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Chapter Twenty One

March 23

"Holy shit."

I was glad that little ears weren't too close. The video that was playing on the IPad I held in my hands had warranted the expletive. I was flushed and I didn't think that I could blame it on the pain killers.

Nick Carter was practically nude. Yes, a guitar was hiding him for the most part, but there were segments when even the wide berth of the instrument couldn't hide what was bouncing right behind it.

It was the strangest thing I had ever seen.

And I loved it.

"Waddya think?"

Even though he was the one that had given me the device in the first place, I closed it like I had been looking at porn. The smile that lit up his face was one of sheer amusement. I forced the words from my dry tongue.

"You shoulda worn the bunny suit."

He laughed. "It the Harlem Shake, Midge. Ya know you liked it. That's just the drugs talking."

The tour physician had declared my injury a pulled knee ligament. I had ice, elevation, and meds. I was officially useless.

"Where's Rie?" I asked.

"She's fine," Nick assured me. "She's with a qualified nanny for the duration of the concert. After that, I'll watch her. We'll have a sleepover tonight."

My face must have registered something besides relief because he laughed.

"Don't be scared," he assured me.

"I'm highly harmless in my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle jammies."

"When I said these were gonna be seventy-two hours you wouldn't forget, I didn't mean bodily injury."

"Who's muy bonita?"


"Parker, if you fart on my arm one more time..."

"Now I know times really have changed. Brian and Nick both sharing a girl, but only to help her walk, AJ getting kinky arm action with a toddler instead of a goth girl and Howie sweet talking a two year old instead of a twenty-year old Puerto Rican babe. We're old."

Kevin finished his observation with finesse. To his credit, he helped in the pursuit of helping me not fall flat on my face as Nick and Brian juggled me out of the elevator. Having men of two very different heights assisting me wasn't a great plan.

"That was a great show," I said, gritting my teeth as I slid towards Brian once again. Kevin had me around my waist.

"Bri, just let go."

My room was close, but in handicapped time, it was eons away. I felt Brian's breath on my face. "What--"

"Just do it," Nick said. "Both of you let go. This is slowing us down."

Brian slowly let go, and I felt myself tip as Kevin also removed his hands. I was sure I was going to be kissing tile when my whole body left the ground.

Nick held me like I didn't weigh an ounce. Nose to nose, we stared into each other's eyes.

"Parker, dude, stop shittin!"

That smile was still gorgeous even when the face showed signs of exhaustion.

"Let the caravan continue."

"You don't have to stay here. We're fine."

"I feel responsible and we're staying." Nick's voice was just an octave above a whisper. "Park's already asleep. That giant poop did him in."

My hotel room smelled like a mix of major diaper nastiness and Bath & Body Works room spray. The mini-Nick was asleep on a pile of floor and blanket pillows, his mouth open and his breathing rhythmic.

Nick hadnt been kidding about the TMNT pajamas either. While he had gone to change I had put myself in an oversized shirt, but I still felt slightly exposed. He sprawled out next to Parker on the floor, turning towards me, his head landing on a pillow.

"You can't sleep on the floor," I complained.

"It's comfortable," he assured me.

My knee was beginning to throb. The room light was beginning to give me the start of a headache and I hoped my pain pill would kick in quickly. I flipped off the bed lamp and the room filled with shadows from the small little nightlights scattered through the expansive sweet. I could still see Nick's eyes.

"Thank you for coming here," he whispered. "It meant a lot to me."

I swallowed hard. "You're welcome."

We stared at each other, but the dark made it seem less invasive.

"Will he be around to help you when you get home?"

I exhaled. I knew I could play dumb and act like I didn't know who the 'he' was, but it seemed lame and dishonest. I didn't want to play that game with Nick.

"Probably not."

He didn't answer right away and there was a time when I thought he might have gone to sleep. Instead, his body slid slightly closer to the bed. I saw his fingers curl upwards.

"Hold my hand?"

It was a hopeful plea more than a question. My hand hesitated and then snaked towards his. His fingers slid through mine.

"Goodnight Midge."

His hand was strong, but I couldn't imagine him sleeping with his arm elevated in such a position the whole night. Yet, he didn't seem to be in a great hurry to move it.

"Goodnight, Nick," I whispered.

I was determined to stay awake until he fell asleep, but no sooner did the words leave my mouth that the pill kicked in. My head sank into the pillow and my thoughts ceased.

But my hand stayed warm.