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Chapter Forty Five

July 11, 1998

Orlando, Florida

7:25 p.m.

“Nick, there you are!”

A mess of blonde hair comes at Nick. Before he can react - run, duck, or any other defensive position - she has her arms around him, squeezing him tightly. Aaron isn’t far behind. I had forgotten how cute he was when he was little.

“There’s tons of people out there to see you!” Aaron says excitedly.

“It’s a sold out show,” Jane agrees, beaming. If I didn’t know what I did know about her, I probably would have probably thought that she was just a proud mom.

But I know better.

“Yeah, well…” Nick shrugs. “Mom, this is Courtney.”

I look at him in horror. I was hoping that I could stay invisible. I don’t want to meet Jane Carter.


She doesn’t fully finish my first name. Her eyes go to my stomach and I swear that if her heart was even one tenth worse than it was that she would succumb to a full out heart attack right then and there.

“Wow, she’s fat,” Aaron says.

“She’s pregnant,” Jane says.

“Twins,” Nick adds. He looks like he’s enjoying himself and I want to smack him for it.

“Twins,” Jane repeats.

“They’re mine, actually.”

The voice comes from behind me. I turn my head and almost come nose to nose with Brian. He gives me a little smile.


Hey? There’s so much that I want to say in response to that hey.

“I want you to meet my mom and dad.”

Oh, this is too much. Too, too, too, too much. I am already getting the evil eye from Jane. There’s no way that I can face Jackie and Harold Littrell.

“I’m sure they’d rather talk to Leighanne,” I squeak. I feel like a mouse. My voice is a squeak. Next I’ll just start hunting round for cheese…

Brian winces. “About that…”

“I don’t want to hear it.”

The words come out meaner than I wanted them to. Or maybe I wanted them to come out that mean. I don’t know.

“We don’t have time,” Nick cuts in. “We’ve got to get in the huddle.”

“They want to meet you,” Brian says, still wearing the wounded look. “After?”

I make a little shoulder motion that I hope can’t be interpreted. Nick takes my hand.

“Let’s go in the huddle.”

“Who? What? Me?”

Nick smiles at Jane.

“Courtney’s my girlfriend.”

7:55 p.m.

“You are evil.”

“C’mon, look who I was talking to.”

“I never said I was your girlfriend.”

“I’ll pay you to be my girlfriend whenever mom’s around. That look was priceless. Do you know that she actually pulled me aside while you went to the bathroom to warn me about giving you money? Then she asked me for money. I fucking hate her.”

“Nick, let’s go!”

Before I can form an answer, Nick takes my hand and I’m heading right towards the Backstreet huddle. The first thing I notice is Leighanne pressed right behind Brian. Nick worms us both in and I’m unfortunately beside the two of them. Nick shoves my hand into the throng.


“BSB, WHAT TIME IS IT?” Nick screams. For a moment, I think my eardrum is broken.

“It’s timeeeee for me to go to work y’all!”

I’m greeted with the sight of Leighanne grinding into Brian.

“What kind of work?”

Nick is already turning me away, his arm wrapped tightly around me. He’s dressed, like Brian, in Fox Artic blue and white.


I feel his lips near my ear.

“Just go enjoy the show. You’re gonna hang out with AJ’s mom, Denise.”

Relief floods over me.

“Thank you.”

“Anything for you,” he promises.

I know he means it.

8:30 p.m.

Somebody told me that you're not my kind
So have I lost my mind?
You keep on doing all the things I like
You've got me hypnotized
But that's the way I like it

My eyes don’t leave Nick’s. He owns the stage. Except he loses on the sexual scale. That award goes to…

“I think Alex forgets that his mom’s in the audience tonight,” Denise whisper-shouts at me.

We laugh.

9:00 p.m.

And there are people that say what they really mean
She said she'd always be there
She said she'd always care
But just when you think that you can
Trust that someone you love
Tell me why, or do you know
How stars can fall from above?

I’ll be damn if the song doesn’t get to me every single time. I’m so mad at Brian I could spit nails, but I’m still standing, singing along, and crying my eyes out.

Leighanne is a row up to my right. She’s swaying along, standing right next to Jane.

Somehow fitting. Somehow.

Once, as Brian finally stands, his eyes meet mine and he smiles.

Oh how can I make you see
Just what you did to me?

9:20 p.m.

Baby, baby the love that we had was so strong
Don't leave me hangin' here forever
Oh baby, baby this is not alright, let's stop this tonight

The babies love music. I have no doubt that both of them are fine by the sheer amount of movement the music is stirring up. My hand presses against my side and I take a deep breath. The concert is taking my breath away.

Or maybe it’s the sight of Nick in the black shirt and suit jacket.

9:45 p.m.

I'd walk halfway around the world
For just one kiss from you
Far beyond the call of love
The sun, the stars, the moon
As long as your love's there to lead me
I won't lose my way believe me
Even through the darkest night you know

Nick is a sweaty blonde mess. I’m burning up and I’m not even under the lights. Nick’s probably dying for a shower…


My mind is going to dark places, just like it always does when I go to a show. The difference is that I actually don’t have to leave with the rest of the fans.

10:00 p.m.

Nick’s sexiness is lost during Get Down. The addition of a Gilligan’s Island red hat, red shirt, and goggles counteracts the hotness of the black t-shirt.

It belongs in the ‘what the hell were you thinking?’ book of bad wardrobe choices.

There’s no way I’m not going to tease the hell out of him for it.

10:15 p.m.

My heart starts thudding. It’s amazing to think that Everybody Backstreet’s Back is actually the new single. The energy from the crowd seeing clips from the video is ridiculous. On stage the crew, dressed as grim reapers, are placing coffins.

The screams as the pyrotechnics go off is deafening.

And suddenly the coffins are opened and there he is. Back in just black, minus the goggles, and his hair slicked back. He climbs up on the upper platform and heads right over to the balcony overhang. Our eyes meet.

Am I sexual?

And I find myself answering the only logically way I know how.


10:45 p.m.

The backstage is mayhem. The crew is already packing up. Family mills all around everywhere. I recognize Howie’s mom. I see Denise turning AJ’s hat the right way.

“Courtney? I’d like ya to meet my mom and dad.”

I stiffen. I knew the odds were not in my favor. I put on a smile and turn around.

It’s time to meet the parents.