “I’m sure,â€￾ I say. Trace nods and retreats back into the kitchen. I look back at Kerri. She has fresh gauze around her wrists now, and the paramedic is shining his little light in her eyes, checking them for any kind of abnormalities. “Kerri,â€￾ I say softly.

The paramedic stops what he’s doing, so she can look over at me. “Yeah,â€￾ she whispers.

“I’ll just…be in the other room okay?â€￾

She rises from the sofa and makes her way over to me. She caresses my face with her hand, and brushes the tears off of my cheeks. “You’ll be alright,â€￾ she informs me. I’m sure she knows how uncomfortable I’m going to be, discussing all of this with the police. I wish there was a way around it…I wish I didn’t have to tell them anything. I wish I could keep it all to myself. But that’s not possible. These detectives have probably been pulling their hair out trying to solve this case. I need to help them. I need to give them a detailed description of what happened…even if it means I have to relive everything I‘ve been through.

“If you need me, I’ll come back,â€￾ I tell her. “I’ll just be in there.â€￾ I point toward the kitchen, where I can see two gentleman in suits sitting at the table, reviewing some kind of paperwork. “Just call me, okay?â€￾

She smiles a little. “Calm down,â€￾ she says. “Don’t worry about me…just worry about what you need to do right now, okay? That‘s all that mattersâ€￾

“No,â€￾ I whisper to her. “You matter more.â€￾ I shouldn’t have said that. Things are going to change, and when they do…I won’t be able to think like this about Kerri anymore.

She kisses me on the cheek lightly. “Go,â€￾ she tells me, before turning back to the paramedic. “I’ll be here when you get back.â€￾

“Okay,â€￾ I say softly. She doesn’t look at me, and I feel a sinking feeling in my chest. I know after I go and talk to those guys, everything is going to change between us again. We’re not going to be as close as we are right now. I’ll be detached, because I’ll have had to talk about everything…and I won’t really want to confide in her anymore. I’ll have Trace and Cam and momma for that…they can’t fill my mind with the haunting memories of my kidnapping. Maybe Kerri will understand, but then again, she probably won’t because we went through this together. I’m supposed to be able to talk things over with her. She’ll be mad at me again…and I’ll have ruined any chance of us rekindling our friendship. It upsets me, because I don’t want to lose her again…she’s important to me. It almost causes me to tell Trace I don’t want to talk, and I turn around to tell him. But then he motions for me to join him at the table…I can’t tell him no.

“Bye, Ker.â€￾ I say, hardly above a whisper. She doesn’t hear me, and it’s probably better that way. She wouldn’t understand why I’m really saying goodbye anyway. I’m saying goodbye to her…our friendship…to everything we’ve ever meant to each other. I brush a tear or two away from my cheek, and force myself to walk into the kitchen. This is it…there’s no turning back now…

“Justin,â€￾ one of the men says. He sticks his hand out and I shake it quickly.

“J, this is Detective Michaels,â€￾ Trace informs me. “He’s the lead investigator.â€￾

“Hello.â€￾ I sit down next to Trace…thankful that he‘s at my side so I don‘t have to face this all by myself. I look at the other gentleman. He doesn’t acknowledge me. He’s talking on his cell phone and jotting down notes on the legal pad in front of him.

“Sorry to meet you under these circumstances,â€￾ Detective Michaels says to me. “I want you to take your time with your statement. I know that it’s not going to be easy talking about all of this.â€￾

“If he’s uncomfortable,â€￾ Trace speaks up softly. “Can he stop?â€￾

The detective nods. “Absolutely.â€￾

Detective Michael’s response has put my mind at ease a little bit. Knowing I can stop at anytime, makes me feel better about discussing all of this with him. “What about Kerri,â€￾ I hear myself ask. “Does she get the same treatment?â€￾

He smiles. “Of course, Justin,â€￾ he says. “Now…if you could, I’d like you to start from the beginning. I want you to tell me as much as you can about everything that happened…good or bad, okay?â€￾

I suck in a breath, and I steal a glance nervous glance at Trace. He smiles a little, and nods at me.

“It’s cool man,â€￾ Trace tells me. “Just relax and tell it like it happened. You don’t need to be all fu'ckin’ proper and sh'it.â€￾

I‘d tell him that I love him…but I don‘t want to sound…well…gay. I nod, and let out a nervous laugh before starting to talk about the nightmare Kerri and I have just been through. “Okay,â€￾ I begin. “So…I went to get this cake…â€￾

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xoinnocentjrtgrl
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Postby xoinnocentjrtgrl » Sat May 21, 2005 8:23 pm

Ya'll better read this story :nods: :wub: Amazing.

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Postby ialwayzbesingin » Thu May 26, 2005 6:11 am

Chapter Eleven

It‘s three am on a Saturday morning. I’m wide awake because my roommate is having sex with her boyfriend in the next room and her headboard keeps colliding with the wall. It’s annoying…I know I have to be up for that stupid foreign language class in a few hours, and at this rate, I‘ll be falling asleep in my book.

Justin is in the city though…so I call him, just to pass the time. He seems happy to hear from me even though it‘s the middle of the night, but why wouldn’t he be? We had a lot of fun yesterday. I love spending time with him. He really gets me…

I think…I think I like him. Like…more than a friend like him. Trace is going to sh'it.

“What are you doing right now?â€￾ he asks me, the hint of playfulness in his voice not going unnoticed by me.

“Well,â€￾ I smile. “I was sleeping, but my roommate is banging her boyfriend in the next room…so I‘ve basically abandoned that idea.â€￾

“Awww,â€￾ he chuckles. “Well hey…you can come here.â€￾

I sit up a little. “To the Trump?

“Yeah,â€￾ he yawns. “It‘ll be…fun.â€￾

“Okay.â€￾ I smile and hang up the phone. It’s not long before I’m dressed and out the door. I don’t think Siobhan knows I’ve left, but she wouldn’t care anyway. I stand on the corner and hold my hand out to hail a taxi. I’m relieved when the first one I see stops for me. I thrust open the door, and get inside. “Trump Towers, please.â€￾ I say, not being able to hide the excitement in my voice.

The cab surges forward on my command, and I sit back and relax for a moment. I know I should be sleeping right now, but this is Justin. I never get to have fun with Justin anymore. I wish I could just say fu'ck it all and get on that plane with Justin tomorrow night. I wish I could travel all over the world with him like Trace does, and experience the good life. I would be his girl…his everything. And he would be my everthing. Hell, he already is my everthing…

“So you’re going to see somebody?â€￾

I perk up a little at the cabbie’s question. Usually, I hate talkative cabbies, but I’m in such a good mood, I don’t care right now. “Yes,â€￾ I tell him.

He stops at the red light and turns back to face me. “It’s a little late don’t you think.â€￾

My breath catches in my throat, when I realize who is driving this cab. My god…no…it can’t be…

“You sure you don’t want to come with me, sweetness?â€￾ Nathan pulls his gun out, and flashes me an evil little smile. “I could show you a good time.â€￾

I lean back into the seat. I don’t move, I barely breathe. “What…what are you doing?â€￾

“There’s one bullet in here.â€￾ He pops out the chamber of the gun and spins it a few times. “If I pull the trigger, what do you think will happen?â€￾ He pops the chamber back into place, and points the gun at me.

“I…I don’t know,â€￾ I whimper.

“Why don’t we find out?â€￾

BANG

My terror takes the form of an icy hand. It pulls me up from this place, reaches into my insides and sits me up straight. I’m shivering, gasping, my sweat cold, my shirt sticking to my back. I sob a little. The dream…it seemed so real. Nathan was there. He wasn’t dead…he was fine. Oh god. My eyes scan the room frantically, searching for any sign of warmth, comfort…safety. But it’s dark…so fu'cking dark. Where am I? I close my eyes, and try to clear my head. I need to think…what happened before I fell asleep? Where was I? Visions of a little boy flash through my mind. He’s scared, he doesn’t know who I am.

The house…I remember the house. Right. The Triptons, that was their name. We knocked on their door and they helped us. I slept and I took a shower and ate some pancakes. The police came…right…

The police talked to Justin for a good hour, before he broke down and told them he couldn’t talk about it anymore. I guess, he pulled that gun out of his pocket, and had to explain why he had it and what he used it for. I know that was hard for him…having to talk about how he shot those bastards. I wonder if he’s doing okay right now. Is his family taking their time with him…are they comforting him? Did his girlfriend come, and if she did…does she understand that he needs his space? Does she understand that he probably isn’t the same guy she knew before this happened?

After Justin gave his statement to the police, they wanted to talk to me next. I didn’t want to…I didn’t want to relive the whole thing so soon after it happened. Thankfully, I didn’t have to put up a protest. The paramedic, God bless him…he interrupted us and told the police that he really wanted to get us to a hospital so we could get examined. He said that he could tell we were dehydrated, and that Justin needed to get his chest x-rayed. The police agreed, half heartedly of course. They promised me that they would be coming to see me at some point though.

I’m not looking forward that.

The lights snap on suddenly, and I gasp a little. I had no idea there was anybody else in the room with me. I shield my eyes, partially from the brightness, and partially from the fear that one of my captors is going to be standing there with his gun pointed at me. I’m scared…Don’t let them hurt me…

“Kerrigan.â€￾

The voice is soft, and welcoming. I know it can’t possibly be Shane or Nathan, so I take my chances and look toward the voice. My mother is standing at the bedside. Her expression is sad, pained. She looks like she hasn’t slept in about a month. I know I should be happy to see her. After all, if things had gone Shane’s way…I would be dead and buried right now. But I can’t find it in me to be excited about her presence. I don’t think I’m ready to talk to her yet, about anything. The only person I could talk to right now, I realize…is Justin. But I’m not about to ask for him. I’m sure he’s off in his own room…with his own family. He’s just fine. I don’t need to go and remind him of everything we’ve been through this weekend. There will be time for that later, I’m sure.

“Hi, mom.â€￾ I try to force a smile, but it’s not working. I’m still tired…still exhausted from everything. I could probably fall back to sleep if given the chance, but it’s better if I don’t. I don’t want to have another horrible nightmare. I don’t want to be haunted by the memory of those bastards again today…or tonight…which one is it anyway?

Damn, here I am safe and sound, and I’m still oblivious to what time it is. I need to get out, I need to start living again, before the kidnapping has the chance to take over me again. Tomorrow, yeah…tomorrow I’ll go out. I don’t care if I’m not ready to or whatever. I’m going. I’ll get in my car and drive to the mall. I’ll go clothes shopping, and spend money like I’m as rich as Justin…even though the money in my debit account is supposed to be for school expenses. It will feel good, and I’ll feel alive again. I’ll get Trace to come…yeah, it’ll be like nothing ever happened. “What…what time is it?â€￾

“It’s nearly four, you fell asleep after the doctor finished his examination.â€￾ My mother sits down on the bed, and gives my hand a little rub. “How do you feel?â€￾ she asks.

I shrug. “I’m…tired I guess,â€￾ I whisper. “Is daddy here?â€￾

My mother shakes her head. “He was,â€￾ she says. “But Mary was getting so tired…he had to take her home. He wanted me to tell you he loves you.â€￾

“Oh,â€￾ I say. I’m a little disappointed that he couldn’t wait around. I mean, he’s my fu'cking father. Why couldn’t he have Lucinda watch Mary? What do my parents pay her for? Now I’m getting angry…I’m getting angry and I’ve barely been talking to my mother for ten minutes. “Well, I guess if that’s good enough for him, it can be good enough for me.â€￾ I turn away from her, and feel the tears start to run down my cheeks. I brush them away quickly. I don’t want my mother to see me like this. I never cry in front of my parents. It’s one of those things that I just don’t’ do. I haven’t done it since that time I fell and hit my head in Justin’s basement. I guess it’s because I wanted them to see that I could be strong, no matter what the situation. I wanted them to leave me alone, I guess…and I didn’t ever want to be separated from Justin again.

“Kerrigan, please,â€￾ my mother says after a moment. “You know your father. He doesn’t deal with this type of thing well. He’s…he’s never had to before.â€￾

“Okay,â€￾ I tell her. My bottom lip quivers, and I bite down on it. I won’t let her know what this is doing to me. I won’t.

“I was so worried,â€￾ she continues on. “I…I didn’t think you were ever going to come home,“ she begins to sob. “Oh god…my baby almost died!â€￾

I turn over and look at her again. She’s hysterical. Oh god. Here we go. As if it weren’t enough that my father has practically deserted me in my hour of need…now I have to deal with my emotional wreck of a mother. I have to comfort her. Damn it, how the hell am I supposed to do it right now? I’m the one that needs to be comforted. Jesus…I didn’t think coming home would be this hard. “Mom it’s okay,â€￾ I mutter. “I’m not dead. I’m here…so, just calm down.â€￾

She doesn’t hear me though. She only starts to cry harder, and then she pulls me to her. I don’t want to be touched right now. Dammit, I need some space…some time to think about all of this. Doesn’t she understand? “Mom!â€￾ I don’t realize how loud I’ve said it, and I don’t realize that I’ve physically pushed her away from me, until I see the shocked expression on her face. But I don’t stop there. My thoughts are crazy…jumbled up. “Just…just leave me alone okay? I …I don’t need you here acting…like you act. I can‘t deal with your fu'ckin‘ emotional problems right now.â€￾

She doesn’t say anything. She only stares at me in disbelief. She probably doesn’t know me right now. She’s probably wondering what happened to her darling daughter. Well, I’m here mom. I’m here somewhere. But it’s going to take me a long time to come out of my shell. You have to understand. Please understand.

“I…you must be hungry.â€￾ She forces a smile and turns toward the door, as if nothing I‘ve just done or said has effected her in any way. “I’ll go get you one of those nice sandwiches from the café okay?â€￾

Not wanting to prolong the discomfort between us any longer, I simply nod and say: “Yea, that sounds nice mom.â€￾ I’m not hungry. Not at all. I ate plenty at the Tripton’s house, and I know if I ate anymore right now I would probably vomit again. But I don’t want to tell her no. I know she’s trying…she wants to help me. And I’m treating her like garbage. I know I shouldn’t have said what I said, or pushed her like I did. I’m sure my father will have a talk with me about it later, and I know that it‘s not going to go well either.

She smiles triumphantly, as if she’s won some kind of contest with me. I guess it’s okay to let her think that she’s helping. It’s better than having her feel like a failure. She’s a mess right now…she needs to feel good about herself. I need to make her feel good. My own feelings will have to wait. But then again, they always seem to wait when it comes to my mother. She’s so eccentric, it’s like walking on pin cushions to keep her emotions in check.

When I was in high school it really used to get to me. When I would have a problem, and my mother was having one of her ‘bad days’, it was like I didn’t even exist. My father would be so busy trying to get my mother through her ‘episode’, he wouldn’t’ have time to hear about how I failed my History test…or that I was nervous about how my term paper came out. I was glad to have a close bond with Justin in those days. Being able to call him and talk to him was therapy in itself. He listened then…he cared. And he always had good advice to give me about what was going on in my life, even if he was an entire continent away. To be honest, I have no idea how I would have survived my high school years without him. Hell, I don’t know how I would have survived the kidnapping without him, and right now, I wish to god he was here, telling me everything is going to work out.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can,â€￾ my mother reassures me. “If you need anything while I’m gone…there’s a nice nurse down the hallway. Just hit that little button on the wall behind you, and she‘ll come.â€￾

“Okay.â€￾ I force a smile, and let it fade as soon as she’s gone. I bury my head in my hands. I don’t want her to come back. I throw the blanket over me. Maybe if I stay under here, and lay really really still…she’ll think I’ve run off somewhere. God…I’m really desperate aren’t I?

“You know,â€￾ I hear a masculine voice say. “If you really want to get away from the crazys in the hallway…it‘s better to lock yourself in the bathroom. At least then…you can tell whoever it is that you‘re taking a dump.â€￾

I slowly tug the covers off of my head, and Trace immediately comes into view. He looks a little bit better…a little more relaxed and awake. I hope he slept a little bit. “I yelled at my mother,â€￾ I admit. I look down at my hands, and start to pick at my fingernails. “I…I didn’t mean to. But she was just being so damn clingy, Trace.â€￾

“It’s not your fault, Kerri.â€￾ I hear his reassuring tone in my ear, and I look up. He’s sitting on the bed now, rubbing his hand on my shoulder. “You’ve just…been through hell,â€￾ he says softly. “Nobody can blame you for being in a mood right now.â€￾

I lean my head on his shoulder, and let him wrap his arms around me. I feel safe again, and I start to calm down. I wish he would do this all night…I wish he would make it so my mother would have to leave, and the only person I would have to deal with is him. I can handle Trace. Trace won’t cry, or carry on like my mother. He’ll sit here, and listen. If I want to talk I can…and if I don’t, he’ll just sit here and comfort me. He knows me so well…he’s the only person I want around me, with the exception of Justin.

Justin…

“H-have you talked to Justin,â€￾ I ask him after a moment. I pull back from him slightly, and look into his eyes. He seems a little worried now, and I hope that I haven’t just struck a cord with him.

“I did before,â€￾ he says quietly. “He’s really tired though. I guess all those examinations the doctors did on him, drained the rest of his energy.â€￾

“Oh…well, did they find anything?â€￾

“He has two fractured ribs,â€￾ Trace nods. “But the doctor says he’ll be fine in a couple of weeks, so long as he gets plenty of rest and stays off of his feet.â€￾ He detaches his arms from around me and pulls his baseball cap off, running his hands through his dark brown curls. “I guess that’s good though,â€￾ he chuckles. “Justin wanted an excuse to do nothing this break.â€￾

I don’t laugh. There are plenty of ways Justin could have been lazy on his vacation…he didn’t’ need to get the crap kicked out of him in order to do it. I feel myself start to choke up again, and I try to swallow back the feeling. I don’t feel like crying right now. I want to sit here and have a normal conversation with Trace. I want to be normal again.

“Kerri…â€￾ Trace speaks up before I can think of another topic to discuss.

I meet his gaze again. This time his eyes are full of questions though…questions I don’t know if I can answer. “Yeah?â€￾

“You…you’d tell me if something happened to him, right?â€￾ He stares into my eyes, seemingly searching them for an answer.

I’m confused. Tell him? Tell him what? What’s to tell? We were kidnapped, we were tortured. What more is there to say? “What do you mean?â€￾

“It’s just…â€￾ he pauses and lets out a little sigh. “He’s just…acting weird.â€￾

I shrug. “It’s a weird situation, Trace. How do you want him to act…like everything is okay? That nothing happened to us?â€￾

“No.â€￾ He shakes his head roughly. “Come on Ker, listen to me…there’s something…there’s more to this, that’s all I’m saying. Did anything happen…anything really really extreme?â€￾

It was our secret! You promised Shane! I cringe. I can’t talk about this stuff with Trace. It’s not my place to. This is Justin’s business…this is what he went through. For me to make an assumption, even if it’s the right assumption, and talk to Trace about it, would be wrong. “I can’t talk about this,â€￾ I say quietly.

He squeezes my hand a little. “Kerri, please,â€￾ he pleads. “If something happened…we need to take care of it now. Come on girl, you know me…you know how close Justin and I are…you can tell me anything. I‘ll understand okay?â€￾

“I don’t know anything,â€￾ I say firmly. “I can’t tell you what I don’t know.â€￾

“Kerri you were with him the entire time,â€￾ he informs me. “Please, you know how Justin is…he won’t talk to me. He just keeps telling me that he’s fine. It’s a bunch of sh'it.â€￾

I feel the tears build up behind my eyelids, and I try, but I can’t prevent them from flowing down my face. “I wasn‘t with him the entire time,â€￾ I grunt. “I was with him for awhile and then…they locked me in this shed for…God, I don’t even know how long. I don’t know what happened while I was in there.â€￾ I run a hand through my hair. “I…I almost died inside that fu'ckin thing.â€￾ I close my eyes and am reminded of the darkness…of the shed, of the house. I can smell it again…the dirt and the mold and the dust. I shake my head roughly, and open my eyes again. I’m still in the hospital, and Trace…he’s still here. I’m okay… “Don’t you understand,â€￾ I whisper to him.

He doesn’t say anything, and I hope he realizes that he’s being too pushy right now. I mean, I understand that he’s worried about Justin, but that doesn’t mean I can just go ahead and talk about all of this stuff right now. “Trace…â€￾ I croak.

“I…I didn’t know,â€￾ he whispers, not meeting my gaze. “I didn’t, and I’m really sorry. This whole thing…it has my nerves all screwed up. I just want you guys to be okay, and I guess…I can‘t understand that you aren‘t going to come out and talk about everything right away.â€￾ He shrugs a little bit, and rubs his eyes with his hand. “Hell girl,â€￾ he chuckles sadly. “Part of me is starting to wish I was in there with you.â€￾ He finally meets my gaze and takes my hand in his. “At least then…I would get it, you know?â€￾

Jesus, I wouldn’t wish what Justin and I have been through on anybody, especially Trace. Doesn’t he understand? We went through a hellish ordeal. We were locked up, beaten…we had guns to our heads. “Don’t say that,â€￾ I snap, and fold my arms under my breasts. “You…you weren’t there okay? You should be thankful for that. You should be thankful that you don’t know what it feels like to have a gun held to your head.â€￾

My response seems to shock him. I…I don’t think he knows exactly how to react to my comment. The only thing he can seem to do right now is stare at me, with those big brown eyes of his. I tear my gaze from his. I don’t want him to look at me like that…like I’m scaring the hell out of him. “Trace…I…â€￾

He starts to say something, but is interrupted at the sound of my mother’s voice. I groan softly. This isn’t a good time for her to return.

“They had turkey and cheese.â€￾

I glance toward the doorway. Sure enough, she’s standing there, sandwich in one hand, soda in the other. “Thanks,â€￾ I say, trying to manage a smile for her.

She crosses the room and hands me the sandwich and soda. I take them from her, and put them on the nightstand. I can’t eat. No way. I look back to Trace. His eyes are glazed over…he doesn’t know what to do. I know he wants to cry, but he won’t let himself do it in front of me. I wish he would. Maybe then…maybe then I would feel more compelled to talk about everything with him.

“Honey, will you eat?,â€￾ my mother continues. “You know, if you don’t eat…you’ll be sick.â€￾

“She’s okay,â€￾ Trace speaks up for me. “She ate a lot back at the house.â€￾ He smiles at my mother, and takes her by the hand as he gets up from the bed. “Lynn’s been asking about you…she told me she wanted to talk to you when you had the chance.â€￾

That’s a lie, but I’m not going to stop Trace from getting my mother away from me. I know Lynn will play along. She knows how eccentric my mother is, and I’m sure she’ll understand that my mother was driving me crazy. “Yeah,â€￾ I say. “Go ahead, mom…I’ll be fine.â€￾

“Well…as long as you eat your sandwich at some point…â€￾ Her voice trails off, and she lets Trace lead her to the doorway.

“Hey,â€￾ Trace says, once my mother is out of the way.

I smile a bit. “Hey,â€￾ I say. “I…I shouldn’t have said…â€￾

He holds his hand up. “We’re both screwed up Kerri,â€￾ he nods. “Whatever you say right now…it won’t matter in a few days. The only thing that will really matter is that you’re okay. So don’t worry, alright?â€￾

His speech seems sincere enough, and I slowly lean back into my pillows. He’s given me a little reassurance. I think…I think I’ll be okay. I don’t know how long it will be until I’ll feel like myself again, but I know in my heart, I’ll get there. “Thanks,â€￾ I tell him.

“I love you Kerri.â€￾

He really means it, with his whole heart. I love him too, but right now, I’m too overcome with emotion to say the words back to him. “I know.â€￾ Is all I can manage.

He bites his bottom lip, like he’s ashamed that he said the words to me. “Bye, Ker. I‘ll be back a little later.â€￾

I give him a little wave and watch him go, wondering if I’ve just made him feel worse. But then…I don’t care right now. I’m too messed up to care. All I want to do is get over my aches and pains and go home. I want to see my sister, I want to try and talk to my father…although I don’t know what the outcome of that conversation will be. I want to go shopping, and call Siobhan and tell her about all this. I mean, I’m sure she knows what’s going on by now, but I still haven’t called her, and I know that until I do she’s going to be wondering…

“Kerri?â€￾

I look toward the doorway, and my eyes widen. “Siobhan?â€￾

She enters the room. She looks disheveled, like she just rolled out of bed. I’m shocked…that’s very unSiobhan like. I always get mad at her, because usually even the simplest trip to the grocery store involves Siobhan spending a half hour in the bathroom, getting herself together. “God, you don’t even know what I had to go through to get a flight on short notice.â€￾ She drops her duffle bag on the floor, and rushes over to my bedside.

I don’t know who grabs who first, all I know is that I’m hugging her tighter than I ever have before…and I’m crying…I’m allowing myself to cry now. It’s okay. I know I can. She won’t go crazy and wail and carry on like my mother, or sit here and interrogate me like Trace was. She’ll be my friend…my giggling stupid girlfriend. That’s what I need. I finally pull away from her. “Thank you,â€￾ I say softly.

She wipes a few of my tears off my face with her hand, and flashes me a small smile. “I know Justin‘s cute, K. And I know that you‘ve known him way too long,â€￾ she whispers. “But…I really think you’d be better off with Marvin in 2b. He’s only worth about a hundred grand…and he smells like a fish. I doubt anybody is going to come looking for him. I think you should go to his family reunion next year.â€￾

The shield of fog and confusion that has built up over the last three days, suddenly seems to subside. I see Siobhan, the room…everything in a whole new light. This is life again, it’s not a kidnapping anymore. Hell, if I sit back and try really hard, I bet I could pretend that I just got my tonsils out or something. I feel myself smile, picturing Marvin from 2b in my mind. He’s got a thing for me and Sio. We caught him taking pictures of us once, while we were walking down the hall. I mean, I guess he could be cute if he lost about fifty pounds and didn’t smell like a fish. God…gross. “Oh god,â€￾ I laugh.

She winks at me. “I’ll get you the hook up, K,â€￾ she reassures me. “Then you can get married and have a smelly little fish kid.â€￾

Then I feel it. The laughter rises out of me, and first time in three days, all I can do is throw my head back, and laugh out loud.
******
Last year, I broke my leg I was supposed to do some big choreographed number for the an award show, but during one of my rehearsals, I slipped and landed hard on my right leg, causing the bone to snap in half. Damn, I can still remember how much it hurt. I’d broken bones in the past…my arm once, and my wrist a couple of times. But that kind of pain couldn’t compare to the pain my leg was in. At first, I couldn’t even feel it. My leg was numb, and for a moment I thought it might have fallen off or something. Then I looked, and saw the bone poking through my skin. Then…that’s when I felt the pain. And I passed out.

I remember, when I first got to the hospital I was still in a lot of pain. So much, that I was nearly in tears. I felt like a pus'sy, and I told the doctor that. He informed me that the easiest way to distract myself from the pain, was to focus my mind on something simple…like a picture on the wall. So I did. I guess I was really into the picture…I can still remember what it was. Clowns. There were five of them standing in a row, and at the end of the row there was this little dog. It had a cigar in its mouth…

Jesus, how do I remember sh'it like this?

Breaking your leg really sucks. You can’t dance, you can’t run…you can’t work out. The only thing you can really do is hobble around like some kind of gimp, and hope your friends don’t point and laugh at you. I had to have this big brace on my leg the entire time too…so it even made the hobbling part hard. I was in a wheelchair a lot, but it sort of worked in my favor. We went to the Playboy mansion for Trace’s birthday that year. They had these women with humongous tits, dressed as nurses. They were my escorts for the evening. That was the only time I was thankful for having a broken leg.

The x-rays proved my theory right. I have two fractured ribs, and damn…having fractured ribs is a lot worse than having a broken leg. They had to wrap this special tape around my chest, and told me that I should try to stay as still as I can for the next few weeks. I looked at them like they were crazy. I don’t know how they expect me to stay still. I mean come on, I’m a dancer…a performer, and I need to be on my feet. Hell, when I had a broken leg that time, I still went out to the club, and I still went out on the dance floor…even though I looked like an as'shole for doing it.

I told the doctor that I was going to have a lot of trouble sitting still for that amount of time. I guess I was hoping that he would have given me an alternative plan, but he didn’t. He only frowned and told me that if I didn’t do as I was told, it was possible that one of my ribs could cave in and puncture my lungs. Needless to say, I‘ve been trying hard not to move around a lot since he told me that. It’s really hard not to though. I mean, this tape is making me really uncomfortable and really itchy. All I want to do right now is rip it off and itch the skin underneath until all of my discomfort is taken care of…but I know I can’t. Damn it‘s so fu'cking ironic. We got out of there…away from those bastards, and yet I’m still uncomfortable. I’m still in pain, and I’m still confined. I can’t just go on and live my life…I have to stay where they tell me to stay, and I have to do what they tell me to do, until I’ve recovered from my injuries. It’s like…

Damn, it’s like I never got away at all.

I’ve been trying to do it all morning…focus on something. I’ve been hoping that if I pick out one specific thing and focus on it, I’ll be able to block out…block out his face, just for a few seconds. Shane…he comes and talks to me. He invades my thoughts. It started on the ambulance ride to the hospital. The paramedic was looking down at me, tending to the cuts and scratches on my face. I remember him telling me to close my eyes so he didn’t get any antiseptic in my eyes, and I did. But when I opened them again, the paramedic wasn’t there anymore. Shane was though. He was undressing, and looking at me with those cold, dark, evil eyes of his. He was smiling too. “Hey beautiful,â€￾ he said.

Then I threw up in one of those little barf bags.

Aside from this stupid cast, my stay in the hospital wasn’t that bad. After they took my x-rays and got me situated in the cast, they let me sleep for a few hours. It was nice…I didn’t wake up once. I guess Shane decided that I deserved a break. I was planning on taking a little nap like that at momma’s house on Friday afternoon, but then she sent me to get the cake, and I never got the chance to. She’s still a mess…momma. When I woke up from my nap, she was there at my side. It was a sight for sore eyes, and I think I might have smiled for the first time since the all this happened to us. She called me ‘baby babe’ and I hugged and kissed her. It was familiar, normal. I felt safe for the first time in three days.

We talked for a little while, and she asked me the same questions any mother would ask. She wanted to know what they did to me. She couldn‘t really understand why I was beat up so bad, because Kerri barely had a scratch on her. I managed to tell her some things. I told her about that first night, about how Shane almost killed Kerri, and how I begged him to change his mind. I told her about the car ride to the house, and how Shane beat me up when we got there. My mom didn’t start to freak out or anything. She just sat there and held my hand and listened to me. I was so thankful, because if she’d lost it and cried and sh'it…I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it. I would have been very uncomfortable, and probably would have lashed out at her. That’s the good thing about my mom though. She’s never been one to totally lose it in front of me. She’s good at keeping her emotions bottled up inside of her. I guess…I guess that’s where I get it from.

I didn’t tell my mother about the rape. I didn’t hint towards it…I didn’t even go so far as to tell her about how Kerri and I were separated for all that time. I knew she wouldn’t understand, I knew that she would have a hard time accepting what Shane turned me into if I told her. It hurts like hell holding it all in though. This whole day, I’ve felt like I’m about to explode. This burden…it’s so big. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my lifetime. It’s almost funny…what happened between Britney and I hardly matters anymore. I…I don’t even feel anything about it now. I’m numb…

The only thing I can see is Shane. The only thing I can hear is his voice. The only thing I can feel are his hands and lips on my skin. But dammit, he’s dead. If he’s dead why is this still happening? I mean, of course the memory of what happened is going to stick with me, but the physical stuff…shouldn’t it have passed already? Maybe I’m going crazy…or maybe, I just don’t want to forget. God…I don’t fu'ckin know. Maybe, maybe I should ask somebody about all of this. Yeah, somebody that understands. Maybe like a shrink, or Trace or hell, maybe even Kerri…

I feel really sh**ty, because I didn’t go talk to Kerri at all while we were in the hospital. It wouldn’t have been that hard to get in a wheelchair and roll next door. I guess I was just so caught up with everything, that I didn‘t get a chance too. I mean, I had Trace interrogating me about ’my feelings‘, I had my mother sitting with me, trying to get me to ‘open up a little more’. Then Cam came, and I had to explain to my mother why I hadn’t bothered to tell her about us. The whole thing was more pressure than I needed, and I guess if I went to see Kerri, I would have felt it even more. I know she would have given me that look…like she knows something happened to me. And fu'cking Siobhan probably would have blamed me for her kidnapping. Okay, I admit it…I avoided her. But once we get home, I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid her for long. I’m sure we’ll run into each other at some point, and I’ll see that look on her face again. Then I’m going to have to make a decision. I’m going to either have to tell her, or not tell her…and push her away from me forever.

Man, I really don’t need all of this pressure. I’m going to lose my mind…

I close my eyes, immediately knowing I shouldn’t have. When I close my eyes, I can see Shane, clear as day. Right now, he’s standing over me. He’s taking his clothes off again. I can’t move, just like I couldn’t when he was raping me. Now he’s naked. He kisses me hard on the mouth and rolls me over on my stomach. I try to push him off of me, but he’s so strong, and I’m too weak. I feel his hot, disgusting breath in my ear, and then I hear him say:

It’s our secret, Justin. Don’t ever forget that. Don’t ever, ever tell…even if they try to make you. It’s our only defense. I love you…and I know you love me. Don’t let them take that away from us. He presses his gun to my head, and I flinch. Say it…say you won’t tell…

“I won’t tell,â€￾ I whimper. My eyes snap open. I’m sure I just said that out loud.

“What happened baby?â€￾

I look over at Cameron, and bite my lip. “Um…nothing,â€￾ I lie. “I was just thinking out loud.â€￾

Cameron got to the hospital a little bit after I’d woken up from my nap, and she hasn’t left my side since. At first, I was really nervous, because I didn’t know how my mother was going to react. I know she’s a little hurt that I didn’t tell her about my relationship and how serious it’s starting to become…but I don’t think she’s surprised…she wasn’t around enough to distract me from meeting women during the tour. This tour was a long, strenuous one, and I’m sorry to say that my mother spent more time on the phone with Johnny than anything else. We didn’t really have much time to talk and I’m starting to think that’s why I got so messed up with my diet and sh'it. Trace was the only person I could really talk to, and I was embarrassed to tell him about my diet problems, and how lonely I felt. We’re guys, and guys don’t have eating disorders…guy’s don’t feel lonely…

And guys don’t get raped.

That’s right. Guys don’t get raped. Guys have control of themselves. So that has to mean that I had sex with Shane. I had sex with him because I wanted him. I had sex with him because I’m gay. I’m a fu'cking queer. Christ, what am I going to tell Cam? What’s going to happen in a week or two when she wants to have sex? What am I going to tell her…that I’m gay? Hell no. But I know I won’t let her touch me either. Dammit, I’m still in a mess. I got us out of there…and it’s still not over. I still have to deal with all of this sh'it. I’m going to go crazy. I need to talk to somebody…

Cam gives me a soft kiss on the cheek and squeezes my hand. “Don’t think so much,â€￾ she whispers. “Talk to me. That’s why I’m here.â€￾

I open my mouth. I want to talk to her. I want to tell her what happened. I mean, we’re falling in love. And when you love somebody, you love them no matter what they’ve done or what they’ve been through, right? She’ll understand. She’ll tell me it’s not my fault, and she’ll still love me. Then I’ll be okay. I’ll snap out of this gay phase. I’ll be normal again. “Cam,â€￾ I hear myself say.

She strokes the side of my face…the side with the really big welt on it. “Yeah babe?â€￾ Her eyes are sad, and full of concern. I want to tell her…I want to tell her more than anything…

But then her phone starts to ring.

“Jesus Christ!â€￾ she whines. She pulls her phone out of her pocket and looks at the id. “Sh'it Justin,â€￾ she groans. “It’s my agent, I have to take it.â€￾ She kisses me quickly, and I try as hard as I can not to cringe. “I promise, when we get back to your mom’s I’ll shut us up in a bedroom and you can tell me whatever you need to.â€￾ She flips her phone open, and grunts a hello.

I stare out the car window and sigh a little. I’m going to be out of her thoughts for at least an hour. I know by that time, I’ll have buried Shane and the sex deep within me, where only I can access it. Over time, I’ll probably get better at keeping it locked away too. Then…then maybe I’ll never talk about it. I’ll live my life, and grow old and die and nobody will ever know what really happened to me.

But really, maybe it’s better this way. If nobody knows, nobody can ridicule me or hate me. I’ll still be the same person in their eyes…and it will be good for them. Nobody wants to see me admit it. That I had sex with a man, and that I enjoyed that sex. In this business, you need to be flawless, you need to maintain that perfect image that everybody has of you. Stuff like that snatches that image out of you and casts it to the wind. I’m not going to let it happen. Shane is dead, and I shouldn’t allow him to take more from me than he already has. He can still tell me he loves me, he can still tell me that what we did is a secret…that’s okay, I can accept that because it happened and I can’t change the past. But I can change the future, and I’ll be damned if Shane is going to kill my chances of getting back to my regular life style.

I’ll do whatever it takes, to drive his spirit out of me.
*************
From the moment I stepped out of the car that day, my life completely changed. Every where I looked, flashes were going off, and camera’s and microphones were being thrust in my face. Then the reporters started to attack me. They were all shouting my name, like they knew me. Like I was some kind of celebrity. They were rattling off questions of all types. They wanted to know how I knew Justin. They wanted to know if we were tortured or injured. They wanted to know too much, and I wasn’t about to stop and talk to them. They actually tried to grab onto me to make me stop at one point, and the FBI agents that escorted us through the crowd had to shove them out of the way, and threaten to have them arrested if they didn’t stay back. It was scary. I’d never been through anything like that before, not even when I was touring with NSYNC. The fans were rowdy, and sometimes they could get really crazy. But they never got that pushy…not when I was around anyway.

Amidst the chaos, I remember seeing Justin. Tiny had him by the arm and was pulling him toward his mother’s doorstep. He had that same look of panic and confusion on his face that he had when he killed Shane out by the ditch. I knew the press was overwhelming him. I knew he had enough on his mind as it was, and I was so afraid he was going to break down in front of the camera’s. I was so worried in fact, that I almost started to run over to him and get him away from those fu'cking people myself. Then I remembered Justin and I hadn’t spoken since we were checked into the hospital. He was rushed right to x-ray and I was sent to bed. When I woke up, I was hoping he would have come to see me…but he didn’t. I guess it was because he was spending time with Lynn and his girlfriend. That was the explanation that Trace gave me later on anyway. But deep down…I knew there was more to it. Three years apart or not, Justin and I went through something major together. I mean, I guess I probably could have went to talk to him, but I felt weird about it. I was so afraid I was going to walk into his room, and his girlfriend would be there. Then…she would probably want to talk to me and sh'it. I didn’t want to deal with Cameron Diaz. I didn’t want her to pretend to be nice to me. Cameron…she’s not somebody I need to be associating with. She’s part of Justin’s whole thing…not mine.

But that doesn’t mean Justin couldn’t have taken ten minutes out of his day to see how I was. And that told me something…

It told me that he was avoiding me.

It was weird seeing Cameron up close. She looks a lot different than she does in the movies and in magazines. She’s not so tall…not so pretty. She’s got a really nice body though. That slim sexy body that Siobhan complains she’ll never have. Her hips are what really makes her a sight to see. They’re not too wide, like mine are. They accent her lower stomach and pelvis. I’m sure she can wear the tightest leather pants with ease, and make them look better on herself than they do on the rack. I guess you could say I started to envy her in a way. She has an attractiveness about her that’s hard to explain. When we arrived home that day, I knew it wouldn’t take long for Justin to remember why he found her so desirable to begin with. I guess…I guess I knew it wasn’t going to take much for him to forget about me all over again… and I was right.

I’m hurt that he’s still avoiding me. I was hoping that he would have come out of his shell by now, and tried to talk to me about all this, or at least ask how I was handling things. But he hasn’t. There hasn’t been a phone call, or a text message…nothing. I’ve seen Trace a couple of times, and I even went so far as to ask him what the hell Justin’s problem was. Then he just stared at me, like he was angry with me or something and said ‘don’t act like you don’t know.’

Trace…he’s like this different person now. All he talks about is the kidnapping, and all he wants me to tell him is what happened to us so he can try to find out what’s wrong with Justin. It’s like he doesn’t care about me, about how I was locked in that dark shed for hours on end. I told him that too and he got really pissed off at me. Then I went into the house, and slammed the door in his face. I’m not speaking to Trace right now. I can’t. Not if he’s going to come around and act like Justin is the only one in pain right now. Damn it, I’m in pain too. Why can’t he understand? Doesn’t he know? Doesn’t he realize how much I love him and how much I need him to be here and help me through all of this?

Hell maybe he does. And maybe he doesn’t give a sh'it either.

Siobhan stayed for three days, which was awesome because I could only take so much of my mother’s eccentrics throughout the course of a day before I had to leave the house. Siobhan and I went shopping, and just…talked like we always do. She didn’t really bring up the kidnapping though, not unless I started talking about it. But even then…the conversation wasn’t that serious. We weren’t talking about the violent part of it, we were talking about Justin and how we put up with each other in that little locked room. Siobhan was surprised that we got along so well. Hell, I’m still surprised that we got along. I’m still surprised that…he was brave enough to sneak up on Shane and save my life.

My god. He really did save my life didn’t he?

“Kerri.â€￾

I finish tying the ribbon in Mary’s hair and allow her to turn around and face me. I smile at her, and kiss her on the nose. She giggles a little, and leans into me, running her small hands through my hair. Mary is the one person that’s kept me sane since we arrived home a week ago. She’s so oblivious. She doesn’t know what really happened. She thinks I was at school, like I knew she would. She even went so far as to make me a welcome home card for me. It was heartwarming. I silently thanked the lord that I was lucky enough to sit on the couch with Mary on my lap again, and look at her artwork. I’ve been relishing moments like that this week. I know how things could have turned out. I know I could be dead right now.

I’ve been trying not to think about it…how things would have went if I’d died. I really don’t know what my mother would have done. Would she have been able to go on and raise Mary properly? I seriously doubt it, just because of the way she acted for the duration of my hospital stay. She broke down nearly every time she sat with me, and I hardly got to relax at all. I was never more thankful when the doctor told me that I could go home. I figured I would be able to get some rest…shut myself away from my mother and her eccentric ramblings. But I was wrong. Her moods have gone from bad…to practically unbearable. She’s so nervous now. She doesn’t leave the doors unlocked when she’s inside. If she can’t see or hear me, she’ll scream my name and start to freak out, unless she knows I’m sleeping. I’m afraid of how this is going to affect Mary. I know she loves to play outside when it’s nice out, and I know my mother will be entirely too paranoid to allow her outside to play with the other children in the neighborhood. I really need to have a talk with my father about that too, because if Mary’s childhood is ruined because of that one stupid trip to the bakery, I’ll never forgive myself.

My father didn’t exactly apologize for abandoning me at the hospital, but I knew he wouldn’t. He’s not the type to come out and apologize like that. He makes up for what he does wrong, in his own way. A day or two after I got home, we took a long ride in the car and he rambled on about when he was younger and how he got lost in the woods. It was strange, and I didn’t really know what to make of the conversation. He kept saying something about survival and how being strong was the only way to overcome something so tragic. I didn’t say much. I mean, what could I say? My father is a strong believer in ‘tough love’, and I knew if I started to open up to him about the kidnapping and what those bastards put us through, he would try to change the subject. So I sat…I listened to him. Then we stopped at Rita’s for some chicken and waffles, like we used to do when I was a little kid. It was familiar, and I was thankful. But at the same time I still didn’t know how he felt about the about the situation . In fact, I don’t think he’ll ever be able to fully grasp what happened to me…to us.

I sigh, and let my gaze fall on my sister again. She has her little doll in her hands, and she‘s trying to put it‘s hair in pigtails like I did to her. It‘s not working out though. Every time she tries to tie the ribbon, the hair either falls out of place or she can‘t figure out how to fasten the bow. After a moment, she whines in defeat and gives up. I laugh a little, and rub her shoulder reassuringly. “How about we go to the zoo tomorrow?â€￾ I ask her, hoping it will take her mind off of her mishap. I take one of her silky pigtails in my hand and run my fingers through it. “Remember Mare? Like I promised?â€￾

I see her face light up. “Really?â€￾ she asks excitedly. She leans her head back and looks up at me. “We can really go Kerri?â€￾

“Yes,â€￾ I say, tickling her stomach a bit. She squeals with laughter, and it causes my smile to grow wider. “We’ll go…and we’ll see the giraffes and the zebra’s and…â€￾

“The monkey’s and the bewds…â€￾

“Right,â€￾ I say. “And we’ll get an ice cream!â€￾

“Chocolate!â€￾ she yells.

“You can have chocolate,â€￾ I promise. “But I’m getting vanilla.â€￾

“Icky,â€￾ she pouts, and sticks out her tongue. “I hate ‘nilla.â€￾

“But I like it,â€￾ I laugh, and get up from the ground. “Come on, lets go inside.â€￾ I hold out my hand for her to take. She grabs onto it eagerly and starts babbling about what we are going to do once we get inside. She tells me it’s almost time for Tiny Toons, and I smile and reassure her that I’ll watch her show with her. I let go of her hand and she skips along in front of me, and I speed up my step to catch up with her. I know that if my mother sees her come up to the house by herself, she’ll have a coronary.

“Kerri!â€￾

I hear Mary scream my name, and my heart starts to race. She sounds frightened. The paranoia I have come to know so well sets in and I frantically start running towards the house. Then I see what’s caused her to become so scared, and I feel like an a'ss. There is somebody sitting on our porch swing, somebody she doesn’t recognize. But of course she wouldn’t be able to recognize him. She doesn’t’ know Justin. She was just a baby when he held her in his arms, and he hasn’t come to visit her since we stopped talking three years ago. “It’s okay,â€￾ I tell her softly. “It’s just…my friend.â€￾

She looks at me with wide eyes. “Your friend?â€￾

I nod. “Yeah. Why don’t you go inside. I’ll be along in just a little while.â€￾ Really, I should just walk right past Justin and go into the house. He doesn’t deserve the time of day from me after he’s ignored me for all this time. But then, I know I can’t just ignore him. My heart’s too big, and I care about him too much. Damn it. It’s not fu'cking fair. I don’t look at Justin as I unlock my front door, and let Mary inside.

“Hurry,â€￾ she whispers. “I want you to do tha voices, Kerri.â€￾

“I’ll be quick, like the roadrunner,â€￾ I reassure her. Then she runs inside, and I close the door behind her. Realizing there is nothing left to do but face the music, I turn around and look at Justin. He doesn’t look at me though. He’s sitting there on the porch swing, gazing out into the distance. I wonder why he’s even here. Isn’t his entire family back at Lynn’s house? Won’t his girlfriend be mad that he came to see me?

“You know, I really feel bad about all those times I ditched you to go dirt biking with Trace,â€￾ he says suddenly. “If I could have, I would have picked you something better than dandelions, Kerri.â€￾

I let out a defeated sigh. I don’t know what the hell to say to that. I don’t even know why he’s saying this sh'it to me. I don’t know what else to do though, so I take a seat beside him on the porch swing. “It’s okay,â€￾ I say pathetically. I set my gaze across the street…on that damn tree in the front of Lynn’s house. That same one he pushed me out of that time. I rub my hand up and down my arm, remembering how much it hurt when I broke it all those years ago.

“Trace told me I should come see you.â€￾

My eyes widen, and after a moment, I’m finally able to look over at him. He looks a little more like himself now. The cuts and bruises on his face have cleared up a lot. He’s still got a bandage over that cut on his forehead though…the one I tried to clean. I remember the look in his eyes that night. Despite everything else, they still had hope in them. He knew we were going to get out of there then…he still had hope. That was before…before they did, whatever they did to him. “He did?â€￾ I ask him. “Why?â€￾

“Because you’re my best friend, and you almost died,â€￾ he says regretfully. “I should have…I know I should have realized that in the hospital. But I guess, I just needed space.â€￾ He nods, seeming to agree with himself.

“You still need space,â€￾ I inform him. I get up from the swing and lean over the porch railing. “If you didn’t, you would have came over here on your own. Trace wouldn’t have had to tell you.â€￾

An awkward moment of silence passes. He knows I’m right.

“I figured you would be happy to see me. You always used to be.â€￾

I glance over my shoulder. “We’re not the same friends we used to be,â€￾ I remind him. “You know that, Justin.â€￾

He bows his head and rubs his face with his hands. It’s like he’s suddenly remembered that the first time we hung out in three years was in little locked basement, not knowing if we’d make it out alive. “I’m trying here,â€￾ he tells me. “I mean, I’m not even supposed to be walking around. But I went there…I got off my a'ss and came over to see you. The least you could do is…â€￾

“Is what?â€￾ I snap. “Force a smile and pretend that everything is okay?â€￾ I whirl around and flash him a fake grin. “Everything is great,â€￾ I say sarcastically. “Do you feel better now?â€￾

“You know, this is hard for me Ker.â€￾

“Why do you think you’re the only one who went through this kidnapping? Justin, I was there too remember? I had a gun to my head. Shane was digging that ditch for me. I almost died…â€￾

“And I fu'cking…â€￾ He cuts me off and points his finger at me angrily. “I…he…â€￾

I can see the tears in his eyes. He’s about to tell me something. Something nobody else knows about. Something nobody else can know about. “What is it?â€￾ I whisper.

He sucks in a breath, and painfully staggers to his feet. “It’s nothing. Just forget it okay? Coming here was just…it was a mistake. Have a safe flight back to New York, whenever you go…and maybe I’ll call you if I’m not too busy.â€￾

He slowly starts away from me, clutching his chest as he does so. I can’t believe they allowed him to walk over here in his condition. Well, maybe they didn’t. Maybe he snuck out. Justin has always been notorious for that. When we were little kids, sometimes he wouldn’t’ be able to sleep and he would sneak across the street and climb in my window. Once his mom woke up and started to freak out that he wasn’t’ in his bedroom. Then she called my parents, and they found him sleeping in my room. He got grounded for a week for that one.

I can’t let him walk away from me though. If I do, he’ll never be able to talk about what those bastards did to him. He needs to get this out. I follow him down the steps and catch up with him halfway down my front lawn. “You need to talk about this,â€￾ I tell him.

He stops in his tracks and looks at me. I see it in his eyes. He’s not okay. He’s lost, confused, and full of pain. I mean, I know I am too, but I’ve been really good at keeping it locked away. Whatever it is that Justin is going through, it’s too much for him to hide completely. “I don’t need to talk about anything with you,â€￾ he mutters. “I’m. Fine.â€￾

I let out a sad laugh. “If you didn’t’ want to talk to me, then why did you come over here?â€￾

My response seems to shock him, and his eyes widen a little. “I…I don’t know,â€￾ he says quickly.

“Tell me what happened to you,â€￾ I persist. “I know it’s hard, but hell Justin, I was there okay? I know what those guys were capable of.â€￾

His bottom lip trembles a bit, but he pulls himself together quickly. “No you don’t,â€￾ he whispers.

It was our secret… My eyes widen, and I stare at him for a long time. Then I finally find it in me to ask him about it. “What’s the secret,â€￾ I say, feeling the tears forming behind my eyelids. “What did Shane do?â€￾

His eyes widen. “W-what?â€￾

“Out by the ditch that day…you told Shane. You said…you said it was your secret, and that he promised not to tell.â€￾

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.â€￾ There is a slight tremble in his voice, and he knows that I’ve started to figure him out. He doesn’t like it though. Not at all. “What, do you think I’m fu'cking gay or something? That I had something going on with that motherfu'cker?â€￾

I tremble. “I never said you were gay…â€￾

“Well I’m not,â€￾ he grunts. “And you better get that through your fu'cking head real quick, Kerri.â€￾

He‘s being way too defensive right now, and I don‘t know what to think. I know this is about Shane, that whatever he did probably didn‘t involve Nathan at all. Nathan was a twisted fu'ck, but I know he didn‘t have it in him to do the kinds of things Shane was capable of. “Justin, come on. Don‘t be this way. Just talk to me. I won‘t tell anybody. It will be our secret, I promise you.â€￾

His brow furrows in confusion. “What did you say?“

I co'ck my head to the side. “I said…it will be our secret, Justin.â€￾ I try to reach out for his hand, but he pushes me away from him roughly.

“Don’t touch me!â€￾ he yells. His eyes are wild, crazed, like he wants to kill somebody “Don’t you ever fu'cking touch me!â€￾

I stare at him and I feel myself start to grow angrier inside. I’m appalled. Justin has never been this rough with me before. I don’t know what the hell makes him think it‘s okay to act this way with me either. All I know is that I’m crying now, and I don’t’ know what to think of what he’s just done. But he doesn’t comfort me, or try to apologize. He just storms back across the street, shaking his head the entire way. I realize that he’s not going to talk to me about this. He’s not going to talk to anybody. I guess he can’t. I guess what happened to him has hurt him so deeply that…he’s too embarrassed to talk about it.

He’s embarrassed. No, it’s more than embarrassed. Justin is devastated. I know why, at least I’m pretty sure I do. I really wish I didn’t. Then I wouldn’t feel like I was obligated to help him. But I do know, and I can’t change that. All I can do is hope that Justin comes to his senses and decides to tell somebody…anybody…

Before he loses his mind.

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PreCiouSbAbY
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Postby PreCiouSbAbY » Sun May 29, 2005 2:38 am

update soon. i'm hooked.

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betty boop
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Postby betty boop » Fri Jun 10, 2005 1:40 am

I'm almost halfway through the first post :P , but I'm likin it so far. I'm trying to get caught up on all of these stories. I remember when I never missed a chapter on any of them :rolleyes: But, I will catch up. ;)

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betty boop
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Postby betty boop » Sat Jun 11, 2005 10:49 am

Wow..................... :unsure: :blink: Poor Justin. I'm almost done reading though.

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betty boop
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Postby betty boop » Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:56 pm

I'm a little mad, cuz I was almost done last night, and my mom made me get off, but now I'm done. Jeez.....I need more.

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Angelpopstar7
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Postby Angelpopstar7 » Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:21 am

Holy crap :jawdrop: I stayed up till 1 last night so that I could finish reading the whole thing cuase I didn't want to stop once I started :rofl:

I don't even know what to say...thats how good that was...Justin needs to tell someone what happened though...its gonna eat him alive until he tells someone..he needs to realize that it wasn't his fault and theres nothing he could have done to stop him. If he would have stopped him, Kerri would have been dead and he most likely would have too :nod: I'm thankfully that they finally got out of there :nod: the whole entire time I was reading it I was on the edge of my chair :lol: I can just imagine what was going through their minds when Justin and Kerri showed up at their door step :rofl: and Shelly man...if I would her I don't think I would have been able to say a word :rofl: I'd just be standing there speachless :lol: MORE PLEASE!

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ashleybull
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Postby ashleybull » Thu Jun 30, 2005 9:01 pm

update soonI loved reading this story I can't wait to read the rest.

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xoinnocentjrtgrl
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Postby xoinnocentjrtgrl » Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:37 pm

She actually started writting the sequel, All That Remains. Its over on JJB. :wub: There's only one chapter up and I love it.

I cant remember if there's more to THIS part or not... so go check over in the fan fic forum on JJB :nod:

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ashleybull
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Postby ashleybull » Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:45 pm

thank you i will go check that out thanks again

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xoinnocentjrtgrl
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Postby xoinnocentjrtgrl » Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:15 pm

Not a problem! I love this story and I want more people to read it :lol:

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0--Annika
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Postby 0--Annika » Mon Jul 25, 2005 4:25 pm

Love this story,, :D

are u gonna post all that remains on 'ere to??

:blowkiss:

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xoinnocentjrtgrl
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Postby xoinnocentjrtgrl » Mon Jul 25, 2005 5:25 pm

I dont think she is, no. :shrug:

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0--Annika
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Postby 0--Annika » Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:58 am

damn,, u need a membership now to go overthere,, :o :blink: can't someone post the upcoming chapters?? with her permission??

xx

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ashleybull
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Postby ashleybull » Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:32 pm

the story is also here at nsyncfiction
nsyncfiction.com/viewstory.php?sid=8415http://www.nsyncfiction.com/viewstory.php?sid=8415

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0--Annika
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Postby 0--Annika » Fri Jul 29, 2005 3:24 am

ThnQ so much,,, :D

xx

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ashleybull
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Postby ashleybull » Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:33 pm

Not a prob


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