June 21, 2014
“That’s him. That’s Josh. What do you mean he’s my stalker?”
“He’s been stalking you for six months. He was arrested outside of our house two weeks ago.”
We look at each other across the booth that we’re sitting in at In-N-Out Burger. Only twenty people have gawked at us. Luckily, no one has been brave enough to approach. Nick tucks his phone back into his pocket. I try not to overanalyze how weird it is to have a stalker (or how easy it is to Google pictures of said stalkers).
“Shit. He was arrested the night before all this started.”
“I have to talk to him.”
Nick sits back and pinches his nose.
“This is going to be like a game of Carmen Sandiego.”
“He was ordered out of Tennessee. I don’t know where he is.”
“We’ve got to find him.”
Nick shakes his head. “That’s not a good idea, babe. He’s obsessed with you.”
“What if he’s only obsessed with me because he’s trying to fix this?”
We stare each other down. My fries have gone untouched.
“Or we could wait for him to track you down. He pops up every month or so, especially during big events.”
“You’re delaying the inevitable.”
“Can you blame me?”
“Nick, the longer I stay---”
“The more you won’t want to leave?”
He smiles and I stifle a curse under my breath. His smile widens.
“You forget that I know you.”
He reaches over and grabs one of my neglected fries. I scoot my milkshake closer and take a sip. “Okay, I’ll let you have that,” I relent. “So if I’m stuck until he finds me again I’m going to need more answers.”
Nick holds up his salted fingers. “I’ve got all the time in the world.”
“When did I get these horrible implants?”
He laughs and licks his fingers. “Those were the end of September 2011. That was a crazy time y’know with 9-11, A.J.’s rehab, and the whole Brian thing.”
Nick makes a face that reminds me of someone who has drunk sour milk. “Crap, I forgot I’d have to explain that.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
“You shouldn’t. You hooked up with him in New York. Brian and Leighanne had this huge fight and you were there with Ben and one thing lead to another and I can’t tell you all the nitty gritty but I had Ben and you were sneaking out of his hotel room missing your panties.”
“Oh God, I’m a whore.”
“No, you’re not. You’ve slept with four guys in your entire life. That’s not a whore. You just have a weakness for Backstreet Boys. One that’s totally wrong for you and one that’s absolutely totally right for you.”
I smirk. “Do I have to guess which one is which?”
Nick returns the smirk. “I think we both know which one is which. Anyhow, Brian and Leighanne got back together especially since she barely missed that flight that would have killed her. You were a little sad, pathetic, and desperate and by the time I saw you again in San Bernadino you were out to here.” Nick holds his hands out, cupping invisible melons.
“So I’m a whore and a pathetic groupie who has walked around for thirteen years with gigantic water bags? This is wonderful.”
“I probably shouldn’t tell you the best part.”
I groan. “There’s a best part?”
Nick grabs another fry. “They were bigger. You’ve shrunk ‘em down.”
My eyes widen and I’m sure the horror in my face is almost laughable. “No way.”
“It was bad. We picked these out together. You were kind of like Frankenstein after the second round, but the doctor did a bang up job.” He winks. “Trust me.”
“Those are famous last words.”
I don’t answer right away. I nibble a cold fry. “I just can’t wrap my brain around Brian being that much of an asshole,” I admit.
“He’s not an asshole, he’s a guy. I mean that was a really sucky time in our life as a group. We didn’t talk unless we were working, we hated Jive, and Kevin was already putting the wheels in motion to leave. Brian even told some newspaper that none of us reached out to congratulate him when we found out Leighanne was pregnant. It was pretty rough going. The problem is that no one is perfect. That’s the problem with some fans. They put us on a pedestal like this high,” he says, reaching high above his head. “It’s impossible for them to believe that we’re human and we screw up.”
“Then why are you perfect in this world when you’re so much of a trainwreck in my real world?”
“Real is such a subjective term.”
“You’re changing the subject.”
“I’m not perfect. I’ve been an asshole. It just hasn’t been towards you. I’ll be the first to admit that I fucked Lauren over. I used her to make you jealous. I feel responsible for Leslie--”
“In any universe that will never be your fault.”
I am passionate about that statement. The hurt in his eyes even saying her name hits me hard. He takes my hand and our salty thumbs touch.
“This is why I need you to stay here.”
“But what about the truth?”
“The truth is that I love you. Can’t that just be enough? What’s so wrong with a life with me and Ben and maybe a baby or three?”
I cough on nothing. “Three?”
He grins. “I’ll settle for one. I’m really not picky.”
I arch an eyebrow. “Do you wax your crotch?”
His laugh is heard around the small store. “What?”
“Do you laser your crotch?”
“Not the last time I checked. But maybe you could check to make sure?”
“You started it!”
He tosses a fry and I toss one back and before I know it there is milkshake in my hair and ketchup on Nick’s cheek and we’re leaving a generous tip to make up for the ridiculous mess we leave.
“I know you would never have this much fun in a lab. You’re not the Amy Farrah Fowler type.”
“Amy Farrah Fowler? You know scientists are not nerds,” I smile. “At least not all of us are.”
“Do you know how much I love your smile?” Nick asks as he holds the door open for me.
“You change the subject quite easily.”
“I’ve perfected the technique over the years.”
He gets back in as I buckle my seatbelt. I crack my knuckles. I am mad at myself.
I am actually thinking about his crotch.
And my boobs.
And that makes me think of something--well someone--else.
“I want to see Brian.”
“I need to match the stories you’ve told me with him because the last memory I have with him isn’t bad.”
“Court, I don’t think--”
“It’s not that I’m saying no. It’s just--”
Nick looks at me and I can tell he is delaying. I fold my arms.
“We have a charity concert in four days. We’re both performing. You’ll see him then.”
Nick’s fingers curl around the wheel.
“Oh hell no.”