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Chapter 52 – The Road to Her Heart

Cheyanne had, unwillingly and being very vocal with her displeasure of being awaked so early, fallen asleep on the couch while waiting for Billy and Jeff to arrive. Moth, equally displeased and sleepy, didn't even twitch an ear when their car roared into the yard. Shaking her head, Austin flung open the door to greet them. The moment Billy's foot touched the porch, she threw her overnight bag at him. "Wait there, I've got more," she informed him, turning to retrieve Cheyanne's things as well.

“Damn woman,” Billy huffed in shock as he stumbled back into Jeff with the blow of her duffle bag. Though, he never really got time to recover as a few more bags went flying in his direction. He had yet to make even civilized contact with the woman since their inappropriate night together. She had been furious after finding out that she had told Kevin everything, pitching him out of the house with dark threats. He had already declined this road trip, but Jeff had insisted that he would be a body guard because he needed someone to check out Atlanta with while the girls were at the concert, keeping Austin far away. Though, it didn’t seem likely. “I keep tellin’ you how sorry I am! Damnit, Austi!”

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. If I hadn't called Kevin when I did, would you have been sorry to wake up on my back porch with your dick still rammed inside me?" she retorted, the same reply each time he apologized.

"Actually, Austi, you're both to blame," Jeff interjected carefully. "After all, weren't you the one who--"

"Who asked you?!" Austin and Billy exclaimed.

"Alright, alright! Shit, I'm just trying to get a little peace for the next six hours it takes to get to Atlanta! Where's my little Chey?" Jeff questioned.

"Asleep on the couch."

"Nuh-uh. Y'all woke me up with your caterwauling," Cheyanne whined with a pout as she sat up. "I ain't going if all you're gonna do is bitch back and forth!" she threatened.

“Oh! Big fancy words!” Jeff cooed, immediately bending down to kiss Cheyanne’s cheek while affectionately rubbing her stomach. Though, Moth didn’t approve, hopping from Cheyanne’s lap. So, Jeff lifted his right leg as Moth tried to take a chomp out of his ankle. Though, it seemed fruitless when Moth launched onto his left ankle instead. “Shit! Pisser!”

“Serves you right,” Austin exclaimed with a pleased smirk, yanking the riled puppy from Jeff’s ankle. Kissing the top of Moth’s head, she glanced toward Cheyanne. “Besides, Chey-Chey, you have to go. Otherwise you’ll break Boohbah’s heart in half. He’s already called three times to make sure you were up and everything you needed was packed…”

"He called? While I was asleep? Why didn't you wake me up?" Cheyanne asked, her bottom lip poking out even further in the most pitiful manner. "I wanted to talk to him…"

“He didn’t want me to bother you, ‘cause you were so damn grumpy.”

“Austi--”

“Wait… Who’s Boohbah?” Jeff immediately questioned, glancing between the two women.

Cheyanne's cheeks immediately turned crimson, and she hurriedly turned away, reaching for her jacket and purse. "Boohbah is Austi's very rude nickname for--"

"Boohbah is Nicky, a.k.a. Chey's new toy," Austin informed him with a smirk, scooping up her purse and keys. "Are we ready?"

“If you’re going to tell me more about this Nick and why my Chey decided she needed another boy toy when she has a strapping cowboy at her beck-an’-call,” Jeff growled, playfully glaring toward Cheyanne, who refused to meet his gaze as Austin tucked Moth into her arms. Billy was already out the door with the bags, muttering something about driving first so he didn’t have to be caught by Austin’s lethalness.

“Ain’t nothing to tell,” Cheyanne murmured as Jeff motioned toward the door. She was about to follow Austin outside when she felt Moth lick her left hand. Glancing down, she cursed loudly when she realized that she was only wearing Baylee’s ring on her left fourth digit and Nick’s ring on her right forth digit. She immediately turned to walk down the hallway while Jeff hollered in confusion, but she ignored him, searching through her nightstand drawer for Howie’s engagement ring. How could she have been so stupid?

"Damnit all to Hell," she grumbled in frustration, yanking the drawer out and dumping its contents on the bed. Sifting through them, she tried to remember the last place she'd seen it. After getting home from the bed and breakfast, she had… "Of course!" Leaving the mess on her bed, she instead flung open her closet, stooping to pull out the worn shoebox where she kept her special mementos. There, lying on top, was Howie's ring.

Moth whined loudly from the bed as Cheyanne plucked the ring from the box, walking toward the bed to pick up the puppy. Only, she wilted onto the mattress instead, just staring at the beautiful engagement ring. The large sapphire and diamonds still sparkled brilliantly with what Cheyanne had thought was Howie’s love and adoration. Though, that seemed to be pointless, considering the last time she had spoken to him was when he slammed the phone in her ear. Many times she had picked up the phone to call, but either she hung up before he could answer or he wouldn’t answer at all. Now she was going to one of his concerts, but mostly at the insistence of his good friend. The good friend Cheyanne had also been intimate with. That thought seemed to cut like a knife as she stared at her hands, knowing she had to wear the engagement ring. She had to give Howie one more chance. She loved him too much not to. Every night she went to sleep thinking about him, praying for him to just call. For him to be happy and safe. For him to love her again…

"Chey-Chey! Chop, chop!" Austin bellowed from the living room.

“Coming…” Cheyanne murmured, though she thought her voice had sounded loud enough for Austin to hear, because it seemed to echo like a gunshot in her ears. Exhaling nervously, she played with Baylee’s ring, wondering how she was going to do this. Howie’s engagement ring had to be replaced on her left, fourth digit, which meant Baylee’s would go back to the right, forth digit. But what about Nick’s? She hadn’t removed that ring since he slid it onto her finger. It had such a strong significance. A token of their blooming relationship. But Howie was her first and only love. He had to come first. “Damnit…” Cheyanne cursed, glancing up briefly to see Austin in her doorway. She felt so lost as her eyes grew teary. “…Sorry, Austi…”

"Chey… Come on, let's go," Austin murmured softly, her eyes on the ring in Cheyanne's hand. "Just put it in your pocket, if you have to bring it. If nothing else, you can slip it on when we get to the concert…" It wasn't as though Howie would be looking, she decided. If anything else, Nick would be the one searching for Cheyanne in the crowd, of that she was certain. The man was all but falling head over heels for her, but Cheyanne insisted on clinging desperately to Howie. "Come on. Billy and I have called a truce for the time being, and they're both starting to whine about how they didn't have time to get breakfast. Just put it in your pocket," she repeated, stepping forward to scoop Moth into her arms. "And Mothie's ready for him's first road trip!"

“Okay,” Cheyanne sighed, following Austin’s orders as she tucked the ring into the front pocket of her short jean overalls, though Moth whined for her, wriggling to get away from Austin in order to leap into her arms. “I don’t think Moth wants the road trip. He knows the boys are going to be singing something God-awful.”

"I sweet talked Jeffie into letting us listen to the CDs we burned of Backstreet… And Boohbah's solo stuff." Handing Moth over, Austin gave Cheyanne a brief hug. "Oh, and by the way, your Nicky's on the phone…" she trailed softly as she left the room.

Furrowing her blonde brows, she glanced toward her cell phone on the bed, which had previously been confiscated by Austin when the obstetrician started worrying about Cheyanne’s stress levels. Though, as Moth fidgeted to tuck himself inside her overalls, she reached for the phone. Briefly wiping away the fallen tears from her cheeks, she held it to her ear, following Austin’s bellows toward Jeff and Billy. “Hello?”

"Why are you sulking in your bedroom when you're supposed to be on your way to see me?" Nick questioned immediately, his voice tinged with tiredness and worry.

“Huh?” Cheyanne questioned with honest confusion, feeling Moth nip at her chin as he heard Nick’s muffled voice through the cell phone. She attempted to push the puppy further in her overalls, but he was too excited and slobbering her with kisses.

"It's way past six, Sweetheart… And here I sit, waiting for an update on y'alls trip when Austi calls me to talk your sweet little ass out of your room. Are you pouting?"

“I wasn’t pouting,” Cheyanne defended, though now her bottom lip was puckered with hurt as she walked toward Jeff’s new hunter green Ford Escort, watching him argue with Austin as she shoved the CDs into his chest. “Billy and Jeffie didn’t get here till like ten minutes ago and I had to get something in my bedroom… And… She shouldn’t have called to bother you. I was comin’.”

"I knew you would… Tell whoever's driving to be safe, okay? And call me while you're on the road… I'm going to try taking a nap, maybe I'll be able to see you when you get here. Sound-check's not 'till three thirty, then I'm free 'till the show, so maybe we can have a pizza in your room or something?" he suggested.

“Billy’s driving and the word safe never combine,” Cheyanne suggested ruefully, watching as Austin and Jeff began to argue about who would be sitting where next. They always seemed to fight. “And I ain’t gonna bug you while you’re trying to take a nap. You sound so exhausted, Nicky… Are you sure you’re okay?”

"I'm just missing you," he murmured. "And please, call me? Otherwise I'll be bugging you, and knowing Austi, she'll throw your phone out the window on the interstate…"

"I ain't sitting up front while Billy drives!"

"Well if I ain't driving, I ain't sitting up front, neither!"

“I’ll sit up front if Billy just promises to get me McDonald’s breakfast, ‘cause Ollie’s craving a Egg McMuffin and we ain’t eating there for lunch unless you want your upholstery ruined,” Cheyanne decided, motioning for the two bickering to just climb into the back seat. “…And I really don’t want to wake you up if you’re that tired, Nicky…”

"Sweetheart… At least call me when you get to Atlanta?" Nick requested, and in the background Cheyanne heard the soft strains of Rascal Flatts.

“I can call you when we get to Atlanta,” Cheyanne promised as she crawled inside the car, immediately glancing back to see that Austin was behind her. Smiling with relief, she inched her seat back and reclined before strapping the belt over her swollen tummy, knowing Austin would just play with her hair the entire time while Moth snuggled comfortably on her chest. “And if you really can’t sleep… You can call… What are you listening to, Nicky?”

"Huh? Oh! I Melt…"

“Nicky…” Cheyanne cooed softly, feeling her eyes prickle slightly with loving tears.

"Nicky…" Jeff imitated, earning a slap upside the head from Austin. "Ow!"

"Every time I listen to it, I think of you, Sweetheart… I'll call you, okay?" he murmured. "And be safe…"

“We’ll be safe,” she promised, biting down on her bottom lip. “You have a good, long nap.”

"I'll try… I love you," Nick murmured before hanging up.

The three words that ended their conversation sent Cheyanne into a baffled silence. For several long moments, even as Billy pulled the car onto the somewhat paved roads, she was still holding the phone to her ear. As if that would get Nick back on the phone. But, when the dial tone started to assault her eardrum, she slowly closed the phone, handing it back to Austin. Leaning back, she covered her face with her hands, assured that she was already bright red. Had he really said that? I love you? …It had to have been a joke. Or she had mistaken him. He loved her as a friend. Surely.

"…Chey? What'd Boohbah say?" Austin questioned, tugging lightly on a golden curl before she began separating her friend's hair to braid it.

“Huh?” Cheyanne murmured, wincing when Austin tugged a bit harder to pull her from the cloudiness of her thoughts. “Oh! …That we have to call him when we get to Atlanta. He wants us to have a safe trip.”

"Then why do you look like he just told you how long his wiener is?" Jeff asked, leaning forward between the front seats to put in a CD.

"God, not that! Anything but that!" Billy shrieked, reaching to push Jeff's hands away from the stereo.

"Hey! My car, my music! 'Sides, if I don't play it, Austi'll kick my ass!"

“Damn straight I will,” Austin huffed with pride, watching Jeff punch Billy hard as he managed to slip the CD in. “And, Chey already knows how long Boohbah’s trophy is.”

"She what?!" Jeff cried in horror as he flopped back. "Holy Hell in a handbasket, Chey!"

“I do not!” Cheyanne cried as she sat up from her reclined position, almost afraid that Jeff’s hand would reach across her face. “Austi!”

"What?" Austin feigned complete innocence as she tugged gently on Cheyanne's hair to make her lay back again.

“I don’t know the size of Phobos--”

"PHOBOS?!"

Cheyanne stalled for a moment of horror while Billy cackled loudly over Nick’s solo CD, whooping with delight. Only, Cheyanne wasn’t amused with her mistake, immediately shrinking in her seat with disgust. “Fuck…”

"Apparently, you already did," Austin pointed out.

Cheyanne blushed furiously. “I don’t want to talk about it--”

"But we're your best friends!" Jeff interrupted.

"We love you!" Billy chimed in.

"If you don't talk about it, I'll just have to call Boohbah and get all the details myself…"

“He ain’t gonna tell you, ‘cause nothing happened--”

"Jeffie, give me my phone--"

“Austi, he’s trying to sleep!”

"Y'know," Billy stated calmly as he turned onto Main Street, heading for the interstate, "I think it'd go a whole lot easier if you just gave us all the juicy details."

"I always knew Billy had a brain somewhere other than in his pants," Austin cooed.

“I’m not some stupid joke, Billy,” Cheyanne suddenly scorned with hurt, leaning her seat forward to get away from Austin and Jeff in the back. Moth protested at his sudden shift, but easily curled back into Cheyanne’s lap with comfort. “You don’t know what it’s like… Howie hasn’t called since I went to Florida and met his family. He’s ignored me… He lied to me about not coming to visit… Then Nicky comes just to cheer me up. Spends all of his hard earned money just so he can see me smile… It was just so powerful… And what I did was wrong… Extremely wrong…”

"But… He cares for you, Chey," Austin murmured. "And we're not trying to be mean or anything… We can tell you're just so happy lately, and that means a lot." Leaning forward, she embraced Cheyanne as best she could with the seat between them. She hated upsetting the younger woman.

"I'm sorry," Billy apologized, glancing over at her as he pulled into McDonald's. "How about that Egg McMuffin now? My treat?"

"Y'mean you're buying breakfast?" Jeff asked quickly.

"For Chey, not you, dumbass!"

*~*~*


Nick muffled a groan of annoyance when he vaguely heard the sound of pounding on his hotel door over the Rascal Flatts CD, luring him away from the somewhat peacefulness of his rest. Glancing toward his phone for a moment, he sighed hard. It was nearing the time when Cheyanne was supposed to be arriving in Atlanta, yet she hadn’t made the phone call. He knew she was probably worried about him getting rest, so he prepared to just dial her instead. But another harsh knock with tiny thumps underneath stopped his business. Rolling from his bed, Nick lazily lumbered toward the door, opening it to find Brian looking quite lonely with Baylee between his legs.

“Nicky, we play with you?” Baylee questioned hopefully. “Uncle Howie is grumpy!”

"Howie's always grumpy," Nick grumbled with a yawn, stepping aside to let them enter. "Just don't jump on the--" he cut off when Baylee immediately leapt onto the bed, bouncing up and down with a boisterousness that made Nick smile slightly. "C'mon in, B…" Without a glance to see if his friend was doing so, he flopped back in his bed, catching Baylee and pulling him down. "No monkeys jumping on my bed!"

“I NO MONKEY!” Baylee shrieked with delight. “I A DARLIN’!”

"You're a monkey!" Nick insisted, tickling him furiously. "Only monkeys wake up Nicky!"

"You two are both monkeys," Brian decided as he flopped across the foot of the bed. "What's that you're listening to? Rascal Flatts?"

“Yeah--”

“My Angel love d’em!” Baylee announced proudly from beneath Nick’s hold, squirming to get away as his cheeks flushed with exertion. He smiled happily toward his father, obviously smitten with Nick almost as much as he was smitten with Cheyanne.

"I love d'em too!" Nick declared.

"Only 'cause Chey played it for you," Brian mused with a tired smile.

Nick frowned with a slight defense. “B, if you came in here to just--”

“No, I didn’t,” Brian promised as Baylee freed himself from Nick’s grasp, immediately hurrying to fish the PSP out of Nick’s carry-on luggage. The seriousness on Brian’s face as he held his hands up in innocence told Nick not to worry too much. He was obviously too tired to keep up a fight as he leaned on his stomach, watching Baylee play on the floor. “I think it’s nice what you have with Cheyanne. She sounds a lot happier than before. Now that she has you to lean on. She needs you…”

"I need her, too," Nick murmured, reaching to change songs on the CD player.

“Yeah, I’d say she’s done some good,” Brian agreed, motioning toward one of the pillows so he could tuck it under his head. “Nick, do you realize how big of a change she’s made in your life? You don’t smoke anymore. And you turn down J when he asks you to go partying every night…”

"I can't smoke around her, 'cause it makes her sick. And no offense to J, but he's really boring to party with these days. Besides, I'd rather…" Nick trailed off before he finished the thought, not wanting to see Brian's face when he admitted he would rather spend that time talking to Cheyanne. "What's happened to you?" he asked abruptly. "You look like crap, and y'know I love you to death, but your singing wasn't hitting on much last night."

“I think I’m coming down with something,” Brian murmured with a sullen nature, turning his gaze to Baylee, who was eagerly playing the handheld game. He had to smile sadly at the excitement on Baylee’s face as he stuck out his tongue with concentration, jerking his entire body with the movements that his car was supposed to be making in the game. God, he loved his son so much.

"Why do you even try lying to me? I thought we were best friends," Nick said carefully. They had been, for so long. Until Brian had gotten married and started a family. Nick didn't begrudge the older man for anything, but he missed the old days. Frick and Frack, hanging around at all times, goofing off and enjoying life. Something tangible had been missing since Brian had said 'I do'.

“I’m seriously coming down with something--” Brian released a burdened sigh, unable to even finish the lie twice in a row. Turning away from his son, he glanced toward his younger friend, realizing how much older he had gotten in such a short period of time. For once, Brian didn’t see the goofy little thirteen year old romping around the hotel with a burst of adrenaline. There was a man there. A grown man. “...Leighanne and I are separating.”

"You… Brian, I'm so sorry," Nick murmured. True, he had never really cared for Brian's choice of a wife, but that hadn't meant he didn't want his friend to be happy. Though he truly couldn't remember a recent time he had seen Brian completely happy, aside from the time he spent with Baylee. It was obvious to anyone that looked at father and son that they absolutely adored one another. "…Why?"

“She really didn’t want kids… Really didn’t want kids… But, I guess I wore her down enough to at least get Baylee. But, from then on… We just drifted, y’know? We’re not the same people we used to be when we got married. We’re on seriously different paths and there’s no way that we’re ever going to meet at a crossroads. She’s giving me full custody of Scooper at least… Which is good for me, ‘cause I’d never part with him. She’ll take my money instead. But doesn’t want a thing to do with him…”

"So it's… Amicable? Is that the word?"

“For now… But I really don’t have the gall to tell the rest of the guys. Especially with how I was when Kev…”

"When Kev… Oh," Nick breathed, shifting slightly so he could better see Brian. "B? Have you…"

“Cheated?” Brian answered, staring at his ringless finger. “Why lie anymore? Yes, I cheated. I’m not proud, but I know she did, too.”

Before he could stop himself, the words were out of Nick's mouth. "With who?"

“Does it really matter who?”

"No… I guess not. But I know you, B. You're not like me, or AJ. You can't just fall into bed with a random chick…"

“…Is that what you’re doing with Cheyanne?”

"She's different, B… So completely different. I…"

“You?”

Nick swallowed hard, fiddling with the antenna on his cell phone. "I love her," he whispered, holding his breath as he waited for the barrage of curses from Brian. Waited to be told over and over that Cheyanne belonged to Howie, that nothing could ever truly become of their relationship. Only, none of that came.

“Damn game,” Baylee suddenly muttered, interrupting the deep conversation that the men were having. Tossing the small hand held game aside, he climbed onto the bed, crawling into Nick’s arms. Wrapping them around him, he glanced up hopefully to Nick. “I love My Angel, too, Nicky. You love her more than Uncle Howie?”

"Scooper…"

"I love her with all my heart," Nick murmured truthfully, hugging Baylee tight. Giving Brian a small smile, he couldn't resist. "Who was she?"

“Wouldn’t you just shit a brick if I said it was Cheyanne,” Brian teased with a roll of his eyes, turning onto his back.

"No, 'cause I'd know you were lying… C'mon, B! You can tell me!"

“Honest to God you don’t know her, Nick.”

"Then it doesn't matter if you tell me, does it? Are you still seeing her?"

“Occasionally we talk on the phone, but it’s nothing serious.”

"What's her name?" Nick questioned as Baylee took his phone from him. Glancing down, he smiled slightly when he saw him starting to flip through the pictures Cheyanne had sent him.

“Vivian…”

"What's she like?"

“She’s--” Brian scowled for a moment. “We’re not having this conversation.”

"Why not? Bay, run to the kitchen and get me a Pepsi?"

"Why?" Baylee whined, already sliding off the edge of the bed, clutching Nick's phone. "You want a dwink, Daddy?"

“No thanks, Scooper,” Brian answered with a small grin, watching Baylee run furiously toward the kitchen in search of a drink for his best friend. “You’re still not getting details. It’s nothing serious. She’s just… She’s funny… And I like talking to her.”

"Does she know about her?"

“Yes, Leighanne knows about her. Just like I know about Antonio. And, yes, Vivian knows about Leighanne.”

"So… I mean… Um… Damn."

“Damn?”

"Yeah, damn. So… Is Vivian coming out on tour any?"

“We’ll see…” Brian trailed as he watched Baylee come tearing back into the bedroom, the can of Pepsi shaking furiously within his grip as he kept a closer watch on the phone. “But… You do realize that these things always come out, Nick? Even with… D’s going to find out eventually…”

"I know… Look, man, I'm really sorry things didn't work out with Leigh," Nick murmured, taking the can from Baylee. Wiping the top with the hem of his t-shirt, he sighed. "And I want you to know I'm here for you, if you need someone to talk to or something." Popping the top of the can, he released a high-pitched shriek when Pepsi exploded from it, covering him in the sticky fizz. "Aw, shit!"

“I got you!” Baylee shrieked with hysterical laughter, immediately falling to the floor to roll with his loud giggles, still clutching the phone to his chest. Brian even had to chuckle at the wet, sticky mess, falling to the floor beside his son. Though, Baylee’s giggles dissolved quickly as the ring-tone ‘Honkeytonk Badonkadonk’ began to rattle Nick’s expensive phone. Knowing it was Cheyanne’s special sound, Baylee immediately flipped open the phone, preparing to run into the bathroom. “MY ANGEL!”

"COME BACK HERE!" Nick roared, attempting to wipe his face on the sheet. Looking to Brian for help, he rolled his eyes when he saw his friend shaking with mirth. Vaulting off the bed, Nick grabbed Baylee's leg just before he made a run for it. "Gotcha! Give me my phone!"

“Yikes!” Baylee squealed as the phone went flying from his hands, skidding across the plush carpet. “MY ANGEL! DON’T GET LOST’ED!”

Drawing the squirming toddler into his arms, Nick quickly deposited him atop Brian. "I'll let you talk to her later!" he promised before snatching up the phone. "Sweetheart?" he answered breathlessly. As he passed the bed on his way to the bathroom, Baylee's foot shot out, connecting with his backside. "HEY!" he yelped, sprinting away.

“MY ANGEL! YOU STUPID FU--”

“BAYLEE!” Brian immediately exclaimed, clamping a hand over his son’s mouth.

"I SWEAR! HE DIDN'T GET IT FROM ME!" Nick shouted before swinging the bathroom door shut behind him. Leaning against it, he turned the lock. "Sweetheart? You there?"

“Did Darlin’ just try to say what I think he just tried to say?” Cheyanne questioned, her voice tinged with the fight of trying to submerge her laughter.

"I swear, Sweetheart, he must've heard it from AJ… Are you here?" Nick questioned hopefully, peeling off his t-shirt. Wrinkling his nose, he tossed it aside before stepping over to turn on the shower.

“Here as in Atlanta?”

Nick had to smile when he heard her Southern twang kick in, dragging out each syllable of the city. "Yeah, here as in Atlanta," he confirmed.

“Yeah, we’re in Atlanta…” Cheyanne trailed, obviously overhearing the sound of the shower running. “Hell, we’re done driving for the day…”

"You're at the hotel?!"

“If you did it right, I’m probably underneath you right now, but seems you’re busy, so--”

"I'm not busy!" Nick exclaimed quickly. "You're in your room already? Which room number is it you're in? I have it written down somewhere…"

“Yeah, I’m in my room already,” Cheyanne laughed softly. “I told you that Billy don’t drive safe, which means he don’t drive legal either. Him and Jeffie are checking out the pool situation while Austi starts getting ready for Kevvy… And I was told to rest…”

"Give me five minutes to get dressed, and I'll be right down… What room?"

“Eight-Sixty-Two, but Nicky--”

"Five minutes," he promised before slapping his phone shut. Dropping it by the sink as he stepped out of his shorts, he threw himself into the shower, barely standing under the water for a moment before jumping out. Toweling dry as best he could in the state of anticipation he was in, he stormed into the bedroom, skidding to a stop when he saw Brian still on his bed. Baylee was pouting as he sat on a pillow, angrily punching buttons on the handheld game. Without a word, Nick jerked open his suitcase, yanking out clean shorts and a shirt. Stepping back into the bathroom, he quickly dressed, his heart hammering with each passing second. "I gotta run for a few minutes," he explained as he sped through the bedroom, key card in hand. "Y'all do… Whatever. Bye!" Slamming the door shut behind him, he sprinted to the stairs, ignoring AJ as he shouted to him from down the hall. He arrived, breathless, his face red from exertion, in front of Cheyanne's door a moment later. A quick glance at his watch told him he had two minutes to spare.

Nick took several gulps of breath in hopes to calm himself with he fanned his flaming cheeks, wanting to appear nonchalant as he knocked on her door. But, with the adrenaline flowing and the sheer ache to see her, he couldn’t even wait the two spare minutes. Furiously, he rapped his knuckles on the door, bouncing on his heels with sheer anticipation. Her getting to the door seemed to take a lifetime, but everything was worth it in the end. Especially when she shyly peeked outside the small crack of the door before easing it open. Her beautiful face lit into a brilliant smile as her dark sapphire eyes sparked with excitement. She was dressed sweetly in her jean overall shorts and a light lavender boyfriend tank, her long golden curls twisted into two long braids. And, she was still wearing his ring. “That was fast… Are y’all right?”

"Fine!" When she stepped back to let him in, he gathered her into his arms, inhaling her sweet scent as he pushed the door shut. "I've missed you so much," he murmured, brushing his lips against hers. "Was the trip okay? Do you want me to order you something to eat?" Before she could reply, he caught her lips with his again, drinking in her taste as she curled her arms around his neck. It seemed as though months had passed since he'd last seen her, though he knew it had only been a matter of days.

“Nicky, you’re like a firecracker,” Cheyanne giggled against his lips, pulling him down as her hands locked firmly around his neck. At first she hadn’t wanted him to bother coming down, but she wasn’t allowed to get a word in edgewise. And, now she was thankful that she didn’t. She had missed him terribly over the past few days. Her bed lonely and empty without him. She even felt compelled to seek him out again, to remember what she had missed so much. She nibbled affectionately on his bottom lip, like she always loved to do, then covered his mouth with hers again, allowing her tongue to trace the familiar softness of his lips before dipping inside to savor him. “God, you taste so good…”

"Chey, how do I…" Austin's words trailed into a soft 'oh' of surprise when she caught sight of the two locked in a passionate embrace. It seemed as though neither had heard her, either, and she watched them for a moment. The way Nick cradled Cheyanne in his arms, as though he delighted in her, the soft sighs of contentment coming from both, all made her smile. Tiptoeing to the bed, she dug the digital camera from her bag, quickly turning it on. Aiming it, she snapped a picture of the obviously loving couple, skipping back into the bathroom before they discovered her presence.

"Chey… Sweetheart… Whoa," Nick breathed between kisses, tearing his lips from hers with a plaintive sigh. His body responded to her kisses like no other, and he had to will himself not to carry her to the bed and spend the rest of the day making love to her. "I only have a few minutes," he murmured regretfully, looking into her eyes.

“That’s okay. I’m just glad you came down at all. I know you’re busy,” Cheyanne promised with a soft breath, smiling at the way his ocean eyes seemed to reflect the admiration she had for him. Though, watching him smile, she leaned up to just brush her lips against his once more. “Sorry… I can’t resist…”

"Neither can I," he whispered, losing himself in her kiss. Moments later he found himself sitting on the edge of the bed, her legs wrapped around him as they continued their soft, sweet kisses. "God, Chey…" Allowing himself another kiss, he pulled her closer until they sprawled across the bed, her delicious body curled against his. Feeling something against his leg, he nudged it away, gasping when he felt something cold and moist press against the back of his knee. Jerking back, he glanced down, grinning when Moth scampered up to greet him. "Hey there," he cooed, giving the dog several scratches behind the ears before returning his attention to Cheyanne. Smiling, he traced her cheek with his thumb. "Hey," he whispered.

“Hey,” Cheyanne returned softly, her cheeks flushed with the excitement of their greeting. Though, she allowed her eyes to flutter closed for a mere moment to savor the softness of his thumb against her cheek, resting her hand against his wildly pounding heart. She savored the closeness she had with him. Knowing she could probably never have it with another.

Austin's voice broke the silence. "Are you two finished kissing yet? I need to get started on my makeup… Then I have to help Chey with hers… Not to mention, I have to take Moth for a walk--"

“Sorry, Austi,” Cheyanne interrupted with a embarrassed blush now lighting her cheeks, moving to get off the bed before her best friend entered. As if it wasn’t bad enough that she had been cornered in the car by three of her best friends over her relationship with Nick. She didn’t need bombarded again. “And I ain’t wearing make-up that’s for freaking sure.”

Catching her arm, Nick pulled her back to him, shaking his head when she raised a brow. Leaning close, he kissed her softly. "Why try to enhance something that's already perfect?" he whispered.

"A little lip-gloss then? Hell, keep kissing Boohbah, that'll put a rosy glow on your cheeks that no makeup company in the world can compete with…" Austin trailed, followed by clattering as she apparently tossed her straightening iron into the sink.

"That sounds like a plan to me," Nick murmured.

“I thought you said you only had a few minutes?” Cheyanne countered, her eyelashes fluttering against his skin when she leaned to kiss his top lip, then his bottom lip, then both.

"Few minutes, half an hour… It's all relative, Sweetheart…"

"Hands where I can see 'em!" Austin exclaimed as she came from the bathroom. "You two are freaking ridiculous," she chided when Nick flipped her off.

“We ain’t nothing compared to you and Kevvy just full-out engaging in sex while we were trying to play Resident Evil,” Cheyanne chided, affectionately rubbing Nick’s chest before she moved to sit up on the bed, her feet already bare as Moth curled against them happily.

Releasing a contented sigh, Nick snuggled close to her, resting his head lightly on her stomach. Rubbing it affectionately, he placed a light kiss where he felt movement, tracing the outline of an elbow with his finger. Elbow, foot, knee… Whatever. A hard baby body part was pressing against his hand; that was all that mattered.

"So that's why you left the room? I thought for sure y'all went off to engage in sex as well," Austin mused, digging through her bag for her makeup case. Glancing up, she caught sight of Nick's loving attention towards the baby, smiling gleefully when she saw the way her friend began toying with Nick's damp hair.

“You guys were so damn loud and…” Cheyanne trailed off for a moment as her fingers twisted Nick’s lengthening blonde locks into curled spikes. “How come you’re so okay with me having sex now? Is it ‘cause you just want Ollie out now? I mean, eight months ain’t that premature and--”

"Hey! Hold up!" Nick cried, shaking his head. "If you're about to give birth because we've made love half a dozen times--"

"Half a dozen times?!" Austin squeaked in surprise, her makeup bag falling to the floor.

“Nicky!” Cheyanne exclaimed, immediately pushing him with annoyance and a shy embarrassment at his slip.

"Y'all had sex--I'm sorry, made love half a dozen times that night?!" Austin questioned incredulously. "Holy Hell, Boohbah! Even Kevin can't--"

“We don’t want to know!” Nick and Cheyanne exclaimed together.

"Y'all are too much… Way too much," Austin muttered, shaking her head. "C'mon, Pisser, let's go for a walk--”

"No! You can't go outside 'till we leave for soundcheck!" Nick cried, wiggling closer to Cheyanne. "Kevin can't see you, remember? It's a surprise."

"As I was about to say… C'mon, Pisser, let's go for a walk to the ice machine," Austin drawled, rolling her eyes as she scooped the puppy up. "Like I didn't know it was a freaking surprise. Like I didn't know I can't see Pretty Boy 'till after the concert," she muttered, heading out the room.

Sitting up, Nick gave Cheyanne a smile, glancing at the travel alarm clock on the nightstand. "I've got about twenty minutes…"

“Your point?” Cheyanne mused playfully, attempting to slide from the bed.

"Can I just lay here and snuggle with you until it's time for me to go?" he murmured, patting the mattress beside him.

“Nicky,” Cheyanne cooed softly, clasping a hand against her heart as though it had melted. She nodded in agreement with his sentiment, crawling back onto the bed. Leaning over him, she kissed him once more. “I’d love to cuddle with my Nicky.”
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