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Chapter Fifty Four

November 1, 1998

Orlando, Florida

The steam is rising all around me even though the water has grown cool. Nick's hand, the one holding the cloth, slides down my abdomen and I draw in a breath as it dips lower. He pauses and I see the corners of his mouth lift.

It seems cruel to explain to him that I'm never having sex. I mean, technically he's my fiancée, but I know there is no human way anything is going to be visiting the land down under ever again. Especially...

"Ohhhhh," my back arches and his blonde head lowers towards mine. He has dropped the ruse of the washcloth. It's all him, his palm pressing against my inner thigh and his fingers...

"You're so beautiful," he whispers before his lips meet mine.

I can't imagine anything beautiful about me. My hips are permanently wider, the bones shifting so badly from two babies throwing all nighters that I know that I'm never going to be able to fit in a pair of low rise jeans again. And my ass...the hugeness of it escapes all odds.

Then there's my stomach. My stomach which has still not managed to recede properly even though there's no longer little feet or an ocean's worth of water there to distend it. There's still stubborn skin hanging. I know all those famous people who show their 'beach body after baby' are full of shit. They must have a good plastic...

"Nick," I moan. He's making it seem like sex might just be possible. He's gentle. And rhythmic. I hear only the soft lapping of the water as his hand moves. He makes my toes curl.

"It hasn't been just you and me for so long," he says huskily. "I saw you in here, your eyes closed, and well...I want you so bad I think I'm going to die."

I look at him and my breath catches. He's looking at me like I'm the juiciest steak he's ever laid eyes on. A big, wide hipped, giant assed, steak.

"I don't think I can--"

I might as well just shoot him. His perfect, puckery lips part. "I'll be so gentle. I'll stop anytime."

The ground rules sound fair. I think about my conversation with Kal. I won't ever tell her she was right. I find myself smiling just thinking about the smug look on her face.



I nod then and he pulls the stopped out of the tub. I feel like literally the only thing I have going for me are my boobs. Dried up, but forever larger. And at least not hanging. Like my stomach. Oh god, the water probably masked how disgusting I look...

"Hold my neck."

"What?" I'm panicking about the stretch marks. Dear God, the stretch marks!

"Wrap your arms around my neck."

He's wearing a jersey and a pair of worn jeans. He smells like laundry soap. I wrap my arms around his neck feeling like a wet noodle. A fat wet noodle.

I don't expect him picking me up like I'm a portable stage speaker. I literally squeal as his arms flex and hoist me up our noses touching, the water streaming off me...probably like Niagra Falls.

"This is the first time," he smiles coyly.

"The first time," I repeat dumbly.

"Technically," he says. He's not even winded. Why isn't he even winded? His arms have to be dying. "Though I can remember hundreds more."

Hundreds? God, I was a whore.

"I'm terrified," he grins. I like his terrified look a little bit too much.

"I think the doctor may have permanently made me un-sexable," I warn him. He just laughs.

"No way."

He must see the worry wrinkle between my eyes because he kisses that exact spot. "I'll stop anytime," he reminds me.

I hold onto him tightly as he carries me into my bedroom. I figure he'll drop me like a sack of potatoes, his arms giving out, but he lays me down like I'm glass, his jean leg pressing against my bare one. Our breathes don't leave the little cocoon we create with our arms, mine still around his neck, his on either side of me.

"Court," he whispers, pressing his lips against my own. His name is lost into his mouth as my hands fall from his neck, wrapping around him. I greedily try to pull him closer, but he keeps himself held, suspended above me. I don't know how,long we go before oxygen, but when he pulls away, he silently yanks off his shirt.

In the 11 months since we returned to our past, his body has filled out. I must look surprised because he laughs, kissing my forehead, my cheek, my neck. His hand leaves it's position beside my head to cup my breast.

"I keep dreaming about this," he says almost starstruck. "Almost a year...it's been driving me crazy. That night we kissed on the porch...it took everything for me not too..."

I cut him off with a kiss. His voice is too raspy, his touch too good. I can tell he's only lingering the moment for my own comfort. I can tell by the way his lower half slides against me that he's dying.

And my lack of memories of him is too embarrassing to admit. I want to be able to remember. To know Nick like he obviously knows me, every sensitive spot on my entire body. My hands press against the zipper of his jeans and he growls, closing his eyes tightly.

"I might be sexable," I rationalize. He laughs, his eyes still closed.

"No maybe," he licks his lips.

I bury my face in his neck, inhaling the scent of Downy. His breath tastes like cinnamon and I wonder if it's toothpaste or candy, not caring if it's the latter rather than the former. My fingers deftly undo his jeans and my hands round his ass, such a NICE ass, sliding them down along with his boxer briefs.

It seems much more imminent with both of us naked. I press my hands against his shoulders, squirming into a sitting position. "Lay down."

He smiles, his long body falling first to his side then his back.

His chest and abdomen are not defined as I remember. There's a youthfulness there, a softness to it. A definite smoothness - the sight of all of the uninked skin...skin that will thicken up with muscles over time, defining a series of tattoos. Nick Carter’s badass body in the ‘before’...

I press my lips to his shoulders, working my way down. I see his stomach tense as I reach certain points and I smile. He is my playland.

Sex is totally possible. It’s consuming my mind.

“Court, baby,” he moans. His fingers brush against my bare back, working their way to my breasts, tweaking the over sensitized nipples.

I pull away from him before I succumb. I want this time. I want these memories burned into my brain. I want it to be just us, just two young kids, learning each other over and over again.

“I brought condoms,” he says as I run my tongue down the length of him. The word ‘condoms’ comes out almost a yelp, a ‘touchdown Jesus’ sort of yelp. I hold out my hand. I feel his body shift, hanging at an odd, surely uncomfortable angle. There’s some rummaging and then I feel the foil package in my hand. I rip it with my teeth.

“There’s still one more growth spurt left,” he adds. I spit out the foil in my mouth and look at him for a split second before laughing.

“I sure hope not,” I say. “You’re going to kill me.”

He stretches his arms out above his head and smirks. The smirk does me in. I take my sweet time rolling the condom on, feeling his toes curling and uncurling. He has gigantic feet.

“Have I mentioned the whole year wait thing?” he says through almost clenched up teeth. I nod, my hand sliding back up him, my breath hot. I press my lips against his thighs. They haven’t yet filled out. They’re not to the point where I want to bite them unrelentlessly. But still, they’re strong. Strong and…


I squeal as he flips me over like I’m a feather. His hands curl around my hips and he gives me a look, a smile really, that starts at his eyes rather than his mouth.

“This is going to end badly if I don’t take over,” he says.

“Badly?” I smile.

“Embarrassingly,” he says huskily. “for me.”

“Well, we don’t want--”

I don’t get to finish. He kisses me hard, his tongue probing, running along my teeth. I have a split second panic, wondering if I finished shaving my legs, before I realize that at this point it doesn’t matter. His chest pressed into mine and he feels so right curled into me that it seems ludicrous that I wouldn’t have noticed the first time. Why I had kept him waiting so long…

“I’ll stop anytime,” he reminds me. He pulls my right leg, the last bit of resistance, so it’s hooked around him.

I remember the stitches.

I’m not so sure.

I’m picturing a scene out of Nightmare on Elm Street.


“Ohhh kay.”

My throat makes an indescribable noise. Nick pauses, but I curl my fingers into his shoulders, the noise lingering like air being let out of a balloon. Once it passes, my voice returns.

“Don’t stop.”

“Don’t ever stop.”

“Are you okay?”

“More than okay.”

“You wouldn’t lie?”

“No lie.”

“Pinky swear?”

“Pinky swear.”

I curl my pinky around Nick’s. It seems like such a monumental action. Hell, lying next to Nick naked is a monumental action in and of itself.

Death could come and I’d be okay with it now. Now that Nick is burned into my brain.

The world is all about him.

My world, at least.

Nick’s hand slides under the sheet, his hand running the length of my leg and curling around my hip. He kisses me slowly, lazily. Happily.

“I love you.”

I curl into him. I would crawl into him if I could. “I love you, too.”

He smiles into my cheek. I can tell every time he moves a muscle. That’s how close we are. “Thank you for not letting me wait so long this time.”

I close my eyes. “How long did I make you wait before? My memory...so fuzzy.”


My eyes fly open. “2003?”

Nick smiles. “Yeah. You know how to string a guy along.”

I can feel his heartbeat under my palm. I sigh.

“I was an idiot, then.”

Nick’s hand leaves my hip. Soon, his hand is in my hair.

“I don’t know why we came back here like we did, but I don’t ever want to leave. I don’t want a life without Winnie. I don’t want a life without you, fighting so hard for you, not knowing if I’ll ever be with you or not.”

“I agree,” I say softly. “I just wish…”


“I just wish Brian got his happy ever after too. Then it would all be perfect.”

Nick pulls me closer with a tug to my hair. He kisses me for an eternity, but I almost wish it was two eternities instead. When he pulls away, his kisses my nose. My cheek. My eyelids.

“I think,” he pauses to kiss my forehead.

“We shouldn’t underestimate Brian’s own happily ever after. Maybe,” he kisses my earlobe. “It’s his turn to take the scenic route. If so, it’ll be worth it in the end. You’ll always be worth it.”

I open my freshly kissed lids. His eyes sparkle into mine.