Kicking off her shoes, Austin angrily threw herself onto the bed, wincing painfully when her piercing caught on the sheet. "I hate your cousin's whore," she grumbled against the pillow, glancing over her shoulder to see Kevin sit on the edge of the bed. "Of all the bitchiest, most nerve-wracking women--"
“Princess, she apologized for getting out of line,” Kevin attempted to dissuade, though he suddenly felt guilty about cutting off her explosion. After hearing Vivian’s outrageous accusations against his fiancée, Kevin decided that Austin had a right to be hurt and upset. The ride back to the hotel had been quite tense, though Baylee attempted to keep conversation light and appeasing by talking about becoming a doctor so he could keep Cheyanne with him. Everyone had chuckled when Katie suddenly decided that she wanted to be a nurse like Cheyanne, resulting in a feud between the toddlers that would sure present itself sometime during the night. Though, attempting to make peace, he reached for one of her feet, gently kneading the sole in an apologetic manner.
"Oh, sure, she apologized… Only 'cause Brian was making her. I can't stand her. Do you know I've had no time alone with Chey since we joined this tour? Unless you count a minute or two here and there when Mega Bitch was off screwing Brian or something…" Austin trailed softly, shaking her head. "If I'd known he had such a thing for know-it-all bitches, I would have set him up with my cousin."
“Do you think that maybe you should tell Angel you want personal quality time with her? I mean, I wouldn’t be against you skipping a couple shows to spend time with her and La-La. It’s important… I mean, she’s not going to be moving to Kentucky with us like you wanted, so…” Kevin trailed off, not sure if he really wanted to get that conversation started.
"Why?" Austin groaned miserably, pulling her foot from his grasp. "It's a-fucking-parent that she prefers Vivian… They do it all together…"
“She doesn’t prefer Vivian,” Kevin scolded, not wanting Austin to take the brunt of her anger out on the new mother. “Y’know, you’ve been busy planning our wedding, Princess. Maybe Angel just doesn’t want to bother you when you’re under so much stress? She loves you to death, y’know…”
"So you're saying it's my fault that Vivian's pushing her gigantic ass in?" Austin questioned, sitting up with a sigh. "Kevin… All I want is my Chey back. The way it was. I'm not trying to be selfish, really… I miss her. I want her to do the stuff with me that she does so willingly with Vivian. Do you know that in all our years of friendship, not once have we gone skinny dipping? And we own that fucking lake!"
“Maybe she’s afraid if she skinny’s with you and you drown her… Then she’s going to have to ride in the ambulance naked?” Kevin attempted to joke.
"I swear, Kevin Scott Richardson--"
Thankfully, Austin’s verbal assault was interrupted by a soft knocking on the door connecting the couple’s hotel room to the large living room suite. Kevin immediately vaulted to open the door, but Cheyanne popped in before he could open it. She peeked inside with a sweetly innocent smile, her curls damp from what looked like a pleasant bath as she held Olivia close, the little girl’s honey curls also damp as she gurgled in her mother’s ear. “Can we come in? Bringing tons of daughter and granddaughter love? Freshly bathed, smelling good, and filled with adorable cuteness?”
Austin pulled a pillow into her lap, idly plucking at the case as Kevin invited them in. "What'd you do with Howie?" she asked softly, wondering instead why Vivian wasn't up her ass as usual.
"Tea's taking a nap…"
“And you’re not napping with him?” Kevin questioned with surprise.
“Cinnamon and I were taking a tubby together while he was reading. Only, when we got out, he was sound asleep. So, we covered him up with Cinnamon’s blanket and decided to come visit the godparents. We weren’t tired and this is one time that Cinnamon’s actually wide awake. Do you know how much Cinnamon loves the water? She’s so cute, Austi. She starts splashing with her feet and squeals…” Cheyanne explained excitedly as she crawled onto the bed with Austin, nestling her daughter comfortably within her arms so Olivia could watch both women as she sucked lazily on her fingers.
Looking down at Olivia, Austin smiled, reaching to smooth the lavender summer dress. "She's so beautiful," she whispered, glancing up to see Kevin watching them. She recognized the longing in his eyes, knowing he wanted what Cheyanne and Howie had badly. "C'mon, Daddy… Snuggle!"
Kevin feigned a look of mock surprise. “I’m actually allowed in the circle of Princess, Angel, and La-La?”
“You’re the Daddy, aint’cha?” Cheyanne laughed softly, causing Olivia to grin and thrust her hands out toward the sound of her mother’s voice.
"Which means no penile inspections," Austin teased, tossing the pillow at him. "In fact, sit here, I need to go take a quick shower and wash the grime off my stomach…"
“I really don’t think Tea was happy with my piercing,” Cheyanne sighed as Kevin flopped onto the bed where Austin had occupied. Once he seemed settled, Cheyanne moved to rest Olivia on her stomach at the end of the bed, sprawling herself out just beside her daughter. Olivia grunted the first change of her position, but lifting her head to see her mother, she easily accustomed as Cheyanne clicked her tongue playfully.
"He'll get used to it, won't he?" Kevin suggested, moving to his stomach so he could rub Olivia's back. "I wasn't thrilled with Princess' piercing either… But now it's a major turn-on."
“Which one?” Cheyanne mused as Olivia’s tiny hand covered her mouth, so she blew a soft raspberry, causing Olivia’s large sapphire eyes to widen in surprise.
"The one she got when she was drunk with Billy…"
“Yeah…” Cheyanne trailed, knowing she needed no further comments on her friend’s nipple piercing, much less how it infatuated Kevin.
Hearing the water running in the bathroom, Kevin glanced at Cheyanne. "You and Vivian are getting close," he murmured, smiling slightly when Olivia grasped his finger.
“She’s nice,” Cheyanne agreed vaguely, watching Olivia tug at Kevin’s finger as if she were going to pull herself up again. Even at such a young age, Cheyanne could see the determination in her daughter’s beautiful eyes, knowing Olivia would be a free spirit.
"And the sky is blue… Did Princess do something to upset you?"
"She's feeling a little left out," Kevin admitted softly, eyes widening when Olivia pushed herself up on her hands, squealing with excitement.
“Cinnamon’s so big!” Cheyanne’s voice seemed to match Olivia’s excited squeal as she boosted herself to layer affectionate kisses onto Olivia’s face.
Kevin had to smile at Cheyanne's exuberance. "She sure is… Chey?"
“Yeah?” Cheyanne answered as she turned Olivia onto her back. Pulling up the summer dress, she blew a few more raspberries to her daughter’s bare stomach, laughing when she squealed. Bringing her face back to Olivia’s face, she expressed her joy and pride as she kissed her again, Olivia clasping her hands against her mother’s face with an adoring coo.
"Forget it," Kevin chuckled, shaking his head. He couldn't bring himself to ruin her excitement by bringing up Austin and Vivian's obvious hatred for each other.
“I’m always going to love Austi the most,” Cheyanne told him as she continued to coo toward Olivia, laughing when her daughter repeated the same coos. She knew what he had been trying to say from the beginning, especially since what happened at the mall. Though, she was oblivious to Austin standing just in the threshold of the bathroom, listening to every word. “She’s my best friend… My Momma while Momma is in Pennsylvania… I owe her a lot. I know without her, I don’t think I could have been able to handle having Cinnamon… I owe her my world… I just didn’t want to bother her while she was planning her wedding. She’s been so stressed and all I talk about is Cinnamon… I guess I thought it wouldn’t have been a good mix? And… No matter how nice Vivian is, she ain’t never gonna replace my Austi. Ever. I just wait for Austi to come back to me.”
"Then why didn't you say something? I wouldn't mind you bothering me while I plan the wedding… It wouldn't even be a bother to have you around, Chey-Chey," Austin murmured.
“I didn’t want you to get mad at me,” Cheyanne explained softly, glancing over her shoulder as Olivia calmed, far more content in trying to reach the elegant necklace around her mother’s neck before Kevin attacked her with raspberries. She hadn’t expected Austin to be there, but she figured she mine as well be honest.
Austin sighed, fiddling with the belt of her robe as Kevin pulled Olivia into his embrace for snuggling. Leaping onto the bed, she flung her arms around Cheyanne, planting wet kisses on her cheeks, her damp hair sticking to her forehead. "I could never be mad at my Chey-Chey," she promised, giggling when Cheyanne tried to push her off.
“It’s the sticky marshmallow madness all over again!” Cheyanne grunted with protest, attempting to squirm away. “Only now you’re wet and half naked!”
"I'm not half naked! Everything's covered up!" Austin protested, blowing raspberries on the younger woman's cheek.
"Not everything…" Kevin trailed with amusement.
“AUSTI!” Cheyanne shrieked with horror, though she was giggling insanely.
"Fine! I'll put on some underwear!" Austin cried, sliding off the bed.
"Do you even own underwear? All I've ever seen are those skimpy g-strings…"
“She wears big ol’ granny panties when you’re not around!” Cheyanne suddenly exploded with giggles. “Things that I could put on and stretch over my head! We measure first down’s with them when we play football!”
"I DO NOT!" Austin shouted, yanking open her suitcase.
“See her get defensive? Y’know it’s true…” Cheyanne continued.
"I'd kind of like to see you in these granny panties, Princess," Kevin chuckled, cradling Olivia close to him as he shifted to his side, enjoying the peacefulness of having a baby in his arms.
"Chey, I could bring up those stained granny panties you wore all the time when we first started rooming together," Austin threatened, pulling on a pair of jean shorts.
“They were anti-sex-wear,” Cheyanne defended, a blush accentuating her cheeks as she turned to lay on her back. “Kept them boys away. ‘Course, guess that tends to happen when you give me a few rum balls and show me to a pole…”
"You pole danced?!"
"Easy, Pretty Boy… It was just at the bar near the college… Not some grungy tittie bar."
“Good way to pay for college books for the next semester,” Cheyanne concluded as Austin tackled her again once she was situated. Cheyanne groaned with laughter as a rush of air left her lungs, though she somehow ended up pinning Austin. “Besides, now I wear cute little bikinis…” Reaching into her shorts, she plucked out a purple band of her low riding bikini underwear. “See?”
"Yeah, yeah… Come back and talk to me when you start going commando, okay?" Austin retorted, tickling her friend.
"Just great… I get a fantasy image in front of me and can't do a dang thing about it," Kevin told Olivia with a disappointed sigh.
Cheyanne yawned softly as she stretched out on the king sized bed in Howie’s hotel room, lazily flipping through the pages of the latest nursing magazine while she wiggled her feet to the beat of the song filtering through her MP3 player. The boys had been given a day off before starting on the road again, so Kevin and Austin requested that they take Olivia for the day. They had mentioned something vaguely about shopping, declaring it goddaughter day. Cheyanne was apprehensive at first, mostly because she really didn’t like parting with her daughter, but agreed nonetheless to let them go. She figured she might at least be able to spend some time with Baylee at the pool, but Vivian and Brian had taken him for the day. AJ had gone with Josephine, Katie, and Drew for some fun filled activity. And, Nick hadn’t been seen since the previous night. So, Cheyanne decided she could be lazy, maybe perhaps catch up on the sleep that had been lost while nursing at night.
Coming from the bathroom, Howie pounced on Cheyanne's lounging form, burying his face in the crook of her neck as she squealed in surprise. Nibbling lightly at her skin, he lifted his head, giving her a grin. "Ready to come down to the gym and sweat?"
“Gym? Sweat?” Cheyanne repeated, turning onto her back so she could look up at her fiancé, displaying her wrinkled nose of displeasure. “That isn’t exactly located in the vocabulary of my fun dictionary, Sweet Tea. I mean… You run and run and run on this treadmill and get no where. What’s the point? Especially when I can just go to the pool and swim? Or irritate AJ and get chased around?”
"But AJ's not around for you to irritate… And how do you expect me to keep up my stamina if I don't run and run and run on a treadmill?" Howie questioned, kissing the tip of her nose.
“I didn’t say you couldn’t go work out…”
"So you're going to go to the pool? Or find Marcus and irritate him?" Sliding off her, Howie offered several quick kisses before retrieving his gym shoes.
“Marcus loves me,” Cheyanne disagreed with a smirk, rotating the piercing in her navel so the skin wouldn’t adhere to the silver barbell. “…But I’ll find something to entertain me.”
"Everyone loves you… You're sure? If you want me to stay--"
“Tea, you just said you wanted to go work out. So go,” Cheyanne emphasized as he sat on the edge of the bed to pull on his shoes and tie them securely. “I can play by myself. Maybe check out a few tattoos online…”
"Just wait 'till AJ gets back, I'm sure he can give you plenty of tattoo tips," Howie informed her, leaning across to kiss her gently. "And I'll be back in about an hour, okay?"
“I’ll make sure I disappeared somewhere,” she teased against his lips before kissing back. “But, not before you tell me how much you love my belly ring…”
"I love your belly ring," he assured her softly, letting his hand glide down her stomach to tug gently on the ring. "It's just perfect," he whispered before reluctantly pulling away. "Stay out of trouble, Honey…"
“I know, I know, you won’t be paying for the bail next time,” Cheyanne sighed dramatically as she relocated her magazine, sprawling back out on the bed, wriggling till she was comfortable. Releasing the softest yawn, she glanced upward to see Howie lingering at the door. “I love you, Sweet Tea.”
"I love you, Honey," he replied, blowing her a kiss before stepping into the hall.
Cheyanne smiled thoughtfully at his gesture as the door closed, probably loving him more at that point than ever. It seemed like every day he was surprising her with his sweetness, making her melt inside. She honestly couldn’t wait to start planning her wedding with him, though she knew they would wait for Kevin and Austin to complete theirs first. Now, unable to concentrate on the article, she flipped the magazine closed and crawled out of bed. Scurrying to her small purse, she fished out a few pieces of change, tucking them into the back pocket of her shorts. She decided that she mine as well take a quick trip to the vending machine and watch one of her various DVDs, hopefully slipping off into a nap afterwards.
As soon as she stepped into the hall, all thoughts of DVDs and naps left her mind. Stumbling down the hallway, leaning against a young woman of indeterminate age who seemed as drunk as he, was Nick. Clutching a near-empty bottle of liquor, he stared at Cheyanne for a long moment, leaning against the wall to support his shaking form. "Hey… Jo!" he called shallowly, giving her a weak grin. "Where's Drew?"
“I’m not Jo,” Cheyanne answered, glancing down both ends of the hallways only to reinforce that no one was indeed available. She was the only one left in the hotel suite besides Nick and obnoxiously giggling woman who was attempting to suck on Nick’s neck. Even from a distance alcohol seemed to permeate the air and Cheyanne decided to just trudge past him. If he wanted to be so intoxicated that he couldn’t even identify a brunette from a blonde then so be it. Though, as she approached, she found herself slowing to examine his features. Something wasn’t right. “…How much did you drink, Nick?”
"I can't remember…" Shuffling towards his room, Nick clung to the redhead, attempting to breathe deeply in an effort of calming his racing heart. "…Turn off the air? I'm freezing," he admitted, finally succeeding in flinging his door open. Why couldn't he breathe? "Chey," he whispered painfully, ignoring the woman latched to his body. Pushing her away, he grasped the doorframe, letting the bottle fall from his grasp as he clutched his stomach. "I need Chey…"
“Shit, Nicky,” Cheyanne cursed as she watched him fall inside his room, knowing that he was probably on the verge of alcohol poisoning. The thought made her sick inside, knowing it could have fatal consequences. As much as she wanted to leave, she knew she couldn’t. She loved Nick too much to abandon him. So, she wasted no time in scrambling back toward his room, yanking the redhead out into the hallway. “You need to go. Now.”
"What the fuck's your problem? Do you know how many damned sob stories I had to listen to and pretend I cared about to get him to bring me up here?" the woman questioned, jerking her arm free of Cheyanne's grasp. "Apparently, this Chey was a real bitch. All he needs now is a good fuck and he'll be okay."
"Chey…" Nick croaked, his face a deathly pale.
“If you want to see Chey be a real bitch, keep breathing down my neck,” Cheyanne growled with sheer disgust as she shoved the woman back into the hallway. “And get the fuck out of here before I tell you where to shove that big black dildo you’re probably packing between your legs!”
"Chey?" Nick called faintly, biting down on his bottom lip to keep it from trembling. "I think I'm gonna…"
“Okay, Nicky,” Cheyanne breathed as she slammed the door sharply in the redhead’s face, making sure it locked so she wouldn’t try to enter. If the pounding continued, Cheyanne would make sure to call security. But, for now, she was reaching for the nearby trashcan, dumping all the empty alcohol bottles from it before helping Nick into a sitting position. Sitting the can in his lap, she rubbed his back. “Go ahead… Don’t you dare keep it in… Just let it all out, okay?”
Once finished, Nick pushed the can away, slumping against the door as he struggled to draw a clear breath. "Drink… Chey, I need a drink… There's--"
“Water,” Cheyanne anticipated, opening the mini-fridge to locate several bottles of water. Of course, they were hidden behind what seemed like dozens of varied alcohol containers. Frowning, Cheyanne pushed the thoughts away of her anger over his binge drinking, crouching down beside him as she uncapped the water. “You need to drink as much water as you can, okay? I can’t let you get dehydrated, okay?”
"I'm cold… I'm cold and sweating, Sweetheart… Help me?" Nick whispered, taking a slow sip of the water. Making a face, he shivered convulsively. "Please…"
“I’ll help you,” Cheyanne promised as she cupped his face within her hands. She exhaled a sharp air of nervousness as her hands coated with the cold, clammy sweat soaking his body. His lips were tinted with the faintest color of purple that made her heart sink into her stomach. He was sicker than she had anticipated. Pulling away, she dug into his suitcase for a t-shirt and sweat pants. She had to get him out of his already drenched clothing so he wouldn’t get any colder. So he wouldn’t die on her. “Help me get you into these clothes, Nicky, okay? Then we’ll lay you down under some warm blankets…”
"I can't…" Even as he told her, he shrugged his jacket off, reaching with shaky hands to peel off his t-shirt. Dragging himself to his feet, he stumbled to the bed, falling atop the mattress with a painful groan. "Is this good enough?" he attempted to joke, lifting his head to find her. "Chey… It's really you, isn't it?"
“Do you know any other blonde females in this little family?” Cheyanne attempted to tease as she pulled off his shoes, tossing them aside with the socks balled inside. She then reached to unthread his belt, unsnapping his jeans to slide them off his legs. Grasping the sweatpants, she eased them onto his body as she helped him into a slightly stooped position so she could slide them up. Keeping him against her, she pulled on his t-shirt and finally hugged him gently. “Of course it’s me, Nicky… I wouldn’t leave you like this… No matter what…”
Clinging to her, Nick fell onto the bed, shivering convulsively when she left his embrace. "Chey… Please…" he croaked, reaching for her. She whispered something; the pulse drumming in his ears was so loud she went unheard. All he could think of was how he had treated her. "Sorry," he whispered, starting when he felt her hands on his chest. Opening one eye, he saw she was pulling the blankets over him, her lips moving gently as she offered him a soft smile.
"Its okay, Nicky," her voice came softly.
When she moved to slip away, he blindly reached to catch her, his hand closing over her silky arm. "Stay… Please… Sweetheart, I need you…"
“Nicky, I need to get you a bucket in case you get sick again,” Cheyanne answered, surprised at the depth of desperation tingeing his scratchy voice, but far more startled when his hand reached for her. She could only recall all their moments together since Olivia was born, where he was repulsed by the feeling of her skin. Where he had hated her with a passion. Where he was cruel and conniving, declaring her to be just another sexual encounter. And that had hurt worse than him just shuffling her over into Howie’s arms, though that part of the group’s conversations was hazy. She could only assume that his desperation was laced with the depressing actions of the alcohol and the sickness consuming him. But, she couldn’t leave him, either way. Sighing, she glanced around to see the trashcan tucked beside the nightstand. Emptying the contents of empty bottles and crushed cigarette packages, she placed it on the nightstand and knelt down to Nick’s height. “Are you warm enough?”
"I'm freezing," Nick murmured, feeling the goose pimples raise on his skin. "Drink… Sweetheart?"
“I need you to roll onto your side, okay? Don’t lay on your back,” Cheyanne requested softly as she reached for the water bottle, uncapping it and offering it toward Nick. Once his hand seemed to capture the bottle, she felt the side of his face. He was still perspiring heavily, but what scared her most was how cold he felt. How his lips were turning blue. Brushing the back of her hand against her eyes to keep the tears at bay, she pushed herself up, searching his room for more blankets.
"You…" Nick trailed into a fit of coughing that wracked his entire body, water sloshing onto the floor as he leaned over the edge of the bed. "Need you… Please…"
“Damnit Nicky,” Cheyanne cursed as she managed to gather some extra blankets, hurrying back to the bed. She pulled the water bottle from his hand, replacing it with the trashcan. He spit a few clots of blood into the bucket, but nothing else from his stomach emerged. Setting the trashcan back on the nightstand, she draped the rest of the blankets over his shivering body, weighing her options. One of the most lethal characteristics of alcohol poisoning was the deadly drop in temperature that resulted with cardiac arrest. Unable to imagine Nick’s body being lowered into a casket, she pulled back the blankets. “Nicky, slide over a little, okay? But still stay on your side.”
Sliding over, Nick dragged his hand over his mouth, wincing when he saw blood. "Sweetheart… I'm dying," he moaned, staring up at the ceiling. "I… Istillloveyou," he whispered in a rush, knowing it had to be said.
“You’re not dying,” Cheyanne told him forcefully, sliding onto the bed. She willed the tears gathering in the back of her eyes not to fall, not wanting to startle him in his hazy state of semi-consciousness. Shifting onto her side, she reached to tentatively wrap her arms around him. “C’mere Nicky… Lay as close as you can to me so you can get warm and please roll onto your side… I’m not going to let you die…”
"I feel like I'm dying… What'd that whore slip me?" he questioned abruptly, slowly rolling to his side to face her. "…That was a woman, wasn't it? …I didn't pick up a guy, did I?" he mumbled, flopping one arm over her as she snuggled closer to him, her hands gently rubbing his freezing body.
“It was a woman, but she didn’t slip you anything,” Cheyanne answered as she pulled the covers tightly around their bodies to cocoon them in a nest of warmth. She then kept that hand over his heart, feeling the rapid beats as well as the rate and depth of his breathing as her other hand continued to warm him. “…It’s all this drinking, Nicky… It’s alcohol poisoning…”
Nodding, Nick closed his eyes, drawing in a shaky breath. "Sweetheart…" he trailed softly, willing himself to stay awake.
“Don’t fall asleep on me,” Cheyanne warned, though her voice made it sound more like a pleading request.
"…I'm sorry," he murmured, pulling her closer so he could wrap his leg over hers. "…I'm so sorry…"
“It’s okay, just don’t fall asleep,” Cheyanne told him, stopping the gentle rubs to his back so she could feel his face again. Frowning when she realized he was colder than before, she pressed her body as close to him as possible. Till she felt like an extension of his skin. Returning her arm around him, she tenderly rubbed his neck, stifling a sniffle. “…What am I going to do with you, Nicky?”
"Tell me… Tell me you forgive me… For everything…"
Cheyanne closed her eyes, trying not to think about all the hateful words he had hissed at her or the bruises he left on her arm. “You’re forgiven.”
"I should never have let you go…"
“Hey, just try to rest for me--”
"I can't… Not till you tell me you believe me--"
“I know you’re sorry--”
"-When I say I still love you--"
“Nicky…” Cheyanne breathed, her voice caught in the middle of her throat, feeling her entire body still with the confession. So shocked that she had to interrupt him halfway because she didn’t know if her heart could take the realization. It was easier to know that she had just been some silly little game to him. So much easier to act like she didn’t care.
"Sweetheart… It's true…" Smiling slightly, he pulled her closer, starting to sing. "I mean it… From the bottom of my--" he cut off when he heard voices in the living room of the suite. "Who's that?"
Cheyanne attempted to listen over Nick’s raspy breathing, faintly hearing the squeal of a young girl. “Katie and AJ… He built her this giant dream house for her Barbies… Or, excuse me, Marcus built it while he went out with Katie, Jo, and Drew-Drop earlier… So, calm down…”
"Katie… Isn't she Drew's kid's chick? Or something…"
“Jo’s daughter. Jo’s dating Drew-Drop.”
"Yeah her… She's a cow…"
"Yeah… But she's a hot cow… Y'think I could get lucky there?" Pushing himself up onto his elbow, Nick coughed, holding a hand to his chest.
“Jo loves Drew-Drop, I doubt you have a chance,” Cheyanne murmured, turning to grab a few tissues from the box, knowing there would probably be more clots of blood. He was drinking himself into a grave and all he was concerned about was finding another woman to crawl into bed with.
"Hook me up, Sweetheart… You're the matchmaker… Make me a match," Nick rasped, pushing the tissues away. Flopping back down, he licked his dry lips. "Find me someone half as sweet and beautiful as you… And I'll be happy…"
“Stop drinking yourself to death,” Cheyanne stated plainly, reaching to feel his face once more.
"When I drink, I don't hurt…"
“Damnit, Nicky, what’s hurting you so bad that you’d risk killing yourself?”
"Not having you," he whispered painfully after a moment. "Knowing that I had you… But let you slip away…"