-- Liv --
Time flies when you're having fun. At least, that's how the old saying goes. I still was on the fence about the 'fun' part.
In the past few days, my sixth sense told me that something big was about to happen. Call it mother's intuition, but I could tell Noah was hiding something. Then there was Brooke. I had awoken from a sound sleep the night before with a sudden worry about her. A call to Angel had calmed my fears, but nevertheless...
It was hard not to be paranoid these days. My heart was breaking for Howie and Leigh. After weeks of tests, doctors had confirmed what Howie admitted he had sensed all along - Stefie had lupus. Even after all these years, there was no cure. The only bright spot was that most lupus sufferers were living well into their forties these days.
But it was a life marred with pain.
All of these thoughts floated through my head as I stood in my closet trying to decide what I was going to wear. I wasn't even at the four month mark, but I was wearing my six month maternity clothes. I felt like one of Mr. Popper's penguins.
I turned. Nick was in the doorway.
"What are you doing back?" I asked. He smiled.
"I dropped Landon off at preschool and came back here," he said.
"I thought you were supposed to go to the studio."
His smile turned into a wolfish grin. "I thought I'd be late this morning."
Nick's recovery from the vasectomy had been stressful. He acted like the wounded dead for a whole two weeks. We were going on week three. I was pretty sure this might have been the longest he had gone without sex.
It appeared he was looking to rectify the situation.
"You won't need that," he said. He walked over and took the shirt from my hands. He pressed a kiss to my shoulder. His fingers pushed down the strap of my bra.
"You smell like oranges," he murmured. I tilted my head back. We really needed to paint the closet ceiling.
"Landon spilled his orange juice on me this morning," I murmured. Nick held out my arm and planted kisses down to my fingertips. He took my pinkie and nipped it. I watched him under heavy lids.
"I'm not sure how flexible I'm going to be," I said. My hands grabbed onto his shirt and I pulled him in for a kiss. His hands fell to my stomach.
"You're talking to the professional," he said. He backed out of the closet. I followed him, still holding onto his shirt. The back of his legs hit our cedar chest at the end of the bed and he fell backwards. I grabbed his legs to keep my balance. We both laughed.
"C'mere," he whispered. I safely avoided the chest and crawled over to him. I hovered over his head and kissed him. He wormed his way up. My kisses went from his lips, to his stomach, to finally the bulge at his jeans. As always, he kept me so preoccupied that he had me depantied and de-bra'd without me realizing it.
"You're a chameleon, old man," I teased. He gently play wrestled me around until I was on all fours. He bit into my neck playfully.
"Who are you calling an old man?" he said. I laughed. "You."
Nick clucked his tongue. His hands rubbed my lower back. It felt heavenly. I lowered my head to my chest.
"I'm not the one who found a gray hair in my head last week," he said. My head shot up.
"You said we'd never talk about it!" I complained. His hand drifted between my legs. The rest of my complaint disappeared. His other hand reached up to my breasts.
"Nick," I moaned.
"Let's see if I still got it," he said huskily.
There was no doubt that he still had it. Not just once, but twice. As we finished the second round, he pulled me down against him and held me tight.
"Survey says?" he asked. He kissed the top of my breasts.
"Ya still got it," I said breathlessly. He laughed against my skin.
"You're not so bad yourself there, momma."
His hand pressed against my stomach.
"Sorry to get mommy all worked up there little ones," Nick whispered. "Maybe we'll let her take a nap now."
I snuggled into him. "Then don't go."
His eyes crinkled. "Never."
He kissed me softly and we fell back into the pillows. The little ones gently did a tumble of their own.
For as much freaking out as I did in the beginning, I really couldn't wait to see our twins.
"What do you mean there's a tape?"
Our perfect lazy love-in morning had given way to problems of nightmarish proportions. Nick had just been ready to pick Landon up from preschool when he got a phone call from Brooke's
PR squad. The panic on Nick's face reminded me of my dream. I knew something was going on with my baby girl.
"Send it to me," Nick said tensely. He hung up and looked at me.
"Can you call you mom and ask her to pick up Landon? Ask her if she can watch him 'til three."
I nodded. "Sure. What's going on?"
Nick opened his laptop. "I'll tell ya in a minute."
While Nick checked his e-mail, I called mom. As always, she was more than happy to pick up Landon.
I knew she said she didn't have a favorite, but there was no doubt that she adored Landon. She claimed his hyperness kept her young.
I blamed him for my gray hair.
I walked back into the living room and sat by Nick. He had his e-mail open.
"What's going on?"
"Brooke's got a sex tape," he said tensely. I looked at him increduously.
"Brooke's PR team just called and said it leaked late last night. It was taken in one of the hotel gyms. It's her and Trevor."
"And it's actually her--"
"I haven't watched it yet, but that's what the description says."
"Who leaked it?"
"PR thinks it was Trevor. I guess Brooke broke up with him. Again."
I glanced back towards the screen. Nick's finger hovered uncertainly over the Enter key.
"She's sixteen, Nick. That's child porn."
Nick's jaw tensed. "I know."
"Do we have to watch it?"
"PR said we need to in order to file charges."
The thought was making me ill. My daughter was playing grown-up games at an age where I had still been worried about the acne that dotted my jawline. She had already admitted to sleeping with Nate. Now Trevor? I hadn't seriously thought about sex until my twenties.
It was her Carter side. It was a stupid reason, and it wasn't sitting well with me. I watched Nick press the enter key. The video loaded quickly.
The quality was horrible. The camera was high up on the wall. No close-ups. But you could still see what the two of them were doing.
On a weight bench.
Nick quickly clicked through it. He couldn't watch more than two frames at a time. His skin was a horrible mottled red by the end.
"This is a nightmare. The whole world's going to see her lose her virginity," he groaned.
I bit my lip. "Well, actually..."
Nick looked at me. "Actually, what?"
"She lost her virginity about a month or so ago," I explained.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Brooke was upset. She just needed her mom. We both know you would have flown off the handle."
"WHY DO YOU SAY THAT?"
"Because you're shouting now," I said calmly.
Nick looked back at the blank screen. "So she's slept with two guys while Angel's been with her?"
"It's not Angel's fault," I said. "Nick, she's sixteen. What did you do on a tour bus at sixteen?"
A look of horror came over his face. He scratched at the stubble that had already erupted along his jaw. "But Brooke's a girl."
"Brooke's your daughter."
"She's our baby."
"With hormones. And a body that I never had in my entire life."
Nick stood up and began to pace. "You still should have told me," he snapped.
"I'm sorry. I should have," I admitted. "But it wouldn't have changed this."
Nick stopped. "Do you think Brooke knows?"
I looked at him. "Do you think Brooke would have let him tape it?"
We both knew the answer to that.
"I need to make a few phone calls," Nick said.
Before I could say anything else, Nick headed down to his studio. I glanced back at the screen and sighed.
As soon as Noah got home from school, he locked himself in his room. When I knocked and asked him what was going on, he told me he was okay.
I didn't believe it. Unfortunately, we had the Brooke dilemma to worry about. Nick and I agreed that we would call her after I picked Peyton up from soccer practice and we had dinner. I slipped Pey a five to watch Landon and Nick and I went down to the studio to make the call.
It took all my willpower not to start crying. Brooke sounded so distraught. Nick was still raging with anger. He was flying out to her that night. By the time the call was over, we were both tense.
"Are you going to be okay here?" Nick asked.
"Of course," I said. He helped me up. Our eyes met.
"I wish we could make her two again," Nick said softly. I felt tears spring to my eyes. Hormones.
"That would be nice."
Nick glanced around. "Remember when everything was her's? The TV was a 'veevee.'"
I laughed. "She had that habit of jutting her bottom lip way out and just glaring at someone when she didn't get her way."
Nick kissed me softly. "Maybe I can just lock her up for a few years."
I touched his face. "If only it were that simple," I said.
Nick took my hand and we headed out of the studio. He packed a bag and checked in on Peyton and Landon. Noah was still locked in his room. I heard him holler a goodbye through the closed door. Nick gave me one last kiss before he headed out to the car.
The evening was turning out to be steamy, but in a vastly different way from the morning.
Nick called me when he got to Kentucky. To say that Brooke was upset was an understatement.
They were busily trying to repair the damage and get to the bottom of the tape leak. After seeing the video, Brooke didn't think it was Trevor.
I just hoped she wasn't being overly optimistic.
The next afternoon, I was watching Landon make fake hamburgers out of Play-doh and lazily listening to Pey practice her clarinet when Noah got home. I glanced at the clock. School had been out for an hour.
"Where have you been?"
Noah dropped his bag by the door. I could tell just by looking at him that something was really wrong. He glanced at Landon and then over at Pey.
"I need to talk to you," he said.
I had been trying to talk to him for days. As always, Noah did things in his own time. I grabbed onto the couch. Noah walked over and helped me stand up.
"Thanks hon," I said. I looked up at him. It was a sad day when my own son was taller than me.
"Want me to watch Landon?" Pey asked hopefully. I could see dollar signs in my little brunette's eyes. I smiled.
"Go for it. Bill me," I said.
I followed Noah outside. It was one of those beautiful fall days in Florida that I cherished. We sat down on the white two-person swing Nick had gotten for me the year before.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
Noah clasped his hands together. He stared up at the sky.
"I have something to tell you and you're not going to be happy," he said.
My heart began to pound. My mother's intuition was never wrong. And, as always, my BooBoo and NoNo always seemed to get into trouble one right after the other.
"What's going on?"
Noah let out a shaky breath. He was my calm boy. My sweet boy. I rarely saw him so shaken up.
"When I went to see Brooke in L.A.," Noah said. "Kayleigh and I hooked up."
I knew he was 'seeing' her. The pictures of her in his room were a dead giveaway, as if I hadn't already known how infatuated he was with her.
"By hooking up, you mean--"
"I had sex with her. Actually, we've done it before."
I studied my son's profile. There were times when I seriously felt like I was seeing Nick fifteen years ago. They looked that much alike. Now was one of those times. My little NoNo suddenly looked like a man. I had tried to block that image out for so long. Now I couldn't.
"So what happened?" I asked. Noah ran his hands over the knees of his jeans. The sneaking truth was already rolling around in the back of my mind.
"I was careful," he said. "But we were in a pool. And I didn't know that there was a chance."
I closed my eyes. With Carters, there was always a chance.
"Noah, is Kayleigh pregnant?" I asked. I opened my eyes. Noah's pretty, pretty Nick eyes stared back at me. They were glistening with tears. He nodded.
"She didn't think she was but then they took a blood test too and--"
He didn't have to say anymore. I had lived through that. My sneaky baby had made another sneaky little baby.
"Oh Noah," I said softly. I reached over and took his hand. For a long time we just sat there and let the swing rock us back and forth.
"This is why teenagers shouldn't have sex," I said.
"It's easier to say than do," Noah said. "I couldn't help it."
It was a lame excuse. But it was a boy excuse. Truthfully, it was a Nick excuse.
"Do Brian and Leigh know?" I asked. Noah nodded.
"Kay just got out of the doctor's and called me. That's why I didn't come home right after school.
I was waiting for that call. Her mom and dad took her."
I exhaled. I had a feeling I was going to have a long phone conversation with my best friend tonight. An awkward conversation.
"We have a lot to talk about," I said. "We're going to have to tell your dad."
Noah nodded. "What's going on with Brooke? I heard something about a tape today..."
I figured there was no use in keeping secrets. Nick and I had always tried to be open with the kids before. There was no use stopping that now.
"Your sister has a sex tape," I said.
Noah's eyes widened. "What?"
I stood up and stretched. I was pregnant. I was tired. I was going to be a grandmother. My daughter's cootchie was all over the Internet.
It was just another day in the life of Liv Carter.