Ally shoved at the glass doors listlessly and frowned when they wouldn't give under her pressure. She knew her arms were sore from the strenuous workout she'd endured today but they weren't that weak.
Suddenly, they opened and Ernie, the ancient doorman, smiled apologetically at her. "Sorry Miss Ally," he said. "I have to keep the doors locked when I'm not standing here." He pointed at a newly installed intercom system. "People have to buzz to be let in when I'm on break."
"Oh," she mumbled. "Thanks, Ernie." She waved and wandered down the hall to her father's office. She knocked once and opened the door.
"What's up, princess?" Jake Johnson asked as Ally meandered in and plopped in the chair across from him.
"I'm bored," she sighed.
"Didn't you have practice today?"
"It's over," she said. "I thought I'd come bug you."
He stood and dropped a kiss on the top of her head. "As much as I love it when you bug me, I have a meeting in ten minutes." He frowned when she shrugged. "You can hang out here if you want."
"Thanks," she mumbled.
He perched on his desk and faced his daughter. "What's the problem?"
"I can't stand it, Daddy," she whined. "Jamie's off in training camp, Adam's spending the week with Ray." She motioned dramatically with her arms. "And Cole and RJ are who knows where."
He hid a smile. "When's the last time you talked to him…I mean, them?"
"Last night," she sighed again, not noticing her father's amusement. "They sound like they're having a blast."
"They probably are," he told her. "I remember when we went on our first tour."
Ally stood slowly and narrowed her eyes at her dad. "What did you do?"
He held his hands up. "We behaved! Honest."
She snorted and plopped back down. "I can hardly see Ronnie as the type to behave."
"Yeah, well," Jake smirked. "He did hit on Rob Black's wife first time he met her."
"He did not!" Ally gasped.
"They weren't married at the time. I don't even think they were together." Jake shook the memory out of his head. "RJ, Ryan and Cole are good boys. I'm sure they're not out boozing and picking up strange women. They probably don't have much time for that sort of thing anyway."
"I miss them," she muttered.
"It's not easy, honey," Jake said softly. "It was hard on your mom and I when we first started dating. I was on the road and she was stuck in school."
She blushed prettily. "I don't just miss Cole," she said. "I miss them all. I'm lonely."
He yanked on her arms and pulled her to his chest. "Well princess, everyone has to grow up some time. I know you miss your friends but it's time for you all to test the waters and figure out what you want to do with life. You'll all still remain very close, I'm sure, but this might be the time you four need to go your separate ways. At least for awhile."
She wrapped her arms around his neck. "It sucks," she murmured in his shoulder."
He rubbed her back. "I know. But you all will get together soon. Besides," he said, pushing her back to arms length. "You need to be getting ready for LA. I thought we were flying out this weekend."
A tiny smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "We are."
"I'm sure your friends won't miss that," he smiled. "They'll find a way to be there."
Her smile grew and spread to her eyes. "I think so. Thanks, Daddy."
He hugged her again. "You're welcome, princess." Someone rapped lightly on the door. "Come in," Jake called.
"They're here, Jake," Nick Collins said as he peeked his head inside the door. He spotted Ally and grinned. "Hey, Ally girl! How was practice?"
"Tiring," she said as she kissed his cheek. "I think I'll go home and take a long, hot bath."
Nick folded his arms over his chest. "Cole called last night. He said they'd probably be able to make one or two of the preliminary games next week."
"That's what he told me, too," she said, ducking her head to hide her blush. "Go to your meeting. I'll see you two later."
Cole Collins fell into his bunk in the back of the bus. His best friend, RJ Stone followed behind collapsed face first in another. "Dude," RJ groaned. "What city are we in again?"
"Somewhere in Utah, I think," Cole answered wearily.
"Do you actually think we'll make any of Ally's games next week?"
Cole sat up and sighed. "I hope so. She'll be disappointed if we don't." He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and checked the date. "I haven't seen her in over three weeks."
They'd had a lot of fun on the tour; especially opening up for an act like The Fabulous Rivals, but he was starting to get a little tired of the bus. He'd never admit it to the guys or even Ally, but he enjoyed working in the studio much more.
"I know Jamie's been at that college football training camp, but where's Steph?" RJ was asking.
"She's with her dad," Cole said, still studying his cell phone. "I should probably call Al," he mused.
"RJ," Ryan moaned, interrupting their conversation. "My tutor said if I passed this stupid Literature test, he'll give me a two week break."
"Great," RJ smirked.
"Help me study," Ryan demanded.
RJ and Cole exchanged amused glances. Carly refused to allow Ryan to tour unless he was tutored and passed his GED. Had he stayed in school, he would have been a senior this year and he told his mother that was enough education. Besides, he was going to be rich. Unconvinced, she didn't budge. She even had Rob put a clause in their contract that Ryan had to pass his GED test and being as he wasn't quite eighteen, he had to relent.
RJ climbed out of his bunk. "I'll go study with him out there so you can call Ally."
Cole nodded. "Thanks, man." He waited for them to leave the room before finding her number and hitting send. She answered immediately, making him grin. "Hey, princess."
"Don't call me that," she grumbled.
"Someone's in a foul mood," he teased.
"I'll hang up on you," she threatened.
"You won't," he challenged. His grin widened.
"Ok, Al," he laughed, ending their ritual. "You win tonight. I'm too tired."
"Haven't you been sleeping?" she asked, concern lacing her voice.
"Eh, I guess." He pulled out a cigarette and lit it. "You ready for LA?"
"Yes and I thought you were going to quit," she said.
"I said I was, I just didn't say when," he smirked, searching the little night stand for an ashtray. He butted his cigarette and leaned back on the bed. "It's out. You happy?"
"Yeah, sure," she said. "So, how was the show tonight?"
He told her all about the show and how they'd managed not to screw anything up this time. He described how the venue looked and how crowded it was. She asked the same questions she did every night they talked and he answered them patiently. He closed his eyes and listened to her talk, her voice sweeter than any music he could make.
"So," she said a little hesitantly when she finally ran out of questions. "When I get the schedule I'll call you with it, ok?"
"Definitely, Al," he reassured her. "We shouldn't be too far for the next couple weeks and hopefully I'll be able to make a few games."
"I hope so," she mumbled.
"Hey, Al," he said, stifling a yawn. "I know what this means to you. I promise, if I can be there, I will."
"I know you will," she said. "You sound tired, Cole. I should let you go."
"Ok," he agreed. "Oh, wait." He got up and opened the door. RJ and Ryan looked from the table. He held up the cell phone. "It's Ally."
They grinned. "Hey, Ally!" they called in unison. Cole laughed and put the phone back to his ear before shutting the door again.
"I miss you guys," she stated simply. "I hope to see you soon."
"You will," he said. "I'm gonna go. I love you, Al."
"I love you, too," she smiled and closed her phone.
She finished unpacking her clothes and sank to the bed. Her eyes scanned the small dorm room, comparing it to the dorm she'd shared with Jenna for four years at Meridian Valley. This one was much smaller with two beds, two dressers and a very mini fridge crammed inside. She pulled open what she thought was a closet door and found the even tinier bathroom. The walls were a faded white with one small window over the bed she chose as hers. The carpet was a faded green, from what she could tell, but at least it was clean. The whole room was clean.
She noticed a couple nails sticking out of the walls above her bed and her dresser and she grinned. She pulled out a few frames from her bag and arranged the photos to her liking. A photo of her with her parents and her brother on a beach in Maui adorned the spot above her dresser. On the other nail, she hung a picture from her graduation. Her and Jamie stood in their graduation gowns between Cole and RJ; all of them laughing at something Ronnie had said as soon as her mother snapped the picture. She smiled longingly at it, loving it more each time her eyes gazed at it.
The last picture she propped up on the nightstand by her bed. It was her favorite and the one she looked at each night before she turned out her light. She couldn't remember who took it but she did know it was taken at a party and it was of Cole with his arms wrapped around her and they both were smiling; obviously very happy. Her heart ached suddenly for him, paining her more than usual and nearly bringing her to tears. She sighed and choked back the emotions, reasoning that he'd be there soon.
The door swung open to admit a tall, thin blonde. She noticed Ally and smiled broadly while striding the three steps over to her.
"Hi," she said happily. She extended her hand. "I'm Lisa Browning. I guess we're roommates."
"Hi," Ally said quietly. "I'm Ally Johnson. Nice to meet you."
Lisa's pale blue eyes widened. "I heard about you!"
Ally cringed, waiting for the usual remarks and exclamations over her father's fame. "You have, huh?"
"Yeah," Lisa continued excitedly. "Everyone around here is talking about you! They're saying that you're amazing on the field. A friend of mine played against you last year in the Midwest League. She said you can hit anything that crosses the plate."
Ally ducked her head and blushed. "Oh, thanks, I guess."
"This is so cool," Lisa said, still in a daze. "I was shocked to even make the National team, let alone get to room with Ally Johnson!"
"Umm…" Ally stammered. She was so used to people gushing over her father that she didn't know how to take compliments. "Thanks and all, but, really, I'm just a ball player like you."
"Oh, no," Lisa said, shaking her head emphatically. "You're…"
"Really, Lisa," Ally interrupted. "Stop. Please."
Lisa clamped her lips shut. "Sorry," she muttered. "My best friend calls me a motor mouth. You just have to tell me to shut up." She gave Ally a sheepish look. "I'm doing it again, huh?"
Ally laughed, feeling more at ease. "It's ok." She glanced at the bags Lisa had dropped in the doorway. "Do you need help unpacking?"
"Sure," Lisa chirped and she happily filled Ally in on just about every aspect of her life as they worked together to get her things put away. She, too, had a few pictures to hang and told Ally the story behind each one, including one with her huge family.
But Ally didn't mind. It was a nice change to have a chatty companion fill up all the silence that surrounded her since her friends had gone their own way. It couldn't mend the tiny rips in her heart, but it sure bandaged them nicely.
"Who is this?" Lisa asked, picking up the picture next to Ally's bed.
Ally smiled. "That's Cole. He's my boyfriend."
"He is hot! Where'd you meet him and does he have a brother?"
Ally laughed and gently took the picture from the other girl's hand. "We've been friends since birth and no, he's an only child."
Lisa grunted. "The only male friend I have has better fashion sense than me." She paused to look at Ally. "He's gay."
"I grew up with three best male friends. Our dads were all friends so we just hung out. I didn't really have any girlfriends."
Lisa sat on Ally's bed, totally mesmerized. "I bet dating was a nightmare, huh?"
Ally shrugged. "I didn't date anyone seriously until Cole." She pulled the graduation picture off her wall and handed it to Lisa. "That's all of us when Jamie and I graduated. Jamie is my cousin. That's Cole on my left and RJ on Jamie's right."
Lisa grinned at the picture. "You lucky, lucky girl. I wouldn't mind hanging out with them all my life."
"It's had it's ups and downs, let me tell you," she said. She took the picture back and hung it in it's place. "I miss them all so much."
"Where are they?" Lisa asked.
"Jamie's off to college football camp," she said and paused, not ready to reveal where Cole and RJ were. "Cole and RJ are off doing other things right now. But they'll all probably make it to a game or two."
"Hey, is that your family?" Lisa asked, eyeing the photo above the dresser. Ally nodded and cringed, waiting for the inevitable exclamation that Jake Johnson was her dad. "Nice looking," she said with a smile. "Are they here?"
"Yeah," she said, shoulders relaxing. "They're staying in the city somewhere."
"Hey, there's supposed to be a get together going on in the cafeteria to introduce us all. Do you want to go?"
"Sure," Ally said with a smile. "Let's go."
A/N: I'm stuck on Rookie (even though I have the next two chapters done) so I decided to work on this and post it tonight. It was either that or smoke (LOL). I have absolutely no clue where I'm going to go with this so bear with me. I'm going to try to organize for once and do an outline because I don't want it to be another Phone Calls.
Anyway, hope you like it. Let me know what you think.
Oh, excuse the somewhat corny name. I was desperate.