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Nick and Lexie met for breakfast that day after leaving CJ with Leah and Howie. Nick held Lexie's hand over the table, spying the ring he had bought.

"I can't believe you did it." She giggled, following his eyes as her hand rested gently in his.

"Me, either." He laughed, "But it's what I really want. I don't want anything to come between us again."

"This is one way to assure my fathers can't interfere."

"That's not why I did it. I love those guys. . ."

"But with us being married. . ."

"It does make the boundaries a little clearer." He said, letting go of her hand and adjusting the napkin in his lap.

"I understand." She said softly. She knew there was some power-playing going on between the men in her life. When she was first injured, Nick couldn't find out what was wrong with her for hours. All this time she had been yanked back and forth between them, none of them meaning any harm to her. "So, are we going to make any plans?" she asked cheerfully.

"Oh yeah, but first you have to tell me what went on between you and AJ." He smiled, looking up at her.

"In a nutshell? He promised not be an asshole and I promised to never date any of his friends again." She shrugged.

"What?!" he laughed.

"That's it. Once you're gone, poof, that's it. I'll have to date outside the Backstreet Boys." She chuckled.

"Well, it's nice to know you two have made plans after my demise." He joked.

"It's a tentative one. If he dies before you do, I can still go after Brian." She deadpanned.

"Hopefully you'll wait until I'm dead." He laughed.

"Yeah, I guess I could do that." She said, barely containing a smile.

"God, I'm sorry I asked. A wedding date?" he asked.

"Oh! New Year's Eve! We can have a big party, it'll be great." She said excitedly. "We could get married at St. Francine's where my folks got married. . ."

"Wait a sec, when did you come up with all of this?"

"Well, mom and I were up most of the night." She said sheepishly.

"Okay, what else did you two women come up with?" he sighed jokingly as he listened to all of her plans.

Nick and Lexie flew home that night with CJ. They carried their bags upstairs and as Nick got CJ ready for bed, Lexie sorted their dirty laundry. Nick found her in the laundry room and slipped his arms around her waist.

"You don't have to do that. Cook will do it tomorrow." He chuckled in her hair.

"I know." She sighed, tossing the last pair of his underwear in the washer and starting the load.

"Come on, soon to be Mrs. Nickolas Carter. I am pooped." He said, taking her hand and turning off the light. He took her hand and they went upstairs. He let go of her to head into the bathroom and take a shower.

Lexie removed her clothing and then she thought of him in that shower. She always loved his body. She could see his hair, dark with water, streaming down his back. Soap caressing every inch of him. The diamond on her hand sparkled at her. She knew by the end of the year it would be joined by a wedding band that would find its mate on his hand.

She found her hands trembling. It'd been so long since she had offered herself to him that she was almost afraid of the rejection. He hadn't asked tonight, but they were engaged now. Shouldn't she celebrate this by making love to him?


The only reason she needed was that she loved him and wanted him. She felt her body begin its chain reaction. She closed her eyes and listened to the water's current shift in the shower as he moved around.

"Lexie?" Nick asked through shampoo covered eyes. The water pressure changed as she hit the diverter and turned the second showerhead on. He rinsed his face and opened his eyes. Her wet hand smoothed the remaining shampoo from his face.

"Let me finish this up for you." She said huskily.

He stepped back under his showerhead and she ran her fingers through his hair and helped with the rinse. He handed her the conditioner and she applied it. She took her delicious time. He found himself standing with his back to her, both hands planted on the wall in front of him. His head tipped back as her fingers worked their way through his hair.

Her hands found other curves of his body. He was almost afraid to move in fear she would skitter away like she had so many other times. He bit down on his bottom lip as her soapy hand glided down his back and reached his buttocks. He surpressed every groan as they roiled around from inside of him.

She gently urged him back under the water to rinse his hair, her fingers diligently working at their task.

His body mesmerized Lexie. He had lost a lot of weight from the first time she had seen him. He was so much thinner that she could actually see the angles in his pelvis at his hips. In his back, her hands could count every rib that had once been covered by toned muscle. Even the skin down his forearms seemed taut, his fingers were bony.

"My love." She said, not expecting the words to come out loud. She pushed his hair to one side and smoothed her hand down from his shoulder to his lower back again. He began to tremble under her touch.

"Nick?" she questioned.

"Oh God!" he groaned loudly. His head dropped, "Please don't stop. God, Lexie."

She reached for the soap, began to sponge his shoulders, back, and lovingly dropped to her knees to wash his feet and legs. She tried to reach up his arms, but he had them too high for her. She stepped in front of him and drew soapy circles around his chest and down his ribs. As the water washed the soap away, she leaned in and laid her lips on his chest.

He grabbed the back of her hair and forced her head up. His mouth found hers in a hunger he had never known before. He pressed his body into hers and held her against the shower wall. As he found himself between her legs, her teeth came down and split his bottom lip open. Her mouth opened under his and her moans traveled to the back of his throat. He pulled away in time for Lexie to see the blood she had drawn be washed away. For the first time, Lexie gave him everything she was.


She felt her soul empty before him and he scooped it up in his loving arms. Her eyes squeezed shut in momentary panic, in the fear he might reject her. His rhythm increased with his appetite and carried her with him. He came with a sound she had never heard before. He poised himself against her and she lifted her eyes and watched the warm water stream down his face.

"I'm sorry, I was too rough. . ." he breathed.

"No." she smiled, "I think I was." She lifted her fingers to his lip. He did too.

"Damn." He muttered.

"It's starting to swell." She cringed.

"Good." He smiled, resting his hands on the shower walls behind her.

"I've missed you." She whispered.

"I've missed you too. That's all behind us now. We'll never be apart again." He said, leaning in to kiss her. "Ouch!" he said as his lips touched hers. They both broke out in gentle, knowing laughter.

Lexie stretched out and felt the luxurious sheets ripple over the naked body. It felt so good to be alive! It felt so good to be in love! She smiled as she lifted a hand to wipe the sleep from her eyes. Her hand connected softly with Nick's face just inches from hers. She jumped, a little startled, then started to laugh softly at him.

"I'm sorry, sweetie." She smiled, taking his face in her hands. He leaned in and softly kissed her.

"Morning." He smiled.

"What time is it?" she asked.

"It's almost 10."

"In the morning?! Jesus, Nick! CJ's going to be late for day camp, hell she is late for camp. . ."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" he laughed, pulling her back into bed. "I took care of that already. Cook got her ready and took her to camp."

"When did you do that?"

"While you were sleeping."

"God, I must have been tired. . ."

"I think so. I brought you something." He smiled, getting off the bed.

Lexie sat up and tucked the sheets around her as he stepped out of the room. He came back in with a tray that was brimming with breakfast.

"Oh, my. . ." she gasped.

He walked around to her side of the bed and set it across her lap.

"Oh, Nick. This is so sweet." She smiled.

"I couldn't believe how out you were this morning, so I decided to let you sleep in and then take care of you a little. I haven't had much of a chance to do any of this before. . ."

"I know and I'm sorry. . ."

"Sh, it doesn't matter now. Think about it, Lex. We're free." He smiled, sitting across from her cross-legged and in his briefs. "There are no more lawsuits, everyone has accepted us, you've finished school, I can perform again. . .we're free, Lexie. We can get married and get on with our lives. There is nothing hanging over our heads."

Lexie was speechless. He was right. They were free. AJ and Howie knew about them, the lawsuits were pretty much over and, well, Nick didn't have a record label, but things were looking good.

"I hadn't thought of that." She said suddenly.

"So it's time to get on with getting on." He smiled, "So eat up. We got stuff to do today, girlie!"

Did they ever! It reminded Lexie of her summers back home when she and her cousins, Marta and Aria, would pile into her old car and drive to the beach! Nick was definitely different company, but she had forgotten he was as much of a beach bunny as she was. It came as no real surprise that he had an extra surfboard for her that they threw in the back of his SUV and they headed for the beach! Cranking the tunes, they actually waved to the few reporters still camped out outside the gates of the estate.

Lexie hadn't surfed since last year and was a little rocky on her feet, but Nick, who hadn't been up in years, was even rockier. It took him nearly half the day to catch a full ride, but when he did, she was on the beach waiting for him as he carried his board in from the surf.

He laughed, carried on and went right back out with her right behind him. It was dusk when the lifeguards pulled them in and they realized they hadn't eaten since breakfast. They changed back into their clothing and Lexie was pulling on some shoes as Nick was locking up the back of the truck. She stopped and stared at him once she was done. He pulled the key out of the tailgate once the window was up and turned to her.

"C'mon. I know this great hamburger place down the road." He smiled.

"All right, I'm coming!" she laughed, running to climb into the passenger side. The doors closed with solid thumps and he put the key in the ignition. He stopped and she followed his gaze out onto the beach. She saw the glorious sunset peel oranges and flame reds across the sky.

"It's beautiful." He sighed.

"Yes, it is." She smiled, but she wasn't looking at the sunset anymore. She tucked some loose hair behind his ear and he seemed to almost blush when he looked at her.

"You know. Let's get a room tonight and stay here. I'll call Cook and have her take CJ to her house. . ."

"We haven't seen CJ all day. She's gonna be mad at us for going to beach without her."

"She already knew. I told her this morning. She asked if we'd be coming home."

"What did you tell her?"

"Depended if Daddy broke his neck today or not!" he chuckled.

"You look okay to me. Okay, but we don't have much for a change of clothes."

"Who the hell is going to see us?" he laughed.

"Uh, excuse me, but you are Nick Carter. The whole world will probably see us in the same clothes for two days!" she joked.

"I don't think anyone is interested in me much these days. Let's risk it, okay?" he said.

"Okay." She agreed.

Nick arranged for CJ to be taken care of and then made arrangements for them to have a place to stay. Nick took her to a place he used to come to a lot when he was younger and just a Backstreet Boy. He used it to get away from everything in those days, including this guy 'Nick Carter' he was supposed to be.

Lexie followed him into the room and he instantly walked and opened the French doors to the balcony. Lexie marveled at his silhouette in the doorway against the night sky. She could hear the waves lapping up on the shore before him and realized she hadn't heard that since they were at Brian's over a year ago.

They were meant for each other and it was never as clear as it was that moment. She remembered the time she had told her mother that she 'was born to love him'. At that time, Lexie didn't really understand what that meant. Now she knew.

They both loved the water, except it had just been different coasts. They were kept apart long enough for the other to grow up. He had been there just when she needed him and she could only hope she had done the same for him. In her life, she had never had a relationship with a man; she always knew what to do for him. It was as if instinctively she knew she was to be with him and all elements had pulled her here. They clicked. They moved together, they were one. If one was truly cut from cloth by the Maker, then they were cut from the same bolt, just at different times.

"Lex?" he whispered, breaking her reflection.

"Make love to me, Nick." She whispered harshly.

"Baby? Are you okay?" he asked, coming closer.

She grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled it over his head.


"I'm not really in the mood to talk to you right now." She said lowly.

"Okay." He said, with almost a little cheer in his voice.

Nick took her in his arms, but almost choked on their kiss as her hand dove into his shorts.

"Damn, girl." He chuckled. She stepped back and pulled her sundress over her head to reveal her firm breasts and skimpy underpants. "Damn." He muttered.

"What are you doing way over there, Carter?" she teased.

"Trying to remember how to breathe." He gasped, his hands reaching for her.

His lips found her salted skin and traced a line down until he was on his knees before her. Lexie reached down and pulled the clip from his hair. As her fingers dove into it, he pressed his mouth closer to her flesh. Her hands on his shoulders were the only things supporting her as her knees buckled out from under her.

"Are you still not in the mood to talk?" he joked.

She recovered her composure and snapped up a handful of his hair. She yanked his head back gently until he was looking right at her with a smug look on his face.

"I don't want to talk right now." She smirked.

He got to his feet and promptly slung her over his shoulder. She squealed with delight as he walked her over and dumped her on the bed. As she collapsed back, he grabbed her ankles and pulled her to edge of the bed. He pulled his trunks off the rest of the way and she smiled sedately from where she was. He leaned over her, clamped a hand over her mouth, and proceeded to enter her. His groans forced themselves against hers as his mouth replaced his hand.

"You're awful quiet this morning." Lexie said, coming out of the shower.

"Am I allowed to speak now?" he joked.

"Sure, amuse me." She laughed. He threw back his head and laughed loudly. "But first, I'd rather you bought be me breakfast."

"Oh, is the little vixen hungry this morning?" he said with a big yawn.

"Oh, is the middle aged guy still tired?" she smirked.

"That was mean." He said with a protest.

"Come on, Carter. Feed me."

"I'd rather. . ."

"Don't say it!" she warned. He got up and whispered it in her ear. "Ewww, you said it!"

He swatted her on the behind as he headed for the dresser and his keys. She readily slipped her hand into his and they went to check out.

The drive into town was lazy and spent talking and making plans. Cook wasn't at the house, but left word she took CJ to day camp and would be shopping for the rest of day.

Swim suits and summer clothes were left abandoned on the floor as they reached for each other in the bedroom. Sun streamed through slitted window blinds and crossed Nick's back as he lay across her. He had slipped to one side and she began to feel the steady respirations of sleep against her shoulder. She turned her face to him to find his dark lashes lying on reddened cheeks. Too much sun and now he was a little burned. Her naturally darker skin had saved her this time.

Sweet love. Would it ever be any sweeter than this?

He gently burped in his sleep and she woke him as her body shook with quiet laughter. His head lifted slightly, but she pushed it back down. Lazy blue eyes questioned her and then closed, taking him to wherever she had woke him from.


It could never be sweeter.