I sat there on the bed just overcome with emotion like a silly five year that I had just accused Brian and AJ of being. I think they understood. Quickly after I saw that interview, AJ shut off the television and they both sat on either side of the bed next to me. I guess they could tell I was an emotional wreck.
“This is all so weird” I said wiping a tear away from my eyes.
I felt AJ’s hand rubbing my back. Odd I know but actually when he wanted to, he could be the best older brother in the world.
“You’re a lucky man Nick. My father is a piece of garbage and here you have two men loving the hell out of you”
“I know…it’s dumb of me to cry”
“No it’s not Nick. It’s a completely normal reaction” Brian once again always managing to say the right thing.
“I wouldn’t even know what to say when I called him Brian. I mean I haven’t really spoken to him in forever”
“I know….how about a simple… I heard what you said on MTV. Thanks” That was perfect. Why couldn’t I think of that myself? It seemed like the obvious thing to say. I nodded at him as AJ continued to rub my back in an affectionate way that would eventually, knowing AJ, turn into a slap to the back of the head.
“I hope to hell my Mom didn’t see that”
“I doubt they showed that in France, but maybe that would be a way to get her lazy ass back to the US and help her son go through this crap” Well put AJ. It was no big mystery that the guys didn’t much like my Mother. To be honest, sometimes I didn’t either, but some of them showed it more than others. I had mentioned that earlier with Kevin but AJ would be the other one that wouldn’t hide his feelings for my sake.
“I think I’m gonna call him now before I completely lose my nerve” I said grabbing my phone ready to call. I had already memorized Mike’s number just by dialing it so many times even though a few times I hung up before the first ring. That was at the beginning of the relationship. It’s funny to think how little time had actually gone by since we found each other again. I felt like I had never missed a beat with my brother. Maybe the same would be said for my Father and me; even though we never had a solid relationship. Maybe now that I was older, things would be different.
I dialed Mike’s half hoping that no one would answer.
“Hello?” I actually gulped when he answered the phone.
“Nicky is that you son?” I nodded like he could see that or something. Duh Nick. The friendly slap by AJ to the back of my head made me speak, “Yeah dad it’s um…me”
I told you he would slap me didn’t I?
“Nicky…Mike is not here at the moment, but I can…”
“No dad. I actually called to talk to you. I saw you on MTV earlier and I just wanted to say…well…thanks” There was a pause on the line; I thought maybe he had hung up.
“Nick…I meant every word. I love you son” I didn’t know what to say, I nervously licked my lips and wished that I had thrown both AJ and Brian out of the room. They sat there staring at me, trying to read every gesture and movement I made.
“It’s okay Nick. You don’t have to say anything back. I am not worthy of your love”
“Of course you are dad. I do love you”
Again there was a pause, I heard a sniffle. Damn was my dad crying?
“Thanks son. I can’t even tell you how good it was to hear you say that”
“I’m glad I finally got the chance to” I bit my lip which brought about another smack from AJ. He hated when I did that for some reason. He could smoke like a chimney but God forbid if I bit my lips. It drove him crazy.
“I was wondering if maybe you wanted to go out for lunch or dinner or something dad”
“I would love that Nick”
I smiled, “Good. You pick wherever you want”
“I would go and eat out in the back by a dumpster as long as I could spend some time with you”
Now it was my turn to get a little weepy. I looked away from both Brian and AJ and wiped my eyes. “Well, I don’t think we need to eat behind a dumpster” I looked over to Brian who had a ridiculous look on his face. He made me smile.
My dad laughed at that too, “well you pick then and I’ll meet you there, I’m kind of hungry now actually are you busy?” I had no idea. I know I really should learn my schedule.
“Hang on and I’ll check” I cupped the receiver in my hands to mute my conversation with the guys to my dad’s ears. “He wants to know if I am busy right now. Are we doing anything? Do we have anything planned for the next hour or so?” AJ and Brian looked at each other, “Nope. You have about two hours or so before we have to go to the studio so it’s all good bro”
“Excellent…thanks” I pulled my hand away from the phone, “Dad, now is fine”
“I’m so happy to hear that”
“Yeah….how about we meet in the lobby?”
“Sounds good son”
“And then we can decide where to go from there, just so you know dad, security will probably have to come with us. Is that okay?” my dad paused for a moment which once again made me nervous. Being followed by big bodyguards had that effect on people; that’s why whenever given the chance I would try to ditch them.
“That is fine, I am just grateful that they are there to protect you” Isn’t that exactly what Mike had said?
“Great….I’ll see you in about twenty minutes then?”
“Sounds good son and once again I want to say I love you”
“Love you too dad” It felt more natural coming out of my mouth that time.
“Sounds like you are going to go meet daddy then?” Brian asked winking at me. I bit my lip again which cause AJ to roll his eyes at me.
“I’m nervous guys”
“Want us to come with you?”
“Oh yeah that’s a great idea since the last time we all did that my brother was accused of being a drug addict” Yeah I guess I’m still not over that.
“Whatever man…we’re just trying to help out but if you’re going to be an ass about it…”
“Sorry AJ, I’m just nervous…I appreciate it, I just think this time I should go alone”
“Not entirely alone…you need to bring security with you this time kiddo”
“I know Brian…I know. Can we not tell Kevin about this please? I don’t want him to be a worry wart” They both laughed at me, I think they liked the worry wart line.
“Yeah we won’t tell him”
“Thanks, well I better go get ready then” I stood up to go into the bathroom for a quickie shower.
“Kaos” I looked over to AJ, “Yeah?”
“Have a great time” I nodded and proceeded to go inside to get ready.
John looked at himself in the mirror before walking out the door to meet his son. He looked good. It was amazing that when he was able to keep himself up and put a good comb through his hair, how similar his youngest son looked like his Father. They both had the same facial features and the eyes; also the blonde hair.
He was a little nervous about this little meal they would be having. Everything was banking on it. If he wasn’t absolutely convincing he wouldn’t gain the trust of his youngest although he seemed to be extremely naïve, a trait that both of his sons shared collectively.
On his way to the hotel, he took out the last bit of cash he had, wasn’t much; about $45, but he had a plan of his own to get more. He would also try to access another credit card from Nick. He noticed by looking at his wallet a few days prior, there was actually an ATM card that was lying in the back of his wallet. If he could get his hands on that he would be golden. He paused briefly wondering if that jackass he had lost all his money too was spending his son’s money. Surely if he had noticed the four digit Pin number in the card so did that asshole. He shook off those thoughts, he needed to concentrate.
He put his money back in his wallet and headed into the lobby of the hotel.
I was so nervous waiting for my dad. I swear with all the performing we do, I haven’t been as nervous as I have been this last week; first meeting Mike and now meeting my dad. I would take performing solo in front of a sold out crowd in my underwear over this any day. Well maybe not in my underwear but I think you get the idea. Anyway when he waved to me my stomach moved up to my throat. I have no idea why, maybe secretly I was hoping that Mike would have come with him.
I walked over to my father with Ron my bodyguard close behind me. He saw me and smiled, then shook my hand. I think he wanted to hug me but maybe was too afraid with Ron hovering over us like he was.
“Hey dad” I bit my lip and by instinct grimaced expecting to be hit by AJ. “So where are we gonna go son? Any ideas? And by the way I would like to treat you”
“Dad don’t be ridiculous, I’ll get it this time”
“No son…I insist, afterall what kind of Father makes his son treat?”
“Dad really…let me okay?” He looked at his dad and smiled, he wanted to do something really special for his dad. This man that he hadn’t seen in such a long time.
“Okay son…have it your way but next time, I want to treat you” He winked and then did pull me into a hug. It felt so natural for a father to be hugging his son. My Father, my real one.
We decided on this swank little bistro downtown very close to Rockefeller Center. I mostly listened to my Father talk about the old days with he and Mom. He told me story after story about my childhood. How I loved to take his ties and hide them on him so he couldn’t leave to go to work or how when I was about five I would wake him up by jumping up and down on his bed. He said I loved to be thrown around like a football.
Most importantly he told me about his dreams. How he one day wanted to own his very own company. How he was kind of a vagabond nowadays not having his own place, opting instead to give to every charity under the sun. He said he had even given a bunch of money to my ocean campaign without even knowing it.
I was proud of this man, the guy who was my Father. He was an honest, hard working man who just seemed like he had such a good heart. I wanted to do something special for this man.
“What kind of company would you want anyway?”
“Aw Nick I am probably boring you to tears why don’t you tell me a little about you”
“There’s really not that much to tell. Believe it or not my life is pretty dull”
“Dull?” He laughed while putting another spoonful of his crème Brule in his mouth, “Now how do I find that hard to believe?”
“I know…everyone does, but to be honest…being famous is kind of a drag sometimes”
“I am sure it is”
“SO anyways, you never answered my question”
“Oh about the business?” I nodded, He put down his spoon and placed his hands on the table, “I’m thinking about starting some kind of thing for kids. Like a place where they could go instead of being on the street. Like a boys club or something like that”
“Wow…that’s really impressive”
“I can’t believe I am even telling you this. I haven’t told anyone. It just feels so comfortable talking to you son. Mike doesn’t even know. Don’t tell him okay?”
“I’m sure Mike would love that”
“But still…promise me anyway, that you won’t tell him”
“Okay not a problem”
I nodded again as the check came. It cost about $200 when all was said and done. He wanted to leave the tip but I wouldn’t let him. “Hey dad I’m going to the bathroom I’ll be right back” I put my credit card into the bill fold and got up to make my way to the bathroom. As I walked past my dad he dropped his money so I bent down to pick it up for him. “Thanks son, I could’ve gotten that myself”
I smiled then continued on towards the bathroom.
John grabbed the wallet he had just taken out of his son’s pocket and glanced down at it, he had to wait until after the bodyguard passed him by. He could tell that the guy didn’t trust him at all but that was his job. He was a little afraid of pick pocketing his own son right with security breathing down their necks but he also knew he was one of the best at it, so he had devised the plan during dessert, to drop his money on the floor knowing his son would bend to pick it up. Since he had noticed when Nick pulled his wallet out initially it was in his left pocket it would be a cinch to grab.
It turned out to be a piece of cake and no one suspected anything. The waiter came and gathered the check and John continued to search through the wallet finding the card he had noticed earlier. It was an ATM card and just like the credit card earlier it had his PIN written on the back. He quickly placed it in his jacket pocket and put Nick’s wallet on the ground. Where Nick tripped on it on the way back to his seat.
“Holy shit! I can’t believe I let this fall out of my pocket” Nick said bending down to retrieve his wallet. John feigned total shock, “Oh my goodness how could I have missed that son you need to be more careful with your money. I would hate for somebody to take advantage of you”
Nick sat down and grew serious for a minute, “Dad…I wanted to give you something” John stopped breathing as he saw what he hoped he would see, his son pulling pout his check book.
“I wanted to give you some money to start up your business. I mean it’s not much but I know every little bit helps right?”
“Aw son I will not take money from you. I can do it myself. It’s okay” Even though John was salivating it wasn’t part if his plan to have his son give him anything this quickly.
“NO! I insist, but thank you so much for your offer. You are a good boy”
And that he really did mean; he almost felt bad for what he was about to do. Almost being the operative word in that phrase.
“Well dad I had a great time”
“Me too son”
“Let’s do this again real soon okay?”
“Sounds good to me, but next time my treat remember?” Nick nodded and smiled. As they parted way and Nick was safely back with his bodyguard, John whipped out the ATM card and made a withdrawal of $1000.