The humidity hung heavy in the air as they moved from the house to the car. For the first time in a long time, she knew things were moving at a normal pace… but with the impending resolution of so many things, normal felt sluggish.
"These sunglasses are pretty great. It's not easy to successfully buy someone sunglasses..." Coll commented randomly as she tilted her head back into the headrest of Nick's car. He looked at her as he slid the car into reverse. Her eyes were closed, and she looked relaxed, he smiled.
"They look good on you."
She smirked at him and shook her head gently. "Thanks."
His hand returned to the steering wheel, and he navigated out of the driveway. "I can tell she drove the car."
"Yeah. It's not all jumpy and weird. Also, the volume all the way down..."
Coll laughed, the gear shifted back to drive, he eyed her. She looked at him, "I'm ready to experience a typical day in the life of Nick Carter at home."
The image of her splashed in warm sunlight, sitting in his passenger seat in her shorts and tank top, looking relaxed and happy was something he had imagined for a while, and he knew he'd want to remember for a long time.
"I feel like it's not."
"No, just… nothing. Let's go."
The way he looked at her made her feel a million things, and she turned to look out the window as he began driving toward town. A Nirvana song started up on the stereo, but he kept it low. Even though it was hot out, she rolled the window down to enjoy the breeze. They were both quiet as they drove, and she kept glancing at him, indulging in the marvelous opportunity to see him doing something so utterly normal. The way his face looked as he concentrated on the road ahead, the way his arm draped casually over the steering wheel at a stop sign, the way his hair stuck out from under the baseball cap, the way he smiled every time he looked at her … each move he made sparked a tiny fire inside of her. More. Everything. Open.
"No one worries about you going out around here?" She asked as he pulled into a parking spot parallel to the sidewalk.
"I'm sure some people do… but it's fine. No one hassles me around here." He explained as he turned the car off, and she reached to open her door. "The place is up there."
"Perfect!" She hopped out of the car and met him on the sidewalk. He took her hand in his and lead her up the block.
"Does it feel supremely quiet, or are we just not used to this?"
"Well, no one is screaming."
"What is that impulse exactly? I wonder about it sometimes…"
"Yeah, the screaming and the … crying. Like, why?"
He laughed, "No idea, honestly."
"I mean, I know you're hot." She reasoned, "But like, I don't think I've ever screamed upon seeing you. Are you insulted?"
"Nah. It's cool. I know you like me. You just have a weird way of showing it."
"Realistic. That's how I'd describe it." Her explanation made him chuckle. "Anyway… Where's the coffee, Carter? It's like a million degrees out here, I'm getting iced."
He chuckled and recoiled slightly away from her, "Oh, okay, little miss cranky."
"Cranky? Oh boy… for someone with three sisters, you should know that this most certainly is NOT cranky."
"Feisty, I like it,"
"It's right up here, I swear it'll be worth it…"
He ran ahead of her and grabbed the door to the cafe, opening it as she approached.
Upon entry, an enthusiastic older woman who hurried out from behind the register to give him Nick a hug.
"We missed you!" The joy was evident in her voice, and Coll watched happily as the greeting unfolded.
"Ah, I missed you too,"
The woman released Nick from her embrace and quickly transitioned to hugging Coll.
"Oh, uh, thank you."
Nick laughed at the surprised look on Coll's face.
"Coll, this is Gloria, Gloria, this is my Colleen."
"Absolutely gorgeous!" Gloria smiled kindly as she pulled back to look at Coll, placing her hands on Coll's arms. My Colleen. "Perfect!"
Coll blushed uncomfortably and eyed Nick for the next move.
"Coffee??" Gloria asked, clapping her hands together.
"Oh, yes, please."
"Alex! Nick's home!" Gloria yelled out as she made her way back behind the counter.
"That's so sweet," Coll said quietly, looking at Nick as they stepped up to the counter. He nodded.
Gloria took their orders and prepped their drinks, and refused to make any money. Nick shoved a few twenties into her tip jar, Alex came to say hello to Nick, and the two of them took their coffees to the back patio. Coll slid into the booth side of the small table Nick motioned to, and he took the seat across from her. The patio was lushly decorated with potted plants, long tables with benches, and throw pillows on the booth seats.
"You come here often?" She asked.
"That sounds like a pickup line."
"I come here mainly to see these guys,"
She brought the straw of her drink to her lips, "I like discovering this other part of your life...."
Their afternoon was spent strolling aimlessly around town, sitting for lunch, and chatting with a few local shop owners who welcomed Nick home and were excited to meet Coll. They asked her about school and Boston, and she casually answered while her mind ran wild with all the things she had to resolve before returning to that life. Around two o'clock, Nick suggested heading home and enjoying the rest of the day on the beach.
"I know you like the pool, but that can be later…"
She smirked, "I love the beach."
"Isn't that one of the qualifications? For Nick Carter's perfect girl? I love the beach and Journey and the color green, and I'm supposed to love scuba diving, but I'm not sure if I do. It seems like a claustrophobic nightmare." She cringed.
He laughed, "I think I can overlook it."
"I do actually like Journey though,"