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Chapter 78 – Changing Relationships

Handing over a bottle of water, Nick sat across from Cheyanne at the table in the kitchenette of his bus. Drumming his fingers along the edge, he sighed, glancing up to meet her eyes. "It looked like you were having fun kicking Brian's ass--"

"Then why did you find it necessary to just plow me down like a damn linebacker? Do you realize my ass and back have had enough imprints here lately?" Cheyanne questioned bitterly, unscrewing the cap. In her haste to garner a sip of the cold liquid, she sloshed some onto the tabletop. Sighing with frustration, she reached for a paper towel. Anything to avoid looking into his eyes.

“I got it,” Nick answered quickly, reaching to grasp the paper towel in hopes to do something to show his sincerity. Only, his hand met hers and she immediately jerked away in shock. Nick arched his light brows in surprise, biting down on his bottom lip to keep the hurt from radiating within his facial features. He wondered what he had done when he put the fading bruises on her upper arm. What he had said to make her act like that. “It’s about the cleanest drop of water this table’s seen since the start of the tour. Y’know me…”

“I thought I did,” Cheyanne breathed softly, fiddling with the cap of her water as she watched him scrub the table with her peripheral vision.

"I'm still the same guy, Chey… I--"

“Lied to me before? Lied to me now? Lied to me all the time? And you’re just trying to kill yourself?” Cheyanne finished, finally glancing up to catch his dark sapphire eyes. She used to see herself reflected within the beautiful crystals of his irises, but now she found nothing. And it hurt. Biting down hard on her bottom lip, she immediately glanced away to blink back hot tears, sliding away from the table. “I better go. Cinnamon’ll be getting hungry--”

"Chey… Sweetheart, listen to me, okay? I'm sorry about before. You'll never know how damn sorry I am. I didn't mean to push you out of my life completely… Damnit, I love you, okay? And I still need you in my life, even if it's just as someone to say hello to every day. 'Cause this whole avoiding each other thing is killing me, Sweetheart…" Catching her arm gently, Nick gazed up at her. He couldn't live if he knew she hated him.

“I don’t want to hurt you anymore, Nick… I don’t want to see you destroy yourself… My heart can’t take it… I’d never be able to forgive myself if…” Cheyanne couldn’t even muster the strength to finish her sentence as she attempted to pry Nick’s fingers from her arm, brushing over the vine ring he wore, reminding her of the one she kept tucked in her pocket every day.

"Can we get back to being friends again?" he requested softly, turning his hand to twine his fingers with hers. His finger bumped against the engagement ring on hers, and he had to swallow the lump in his throat. She had moved on. "I… I need somebody to help me kill all the zombies…"

“I don’t just want a friend, Nick…” Cheyanne trailed as he pulled her closer. “I want a best friend… I want you… The one that showed me I was allowed to be loved the right way…”

"I want you too…" Nick whispered, pulling her down into his lap so he could embrace her. She still fit perfectly in his arms, and when she relaxed, her head resting on his chest, he closed his eyes, tears burning his lids as he squeezed her gently. "I'm so sorry, Sweetheart… For everything…"

“Please stop hurting yourself,” Cheyanne murmured meekly, wrapping her arms around his torso as best as she could. Her unshed tears already starting to rain from relief. To hear the apologies without liquor permeating each nasty word spit from his pursed lips as he reached for another cigarette. He was her Nicky. The one she fell in love with.

"Will you help me?" he questioned softly, holding her closer. "Please, Sweetheart?"

“I’ll help you,” Cheyanne promised, burying her face against his chest and realizing that he barely smelled of smoke. As if he had tried to quit before even coming to speak to her. A small smile graced her face as she squeezed him tightly. “As long as you promise to teach me to play guitar still. And be a real Uncle Nicky to my daughter. She needs you. Almost as much as I do.”

"You've got it, Sweetheart… As long as you promise to call me Nicky again…"

“I think I can do that…” Cheyanne answered, leaning back slightly to catch Nick’s dark sapphire eyes. “You know I still love you, right? I mean… I… You’re always going to have some of my heart… But… It just has to change a little…”

"Well, I figured we wouldn't be slipping off to a bed and breakfast--"


"A joke! Ha ha, a joke!"

“But we can still take that trip on your boat, right?”

"Just so I have plenty of ice to dump down my pants… And as long as Howie doesn't mind," Nick hastily added when she rolled her eyes. Grinning, he gave in to the urge, letting his lips brush her cheek.

“We don’t have to go…” Cheyanne answered softly, reaching to brush her fingers along the vine pattern of his ring. “I know it’s hard, Nicky… Y’know… Us changing because Tea… Not being able to… I’m sorry…”

"You'll have Zombie with you, right? That'll cool the fire a bit, won't it?" he murmured.

“It’s not fair to you…”

"Just promise me that if things don't work out with Howie, you'll come running to my arms?" he requested with his signature grin, running his finger down the length of her nose before tapping the tip of it.

“You’re not going to start sabotaging Tea… Are you?”

"You belong with him, Sweetheart. I'd never try to do anything to what you have."

“…But, I’m still allowed to tell you that I love you, right?”

"I sure as Hell hope so… I'm still allowed to tell you, right?"

“I’d like that a lot… As long as it doesn’t hurt you…”

"I'll be okay," he promised softly, wrapping his arms tightly around her so she wouldn't leave him anytime soon. "I can still carry you around like my duffel bag, can't I?"

“I don’t think I ever stopped be your duffel bag, Nicky… But, I promise to find you someone who deserves you… Who deserves all the love inside your heart… As long as she promises not to take you away from me…”

Nick shook his head gently, kissing the top of her head. "You don't have to do that."

“I want to do that. I want to see that you’re happy… And, while we’re looking, we’ll just get you a night pass for me from Tea,” Cheyanne decided to tease, peeking up at him tentatively, hoping to see the smile she missed so much.

"You'd shit yourself if I said I was going to take you up on that offer, wouldn't you?" Nick murmured, sticking out his tongue. "But really… Don't, Chey, okay? Don't go searching for someone for me--"

“Why?” Cheyanne immediately questioned.

"I'm not ready for anyone yet, Sweetheart," he whispered. He wasn't sure he could explain to her his deeper reason. He knew she would never be able to find anyone who completed him as much as she did. It would just be a waste of time. "I need to work on myself first."

“Well… When you’re ready… You’ll let me know?” Cheyanne questioned hopefully, holding out her hand.

"I will." Slipping his hand over hers, he squeezed it gently. "Can we go outside and rub it in Brian's face that you kicked his ass?"

“You going to carry me out there so Austi can have a heart attack?” Cheyanne returned with an impish smile, affectionately kissing his hand before retrieving the ring in her pocket. Holding it in her free palm, she glanced at him with honest question. “And I need to know what to do with this…”

"Well… You could take that mountain off your finger and put it there," Nick suggested with a smirk.

“Y’know, Tea said he trusted you, which means I’ll be able to come on your tour bus for extend periods for intense zombie killing… Do you really want to rock the boat by removing the symbol of Tea’s heart from my finger?”

"Maybe you can wear it on your thumb?" Nick suggested. "And when can I redeem one of these night long zombie killing sessions?"

“Tonight after the concert? Since we have to book it to whatever state… ‘Course, you’d have to have the little Zombie on board, too,” Cheyanne answered, putting the ring in his hand so he could slip it on her right hand.

"If I act like an ass do you promise to slap me?" Nick questioned, taking her left hand in his so he could slip the ring onto her finger.

“How would you be an ass?”

Nick grinned as he slid the ring onto her thumb, lifting her hand to kiss her warm finger. "Well, if you're skipping around in your pajamas, I may get the hankering to cop a feel--"

“Don’t entice me,” she warned playfully, sliding out of his lap.

Nick playfully swatted her backside as he stood. "Yeah, yeah, yeah…"

“I love you, Nicky…”

"I love you, too, Sweetheart…" Nick trailed softly as he unlocked the door so they could exit the bus. His heart felt lighter, knowing things were straightened between them. Flinging the door open, he gasped sharply when he saw Vivian go sprawling backwards. "What the Hell--"

“THEY’RE NOT HAVING SEX TODAY, BEAR!” Vivian hollered loudly as she scrambled to her feet.

"But we could have been," Nick murmured in Cheyanne's ear as they descended the steps. "Go ask Howie about tonight, okay? I'm going to go talk to Brian.”

“You mean bust his chops, but alright,” Cheyanne agreed as she kissed his cheek, murmuring a soft thank you in his ear before releasing his hand. Sauntering back to where most of the group had dispersed, Cheyanne smiled as she slipped into the hammock Howie was snoozing in while Austin and Kevin played with Baylee and Olivia. Bunching up his shirt, she blew a soft kiss to his abdomen. “Hey… Sleepy…”

"What…" Howie groaned softly, shifting. "That tickles, baby…" His eyes flew open, a lazy smile touching his lips when he saw Cheyanne. "Hey, Honey. How'd it go with Nick?"

“Good…” Cheyanne trailed, pulling his shirt down as she dipped to kiss him appreciatively. “Thank you, Sweet Tea. I love you so very much, you realize that, right?”

"Mm hmm…"

“And you think I’m up to something, don’t you?” Cheyanne sighed with a frustrated groan as she sat back on his hips, playfully punching his chest.

"Ow! I was agreeing with you!" Howie yelped, lightly tickling her sides. "I know you love me, and I love you as well."

“Then you really won’t mind when Cinnamon and I have a sleepover with Nicky?” Cheyanne giggled, attempting to catch his hands to stop his attack.

"You're just going to kill zombies 'till you fall asleep, right?" Howie questioned, tugging her down for a gentle kiss. "Why would I mind, Honey?"

“I don’t know… I guess Nicky and I just wanted to make sure it was okay...” Cheyanne answered against his lips, smiling as she hardened her lips against his for a stronger kiss. “And it’ll make it easier for when we pitch the boat trip…”

"Mm hmm… I know I have to share part of you with him, Honey. I really don't mind," he assured her softly. Her happiness mattered above all else.

“What’d I do to get someone like you?” Cheyanne murmured thoughtfully as she brushed her fingers through Howie’s short, dark locks. Then, slowly, she moved her fingers from his hair to outline the angles of his face, entranced by his handsomeness. Suddenly, she sent a silent thanks to God for letting her have a second chance with him. For Nick understanding how much Cheyanne really needed Howie in her life. How much she adored Howie like no other.

"I don't know," Howie breathed softly. "I'm just thankful you screamed and climbed on a rock over a snake…"

“It could have been poisonous!” Cheyanne exclaimed, the air of romanticism fully disemboweled by her fiancé. Leaning back on his hips once more, she rolled her eyes, folding her arms against her chest. “And you weren’t exactly receptive over attacking the snake in my defense, either.”

"I was afraid to make a move, considering how Austin just threw Kevin on his ass like he was a stick," Howie admitted. "And, though I'm a big, strong man, I'm not too fond of snakes, Honey…"

“So, somehow, I was supposed to act like it was a handicapped, itty-bitty cricket with no legs?”

"I never said that--"

“How I’m going to manage to stay happily married to you is a mystery,” Cheyanne sighed as if she was dissatisfied, attempting to climb out of the hammock to find another source of entertainment.

Chuckling, Howie caught her waist, pulling her back to him. "Well, Nick suggested we search for a place that'd let you marry both of us…"

“Can I?” Cheyanne chirped excitedly.

"Would you?"

Cheyanne smiled softly at the darkness clouding her fiancé’s eyes, almost as if he were unsure of her devotion. Not wanting him to doubt her, she leaned down to kiss him tenderly on the lips, pulling her kisses from his lips, to the corner of his mouth, to his cheek, along his jaw line, and then she finally nibbled on his earlobe before whispering, “I only want to marry you, my Sweet Tea.”

"Good, 'cause there are some aspects of our relationship that I don't want to share with anyone," he murmured.

“You mean the sex,” she suggested with a soft laugh against the side of his face.

"Among other things…" Howie trailed softly.

“Like what other things?” Cheyanne inquired curiously, shifting so she could snuggle close to him in the hammock, tucking her hand neatly against his chest.

"Being able to wake up next to you in the morning and know you'll always be there… Except for when you're killing zombies with Nick, of course… Having those private moments during the day when it's just you and me looking into each others eyes and I know that I'm the only one you're thinking of…"

“Tea, I love you so much,” Cheyanne cooed.

"I love you too, Honey," Howie murmured.


“Only those three could possibly sleep in such an awkward position with all this noise…” Vivian trailed in wonder as she stepped into the back lounge and poked through the small crowd to see what was so entertaining. Amongst the preparations for the concert, Nick, Cheyanne, and Baylee had obviously tuckered themselves out playing basketball while everyone was busying themselves. So, Nick sprawled over the largest couch in the back room and Cheyanne had soon sprawled herself over his back. And, to complete the picture of adorableness, Baylee had climbed on top of them both in order to snuggle for a quick nap. Though, no one could forget the infant slumbering peacefully in her seat, suckling on Nick’s fingers.

"Apparently their little talk went well," Austin murmured, shaking her head. "Honestly… Chey can sleep pretty much anywhere, and Nick's apparently the perfect pillow."

"I heard that," Nick mumbled, opening his eyes to stick out his tongue at the crowd around him. "Is there nothing better in this entire big-ass place to stare at?"

“Nothing as disgustingly cute as you three,” AJ answered, having a wicked desire to just launch himself on all three of them, perhaps scaring the dickens out of the top two. “Some of those fans that have backstage passes or whatthefuckever stopped by and just had to take a picture. Then they decided to find Howie… And it escalated into what you see before you… Brian, Kevin, and Howie with cameras…”

"What?" Looking around, Nick groaned. "Y'all are completely weird, man. …Did Viv say three? Who else is laying up there?" he murmured, craning his neck to see.

“You’ve got the blonde sex-pot and then the blonde terror,” AJ explained with an amused grin, flopping onto the nearby recliner. “And my little blonde girlfriend sucking on your fingers. So, don’t get any ideas.”

"I thought Katie was your girlfriend?" Austin questioned, rolling her eyes. "As though I would let you so much as take my Ollie out for ice cream."

"Excuse me? Are you her mother?" AJ returned.

"Look here, you--"

"For God's sake, don't you two ever stop fussing back and forth?" Howie groaned, snapping one final picture before tucking his camera away.

“I think she has this internal bitch control with broke off… So every man she sees she goes into extreme bitch mode on,” AJ scoffed, tripping Austin as she stepped to grab a drink. “Hell, you’re the sweetest man in the known universe and she gnaws on your dick like it’s a chew toy!”

"You're just jealous 'cause I don't do anything with your dick," Austin growled, kicking him sharply in the shin after she scrambled to her feet. She still could not understand how the man could be all sweetness to Olivia and Katie, but at the same time positively vile to everyone else. "And the way you keep acting sure as Hell ain't inclining me to do otherwise," she drawled.

“Don’t you even say a word,” Kevin threatened AJ quickly as the man howled sharply, causing Baylee to jerk in his sleep, almost falling off Cheyanne. Reaching to make sure the boy stay put, Kevin glanced behind to his fiancée. “And I don’t even want to hear you offering to do something with his genitals! Those are off limits! Even when mine are gray, wrinkly, and sagging to the floor!”

“Oh… That’s a pleasant image…” Vivian shuddered, pulling Brian to the opposite couch, tossing the digital camera aside.

"If all you're going to do is discuss wrinkly genitalia, can you at least take it out of here? Some of us are trying to take a nap," Nick told everyone, shifting slightly. Smiling at the feel of Cheyanne's cheek pressed against his neck, he sighed blissfully, enjoying the closeness of her. Almost as though he had never acted like an ass. Reaching behind him with his free hand, he lightly touched her arm, squeezing affectionately as Austin and AJ glared at one another.

“Unfortunately, you need to start thinking about waking up. We have about a half hour before we go on and you can’t be looking dazed and confused,” Brian suggested somewhat apologetically. “Not to mention her fiancé is in the room and if you’re thinking about squeezing a piece of ass, you might be in trouble--”

“Like you can talk, Mr. I-think-my-piercing-is-infected!” Vivian snorted loudly. “Lord help her when she becomes the tour nurse!”

"She's going to be the tour nurse?!" AJ questioned excitedly. "Will you be her assistant, Baby Girl?"

“Fuck off,” Austin growled toward AJ. “Like I would be qualified for that three-ring-circus of Hell.”

Rolling his eyes, Nick glanced up at Howie. "Can you get Bay off? And our girlfriend? If I only have thirty minutes, I need to get ready…" he trailed, reluctant to even move at all.

Our girlfriend?” Kevin snorted, immediately glancing toward Howie in silent horror.

"We reached an understanding," Nick explained with a proud grin. "She's even going to spend the night on my bus--"

"I think you're reading way too much into it," Howie chuckled, scooping Baylee up handing him over to Brian. "We had a talk, Kevin, everything's cool," he assured the older man, moving to gently nudge Cheyanne's shoulder. "Honey… Wake up," he murmured in her ear, lightly kissing her neck.

“Do I have to?” Cheyanne whispered sleepily as she shifted against Nick, burying her face in Nick’s neck as she cupped her own to protect her slumber.

"Unless you want Nick to carry you piggyback onstage," Howie told her with a smile, lightly tickling her side. "Come on…"

“Okay! Okay!” Cheyanne squealed softly as she shifted into a state of vulnerability. Though, her heart leapt to her throat in surprise when she felt Howie scoop her up. She immediately wrapped her arms around his neck for support, groaning. “You’re no fun, Sweet Tea.”

AJ shot a look towards Nick as the younger man sat up. "He's no fun? He's letting her spend the night on your bus, but he's no fun?!"

“Aren’t you jealous as Hell?” Nick grinned triumphantly as he stretched in attempts to awaken his body.

“It’s just so he can get a decent night’s sleep without the little hellion screaming in his ear,” AJ shot back.

"No, it's because by doing this, Honey will be happy," Howie corrected, sitting down and holding Cheyanne in his lap.

"Cheer up, AJ. Maybe if you ask nice, Chey will find some desperate woman to sleep with you," Austin cooed as she moved to flop on the couch next to Brian and Vivian.

“Awe, Sweet-Cheeks, it’s okay, you can come out and ask me yourself,” AJ returned with a sharp coo.

“You do need a good night’s sleep for once…” Cheyanne suggested with a soft yawn as she snuggled close to her fiancé’s chest, smiling appreciatively when Nick set the infant seat beside her before disappearing to find something to wear.

"I sleep fine," Howie assured her, glancing over to see Olivia's eyes trying to follow Nick. Kissing the top of Cheyanne's head, he smoothed his hands down her back. "I will see you after the show, won't I? So I can kiss you both good night…"

“We’ll wait for you,” Cheyanne promised, cupping hand against her mouth to smother a yawn that ended with the familiar yip. “…I’ll even call every time she wakes up in the middle of the night hungry. So it’s like we never left the bus.”

"Like he'll be asleep anyways," Kevin murmured thoughtfully, glancing at his watch. "I guarantee you, he'll be calling you every hour to see what you're doing!"

“Better than telling his driver to wing onto the opposite side of the road so he can try to peek inside the windows,” Brian cackled as Nick returned with a hearty yawn, scratching his chest absentmindedly.

Austin flopped her head onto Brian's shoulder, glancing at Cheyanne and Howie. "He'll probably be calling me and Kevin every thirty minutes… 'Do you think I should call her now'?!"

"Who's going to be calling Kevin? Me?!" Nick questioned, looking around the group.

“Are you fucking serious?” AJ snorted, rolling his eyes. “Dunk your head in that bucket of ice, ‘cause there ain’t no way you’re ready for the show tonight. You’ll be rolling down the steps instead of walking… Singing I’m a Little Teapot instead of Just Want You to Know, though that’d be funny as Hell…”

"I ain't dunking my head in no damn ice bucket!" Nick retorted, though he looked around to locate it. "I will if you will, though!"

“Why would I…” AJ stood up and gestured toward the large bin that held the remainder of their sodas, waters, and juices. “Bet I can keep my head in longer than you..”

"Bullshit! I'm a scuba diver! Why the Hell do you think you could keep your head in longer than me?" Nick returned, peeling off his shirt. "What do you want to bet?"

"Oh Lord," Austin muttered. "Skinny's makin' bets again…"

“I get Chey for the night on my bus instead of yours,” AJ answered, peeling off his wife-beater.

"Oh, Hell no--"

“So, you know I’m going to win?”

Grumbling under his breath, Nick moved to stand in front of the ice bucket. "Why would you want Chey on your bus, anyway? I thought you had the hard-on for Austin--"

“Sometimes you just need a woman that won’t smart back at you and is actually pretty decent at cuddling without the chance of getting your dick yanked off…”

“Tea, they’re using me as a bet…” Cheyanne sighed.

"Want me to stop them?" Howie murmured.

"Actually, if you give Austin a few compliments and act decently towards her, y'know what? She doesn't act like a smart ass! And she's very good at cuddling, once you learn she has to stay on top," Brian stated informatively.

Vivian cocked one eyebrow upwards. "And just how did you acquire this bit of knowledge?"

"Yeah, Brian, tell us how you learned that," Kevin insisted.

“I read it on her Myspace?” Brian answered somewhat meekly.

“C’mon, I want to watch the ice water contest,” Cheyanne whispered toward Howie, reaching for his hands.

Nodding, Howie let her lead him over to the ice bucket. Standing behind her, he looped his arm around her waist. "You could always pinch the one you want to lose so they'll jerk out of the water too soon," he whispered in her ear.

"I don't have a Myspace," Austin informed Brian with a laugh, hopping up to go watch the contest.

“Well, shit, Scooper told me,” Brian answered, quite anxious to watch the contest as well, though he made sure to scoop Olivia into his arms to ward off any of Kevin’s attacks.

"You go first," Nick suggested to AJ, stepping aside. "Age before beauty, after all," he added with a grin.

“Don’t make me call out your flaws, Lard-Ass,” AJ commented with a growl as he stepped up to the large bin. Rubbing his face, he bent down to prepare himself for the cold, but instantly straightened. “Carter, get the fuck away from me. I don’t want my face meeting this water till I’m good and ready.”

"I didn't do anything!" Nick cried in defense, rolling his eyes as he stepped away. "What's the matter? Scared? Huh? Huh? Huh?!"

“No! I just want to be prepared,” AJ muttered, stooping back down to the water. “God… Just hovering over this piece of shit is freezing…” He popped up to access the crowd. “No one is going to dunk me, right?”

"No," everyone chorused.

"Get on with it already," Austin encouraged him, giving him the sweetest of smiles. "If you're real good at it, I might talk Pretty Boy into letting me stay on your bus."

“Bullshit,” Kevin growled.

"Well damn, you could have at least shot down my hopefulness later," AJ muttered. He took another deep breath, leaning over the water once more. "Holy shit…" He popped up once more. "Nobody's filming this, are they?"


“Jesus Christ are you guys cranky,” AJ spat, leaning back over the water.

“This is going to take forever,” Cheyanne sighed as she watched AJ count silently to prepare himself for the dunking. He was so deathly afraid of someone pushing him in that his eyes continued to dart to both sides of him. Yet, Cheyanne was standing behind and she couldn’t help herself. Unthreading Howie’s arms, she stepped behind AJ, giving a small jump before pushing his head underneath the water with both hands.

"Chey!" Austin squealed in surprise, clapping a hand over her mouth.

“He was never going to go!” Cheyanne exclaimed in defense as she stepped back against Howie as AJ sputtered, launching himself out of the water with a heavy stumble. She attempted the look of a pure innocent and adorable nature, watching AJ sputter with disbelief. “You did good, Al.”

"You! I'm going to kill you!" AJ threatened, snatching the towel from Nick's hands to dry his head. His entire head felt frozen, and he was certain he had inhaled a piece of ice. Coughing into the towel, he glared at Cheyanne, who slid to stand behind Howie. "Oh no! Get back here, you little brat!"

“Uh-oh,” Cheyanne deadpanned for a moment, realizing the seriousness of the situation. Especially when Howie stepped away and AJ threw his sopping wet towel to the floor. “Oh, shit!” Cheyanne yelped in shock as she stumbled to get a running start, AJ diving at her feet. Leaping over the empty couch, she scrambled for the door, throwing it open and racing down the hallway as AJ recovered and hurried after her with threats of death and violence.

"Get back here! You need an ice bath!" AJ roared, running behind her at top speed.

“Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh--” Cheyanne’s mantra faded as the distance grew between her and the group.

“Why the Hell didn’t you protect her!” Austin immediately growled toward Howie, reaching to poke him in the chest. “Some fine husband you’re going to make! Now I’m going to have to twist Skinny’s nipples off till he tells me where he hid her body.”

"She started it!" Howie defended, stepping back to avoid Austin's fingers. "She didn't ask for help!"

"Real persuasive argument, D," Nick muttered, taking off behind AJ.

“Nick’s her real knight in shining armor, huh?” Vivian mused. “What little armor he wears, but what a shield he packs between his legs…”

"Been taking body shots off him, too?" Austin guessed with a snort. "Not that I'd put it past you--"

“We were starting to get along, so don’t fucking ruin it,” Vivian warned.

"I'm just saying…" Austin cooed sweetly as Howie scooped Olivia from Brian's arms.

“Glad to know you’re getting over the death of our daughter so easily,” Kevin grumbled.

"Skinny won't kill her… He might give her a spanking, though…" Austin trailed as Nick returned to the lounge, toting Cheyanne on his back. "See? Our daughter's alive and well."

“I think I pulled a vital ass muscle,” Cheyanne confessed with a rueful, yet somewhat painful smile as she held tightly to Nick. He had managed to grab AJ by the pants, hauling him into the men’s bathroom and jarring the door to prevent an escape before Cheyanne could be cornered. She was yards away from the man and it looked as if he would never catch her, but Cheyanne was still relieved to see Nick.

"Yeah? I'll be sure and give you a nice massage later on the bus," Nick murmured as he placed her gently on the empty couch. "Want me to kiss and make it all better?" he questioned hopefully.

“If you are honestly willing to kiss my ass in front of all these people, I don’t think I could deny you the pleasure,” Cheyanne laughed softly, reaching for a pillow to tuck underneath her backside.

"Sweetheart, I'd kiss your ass in Time's Square, straighten up, and announce to the world over MTV how sweet it was!" Nick vowed passionately, clasping his hands over his heart, his lips forming a teasing grin.

“You’re an honest to God pervert,” Cheyanne decided with a soft laugh as she leaned back in time for Howie to lower Olivia into her arms from behind. “There’s my little girl…”

"Looks like she's getting hungry, too," Howie informed her softly, leaning over to kiss her cheek as Olivia began impatiently rooting against her mother's breast.

Brian looked at his watch and whistled. "We've got five minutes 'till show time…"

“AJ’s going to be late,” Nick suddenly announced as he leaned to kiss Cheyanne’s opposite cheek and Olivia’s forehead.

"What'd you do to him, anyway?" Kevin questioned distractedly, turning to embrace Austin. "Are you and Viv going to watch from the front?"

“Yeah, we’re going now,” Austin informed him, offering a tender kiss. “Knock their socks off, Babe.”

"Always," he promised. "Scream loud just for me?"

"If anyone cares… I'm not telling," Nick announced with a grin. "Let's just say he's indisposed…"