~ 4 ~
“Sometimes the biggest bruises are the ones we can’t actually see.”
Those words stuck with Kevin as the young blonde made his way onto Kevin’s blanket and sat Indian style across from his friends. It was almost as if he was looking at Nick with a different pair of eyes. He was well aware of the tumultuous relationship all the Carters had with one another, and often cringed whenever he heard Jane or Bob screaming at either Nick or each other when they were out on the road with their son. Some of the things he heard were just not appropriate. The language Bob Carter used alone made even AJ squirm sometimes.
“Having fun, squirt?” Kevin asked as kindly as he possibly could.
Nick rolled his eyes at the nickname and then shrugged, “I’m bored,” he shifted his position, “I was thinking maybe the three of us could catch a movie tonight or something.”
“Actually, Kevin and I were thinking about hitting a nightclub later.”
Nick shifted once again; “Oh…” he moved his legs in front of him and let out a sigh.
Kevin had completely forgotten about Nick when it came to some of the plans he had made in his head with Howie. Those plans included nightly visits to the bars and clubs all around the town, things that a fifteen year old would not be able to do. Judging by the look on Howie’s face, he had forgotten too.
“Can’t I come too?” They both laughed which angered the teenager. “What’s so funny?”
“How can you come too? It’s not like we’re in Europe.”
“He’s too young to go to clubs there too, Howie.”
“I look old enough.”
Kevin let out a sarcastic laugh, “Right…sure you do…You can’t come with us.”
Nick glared at Kevin and for a brief moment, he thought the teenager was going to punch him. “I don’t think you should go then. It’s not fair!”
Howie was trying to calm his friend down placing a hand on his leg as he spoke softly, “Nicky…this is our vacation too and we really want to go to some of these new places. We’ll go late so this way you’ll be in bed and won’t even notice we’re gone.”
“So, you’re going to give me a fucking bedtime now?” Nick grabbed D’s hand and pushed it away.
The gesture angered Kevin who blurted out, “Maybe if you stopped acting like a twelve year old, we wouldn’t have to!”
Nick stood up, “You know what? Screw you, Kevin!” He kicked dirt onto Kevin’s legs and blanket and headed back down to the water.
Kevin brushed off his legs and stood up; taking his blanket and giving it a good shake as he watched the youngest member of the group throw rocks into the water. “That kid is the most immature child I have ever encountered! You know, even if he WAS old enough, I wouldn’t want to go out with him. He’ll probably be one of those sloppy drunks we’d end up having to take care of, Shithead!”
He sat back down, obviously not over it yet, “And to think I was just trying to be nice to him.”
“How were you nice to him?” Kevin looked over to Howie who was just sitting there waiting for an answer.
“What do you mean?”
“You said you were being nice…”
“You know, I asked him if he was having a good time.”
Howie laughed; “Oh…” he rolled his eyes and placed his sunglasses back on his face.
“What?” Kevin asked defensively.
“You keep telling him he acts like a twelve year old.”
“Because he does.”
“He just turned fifteen, Kevin. Twelve was barely two years ago.”
At those words, Kevin once again looked over at the teenager, “Oh…I never thought about it that way.”
“You seldom do.” Howie stood up, “You need to give the kid a chance, Kev.” It seemed like he was searching for more to say before landing on, “He needs us…”
Before Kevin had a chance to respond, Howie was walking down towards the water where he placed himself right beside Nick, grabbed some rocks and started tossing them into the water as well. No words were spoken between the two of them and none had to be, within a few minutes, Nick was smiling and once again Kevin felt like crap.
The rest of the day was relatively quiet. After leaving the beach, the boys made their way back to the house where all three decided to take a nap. After a nice homemade BBQ dinner and some quality time with Howie’s parents. Kevin was getting ready to go out on the town while Nick just sat on his bed and watched, blindly flipping the pages of a book as he did.
Kevin, who was adjusting the collar on his shirt, glanced over, “What are you reading?”
“A stupid book for school.”
“I figured that much, I meant what is it?”
Nick flipped to the front cover, “1984”
“Oh…I read that one. Be careful… Big Brother is watching.” The blank stare made Kevin shake his head, “Are you even reading it or just flipping the pages?”
“What does it matter to you?”
He turned away, “It doesn’t, just making conversation.”
“Well, no need. It’s clear the two of you want to have nothing to do with me on this break. I’m obviously just a huge pain in the ass to you both so why bother event talking?”
“Nick, cut out the over dramatics. It’s not like we’re tying you to a post and making you wait outside while we go in and have fun.”
“You probably would if Howie wasn’t here…” He mumbled under his breath.
Kevin stopped himself from calling Nick a child and instead sighed and sat on the bed across from him. “Look kiddo, I’m sorry you can’t come along. It’s not like we’re going to do this every night, okay? Tomorrow we are going fishing out on the boat all day, just the three of us and maybe John.”
Nick looked up from his book, “We are?”
Kevin smiled at him, “Yup, didn’t Howie tell you?”
Nick shook his head, “Nope.”
“Well we are, so get a good night’s sleep tonight and then tomorrow we fish!” He stood up and ruffled Nick’s hair, proud of the way he handled himself.
The first club they went to was overly crowded to the extent that both boys almost felt unsafe especially if they were to be recognized. It was a long shot at this point in their careers, but even still, with no security and a crowd this big, if something were to happen neither one would be prepared for it. The next club they went to was across town and in a smaller neighborhood. Because of that the crowd was almost cut in half. It was dark inside and the music was booming but not so loud they couldn’t hear each other. It proved to be the perfect place as they both planted themselves by the bar.
“Now I know why John recommended this place.” Howie said as he motioned for the bartender to bring them another round.
Kevin nodded as he glanced around the place. There were a ton of girls dancing and glancing his way. One in particular was standing at a round table. She kept smiling at him as she slowly sipped on her drink, dunking the end of her paper umbrella into it before slowly licking the liquid off. He felt bad for looking but at the same time, he knew it was probably time to move on. He and Kris had decided to part ways about two weeks ago. It was a hard decision, one that neither of them took lightly. It’s not like they had a horrible argument or even hated each other. They just both came to a realization that they were no longer heading down the same road. Kris needed her space to do what she wanted and Kevin of course needed his. To expect his girlfriend to put her life on hold while he lived his dream was too much to ask, especially since Lou also forbad them to be open about whom they were seeing. They needed to appear uncommitted to anyone but the fans. All the others were okay with that but none of them had a serious relationship either.
He was heartbroken but he knew it was for the best and if they were really meant to be together, they would end up that way. Only time would tell.
“Are you going to go for it?” Howie asked when he saw the flirty exchange happen between the blonde at the round table and his friend.
“I don’t think so.”
“You should, Kevin. What do you have to lose?”
He shrugged, “I’m just not ready yet.”
Howie nodded, “Understandable I guess.”
“I tell you what, after being in Sweden, the clubs here seem so dull, don’t they?”
Kevin laughed at the truth in that statement. The clubs in Sweden and all across Europe for that matter put these to shame. When they toured Europe the only outlet they had was to go out clubbing which they did often. Lou at first wasn’t happy about it, but after he saw the kind of exposure it gave his band, he jumped on board. The only one not old enough to indulge was Nick but since Brian wasn’t very big on clubbing either, AJ, Kevin and Howie would tend to go out leaving the other two behind. Even though Brian was content with not going anywhere, Nick would often object and mention how cruel and unfair life was that they always got to party and he didn’t.
“It’s weird not needing security here, isn’t it?”
Howie nodded, “I’m still trying to decide if I like that or not. It’s kind of cool getting VIP treatment as opposed to not.”
“But it’s also nice being able to just sit back and relax without having to take a ton of pictures or sign a bunch of autographs.”
“Or have a bunch of random sex?”
“Eh, I like the random sex part.”
“Want to go somewhere else?” Howie asked looking at his watch, “The night is still young-ish.”
Kevin nodded, not quite ready to go back to the house yet. “I’m game.”
They finally made their way home just as the sun was coming up. They had hit about four different clubs, deciding that the last one was the best and making a mental note to go to that one first next time. By the time Kevin’s head hit his pillow, it was about 6 in the morning.
“Kevin…” He heard a whisper in his ear. He bat at it with his hand as if it was a fly but it wouldn’t go away. “Kevin…it’s almost 9. Aren’t we going fishing?”
“Later…” He managed to grumble before turning his body towards the wall and away from Nick.
What felt like moments later he was interrupted again, “Kevin…time to get up! Jesus I knew this would happen!”
Kevin felt like he had swallowed an entire sheep, his cotton mouth making him want to get up and get a cup of water but his head saying do not move!
“You guys are unreal!” Nick was not happy.
“Shut up and let me sleep. I’ll be up in a minute!”
“Whatever! Screw you. I’m going down to the beach.”
He closed his eyes and then opened them wide when he heard the door slam.
“AHH!” Kevin said as he closed his eyes once more.
~ * ~
After having a series of very hazy dreams that made very little sense, Kevin sat up and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked at the clock sitting next to his bed and shook his head when he saw it was almost 3 in the afternoon. He stood up and literally staggered out of the room, feeling the dullest throb of a headache but luckily no sickness accompanying it. He hadn’t partied that hard in a long time. Now he remembered why.
It seemed as if Howie had just woken up as well. He passed his friend in the hallway coming out of the bathroom.
“It’s 3 in the afternoon.” Kevin couldn’t even recognize his own voice it was so rough and croaky.
“Wow, that’s not good.” Howie yawned. “Where’s Nicky?”
Kevin shrugged, “No clue but my guess is wherever he is, he’s pissed at us.”
Howie nodded, “I would be too. He’s probably hanging with my parents. I’m going to go down and talk to him. Maybe we should go do that movie tonight.”
“He thought we were going to go fishing.”
“I never told him that.” Howie seemed surprised.
“I might have…in passing.”
“Oh, wonderful…” Howie shook his head and sighed, “Well looks like today will be a ‘whatever Nick wants’ type of day then.”
“Isn’t that every damn day?” Kevin muttered under his breath as he walked into the bathroom and took a nice cold shower.
~ * ~
The shower did not help Kevin wake up, in fact he was very well prepared to go right back to bed and sleep for another 8 hours at least and would have if he didn’t find Howie pacing nervously. “Kevin, do you have any idea where Nicky could be?”
“Isn’t he with your parents?”
“They left a note saying they were heading out for the day.”
“Maybe he went with them.”
“That’s what I was hoping but my mother just called and said he decided to stay home because he thought we were going fishing.”
“Did you check the pool?”
“He’s not outside.”
Kevin shrugged, unsure why Howie seemed so on edge and nervous. It’s not like the kid was going to be kidnapped or murdered.
“We need to go look for him. He’s not answering his phone.”
“He’s probably pissed off at us. Maybe he needs some alone time…” Kevin paused, “Wait…I think he said he was going to the beach.”
“When did he say that?”
“I don’t remember, one of the times he tried to wake me up.”
“We need to go get him!”
“D, relax what’s the problem?”
“Kevin, you don’t get it, but…his life is in danger. We need to go find him.”
For some reason those words completely woke Kevin up as Howie grabbed his car keys and motioned for his friend to follow.