Love's Harmony Ch. 02bysimply_cyn©
The first week, Jennifer worked her tail off running here and there, making coffee, making phone calls, working on external and internal mail for the company, and greeting visitors and clients that came into the office. At the beginning of her second week on the job, she inadvertently impressed the Marketing Director for the company. As she was bringing him a cup of coffee, he was busy preparing a presentation for a new band they had just signed on. She happened to notice what he was doing over his shoulder as she set his coffee down.
"You know, that presentation would look better by using PowerPoint. The computer system has it already loaded on the hard drive. I noticed it last week when I was typing up some new business letterheads," Jennifer offered.
"PowerPoint?" he asked, looking up at her.
"Yes sir," she said, forgetting her status as an employee and sat down in the chair beside him at his work station. "It takes all of the information you have on these overhead sheets and puts them on the computer. You can add animation to it, like bullets or points that you want to make, fly onto the screen. It's pretty impressive."
"You sound real familiar with it," he said, impressed with her ideas.
"Well, I used it a lot at my last job," Jennifer added.
"Which was ...?" he prompted her to continue.
"I was a marketing assistant at a computer company back home," Jennifer stated
"Then, what in the world are you doing in a receptionist and gopher job?" he asked, amazed.
"I was desperate," she stated, standing back up, suddenly remembering what her job was and what his was. She had no business putting herself on his level. There was a certain order of rank in a company like this. He was close to the top and now, she was on the bottom. "I came out here on impulse and paid the price by not having a job. I should've known better." And then as she started to leave, she added, "Not that I don't like this job . . . I do. But I miss the marketing part of it."
"I could really use a boost with my presentation. How about showing me PowerPoint?" he asked. Suddenly, he realized he had more than a receptionist on his hands.
"I'd be glad to," she said.
"I'll give you the proper credit on the presentation," he said, smiling at her. "And, if you'd like, I'll see what I can do about your job."
She smiled, realizing she had stumbled onto a miracle. "I'd like that," she said, coming back to sit beside him. "Now, let's take a look at your computer . . ."
It wasn't long after that Jennifer was quickly promoted to a job more suited to her talents. At first, she helped get the others updated on marketing strategies that she had used with her company back home and then she was introduced to some new marketing skills that she was unfamiliar with. Seeing her enthusiasm and her ability to get other people on the "band wagon" of whatever she was promoting, her senior marketing director decided to propose a more challenging job to her: one of promoting bands working under their label. At first, Jennifer turned it down, not feeling she had the music experience and know-how to do such a job. Jim Coleman, her senior director, quickly convinced her that she had what the job needed . . . youth, vitality, enthusiasm, innovative ideas and a love for music. She was overwhelmed and ecstatic. It didn't take long before she realized she had the perfect job and one she loved: marketing and music all wrapped up into one. When her parents heard the good news, her mother couldn't believe her good fortune, but her father said he always knew that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to.
She spent the first month, getting accustomed to the label's approaches and the bands that were signed on with them. She was put directly in charge of one group in particular. They had made it big over in Europe and Canada, but were now in the process of trying to bring it back home to the USA. They had gone multi-platinum in sixteen countries and had sold over ten million records worldwide. They were one of the only bands to have four top ten singles at the same time and had won the MTV Europe Viewer's Choice World Award the year before. After touring Europe and Canada, they had finally come home to the studio to craft more vibrant songs and sharpen their vocals. They were about to start touring in the states and Jennifer was in charge of promoting the tour. She was surprised and thrilled at the same time to find that she would be traveling with them as well.
A stickler for knowing the clients she represented, Jennifer did her research on the group. They were known for their powerful harmonies, groove friendly beats, passionate ballads and charisma. She had heard that their stage show was dynamic and couldn't wait to see them perform. She had seen videos and footage from their European tour, but knew it couldn't compare to seeing them firsthand. The group was based here in Orlando and was a blend of pop and R&B. One of the stories circulating about them was that when they first tried to get picked up, they would go around to the local record labels and sing acappella in their foyers in an attempt to get noticed. Their popularity started locally in Florida: they sang in high school gyms, performed at Grad Night at Sea World and even opened for another fast upcoming act. Jennifer was impressed and excited about meeting them. She had a scheduled meeting with Jim in the morning and introductions would be made then. She hoped and prayed that she made a good impression. It was imperative if she was to be traveling with them over the next few months.
"Mr. Coleman, excuse me." Jim's secretary, Gail, poked her head into his office, interrupting his quick overview of what Jennifer's schedule would be like the rest of the week. "The boys just arrived. Should I show them in?"
Jim looked up from the chair where he sat across from Jennifer, smiling at her words. "Give us two minutes, Gail, and then send them on in."
She nodded, backing back out the door and closing it shut behind her. Turning to Jennifer, Jim asked, "So, are you ready to meet the band?"
"I think so," she answered, excited and nervous at the same time.
Jim stood up, crossing over to his desk to lay his calendar back down. "They're a great bunch of guys, Jennifer. I think you'll really like getting to know them and working with them. As you already know, there are five members ranging in ages from nineteen to twenty-eight. They each have their own personality, but work together well. You'll have no problems getting along with them, I guarantee it."
He turned, leaning against his desk as he added, "The only one I should forewarn you about is A.J. He is pretty easy going, but if there is a one of them that is temperamental, it's him. He's a real stickler for the way he thinks things should be. He is one of the original three and feels this band is his baby."
"As well he should," Jennifer added, smiling at him.
"True," he added, picking up his cup of coffee. "I just want you to be prepared. At times, it may seem like he's after blood, but he's just trying to do what's best for the band. Your job will be to convince him that you are best for the band, understand?"
"I think so," she said, starting to wonder herself if she was ready to tackle a job like this.
Reading her thoughts, Jim added, "You'll do great. Just be yourself and show them what you've shown me. You know marketing, Jennifer, and we know you can do this job better than anyone else. If we didn't, we wouldn't be sending you on the road with them. Okay?"
Just as he finished, the group walked into the office behind Gail. "Guys, welcome back! It's great to see you again." Jim crossed the room over to where they stood, shaking hands with each one, slapping them on the back. As Jennifer watched, she noticed the reporire they had with Jim as well as with each other. She could recognize right off who the baby of the group was, who the jokester of the group was, and had a feeling she already knew which one A.J. was.
"Guys, let me introduce you to your new publicity director." Crossing over to where Jennifer now stood, he placed a hand on her back as he faced the band members. "I would like to introduce you to Jennifer Matthews, newest member of Jive Records. Jennifer this is Kevin, Nick, Howie D., Brian, and A.J."
She shook each band member's hand, nodding an acknowledgement or saying a quick hello to each one in turn. She was met with smiles and friendly conversation from each member, although she could feel the doubt radiating from A.J. as she came to him.
"No offense, miss, but aren't you a little young to be a publicity director?" She smiled at his words and would have responded if Jim hadn't broken in immediately.
"A.J. put your mind at ease. Yes, Miss Matthews is young, but has been in the marketing business a while now and has made quite a name for herself back in Texas with her skills and talents."
"I realize that," he said, turning to look at him. "But, she has never worked in the music business, isn't that right?" This time, he let his gaze turn to her.
"That's correct," she said, standing directly in front of him. It was important to her that she let him know here and now that she could handle this job. "But I want you to know that I am very enthusiastic about this journey, A.J. I may be new to the music industry, but I assure you . . . I know what the public wants. We have to work together to convince them that they want you . . . The Backstreet Boys."
She noticed his facial features soften some as her words sank in and added, "My job is to make your job easier. You concentrate on the music part and I'll do the rest. Sound fair?" Jim smiled at her ability of taking over quickly and he could see A.J. was well on the way to accepting her, although he knew he wouldn't show it right away.
"We'll see," was all A.J. would admit to, although as he turned towards Kevin, he passed along a look of admiration for this spunky girl.
They spent the next few hours going over their travel schedule, scheduled appearances and concert dates. As they worked, Jennifer observed each member of the band, trying to get a sense of who each one was.
Directly across from her sat Nick Carter, the youngest member of the band. He was pretty tall and had long blonde hair that came to his jaw line and beautiful blue eyes. As he listened intently to Jim, his hair kept falling forward into his face and he would sweep it back with one hand, time and again. Each time he swept it back, his agitation grew at the nuisance of it. Watching for a few minutes, Jennifer smiled at his growing irritation. At one point, he threw his head back trying to get it out of his face and his gaze fell on her watching him. He quickly blushed and smiled at her, embarrassed that she had caught him. She smiled back at him, laughing to herself. Her gaze was reverted to the next band member when he cleared his throat and sat back in his chair.
Kevin Richardson was the oldest member of the band and was one of the original three members who formed the group. He was very tall with dark brown, almost black, hair and entrancing green eyes. She quickly recognized the confidence and maturity that he possessed, just in the way he handled himself in the meeting. She noticed that he wore a lot of silver: silver rings on both hands and bracelets on his wrists. He also wore two black leather bracelets and two small silver hoop earrings. He seemed very serious and professional, like the father of the group, but at the same time she could sense a gentleness and kindness radiating from him. She smiled and then let her gaze travel again down the line.
Sitting next to Kevin were the two band members that looked a lot alike to her. The first one's name was Howard Dorough, better known to the band members as Howie D. He made Jennifer think of the stories she had heard of Latin lovers when she watched him. He had beautiful dark skin, long brown hair that he kept back in a slick pony tail, and brown eyes. He wore an earring in one ear and spoke Spanish every once in a while to A.J. McLean, who sat on the other side of him.
Watching A.J., Jennifer wondered if she would ever be able to convince him that her best interests were in the band as well. Jim had been right . . . he seemed very unapproachable and distant. She thought a big part of it had to do with the sunglasses he still wore, even in Jim's dim office. She hadn't seen him take them off yet! He wasn't very tall and was thin with short, spiky dark brown hair that was dyed blonde on top. She wasn't sure about the color of his eyes, but was pretty sure they were brown because of his dark skin coloring. He wore large gold hoop earrings in both ears, rings on almost every one of his fingers and wore lots of chains, on both his neck and wrists. The one thing that looked really good on him was the go-tee he wore. It wasn't too thick and not too thin. Suddenly, his gaze was on her and she wasn't sure what to do. He made her feel unsure of herself as she tried flashing him a smile. His facial expression stayed the same and she quickly let her gaze travel to the last member of the band, Brian Littrell.
Of them all, Brian was the one Jennifer felt instantly drawn to. He was beautiful! Not just on the outside . . . but on the inside. It seemed to radiate out of him. When things would get too serious, he would crack a joke or make a face and she was instantly won over. Here was the clown of the group! She couldn't help but smile at him as she watched him and each time he caught her gaze on him, a wide smile would spread across his face. He had short brown hair with reddish tints, closely cropped to his head. She could tell he tried to used hair gel to get it to lay straight, but the bangs in front were stubborn for they curled up and went wherever they wanted. He had on white cotton pants and an untucked navy short sleeve knit shirt that showed off his muscular upper arms. When he smiled, dimples peeked out at the corners of his mouth. He had a very strong chin and jaw line with prominent cheekbones. When he made a face, his nostrils would flare wide open and the guys joked about how he could suck the table up into one of them if he tried hard enough. It didn't take long for Jennifer to realize she was going to like traveling with this bunch of guys.
Brian, too, couldn't keep his eyes off of the beautiful girl sitting at the table with them. He watched her as she made mental note of each band member and he could tell she was trying to figure out each one's personality. As he watched her, Jim's voice drowning out under the thoughts running in his own head, he admired her naturally good looks. Her forehead was high over delicately arched mink-brown brows. Below a small, straight nose, her lips gleamed a rose pink, perfectly formed to tempt a man's, the lower lip slightly more full with just a suggestion of a pout. It was her eyes, however, that held his attention. They were a beautiful, bright blue and sparkled as she laughed at Nick's attempts to keep his hair out of his eyes. Her long, gently waving hair was an unusual combination of sun-streaked light brown and golden blonde, with just a hint of a few strands of strawberry through it. Sitting at the chair, he couldn't see the rest of her, but remembering when he first entered the room and she had stood, he had noticed that she was small with a beautiful figure. Being that he wasn't very tall himself, he was glad to see that she was shorter than he . . . not that he thought it would matter. But inwardly, he was still glad.
Over the next couple of weeks, Jennifer tried to hide the fact that she was attracted to Brian . . . after all, they worked together and would be on the road together. She couldn't let her attraction to him get in the way of her job and his career, so she hid it. Besides, there was like this unwritten rule about the guys dating. It was a practice that went back to previous boy-bands like them: any notion of one of them having a relationship would put them beyond the reach of their lovesick fans, and as a publicity director, she knew those notions had to be quickly squashed. It was like the fans owned them. But knowing all this, she still would watch him at rehearsals in the studio: the way he closed his eyes when he sang, the way he used his hands to express the song, how he really got into the music. When he sang, she felt swept away. His personality shone, no matter what the situation. Everything about him attracted her to him; his beautiful smile, his gorgeous blue eyes, and that firm jaw. It sure didn't hurt any that he had an absolutely beautiful voice.
One of the things she enjoyed most about Brian was his ability to make people smile and laugh. For instance, he could do a dead-on impression of Donald Duck. Thinking back, she could remember how he was a little timid when they first met but then warmed up quickly, turning into a ham. She couldn't think of one time in the past few weeks that she hadn't seen him smiling all the time.
What she found to be most interesting was the fact that Brian and Kevin were cousins. One would have thought that they would have been best friends, but it was Nick who Brian hung with the most, and Jennifer quickly found out why. Nick was like the baby brother of the group. He and Brian goofed around constantly or played Nintendo when they got the chance. Jennifer and Nick clicked almost automatically. They formed a friendship instantly and she was thankful for that. The more she got to know the group, the more she felt at ease, but she was still far from fitting in . . . especially with A.J. The tour started in just a few days and she hoped that, once on the road, A.J. would warm up and come around like the rest of the guys seemed to.