Love's Harmony Ch. 07bysimply_cyn©
"Brian," Nick called, running up to his best friend as they waited backstage. Finally, all the hoopla of the backstage pre-concert party was over and they had some time to concentrate on the concert at hand. They were scheduled to go on stage in twenty minutes.
"Yeah?" he replied, turning to look over his shoulder.
"Hey man, I got to talk to ya," he said, a wide smile beaming across his face.
"Sure, what's up?" he said, turning to face his friend. "You look like the cat who just swallowed the canary."
"Do I?' he laughed, dancing around Brian, playfully boxing at him.
"You sure are in a good mood," he said, playing back at him. This was the best time for the both of them . . . right before they went onto stage. They were all psyched up for this concert. It had been sold out since the day tickets went on sale.
"I'm in love," Nick said, still dancing around. Brian just looked at him, his smile slightly fading. He had a feeling where this was going.
Is that right?" he asked, turning back to peek out at the crowd.
"Yeah man," Nick said, coming around to stand beside him. "You'll never guess with who."
"Oh, I think I can," he muttered.
"What did you say?" Nick asked, not hearing him over the screaming coming from the stage area.
Brian turned back around and said, "I said, who?"
Nick grinned back at him. "Jennifer . . . I think I'm in love with Jennifer."
Brian took in a deep breath, a sick feeling coming to his stomach. "Isn't she a little old for you, Nick?"
"Oh shit," he said, shaking his head. "That's so lame. She's just twenty-three."
"And you're nineteen," Brian reminded him.
"Oh that doesn't matter," Nick replied, dancing around again. "Have you seen her tonight? She is hot!" Brian shook his head. He wasn't sure he wanted to see her. It was becoming painful to be around her and not be able to touch her . . . not be able to take her in his arms like he longed to do. "She's got on these blue jeans and man, they don't leave anything to the imagination and this tank top with these spaghetti straps . . ."
"Okay, I get the picture," he said, turning back towards him. "Where is she?"
"I'm not sure," Nick said, turning around to locate her himself. "I'd like to see her again before we go on. I need a little good luck . . ." Brian watched him for a moment, wondering what to do now. Things just kept getting more complicated.
The concert had been over for almost three hours now and Brian still couldn't sleep. He lay in his bunk bed willing sleep to overtake him, but it wouldn't come to give him any relief. All night, all during the concert, all he could think of was Nick and Jennifer. Every love song they had sung, all he could think of was her. And now Nick had to go and make it even more difficult than it had been before. As he lay there, his curtain drawn, he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep until he had seen her one last time.
"Hey, you okay?" Jennifer looked up from her window seat to see Brian looking down at her, clad only in sweat bottoms.
She smiled at him, unfolding her legs and placing them on the floor, freeing up the seat beside her. "Yeah, I'm okay," she answered.
"Can I sit down?" he asked, pointing at the seat next to her. She nodded, looking back out the window at the dark shadows passing by. "What are you doing still up at this hour?" he asked, settling in next to her on the bench seat.
"I couldn't sleep," she answered, turning back to face him. "How about you? What are you doing still up?"
"I'm still psyched from the show," he answered, searching her face. The more time he spent with her, the more he wanted her. This would have been the perfect time for him to make a move, but it was Nick that kept him from doing anything. He had made it impossible for him to make a move on her when Nick had already fallen for her. If only he wasn't his best friend!
"You guys did a great job tonight. I can't believe the enthusiasm and energy y'all put into every show." She stopped, smiling at him. He looked tired, but happy. "You have to be exhausted.
"I am," he said, yawning at his own words. "I just can't relax."
"Here, let me help." She turned towards him, turning his shoulders so his back was to her. She slowly, but thoroughly started to massage his shoulders. She could feel him relax at her touch. "Better?' she asked.
"Mmmm . . . much," he answered, closing his eyes. She had great hands and her touch made Brian wonder even more how he could work things out for them. He wanted her, but at the same time, he didn't want to hurt Nick. He could feel her hands rubbing his shoulders, his back, his upper arms. "You're really good at this," he said, leaning forward to give her better access to his lower back.
"Well, I used to massage my dad's back after a long day at work," she said, now lightly running her long nails across his back. "A friend of mine is a massage therapist and she taught me a few basics."
"Well, you learned well. It feels great." She smiled at his words.
"Are you relaxing any?" she asked, rubbing his neck. Just touching his bare skin sent tingles from her fingertips straight to her stomach. Being this near, touching him like this, made her want to turn him around, take him in her arms, and kiss the breath out of him. But all she dared do was continue giving him the best massage she could muster, hoping her hands weren't trembling with the desire she felt for him.
"Yeah," he said, closing his eyes as he felt her hands on him. As he sat there with her, he softly began to sing. "I can't imagine life without your love and even forever don't seem like long enough."
Jennifer stopped for a moment, her hands resting on his shoulders. "What song is that?" she asked.
Brian looked up for a moment, saying, "It's a new one we're working on."
"Sing some more," she urged, going back to her massage.
Brian smiled and then continued, "Every time I breathe I take you in and my heart beats again. Baby I can't help it, you keep me drowning in your love.."
At that moment, Nick passed by them, only turning his head to look at them. To Jennifer, it looked as nothing but a passing glance, but Brian looked up to see the surprise and slight anger shining in his eyes. He sat up straighter, watching Nick as he continued down the aisle of the bus and then disappear into the back.
Jennifer stopped, peering around Brian's shoulder to catch his gaze. "What?" she asked, sensing him momentarily tense up.
He turned back to look at her, not sure what to say. "Nothing. Why?"
"You tensed up," she replied, running a hand back down his back.
"Oh . . . it's nothing, really . . ."
"Come on, Brian. Tell me."
He turned to sit beside her again, glancing back over his shoulder towards the back of the bus. "Well . . . it's Nick."
"Nick?" she questioned, looking confused at the concern in his face. "What's wrong with Nick?"
"Well . . . I'm not sure how to say it." He glanced over at her, rubbing his hands across the tops of his sweat bottoms.
"Just say it," she said, curling her legs underneath her again.
Brian looked over at her, turning to face her a little bit more. When he did, he put his arm over the back of the bench seat. "Nick," he began, "I think he's in love with you."
All she could do was look at him for a moment, her eyebrows lifting slightly on her forehead. So ... she had been right all along. Nick did feel something for her. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah," he said, searching her face for a reaction. "Nick is in love with you."
Jennifer continued to stare at him. This couldn't be happening. It was Brian she wanted. "Brian, he's nineteen. I don't think he knows what he wants." In her nervousness and Brian's revelation, she started to laugh.
Brian grinned back at her, relieved at her reaction. He laughed with her for a moment, and then said, "You can't blame him. Here we are, on the road with a beautiful woman . . . who wouldn't be in love with you?!" When Jennifer stopped laughing and just smiled at him, Brian thought he might have revealed too much. He quickly tried to cover his tracks. "I mean . . . you know, it's not often we're on tour with a beautiful woman and we're never in one place long enough to have a relationship. You're pretty accessible." Jennifer smiled at his discomfort.
"Brian, I understand what you're trying to say." Her heart sank as she realized he was trying to tell her that he wasn't interested in her like Nick was, and that's the one thing she wanted more than anything! She turned to look out the window again, fighting back the tears she felt burning in her eyes. She couldn't let him know how disappointed she was in his revelation.
He watched the back of her head for a moment, frustrated at his timidity once again when it came to her. All he wanted to do was forget how Nick felt about her, take her in his arms, and show her how he felt about her. His eyes traveled slowly down her profile, silently taking in her beauty.
Jennifer looked back at him. "So, what should I do?" she asked, wondering what he would say.
"I don't know," he said, wondering if she wanted to do something about it. "I guess it all depends on how you feel about him."
Jennifer wasn't ready to deal with all of this. Just when she thought that heartaches were behind her, here was another one to deal with. Brian was everything she wanted in a guy . . . and yet, here he sat practically pushing her towards a friend of his. "I don't know how I feel," she said, not wanting him to know how she felt about him. She didn't care about Nick. He was like a brother to her. But with Brian . . . She turned her head once more, looking out into the night. Why was this happening to her again?
Brian looked over at her. He could feel his heart splitting right down the middle. Was she interested in Nick? Had the video shoot and now all of Nick's attentions done it? He shook his head at his own timidity. It could have been him if he had pursued it, if he had pursued her. "Well, if you care for him, you should let him know."
She turned back to him, tears shining in her eyes and he was surprised. "So, you believe that if you care about someone, you should tell them?" she asked.
"Yeah," he replied. "It's the only way that you can make things work out . . . if they know."
Jennifer turned back towards the window, her greatest fears now realized. If that's how he thought, then he would've said something to her by now. It was obvious from his words that he didn't care about her. She had imagined it all. Nick was the one who wanted her and it hurt . . . god, it hurt! She fought back the tears and she felt his hand on her shoulder.
"Are you okay?" he asked, suddenly wondering what he had said. Had he made a mistake?
"Yeah," she said, not turning back to face him as the tears ran down her face. "You're right. I should tell him."
Brian got up from the seat, now knowing the truth. She felt the same way about Nick and he felt sick. "Well, thanks for helping me out tonight . . . you know, relaxing and all." When she didn't turn back towards him, he added, "I think you and Nick make a cute couple."
He was surprised when she looked back up him. It was obvious that she had been crying. "Thanks Brian." They both stared at each other for a long minute as each of them wondered where they had gone wrong, what they hadn't done . . . neither knowing how much it was killing the other person.
Brian managed to smile at her one last time before he went back down the hall towards his bunk and the beginning of a number of sleepless nights to come.
The next evening, they stopped for a couple of day's rest at a nice hotel somewhere outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. Riding on the tour bus was long and hard and Jennifer was especially spent after her conversation the previous night with Brian. All day, they had gone out of their way to not be near each other and it had been hard, both physically and emotionally. She had spent more time with Nick and now, looking back, she wondered if it was because she was turning towards him or if it had been to spite Brian, to lash out at the hurt he had inadvertently inflicted upon her.
She had gone straight to her room that she was sharing with Fatima and jumped into a hot bubble bath, hoping it would relieve some of the stress she had felt the past twenty-four hours. Just as she stepped out of the tub, she heard a knock on the door. Now what? She hoped it wasn't Nick. "Who is it?" she called, hoping it was just Fatima. It was.
"It's me, Jen. Can I come in?"
"Yeah," she called, wrapping a towel around herself. "Hi!" she said, looking up as Fatima walked into the spacious bathroom. She began to towel dry her hair with another towel. "What's up?"
"Nick just dropped by."
"He did?" she asked, her eyebrows lifting in surprise. "What did he want?"
"Well," she began, leaning against the wall as she eyed her friend. "He said he just wanted to talk to you."
"You sound like you don't believe him" she said, crossing over to the dressing table and sat down on the stool that was there. She lightly rubbed moisturizer over her face.
"Well, I think he wanted to do more than talk," she said, her look saying more than her words.
"What do you mean?" Jennifer asked again, shaking out her damp hair and running a comb through it.
"Well, I think it's pretty obvious he's fallen in love with you."
"Oh, Fatima," she exclaimed, looking at her reflection in the mirror. How had she gotten herself into this? "You're imagining things."
"I am not," she said, shaking her head. "You didn't see his face when I told him you had turned in for the night. That boy was disappointed and I mean, bad!"
Jennifer turned back around to face her. "You know, you're not the first one to say something about that to me."
"Is that right?" she replied, coming over to sit on the counter closer to Jennifer. "Who?"
Jennifer cleared her throat and replied, as offhandedly as she could, "Brian."
"Brian!" Naomi couldn't believe her ears. "Why honey, he's in love with you as well!"
"He is not," she said, turning back around and grabbed her body lotion. She took a deep breath, wishing that what Fatima had said was true! "Trust me, that's the furthermost thing from his mind."
Fatima turned, catching Jennifer's gaze in the mirror. "Yes, he is," she said again. "Everyone knows it. And I think that if you would be honest with yourself, you'd admit that you feel the same way about him."
Jennifer couldn't help but smile at her through the mirror. "Well . . ." she began.
"You do!" Fatima exclaimed. "I knew it!!" Jennifer laughed with her for a few moments.
"You know, when I first came, I thought it would be Kevin that I would be attracted to. He's tall, dark, handsome . . . but there's something about Brian." She stopped, lightly rubbing the body lotion into her arms and chest and then said, "He's funny, warm, caring. He makes me laugh so hard I can hardly breathe. And when he smiles . . ." she trailed off, tears springing into her eyes. God, it hurt so much to think about it.
"Girl, you've got it bad!" Fatima said, laughing.
"I know!" she admitted, trying to get a hold of herself. "What am I going to do?"
"What do you mean? You're going to go for it! What else would you do?"
"I can't do that," she said, her forehead wrinkling.
"Because . . ." She stopped for a moment, wondering how to explain it. Something wouldn't let her tell Fatima that he had rejected her . . . just like Ty had. "We work together. It's not professional."
"Bullshit!" Fatima interjected. "That's a pitiful excuse."
"It's not an excuse, it's the truth," she said, trying to defend herself. "Besides, it's not fair to the other guys. I mean, look at Nick."
"Oh, you can't think about crap like that," she said, shaking her head in disbelief. "What you want . . . you and Brian . . . that's the only thing that matters."
"It's more complicated than that," she said, standing up and running the comb through her hair once more, shaking off the notion of telling Fatima everything that had happened on the bus.
"You're the only one making it complicated."
"That may be true, but that's how I feel." She crossed over to where her clothes were, dropped the towel and slipped on her underwear and the nightshirt she always slept in. She wanted to say that it was Brian that had ended any hopes she had had of them getting together.
"Jen, what about how you feel? What about Brian?" Suddenly, Jennifer was in tears and Fatima was at her side. "What? What?!"
"Oh Fatima . . ." she cried, tears rolling down her face unchecked.
Fatima was immediately at her side, gently touching her shoulder and then smoothing the damp blond hair. Jennifer looked up after a few moments, her eyes filled with tears as Fatima took hold of her arm and led her into the adjoining bedroom, setting her on the edge of the bed. It was a full ten minutes before she could speak. Fatima said nothing. She only sat there and rubbed her back gently and waited.
Jennifer looked at her then. "I blew it, Fatima. I really did. Brian doesn't care for me. And I love him . . ." She couldn't go on then, and Fatima nodded slowly. She was beginning to get the picture.
"What happened, Jen?"
"Oh, god, I don't know. I thought everything was going to well. Just when I thought he felt the same about me, he . . ." She stopped for a moment, fighting back the urge to cry again. "He's not interested. He's not. He told me so last night."
"He came right out and told you that?" Fatima was astounded. He had given everyone the impression that he was hopelessly head over heels for the beautiful girl sitting before her.
"No, not in so many words . . ." she said. "But he said that Nick and I belong together . . . that we make a cute couple." She began to weep again, her head in her hands.
"Oh darling," Fatima cooed. "No, no . . . you're taking it wrong. He loves you, baby. He just doesn't know how to show it. He's so old-fashioned it hurts."
"No, I don't think so Fatima. You didn't see him."
"Jen, I'm pretty sure about it," she said, continuing to rub her friend's back. "Don't give up on ole' B-Rok yet." As Jennifer sat on the bed, doubting every word her friend said, she wanted desperately to believe . . .
The next afternoon, a big group of them were out relaxing by the pool. It was a gorgeous day and they finally had some free time this afternoon before the show this evening. Fatima and Jennifer lay on lounges, soaking up the sun while they could. Jennifer wore a two-piece black bikini and Dior sunglasses. Her long hair was twisted up and held in place with a comb. The guys were in the pool and had been playing a game of water volleyball with William, one of the costume designers.
Jennifer sat up, stretched and then changed positions. She turned over onto her stomach, but his time with her head facing the pool. The game was breaking up and she watched them all for a moment, her gaze shielded by the dark glasses she wore. She couldn't help but notice how gorgeous each one of the band members were: muscles rippling, stomachs hard, hair dripping. But even as they all were attractive, it was Brian she kept watching, her mind flying back to the conversation she had had with him on the bus just two nights ago.
Even as she watched him, he was laughing at something Nick had done and she couldn't help but smile along with him. He shook his head, water spraying from his short hair and then sticking straight up from the agitation. It didn't help that Nick kept reaching over and twisting the spiked ends to make it stick up even more, resulting in a wrestling match and dunking contest between the two of them. Jennifer turned back over onto her back, closing her eyes as she reveled in the feel of the hot sun on her skin. It wasn't often that they had a chance to rest and relax. She had work she could be doing, but had chosen to spend some time with the group. Besides, she wanted all the extra time she could to be near Brian, even though she knew he didn't feel the same way about her.