Love's Harmony Ch. 08bysimply_cyn©
On Wednesday afternoon of that same week, Greg took Jennifer to a local Laundromat so she could get some laundry done. She had volunteered to do the guys laundry as well since they were doing an interview at the local radio station that was sponsoring their concert this evening. Greg was one of the van drivers that took them around town to get things done. He had dropped the guys off earlier and then came back to get Jennifer. When they arrived, she said she'd probably be a couple of hours and told him to do what he needed to do and come back for her later. The guys were supposed to be done in the next thirty minutes, so he left to go pick them up and said he'd be back after that.
Jennifer was alone at the Laundromat and was glad to finally have some time to herself. She had divided all the clothes into bags of who they belonged to and had even marked initials on the tags so she wouldn't get confused. Doing small things like this made her feel normal . . . being on the road was starting to get on her nerves and she wasn't sure she could handle the pressure for much longer. It wasn't just the job, it was also Nick and Brian.
Nick was pursuing her with gusto and she was starting to give in. She wasn't sure if it was out of spite or loneliness, or if it was just the fact that Brian had rejected her. All she knew was that Nick gave her attention, cared about her, made her feel important while Brian had drifted further and further away. Unlike what had happened with her fiancée', Ty, she could see Brian pulling away ... she could feel her heart ripping in two for the second time this year and she wasn't sure she could survive it a second time.
As she began a load of laundry into six different machines, she sighed heavily. Her mind flew back over the past two, almost three months, wondering what she had done to push Brian away. She knew she had been careful about starting a relationship with one of the band members because of her professionalism, but now she didn't care - she just wanted to be with him. She didn't care what anyone would think! But then she chastised herself, knowing full well that she did care. It meant a great deal to her to keep her professionalism on this first assignment as a band promoter. If she did a good job here, then there would be more assignments waiting when this tour was over. But she also toyed with the thought that she couldn't travel with BSB anymore after this one. It was too painful, especially now that she had fallen for Brian.
Once she had the laundry going, she sat back into one of the chairs and stared out the window. Just that morning, Nick had come to her and she had responded to his kisses. He was determined to win her over and she knew she was attracted to him but she wasn't sure why. She chewed on her thumbnail thoughtfully as she tried to sort out her feelings in her mind. Nick was gorgeous, about that she had no doubts! He was sweet, charming, and thoughtful. But as soon as she thought she had convinced herself that it was Nick that she was now attracted to, Brian would pop into her thoughts, clouding over every thought she had of Nick. It was Brian's face she would see when she would kiss Nick. It was Brian's arms that she longed for as Nick would hold her in his embrace. It was Brian she watched at the concerts, drawn in by the words of the song. She knew that she hadn't shaken this attraction that she had to Brian. It was if he had already bored himself into her soul. They were locked together and she couldn't shake it . . . she didn't want to shake it! She shook her head as she sat alone in the Laundromat, tears springing into her gorgeous blue eyes. She let her head fall back onto the back of the hard chair, a long sigh escaping between her lips.
"Are you okay?" Jennifer's startled gaze fell on Brian as her head quickly popped up from it's reclining position.
"Brian!" she exclaimed, sitting up straighter and wondering if he could read her thoughts. He noticed the way her eyes glowed as he watched her and he knew that if he didn't take her into his arms and kiss her the way he longed to, he would regret it forever. "What are you doing here?"
"Jen," he began, reaching down to take her hand in his. He pulled her to her feet and stood, wondering if he should just draw her in to him and kiss her until all thoughts of Nick were driven from her mind. Jennifer stood close to him and just being this near to him took her breath away. She could feel her breath quicken as she longed to wrap her arms around his neck and kiss him. "Jen, I . . . " he stammered. "I . . . thought you might need some help," he finally said, turning towards the whirring machines.
Jennifer's eyes closed at his rejection once more. She opened them to find his eyes on her, speaking to her ... or were they? He confused her more than anyone she had ever known. She pulled her hand from his and walked past him towards the machines. "That's sweet of you," she said, hoping her disappointment didn't show. "The first load is almost done." And then turning back towards him, asked, "Where's the rest of the band?"
"There's a court outside," he answered, nodding towards the parking lot. "They're about to start a game of basketball."
"You love basketball," she said, pulling out a load of clothes and transferring them into a dryer. "You should go catch a game while you can."
Brian shook his head, beating himself up once more for not listening to his heart. She touched him like no other and all he could think about was her . . . not basketball, not the band, not even singing. "Are you sure you don't need any help?" he offered once more.
"I'm sure," she said, smiling at him. All she wanted now was for him to leave. Being this near him, feeling this way and not having it returned was slowly killing her. Brian couldn't have tortured her better any other way. "You go on."
"Okay," he said, heading for the door. With one hand on the door and a foot out the door, he turned once more towards her. "Jen . . .?"
"Yes?" she answered, hopeful once more that he would say what she could see in his eyes. They stared at each other as each tried to figure out what was going on with the other person.
"Nothing," he said, shaking his head once more at his valor. He had to settle things with Nick first before he approached Jennifer again.
Jennifer watched him leave the Laundromat and tried not to let the tears that she could feel welling up streak down her face. She loved him so much but then at the same time, she hated him! Just when she thought he was going to do something, he never did and Jennifer was frustrated beyond reason. When would this end? She feared it would continue this way throughout the rest of the tour and they still had a while to go.
As she folded some of the clean clothes, she came across Brian's favorite shirt from his home state university. There was hardly a day that went by where he wasn't wearing it and Jennifer held it up to her face, inhaling the scent. Even clean, it still smelled of Brian and she clung onto it like she would never let go.
"Nick, I have to talk to you," Brian called as he walked up to his friend outside of the Laundromat. The first game was starting to break up and Brian wanted to talk to Nick about Jennifer before he lost his nerve.
"Yeah, okay," he replied, passing the ball back to A.J. "I'm taking a break," he called.
"Yeah okay. B-Rok, man!! Come on and shoot some hoops!" Howie called back.
"In a sec," Brian said. A.J. nodded as Nick joined Brian as he walked back over to the van.
"What's up?" he said, as he walked along beside Brian. At his serious look, Nick said, "You look like it's pretty serious." When Brian just looked at him, he said, "Why? What's wrong?"
"Well," he began, searching for the right words. He wasn't quite sure how to word what he wanted to say and to be quite honest, he wasn't sure what it was exactly he wanted to say.
"So . . .?" Nick prompted as they reached the van.
Brian looked up to see the van in front of them. "Hold up a sec," he said, wondering still how to bring up this subject. He knew it was going to be difficult.
"Okay," Nick replied, leaning against the side of the van. "So, what's so serious?"
"It's Jennifer," he said, looking up at Nick. At his worried look he said, "No, she's okay. I just need to know what's going on between you two."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, it's obvious that you're attracted to her," he said, hoping Nick would jumpstart off of that.
"Yeah, well . . ." he said, a wide grin splitting his face. "Is it that obvious?"
"Yeah," he said, wondering how he was going to explain that he too was attracted to her. "So, does the shoe fit the other foot? Is she attracted to you?"
Nick shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know." He dragged his shoe through the dirt for a moment and then looked at his friend. "When we did the video shoot in L.A., I thought so. I know there were some sparks between us when we kissed, but ever since then . . . I don't know. Why?"
Brian took a deep breath and looked up at Nick. "Well, I think you should know that I ... " He stopped to clear his throat and then said, "I don't want to step on your toes or anything, but ... you should know ..."
"That you're in love with her," Nick finished for him. At Brian's incredulous look, he added, "I know. Everyone knows."
"What?! I'm not in love . . ."
"Bullshit!" he retorted. "That's your problem. You sit there and do nothing while she watches you, waiting for you to do something."
"She does not," he argued, wondering where this was coming from. Jennifer was not interested in him ... at least, not that he was aware of.
"See? That's what I'm talking about! She's been following you around ever since the tour started with those gorgeous blue eyes of hers and you haven't even noticed! I've gotten sick of watching it. If you're not going to do anything about it, then I will!"
Brian was dumbstruck as he stared at his younger friend. "I didn't know ... I don't know."
"Get with it man!" Nick said, his voice rising slightly in agitation. "She's done everything but hit you over the head with the bus sink. If you aren't going to do ..."
"What do you want me to do?" he asked.
"How about treat her like she's the beautiful woman she is instead of a member of the band? She's not one of us. She is a beautiful, single woman who's crazy about you!"
"You don't know that," Nick argued, starting to wonder if he had really missed all of what Nick was saying. "Has she told you something point blank?"
"She doesn't have to," he insisted, grabbing onto his friend's arm. "It's clearly written all over her face. Howie knows, Kevin knows ... even A.J. can see it." Brian just shook his head. "Look," Nick said, stepping away from the bus. "Ever since the video shoot, I tried to make a move on her, but she keeps backing off." He looked over at his friend and then said, "She's tried to let me know where she and I stood. Not that I haven't tried to talk her out of it ... I have, trust me. But it's not me she wants ... it's you."
Brian stared at his friend for a moment, finding his revelations overwhelming. "Every time I try to get near her, she backs off," he tried to explain. "Just when I think she's interested, she does something to convince me she's not."
"It's her defense mechanism jumping in," Nick said, wondering what was possessing him to do this. It would be in his best interest to drop it and convince Jennifer to be with him instead. But he found himself being the liaison between these two. "She's hung up on this 'It wouldn't be fair to the rest of the band' thing. You know, we all work together, travel together ... whatever. And she's probably still afraid to get involved with anyone after what happened to her with that wedding. Who can blame her." He turned suddenly to face Brian. "But I'm telling you ... you'd be a fool to let her slip through your fingers."
"How did you get to be so smart?" he asked, suddenly smiling up at his best friend. "I'm supposed to be giving you the advice on girls, not the other way around."
"I may be younger," Nick said, smiling at him, "But I'm no fool when it comes to knowing women. Jennifer is all woman and if you'd open your eyes long enough, you'd see everything I'm telling you now."
Later that afternoon, Jennifer was doing the dishes in the bus when Nick came in. "Hi," he said, coming up behind her, his arms snaking around her waist.
She smiled at him and then turned suddenly. "Nick, I need to talk to you."
"I know," he admitted, stepping away from her.
"What do you mean 'you know'? I haven't even said anything yet?"
"You don't have to," Nick said, grinning over at her.
She gave him a level look and then turned back to the dishes. "Okay, what am I going to say?" she asked, opening the cupboard above her head. She reached out to put a dish up into it but it was just beyond her reach. Nick stood behind her, took the dish from her and stretched upward with her to assist her in putting the dish where it belong. His other arm was around her waist, helping to steady her as she stood on her toes.
At that moment, Brian walked into the bus quietly and saw them together. He felt his heart rip open just a little more as he saw Nick holding her the way he longed to daily. It was obvious his friend had been serious when he told him he was going to do something about it. As he turned to leave, he heard Nick answer her question. "You're going to tell me that you're in love with B-Rok and that I'm too young for you."
Jennifer stopped in midair, disbelief in what she had heard coming out of Nick's mouth. Her heartbeat quickened as she said, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't deny it, Jen," he said, laughing. "We all know."
"What do you mean 'we'?" she asked, looking back over her shoulder at him. He stepped around to the side of her and picked up the cup towel that sat on the counter.
"Everyone but Brian," he answered, shrugging his shoulders. "You two have worked so hard trying to fight it. It's obvious to the rest of us."
Jennifer stood for a few minutes staring at Nick and then gently shoving him back, said, "If you knew that's how I felt, then why haven't you said anything?" she asked.
"I don't know," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "I guess I was hoping I was wrong ... that maybe we could get together." He looked over at her once more and then smiled, "But now I know that you and I aren't going to get anything going. You and B-Rok belong together and it's time you both admitted it."
"Is that right?" she asked, smiling at him and then turning at the sound of the door closing. Capturing Brian's gaze in hers, she quickly took in her breath. "Brian!" Nick turned at her words, a grin breaking out on his face.
"Hi," Brian answered, a sheepish grin crossing his face, his eyes glancing over to Nick. "Nick ..."
"Hey man," he answered, folding the cup towel and placing it on the cabinet top. Quickly turning to Jennifer and kissing her cheek, he joked, "Now, you two have fun." Jennifer shot him a look of complete shock, knowing Brian had heard everything they had said. Nick brushed past Brian on his way out, slapping his friend on the shoulder, laughing at their predicament. Brian turned and watched the door close behind him, now alone in the bus with Jennifer.
He turned towards her, a serious look on his face. She watched him for a moment and then turned back to her job, her hands now shaking with nervousness. He came over to stand beside her, taking the cup towel in his hand. "Here," he said, reaching over to take the dish from her hand. "Let me help."
"Thanks," she managed to get out, her tongue reaching out to wet her now, dry lips. She wondered how she was going to face him now. He had to have heard her conversation with Nick and it was painfully obvious that he now knew how she felt about him. Her hands trembled as she reached back into the sink for another dish. They worked quietly beside each other for a few minutes, neither knowing what to say.
Jennifer finally worked up enough courage to glance over at him, finding his eyes on her. She smiled at him, looking back down at her work. "I guess I caught you guys at a bad time," he offered, letting a small chuckle escape his lips.
Jennifer couldn't help but smile at his words. "I don't know if I'd call it a bad time, just . . ." she searched for the right word, and then looking over at him, "awkward." He smiled at her, folding the cup towel and placing it down.
Turning to face her, he added, "I'm glad I walked in though."
"Why's that?" she asked, feigning ignorance. She could feel her heart racing and wondered if he could hear it from where he stood.
"I would've never known."
"Known what?" she barely whispered.
"You haven't been completely honest with me." Jennifer looked up, startled at his accusation.
"I've always been honest with you, Brian. Right from the start," she defended herself, wondering where he was going with this.
"You didn't tell me how you really felt about me," he pointed out. She turned back to her work, but he took her by the hand and turned her towards him. "Why?"
She searched his eyes for a moment, not sure how to answer. She didn't want to confess her true feelings and not have them returned. She desperately hoped Nick had been right . . . that he felt the same way. "According to Nick," she answered softly, "I could ask you the same question." He smiled at her words, knowing she was right.
"You could," he grinned at her. "Right after you answer my question."
Her eyes dropped to his hand holding hers, his fingers lightly massaging hers. She smiled and said, "To tell you the truth, in the beginning I just didn't want my feelings to get in the way of my job and your career." She looked up at him, holding his eyes with hers. "And then ..." She stopped, her eyes dropping again. "And then ... I didn't think there would be any way that you'd ever feel that way about me."
Brian stared at her for a moment, wondering what he had done to make her think that he wouldn't be interested in her. It had taken everything he had had not to pull her into his arms every time they had been together. He felt closer to her than anyone ... even the guys in the band. As his left hand continued to hold hers, his right hand gently cupped her chin, lifting her eyes to meet his. He was stunned at the tears that now filled her luminous blue eyes. He shook his head in amazement. It was suddenly obvious that they had felt the same way about each other since the beginning and he couldn't find the words to voice his feelings. All he could do was stare at her, lost in her eyes.
He leaned into her, his lips gently brushing hers. Jennifer's eyes closed, a small sigh escaping her lips as they parted beneath his. Drawing her into his embrace, Brian's arms went around her, pulling her closer to him. Jennifer's hands clutched at the sides of his shirt, not knowing where to go; but as she leaned into him, they traveled slowly up his back, reveling in the feel of him finally in her arms. As his lips continued to brush across hers slowly, seductively, Jennifer felt her legs turn to jelly; unsure she could support herself anymore. Just when she thought she would drop, Brian pulled back slowly, staring into her eyes silently. He smiled at her and then drew her back into his embrace, his mouth next to her ear.
"I can't believe this, not after all this time," he confessed quietly, his lips nibbling on her earlobe. She smiled at his words, her eyes shutting in her attempt to hold onto this moment.
"Me either," she admitted. "I didn't think you felt the same about me."
He drew back again, keeping her close to him but where he could look into her face. "I'm surprised you didn't see it before now," he said. "I had a hard time keeping my hands off of you."