*sorry about the delay*
I woke up disoriented. I hated when that happened. Whenever we were on the road, I always woke up not really sure of where I was, sometimes even hoping that maybe I would find myself back in my room in Tampa; my life before this just one big magnificent dream.
It was chilly in my hotel room, or at least that’s where I thought I was. It wasn’t until I sat up and struggled with the lamp on my right, that I remembered that I was very far from The Four Seasons. I yawned and stretched, searching for a clock anywhere in the place my brother called home.
I had to settle for squinting at the VCR’s tiny clock to see it read almost 6 am. I had managed to stay away from Nick Carter Backstreet Boy for a whole night. No one even came to look for me. The thought felt liberating and terrifying all at the same time.
Thoughts of full on search parties roamed through my head as well as Kevin screaming at me when I got back. Not that it was any of his business. I was old enough to leave forever if I wanted to. Besides, if they were worried it served them right for being such jerks to my brother.
I jumped at the unexpected hello and Mike laughed. “You want some coffee? Or are you more of a chocolate milk kind of guy?”
“You scared me. You shouldn’t go around scaring people like that”
“Yeah apparently…so?” He was waiting for my answer as he stood in the doorway to his kitchen.
“Coffee is fine”
“Milk and sugar?”
“Four? Why don’t you have some coffee with your sugar?” He teased as he measured out enough coffee for the two of us to have at least two cups each.
“So…sleep well last night? I have to say I was surprised to see you on my couch when I got home”
“I’m really sorry Mike. I will totally understand if you want me to leave” He shook his head while he roamed around his cabinets in search of the sugar, “That’s nonsense, why would I want you to leave? As far as I can tell you did nothing wrong”
“I should have never put you in the situation”
“To meet your friends? Nick it shouldn’t have even been a situation”
“I know” He smiled as he brought down the sugar from the top cabinet and placed it in each mug. First doling out my four spoonfuls then his two.
“Do your friends know you’re here Nickers?” He asked right before blowing on his hot coffee and motioning for me to follow him back to the living room.
“No…well they probably figured it out but it’s not because I bothered to tell them”
“Can kiss my lily white ass!”
Mike laughed at me. “You want anything to eat?”
“It’s really early Mike. Do you always get up this early?”
“Hell no…dad snores”
“It was nice seeing him again” I admitted. He made me feel good, nurtured. I was a little surprised.
“How about some toast. You want some toast? Or maybe some…I think I have Captain Crunch”
“It’s too early to eat for me”
So I sat and watched my brother pack away four slices of toast and a bowl and a half of cereal. We didn’t even talk much as he ate, he mostly just looked at the box and for the first time since I had really gotten to know him, I grew uncomfortable.
“Maybe I should go” He looked up with mouth full, “Why?”
“Nick, I’m not mad at you”
“Then why are you kind of…I don’t know…ignoring me”
“Just because I am not talking doesn’t mean I am ignoring you, God kid, don’t people ever just sit quietly where you come from?”
I felt stupid, he was right, the truth is, I never had enough time to myself to really be bathed in a quiet silence for long periods of time. I bet I would feel just as uncomfortable with Kevin or Howie as I was right now with Mike.
“Whatcha thinking Nick?” I was pulled away from my thoughts and smiled at Mike, “Just that no. The answer to your question is no. I am never around people who shut up. As a matter of fact, I am rarely alone”
“That must suck”
“Yeah…sometimes it does”
“You know I would fantasize about being famous…is it fun?”
I shrugged, I hated when people asked me that. In stupid interviews we had our set answers to questions like this. “Oh yes, it’s a lot of fun but also a ton of hard work”
I didn’t find it fun at all. I mean I ENJOY fame, but it’s not fun. Being a singer is fun, being with the guys is fun but being famous is NOT fun.
“Maybe we should switch places for a day like the Prince and the Pea”
Mike laughed again, “You mean the prince and the pauper. It’s the Princess and the pea”
“Whatever, you got what I meant right?”
“That would be fun, if I was five years younger and as good looking as you, I might just have considered that offer”
I rolled my eyes at him and he stuck out his tongue at me; his mouth full of half eaten toast.
“So what are you gonna do today?” I looked over at him and shrugged again. That was a really good question. If it were up to me, I would never leave, but unfortunately there were bigger powers at play.
“I guess I should probably go. I know we have some stuff to do today. We are only going to be in New York for five more days I think, possibly more” Now his expression became gloomy.
“Yeah, usually we are only here for about three days tops but since the new album is coming out and all, we are here to also record some stuff”
“Good…so I get you for a little while longer then” I smiled. “Yeah you’re stuck with me for a little bit at least”
“Good, I don’t mind being stuck with you…now the OTHERS…” He winked at me to let me know he was teasing.
“I feel the same way”
“You shouldn’t. They really care about you Nick”
“I know. I should probably be going” Mike put down his coffee, “Okay let me walk you there”
“It’s okay. I know it’s early and all”
“Nick. I know you are a full grown man, but this is not the safest neighborhood in the world. The kooks come out late at night and early morning”
“That’s what Melinda said”
“Melinda. She is the one that brought me here. She told me the same thing”
“How did Melinda bring you here?”
“I went to the record store looking for you and she said she would show me where you live. She’s a neat girl. I like her”
“Yeah I like her too”
“You should ask her out then”
“Don’t let her get away Mikey. She seems perfect for you”
“And you know this because?”
“She seems perfect for me too”
“Ah I see. You into older women then?”
“I’m not picky I’ll take whatever I can get” He laughed.
After our quick breakfast, Mike let me borrow one of his jackets and the two of us walked back to the hotel. It was a long walk but not that bad. We talked a bit more about life. I convinced him to start taking drum lessons, and he convinced me to take up the guitar. He said I would be good at it. Maybe I will.
I invited him to come up but understandably, he declined. This left me one whole elevator ride of dread. I wasn’t sure what exactly I would be in for when I got back up to my room, but I wasn’t really looking forward to finding out either.
I had to knock because I had left my key card in my jacket pocket. I lightly tapped on the door, but it sprung open instantly. I was expecting to see Brian but instead I found Kevin. I wasn’t ready for that.
“Hey” I said slowly almost as a question then a greeting.
“Hey” He answered as he opened the door for me and went back to his bed. Brian’s bed.
“He wanted his own room for the night, so I said I’d switch with him” That was a good lie, I’ll give him that.
I could tell by his hair that he hadn’t been to sleep but yet he also hadn’t been searching frantically for me either. “I’m a little surprised that you didn’t call out the National Guard”
He laughed, “You sound disappointed”
“No…I’m not, just surprised”
“Well, at first I wanted to but then…well I knew you were with your brother and I figured if you needed us for anything that you would call. I am correct…right?” I nodded.
“So, there was really no reason to worry. You are an adult and more than capable of making decisions and if I were you I have to admit I probably would have done the same thing”
STOP THE PRESSES! DID KEVIN JUST KIND OF TELL ME HE WAS WRONG?
“You would have?” I needed to hear this one again.
“Yes, only I would have had the sense to take my jacket at least”
“I knew if I went back to that table I would have never left”
“Yeah but if you went back to the table you wouldn’t have had to. We were jerks and I’m sorry. I know Brian is too. We were waiting to tell you that but you never showed up”
AND AN APOLOGY? “Oh”
“Finally after AJ went in to look for you, we had realized you actually split”
“Sorry, I hope you guys weren’t too worried”
He smiled, I could tell he was. “That’s okay. You did what you needed to do, just like I did what I needed to do”
“And what did you need to do?”
“I talked to your Mom”
I really should have seen that coming. “You did?”
He nodded and rubbed his red sleepy eyes, “Yeah, I had to”
I sat on the bed across from him and took of my…I mean Mike’s jacket. “What did she say? I mean was she happy? What?”
“She wants you to call her as soon as you can”
“Where is she? Is she flying back?”
“I have no idea Nick. Just call her…she is worried” I wanted to yell and scream at him for once again interfering in my life, but I didn’t. He was right to call I guess.
“I should wait until later on don’t you think?”
“Call her. She’s in Paris, I think they are 6 hours ahead or something like that” I had to ask him, because I needed to prepare myself, “Does she believe him? Or is she like the rest of you?”
“Why don’t you ask her that question yourself?” He handed the phone to me. I reluctantly took it and dialed my Mom’s cell phone.