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The next day, Saturday, Nick was in Judge's chambers all morning as Jill, Sabrina and Tina presented new evidence on each of his cases. Lexie waited at home with CJ and Jake. She had called Brian with the good news and Jake had spoken to his father and mother. Lisa Andrews was on a flight to L.A. from Orlando Friday night and in chambers with the Nick's legal team.


Her daughters Missy and Regina were with her for their own safety. They were watching movies with Jake when Lexie answered a phone call.


"Hello?" she asked.


"Lexie? It's mom." She heard.


"Mom?" she said, almost choking.


"How are you doing? I've missed you." Leah said.


"I've missed you too. Does Dad know you're calling?"


"Oh, yeah. He knows." She sighed. "He told me about Nick's news."


"You know? How did you find out?" Lexie asked.


"It's all over Orlando. Lisa Andrews has been a fixture at Jive from before the Backstreet Boys. . .she's taken care of them for years."


"Yeah, she's at the courthouse with Nick and his lawyers. She was worried about her daughters. They are both here with me and Jake."


"I think she has every reason to worry. Jive's excutives were all served papers this morning. I think it's safe to assume she doesn't have a job any more."


"I don't think she has to worry. I think Jill and Sabrina may snatch her up the way Nick was talking."


"Have you heard from him? How's he doing?"


"Nick? He called at the lunch break. He's pretty excited."


"How are you two? Are you okay?"


"I’m okay, I guess. . ."


"You don't sound very happy. . ."


"I am. I guess I'm still holding my breath."


"I'm glad we've kept talking these last couple months." Leah said.


"Me too. Mom?"


"Yeah?"


"Thanks for asking about Nick." Lexie sighed.


"If you love him. So do I." Leah smiled on her end.



Lexie met Jill, Sabrina, Tina, Lisa and Nick at their law offices by 7:30 pm that night. She could hear the peals of laughter coming from Jill's office with only one distinctive male voice among them. She pushed opened the door they left ajar.


"Lex?! Come on in!" Jill laughed, waving her in.


They were all comfortable. Nick was sitting on the couch with Jill, rubbing her feet. Tina and Sabrina were on another couch, leaning on each other laughing really hard. Lisa was the only one with some composure as she leaned up against Jill's desk.


Jill removed her feet from Nick's lap and Lexie realized she had almost forgotten that Jill was his sister-in-law as she felt jealously tug at her heart.


"What's wrong, hon?" Sabrina asked, looking back at Lexie.


"Uh, nothing. How'd it go?" Lexie asked.


"It was the bomb!" Sabrina laughed wickedly.


"We kicked their asses!" Jill squealed.


"Oh, god!" Tina giggled next, "It was so good, I almost got turned on."


"Only you'd get turned on in court." Sabrina teased her.


"What can I say?" the tall redhead shrugged, "I like screwing people. Why else would I be a lawyer?"


Lexie looked over at Lisa. She turned her beautiful face toward Lexie.


"Well, it was a little like court at the OK Corral. . ." she smiled.


"That's how we like it in the wild, wild west." Sabrina whooped.


"We left a bunch of dead, bloody, corporate carcasses." Jill laughed.


"Stop it!" Tina squealed, "I am getting turned on now!"


The group erupted in new laughter and Lexie had to chuckle with them.


"So, how are my girls?" Lisa asked.


"I left them watching a movie with Jake and CJ." Lexie nodded.


"You know, I was serious." Jill suddenly said to Lisa. "If you want the job, it's yours. Tina needs another genius in her division."


"Thanks for the offer, but I already have one back in Orlando." She smiled.


"Really, who the hell would be better than us?" Tina said.


"Howie Dorough. He's offered me a position at Sweet D Records." She said.


Tina let out a low whistle.


"Do you really want to work with a bunch of men?" Sabrina asked.


"Let's just say, I'd rather keep it in the family."


"Jill's married to Nick's brother. You'll be like a third cousin or something." Sabrina said.


"Lucky bitch." Tina muttered. Sabrina swatted her arm.


"Well, it's a standing offer. I don't know how friendly you're gonna find Orlando in the next coming days." Jill sighed.


"I appreciate the offer. I'll keep it in mind if things don't work out with SD Records." Lisa said.


"Well, now that you ladies are settling down to fight over your kill, I'm going to go home." Nick said, getting to his feet. He padded over to the desk where Lisa was and pulled his shoes back on. He picked up his suit jacket and tie. Lexie found something burn inside of her as she watched Nick with Lisa.


Lisa was elegant. There was no other way to describe her. She was nearly as tall as he was without her shoes on. She was his age too. He was only being a gentlemen when he put his hand on her back to let her pass him on their way to the door.



Lisa and her daughters left Monday morning and Jake went with them. Lexie suspected that Missy and Jake's relationship would pick up where they had left off.


News of Nick's victory hit the airwaves early that day. Many people came out in support of Nick, including Brian and Kevin. Howie had been interviewed as rumors of a mass exodus from Jive were beginning. He was asked if he'd take on any of Jive's artists, including Nick Carter. His only comment was he'd have to wait and see. No one was able to interview AJ and get his opinion.


Nick's legal future looked bright. Many of his past cases would be overturned and he would receive his funds back. Tina posed herself like a vulture trying to talk Nick into going after Jive directly. His main focus was with Jill and getting the injunctions lifted so he could get back to work.


There were still plenty of questions about getting him new management and a new recording company. He needed to get a record deal to get his next album out. There weren't any offers pouring in and Jill told him she doubted he would be approached until the injunctions were totally lifted.



Two weeks after the big event and Nick was still so busy in court that Lexie and CJ barely saw him. He was good about being home for dinner and he'd fill in them all in on his adventures for the day. He always had some funny story about Tina or Jill. Sabrina had retired from his cases and left it to the others.


Lexie would talk to her mother at least twice a week and it was usually right before he got home. Lexie wandered around the bedroom with the cordless phone picking up after Nick. She pulled some errant socks out from under the bed and went into the bathroom and dumped them down the chute.


"What's the matter?" her mom asked over the phone.


"I don't know, Mom. I'm just so sad all the time. . ."


"Are you taking your medications?"


"Yes. It's just not helping. It never really has. . ." she said, "And I'm having some other terrible feelings. . ."


"What? What kind of feelings?" Leah asked.


"Jealousy. I'm getting really jealous of Nick." Lexie whispered.


"Of his good turn of events?"


"No, of other women. . ."


"Lexie, Nick isn't like that. . ."


"I know, I know. I hope not. . ."


"What else?"


"I probably shouldn't tell you this. . ."


"You can tell me anything."


"Nick and I haven't been together since I. . .since the baby died." She said.


"Did the doctor say you shouldn't?"


"No. I'm fine, I just don't want him near me. . ."


"I hear that's common when women lose babies. . ."


"I just feel if I don't, I'll lose him to someone who will."


"Lex, that's not true. Nick loves you."


"I know. I can't explain it." She sighed heavily.


"Maybe you'd better talk to your doctor."


"Maybe I should." Lexie agreed.


Lexie looked at the phone after she pushed the off button. She was sitting on the closed toilet when she got up and went to the medicine chest and opened it up. She pulled her bottles of antidepressants out and stared at them. There was her name.


Why am I taking these? She asked herself. She looked in the mirror and saw her wrinkled forehead. Whoever that girl was, it wasn't her.


Lexie started, then leaned into the glass.


There she is! This is the same girl who ran away and hid in Seattle. That pained, lonely creature who had forgotten all the love that was once hers.


Sure, she had Nick and CJ. . .but that poor lost soul had resurfaced in a way that had been quiet and unassuming.


Lexie looked down at the bottle. It's time she went away forever.



"Hey, honey! I’m home!" Nick hollered, but no one answered. "Lexie? CJ? Cook? Anyone? C'mon you guys! This isn't funny!"


He went into the den, then into the movie theatre but there was no one. Great, he thought. Just what I get for getting home early. He shook his head and went up to the bedroom. He changed his clothes and headed into the bathroom and threw his clothes down the laundry chute. He stopped when he caught a glimpse of medicine bottles in the garbage can.


He picked them up and they were empty. They were Lexie's.


His heart began to race.


"LEXIE!" he screamed as he raced out of the bedroom.


He began to check every room and found himself panting in the living room minutes later. He checked the garage and then the pool house. The two guest houses. . .oh god!


Where was CJ, too? He checked his watch. No, something wasn't right. They should both be here.


He ran back to the main house and just stood there, fearing the worst. His mind ran through every place he had looked. He had forgotten one place! The recording studio!


He ran down the hall and threw open the door to the downstairs. He ran down the flight of stairs and threw open the door to the control room. He stumbled inside and looked into the recording booth.


Lexie was sitting at the piano with a headset on. CJ was sitting at an electric keyboard with her back to Lexie. They were both playing something he couldn't hear because the external speakers were off. Lexie stopped, turned and pointed something out to CJ who just nodded and went back to playing.


Nick just stood there and stared as his heart sat in his stomach. His brow furrowed. He never knew. He never knew she played piano.


Lexie looked up and then removed her headset. She tapped CJ's shoulder and CJ looked up and removed her headset. She scrambled off her seat and ran to the door. She opened it and ran into Nick's arms. He fell to his knees and held her close. Lexie stood in the doorway and from there she saw Nick shudder. She laid a hand on his head and he shot to his feet and hugged her.


"Nick? Are you okay?" she asked, bewildered by his reaction. When he pulled away, he wiped small tears from his eyes. He kissed her hard.


"I love you, you know that don't you?" he demanded, shaking her by her arms.


"Of course, Nick? What's going on?" she asked.


"I mean it, Lexie. I love you. I can't live without you. . ."


"Yes, I understand. Stop it, Nick, you're scaring me!" she said, pulling away from him. He grabbed her wrist and yanked her back.


"Where are your pills? What did you do with them?" he asked.


"I flushed them. . ." she stammered, trying to pull away from his powerful grip.


"Daddy! Stop it!" CJ cried. She pulled on his free arm.


"You what?!" he asked, bewildered.


"I flushed them. I don't want to take them any more. They aren't helping me." She said. He let go and she was able to get away. CJ ran to Lexie and latched on.


"I found the bottle empty and you were gone."


"I wasn't gone. I was down here. Cook knew that. . ."


"She isn't here. . ."


"She said she'd be back by 6:00." Lexie said. She looked up at the wall clock. Nick was early. It was only 5:25. He found the empty bottle?


"I looked everywhere for you. I went to both of the guest houses, the pool house. . ."


"Oh, my god Nick! Did you really think I had killed myself?" she asked in shock.


"I couldn't find either one of you. . ." he said, "You've been so sad since the baby. . ."


"No, no, Nick, I would never do that. . ." she said, running into his arms. "I'll never leave you! I love you, Nick. I promised, I swear it." This time she was kissing him as her feet dangled off the ground. She looked him in the eye. "Nothing is going to take me from you. Nothing. I promise."



Lexie settled Nick and CJ's nerves with a little iced tea, with Nick's being a little stronger. He sat on the corner of the living room couch, his arms draped along the back and arm.


"Daddy, why did you think Lexie was gonna hurt herself?" CJ asked suddenly.


"It's just. . .I've been really sad since the baby died. I was taking this medicine that was supposed to make it better, but it wasn't working." Lexie said, settling on the floor at Nick's feet with CJ.


"What happened to the medicine?"


"I threw it in the toilet and flushed them." Lexie said with a questioning face.


"How come?"


"I don't want to take them any more."


"Do you think you'll be happier now?"


"I don't know. I hope so. . ." Lexie sighed.


"I'd miss you if you were gone." CJ sighed quietly. "I guess Daddy knows about the piano lessons."


"I think he may have figured it out." She nodded.


CJ stood up and faced Nick. "I'm writing a song and Lexie is helping me. You can't hear it yet, I'm not done yet."


He smiled at her. "Okay."


"I mean it. It's for your next album."


"Oh, well, I'm sure it'll be great."


"Will you use it?"


"I don't know, I haven't heard it."


"You will, when I'm done with it."


"Are there words or just piano?"


"Both. I'm not telling you about it."


"Have you recorded any of it?"


"No, not yet. I said it's not done!" She said seriously.


"All right! I got the message." He laughed at her. He reached down and touched the top of Lexie's dark head. She looked up and the back of his knuckles smoothed her cheek.


Suddenly, she looked more familiar. He felt like he had been living with a stranger all this time.



"Aren't you going to tell me a little bit about it?" Nick teased as they got ready for bed.


"Nope, I'm sworn to secrecy!" she laughed.


"I didn't know you played piano." He said as she walked into the bathroom.


"I guess it never came up." She said. "I haven't played since I was at Kevin's. Geesh, CJ and I just started up about two weeks ago."


"Two weeks? You guys keep good secrets." He laughed as she shut off the light and joined him in bed.


"I learned that from my mother. She would never tell my Dad things I've told her." She said, as she got under the covers.


"I guess that's a good policy between mothers and daughters." He said in the dark.


"I'd tell you if it was really serious." She said.


"I know. I don't mind if you two have a relationship. It's bound to happen." He said.


A silence fell between them.


"Nick?" she asked him in the dark.


"Yes?"


"Will you hold me?" she asked timidly.


She didn't need to ask. He ached to. He slid over and took her in his arms. She laid her cheek on his t-shirted chest.


"I feel like I'm living in a fog." She said.


"It'll get better." He said.


"I hope so. I want to get on with my life." She sighed. I want to get on with loving you!

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