Every time the phone rang, Julia hoped that it was the Jonas boys calling her. It never was. However, on the night of Julia's birthday, October 25th, the phone did ring and it was for her.
"Julia," her mother sang. "Someone called to wish you a happy birthday."
"Ok, mom. I'll get it in here," Julia called from her room. Her heart was hammering because she had a pretty good idea of who it was. She took a big breath before she picked up the phone. "Hello?" she said, trying to sound cool.
"Julia!" a male's voice exclaimed into the phone.
"Joe?" Julia asked in bewilderment.
"No! It's Nick!"
"Nick? You sound so old!"
Julia heard Nick laugh on the other end of the line. It was definitely Nick. She'd know that laugh anywhere. "Thanks?"
Julia laughed as well. "...You're welcome."
"Hey guys! Pick up! I'm talking to Julia right now," Nick called to Joe and Kevin.
Julia heard a click and someone that was rummaging around in the background. "Julia? My favorite blondie!" Joe exclaimed.
"Your favorite?" Julia asked. She felt a lump in her throat. She missed those boys so much.
"Well, duh!" Joe said in a mock-valley girl voice.
"Hey Jules!" Julia heard Kevin say. "We miss you."
"I miss you guys so much too! You have no idea!"
"We don't?" Joe asked, testing Julia's meaningless statement.
"I think we would," Kevin filled in.
"I agree," Nick added quickly.
"I'm so glad you called," Julia said, wanting to keep the boys on the phone as long as she could. She had talked to the boys on the phone before. At least once a month. But it was never enough.
"Oh yeah. I almost forgot why we called!" Nick said. "Ok, guys. One, two, three..." he whispered.
"Happy birthday to you!" the boys sang together. "Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Julia! Happy birthday to you!"
Julia laughed, truly enjoying the boys' version of "Happy Birthday."
"Yaaaay," Joe said in an over-exaggerated and drawled voice.
"Thank you!" Julia exclaimed, giggling.
"Our pleasure, Ocean Child," Kevin slipped in, calling Julia one of her nicknames from "Julia," amongst the chaos.
"Now we're both fifteen," Nick said. Julia barely heard him.
"My mom said you guys are going to be in town for Thanksgiving."
"Oh yeah! We're going to come down after we perform in the Macy's Day Parade," Nick said.
"Oh my gosh! I don't know if I can wait until then."
There was stifled laughter on the other end of the line.
"What?" Julia asked, feeling self-conscious.
"You won't have to wait," Joe said.
"What do you mean?"
"As our birthday gift to you..." Kevin began.
"You're coming to LA to see us in the AMAs!" Joe said in a hurry.
"What!? Are you serious?" Julia asked in disbelief.
"Dead serious!" Joe exclaimed, using his valley girl voice again. "You'll catch a flight here on November 15th and stay that whole weekend."
"I'll stay at your house?" she asked, still in disbelief.
"Is that ok?" Kevin asked with concern in his voice. He was always the one to make sure that Julia was happy with a plan or decision.
"Is that ok?" Julia repeated. "It's more than ok! That's the best gift ever!"
"I told you she'd want to," Julia heard Nick mutter.
"You didn't tell me anything!" Joe said much louder.
Kevin cleared his throat. "Guys, we're talking to Julia here." There was laughter. "How are you doing, Julia?"
"We've been thinking about you," Nick added.
"Oh, I've been fine. I have good days and bad days... It's lonely without you guys."
"Aw, Julia..." Joe said. "We're lonely without you too."
Julia laughed. "Thank for trying to make me feel better, Joe."
"Well, hey, you're going to be here soon," Nick said, trying to console Julia's sadness. He hated that he couldn't really be there to comfort her. She was his best friend and he knew her well enough to know that it took a lot to get her down.
"Yeah, not soon enough, though..."
Julia sat at her computer, aimlessly clicking around. She had just finished her work for the day on the homeschool computer program she had. All of a sudden, an im popped up on the screen. It was Nick! Julia felt a rush of butterflies and excitement. Nick didn't get on very much lately. It was always a treat when he did. Julia quickly read the im.
SaintNicholas16: hey julia!
Julia smiled at the screename she helped Nick think up. They were about eleven when they both made their AOL accounts.
juliaXoceanXchild25: nick! why r u on? u never get on!
SaintNicholas16: we didnt really get to talk earlier, and i knew u'd be online :)
juliaXoceanXchild25: :) how r u?
SaintNicholas16: i've been really good. missing u. how r u?
juliaXoceanXchild25: i miss u too! things have been boring around here. :(
SaintNicholas16: i think its about to get better very soon :)
And it did. Before she knew it, Julia had packed her bags frantically with the sound of her mother calling off things for Julia to remember.
Julia worried about leaving her mother alone. Had her father been there or any other siblings, maybe she wouldn't have thought about it so much. But she almost felt bad for going to California to have a good time and leaving her mother in New Jersey by herself. It didn't help that Julia had been suffering from separation anxiety since her father's death. It was just a looming feeling in the pit of her stomach that she hoped would get better with time. She knew she'd have to grow up one day.
Sandra was sad that her daughter was going to be away for awhile, but she didn't want to hold her back. Julia loved the Jonas family and Sandra could see how it was tearing her up not having her best friends next door anymore. Sandra herself would have gone on the trip, but there was no way she could get off from work--the hospital was short on nurses.
So, Sandra drove Julia to the airport, feeling quite sad, but wearing her best happy face. Julia was also trying to wear her happy face too, but with great difficulty. The two went into the airport together and Sandra waited while Julia got her bags tagged and classified. Then, it was time for the moment they had both been dreading.
"Now you be careful, sweetie. Don't put your bags down anywhere and leave them. Especially don't lose your ticket," Sandra started to ramble.
"Ok, mom," Julia said sadly, a lump rising in her throat.
"And call me when you get to Chicago for your layover flight. I think you'll have enough time to get something to eat."
"Do you have your money? Is there enough?"
"I think so."
"Well, you should double check before you go. And are you sure Denise knows what time to pick you up from the airport? LAX is very busy and I don't want you waiting around by yourself for too long."
"She knows, mom. You told her about six times on the phone."
"Do you have all of your gadgets?" Sandra asked, referring to Julia's iPod, digital camera, cell phone, etc. "Please don't lose those."
Sandra took a breath and then wrapped her arms around Julia. "Be good, ok? I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too, mom," Julia squeezed out of her throat. Sandra hugged Julia for just a bit longer before letting go. "All right. You should go now. I love you."
"I love you too, mom."
"Good luck. Call me."
"I will. Bye." Julia picked up her back pack and kissed her mom on the cheek before turning around and beginning her voyage across the country. She wiped away the tear that had fallen from her eye, not knowing that her mother was doing the same thing. It seemed that both of them had some growing up to do.