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The next day I sat next to my Mom as she signed book after book for teenage girls who were only there to see me. I don't think my Mom realized that but I did. The line extended all the way out the door and wrapped around the building. "Oh my goodness. I knew this book would be a success. What did I tell you baby?" She said pulling me into a hug.

"Yeah Mom" Was my only response. Truth was I was in a horribly bad mood. I barely got any sleep last night because Brian and I spent most of it talking. Of course he had nothing to do today so he could sleep in, me on the other hand, my Mother came into my room at 7am telling me it was time to wake up. I have been in an awful mood ever since.

"You don't seem excited" She said, I think noticing my ill mood. Of course when you are in a terminally bad mood the last thing you want to do is make other people feel good, so I was honest. "I'm really not. I feel like I'm on display" Yup that did the trick. She really wasn't happy with that response at all.

"You are a pop star baby, of course you are on display"

"But that's different, I'm not with the Backstreet Boys today, I am with you" She handed a book over to me to sign for the girl waiting in front of my Mother which I did then handed it back to her. She was crying. Why they cry I will never understand. Fans, I don't think I will ever get them.

"This is not the time to talk about this Nickolas"

"You brought it up, not me"

My Mother finally lost her temper just as a girl was trying to hand her a copy of my book. "You know, if you are going to have this kind of attitude, I would rather you leave"
I rolled my eyes at her and stood up to walk over to my dad.

"No!!" I turned to see the girl who was standing in front of my Mom trying to pry the book out of my Mother's grip to make her way over to me. The sight made me laugh. My Mother didn't seem to want this girl to leave before she got to sign the book, the girl on the other hand, really just wanted to make her way over to me. I thought she was going to yank my Mom right out of the chair she was pulling the book back so hard.

"Don't laugh, it's not funny" My dad said hitting my back. Of course he was smiling too. Finally the girl made her way over to me, Mom not looking very amused. She came over and handed me the book, "Could you please sign this for me?" As if trying to prove my point, I said nice and loudly, "Aww sweetheart, this is my Mom's book, I'm only here to watch"

The girl looked a little annoyed and tried again, "I came for your signature, your Mom is a nice lady but...please?" He smiled and grabbed the book, "And who do I make this out to?"


"As in meow meow?" She laughed, "Yup and can I get a picture too?" After I signed her book I decided to add further insult to injury and asked my Mom if she could take the picture, knowing full well she was too busy. I was just being a brat. My father took the camera and snapped a few shots.

The line which had been in front of my Mom began to shift towards where I was standing. I was enjoying it briefly until I saw my Mother look like she was going to cry. I really didn't mean to make her THAT upset. I was just trying to prove a point. I went and sat next to her for the remainder of the book signing but she refused to say one word to me. I hated the fact that our relationship was so strained these days, but it was her fault not mine.

When the last book was signed and the last picture was posed for, I finally allowed myself to stand up and stretch. I was going to go back to that hotel and take a power nap. My Mom and Dad were off in the corner talking to her editor, but then her gaze kept going to me. I smiled at her but she turned away.

Now I felt guilty. I wondered if it was normal for a Mother to play mind games with her son, the way mine did with me. I didn't think Brian's Mom ever did that to him. She walked over holding Dad's hand, "Thanks for coming out here" She said surprising me a bit.

"It's okay Mom. Sorry I was being a je.."

"We are going to Paris! Tell him Bob" I looked over to my Dad. "I am whisking your Mom away for the week to France" I smiled but again felt annoyed, Mom picked up on it, "With the advance I got for the book" I was sad she felt the need to throw that in there, but I guess I may have been giving off that vibe. Who knows?

"That's great guys. You will have a blast I'm sure" I gave my Mom a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"I love you Mommy"

"I do to brat"

We made our way back to the hotel with nearly a word spoken except by my dad, rambling the way he did whenever my Mom and I got into stupid fights. Which these days, seemed to occur more and more. I hugged them again and made my way to my room, where Brian was STILL sleeping, and plopped on my bed. Where I stayed until Brian woke me up insisting I play basketball with him. Giving me until he got out of the shower to get myself ready to go. I just sat up and stared at the wall. It dawned on me to maybe call my Mom and Dad and say good-bye to them before they left. I rang their room only to find out they had already checked out and left me a little message saying they'd see me in a week or so.

They didn't even wake me up to say good-bye, just left me a little note and that was that. It was hard for me to even wonder anymore, if I were a real kid going to a real school, if it would be normal for parents to just leave their child and go to Europe for a week without so much as a do you need anything? Or this is where we'll be in case of an emergency, or how about I love you and I'll miss you? Nothing.

Brian walked out of the bathroom and threw a basketball my way, "You ready to go play?"

"Do I look ready to go play?" I asked him, still reeling from a bad case of bed head. My hair looked even worse when I laid down for a nap then it did when I would sleep on it all night. My head was weird that way.

"No one would recognize you, so yeah I say go out just like that" I threw my pillow at him, "Let me get fixed up then we'll go"

"Okay" He said throwing himself on the floor and popping in a video game to keep himself occupied.

"How did it go anyway?"

"It went"

"That good huh?"

"Yeah" Brian knew me well enough to know I was done with Carter talk for the day, so he just became engrossed in his video game. I came out of the bathroom looking and feeling much better then I did walking into the bathroom. I hated to say it, but Mom's departure lightened my mood a bit.

I grabbed the ball "Let's go we don't have all day" He ran in front of me, I closed the door, "Where are we going anyway?" He laughed as we raced each other down the hall towards the elevator where our bodyguards were patiently waiting for us.
He ran into the record store fifteen minutes late for his shift, not even bothering to tie his shoes or brush his hair. He was met with the disapproving glance of the manager who was forced to count his register and relieve the person he was supposed to be relieving himself.

"Nice of you to grace us with your appearance Alexander"

"I know, I'm sorry, I didn't hear my alarm"

"You know, you have only been working here four days and you have been late three of them"

"It won't happen again"

"You're right, it won't" The manager threatened as he walked off to do whatever it was managers did. He looked over to see Melinda smirking at him, "Way to piss off the big guy Mike"

"Yeah, I really have quite a talent for pissing people off" She laughed.

"So..." she said glancing up at his hair, "Rough night?" He suddenly found himself working his hands through his hair and straightening out the parts that were sticking up as he rolled his eyes at her. "Yeah I guess you could say that"

"Care to elaborate?"

"Not really"

"Okay..whatever" She seemed annoyed with him, he really did have a gift for pissing people off.

"Look, I'm sorry I'm a little grumpy, I'm still a little tired"

"It's almost noon"

"What? Are you going to try to tell me you're a morning person Melinda?"

"As a matter of fact I am" Mike laughed and started to settle himself down a bit. He hated being late for everything but he did little to remedy the situation. Before he dropped out of high school unwilling to repeat the tenth grade for, ironically enough, too many missed days of school, he would regularly get detention for being late.

His reasoning was he would still have to serve the detention whether he was five minutes late of five hours late so may as well stretch it as long as he could. He rarely even saw a first period of any class. Opting to sleep in the extra time and then kind of just mosey on into second period. Not like he had anyone telling him not too. Dad really didn't care. He was actually happy when Mike dropped out of school. One less thing for him to worry about.

"So, plan on working anytime soon?" He looked up to see Melinda holding a box of CD's out to him. He grabbed them from her, "I guess you want me to put them out huh?"

"Yes please"

"Okay fine" He left the counter and went to load up the shelves, he was glad, he hated being behind the register. At least being out on the floor made the day go by faster. He looked down at the box and smiled, "Of course, why wouldn't it be you guys?" He said walking over to the empty Backstreet display.

"You know, it doesn't scare me that you are talking to the CD but if it answers, then I'll be a little nervous" He closed his eyes feeling a little dumb for being caught talking to himself to be met with another co worker of his, "Hey Ariana"

"Howdy Michael" Mike smiled at the woman who was about the same age as he was. She was a bright ray of sunshine always smiling and making people feel happy, compared to the antithesis which was Melinda. Mike himself was quite taken with her, but she was happily engaged to someone else. She grabbed a CD from the box, "You know I have the worst luck in the world, the one day I call in sick and I miss Nick. Tell me how life is fair"

"Sorry, he gave ME a CD" He gloated.

"Yeah, I heard, that's not fair either by the way" she pulled the cover up even with Mike's face and stared from one to the other, "You know, in a weird kind of way, you look a little bit like him you know"

"I do?"


"Maybe it's the eyes. Melinda said we have the same eyes"

"Yeah, she's right you do, but you guys also have the same smile"

"You want me don't you Ariana?" She laughed and playfully hit him over the head with her price puncher. He looked over to see if Melinda was jealous and couldn't help but smile when he saw that she was.

"That's okay, one of my friends went to his book signing this morning so she's bringing back an autographed copy"


"Yup, I thought so too"

Three hours later, while once again shifting from foot to foot only to receive chuckles from Melinda, Ariana's friend came back to the store with that book. Mike looked on as she grabbed the book and hugged it, like it was Nick Carter himself. "Oh great, now she's gonna show us his signature, can't wait" Melinda huffed while plastering on a fake smile. Yup she was jealous alright, Mike and his male ego thought at the same time.

"Hey guys look at what Maria brought me" She said handing the book over to Mike. "To Ariana with love, Nick Carter" He said out loud.

"Well mersey me" Melinda said sarcastically, "I think Nick must be in love with you"

Mike flipped through the pages looking at old pictures when he suddenly felt himself swaying, "My God" he said in barely a whisper. All three of the girls looked at him concerned that he was going to pass out, that's how white he suddenly became.

"Who is this woman?" He asked a very confused Melinda. She only answered with a shrug. "That is Nick Carter's Mother" Maria, the girl who had brought the book in the first place said.

Mike couldn't hold his legs up any longer. He was really beginning to sway. This was impossible. Totally impossible. "Mike, do you need to sit down? I'll go get one of the managers" Ariana said running to find help. Mike drowned her out, all he could do was look at her face. The face of the woman he used to call Mom.

"Where was this book signing?" He asked still visibly shaken.

"In Long Island but it is long over now"

"Where is he staying do you know?"

"Who?" Mike pointed to the picture of Nick on his Mom's lap.

"They usually stay at the Four Seasons when they are in New York, but he might be gone by now"

"What's going on Mike? You're scaring the hell out of me?" He turned to Melinda, not even knowing where to begin. He had so many thoughts going through his mind. So many emotions ripping through him at that moment, all he could do was run. He needed to talk to Nick. Get some answers.

"I have to go" He said taking Ariana's book with him, "Wait! My book"

He turned to her, "I'll get you another one"

"But it's autographed"

"I'll bring it back to you I promise"

"You're gonna get fired" Melinda yelled to him as he walked towards the escalator, "I'll call you tonight" he said hoping management wouldn't catch him and force him to stay.

This is impossible. He thought one final time before going into a full on sprint right out of the store.