A Write Kind of Love by Gravity 721

1. Chapter 1 by Gravity 721

2. Chapter 2 by Gravity 721

3. Chapter 3 by Gravity 721

4. Chapter 4 by Gravity 721

5. Chapter 5 by Gravity 721

6. Chapter 6 by Gravity 721

7. Chapter 7 by Gravity 721

8. Chapter 8 by Gravity 721

9. Chapter 9 by Gravity 721

10. Chapter 10 by Gravity 721

11. Chapter 11 by Gravity 721

12. Chapter 12 by Gravity 721

13. Chapter 13 by Gravity 721

14. Chapter 14 by Gravity 721

15. Chapter 15 by Gravity 721

16. Chapter 16 by Gravity 721

17. Chapter 17 by Gravity 721

18. Chapter 18 by Gravity 721

19. Chapter 19 by Gravity 721

20. Chapter 20 by Gravity 721

21. Chapter 21 by Gravity 721

22. Chapter 22 by Gravity 721

23. Chapter 23 by Gravity 721

24. Chapter 24 by Gravity 721

25. Chapter 25 by Gravity 721

26. Chapter 26 by Gravity 721

27. Chapter 27 by Gravity 721

28. Chapter 28 by Gravity 721

29. Chapter 29 by Gravity 721

30. Chapter 30 by Gravity 721

31. Chapter 31 by Gravity 721

32. Chapter 32 by Gravity 721

33. Chapter 33 by Gravity 721

34. Chapter 34 by Gravity 721

35. Chapter 35 by Gravity 721

36. Chapter 36 by Gravity 721

37. Chapter 37 by Gravity 721

38. Chapter 38 by Gravity 721

39. Chapter 39 by Gravity 721

40. Chapter 40 by Gravity 721

41. Chapter 41 by Gravity 721

42. Chapter 42 by Gravity 721

43. Chapter 43 by Gravity 721

44. Chapter 44 by Gravity 721

45. Chapter 45 by Gravity 721

46. Chapter 46 by Gravity 721

47. Chapter 47 by Gravity 721

48. Chapter 48 by Gravity 721

49. Chapter 49 by Gravity 721

50. Chapter 50 by Gravity 721

51. Chapter 51 by Gravity 721

52. Chapter 52 by Gravity 721

53. Chapter 53 by Gravity 721

54. Chapter 54 by Gravity 721

55. Chapter 55 by Gravity 721

56. Chapter 56 by Gravity 721

57. Chapter 57 by Gravity 721

58. Chapter 58 by Gravity 721

59. Chapter 59 by Gravity 721

60. Chapter 60 by Gravity 721

61. Chapter 61 by Gravity 721

62. Chapter 62 by Gravity 721

63. Chapter 63 by Gravity 721

64. Chapter 64 by Gravity 721

65. Chapter 65 by Gravity 721

66. Chapter 66 by Gravity 721

67. Chapter 67 by Gravity 721

68. Chapter 68 by Gravity 721

69. Chapter 69 by Gravity 721

70. Chapter 70 by Gravity 721

71. Chapter 71 by Gravity 721

72. Chapter 72 by Gravity 721

73. Chapter 73 by Gravity 721

74. Chapter 74 by Gravity 721

75. Chapter 75 by Gravity 721

76. Chapter 76 by Gravity 721

77. Chapter 77 by Gravity 721

78. Chapter 78 by Gravity 721

79. Chapter 79 by Gravity 721

80. Chapter 80 by Gravity 721

81. Chapter 81 by Gravity 721

82. Chapter 82 by Gravity 721

83. Chapter 83 by Gravity 721

84. Chapter 84 by Gravity 721

85. Chapter 85 by Gravity 721

86. Chapter 86 by Gravity 721

87. Chapter 87 by Gravity 721

88. Chapter 88 by Gravity 721

89. Chapter 89 by Gravity 721

90. Chapter 90 by Gravity 721

91. Chapter 91 by Gravity 721

92. Chapter 92 by Gravity 721

93. Chapter 93 by Gravity 721

94. Chapter 94 by Gravity 721

95. Chapter 95 by Gravity 721

96. Chapter 96 by Gravity 721

97. Chapter 97 by Gravity 721

98. Chapter 98 by Gravity 721

99. Chapter 99 by Gravity 721

100. Chapter 100 by Gravity 721

101. Chapter 101 by Gravity 721

102. Chapter 102 by Gravity 721

103. Chapter 103 by Gravity 721

104. Chapter 104 by Gravity 721

105. Chapter 105 by Gravity 721

106. Chapter 106 by Gravity 721

107. Chapter 107 by Gravity 721

108. Chapter 108 by Gravity 721

109. Chapter 109 by Gravity 721

110. Chapter 110 by Gravity 721

111. Chapter 111 by Gravity 721

112. Chapter 112 by Gravity 721

113. Chapter 113 by Gravity 721

114. Chapter 114 by Gravity 721

115. Chapter 115 by Gravity 721

116. Chapter 116 by Gravity 721

117. Chapter 117 by Gravity 721

118. Chapter 118 by Gravity 721

119. Chapter 119 by Gravity 721

120. Chapter 120 by Gravity 721

121. Chapter 121 by Gravity 721

122. Chapter 122 by Gravity 721

123. Chapter 123 by Gravity 721

124. Chapter 124 by Gravity 721

125. Chapter 125 by Gravity 721

126. Chapter 126 by Gravity 721

127. Chapter 127 by Gravity 721

128. Chapter 128 by Gravity 721

129. Chapter 129 by Gravity 721

130. Chapter 130 by Gravity 721

131. Chapter 131 by Gravity 721

132. Chapter 132 by Gravity 721

133. Chapter 133 by Gravity 721

134. Chapter 134 by Gravity 721

135. Chapter 135 by Gravity 721

136. Chapter 136 by Gravity 721

137. Chapter 137 by Gravity 721

138. Chapter 138 by Gravity 721

139. Chapter 139 by Gravity 721

140. Chapter 140 by Gravity 721

141. Chapter 141 by Gravity 721

142. Chapter 142 by Gravity 721

143. Chapter 143 by Gravity 721

144. Chapter 144 by Gravity 721

145. Chapter 145 by Gravity 721

146. Chapter 146 by Gravity 721

147. Chapter 147 by Gravity 721

148. Chapter 148 by Gravity 721

149. Chapter 149 by Gravity 721

150. Chapter 150 by Gravity 721

151. Chapter 151 by Gravity 721

152. Chapter 152 by Gravity 721

153. Chapter 153 by Gravity 721

154. Chapter 154 by Gravity 721

155. Chapter 155 by Gravity 721

156. Chapter 156 by Gravity 721

157. Chapter 157 by Gravity 721

158. Chapter 158 by Gravity 721

159. Chapter 159 by Gravity 721

160. Chapter 160 by Gravity 721

161. Chapter 161 by Gravity 721

162. Chapter 162 by Gravity 721

163. Chapter 163 by Gravity 721

164. Chapter 164 by Gravity 721

165. Chapter 165 by Gravity 721

166. Chapter 166 by Gravity 721

167. Chapter 167 by Gravity 721

168. Chapter 168 by Gravity 721

169. Chapter 169 by Gravity 721

170. Chapter 170 by Gravity 721

171. Chapter 171 by Gravity 721

172. Chapter 172 by Gravity 721

173. Chapter 173 by Gravity 721

174. Chapter 174 by Gravity 721

175. Chapter 175 by Gravity 721

Chapter 1 by Gravity 721
Chapter 1

Veronica Peterson wrapped up the remains of her sandwich and stood, throwing the crumpled paper into the garbage can before returning to the picnic bench and taking a sip of her water. God her lunch was almost over and she really didn’t want to go, that was what she always thought when it was time to go back to work, it was nothing new. Lunch was never fulfilling or exciting, it was just lunch and time she usually spent alone. Thirty minutes to relax and thirty minutes to remember everything that depressed or bothered her, which in the end cancelled out the whole relaxing thing. Looking out across the parking lot, she sighed heavily, she really wanted to be anywhere but here. Still, the sad thing was she’d rather sit and think of the things that bothered her than go and work.

Standing, she made her way in, looking at the clock, five minutes left. That gave her just enough time to walk back and punch in. Turning she made her way past the registers and to the entrance of the store. She’d been working in the same grocery store for about six years, and she was thoroughly sick of it.

She needed a change, she needed to do what she went to school for, what she’d spent obscene amounts of money on textbooks for, but she wasn’t.

There were times when she felt she never would, it’d be so easy to stay stuck where she was because it was comfortable and familiar, but then she’d never grow, never flourish. At least that’s what she kept telling herself, it was the truth no doubt, but it was hard to hear, hard to remember when she stepped outside the bubble and had to actually take the initiative. Taking that step was scary though, it really was. Life was full of risks, she had to learn to take more chances.

She watched as her co-workers flirted with some of the guys who also worked there, giggling and teasing openly, she sighed heavily. Veronica always tried so hard not to notice, but it was nearly impossible, all of her insecurities wrapped into a size six frame. She wasn’t bad looking of course; she’d just never be small, or petite. Oh, she did her share of flirting and teasing, but it wasn’t like them. Like the ones who never said anything stupid, the ones who were always put together, who laughed softly and always knew exactly what to say. She wasn’t like them, she’d never been. Even back in high school, she’d never been comfortable with herself. Her Brother on the other hand was everything she wasn’t. Popular, well known, outgoing. He played football and all the girls knew him. With that popularity, came the ever present nickname for her as “Bryan’s Little Sister” which was nice maybe first five times, but she went through the rest of her school life affectionately referred to as “Bryan’s Little Sister” and it got old quickly. It went on even after he graduated and here at work every so often a friend of his would come in and all of a sudden she was “Bryan’s Sister” again. Sometimes it was like she had no identity away from him and she was tired of it, very tired of it.

No one understood what it felt like and thought she was overreacting. She knew better, so she went out of her way to be different than him, different style of clothes, different taste in music, anything so she’d have some kind of identity all her own. And it worked for the most part, aside from the fact that everyone swore they were twins, but three years difference made that impossible. So for now she’d deal. She was no whiner; at least she tried not to be.

Making her way through the double doors, she walked over to the time clock, right on time. She punched in her number and walked back out, heading back over to her department.
Chapter 2 by Gravity 721
Chapter 2


“Thank you, so I can just pick up my ticket there right?” Better that then lose it in that hellhole he called a bedroom. “Great, thank you so much.”

Nick hung up, normally his assistant booked his flights, but smart him had given her the month off, what in the hell was he thinking? No matter, it had been handled with minimal trouble, he really hoped he’d gotten the best deal. He would be leaving in a few days and had loose ends that needed to be tied up before heading off to London for a month.

He had to make sure everything was secure and start packing. Of course he would wait till the night before to pack, he was such a procrastinator. Why do it early and have all those suitcases and bags in the way?

Damn and where the hell was his passport anyway? Frowning he went over to his large closet, opened the door and flipped the light on. Had he left it in his jean pocket from before? Nick looked around, and saw a shoebox, grabbing it from the top shelf and opened it, digging through it…nothing. He shoved the box back up top and looked down at the pile gathered on the floor and frowned. He’d clean it up later, not right now, he had to find that passport. Managing to shut the door, he flipped the light off and turned, placing hands on his hips. He needed to find it, but he really didn’t want to look anymore.

Walking over to his nightstand, he grabbed the phone and dialed. “Hey man, what’s up? Nah, I just booked a flight to London to work on my next album, no I know, so you gonna come with me? Didn’t anyone tell you? Figures, whatever, so yeah, call up and find out and let me know aight? Cool, later.”

Nick hung up, what the hell was going on? His own bodyguard didn’t even know they were supposed to be leaving in a few days, why didn’t it surprise him that nothing was organized?

Maybe he should start packing? If Kevin were here, he’d be all up his ass about it. Smirking, Nick walked out the room, he’d wait till the day before. Not that he didn’t love Kevin, but being even a little rebellious felt good. After spending ten years together, they knew each other inside and out, what made each other ticked and what pissed each other off. That was true with all the guys though, it was a nice feeling to be honest. Here he was eleven years later, a solo project under his belt and some acting experience. He had no idea it could actually happen, the success, the popularity, it was overwhelming. It had been a long ten years, filled with many successes and triumphs. Nick had always hoped to do something in the entertainment field and being apart of something like the Backstreet Boys or anything along those lines, had been a dream of his for years. A dream he never thought would happen, but had worked hard for it, he’d worked very hard. It was worth it in the end, he now had the kind of success others only dreamed of, and he didn’t take it for granted. Here he was twenty-four years old; almost twenty-five and he’d seen it all. Nick had seen things someone his age should never have to see, but also done some pretty amazing things as well, all because he was a Backstreet Boy.

There were downsides associated with being a Backstreet Boy though, a lot of unexpected things, having his face plastered all over the walls of young girls rooms, loads of underwear and other things thrown at him on stage, phone numbers, and proposals of marriage. He loved it though, what guy wouldn’t? It was also easy he found, to be with someone for a little fun without the worries of being in some deep relationship, which was nice for him since he couldn’t really commit to anything at this point. No ties, no strings, no nothing. He knew it wasn’t the best thing, but it was all he could do right now. Fans thought they knew, but they had no idea what it was like, the temptation he’d given into time and time again. He wasn’t a bad person, no, he really wasn’t. He was a man, with a man’s urges. Let’s face it, it took will power to turn them down, will power he didn’t always have. Now he didn’t always take part in the illicit affairs, sometimes he just didn’t feel like it, sometimes he knew it was wrong and could stop himself, other times he couldn’t. He’d pay the price for it later he was sure, until then though…

Groaning he remembered he had to call up his publicist Laurie and talk to her about the itinerary for London, God he didn’t want to but he knew it had to be done. Heading into the kitchen, he once again grabbed the phone and dialed.
Chapter 3 by Gravity 721
Chapter 3


“Veronica, don’t forget to put the soup in the oven and then I want you to take the chickens off.”

“But wafer needs to be filled…”

Wafer was the pre-sliced meats and cheeses customers could get instead of waiting for it to be cut fresh.

“Don’t worry about that, let one of the others do it,” Shelly, her manager called, walking away.

Veronica groaned in frustration. Why was it her manager wanted her to do fifty fucking things at once, and then wanted to bitch when they all weren’t done on time? She was one damn person for crying out loud! Turning she made her way back into the kitchen.

“Veronica, I need some help out here!” Amy, one of her co-workers called.

She took a deep breath and turned, making her way back out on counter, pulling on some gloves. “Number twenty three!” She yelled.

“Veronica did you get the soup in the oven?” Shelly asked as she made her way back over.

“No, I had to come and help Amy out.”

“I’ll stay, you go and get the soup in the oven and the chickens off, they’re gonna burn,” her manager called frantically, pulling some gloves on.

“I’ve already got a customer though…”

“I’ll take over,” she called, moving in front of her.

She tried desperately to hold in her anger as she turned and walked through the kitchen to the cooler in back. She knew working in a deli was crappy, but it was a job and she needed the money. There had been no response to the dozen odd resumes she’d send out recently, which was frustrating in itself, but it didn’t help to have her friends and family telling her that she was wasting her degree slicing cold cuts. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t putting effort forth, it was just that the effort wasn’t paying off as quickly as she wanted it to, and she’d be damned if she quit before she had another job lined up. She wasn’t stupid. Grabbing two bags of soup from the cooler, she brought them out to the kitchen and threw them on the counter, then found two pans and a can of non-stick spray and heavily coated the insides of the pans.

“Veronica, they could use some help out there,” Kathy, another co-worker called.

“I know, but Shelly told me to do this.”

“Well, it’s getting bad, they could really use you.”

Shelly was the deli manager, and Veronica really didn’t want to risk going back out there and getting her mad at her. She continued prepping the soup and slid it into the oven before she made her way back out on counter.

“Shelly, do you want me to stay and help before I get the chickens off?”

“No, any longer they’re gonna burn Veronica! Just do the chickens,” Shelly snapped.

She spun around and went back into the kitchen to get the oven mitts, cursing Shelly under her breath. Just a few more hours to go and she’d be able to head home, she hated days like this, hated them. Sighing she picked up a thermometer and made her way over to the rotisserie.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Veronica turned the key and opened the door, God she was so exhausted and glad to be home. She shut the door and slumped against it, her eyes fluttering shut. There would be no problem falling asleep tonight, hell, she could fall asleep right there and not even care. The dull throbbing in her head that had started when she left work had intensified, and she could feel the tension throughout her body, a nice a bath was the answer. Wearily she stood and made her way over to her room, slipping her coat, hat and gloves off, tossing them on the floor. She should’ve taken them off downstairs, but at this point she just didn’t care, she had been so cold and wanted to stay warm for as long as possible.

New York was well known for it’s unpredictable weather, and the winter was the worst, she was not looking forward to the snowstorms and freezing cold weather. She stripped down and pulled her robe on, she’d eat first then take a bath after. Veronica made her way out and back into the kitchen. Pulling a bag of salad mix out of the fridge along with the dressing and she then got a large bowl down. Her stomach was too tense to eat anything more and she really didn’t want to take the chance of eating heavy so late. She ripped the bag open and poured the contents into the bowl before adding the dressing. Opening the cabinet door, Veronica grabbed the bag of croutons and mixed her salad. Taking it and her glass of water, she made her way into the living room and flipped the TV on, grabbing the phone and dialing.

“Hello?”

“Hey.”

“Hey Veronica! How are you?”

“I’m alright, tired as hell. I had the worst day at work, I’m so close to quitting.”

“Veronica…”

“I know Lynne I know, I won’t, I’m just sick of it.”

“I know you are, but ya gotta hang in there till something better comes along.”

Veronica sighed, it wasn’t anything she didn’t already know, but sometimes hearing it again was good.

“Yeah.”

“Try not to let it get to you, just try to ignore it.”

“Easier said than done,” she sighed.

“I know V.”

“Well, how was your day Lynne?”

“Eh it was alright, same ole crap ya know? I had classes this morning was almost late, got stuck in traffic cause the weather was so fuckin’ bad.”

“God wasn’t it though? Could barely see two inches in front of me.”

“I know, but luckily I made it there safe and sound and still in time for class. There were a few people late, but the professor was cool about it.”

“Well that’s good, glad ya made it there safely. Look Lynne, I’m gonna let ya go and eat and get in the tub, I’m exhausted.”

“Alright, give me a call tomorrow.”

“I will, later.”

“Bye.”

Veronica hung up and started in on her salad, trying desperately not to fall asleep. A few minutes later she turned the TV off and set the bowl in the sink. Heading into her room, she got her pajamas up together and made her way into the bathroom.
Chapter 4 by Gravity 721
Chapter 4


Pulling her apron off, Veronica punched out on the time clock, and headed to her locker to get her coat and purse. She was so glad to be going home; it was too bad she had to come back at seven tomorrow morning, she really needed to get a new job. Groaning, she focused her attention on the couple in front of her and rolled her eyes. It was the girl who worked the front end, hanging on to who Veronica assumed was her boyfriend. Veronica watched in horror as the girl batted her eyes at the guy before turning her back to him so he could wrap his arms around her waist and walk with her from behind. It made her want to puke, to really vomit. Veronica wasn’t so sure if it was because they actually made her nauseous, or because she wished she was the girl.

All her life she’d been the one outside looking in, the one just off in the shadows on the edge of the crowd waiting for someone to notice her. Not that she minded so much; well she’d taught herself not to mind. It used to really bother her until she realized it wasn’t a good way to for her to live her life. But she always had a list a mile long of things she would and wouldn’t do in relationships; making out and walking slow in front of people was one of them. She sped up and cut in front of them, with a frown on her face. She really didn’t have time for young love. She hurried out of the store, her face buried in her purse, trying to locate her keys.

“Hey Veronica.”

She stumbled, slowly lifting her eyes. It was him.

“All done for today?”

Veronica barely smiled, “Yeah, thank god.”

“Well, have a great rest of the day,” the guy said with a smile.

“Thanks, you too.”

He winked and walked past her into the store. Veronica groaned to herself. Stupid, she was so stupid! Why couldn’t she talk to him? Everything always came out wrong; everything sounded so damn lame. When James had first come to work in her department she hadn’t really paid him much attention. That was until she actually had the chance to work with him. God he smelled so great and he had these amazing green eyes and he was nice, he was genuinely nice. From that point on she’d been hooked. The “crush” started and grew to such proportions that she couldn’t even be in the same room with James without butterflies and that nervous, nauseous feeling. Lately though, it had escalated to such heights that she refrained from talking to him unless it was absolutely necessary. Still, that didn’t mean she couldn’t smile or laugh at his jokes or just say “hi”; no she still did that. What she avoided was lengthy conversations where she might blurt out stupid things that made no sense. It happened often with guys she liked.

James was different though. He listened, he asked questions, and he didn’t walk away while she was talking to him. She was sure he knew what other people she worked with knew, which was secrets were never kept in the deli. Yet, he never acted like he knew HER secret and he never treated her any different, like other guys did if they found out. She would be forever grateful to him for that.

Veronica made her way through the parking lot to her car, unlocking it and getting in. Started the engine, she turned the heater on and let it run while she got out and brushed the snow off. Really she just had to find a way to become more comfortable with James. She had to get him on her level some how. She could just ask him out sometime. She stopped, laughing. Yeah right.

Stuffing the snowbrush in the back seat, she slipped back into her car and headed home.
Chapter 5 by Gravity 721
Chapter 5


“Thanks so much for the interview Nick, be on the look out for the article with in the next few weeks,” the woman smiled.

Nick nodded, shaking her hand, “My pleasure, thanks again.”

Turning, Nick made his way out the room, his bodyguard in tow. Luckily this was his last interview before he left for London in a few days; he could spend the last few days making sure all was organized.

“The photo shoot should only last an hour and a half from what I was told,” his bodyguard announced as they made their way out the building and into the waiting van.

Nick sighed; he really was getting tired of all this. It all seemed to run together now, the same photo shoots, the same poses, the same shit all the time. As if to remind him he couldn’t get out of it, his cell went off, ringing obnoxiously. Generally Nick didn’t answer his phone, but pulling it out of his pocket and turning it over, he found it was his manger from Jive and reluctantly took the call.

“Hello?”

“Nick? I’m glad I caught you. I just wanted to remind you that you have to drop off that autographed stuff off at the office before next Wednesday, it’s important,” Scott his manager announced.

Shit, he’d forgotten about that!

“I know, I didn’t forget.”

Scott didn’t need to know that.

“Well good, I just wanted to make sure you knew. I’ll talk to ya later, I gotta run.”

The line went dead and he stuffed his phone back in his pocket, slumping back in the seat. Nick didn’t want to go to this shoot, he wanted to go home and he wanted a vacation. A short time later, they pulled into the parking lot of the building, piling out.

“You look like shit man,” his bodyguard teased as he ushered Nick in.

“Gee, thanks,” Nick deadpanned, groaning when his phone rang again. “It’d better not be Scott again.” Turning the phone over he saw that it was his Sister and immediately took the call. “Les?”

“Hey Nick.”

“Hey girl, what’s up?” He asked as they made their way into the elevator.

“Nothing, just thought I’d call and see what was going on, what you were up to.”

“Actually, I’m on my way to a photo shoot.”

“Oh, sounds cool.”

“It’s not, same boring crap really.”

“Yeah.”

“Come on Les, what’s up? I know there’s something wrong, I can tell.”

“No, there’s nothing wrong really, just…kinda wanted to hear your voice ya know? I miss you.”

Nick frowned, he really needed to get over and see her.

“I know, I’m real sorry, I’ve been so busy.”

It was a bad excuse, one she didn’t deserve, but it was the truth.

“I hope you can stop by sometime, I’d really love to see you, so would everyone else. I just…I need to get out of this house for a while.”

Nick sighed; she seemed to be having a harder time than any of his other Sisters, or his Brother.

“I know, I’m gonna try real hard to get over there before I leave for London next week.”

“Oh that’s right, I forgot you’re going to London,” Leslie whispered.

“It’s only for a month, it’ll go by fast.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I’m gonna try my best to get there Les, I promise.”

“I know Nick, I understand.”

He stopped by the door of the studio, motioning to the photographer to hold on.

“I’m sorry Les I gotta jet, they’re getting ready to call me in.”

“Ok, I’ll talk to you later then.”

“Ok, I love you.”

“I love you too,” she whispered before hanging up.

Nick flipped the phone closed and sighed, he felt like shit. She needed him, they all did and he didn’t have the time to go and see them. That was always the case, but damnit he’d make time now, he’d be there.

Sighing heavily, Nick made his way through the door and into the studio.
Chapter 6 by Gravity 721
Chapter 6


“So you saw him and all you said was “Yeah thank god?” Lynne questioned.

“He was going in to work!”

“Have I taught you nothing Veronica?”

She sighed.

“Next time, try an actual conversation.”

“I couldn’t Lynne! He had to work!”

“So that doesn’t make a difference, you told me yourself you avoid talking to him when you two work together.”

Veronica really had to learn to keep her mouth shut.

“Yeah so?”

“So you wouldn’t have said anything to him had you had the opportunity anyway!”

“You don’t know that, maybe I would’ve!”

Lynne cleared her throat, “Anyway, so I think we should go out on Friday, Friday nights are meant to be spent out at the clubs.”

“Yeah sure, ok Lynne, whatever you say,” Veronica knew it was pointless in trying to argue with her, she had her mind set on something and there was no stopping her.

“Great, so I’ll see you around seven ok?”

“Sure.”

“Ok good, you’ll thank me later.”

“Right, look Lynne I’m gonna let you go for now, gonna hop online and check my mail.”

“Fine ditch me for a bunch of junk mail and porn, I see how it is.”

“Lynne, porn is junk mail.”

“I like to give it it’s own special category.”

“Uh huh, anyway, I’ll see ya tomorrow night then.”

“Later.”

Veronica hung up and headed over to her room; booting her computer up and then heading out into the kitchen to make herself something quick for dinner. To say that she was addicted to the Internet would be an understatement. After making a quick sandwich, she headed back into her room, plate in hand. She sat in her computer chair and quickly dialed up, she needed to get dsl, but she couldn’t afford it right now, twenty-two bucks she could.

Quickly she went through her routine of checking her email and going to the various sites she hit daily, looking around for anything interesting to read. She had this whole other life online that no one really knew about, Lynne knew and the people online and that was it basically. After taking care of what needed to be taken care, she decided to mess around a bit and head to some sites she hadn’t been to in a while. She went to her bookmarks and clicked on one, waiting while the page loaded.

What she also didn’t tell a lot of people about was her huge interest in the Backstreet Boys. She’d been a fan for about six years and was still going strong, it outlasted any of her other likes for a group and whatnot. She’d met a lot of people through them from all over the world. It really was amazing that one had no idea how big their following was until they went online and saw the fans from literally all over the world coming together through their love and appreciation of these five guys.

After looking around the site to see that was no change from the way it’d been the last two years or so, she decided to head over to one of the guys individual sites. She waited again for it to load, cursing dial up and then scrolled around the site. Even Nick’s page left little to be desired. Nick Carter was one of the members of the Backstreet Boys who’d recently gone solo, so he had his own official site. She’d scanned through it numerous times before, learning what little she didn’t know. Making her way around, she clicked on the “Contact Us” page and looked around once it loaded. They gave the email address of the people who kept up the page and then an email address in care of the site where you could email Nick. She’d done it before and of course hadn’t received a response; not that she was really expecting one.

What she now noticed though, was that they had an actual address where you could write to him in care of his fan club. She was a part of his fan club, but she didn’t remember ever seeing anything about this in any of the newsletters. Not that it mattered anyway, it’s not like he ever read the mail he got and even if he did, it’s not like he responded. She stared longingly at the address, why waste her time wondering what would happen if? Looking around, she found a scrap piece of paper and scribbled the address down, this really was stupid. She didn’t know why, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write him, even if nothing did happen.

She logged off, grabbing an envelope from the box beside her computer and walked over to her bed, grabbing a notebook and a pen. She sat down and got her clipboard, setting the notebook on it opening to a new page before clipping it down. She dated it and thought a minute before starting to write.

Dear Nick,
Hi Nick, my name is Veronica Peterson and I just wanted to write you and say that I’m a really big fan of yours and I enjoy the music you did with the Backstreet Boys and of course your solo stuff too.

I wanted to say that you’ve influenced and inspired me in so many ways, ways I can’t even begin to tell you. I can listen to your music and automatically be put into a good mood. We’re the same age, so a lot of the things you talk about, I can relate to, which is nice.

You’re so good to your fans and that really means a lot to us. I know that I speak for a lot of your fans when I say we’re anxiously awaiting your new album!

I hope you’re doing well, take care!

Love,
Veronica
PS. Feel free to write back when and if you have the chance.


There, simple and to the point, she figured she wouldn’t spend a lot of time on a letter he’d never read. She read the letter once, then twice then a third time, checking for spelling errors. Confident that it was as good as it was gonna get, she addressed the envelope and stuck the folded letter inside, adding a stamp and her address label. She stopped a Moment, before getting up and getting another envelope, adding an address label in the center and a stamp in the corner and folding it, stuffing it inside the envelope too. She’d always heard that adding a self addressed stamped envelope helped big time in getting a response.

Not that she expected one of course.
Chapter 7 by Gravity 721
Chapter 7


He cracked his knuckles, stretching his fingers before picking the Sharpie back up and starting to scrawl his name over the black and white photo. He’d been at it for over an hour and he still had a stack of photos and some other stuff to autograph. He needed a break, but if he kept stopping, he’d be here most of the night trying to finish and he had to get these done. Flipping the photo over, he scribbled his name again and then flipped that one over.

He wondered how his Sister was doing, he couldn’t get the sound of her voice out of his head, and she sounded so sad, so alone. Nick desperately wanted to tell her everything would be all right, but he honestly didn’t know if it was going to be. Everything with his parents seemed so unreal, like he was watching someone else’s life and not his own. Then again part of him knew something like this would happen, so it wasn’t a total shock. He’d gone through the denial, hell he still was for that matter.

Nick capped the Sharpie and tossed it down on the table, setting the stack of photos down and grabbing his phone, dialing.

“Hello?”

“Hi Ma, is Les around?”

“Nickolas, you can’t even talk to your Mother?”

Nick sighed, “You know I will Mom, I just need to ask Les something real quick, I’ll talk to you right after, I promise.” There was a shuffling and then Leslie came on.

“Hello?”

“Hey Les.”

“Nick, what’d you say to Mom?”

“Nothing, just told her I had to talk to you, why?”

“She got all mad and shoved the phone at me.”

Nick sighed, “I’ll talk to her after. I just wanted to see how you were.”

“I’m ok ya know, just doing whatever.”

“Yeah, how’s things going with Mom?”

“Same basically. She tried to over compensate for everything by being extra nice and whatever, but it’s too much. She’s trying to hang out with BJ and all, then the next minute she’ll snap at us and be all distant and she’s just…”

“I’m sorry Les,” Nick whispered.

“It’s not your fault,” she hesitated a moment, “So…are ya gonna be able to stop by?”

“Yup, I gotta drop off all this autographed crap and I’ll swing on by after.”

“Good, it’ll be good to see you.”

“Hang in there Les, I’ll be there in a couple days and we’ll hang out ”

“I can’t wait. Look, I gotta get going, Mom’s giving me dirty looks.”

“Alright, oh hold up, could you get Mom for me? I promised her I’d talk to her.”

“Yeah, hold on.”

There was another shuffle and then he could hear his Mom talking, but couldn’t make out what she was saying. There was silence for a Moment then Leslie came back on.

“She said nevermind, that she’s got some things to do.”

Nick groaned, “Yeah ok. I’ll see ya in a few days Les.”

“Ok, see ya.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Nick hung up and slumped back on the couch. He was glad he was out the house, his Brother and Sisters weren’t so lucky. Shaking his head, he grabbed the sharpie and continued from where he left off.
Chapter 8 by Gravity 721
Chapter 8

A Couple Days Later…

An hour and a half left, that was it and then she’d be able to go home. She couldn’t wait to get out of there and get home, she was dying to go out with Lynne tonight. Turning, she made her way down the counter, wiping it down with a wet cloth.

“Veronica, did you go through and make sure the wrappers were all cut back this morning?” Shelly asked.

Veronica groaned inwardly, it wasn’t enough that she had to open, fill wafer, do the soups, and temps, but she also had to cut the wrappers on all the products. “No, I didn’t get the chance.”

“I’m hearing that too much, we’ve gotta get someone to do it, that should be the first thing that should be done in the morning,” Shelly sighed, turning and heading into the kitchen.

Veronica watched her leave and shot her a dirty look, she always said that. And she didn’t mean someone, she meant her. Fifty million things to do and let’s pile one more on. Then when she asked someone to do it, they gave her an attitude about it, it wasn’t her idea, yet she’s the one who got the dirty looks and was told she acted like she was trying to be manager. Which she didn’t, she did her job and that was it. Being manager was one job she didn’t want.

Walking over to the sink, she picked up the mesh metal glove and slipped it on, grabbing a knife out of the sanitizer bucket. She walked over to the counter and grabbed a piece of meat, cutting at the plastic layer and the thin wrapper, cutting it around. As hard as she tried she couldn’t stop thinking of that letter she’d written to Nick. It’d only been a few days, but surely it’d gotten there by now. It didn’t take that long for a letter to get to Florida from New York. It was probably just sitting in some huge bag amongst tons of other letters.

She wondered what the mail people thought when they saw letters like that, addressed to all these famous people. What was running through their heads as they added envelope after envelope to the ever growing pile of letters? They probably laughed at the sheer naivete of the writers for them actually thinking their letters would be read, that they would be considered important. The fancy writing on the envelopes and the glitter, and the colored markers and pens and pencils declaring their love. The numerous girls with the same last name of Carter or McLean or Dorough. Veronica was sure they had a hearty laugh at the expense of fans. Or maybe not? Maybe they just didn’t care, maybe it was just the norm now.

In a few days though, she’d give up looking for some kind of response, any kind of response, even those stupid generic ones. She really was stupid to think that he’d respond, really stupid. Shaking her head, she set the meat back in the case and grabbed another, starting to cut that one. And just what would he say anyway? Thanks for writing and thanks for the support. It really was typical, not that she would complain, she’d be lucky to get a response, beggars can’t be choosers as they say.

But what were the odds? Her letter out of millions, it was like finding a needle in a haystack. And the ones he did read were usually from people in places no one had ever heard of before and from fans who’d met him five times before at five different concerts. It made her sick, the good stuff always happened to the same people over and over again and then nothing ever happens to the others, ever.

Groaning, she slammed the meat down in the case and grabbed another. She was known for self pity, she had to stop it. She wasn’t pathetic by nature, it’s just when it came to anything that had to do with them, she was hopelessly stupid. Sighing heavily, she set that piece back down and grabbed another. It was going to be a long hour and a half.
Chapter 9 by Gravity 721
Chapter 9


Nick unbuckled the seatbelt and slid out of his truck, grabbing the stack of stuff before slamming the door and activating the alarm system. He made his way into the building and then over to the elevator, punching the button for the twentieth floor and waited. He couldn’t wait to unload all this crap, it was heavy and he was sick of looking at it. Nick couldn’t help but laugh a little, a fan was gonna get some of this and they’d be really happy and he couldn’t get rid of it fast enough. Part of him was a little excited and felt kind of bad about being so anxious to get rid of it, but it was ok, out of his hands and into someone who’d really appreciate it.

The elevator dinged and he made his way out, looking around. There was no one in sight, turning he made his way down the hall, looking into all the rooms to find all of them empty. Where the hell was everyone? Not everyone would be on lunch at the same time would they? He stopped by the mailroom, poking his head in to find that it too was empty. He started back down the hall again, looking behind him to see if anyone one was coming, turning his head again, he looked ahead to see a woman coming down the hall, her face buried in a folder, finally! The woman closed the folder and looked up, it was Diane, the woman in charge of contests and give-away’s. “Hey Diane!” Nick called. She looked up and smiled.

“Nick hi!”

“God, finding anyone here is impossible.”

“Yeah, I’m not sure where everyone went to,” Diane explained.

“No matter, I brought the stuff for you,” Nick held up the stack.

“Great! Thanks so much, would you just bring it into my office right here please?”

“Sure,” Nick followed her into the office and set the stuff down on her desk.

“Thanks so much for this Nick, the fans will really appreciate it.”

“Glad to do it, so I’ll see you later.”

“Ok, oh I almost forgot, I left something for you in the mail room, you can get it on your way out.”

“Oh, I was just in there too. Anyway thanks, see ya later Di.”

“Bye Nick!”

Nick made his way out and looked around, now if he could only remember what room was the mailroom. Frowning, he turned back the way he came and started looking in the different rooms again. He stopped at another door, looking in, found it! He made his way in and looked around, he didn’t see anything. Nick walked over to the copier and looked around, still nothing. She didn’t say where she put it; maybe she left it in her office and forgot. He turned to make his way out, when something caught his eye. Walking over to the small counter, he saw a white envelope with his name on it that must be it. Grabbing the envelope, he started out, noticing several large mailbags leaning against the wall. He never could just walk past anything, reaching out, he opened one of the bags a little, looking around to make sure no one was coming in before peeking inside.

Letters, thousands of letters, he opened the bag wider to let more light in and noticed they were all addressed to him in care of the fan club. A slow smile spread over his lips, it’d been a long time since he’d read any fan mail, it’d been too hard once the guys had gotten big, in the beginning they’d been able to write back, that was no longer an option. Maybe just this once… he looked out the door again before he reached into the bag, grabbed a letter and pulled it out, sliding it under the other envelope, closed the bag and made his way out the room.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
He pulled into the driveway, cutting the engine and sliding out, making his way up to the door, ringing the doorbell. His Mom was home, he wondered why she didn’t answer the door, usually she was standing there waiting for him before he even made it up the steps. He rang the doorbell again and frowned, where was everyone? Nick turned when he heard pounding and then the locks being turned and then the door flew open, there stood Leslie, panting softly.

“Nick!”

“Hey Les!” He smiled.

Leslie made her way out, hugging him tightly, “I’m so glad you came.”

“Me too.”

“BJ’s out, it’s just Mom and me.”

“How come Mom didn’t come to the door?”

Leslie shrugged, “She’s in a mood.”

Nick sighed, “Oh, ok.”

“Come on in,” Leslie smiled, making her way back in.

Nick took a breath before making his way inside, shutting the door behind him.
Chapter 10 by Gravity 721
Chapter 10


Veronica sipped at her Coke, looking around. She loved clubs, as much as she tried to deny it, she did. Granted, she didn’t go out as much as she should, she loved the atmosphere, sitting back and watching everyone dancing and laughing, what a lot of people didn’t know was that she was a people watcher. She’d learned a lot about people just by watching, their facial expressions, their body language; it was louder than actually talking she found most of the time. She looked across the table at Lynne who was smiling broadly, bobbing her head to the music excitedly and chuckled. Lynne was in her element, she loved to dance and meet new people, whereas Veronica stayed on the sidelines mostly and just watched.

“You should go out there and dance!” Lynne exclaimed.

Veronica shook her head, “Nah, I can’t dance.”

“That’s a lie and you know it, you’ve got all that natural rhythm, I’ve seen you dancing around your apartment,” Lynne grinned.

She blushed, clearing her throat, “That’s different.”

“Whatever.”

“Excuse me, would you like to dance?”

Veronica smiled; guys were always asking Lynne to dance.

“No thanks,” Lynne responded, sipping at her drink.

“Lynne, go on! You’ve been dying to dance.”

“Yeah, come on Lynne is it? Dance with me,” the guy winked.

Lynne looked over at Veronica and frowned, “What about you?”

“What about me? I’ll be fine, go on, have fun,” Veronica smiled encouragingly.

Lynne looked hesitant until Veronica glared at her and she stood finally, taking the guys hand and letting him lead her off to the dance floor.

Veronica watched as they danced, happy for Lynne, but also a bit depressed. Guys never really asked her to dance, and she was ok with it, she understood. She wasn’t really a flashy girl, she dressed modestly, that’s not to say that Lynne dressed wild, but she took chances whereas she was more conservative. She didn’t really like to show off her body or too much skin, she felt uncomfortable with herself and most certainly wasn’t going to let anyone else look at her either. She swirled her straw in her drink and sighed, resting her head on her hand. It was her own fault, she could do better, she’d gotten dressed up before and had looked the part of a young woman out to have fun, but most of the time she just didn’t bother. She just didn’t see herself as socially acceptable and it seemed others didn’t either. Putting herself out there like that left the opportunity for rejection, and that was something she didn’t take well, never had.

She looked up as Lynne made her way over, panting softly as she slipped into the chair.

“Whew, I could barely keep up with him, he can dance.” She smiled, taking a long swallow of her drink.

Veronica chuckled, “I saw you two out there, you were holding your own.”

“I guess, damn I’m hot!” Lynne muttered, fanning herself with her hand. “You ready to leave?”

“I guess, ohh look! He’s coming back over Lynne!” Veronica squealed.

“No shit, really?” Lynne turned her head just as the guy came back over.

“Ready for another?”

“No, I don’t think so, we’re just getting ready to leave actually. Thanks for the dance though.”

“No problem, here’s my number, give me a call sometime,” the guy offered, grabbing a napkin and writing his number down before handing it to her.

Lynne smiled and took the number, putting it in her purse, “Thanks, see ya around sometime maybe.”

“See ya,” the guy gave her a wave and walked off.

Veronica chuckled and shook her head, “Look at you, raking the men in.”

Lynne rolled her eyes, “Yeah sure.”

They gathered their stuff up and made their way out.

Lynne tossed the napkin in the nearest garbage can and headed out after Veronica.
Chapter 11 by Gravity 721
Chapter 11


Nick pulled on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt before walking over to his bed and slumping down. He grabbed the TV remote and flipped it on; he scanned through the stations, trying to find something to watch. Resting his head back against the headboard he sighed, his visit with his Sister had been nice, basically uneventful. His Mom had come out at one point and proceeded to make small talk; it was strangely uncomfortable and somehow amusing at the same time. She didn’t hang around too long before making up some excuse to get away. He recognized it from years of avoiding subjects and things she didn’t feel was worth her time or energy. Things with his Mom and him had been rocky for some time, and it was like, been there done that. But his Sister was having a hell of a time and sometimes his Mom could be a bit overwhelming, he felt bad for her, for all of them. He hadn’t seen his Dad in a while, he had to get over there and see Aaron and Angel at some point, see how they were doing.

He stopped on a football game and set the controller down, trying to watch. His focus was everywhere except for the game. Blowing out a breath, he glanced idly around his room, his gaze stopping on his dresser were he’d laid the envelope from this afternoon, he’d forgotten about that. Standing, he made his way over to the dresser and grabbed the envelope, bringing it back over to the bed with him and sitting, he turned it over, opening it, he pulled the paper out and read it over. Basically it was just a letter reminding him of a chat he was supposed to be doing once he got back from London. A time and date still needed to be announced, he just didn’t see the point of sending him some stupid notice when nothing was really finalized. Groaning, he stuffed the letter back in the envelope turning to set on the night table, when something else fell to the floor. He tossed the envelope on the table, and bent down to retrieve the other envelope from the floor. He flipped it over and blinked, the letter he’d gotten from that bag in the mailroom, he’d forgotten about that too. The writing was neat and feminine, no words of love or anything of the sort adorned the white paper, just his name and the address of the fan club along with her name and address in the corner.

Veronica Peterson.

He tore the envelope open and pulled the letter out along with another self-addressed envelope she’d enclosed as well. Smiling, he opened the letter and read it quickly. At the bottom of the letter, she’d enclosed an address label with his picture on it. It was a nice letter, nothing gushy professing her undying love for him or anything like that. He appreciated her comments and all that, it was nice to know that there were fans out there who still liked what he did. Nick knew he’d lost a lot of fans when he’d gone solo and it’d hurt, but he had to focus on the ones who were still there supporting him, he never forgot. Smiling, he stuffed the letter back into the envelope, fully prepared to just throw it somewhere, when he found that he couldn’t. He wasn’t doing much of anything right now, he could write her a quick note and thank her for writing, he could. Nick bit nervously at his fingers, he had no reason to be nervous, but he wasn’t that great at letter writing really. What the hell, he’d do it; he really did want to.

He rustled up some paper and a pen and sat back down, turning the volume down on the TV, he thought for a Moment before quickly scribbling. He looked down at the letter; he signed his name and smiled a bit. There was no way he was gonna give out his home address, but he kind of wanted to keep in touch with her, which was really stupid. He didn’t have time for that, but it’d be nice for just once to actually keep in touch with a fan. There was the risk of her giving out his address, he could ask her not to, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t. Still, the thought of having that kind of connection was appealing, he’d never meet her so it was safe for the most part and if he did meet her, he’d never know. First thing tomorrow, he’d set up a P.O. box. He put the unfinished letter and the envelope aside, once he got the P.O. Box, he’d write it in and send it off.
Chapter 12 by Gravity 721
Chapter 12


There never was anything good on, over nine hundred channels and not a damn thing on. How in the hell was that possible? Sighing in frustration, she stood and went to her DVD collection, trying to find something remotely interesting to watch. She’d watched them all over and over, the excitement was gone. Veronica swiped one anyway and started the player, popping the disc in and picking up the remote and flipped through all the boring crap in the beginning. Making her way into the kitchen, she made herself some popcorn got a drink and walked back into the living room.

Slumping down on couch, she set her drink down and munched loudly on her popcorn. Her thoughts wandered already, she should call up Lynne and see what she was up to on a Saturday afternoon, knowing her she probably wasn’t home. Veronica hated living alone, part of her wanted a roommate, but then again, she liked the freedom to do what she wanted, her independence was so important to her, having someone there would stifle that. Ok, so maybe she didn’t hate it, but there were times she wished she had someone here to talk to, someone that she could rely on to be there when needed, but also let her have her space. She couldn’t be tied down.

Veronica tried to focus her attention back on the movie, but still found it hard. She could be writing, reading, something she’d actually be interested in doing, but here she was watching a movie. She needed to be inspired to write something, and she wasn’t. Looking at the clock, she decided to call her Mom, it’d been a while since they last talked. Grabbing the cordless, she dialed and waited for her Mom to pick up.

“Hello?”

“Hey Mom.”

“Hi honey, what’s up?”

“Just thought I’d call and see how you were, if you were ok and all.”

“I’m fine, just getting ready to go out and do some hair.”

“Oh, I won’t keep you long. Got any plans for the weekend or whatever?”

“Well, I’m supposed to be going out with some ladies from work out to dinner and then a movie or something, I just hope I feel up to it.”

“You should go Mom, you always said you wanted to get out more.”

“I know, but I’m just so tired when I get home from work I just don’t feel like doing anything.”

“I know.”

“But anyway, how are things with you?”

“Pretty good, work is a pain, but you know how that is.”

“If you’re unhappy, get another job.”

“I know Mom, but I’d have to start over and I really don’t wanna do that.”

“I know honey, but ya gotta do what makes ya happy or else why bother?”

“Cause I need the money.”

“Well, it’s up to you Veronica, but you have to ask yourself how long you can put up with it.”

“Yeah.”

Her Mom sighed, yawning, “I’m gonna let ya go, I’ve gotta get going before I fall asleep on this couch.”

“I’m that boring huh?”

Her Mom laughed, “No, I’m always tired, you know that. So I’ll call you later then?”

“Ok, take care Mom and get some sleep please.”

“I will, love you!”

“Love you too, bye.”

“Bye.”

Veronica hung up and frowned, setting the phone on the couch next to her. Her Mom did so much that she worried that she was going to make herself sick. Besides working her full time job, she also did hair on the side. She was absolutely exhausted when she got home; Veronica remembered many a time her Mom fell asleep on the couch while watching TV. It just didn’t seem right for her to be so tired all the time; she worried consistently that there was something serious wrong. Reaching out, she went for her glass, when the phone rang. Brushing her hands off, she picked it up and turned it on. “Hello?”

“Well hello.”

Her heart dropped, “Hi Dad.”

“Am I bothering you?”

“No no, of course not. Just watching a movie.”

“Oh, well I won’t bother you for too long.”

She sighed, always the same thing where he was concerned. “Dad, you’re not bothering me, I don’t hear from you enough to bother me.”

“Well, I got the impression that I was bugging you.”

“You’re not, so what’s up?”

“Same ole thing, sick as ever.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t worry bout me.”

Veronica rolled her eyes; she hated when he did that, “What’s wrong Dad? Seriously?”

“I said never mind, enough about me, what about you? You still working at the deli?”

She groaned. She knew where this was going already. “Yes Dad.”

He sighed, “You’ve got a college degree and you’re just working in a deli. Don’t you think you’re a little more advanced than that?”

“I know Dad, but I wanna save up first and…”

“That’s what you’re always saying. I just hate to think that you’re wasting away in that job. You could be out there on computers, ya know they make a lot of money.”

“I know Dad.”

“I don’t understand why you gave them up.”

“I didn’t give up anything, I took the courses, I just switched my major. Computers take a lot of Math, you know I’ve never been good at it.”

“I know.”

“So I can still do it, it’s just not my main focus.”

“So what do you plan on doing with writing?”

“Not sure, it’s hard to get published and all. But there’s quite a few things I can get into, I just have to look a bit.”

“And you dropped out of college.”

“I graduated, I’m just taking some time off.”

“You shouldn’t do that, you’ll never go back.”

She could feel her anger rising fast, “Dad, you said that before when I took a semester off and yet I went right back.”

He grew quiet, “Yeah, I know. I don’t see why you don’t come down here to work, they’ve got lots of openings for people with computer experience and with the schooling you’ve had, you could get a job where you make a good amount of money. You can even live with me.”

He wanted her down there all right, so he could control her, no way. “I don’t think so Dad.”

“What, you’re too good to be here with me? Is someone telling you not to?”

“No Dad, no one’s telling me anything.”

“Uh huh.”

“If you mean Mom then you’re wrong.”

“Hey, I didn’t say anything.”

“But that’s what you meant wasn’t it?”

“Forget it.”

“Just say it.”

“Never mind, I don’t wanna get into it and I don’t wanna upset you.”

“You’re not upsetting me.”

“Yeah well, I’ll let you go, I don’t wanna bother you.”

“You’re not bothering me, you don’t call me enough to bother me.”

“I don’t cause I figured you didn’t want to talk to me, or that maybe someone was telling you not to.”

“Dad…”

“I’m sorry, sorry, forget I said anything.”

She sighed heavily, rolling her eyes.

“Anyway, I just wanted to see how you were. Look into getting a new job, and hey, got a boyfriend yet?”

“No Dad, not yet.”

“Why not?”

“Dad, we go through this every time you call me, the answer hasn’t changed.”

“But a pretty girl like you with no boyfriend, that’s just not right.”

“It’s ok Dad, I’m in no huge rush to be with anyone, if it happens it happens.”

“Yeah, but I wanna be a Grandpa.”

“Dad, I’m twenty four, I’m not ready for marriage let alone a child.”

“Twenty four is old enough, don’t you wanna get married? I wanna walk you down the aisle.”

“I know Dad, but I’ve got plenty of time for that. There’s other things I’m focused on right now.”

“Like?”

“Like getting a career established and becoming more stable.”

“Well having a family will do that.”

“Dad, I don’t need a husband to be happy or to live, it’ll be ok if I never get married or have kids.”

“Come on, all girls want to be Moms and wives.”

“Dad…”

“Ok ok, I’m stopping.”

She shook her head, taking calming breaths, she was getting annoyed and frustrated with him quickly.

“I know I’ve upset you, I’ll just hang up now, I don’t mean to bother you.”

He did it every time and now was no exception, that feeling of guilt set in. “Fine.”

“Ok, then I’ll talk to you later.”

“Ok, love you.”

“Love you too.”

She hung up and set the phone back down, looking at the bowl of popcorn, setting it aside, suddenly she felt nauseous. Maybe he was right, but god she wasn’t ready to be in a relationship right now, it just wasn’t high on her list of priorities in life. He never could understand that and he knew what buttons to push to make her feel guilty about what she did in life be it in school, in work or just in life in general. He wanted her to be what he wanted, and she wasn’t and she consistently felt guilty for it. When she’d told him she wanted to write, he told her she’d never said anything to him about it. She had, she’d said something to him times and times before, but he just wouldn’t listen, he was so set on her going into the computer field, he wasn’t hearing anything else. When she changed her major, he was more than disappointed which made her feel bad.

And she felt bad now, she felt like she let him down all the time. Reaching out, she turned the movie off and stood, bringing the barely touched popcorn and drink into the kitchen and dumping them both out before going into her room. She could write now.
Chapter 13 by Gravity 721
Chapter 13


Nick made his way out the door and into the warm sun, an extreme difference from the air-conditioned post office. He fumbled with the key to his new post office box, trying to hook it onto his key ring. Still, he was shocked at himself for doing it; it really wasn’t like him and not the normal thing to do. Celebrities don’t get post office boxes to keep in touch with fans; they just didn’t do that. Nick always knew he was different though, and sometimes he didn’t think it was in the good way. If anyone found out about this, he wouldn’t hear the end of it, but screw it, he didn’t give a fuck. It really was no one’s business but his. As long as he didn’t give out his home address and this person, Veronica, didn’t give out his box number, he’d be safe. Sighing he opened the door to his truck and slipped in. He wasn’t being logical though, what were the odds of her not giving the address out? He could ask her not to, but that didn’t mean she had to listen, and he was almost certain that she wouldn’t. No matter though, if it got out of hand, he’d close the box down, simple as that.

A short time later, he made his way into his driveway, and then into his house, making sure the gate was closed. Quickly he made his way up to his room and over to his bed, getting the letter and a pen and finished writing, adding his P.O. box to the bottom of the letter and stuffing it into the stamped and addressed envelope she’d sent along. He’d pop it in the mailbox when he went out again today. He tossed the envelope on the nightstand and then grabbed his phone, dialing.

“Hello?”

“Hey ma.”

“Hello Nickolas.”

He hated when she called him that hated it!

“So, how are you? How are things going?”

“I’m alright, and things are lousy, thanks for asking.”

“Ma…”

“Well you wanted to know didn’t you?”

He’d try a different tact.

“Well, how is everyone? I know BJ was feeling kinda sick here lately.”

“She’s better, but barely talking to me.”

“I’m sorry Mom. Leslie said you’ve been having a hard time.”

“I’m a mess, your Father is being unreasonable, have you heard the things he’s been saying about me?”

“Mom, I’m trying hard not to…”

“Oh sure, take his side. He’s already turned Aaron and your Sister against me, now you.”

“Mom, I’m not against you, I’m not taking sides.”

“It sure seems like it,” she snapped.

Nick sighed, he didn’t need this right now, he really didn’t. “Mom, look someone’s at the door, I have to go.”

“Fine.”

“I’ll call you later then huh?”

“Sure Nickolas.”

“Bye Mom, I love you.”

“Love you too.”

And with that she hung up.

He set the phone down and flopped back on his bed. He felt bad for lying, but he just didn’t know how to deal with all of this, so he wasn’t. Nick did whatever he could to not deal with it. It was most effective for him to act like it wasn’t happening, like it wasn’t his family and just focus on anything else. He really couldn’t talk to anyone about it; he didn’t want to bother them. There was always AJ, but he just didn’t know. Not that AJ hadn’t tried to talk to him about it, but Nick just kind of blew him off, he didn’t want to elaborate on it and he most certainly didn’t want anyone walking on egg shells around him like he was going to fall to pieces or something. No, he was fine, just fine.

Sitting up, he made his way back downstairs, grabbing his keys and making his way out. He’d go out and forget, just like he always did.
Chapter 14 by Gravity 721
Chapter 14


She sat down, tired and for no good reason. Today had not been productive at all, cleaning the apartment wasn’t that draining and besides, she’d done that earlier in the day. After that she went out shopping for groceries and came back and got online for a few hours and now here she was, eight at night settling down to watch TV. Veronica sighed, it hadn’t been anything over active or anything she actually worked a sweat up doing, but she couldn’t help but feel tired, she was already ready to go to bed. Grabbing one of the pillows, she set it on the arm of the couch and lay down so she was facing the TV, and started flipping through the stations, trying to find what to watch.

Most girls her age were out at clubs or at the movies hanging out, but not here, she was home on a Saturday night watching TV, which didn’t bother her really. Clubs really weren’t her scene; or rather they wouldn’t be if she went to more of them she figured, so why waste the time figuring out what she already knew? It was such a chore, getting dressed up and getting ready only to sit at a table and watch everyone else having fun and enjoying themselves. Girls dressed in clothes she only dreamed of wearing, and guys looking at those girls in ways she only dreamed of having them look at her. As tempting as that was, she just wasn’t up to being depressed and rejected tonight. Her eyes never left the screen as she reached down to pick up the now ringing phone.

“Hello?”

“Hey girl.”

“Hi Lynne, what’s up?”

“Getting ready to head out, got a date tonight.”

“With who?”

“A guy I met at the club on Friday.”

“That guy who gave you his phone number on the napkin?”

“No, this was someone else I met earlier while you were in the bathroom for the umpteenth time,” Lynne groaned.

“Whatever, I told you I had to fix my make up.”

“V, you were barely wearing any in the first place, you knew it hadn’t worn off.”

“So?”

“So you were in there trying to waste time, come on Veronica, this is me you’re talking to here.”

“I was not! I really did have to touch it up!”

“Anyway, so I’m getting ready to head out, you should come with me.”

“Why would I come with you on your date?”

“So you’re not sitting there watching TV like I know you are right now.”

Veronica frowned, “I don’t mind.”

“Well I do, come on, it’ll be fun.”

“No thanks, maybe next time.”

“Coooome on Veronica!”

“Nah, but call me up and let me know how it goes, or if he tries anything and you need someone to come and beat his ass.”

Lynne laughed, “Yeah right.”

“I’m serious, if you need help call me, I don’t care what time it is.”

“I will, I promise. I still wish you’d come with me though, I hate that you’re all alone on a Saturday night, that’s not…right.”

Veronica laughed, “Have fun Lynne.”

“Yeah, yeah bye.”

“Bye.”

Veronica hung up and turned the volume back up on the TV. She’d watch a movie and whatever and it’d be productive, not like she needed to go out with friends or with guys to have fun, no she didn’t need that. Besides, it wasn’t as if guys were beating the door down to get to her either, no it was ok. She was content here on the couch with her trusty remote; at least that’s what she always told herself.
Chapter 15 by Gravity 721
Chapter 15


Nick stumbled into the house, the girl under his arm giggled and swayed drunkenly, and he pulled her close to his side before bending over and kissing her deeply. God he was wasted, so wasted, and at this point he didn’t give a shit. He felt good, a slight buzz, no pain, the inability to think, it was perfect. This worked he found, whenever he wanted to get away from life, from whatever was bothering him. He’d go out and pretend everything was ok, and he was good at it, very good. Nick had wanted to stay out longer, but he was starting to feel a bit dizzy and that meant it was time to go home, besides he was as horny as hell.

Starting for the stairs, he paused when he saw the light on the answering machine blinking. Dragging the girl over with him, he stopped in front of the machine, staring blankly at it. He didn’t get a lot of messages anymore, people stopped calling him, he didn’t know why. It was ok, that too didn’t matter, not like he called anyone back anyway. Rubbing at his face, he looked down at the girl next to him and frowned, he couldn’t remember her name, Diane or Darlene, something like that. It didn’t matter, her name was the last thing on his mind at this point. Nick pressed the button hard and listened to the woman tell him he had one new message. He swayed, his stomach turning, he really needed to lay down, fuck, he needed to get laid period. Shaking his head, he waited for the beep and then a voice he really didn’t want to hear filled the room.

“Nick? It’s your Father, are you there? Pick up the phone…ok so you’re not there. Look, I just wanted to call and see how you were, I guess you’re out. I haven’t heard from you in so long, your Sister says you’re going to London to work on your next album. That’s great. I miss you, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen you or since we’ve talked. Anyway, I hope to hear from you soon. Give me a call before you leave or when you get there so that I know you’re safe and all. I love you, bye.”

There was another beep and then silence, Nick stared hard at the machine and then quickly hit the erase button, waiting to hear that his box was empty. There was no need to call his Dad, he didn’t want to call him. He didn’t want to have anything to do with any of them right now, especially his parents and all their fucked up shit. What he thought he could just come waltzing in and play the ever loving Father? Fuck it, he didn’t need that right now. Nick pressed the girl close to his side again and turned, heading for the stairs. He had more important things to do right now.
Chapter 16 by Gravity 721
Chapter 16


Veronica stumbled through the door, her arms laden with numerous brown paper bags. Bending over, she let them fall to the floor and headed out to get the rest. After lugging all the bags in, she closed and locked the door, pulling her gloves and coat off. No matter how she bundled up, the chill still managed to find it’s way through her clothes. She blew on her hands, stepping over the various bags and heading into her room to change into something warm. After changing, she made her way out and started the tedious task of putting the groceries away, why couldn’t she bring someone back from the store to do it for her? They helped load it into her car, why couldn’t they put the stuff away too? She supposed that was asking too much. Setting a box she had in her hand down, she headed back into her room and got a CD, coming back out and putting it into the player and walking back into the kitchen to finish unloading the groceries.

A soft smile spread over her lips when she heard the voice of Nick Carter fill the room, she really was goofy when it came to him.

Her thoughts drifted to the letter, it’d been a few days, and he’d have gotten the letter by now. If she were to get a response, she figured it’d be within a few weeks or so, if he even wrote back and depending on when he did. Sighing, she cursed herself inwardly for even thinking of what it’d be like, she sent a letter to a fan club for crying out loud, what in the hell was she expecting? Finishing up unloading the groceries, she started in on dinner. Still, she found she’d be happy with even some stupid form letter with her name written in and a photocopy of his signature at the bottom, anything so she knew that her letter had been received and maybe even looked at by someone who was even an acquaintance to him. It was driving her crazy though, and she was sick of it, sick of the wondering and sick of the waiting for something that obviously wasn’t going to happen any time soon, if ever. She would stop thinking about it, it was as simple as that, no longer would she care and pretty soon it’d just be a memory.

While dinner was cooking, she made her way into her bedroom to get her clothes set out for work in the morning, her usual ritual on Sunday’s. She needed to wash, it was still early in the afternoon and hopefully no one was using the machines downstairs. Her mind made up, she looked around her room for anything dirty to contribute to the hamper in the bathroom, but much to her dismay, her thoughts floated back to the letter.

Pretending that she didn’t care was harder than she thought, and now that she’d thought about it, she couldn’t get it out of her head. It was her own fault, she never should’ve thought about it in the first place, but she just couldn’t help it, it was natural. Anyone in her situation would be doing the same thing or worse, at least she didn’t have fantasies of actually getting a response. Veronica wasn’t letting it effect her life or her daily routine, not much anyway.

Gathering up the few dirty clothes she found from her room, she set them in the hamper in the bathroom, grabbing various wash clothes from out of there as well to add and pulled the hamper out, separating the clothes into proper piles and into individual baskets. Getting up quarters and soap power and such, she made her way down to the washer and dryer.
Chapter 17 by Gravity 721
Chapter 17


Nick stuffed more clothes into his bag, he was never one for organization, and most of the time his Mom did it for him, which wasn’t an option right now. Walking around his room he got more clothes and tried to fold them and put them in his suitcase, then headed into the bathroom, gathering up his toiletries and bringing them out. Now, what was it that his Mom did? She put them in a ziplock bag or something if he remembered right, Nick couldn’t remember if he had any. Dropping the stuff on the bed, he walked out and down the stairs to the kitchen, searching through the now bare cupboards and shelves. Making his way over to the spacious closet, he opened the door and grinned, grabbing the box of ziplock bags and made his way back upstairs, funny, he didn’t remember buying them. Walking into his room, he gathered up the things from his bed and pulled out a bag, stuffing them in and tossing them into his suitcase, this packing thing really wasn’t that hard.

Looking over at the clock, he realized he’d have to be in bed soon, he had to get up early to leave and he wasn’t looking forward to it, he was a self proclaimed grouch in the morning if he didn’t get enough sleep. The trip ahead of him was long, and he’d be able to sleep on the plane, probably the last decent sleep he’d have for the next month. Part of him was really looking forward to this, but another part wasn’t so much. He was always so run down when he got home, he never really ate properly away from home, couldn’t sleep well in a foreign bed. The constant go, go, go and never stop was draining, interview after boring predictable interview, screaming fans and groupies. Too much too fast. Just thinking about it made his head hurt, and it wasn’t like it all mattered anyway. His first album hadn’t done as well as he hoped, everyone else was more interested in a certain someone else and as much as he hated to admit it, it pissed him off.

No one ever took him seriously it felt like to him, not his parents, fans and the guys most of all. All the shit he’d taken when he wanted to do this album and for what? He’d barely gotten airplay and it was like he had never even released an album, it hurt, it hurt like hell. It was really hard to hear over and over again how his voice wasn’t strong enough, how it wasn’t anything special and how it didn’t have the kind of power that made him stick out amongst the rest, and yet, he kept going. Figured he’d prove everyone wrong. What a joke. Here he was now the one with egg on his face, unreal. He must be a glutton for punishment though because here he was trying to do it all again, only this time he’d take a different approach. Again this wasn’t without causing some controversy, particularly amongst his fans who were now calling him a sell out. He was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. The fucking album wasn’t even released, not even recorded and already he was already labeled a sell out. How in the hell was that possible?

Walking over to his suitcase, Nick double checked to make sure he had the necessities before closing and zipping it up. Heading over, he grabbed his other bag and closed that up as well. Reaching out, he grabbed his passport from off his dresser (which he found incidentally with his itinerary, where he figured he’d put it so he wouldn’t lose it. Go figure.) Putting it in his mouth, he picked up his suitcases and walking out the room making his way down the stairs carefully. Setting the bags by the door, he placed his passport, and itinerary on one of the bags so he wouldn’t forget them in the morning while he was half-asleep. Nick hoped he remembered everything, it’d be just like him to get on the plane and remember he forgot to pack underwear.

Yawning, he made his way into the kitchen, opening the refrigerator and checking to make sure he’d thrown out all perishable stuff. The shelves were practically empty; it was a depressing sight. Nick had already been through the cabinets so he knew those were ok. Walking towards the back of the house, he made sure all the doors and everything were locked, he wouldn’t have time in morning to do another check, so he had to make sure everything was set now. Nick started down to the lower level to do one last check, when his thoughts drifted to the letter he’d sent.

It’d only been a few days, but for some reason he was anxious for her to get it, part of him actually wished he could be there to see her reaction to it. Chances were though, that she wouldn’t believe that it was him, and he could understand that. Sometime later in the week she’d have it and maybe she write him back and he’d have a letter waiting for him when he got home at the end of the month, maybe not. There were more important things, but that letter from her seemed to be hanging on in the back of his head for some reason. A silly letter from someone in a different state with a different life…what was the big deal? Only he couldn’t seem to answer that question cause he really didn’t know. He knew nothing about her, her letter gave him nothing to go on other than she was a fan of him and of the Backstreet Boys. That was enough he supposed…

Giving the living room one final look, he made his way up to his room. Finished and still yawning, it was time for bed.
Chapter 18 by Gravity 721
Chapter 18

Friday afternoon…

Veronica made her way out the car carefully, treading lightly so as not to slip. Making her way inside the lobby part of the apartment complex, she opened the security door and then turned to get her mail. Grabbing the thick stack of letters out of the small compartment, she closed the box and made her way in and down the hall to her apartment, unlocking the door and walking in. Removing her coat and such quickly, setting the mail on the table and headed into her room to get undressed. It’d been a long tiring day at work. Granted she had left early, but it was busy, Friday’s usual were. It had been a long week period. She was glad the weekend was here, luckily she didn’t work weekends.

Making her way out her room, she headed into the kitchen to make something for a late lunch, when she remembered the mail. Walking over to the table, she grabbed the stack of mail sitting at the table, going through it. It was all junk mail. Pre-approval for a credit card, a phone number to call to claim her prize of a trip to the Bahamas, and lastly a bill for her cell phone, same old crap. Groaning, she grabbed the junk mail to throw out, when she saw a letter she’d forgotten. Picking it up, she flipped it over and stilled, her address label was on the front. Veronica looked up in the corner; there was no return address. It couldn’t be, it just couldn’t. She’d finally convinced herself to stop looking, to not care and now…

Veronica tossed the other mail back down and stood, clutching the envelope tightly in her hand. A form letter, that’s what it was, a form letter. Maybe the person who sent them, didn’t have time to answer her with one of the professional envelopes or whatever, maybe they ran out of those autographed pictures they give contest winners in the big manila envelopes, yeah that was it. Blindly she made her way over to the couch, stopping to tear the envelope open and pull the single sheet of lined paper out. Taking a deep breath, she unfolded the letter and read, slowly sinking down to the cushions.

Dear Veronica,
Thanks for your letter, thanks for all your support for me and my music, it means a lot to me. I hope you’ll enjoy the new album when it comes out. It was nice to get your letter, I generally don’t have time to write back to fans like I used to, but I thought I’d give it a try again. I’d like to hear from you again if you have the time. Below you’ll find my P.O. box. I do ask though, that you not give the address out to anyone else please, I’d kind of like to keep it on the downlow. I hope to hear from you again soon. Thanks again.

Nick Carter


Veronica stared at the address at the bottom of the letter, reading it over and over again, not quite believing it. It wasn’t a form letter; it was an actual handwritten letter on lined paper. He wanted her to write him back, this wasn’t happening, it couldn’t be happening. It wasn’t real; he didn’t have the time to write. She was supposed to get a letter from the fan club, not from him. Veronica looked at the paper, there was no date, and she had no idea when he’d sent it, and if he’d even sent it. It could be someone screwing around with her. That was it then, she wouldn’t write him back, she wasn’t going to be made a fool of. Things like this didn’t happen, everyone knew they never answered their fan mail anymore, so chances were he didn’t write this. No, she wasn’t going to waste her time. Folding the letter up, she stuffed it back in the envelope and tossed it on the coffee table.

No way.

Standing she made her way back into the kitchen, forcing herself to forget the letter.
Chapter 19 by Gravity 721
Chapter 19


Nick had only been in London a week and already he was bored and annoyed. Same stupid ass questions, same old crap. Desperate for some alone time, (as alone as he could be with a bodyguard) he was out shopping, he needed something new. Granted, he had to be back at his hotel in an hour to get ready for his next interview, so he had to hurry. If there was one thing Nick hated it was being rushed; he liked to take his time. Unfortunately for him though, that wasn’t an option right now. Nick and his bodyguard made their way through the store, looking around for various things. He couldn’t find what he was looking for because he didn’t know what that was. Nothing appealed to him, and nothing caught his eye.

“You ready to leave?” His bodyguard asked.

Nick nodded, “Yeah, I think so, I don’t see anything I want here.”

They started for the exit, when a young girl approached cautiously a pen and something else clutched in her hand.

“E-excuse me, Nick?”

Nick stopped; he really didn’t feel like dealing with fans right now. He didn’t have the time. Pasting a smile on his face he turned to the girl.

“Hey.”

She seemed to struggle a moment before responding.

“Can, can I have your autograph please?”

“Sure,” he smiled and took her pen and what he learned was his CD liner and started to scribble his name quickly.

“I’m sorry to hear about your parents, my parents are divorced too, I know how hard it is.”

His hand stilled, it was the first time since it all started that a fan had said anything to him about it. No one had told him how he was supposed to react, what he was supposed to say. It was still too fresh, he wasn’t ready to even admit it to himself let alone talk about it to anyone, especially a fan. There had been a few who tried to talk to him, AJ was one, but Nick blew him off. Reality for him in some ways hadn’t set in yet, there was still this part of his brain that did not understand what was going on, what it all meant. Part of him still believed his parents would make up and that it’d all be over, that it was some kind of nightmare.

He was still waiting.

It just seemed to Nick, that things like that happened to others and not to him, not his family. Granted, they’d had their share of problems, but it was never this bad. He’d never seen his parents fight that much, then again he hadn’t been home a lot of the time either. They loved each other, he was sure of it; at least he thought they did. It had been a rude awakening when he received word that his Mother was filing for a divorce, an awakening, but there was a small part of him that hadn’t been surprised. His relationship with his Mom was strained at best; the distance between them had grown, especially over the last few years.

Nick knew if he just kept going kept moving he could get away from it, block them out and act as if he didn’t know them, let them figure it out. It was selfish, but he was sick and tired of bailing his parents out of their own problems, that wasn’t his job. Nick focused his thoughts once again on the girl in front of him, trying to listen to what she was telling him.

“My parents have been divorced for a few years and I know in the beginning I was really upset and didn’t wanna believe it, but it does get a little easier as…” she trailed off, blushing.

It was time to end this, now.

Nick forced another smile, “Thanks. I’m sorry to cut this short but I gotta jet. Thanks for your support.”

He flashed her another smile before walking out, his bodyguard in tow, leaving her standing there alone, watching after him.
Chapter 20 by Gravity 721
Chapter 20

A Few weeks later…

“So, you wrote him and he wrote you back?” Carla asked.

Carla was a co-worker and one of Veronica’s favorite people in her department.

“Yeah, well I dunno actually. How do I know it was him? It was probably someone at the office who just answered for him.”

“But didn’t you say that he left a PO Box?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, would someone do that? They wouldn’t give out any information without his ok or whatever right?”

Veronica nodded; she’d been over it in her head time and time again.

“So then, there is a possibility that it was from him.”

“I guess, but it’s pretty out there don’t you think?”

“Ya never know, stranger things have happened.”

“I can’t even believe I told you, I feel so stupid,” Veronica groaned.

“Why? I think it’s cool, and if he did write that letter, that’s even better. That doesn’t happen to many people,” Carla announced, as she continued to gather the ingredients to make Chicken French.

“Yeah, I know.”

“What exactly did he say? Did he flat out tell you he wanted you to write him back?”

“Basically. He said he’d like to hear from me again, gave me the address then asked that I not give it out to anyone.”

“Hmmm…”

“That was it, he thanked me again for writing and signed it.”

Carla grinned suddenly, “Does the signature match what you’ve seen?”

“I wouldn’t know that, I’ve never gotten his autograph.”

“You may not have it, doesn’t mean you’ve never seen it! Come on; don’t tell me you never read those magazines that have his signature on posters and articles and stuff. You know sure as shit you’ve studied his signature and all that.”

Veronica blushed, clearing her throat.

“Ha! I knew it!” Carla giggled.

Veronica shook her head, “Whatever.”

“Are you gonna write him back?”

“I dunno, I don’t think so. I’m gonna feel really stupid doing it.”

Carla pushed the cart out the kitchen behind the counter, starting out the department.

“Why?”

“Because that means I’m taking this seriously and I’m not, I refuse to.”

“You know, you’re gonna kick yourself if you don’t do it and it ends up being him for real.”

Again something she knew, something she’d thought about. There was always the “what ifs”, it was frustrating and exciting all at the same time.

“I know Carla, but still.”

“What’s the worse that could happen? He doesn’t write back again? Big deal, you’d be no worse off than you are now right?”

Veronica nodded.

“Ok, so there. I think you should do it.”

She sighed, how did she know that Carla would say that? Hell, she’d say the same thing if someone came up to her and told her this. Veronica looked over at Carla and sighed.

“Go for it V, seriously, I have a feeling you’ll be glad you did. At least this way, you can say you tried you know?” Carla finished, pushing the cart out.

Yeah, at least she’d have tried. Taking a deep breath, she made up her mind. She’d write him back tonight.
Chapter 21 by Gravity 721
Chapter 21


He tried, he really tried hard to fold his clothes, but he had never been good at packing and repacking his suitcases on tour or on trips or whatever. Now was no exception. It was the night before he left for home and he was restless. While part of him was glad to be going home, part of him wasn’t. Nick liked hiding out, and it’s exactly what he’d been doing now with all this shit with his family going down. It wasn’t something he’d admit to out loud to anyone, but inside he knew that’s what it was.

Grabbing the various shopping bags he’d accumulated over the last month, he shook the contents out on the bed, ripping the tags off and stuffing the bags into the garbage can. Most of the clothes he had he’d wear once and that’s it, it was kind of a waste, but he couldn’t go out in public in the same thing twice, it just wasn’t done in his line of work. After trying to fold the clothes, he set them in his case and headed into the bathroom to gather up the rest of his things, tossing them haphazardly into his other case, he hoped nothing spilled out during the flight and the transfers. It most certainly wouldn’t be the first time it’d happened though.

Walking over to the large table where the TV sat, he grabbed the various contents of his pockets he’d tossed there over the last few weeks, amongst this were countless phone numbers from the different girls he’d been with. Gathering up the slips of paper, he tore them up and tossed them into the garbage as well, like he had time to call them all back.

Heading back over, he closed one of his cases, setting it by the door for the bellhop in the morning. Moving to his other case, he stared down at it, was he forgetting something? Nick couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. He made one last check of the room; it appeared he had everything with the exception of the clothes he’d change into when he went to bed and what he’d wear in the morning. Sighing, he closed his last case and set it by the door.

Yawning, he walked over to his bed and slumped down. God he was exhausted, it’d been a long and tiring week. He’d forgotten how grueling it all could be, the time difference, the different culture, the different everything. Not that he was complaining or anything, but it was rough on the system. Nick had been doing it for most of his life and he’d still never gotten used to it. Some people could travel and have minimal jet lag and just adapt and adjust easily; he wasn’t one of those people. Staying on his old routine was virtually impossible in foreign lands with foreign everything. When away from home, he missed his bed terribly; nothing was ever the same, ever right.

The guys always used to tease him about whining so much, but he’d always been a homebody, kept to himself while the rest of the guys would go out to clubs or bars. Nick had always been content with just sitting in his hotel room watching TV or playing his Nintendo. That had all changed as he got older though, temptations grew stronger and he was weak to the cries of the women around him, their hands sliding over his body and into his pockets. In the end he’d figured, why fight it? Why indeed, and so he did, stop fighting that is and from there everything changed.

Oh the women…A different woman every night, the numbers weren’t uncommon to him after awhile. At first though, it’d come as a major shock when he’d empty his pockets at night, a small pile of papers scattered over the bed. Some of the guys had told him to expect it, but it’d been a shock nonetheless. Nick wasn’t supposed to say, but he’d used a few of those numbers in a night, two or three to be honest. He was, in the very least, private about it. If there was one thing Nick had to have when it came to his personal affairs it was privacy. Generally he wasn’t the type to kiss and tell, interviews however, made that hard.

From the beginning, interviews had been described to them as to always appear to their fans as single and accessible, and for a long time they did. It can only last so long before girlfriends want recognition and they wanted to be able to go out in public and not have to dodge paparazzi. He didn’t want to have to make excuses for being seen with a girl. When finally they broke away, and all was bared, everything was elevated to a whole new level. Fans knew who they were dating, how long and where they lived. At first Nick brushed it off, but it quickly grew to scary heights when hate sites started arising, not just for his girlfriends, but for the girlfriends of the others too. It was in that moment that Nick decided it was imperative for him to keep his personal relationships just that…personal. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard, it was damn hard.

Looked down at his watch, it was still early yet, maybe he should go out and enjoy his last night in London, get some more phone numbers. This would mean going to different clubs though, couldn’t risk running into someone he’d already seen. Making up his mind, he grabbed his wallet, his card and headed out. For this last night at least, he was Nick Carter, out to have fun by any means possible.
Chapter 22 by Gravity 721
Chapter 21


He tried, he really tried hard to fold his clothes, but he had never been good at packing and repacking his suitcases on tour or on trips or whatever. Now was no exception. It was the night before he left for home and he was restless. While part of him was glad to be going home, part of him wasn’t. Nick liked hiding out, and it’s exactly what he’d been doing now with all this shit with his family going down. It wasn’t something he’d admit to out loud to anyone, but inside he knew that’s what it was.

Grabbing the various shopping bags he’d accumulated over the last month, he shook the contents out on the bed, ripping the tags off and stuffing the bags into the garbage can. Most of the clothes he had he’d wear once and that’s it, it was kind of a waste, but he couldn’t go out in public in the same thing twice, it just wasn’t done in his line of work. After trying to fold the clothes, he set them in his case and headed into the bathroom to gather up the rest of his things, tossing them haphazardly into his other case, he hoped nothing spilled out during the flight and the transfers. It most certainly wouldn’t be the first time it’d happened though.

Walking over to the large table where the TV sat, he grabbed the various contents of his pockets he’d tossed there over the last few weeks, amongst this were countless phone numbers from the different girls he’d been with. Gathering up the slips of paper, he tore them up and tossed them into the garbage as well, like he had time to call them all back.

Heading back over, he closed one of his cases, setting it by the door for the bellhop in the morning. Moving to his other case, he stared down at it, was he forgetting something? Nick couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. He made one last check of the room; it appeared he had everything with the exception of the clothes he’d change into when he went to bed and what he’d wear in the morning. Sighing, he closed his last case and set it by the door.

Yawning, he walked over to his bed and slumped down. God he was exhausted, it’d been a long and tiring week. He’d forgotten how grueling it all could be, the time difference, the different culture, the different everything. Not that he was complaining or anything, but it was rough on the system. Nick had been doing it for most of his life and he’d still never gotten used to it. Some people could travel and have minimal jet lag and just adapt and adjust easily; he wasn’t one of those people. Staying on his old routine was virtually impossible in foreign lands with foreign everything. When away from home, he missed his bed terribly; nothing was ever the same, ever right.

The guys always used to tease him about whining so much, but he’d always been a homebody, kept to himself while the rest of the guys would go out to clubs or bars. Nick had always been content with just sitting in his hotel room watching TV or playing his Nintendo. That had all changed as he got older though, temptations grew stronger and he was weak to the cries of the women around him, their hands sliding over his body and into his pockets. In the end he’d figured, why fight it? Why indeed, and so he did, stop fighting that is and from there everything changed.

Oh the women…A different woman every night, the numbers weren’t uncommon to him after awhile. At first though, it’d come as a major shock when he’d empty his pockets at night, a small pile of papers scattered over the bed. Some of the guys had told him to expect it, but it’d been a shock nonetheless. Nick wasn’t supposed to say, but he’d used a few of those numbers in a night, two or three to be honest. He was, in the very least, private about it. If there was one thing Nick had to have when it came to his personal affairs it was privacy. Generally he wasn’t the type to kiss and tell, interviews however, made that hard.

From the beginning, interviews had been described to them as to always appear to their fans as single and accessible, and for a long time they did. It can only last so long before girlfriends want recognition and they wanted to be able to go out in public and not have to dodge paparazzi. He didn’t want to have to make excuses for being seen with a girl. When finally they broke away, and all was bared, everything was elevated to a whole new level. Fans knew who they were dating, how long and where they lived. At first Nick brushed it off, but it quickly grew to scary heights when hate sites started arising, not just for his girlfriends, but for the girlfriends of the others too. It was in that moment that Nick decided it was imperative for him to keep his personal relationships just that…personal. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard, it was damn hard.

Looked down at his watch, it was still early yet, maybe he should go out and enjoy his last night in London, get some more phone numbers. This would mean going to different clubs though, couldn’t risk running into someone he’d already seen. Making up his mind, he grabbed his wallet, his card and headed out. For this last night at least, he was Nick Carter, out to have fun by any means possible.

Chapter 22
Veronica stared down at the envelope and groaned. She’d done it. She couldn’t believe it. Over and over she promised herself she wouldn’t write him back and yet here was the letter in her hands, stamp and all. There was no PO box, it had to be fake, she was sure of it now. How dumb she was going to feel when the letter came back with the address unknown. Then again no one would know and no one would care really. It was just like Carla had said: she’d be no better off than she was now. So then why was she so hesitant and worried about being hurt when it didn’t work out? Was it that small chance that it could be real and if she bailed out now and missed her opportunity, she’d be wondering “what if” forever?

He couldn’t have been serious, he just couldn’t have. Since when do pop stars have time to keep in touch with their scads of fans? They didn’t, she knew that, they’d said so on more than one occasion. They had people who went through the fan mail and answered back for them, it was out there in black and white and in interviews, so why was she sitting there with a letter ready to be mailed out? Pure stupidity, that’s why.

Groaning, Veronica flopped back on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. She didn’t…HAVE to send the letter out naturally, but it’d sit there, beckoning her to send it, to put it in the mail. Weak, Veronica was just plain weak where he was concerned, she’d make a fool of herself and not care in the least if it meant getting that much closer to him.

Wait, what in the hell was she saying?

She wasn’t going to get close to him. It still was not certain that it was even him for sure. If she thought about it logically, it made sense. Veronica had broken it all down within the course of the last two hours, that’s how long it’d taken her to go through with writing the letter even though she’d said at work earlier that she was, nerves had taken over and the doubts came back. It boiled down to this, Veronica could be in all actuality writing to Nick. It would last a few weeks at the most, and then he’d stop writing and then it’d be as if it had never happened. So, until that happened, she could write him and enjoy it while it lasted.

Simple enough.

It was all so complicated, and there were tons of things that could go wrong and things to be taken into consideration. That didn’t matter, it should have been that simple.

It wasn’t.

What if he didn’t stop writing? What if he kept writing and got all…freaky and started proposition her to do nasty deplorable things? Ok, she was getting ahead of herself, she needed to calm down and just take it easy. These were all the things that had gone through her head within a course of two hours, her head hurt from thinking about it so much.

Tapping on her leg anxiously, she was literally bursting at the seams to tell someone. Carla knew, but she wasn’t going to call her up just to ramble on and on about how she’d finally broken down and written Nick Carter another letter, Carla had a life. Then again there was Lynne, but Veronica was hesitant on saying anything, she knew how excited Lynne got over things and she hated to get her all worked up when she herself didn’t really know what was going on or what was going to happen. For now, she’d keep it to herself, if she could.

Slowly she sat up, the letter clutched in her hand as she slipped off the bed and headed out her room and over to the door, throwing it open carelessly and making her way out. If she stopped to think about it, she’d chicken out. Quickly she made her way down the hall and opened the security door, reaching out and slipping the letter in the outgoing mail box and turned abruptly, making her way back down the hall and into her apartment, shutting and turning the deadbolt.

No turning back, she wouldn’t allow it.
Chapter 23 by Gravity 721
Chapter 23


“…We ask that you keep your seatbelts on until the seatbelt light above goes off. We hope you enjoy your flight and thank you for flying British Airways,” the flight attendant called into the intercom before turning it off and taking her seat at the front of the plane.

Nick groaned, licking his dry lips. His mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton and his stomach wouldn’t stop churning, he generally had a high tolerance to alcohol, but he’d over done it last night. Drawing in a deep breath, he closed his eyes, trying desperately to will the nausea away, nothing doing. Nick had intended on taking some aspirin before he left the hotel this morning, but he’d been in such a rush after sleeping through his wake up call he’d barely made it on time. Now his head was pounding and the sounds on the plane were driving him crazy.

He took a moment to familiarize himself with the surroundings. He’d been in his share of planes, and always liked to scope out where everything was, not that it’d changed since he was last in a plane, but he felt safer. Scanning, he found both emergency exits and then looked at the pocket in front of him that had that stupid informational card with the information about what to do in the unlikely event of an accident. Shifting in his seat the best he could with the seatbelt around his waist, he found the bathroom and looked at it longingly. Nick hoped that he wouldn’t have to become too familiar with that in a few minutes. Turning back around he stared straight a head, clutching at the handles of his chair as the propellers started up, his stomach rumbling. Nick brought his hand up to his mouth, groaning. Shit, he’d really fucked up last night.

Despite being late, he had to tell the girl that was in bed next to him that she had to get out, that he had to be on a plane in twenty minutes. She hadn’t been to pleased with him, she kept asking if he’d call as she stuffed her number into his hand. Nick had tried to assure her that he’d call, he didn’t like lying, but he’d do what ever it took to get her off his back. It got to the point where he had to walk away, generally he wasn’t like that with the girls he met at clubs, but she wouldn’t let up and she was smothering him, he didn’t like to be smothered, hell, he couldn’t even remember her name. Nick pulled the piece of paper out of his pocket and stared at it, rolling his eyes, he shoved it back in. She hadn’t written her name; she must not have been that serious, not that it mattered to him either way. They were all the same, they’d fawn all over him and then head back to his room, they never seemed to care, it was as if one night stands were the norm for them. Nick was one to talk though. Well hell, if they didn’t care, why should he?

Resting his head back, he closed his eyes, trying to focus on anything except the rumbling in his stomach and the loud, annoying sounds around him. In a few hours he’d be home, it wouldn’t happen soon enough as far as he was concerned. Nick was dying to be back in his own bed. He had so much to do when he got home, a few interviews lined up, some radio appearances and all that shit. What he really wanted to do was go home and sleep for three days straight, but the likeliness of that happening was slim to none. Sighing, he remembered that one interview that was still in the works right before he left, he’d have to call his manager and see if anything had been finalized in the month since he’d left.

Shaking his head, he opened his eyes, he couldn’t just focus on one thing, his thoughts were running ramped. He needed to sleep, he closed his eyes again and it felt as if he were spinning, the nausea rising. Slowly he opened his eyes again, wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans, trying to breathe his way through the queasiness. It wasn’t working. Resting a hand on his stomach, he wished desperately for some mints or gum, anything to calm his stomach. He considered asking the stewardess for a can of ginger ale, but just then the plane started moving, backing out of the spot. He coughed, bad idea, he couldn’t stop, his head swam. Luckily he was sitting alone, reaching out, he dug into the pocket in front of him, grabbing the motion sickness bag and tossing it on the seat next to him, just in case.

Nick closed his eyes again as the plane pulled out and started taxing the runway. If he could focus on trying to sleep and not on the sounds around him, and most certainty not on the movement of the plane, he’d be fine…just fine. He held his breath as the pilot came on a short time later reminding everyone that they should have their seatbelts on at this point and prepare for take off. Nick was prepared all right; grabbing the bag on the seat next to him just as the plane sped down the runway.
Chapter 24 by Gravity 721
Chapter 24


Wiping at her mouth, Veronica took a sip of her water and looked up at the clock, fifteen minutes left for lunch. Who in the hell could eat lunch in thirty minutes and feel content after? She sure couldn’t, what she wouldn’t give for an hour lunch. Staring down at her half-eaten salad, she picked up the container and tossed it in the garbage, she couldn’t eat anymore anyway, it just wasn’t sitting right with her today. Sitting back down, she drank some more water and stared at the TV screen blankly. She had so much to do when she got home, laundry, make a few phone calls, pay some bills, and make dinner. Veronica capped the bottle and rested her head on her hand, she wished she had something to look forward to. Her life was so boring, she never really went out or did anything, too self-conscious, but always was a homebody.

Standing, she grabbed her bottle and headed out the break room. It wasn’t that she didn’t like going out, she did, but it was a consistent struggle for her to let her guard down and actually have fun. Veronica wasn’t typical for someone her age. She didn’t drink, much to the dismay of her friends, and didn’t have swarms of guys calling her. This was fine in some ways, but sometimes it would be nice to have a guy call her. Then again she hated talking to guys on the phone, she would much rather see them in person, she didn’t know if that was worse since she could not seem to talk to guys that way either. She was a mess.

Veronica punched back in and headed back to her department, it seemed the days just dragged by, it was already the first of the month and that…she stopped suddenly. The first of the month, which meant Nick, would be coming back from London at some point. He hadn’t mentioned it in his letter, but she’d read online that he’d gone to do some promotional stuff for his next album, he’d be home sometime this week, and that meant he would get the letter. The nervousness rose fast and hard, her stomach churning. He was going to read her letter and either throw it out, or write back. It was so easy; there wasn’t really room for any other possibility other than him throwing it out. Veronica brought a hand to her heart, oh but what if he did write back? How would she deal with that? Walking over, she washed and dried her hands, tossing the crumpled paper towel out and pulled some gloves on. She would be mature, that’s how she would deal with it. She’d read the letter and then write him back again. What had happened? She’d gone through all this before.

“Hey V!”

Veronica’s head whipped around, her eyes widening.

“Hi James!”

“How’s it going?”

“It’s going.”

“Just get back from lunch huh?”

“Yeah, it’s never long enough though.”

“Oh yeah, I know,” James smiled before heading into the kitchen to get something.

Veronica slumped back against the counter, her heart racing. He’d taken her totally off guard, she wiped her hands on her apron and then remembered she had gloves on and groaned. She had to busy herself somehow, stop her hands from shaking before someone noticed. Grabbing a rag, she started wiping the counters and slicers down, tensing a bit as James came back out, heading over to jaws (or the automatic slicer) and started cutting up meat for the sub list. What else could she say to him without sounding stupid? Lynne said she needed to take chances, but she just couldn’t where he was concerned. Veronica watched out the corner of her eye as James talked with Carla and sighed. She wanted to be that confident and calm.

For some, it was just that easy, Carla could talk to anyone, everyone loved her. Veronica smiled a bit, she was pretty too. She’d gotten hit on at work more times than she could remember, but Carla had been so cool about it and Veronica found it kind of amusing at the same time. Amusing and also kind of depressing, she’d never been hit on while at work. The times she did get hit on were far few between and nothing ever came of it, that or they were guys she wasn’t into. Maybe she set her standards too high; sometimes she expected too much out of people, it was a major downfall. Looking back over at the two, she cursed herself for not walking up to them and joining in, for not being more outgoing. She simply didn’t trust herself.

Shaking her head, Veronica stepped forward to help the customer that had just come up.
Chapter 25 by Gravity 721
Chapter 25


Deactivating the alarm, Nick unlocked the door and walked in, the scent of lemon furniture polish hit him strong as he shut the door. He didn’t remember calling the cleaning service to come, his assistant must have done it before she left or wait, she should be back by now shouldn’t she? It didn’t matter at this point; he just wanted to go to bed. Spending eight hours on a plane just wasn’t natural. His back was cramped, his internal clock was all screwed up, thinking it was later than it was and his head was pounding.

Lugging his bags into the living room, he left them there, he would unpack tomorrow, he just didn’t have the energy to do it now. He’d head to bed as soon as he went next door to get his mail. Looking up at the clock, he decided it wasn’t too late to head over now. Grabbing his keys, he headed out, locking the door and running next door. A few minutes later he came back with a grocery bag full of mail, shutting and locking the door and reactivating the alarm. Rubbing at his head, he headed up the stairs, bag in hand and headed into his room, flopping down on the bed. It was so good to be home.

Letting the bag drop to the floor, he pushed himself up and stared to undress slowly, yawning. Nick was so tired he could barely think, his eyes were burning and kept drifting shut. After stripping down to his boxers, he slipped under the covers, prepared to sleep, but he never was one to let unopened mail go for long, unless it was bills. There had to be more in there than bills. Sitting up, Nick put the bag on his lap and grabbed an envelope, he shouldn’t have many bills, he’d taken care of most of that before he left. Flipping the letter over, he scanned it quickly then tossed it into the garbage, he hated junk mail. Rifling through, he found more junk mail and also some fan mail. The fan mail wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, he’d been careful with his address-- not careful enough cause he still got some, but it was no where near the level it used to be. An hour and a half later, Nick was at the end of the bed and had the mail separated into three piles. A junk pile, an important pile and a fan mail pile. Grabbing the junk stack, he tossed it into the garbage, took the important pile and slipped out of bed and out his room into his office, setting it on his desk. Walking back into his room, he slipped back into bed, grabbing the fan mail and started ripping it open.

Nick was partway through a rather racy letter when it hit him…he’d forgotten to check his post office box. Setting the letter down, he leaned back against the headboard, his mind wandering to Veronica. He wondered if she’d written him back, it’d been a month, plenty of time for her to write. Nick looked down at the stack of fan mail and frowned, suddenly they held no interest, he wanted to go to the post office. Well, that wasn’t happening tonight, he would stop over on his way out tomorrow. He stuffed the letter back into the envelope and tossed the stack down on the floor next to him, he would go through the rest of them later.

Slipping under the covers, he turned to flip the light off, cursing suddenly when he realized he needed to call his Mom and let her know he’d arrived safely. He usually did after going out of the US. Sighing heavily, he sat up again and grabbed his phone, dialing quickly.

“Hello?”

“Hey ma.”

“Hello Nick.”

“I just wanted to let you know that I’m home safe and to see how things were going.”

“Oh, well I’m glad you’re home safe, and things are ok I suppose. Not much going on, your Sister’s still pissed at me, but what else is new?” Jane replied coolly.

She sounded annoyed and tired, Nick felt bad, as much as he wanted to not feel anything where his parents were concerned.

“I’m sorry Mom.”

Jane sighed, “No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…anyway, how was London?”

“It was nice, tiring and long, but I’m glad to be home.”

“You always did like to come home.”

“You know me.”

She sighed, “Sometimes I wonder…”

Nick frowned, “What?”

“Nothing, never mind. I’ll be sure to tell your Sisters and Aaron that you’re home, I’m sure they’ll want to see you. Leslie’s been moping around the house ever since you left.”

He smiled; he needed to get over to see her again. “Thanks Mom.”

“I’ll let you go, you sound exhausted.”

“I am, I’m still on London time, I never could deal with jet lag, not like the rest of the guys.”

Jane chuckled, “Get some rest, I’ll talk to you later.”

“Ok, bye Mom, love you.”

“I love you too Nick.”

He hung up, rubbing at his eyes. That had gone better than he thought it would, thank god, he wasn’t in any condition to put up with anything from her right now anyway. Slipping down under the covers again he drifted off.
Chapter 26 by Gravity 721
Chapter 26


“Veronica did you get the one-thirty temps done?” Shelly asked as she pulled a pair of gloves on.

“Not yet, I’ve been kind of backed up with customers.”

“Veronica, one of the soups are out.”

“Ok, I’ll get it in just a minute.”

“Don’t worry about the soup, you need to get those temps done,” Shelly called, finishing up her customer. “Go and do the temps, I’ll finish your customer for you.”

Veronica handed Shelly the cheese she was getting ready to cut then headed over to the temp log, opening it and starting to write the necessary information. It was turning into one of those days, she knew she’d have a pounding headache that night, too much stress. Walking over, she took the thermometers out of the cup of sanitizer and went along and put them in the cases before heading back to finish writing in the log. She’d just finished and was getting ready to start, when Shelly came up.

“Karl’s here…” she hissed.

Karl was the district manager for their area, whenever he came in chaos ensued.

Groaning, Veronica turned and started down, reading the thermometers from the areas, writing the numbers down and grabbing the thermometers and rinsing and sanitizing them again before putting them in other cases.

“Veronica, how long is that gonna take you? Wafer is a mess and if Karl comes by and sees it…” Shelly pressed.

“It should only take me ten or fifteen minutes tops.”

“Ok, but hurry.”

Rolling her eyes, Veronica went on, trying to go as fast as she could.

“Excuse me, is anyone working?”

She lifted her head to see a customer waiting for a sub, backing up, she saw the girl who was supposed to be in the sub area, helping out on counter. Sighing, she set her logbook down and went over to help the customer. Four whole subs and three halves later, she picked up the logbook and started up again.

“You’re still not done?”

Stifling the urge to snap, Veronica turned to face Shelly.

“I had to stop and take care of a sub customer.”

“Alright, but hurry, he’s coming around.”

Veronica hurried off, trying to finish, the anger and tension building. She just wanted to go home.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kicking her shoes off outside the door, Veronica made her way into her apartment and shut and locked the door, slumping against it. They day had just gotten progressively worse. After Karl had left, the state inspector came in and it was a disaster. They’d passed, but before that everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Straightening up, Veronica made her way in, shedding her clothes as she went. All she wanted to do now was take a nice long bath and soak. Making her way into her room, she grabbed her robe and slipped it on, heading back out grabbing the mail key and hurried out to get her mail. Veronica sifted through it as she made her way back in before tossing it on the table and grabbing the cordless. Walking over to the couch, she dialed as she sat.

“Hello?”

“Hey Lynne.”

“Hi V, what’s up?”

“Oh nothing, just a shitty day at work.”

“You seem to be having a lot of those here lately.”

“I know, it’s like things have been really hectic there, I just don’t understand. People are getting on my nerves more than usual.”

“Must be bad cause I know how annoyed you get at people,” Lynne laughed.

“Yeah well, the district manager came in today, and then the state inspector…”

“Ouch…”

“I know, and then everyone gets pissy and pushy and I can’t stand it.”

“People get like that in those kinds of situations V.”

“Yeah yeah, I know, it still sucks.”

“I hear ya.”

“So anyway, tell me, how’d that date go? I never asked you before.”

“You mean from a few weeks ago? That guy at the club?”

“Yeah, that’s the one, how’d it work out?”

“Ugh, it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it was ok, but holy shit was he bor-ing! No personality and all he wanted was to get me in bed, prick. So I’m thinking technically he doesn’t even qualify as ok.”

“That sucks, I’m sorry to hear that.”

“See, I wouldn’t have had to have worried about that if you’d just come along like I asked,” Lynne tsked.

“Whatever, don’t blame that on me,” Veronica laughed.

“So how bout you? Besides work, what’s been going on?”

Should she tell her? Veronica had been back and forth in her head about when she should tell Lynne about the letters to Nick, she’d been putting it off, now was the time to come clean as they say.

“Well, there’s something kinda interesting I gotta tell ya.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Ok, so spill.”

“Fine, but you have to listen first, no comments until after and let me just say that I’ve been through it all in my head first and I’ve thought of every possible scenario as to why it couldn’t possibly be real and all.”

“Okay.”

“So don’t get on my case about acting silly and…”

“Veronica?”

“Yeah?”

“Just tell me!”

“Right…”

A few minutes later, Veronica finished and waited, dead silence on the other end.

“Lynne?” Veronica probed.

“Am I allowed to comment now?”

“Huh? Oh, oh yeah, go ahead.”

“Well, I can see where you’d be a little skeptical, cause I am too. That said though, I think it’s a good thing you wrote him back. If It was me, I’d wait and see just how long this person would be willing to go on pretending, that is if this person is an imposter.”

“So you think there is a possibility that this is actually Nick I’m writing to?”

“Well yeah, I think there’s a small one…”Lynne started.

Veronica’s heart dropped, she’d been over it, but it was always a different feeling when someone else told her that there was a possibility it that was actually him.

“…But in all honesty, don’t get your hopes up too much Veronica,” she finished.

“So…?”

“So I think you should keep writing him, and like Carla said, if it’s not him, you’re no worse off really and if it is, then hey. Maybe you two can become friends with him or whoever is really writing them.”

“Well I guess it’s settled then, I keep writing him.”

Hadn’t she decided that already?
Chapter 27 by Gravity 721
Chapter 27


He couldn’t believe he had to double back to get those stupid forms, he’d spent most of the morning filling them out only to walk right out the house without them. Turning, he made his way down the street, breaking a few speed limits, he’d be shit out of luck if there happened to be a cop around. Nick made his way over the hill, looking over at the post office, when a thought hit him. Cursing, he quickly switched lanes and pulled into the parking lot, he’d completely forgotten to check his box. He’d been so anxious about it last night; he was surprised it wasn’t the first thing he’d done this morning.

Slipping out, he shut the door and activated the alarm, making his way inside the building and over to the two aisles of boxes, turning down one of the aisles. Nick spotted his box and stood before it, slipping his key into the lock and hesitated. What if she hadn’t written? He was gonna feel pretty stupid, then again, what if she had? Nick forced back the butterflies that had suddenly taken up residence in his stomach and turned the key, whipping the door open.

A single envelope rested inside.

A slow smile spread over his lips, warmth curling inside his stomach to mix with the butterflies that seemed to have calmed once he’d seen the letter. Reaching in, he grabbed the envelope and looked at the name, Veronica Peterson was on the address label in the left-hand corner. Nick closed the box, turning the key and pulling it from the slot. Quickly he made his way out the post office and back to his truck, deactivating the alarm and slipping inside.

Tossing the letter on the dashboard, he started the truck. He could just read it now and get it over with, then again he didn’t want to look stupid sitting out in a parking lot reading a letter, people would think he simply couldn’t wait to get home. In all actuality, he couldn’t. Pulling out and onto the street, he’d make himself wait, besides the waiting would make it that much better when he actually could read it. A few minutes later he pulled into his driveway, opening the gate and pulling up closer.

Once inside his house, he tossed the letter down on the table and headed up to his bedroom, finding the papers and started back out, stopping to use the bathroom before pounding downstairs and starting for the door. Stopping suddenly, he remembered the letter, how could he have forgotten that fast? Walking over to the table, he picked up the letter, walking over to the couch, he tore the envelope open and pulled the paper out, noticing that this letter was a bit longer than the last.

Dear Nick,

Hi! How are you? I have to say I was surprised to have received your last letter, I honestly didn’t think you’d have the time to write back, but I’m glad you did.

I was looking at your site and saw that you were gonna be in London all this month for promo stuff for your next album, I hope that went well for you.

Not much has been going on here though, same ole, just a lot of work and all that; you know how that goes.

Don’t worry about your address, I won’t give it out to anyone, I promise.

Well I guess that’s it for now. I hope to hear from you again soon. Take care and thanks again for writing back.

Love,
Veronica


He read it again and smiled, folding the paper up and shoving it back in the envelope. As stupid as it was, that letter made him feel pretty good, not that she’d written anything earth shattering, but still. As soon as he got the chance, he’d write her back.

Smiling he stood, grabbing the papers once again, he started for the door, heading out. Looking at his watch, he saw that it was still early, maybe he’d stop by his parents and see how everything was, it’d been a month since he’d been home after all.
Chapter 28 by Gravity 721
Chapter 28


Pulling into the parking lot, Veronica found a space and parked, getting out and heading into the store. She had a ton of errands to do; she always seemed to spend her days off this way. Grabbing a cart, she made her way in immediately heading down one aisle, grabbing things and tossing them into the cart. About an hour later, she made her way to the checkouts, putting the stuff onto the conveyor belt. Looking around, she glanced at the magazines on the rack next to her, one of her biggest indulgences, she was an avid reader and she was always buying books or magazines. Grabbing the latest People,, she was flipping through it, when something caught her eye. Lowering the magazine, she blinked, there was Nick on the cover of Teen People. Looking around cautiously, she plucked the magazine and flipped through it quickly.

Nick wasn’t in magazines much anymore, since the rest of the group was on a break, he’d been doing his solo thing, but now that his first CD was out, and he was working on his second, he was starting to show up a little. The success of his first CD wasn’t at all what he or fans had been hoping for, well the fans that had been in support of it. Veronica had been extremely disappointed in the backlash fans gave when he’d gone solo, there was still a bit of animosity to this day and it was a year later. Unable to find the article on her own, she flipped back to the front, found the table of contents, the page number and flipped to the page, reading intently.

“Excuse me ma’am, are you gonna get that magazine?”

Veronica looked up quickly, blushing bright red.

“Oh! N-no, sorry!” She stuffed the magazine back on the rack and hurried forward, swiping her card. “Sorry about that.”

The cashier gave her a bored look, waiting for the card to process. Veronica groaned, rubbing at her head. She hadn’t had time to finish reading the article; it was just as well. What she did happen to catch, was that he was extremely busy working on his album and in talks with the guys about starting another group album as well. Which meant he didn’t have time to do much of anything else, including letter writing. The feeling of stupidity came fast and hard. She really was fooling herself.

Making her way to her car, she loaded the bags in and then took off. Her cell phone went off, and she reached into her purse blindly, grabbing it and flipping it open.

“Hello?”

“Wanna have lunch together?”

“Hi to you too.”

“Well do you?”

“Sure Lynne.”

“Great, so do you wanna just meet somewhere?”

“Why don’t I stop by and I’ll drive.”

“Sounds good.”

“See you in a bit.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“So where do you want to go?” Veronica asked. They decided to just head over in one car, Veronica would drop her off afterwards.

“Well, no where fancy, I’m all about McDonalds today.”

“McDonalds it is, how’s work going so far?”

“Eh, same ole shit basically, boring and repetitive. I really need to get a new job, I’m starting to sound like you,” Lynn smirked.

“Ha ha,” Veronica moaned as she pulled into the parking lot and got out.

A few minutes later, they had ordered and sat to eat.

“I’m just not sure what else I’d do you know? I’m doing what I went to college for, but I’m just not enjoying it, I don’t know if I need a new environment or if it’s the job as a whole.”

“Well you did that internship and liked it right?”

“Yeah, I loved it actually,” Lynne responded, dunking a fry in ketchup.

“Then I think it’s not so much the job but as where you’re working. Maybe you need a change, a new challenge.”

Lynne shrugged, “It’s so much work to find work.”

Veronica rolled her eyes, trying to hide a smile as she sipped at her drink.

“So what’s going on? Heard anything else from your Nick?”

“No and he’s not my Nick. He just got back home from being overseas for promotion, if I do hear from him, it probably won’t be for a while, he’s gotta get settled and I think I read that he’s got all this promotional stuff to do here too, interviews and shit.”

“Are you excited?”

“Bout what?”

“About him writing you back! What else!?”

“Oh,” Veronica shrugged, “I guess, like I said before, I’m not getting my hopes up for this Lynne, it could stop at anytime.”

“Yeah, but enjoy it while you can.”

“I am, I’m trying. I’d enjoy it more if I just knew if it was the truth, if it was real.”

“Why don’t you just ask him then V?”

“Oh sure, I can see it now. Dear Nick, are you really yourself or not? Let me know!” Veronica groaned, shaking her head.

Lynne chuckled, “I’d tell you to ask him to tell you something only he’d know, but he probably wouldn’t because no one knows for a reason, or if you know what he ends up telling you, then it wouldn’t be something only he knew cause you’d know and that means other fans do too.”

Veronica frowned, “What?”

Lynne shook her head, “I dunno, I don’t think I said that right.”

They giggled, finishing up a short time later and headed back out to Veronica’s car and headed back to Lynne’s job.

“Thanks for lunch, I’ll call ya later in the week alright?”

“Sure, bye Lynne!” Veronica waved bye as Lynne made her way into the building. The rest of the way home, she thought of Nick and the letters leave it up to Lynne to remind her of something she was trying desperately to forget.
Chapter 29 by Gravity 721
Chapter 29


Nick made his way up to the door, knocking before walking in.

“Mom!”

There was the sound of feet pounding down the stairs and then his Mother appeared.

“Nick! Honey what are you doing here?” Jane asked, walking over to pull him into a hug.

“I thought I’d surprise you with a visit, how are you?”

They made their way over to the couch and sat.

“I’m doing good, well, as good as I can be considering.”

Nick nodded; damn he hoped coming here wasn’t a mistake. Looking around, the house seemed emptier than usual, it wasn’t until then he realized that all his Dad’s stuff was gone. Squinting, he saw that the boxes had his Dad’s name on them and felt his stomach turn, maybe it was finally starting to sink in.

“So umm, where is everyone?”

“BJ’s in her room and Leslie’s out with some friends. So how was London? Did you get a lot of work done? Get some things set up for more promotion?”

He sighed inwardly, he was twenty-four years old and his Mom still tried to act like manager. Their strained relationship had been a result of her managing him amongst other things. She never seemed able to stop herself, she just sort of flipped into that mode all the time, which was why he avoided talking to her whenever possible, it was hard, but he didn’t want to have to go down that road again.

“Things went fine Mom, we got a lot done, I’m still tired and a little jet lagged, but you know how that is.”

“I do, I remember how when you were with the guys, you used to get so sick when we came home, do you remember that?” Jane pressed.

Nick nodded, not really wanting to talk about it. A heavy silence fell over them, clearing his throat, he looked around again, trying to reacquaint himself with the surroundings, he always felt like a stranger, this wasn’t the house he’d grown up in, but he never really felt comfortable anywhere but at his own home. He had to laugh, weren’t parents supposed to make anywhere feel like home?

“Where’s, where’s Dad?”

He watched his Mom stiffen before clearing her throat.

“He’s not here, he’s living some where else with your Brother and Angel.”

“Oh,” Nick whispered softly, he should’ve known better than to ask.

“Yeah well, your Brother and Sister thought they’d be better off with your Father so that’s that. So you can call your Brother if you wanna know where they’re staying, because I don’t know.”

Nick looked away; it was obvious that his Mother did not want to know where they were either. Squirming under her intense gaze, a heavy silence descended over the room. Maybe he should just leave, he couldn’t deal with his Mom when she was like this, he couldn’t deal with any of it. He went to stand, when there was the sound of someone pounding down the stairs. Nick looked up to see BJ making her way down, a slow smile spread over his lips as she stopped at the bottom.

“Hey girl, long time no see.”

BJ looked over at Nick, her eyes narrowing.

“It’s you.”

Nick chuckled, “Yeah, it’s me.”

“So where have you been?” BJ asked, her voice cold.

His smile started to fade.

“BJ stop that, I told you he went away for the month,” Jane responded.

“Oh yeah, for album promotion, right. Well then what about before then? Where’s he been for the last three or four months huh? What’s his excuse for that?” She spat, glaring at Nick; “It’s always something with him isn’t it?”

“BJ, I’m sorry, I’ve just been…”

“What? Busy? I’ve heard it before Nick, save it, I’m sick of hearing it. I’m going out,” BJ muttered, turning and heading for the door.

“BJ! You get back here and apologize to your Brother!” Jane yelled.

The door slammed shut and quiet settled over the two. Nick rubbed at his forehead; he definitely shouldn’t have come.

“Sorry Mom, she’s right. I don’t ever come by to see you all much anymore, it’s just…” just that he really didn’t want to, just that sometimes he liked to pretend they didn’t exist, that they weren’t related. Guilt tore at him, he hated to think like that, but he couldn’t help it.

“I know Nick, it’s ok, don’t worry about it. She’s been like that lately, you can’t say anything right where she’s concerned.”

“Yeah but I should make some kind of…” he shook his head, he didn’t want to deal with it right now. “Well I’m gonna get going,” Nick stood quickly, making his way to the door. He couldn’t take it anymore, his family was falling apart and he didn’t want to have to see it. He had to get away.

“Oh, ok, well I guess I’ll see you later then.”

“Ok, tell Leslie I was by alright and that I’ll be by sometime soon to see her. I’m gonna try to stop over and see if I can get in touch with Aaron or Angel.”

Jane stared at him for a moment, her eyes glittering with something Nick couldn’t quite place.

“Fine.”

“Bye Mom.”

“Bye Nick.”

He left, no kiss goodbye, and no hug. Getting into his truck, he grabbed his phone, calling Aaron.
Chapter 30 by Gravity 721
Chapter 30


Nick pulled into his driveway, cutting the engine. That had turned out to be a complete waste of time since is Father wasn’t home. Getting out, he deactivated the alarm and headed into the house, tossing his keys down on the table. Walking over, he pressed the play button on his answering machine, grabbing the letter from Veronica before flopping down on the couch, pulling the letter out, rereading it, only half paying attention to the messages.

It was really stupid that a letter like that could make him so happy, there really wasn’t much to it, but he couldn’t help but read it again. Nick wondered what she was doing right now, what she was like, how her life was. Anything had to be better than what he was doing now, anything. He had to write her back, and this time he’d try to get more information from her, find out a little more about her life and what she was like. If he wanted to keep this going, they had to get beyond asking how each other was in every letter. Did he want to keep this going? Had he suddenly decided that he wanted this to go beyond a few simple letters to a fan?

Groaning, he set the letter aside, his thoughts drifting to his visit with his Mom. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t wallow in self-pity, he was doing a bang up job of it. It was easier to pity himself, no one else would. Was it so unreasonable for him to want people to stop and tell him how sorry they were, as if it was out of the ordinary for people to divorce. Part of him wanted the world to stop moving, for everything to just stay as it was until he got used to his life. The thing was, he didn’t have time to get used to it, simple as that. Between work and everything else, there wasn’t time, or maybe he didn’t make time.

Nick had always felt bad for people whose parents divorced, always figuring it was a feeling he couldn’t imagine or fathom and he’d been right. He never figured it was something he’d ever have to deal with. He’d suffered losses in his life, everyone did, but those losses hadn’t been that great, hadn’t been this. Nick’s family life had never been that stable, between his traveling around the world and then his Brother’s growing success down to his Sisters different things, it seemed nothing ever went smoothly. All families had their problems, why should his be any different? But it was different; not every family had majority of the members as entertainers or parents or in his case, parent who wanted to manage everything. It seemed that even from the very beginning, his life had never been ordinary.

Rubbing at his face, Nick shut it out, just like he always did and tried to focus back on the messages that were still coming.

Hey Nick! Man what’s going on? It’s been forever since we talked, you’ve been so damn busy here lately. I’m sorry to hear about your parents man, how ya holdin’ up? Yo, give me a call alright, we’ll get together, go out for a drink or whatever ok? Cool, call me, later!

Brent. God, it’d been forever since he’d last spoken to him. The thing with the band hadn’t been as successful as he would’ve liked for them. Nick tried, he tried hard to get Brent’s band going, and they still played gigs from what he heard in clubs around Tampa, but they never really caught on and they never did get signed. In some part, Nick felt that was his fault, he could’ve done more, tried even harder. It’d been hard with touring and everything and then he released his first solo album and got caught up with everything and soon, all calls and communication was practically gone. Brent was right, he had been busy, but not so busy he couldn’t call, it was the same with Leslie and his Brother and Sisters. In avoiding his parents and their situation, he was somehow avoiding all the people who really had nothing to do with it. It wasn’t fair, but as selfish as it was, he really didn’t want to have to deal with anyone that was either his family or close to his family, and Brent was. He was practically a Brother to him, and so like the rest of his family, he suddenly found he didn’t have time for him either.

Walking over, Nick erased the message and all the rest without listening to them. Pulling his phone out of his pocket, checking his voicemail to find he had one new message.

Nick? It’s Colette, why haven’t you called? You’ve been out of London for a few days now, you told me you’d call. Have I done something wrong? Please call me, I miss you.

Remnants of London trying to follow him home, shaking his head, he deleted the message.
Chapter 31 by Gravity 721
Chapter 31


“Can I help you?” Veronica questioned as she pulled a new pair of gloves on.

“Veronica? Is that you?”

Veronica smiled; the girl didn’t look familiar.

“God, I didn’t even recognize you, it’s been so long. It’s Lisa Rivers.”

She blinked, her eyes widening suddenly.

“Oh my god, hi!”

“Hi! Wow, how are you?”

“I’m alright, here, come down here.”

Veronica motioned her down to the end of the counter.

“Yeah? I haven’t seen you since you moved what, three years ago?”

“That sounds about right. Yeah, I had to get away, make my own life you know?”

“I hear ya. I got married!” Lisa exclaimed, grinning.

“You did? Congratulations!”

“Thanks, I’m pregnant too. Due early next year.”

“Oh wow! I can’t believe it, you’re gonna be a Mom! That’s so great Lisa.”

She was stunned to say the least, Lisa was about four years younger than she was and here she was married and ready to start a family, she really was behind.

“Thanks. So tell me, how’s your Brother, your Mom, Dad?”

“Bryan’s doing good, he lives in Georgia now with my Dad.”

“You’re Mom’s not there?”

“Nah, they got divorced a few years ago.”

Lisa gasped, “Really? God I had no idea!”

Veronica shrugged, “It’s cool, they’re happier now.”

“How are you doing?”

“I’m alright, really. It was for the best, Mom wasn’t happy and she is now, it’s all worth it in the end.”

“I just can’t believe it, I never knew. Did you ever tell anyone? Does Christa or Melanie know?”

“Nah, I never said anything to anyone, even when everything was going on. Not something ya really talk about,” Veronica shifted uncomfortably. She didn’t want pity; she didn’t want anyone looking at her like her life had fallen apart. It hadn’t, just her family.

“I never expected it, your parents always seemed so happy,” Lisa frowned.

“Yeah I know,” she really didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

“God Veronica, I’m so sorry.”

“Yeah, me too. It’s over and done with and I’m fine and everyone else is so…”

Lisa nodded, “Yeah, well, give me a call if you ever need to talk.”

Veronica took the slip of paper with her number on it she offered and slipped it in her pocket.

“I will, thanks.”

“Well I’ll let you go, it was nice to see you again! Keep in touch please, we’ll have to get together sometime.”

“Sure sounds good.”

“Bye!”

Veronica watched her leave, sighing heavily. She hated to think about the divorce, not that she avoided it, she’d dealt with it, or rather was still dealing with it. She found however, that it was better to deal with it, but not let it take over her life like she let it in the beginning. Sometimes she could forget long enough to pretend her Dad was just at work and that he’d be home on the weekend, she’d gotten good at that. It was what she’d been used to since she could remember. Her Dad being a truck driver caused him to be gone for a week at a time, sometimes longer, only to come home for two days and then head right back out again. If she tried hard enough, she could pretend that’s what was happen.

Turning and making her way into the kitchen, she’d call him tonight.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Hello?”

“Hey Dad.”

“Well hello, to what do I owe the pleasure? Is something wrong?”

“No Dad, nothings wrong, I just wanted to talk to you.”

“Oh.”

“Are you busy?”

“No no, just eating some dinner.”

“I can call you back if you want?”

“No, it’s fine, really. So what’s going on?”

“Nothing, just relaxing.”

“Did you work today?”

“Yeah, just got home about an hour ago and I’m making myself some dinner actually.”

They talked for a little longer when her Dad said he had to go and get ready for bed. They hung up a short time later and Veronica sat to the table staring blankly at the phone. The conversation for the most part had been good, he’d gotten on her case towards the end about her job again and left her feeling a bit angry and frustrated, but she could handle it. It was one of their better conversations, with a bit of humor thrown in. Why couldn’t all calls be like that? Why couldn’t they just talk?

Rubbing at her eyes, she stood and made her way back into the kitchen finish dinner. That was too much to ask, that’s why.
Chapter 32 by Gravity 721
Chapter 32


Knocking on the door, he waited for an answer. Someone had to be here, there were two cars in the driveway. He knocked again and then rang the doorbell; there were pounding of feet then the door swung open.

“Nick!”

“Hey Dad.”

“Hi, come on in.”

His Dad stepped aside to let him in. Nick looked around, hoping to catch a glimpse of Aaron or Angel.

“Is Aaron or Angel here?”

Bob shook his head, “No, they’re at the mall. Have a seat,” he motioned to the couch.

Nick cleared his throat, wondering what to say next, he’d always been really bad at small talk, something that even through out his years of interviewing, he’d never perfected.

“So, Dad, how are things going for you?”

“Oh wonderful Nick, just peachy,” Bob snapped suddenly.

Nick looked away, clearing his throat again. Maybe this had been a bad idea.

“Look Nick, I’m sorry…really. That was, that wasn’t fair,” Bob sighed, “I’m doing ok. It’s a little rough going, but it’s to be expected. How about you? How was your trip?”

“It was ok, tiring and I’m glad to be home, but necessary.”

“Did you get everything done?”

“Yeah, for the most part. Interviews and photo shoots, that kinda thing. I also did some work on my next album, talked with some producers and all. Everything’s looking good so far.”

Bob nodded, “That’s great Nick, glad to hear it. How’s the rest of the guys?”

Nick shrugged, “They’re alright. Haven’t spoken to them much, we’re supposed to be going to the VMA’s in a few weeks and I’ll see them then.”

“Oh, well tell them all I said hi, maybe sometime we can all meet.”

Nick smiled, the likeliness of that happening was slim to none, and he’d make sure of that. Not that the guys wouldn’t want to see him, well maybe that was some of it. Most of it was him though. His parents embarrassed Nick and he really didn’t want anyone to see them. Groaning inwardly, he rubbed at his head. He couldn’t believe he felt like that, but he did.

“Have you seen BJ or Leslie?”

“Yeah yesterday, well I saw BJ, Les was out.”

Bob snorted, “Yeah well, they don’t want to see me. Your Sisters don’t seem to want to talk to me. I can only imagine what your Mother is saying about me to them.”

“Dad…”

“I don’t need that you know? I’m their Father for God’s sake! I have the right to see them!”

“Dad please…”

“They’re taking your Mother’s side you know, Aaron and Angel are the only ones who don’t hate me.”

“I don’t hate you Dad, and neither does Beej or Les.” Nick whispered.

“Sure, you say that, but you don’t know. You don’t know what your Mother’s like Nick.”

No, actually he was probably one of the few people who did know exactly what his Mother was like.

“Dad, I’m sure Mom’s not saying anything bad about you.”

Bob waved him off, “You can’t be sure about that Nick, you can’t. You don’t live with them to know.”

He couldn’t handle this anymore, if it wasn’t his Mom, it was his Dad. He didn’t have to put up with it and he wouldn’t. This, this was the reason why he didn’t come around more often. Standing abruptly, he made his way to the door.

“Look Dad, I gotta go.”

“Why? So you can go over there and tell them what I said? Go ahead, I don’t care you hear me?”

Nick hurried out, slamming the door behind him.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Slumping down on the couch, he grabbed a throw pillow and covered his face with it. Why did he bother? Why? It was always the same shit all the time and he was sick and tired of it. He couldn’t go over anymore, at least, not until everything died down. Screaming into the pillow, he pulled it from his face, throwing it angrily across the room, groaning when a small vase tipped and fell, hitting the side of the table it was on and shattering. Yeah, and it’d be his Brother and Sisters who’d pay. He’d find some way of hanging out with them still though. This wasn’t their fault.

Standing, he made his way over to his entertainment center, popping a CD in and turning the volume all the way up. Soon the guitar sounds of Nirvana filled the room, the vibrations rattling the house. He needed a distraction; he needed something so he wouldn’t have to hear his own thoughts. Heading into his room, he looked around for something to do, when he noticed an envelope sitting on his dresser.

Veronica’s letter.

Snatching it up, he pulled the letter out, reading it over again. He could write her back, give him something to focus on he supposed. Searching his room frantically, he found some paper an envelope and a pen, making his way downstairs and into the kitchen. Slumping down in one of the chairs, he began to write.
Chapter 33 by Gravity 721
Chapter 33


Seven Days Later…

Locking the door, she made her way in, kicking her shoes off. Veronica was so glad to be home, it’d been a long tiring day at work, now she wanted to relax eat a little dinner and then read before heading to bed.

Making her way in, she tossed the mail down on the table and headed into her room to change. She knew she should take a shower, but she was just too tired. Deciding to get up early in the morning and take one before work, she changed into some shorts and a sweatshirt and headed back out. Veronica had never been the type who was able to wear sweatpants or jeans in the house, even in the dead of winters, and it got cold in New York. Heading into the kitchen, she made a box of instant macaroni and cheese, took the pot and all over to the couch, setting it down on the fold out coffee table in front of her, flipped the TV on and started to eat.

Remembering the mail, she stood, grabbed the stack and brought it over, sifting through it as she continued to eat, looking up at the TV occasionally. Coming towards the end of the stack, she set the bill for the Internet to the side and grabbed the last envelope. Looking it over, there was no return address, but she recognized the scrawled handwriting immediately.

It was another letter from Nick.

Just like that, her appetite was gone. Pushing the pot away, she brought her legs up under her, just staring at the envelope.

The reaction was always the same. The sweaty palms and increased heartbeat, the question if this would be the last letter if he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. Turning the envelope over, she quickly tore it open, turning the volume down on the TV; she pulled the paper out. Smiling a bit, she started to read.

Dear Veronica,

Hey, how are you? Sorry it’s taken me so long to write you back, been kinda busy doing stuff. Yeah, London was nice I always like going there to do whatever. So yeah.

Thanks for not saying anything about my address.

Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself? How old are you, do you have any Brothers or Sisters? Are you in school? Where do you work? What do your parents do? When’s your birthday? Where in New York do you live?

I guess that’s it for now, talk to you soon.

Nick


She smiled; folding the letter up and slipping it back in the envelope. He sure wanted to know a lot about her. Not that her life was all that exciting. Well she wasn’t going to hesitate like she normally did, she’d write him back now.

Slipping off the couch, she got a notepad and pen, sitting down to write. About an hour later, she finished up, reading it over one last time before putting it in the envelope and addressing it. Veronica hoped he didn’t think she was over anxious by getting a response so soon, but she just couldn’t wait. If she wanted to keep the communication going, she wanted him to think he was important to her and that she was excited to keep in contact with him.

After sticking a stamp in the corner, she headed out and put the letter in the outgoing mailbox.
Chapter 34 by Gravity 721
Chapter 34


“So when can we expect the new album?”

“Hopefully at the end of this year or early next year,” Kevin smiled, waving at a few people as he made his way in with the rest of the guys.

“Brian over here!”

“Howie, over here please!”

There were numerous flashes and the roar of the crowds as the guys waved before making their way into the building. The lobby buzzed with the sounds of people talking and more cameras going off. The guys filtered into the large auditorium, finding their designated seats.

Nick hated these things, he really didn’t like all the cameras in his face, generally he dealt with it like he had the past ten plus years. There was a time and place for everything. This was definitely one of those times, but with everything going on with him, he didn’t feel like being here. He wanted to be home in bed watching the game, hell he wanted to be anywhere but here.

He looked around casually as the guys all started talking amongst themselves. He really should be making some kind of effort, but he felt like the odd man out for some reason. They all seemed so happy and their lives seemed to be falling into place, he envied that and he didn’t want to have to hear about it.

“Nick? Hey Nick…”

“What Kev?”

“How ya doing? How ya holding up with everything that’s been going on?”

“I’m fine.”

“Ya know, you don’t have to pretend with me…with us Nick. It’s cool ya know.”

Nick turned to look at him; “I’m not.”

“So then what? You’re not pretending, then what are you doing?”

“I’m sitting here waiting for this damn thing to start.”

Kevin rolled his eyes; “You know what I meant, stop being such a smartass.”

“I told you I was fine, drop it Kev.”

“You’re ok with just acting like everything is fine?”

“I’m not acting.”

“Nick…”

“Kevin stop it! Just drop it already!” Nick spat.

“Nick, we’re just worried about you,” Brian offered softly.

Nick turned, looking at Brian who sat on his other side, glaring at him, “Well don’t, I’m fine I said. Leave it alone.”

AJ rolled his eyes, looking towards the stage as Howie shook his head.

He couldn’t wait for this to be over, he couldn’t wait to get away from them.
Chapter 35 by Gravity 721
Author's Note: The email address at the bottom is NOT my actual address. You can try sending email to it, but it won't be me that answers. LOL! It's just an address I made up.

Chapter 35


A Few Days Later…

He’d blown off all his responsibilities to have this day at home and he didn’t intend to let it go to waste. He’d slept in till eleven, played some video games and put his answering machine on. His friends had been calling the last few days, but he was too lazy to call them back. Maybe he should now, not like he had anything else better to do.

Grabbing his phone, he went through everyone in the programmed address book, no one was home. Just his luck, they try to contact him and he wasn’t there, he tries to get them and they’re not there. Maybe he’d just go out for a drive, see if he could meet up with some friends somewhere. Standing, he made his way up to his bedroom, gathering some clothes up then heading into the bathroom and into the shower. An hour later he was dressed and out the door.

A Few Hours Later…

Nick made his way into his house, tossing his keys on the counter, heading into the kitchen and opening the fridge. It’d been nice to get out, he’d happened to run into quite a few of his friends and spent time catching up and visiting with them. Grabbing a bottle of water, he uncapped it and took a long swig. He was glad he’d gotten that out the way, it sucked, but part of him felt like he had to do it to keep those lines of communication open. Lord knew he hadn’t been the best friend in the last ten years, always gone, never returning calls. Most of the time he just didn’t want to be bothered. When he was home he wanted to relax, be alone.

Shutting the door, he headed back out to get the mail, which he’d conveniently forgotten to get on his way in. He cursed loudly, he’d forgotten to check his post office box! He could just wait until tomorrow to check it. Shaking his head, he grabbed his keys and headed back out again, he wouldn’t be able to wait that long.

Making his way back in a short time later, he shut and locked the door, activating the alarm, he wasn’t gonna be going out again. Stopping by the table, he grabbed the bottle of water again and held it up to his lips to take another drink before setting it down, a slow smile forming on his lips, another letter from Veronica.

He made his way up to his room, ripping the envelope open at the same time. Walking over, Nick flopped down on his bed, pulling the paper out and opening it. He’d asked her a whole bunch of questions the last time he wrote, he wondered at the time if she’d actually sit down and answer them all. Seeing the two pages, it seemed she had. Smiling a bit, he got comfortable and stared reading.

Nick,

Hey! Great to hear from you again, always nice to get the mail and see a letter from you.


He felt the same way when it came to her letters.

Wow, that’s a lot of questions, let me see if I can get them all in here for you.

Ok, first off I’m twenty-four, I have two older Brothers Paul and Bryan and I work at a local grocery store in the deli. Ohhh, so exciting I know! I can’t complain, it’s a job and all. Still I wanna do more with my life and working in a deli isn’t gonna get me there ya know?

All right, what next? Oh, I’m out of school for now. I’ve got my degree in Liberal Arts though, gonna take some time off and then go back and get my bachelors degree, probably in English or something. Was not my original intention though, I wanted to go for computers, but Math and me don’t agree and besides, writing is where my heart is, so we’ll see how that goes.

As I said before, I work in a deli. Been there for about seven years and I can’t stand it. At first it was ok, didn’t mind it so much. After having to deal with nasty customers though, I’m sick of the interaction. I’m generally a people person, but I’m sick and tired of being treated any which way and having to take it cause they’re supposedly always right, bullshit. So yeah, not my career choice, but for now it’ll have to do.

My family, well it’s pretty easy. I already told you I have two older Brothers, one lives in Georgia and the other lives about fifteen minutes from me here in New York. My parents are divorced, about…six years now. I live alone and my Mom lives about twenty minutes from me. My Dad lives in Georgia in the same complex with my Brother Bryan too.


So her parents were divorced too, something they had in common. Nick wondered if she had a hard time dealing with it in the beginning like he was.

My Mom’s a nursing assistant and physical therapist and my Dad’s a truck driver. Bryan’s into sales, he could sell anyone anything, he’s really slick. I told him he needs to get into selling cars cause he’s shifty enough for it. He can be real charming, especially when it comes to the ladies. He’s such a ladies man that he makes me sick.

Nick chuckled; Bryan sounded like the kind of person he’d hang out with. People had always told him he could be kind of shifty, real charming when he wanted to be.

Paul does a lot of work on trucks and stuff, he likes to draw, but he’s more into the mechanics of things.

Ummm, oh right, my birthday. I turn twenty-five on July 21. I’m a summer girl at heart anyway, but it always feels so far away. Obviously I was born in 1980, not that you wanted me to get that specific or anything. Hell I could tell you what day and time if ya want! Heh heh.


Same age as him too, well he was a few months older, but that didn’t really matter. Part of him was glad she didn’t turn out to be too young or too much older than him.

Lastly, I live in Rochester, which is about an hour or so away from Buffalo, depending on how fast you drive. It’s not too bad, a couple of my friends and I always travel to Buffalo when you guys do concerts out there, it’s a lot of fun. We’re hoping though, that at some point you’ll come to Rochester. Ahh, everyone always asks you that don’t they? Forget I said that, I don’t wanna sound like anyone else! Ha ha!

Ok, I think that’s everything, I hope I didn’t leave anything out. I’d ask you tell me a little about yourself, but I guess it’s kind of unnecessary…unless there’s something you wanna tell me or whatever. Feel free.

So I’ll let ya go, you’re probably bored to tears right now aren’t ya? My life’s not remotely interesting really, I hope I haven’t disappointed you too much.

Talk to ya soon,

Veronica

PS. By the way it may be a little easier for you to email me. Here’s my address.

Freesialover@yahoo.com


Freesia lover? What was Freesia? He’d make a note to ask her the next time he wrote her. Nick smiled; folding the letter up and sliding it back into the envelope. It was nice to know more about her, felt a little closer to her in some odd way. Making his mind up suddenly, he sat up, rummaged around and found a notebook. Grabbing a pen, and finding something hard to write on. Opening the notebook he started to write. Generally he’d wait, but not this time, he was anxious to get back to her. Maybe he’d open up just a bit about his parents’ divorce, she’d understand wouldn’t she? Nick had to be careful though; he didn’t want what he told her to end up on the internet somewhere. He’d tell her very very little and see what happened. Maybe he’d even hop online and quickly drop her an email.
Chapter 36 by Gravity 721
Chapter 36


Veronica set the grocery bags on the table and walked over, shutting and locking the door. As if she didn’t get enough of her job, she had to shop there too. She quickly unloaded and put away all the groceries, before heading into her room to turn her computer on. Walking back out, she opened the fridge and took out fixings for a sandwich and then grabbed a bag of chips from the cupboard. After making a sandwich, she headed back into her bedroom with her plate and chips. Setting the stuff down, she sat in the chair and connected to the internet, all the while eating and sipping at her drink.

Her mind was already racing with all the things she had to do before going to bed. She hated having to work one day be off the next and then work the following day, it just threw her off. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a fixed schedule as most people did so even though she was full time, she didn’t work five days straight; she’d have a day or two off during the week and have to work the weekend. She longed for a job where she had every weekend off; it made it so hard to plan anything.

Veronica finished her sandwich and set the empty plate down, turning once again to her computer, moving the mouse across the screen quickly, heading to her usual places before heading over to check her email finally. After logging in, she clicked on the “inbox” icon and waited for the page to load, grabbing her glass, she took a long drink then set it down. Focusing on the screen, she scrolled down and deleted all the junk mail. She stopped at one email in particular.

Inbox

Sender
Subject


Chucktaylor11
It’s Nick


Her heart started racing, it couldn’t be…could it? Hesitating a moment, she clicked on the subject and waited nervously for the page to load. Scrolling down a few seconds later, she read what was written,

Date: Tue, Nov 4 2004 19:29:40 -0700 (EST)
From: chucktaylor11@aol.com
Subject: It’s Nick
To: freesialover@yahoo.com

Hey Veronica, it’s Nick. I just wanted to write you and give you my personal email address. I have a few other ones that fans find and I usually have to end up deleting the account. Hopefully I wont have to do the same with this one. I wrote you a letter so you can be expecting that soon. It may just be easier for us to talk through here from now on if you don’t mind. What do you think? I’ll check this more if I know to expect emails from you.

Guess that’s all for now. I’ll save your address in my book, you can do the same.

Talk to ya later

Nick

Veronica stared at the screen; he’d actually emailed her. Talking through emails would be a lot easier and a lot more convenient. To say she was stunned would be an understatement, she couldn’t believe he actually took the time to email her. Would Nick have the time to do that? It all seemed pretty unbelievable.

Clicking on the reply button, she typed up a quick response and sent it, making sure to check the box to have the address saved in her address book. After logging off, she headed back into the living room. He’d written her too, he’d written and emailed her and it seemed he had no intention of stopping anytime soon.

Slumping down on the couch, Veronica smiled. She was gonna enjoy it while it lasted.
Chapter 37 by Gravity 721
Chapter 37


“Hello?”

“He emailed me. I left my email address in the last letter and he emailed me Lynne! Can you fuckin’ believe that?”

“No shit? Wow, so what’d he say?”

“He said he wanted to give me his personal email address and that he’d written me another letter and then he asked if I just wanted to keep in touch through emails, that it’d be a lot easier that way. Of course, that’s what I’d said in my last letter.”

“Mmmhmm, so what’s his address?”

“I can’t say.”

“Why not? It’s not like I’m gonna go and email him or something.”

“I can’t Lynne, I’d be breaking that trust.”

“So you’re sure it’s him then?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Well then, if you’re not sure it’s him, then it should be no problem for you to give me his address.”

“Nope.”

“You exhaust me.”

“I know!” Veronica giggled.

“Anyway, what else did he say?”

“That was it basically, he said if he can expect to hear from me, he’ll check his mail more often, and then I wrote him back.”

“So are you gonna keep in touch through emails?”

“Of course! It’ll be so much quicker, though I will miss the letters though.”

“Ya can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

“I guess not.”

Lynne was silent for a moment before blurting out, “Just give me a hint! Is it something really easy?”

Veronica groaned, “I’m hanging up now Lynne, I’ll call you later in the week.”

“Bitch.”

“Love you too! Bye!”

“Bye” Lynne grumbled before hanging up.

Veronica shook her head, staring back at the computer screen. What if he’d written back? Would he be online right now? Signing back on, she quickly checked her mail to see that he had not responded. Of course he hadn’t, she just sent the email an hour ago, it wasn’t like he was sitting there waiting for her response. Pushing away from the desk, she stood. She’d do some work to take her mind off it.

Walking out her room, she started to pick up, every time she past her room, she glanced at her computer. Heading back into the living room, she started organizing the table and then went into the kitchen to do the dishes. After dusting the furniture, she went to the closet to get the vacuum out, her gaze again resting just inside her room, on her computer. Who was she kidding?

Hurrying back in, she went to her email and clicked on the compose button.
Chapter 38 by Gravity 721
Chapter 38


He shut the door and walked in, tossing his keys and mail down on the table. He had a few hours before he had to head to the meeting with the guys. The morning had been spent doing countless interviews and photo shoots and they had to meet in a few hours for a meeting with the record executives, something he wasn’t looking forward to. It was safe to say that Nick no longer trusted as easily as he did when he was younger, none of them did. They’d learned their lesson and they learned the hard way. If something was too good to be true, it usually was. Luckily for the most part, it was settled. Things with Jive were strained to say the least though, things were going to come to a head soon, he could feel it.

Kicking his shoes off, he headed into his kitchen, opening the fridge and grabbing a beer, the mail off the table and the phone, heading over to the couch, slumping down. After taking a long swig of beer, he grabbed the phone and dialed. He felt like going out tonight, he’d spent too much time alone here lately, he needed to get out. Nick wondered if Brent was home, maybe he was up to hanging out. After getting a hold of Brent and making plans to go out later that evening, he tore into his mail, groaning at the bills that’d piled up. Tossing them aside, his thoughts went to his post office box. Veronica wouldn’t have written him back yet as he just sent out the letter only a few days ago. Groaning, he realized he’d forgotten that he’d emailed her yesterday, he hadn’t had the chance to check his email yet. Standing he made his way up to his room, booting one of his laptops, before heading back down to grab his beer.

Making his way back into his room, he headed over to his dresser, grabbing his address book, flipping it open. He’d ask one of his girlfriends to come with him tonight, lord knew he needed a little companionship, it’d been too long since he’d last been with a girl. Grabbing his phone, he dialed and then headed back over to the computer, signing in, smiling when there was a click on the other end.

“Hey, it’s Nick, yeah, it has been a long time. Look I thought we’d catch up, I’m gonna hang out with Brent tonight, go to a few clubs and shit, you wanna come with me?”

Nick went to his mailbox, sifting through the bulk mail and other crap, deleting it, stopping suddenly when he saw two emails in particular:

Inbox

Sender Subject
freesialover@yahoo.com
Re: It’s Nick

freesialover@yahoo.com
Me again


Smiling, he clicked on the first one.

“No no, I’ll come pick you up, we’ll be going out at around nine, so I’ll be by around nine thirty, that ok? Great, see ya then,” he muttered, still looking at the screen, waiting for the page to load. Hanging up, he tossed the phone blindly on the bed and scrolled down to read, seeing that she replied yesterday.

Date: Thurs, Nov 5 2004 13:45:40 -0700 (EST)
From: freesialover@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: It’s Nick
To: chucktaylor11@aol.com

Nick,

Hey, great to hear from you! I’ll be looking for your letter and I’ll just respond through email ok?

I’m gonna add your email address to my address book as well, and yes I think it would be easier for us to just communicate through here too.

Talk to you soon!

Veronica


Nick smiled and clicked to log out. He’d read the other one when he had more time, now he had to get ready for the next meeting. He quickly got ready; made a few more calls, inviting a few more people to hang out then headed out.

Several Hours Later…

Nick made his way into the house, extremely tired, a slight buzz from the alcohol he’d consumed, but feeling good. It’d been nice to hang out with Brent and the guys, and even nicer to see Danielle again, very nice. It’d been too long for him to go without, he just hadn’t had the time to hang out with his friends let alone screw around with girls. He’d be sure to make more time in the future.

Heading into his room, he flipped the light on and stripped down, the scent of Danielle’s perfume all over his body. Grabbing his sweats, he pulled them on, rubbing at his eyes before flopping down on the bed. Shit, he was working himself up all over again just thinking about her; he should’ve asked her to come home with him. He shouldn’t have to settle for pleasing himself when she would’ve been more than willing. It was never the same either.

Too frustrated to sleep, he stood, staring at his laptop, there was that other email from Veronica he wanted to read. Reaching out, he turned it on and waited while it booted and connected instantly. Sitting, he opened his mailbox and clicked on the email, noticing that it was sent the same day and if he counted right, only about an hour or so after the other. Raising an eyebrow, he scrolled down to read.

Date: Thurs, Nov 5 2004 14:30:40 -0700 (EST)
From: freesialover@yahoo.com
Subject: Me again
To: chucktaylor11@aol.com

Nick,

It’s me again. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself; I had nothing else to do. Actually, that’s a lie, I was cleaning my apartment, but I couldn’t focus. I hope you don’t mind me emailing you back so soon when I haven’t received your letter yet.

Anyway, I was off from work yesterday, but I work the next few days. I hate working the weekends, it sucks, not that I do much, but still. I want a job where I don’t have to work any weekends. My manager can be so mean sometimes ya know? I’m always running around like a chicken with its head cut off and she’s got me doing fifty fuckin’ things at once and I’m sick of it. If it isn’t her, it’s the customers, and no, they’re NOT always right. Do you ever feel like…you’re being taken advantage of? That people never really know your full potential?


Boy did he, though he would never tell anyone that, the guys always told him he whined and that he was just a big baby, he hated it. Frowning he shook his head, he’d laugh it off, but things like that he always remembered.

I feel like that at my job you know? I’m rotting away there, I need to look for something else, but I think part of me stays because it’s comfortable and I know it…too scared to get out there and do better. I guess that makes me a wimp huh?

A wimp? He didn’t think so; he couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Didn’t she have someone to encourage her? Granted him and the guys didn’t always agree, but they generally supported whatever he did. Then again he was one to talk. He’d been put in that mold of being the cute dumb one and he never really worked to change everyone’s view either. It was his gold ticket in the group and while he could try to change it, part of him was afraid that no one would like the real him. So he’d sit back and smile, look good for the camera and keep his mouth shut like Kevin told him to do so many times.

Maybe him and Veronica weren’t that different in that aspect.

Oh well it’s my own fault I guess. If it was that bad, I’d get out right? If I want it bad enough. That’s what everyone tells me at least. I can’t complain cause I’m not doing anything about it and I suppose they’re right. It’s hard though, it really is.

God was it, he totally understood that.

Anyway, I guess that’s it. Just wanted to drop you another line. I hope to hear from you again soon.

Talk to ya soon!

Veronica


He stared at the screen, for some reason not wanting to close the email, reading it over and over. Why did it make sense to him? Why did he feel that much closer to her now? She hadn’t really reveled anything overly personal, but he felt he was that much deeper into her life. He almost wished he’d opened up a bit more to her in the last letter, he was starting to feel more comfortable with her. Still, he wasn’t sure if he could trust her totally though, it was much too early yet.

Nick looked at the clock, four in the morning. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep until
he wrote her back. Clicking on the reply button he started typing.
Chapter 39 by Gravity 721
Chapter 39


She stood at the counter, waiting for someone, anyone to come up. She hated when it was slow like this. Everything was finished. There were too many people on and not enough stuff to do. Grabbing a cloth, she started wiping the counters down for the third time. It didn’t matter how much you cleaned; it only took a few minutes for the counters, slicers and scales to get dirty again. It was like fighting a never-ending battle.

Veronica looked at the clock for what had to be the one-hundredth time that hour, she was anxious and couldn’t focus. She wanted to get home and check her email. Unfortunately she still had three and a half hours left of her shift, and the rate the day was going, time was going to go by real slow. Groaning, she tossed the cloth down and headed over to the edge of the counter, checking the to do list to see if there was anything else that had been added or that she could do.

Nothing.

“Veronica? What are you working on?” Shelly asked as she made her way into the department.

“Well I was cleaning the slicers and stuff down, but I finished that. There’s nothing left on the list for us to do, all that’s left is for the evening crew.”

“Are the temps all caught up?”

“Yup, not due again until one thirty.”

“Do you wanna leave early so you don’t have to take a lunch?”

Veronica was sure heavens bells rang just then.

“Yeah, sure!”

“Ok, you can either go now or wait till about twenty five after.”

“I’ll wait.”

“Ok, just let me know before you go.”

Veronica nodded, grinning brightly. Yes! She loved when she was able to go home early, it didn’t happen often, but when the chance arose, she took it. Now she had just twenty-five minutes left. Feeling newly recharged; she grabbed the cloth again and started wiping the slicers down again. She did have a little shopping she had to do before she made her way home though. Tossing the cloth down, she tore off a sheet of paper from the pad on the counter and jotted down a quick list so she wouldn’t forget anything. Maybe she’d pick up a movie to watch later. Normally she didn’t like to rent movies on days she had to go to work the next day, but she’d be bored this evening, it was a Friday night and she had nothing to do.

Twenty five minutes later, after letting her manager know, Veronica punched out and grabbed a basket and started gathering up the few things on her list. When she’d gathered everything on her list, she headed over to the book section. After going through various titles, she picked out two then made her way over to the magazine display. Looking the various magazines over, grabbing another with Nick on the cover, opening to the index, she found the page number with the article about him and started reading. She grinned, turning the page to find a small pull out poster of him, staring intently at it. She really had to stop this. Sighing softly, she looked up quickly then back down and stilled, slowly lifting her gaze again.

James.

She clutched the magazine tightly in her hands, looking back down.

Please god; please don’t let him look over here!

Was there a smooth way she could toss the magazine down and leave without him seeing her? The problem was, she really wanted the magazine, that one and a few others she’d seen. Veronica looked down at the words on the magazine, but they all started to blur together, she couldn’t concentrate as he slowly moved closer to her in the aisle, the familiar scent of his cologne filling the air. She stared hard at a small picture of Nick, her heart pounding rapidly, her hands becoming cold and clammy.

“V?”

Oh no…oh god.

She slowly looked up, her mouth having gone totally dry.

“It is you! Hey!”

Veronica smiled weakly, closing the now crumpled, damp magazine and quickly tossed it down, turning to face him.

“Hey James, how are you?”

“Pretty good, how bout you?” He asked, reaching out to grab another magazine.

Veronica took the moment to grab a random magazine, and open it to a page.

“I’m alright, getting ready to head home, Shelly let me go early.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty slow today, and everything is done, well everything the morning crew could do so…”

“Well that’s cool, that’ll help for tonight. Whatcha readin’?”

She really wished she’d looked at what she’d grabbed, and most of all, what page she’d turned to. Holding the magazine out so he could see, she watched as his eyes widened a bit, a smirk suddenly forming on his lips.

“Very interesting.”

Slowly she brought her gaze down to the page, her eyes widening at the bold words splashed across the page:

“10 Tips for Hot Sex In and Out of Bed!”

Veronica flipped the magazine closed, Cosmopolitan. She could feel her face burning as she slowly lifted her gaze to his.

“I guess you can never know too much where that’s concerned huh?” James chuckled.

“Nope, I guess not.”

Why was she still standing there?

“Well, enjoy your magazine,” James said suddenly, putting the magazine he had away. “I’ve got to go punch in.”

Veronica just now realized he was in uniform.

“Ok, so I’ll see you later then?”

James smiled, “Of course you will. Bye!”

“Bye.”

Veronica watched as he sauntered off and tossed the magazine down, fighting back the urge to cry. Just her luck, now he probably thought she was some kind of sexpot or something. Sexpot? Who was she kidding, all anyone had to do was look at her to know that wasn’t the case. Rubbing at her eyes, she grabbed the other magazine with Nick on the cover and a few others and hurried out the aisle, leaving the Cosmo where she’d left it.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She stuffed the bags into the bag holder on the handle of the closet and grabbed the magazines, heading over to the couch. Smiling, she grabbed the Cosmo that had come in the mail along with the other magazines and tossed them down. Yeah, she really was a pervert.

Headed into her room, turning her computer on and booting it up. Making her way back into the other room, she grabbed the magazines again and decided to just read them in her room. Slumping down on her bed, she thought about the incident at work and sighed. How would she be able to look at James again? He probably went and told everyone there that she was some pervert. No, he wouldn’t do that…would he?

Veronica grabbed one of the magazines and started flipping through it, trying to act like she hadn’t bought it because of Nick. She skimmed the articles, pretending to read. She stopped when she came across the page with a small interview with him. Reading it quickly, she sighed, closing the magazine. If only she knew.

Standing, she made her way over to her computer sitting and then signing on and then heading to her email. After she logged in she clicked on her inbox, her heart pounding. She really shouldn’t get too excited; he was busy, not like he’d just answer her right away or anything. It had been a day or so, so she figured it was still too early yet. Taking a deep breath, she scrolled down, an email from an online friend and then…her heart dropped.

He responded.

Biting her lip, she deleted all the junk mail first, saving the email from Nick and friend, for last. She clicked on her friends email first, she’d met Erin a few years ago through a mutual friend, they were both big Backstreet fans and it’d just grown from there. Even though Erin lived in a different state, they were still as close as if they lived in the same town. She read through the email and responded, letting her know she’d be on to IM her later that evening after dinner. She had yet to tell her about Nick, she’d told Carla and Lynne, but that was it. Veronica didn’t know why she’d hesitated so long, if anyone would believe her, it’d be Erin, maybe that’s why she wanted to be almost positive before she told her.

Heading back to her inbox after sending the email, she clicked on Nick’s email and scrolled down to read after it loaded.

Date: Fri, Nov 7 2004 16:15:40 -0700 (EST)
From: chucktaylor11@aol.com
Subject: Re: Me again
To: freesialover@yahoo.com

Hey,

Nah, I don’t mind at all that you wrote me twice, it makes me feel loved! ;o) Feel free to write me anytime, I don’t mind.

Not much going on with me. Had to do some things with the guys and all and actually, I just got home, was out with some friends last night, went to some clubs and shit. So it’s pretty early in the morning, I thought I’d write you before I went to bed. Don’t be surprised if from now I only respond late at night, it’s the only time I have a chance to be on really and it’s when I do most of my internet stuff unless I have a day off or whatever.

I hate working weekends too. I miss havin my days and nights free to do whatever I want too. Its not always about doin shit ya know? Just kinda hanging out and chillin’ even if that means bein at home or whatever.


He got it, he understood. It was nice to know she wasn’t the only one who felt that one didn’t always have to go out somewhere to have fun.

Heh, I bet customers aren’t always right. I’ve never had to deal with people in that sense, but I can imagine that it’s pretty frustratin. Ive been in lines and stuff before in stores and I tell ya, the way they talk to the workers sometimes, it just aint right. I feel bad for you guys cause ya gotta take it. I don’t think I could do that, I’d have to like, say something or whatever.

No one knew how hard it was to put up with irate customers who had no problem with putting you down and yelling at you, how degrading it was when you had to stand there and take it day after day.

Ya know, sometimes I do feel like Im bein taken advantage of, there was a time in my life when I was taken advantage of, I just didn’t know it. I guess I trust too easy. Its hard tho cause ya trust people, people that you think would never in a million years hurt ya and then…

Veronica had a feeling who he meant here.

I dunno if anyone ever realizes their true potentional. Like, I’ve met tons of people from all around the world, and they tell me all the things they wanna do, but how there’s people or situations holding them back and they just give up, and it pisses me off ya know? Ya gotta keep at it, I know it’s hard, believe me. But ya gotta keep trying. You know what you wanna do, then go for it, keep tryin don’t let anyone tell you different. You can do it. And no, I don’t think you’re a wimp. Its hard to start something new, something you’re not familiar with, it’s hard to go out there exposed, but ya just gotta try. I always get scared when I do something new, like when I did my solo album, I was fucked up. Nervous as hell that I’d fail and that fans wouldn’t like it n all, but I did it and I’m glad I did.

She could only imagine what it was like to go through telling everyone that he was gonna do a solo album and to hear their responses. Then to worry how it’d do and if fans would like it. She was glad she didn’t have to deal with it. Veronica smiled; he was awfully passionate about it. She had to admit, after she’d sent it, she regretted it. Not that she didn’t want to tell him, but that she feared she’d bored him, that he wouldn’t want to hear it, that he wouldn’t care. That most certainly didn’t seem to be the case.

When other people have opinions about the things you do or want to do, it can make it seem impossible, I feel that. But it’s their opinion ya know? If they don’t support you, screw them, it’s your life, not theirs.

Aight girl I’m gonna head out, sleepy. I hope to hear from you soon.

Later,

Nick

PS. Oh by the way, what is freesia?


Veronica grinned at the last part. He’d never heard of Freesia? Chuckling, she hit the reply button and responded. After sending the email, she went to the usual places to check things out. Stopping at one site, she saw that there were recent pictures of Nick, from last night at a club with a woman. Curious she clicked on the link, her eyes widening as the page loaded,

“Nick Carter & friend 11/6/03”

She narrowed her eyes as the pictures started loading. Hovering over one of the pictures, she read the caption,

Late Thursday evening Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys was seen coming out of a club with an unidentified woman. The two appeared to be very close as they slid into a white SUV and took off.

Smiling a bit, Veronica went to close out when suddenly it hit her. In the email Nick had sent this morning, he’d said that he’d been out all night with some friends at a club. She stared hard at the screen.

It really was him.
Chapter 40 by Gravity 721
Chapter 40


“Why don’t we take a hour for lunch you guys,” Kevin announced.

Nick sighed, pulling the headphones off. His focus wasn’t entirely there, so he was glad when Kevin made the announcement, not only that, he was starving. Rubbing at his head, he started out the booth and then out the door.

“Wait Nick!” Brian called.

He turned to find the guys staring at him.

“What?”

“C’mon Nick, let’s all spend lunch together, catch up. It’s been awhile since we’ve all been able spend time together,” Brian smiled.

Nick stared at them each in turn, a small smile on his lips.

“What is this?”

“Nothing, we just wanna talk. We’ll order Chinese and just talk and eat and whatever,” Howie shrugged, “Catch up.”

“Y’all can get Chinese, I’m gonna get me some McDonald’s,” AJ muttered.

“AJ, please.” Kevin groaned.

“What? I don’t like Chinese, you know that, Howie knows that,” AJ defended, glaring at Howie.

Howie smirked, clearing his throat.

“Guys, it’s just lunch. I’ll head home to eat and be back, you don’t have to worry about me not coming back,” Nick sighed.

“We’re not, we just wanna hang out, there’s no ulterior motive here,” Brian tried again.

Nick sighed, was it so wrong that he really didn’t want to hang out? Was it so bad that he just wanted to be alone?

“It’s not a big thing here Nick, why are you so deadset on avoiding us?” Kevin questioned.

Nick looked over at him, his eyes narrowed, “I’m not.”

“Fine, then you’ll have no problem with lunch,” Kevin finished.

He rubbed at his eyes, now he really couldn’t leave. “Alright, whatever.”

Kevin stared at him a moment before pulling his phone out. “Ok, what do you guys want?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Nick picked at his General Tso’s Chicken, only half listening to the conversation going on around him. Everyone was talking about all the great things in their lives, Howie with his foundation and AJ with his sobriety, Kevin with his Broadway endeavors and Brian his marriage. Again he let his thoughts wander.

It’d been a few days since he’d emailed Veronica back, unfortunately he hadn’t had the chance to check and see if she’d responded, he felt bad since he told her he’d try to check it more often. He’d just been so busy lately thought, between working on his album and making arrangements to work on the group album and hanging out with his friends, most of the time when he got home, he was too exhausted to do anything other than sleep. Nick looked at his band mates talking and laughing, no, he wasn’t ready to tell them about her, not yet.

He forked a piece of chicken into his mouth and chewed slowly. He really should get into the habit of writing her back quicker, it wasn’t very nice to keep her waiting. Nick didn’t have any doubt that she’d understand why it was hard for him to respond quickly, but it’s not like it took too long to drop her a quick line or anything. He’d do it tonight, tonight for sure.

“Nick?”

Slowly he lifted his head to find four pairs of eyes on him.

“Huh? What?”

“Where were you just then?” Howie asked between bites.

He shrugged, “Just listening.”

“Bullshit,” AJ grinned, wiping his mouth.

Nick smirked, setting his plate down.

“So, how’s the album going? Any easier than the first?” Brian asked.

“I guess, it’s coming along slowly. London was productive and all, but I’m thinking of just holding off.”

He didn’t know where that came from, and he hadn’t been thinking about it, in fact, it’d just slipped out.

“Oh? Why’s that?” Kevin asked.

“I wanna focus on our CD, last time everyone else was doing their own thing.”

“So?” Brian prodded.

“So everyone’s here, I wanna focus on this.”

“Who says you can’t do both?” Howie pressed.

“No one but…are you sure you guys are ok with this?”

“Why wouldn’t we be?” Kevin frowned.

“I remember last time.”

“That was just a fucked up situation all around man, I think we all handled it poorly,” AJ sighed.

Nick nodded, staring down at his shoes, he needed new shoes.

“So how’s things going with your family?” Kevin asked softly.

Nick sighed, “Fine.”

“Have they, ya know, told you anything about what’s going on?” AJ asked carefully.

“No.”

“Have you asked them what was going on?” Howie questioned, trying a different angle.

“No.”

“Do your Brother and Sisters under…” Brian started.

“They get it ok guys? Everyone knows! Just let it go!” Nick snapped.

Kevin sighed, “We care Nick, we just want to know what’s going on. Why won’t you talk to us about it?”

“Did it ever occur to you Kevin, that maybe I don’t want to talk about it? Did that thought ever cross your mind?” He spat.

“No,” Kevin replied frankly.

Nick just stared at him.

“We only want to help Nick, it helps to talk about this kinda thing, believe me I know.” AJ offered, smiling a bit.

“I know, and I appreciate it. I don’t want to harp on it though, I want to just forget about it.”

“It’s not gonna go away,” Howie replied softly.

He could pretend though couldn’t he?

“Have you seen your parents or your Brother or Sisters lately?” Brian asked quietly.

Nick sighed, “Yeah, I went to see them both.”

“So how’d it go?” Kevin asked encouragingly.

“Eh, I can’t be around either of them. They’re deadset on trying to get us on their sides and they’ve got nothing better to do than talk shit about each other. Fuck it, I’m sick of it.”

“I guess I’m kinda lucky, I wasn’t around my Dad to hear him say anything like that, and Mom never did,” AJ shrugged.

“Did you ask them when things would be finalized?” Brian offered.

“No, I tried to not talk about it.”

“What about…” Howie started.

“Just forget it guys ok? It’s done and over and I don’t wanna talk about it anymore. They can deal with their shit on their own.”

“Wait, what about your Brother and Sisters? Are they ok?” Kevin pressed.

“They’re fine Kev. I only saw BJ and she’s freakin’ pissed at me.” That hurt Nick more than he wanted to admit.

“Why?” AJ asked.

“Cause I haven’t been around. I get that, but…” he wandered off, shaking his head.

“She’s just upset, she’ll…”

“Enough, I don’t wanna talk about it anymore Brian, guys…drop it.” Nick stated, picking his plate and fork back up and continuing to eat, stopping the conversation.

The guys looked at each other, sighing heavily.
Chapter 41 by Gravity 721
Chapter 41


“…And the picture showed them leaving a club with an unidentified woman! Can you believe that?” Veronica gasped, “It’s him Lynne, it is.”

“Well there, at least you know for sure now.”

“I feel like I’m gonna vomit.”

She’d been like that since she’d found out, the urge to stop contacting him was strong now. Veronica knew though that she’d be kicking herself forever for not seeing it through. How could she go on emailing him or whatever, knowing she was actually talking to him? He probably thought she was so stupid, all that talk about work and everything, nothing anywhere near as exciting as his life or his friends lives she was sure.

“God Veronica, that’s nasty,” Lynne groaned.

“Sorry, but it’s true.”

“Ok ok, moving on, now, how many times have you emailed him so far?”

“A few, but I haven’t heard from him since the last email, and I’m still waiting to get that letter he was telling me about before. He’s probably really busy.”

“Probably.”

They made their way through the mall quietly; it was slow during the week, especially during the evening, which was the only time they could go since Lynne had to work.

“Lynne, I just thought of something,” Veronica frowned.

“What’s that?” Lynne asked, making her way over to the pretzel shop, ordering four.

Veronica stared at her, momentarily distracted, “Four Lynne?”

“Two for me, two for you.”

Veronica stared at her.

“What? You know you’re never satisfied with just one!”

“Yeah well…make sure you get honey mustard for me.”

Lynne grinned, “Go on, what did you just think of?”

“Those pictures, who knows when they were put up? If I saw them and I’m a fan, tons of other fans have.”

“Your point being?”

Veronica paused a moment, “The point being Lynne, that if I saw them and other fans, who’s to say that the person writing these emails and letters, didn’t see them and just say that thing about being in the club? Assuming that this really isn’t Nick but a poser.”

“You said he’d written early in the morning right?”

“Right.”

“You also said you didn’t know when those pictures were posted right?”

“Yeah.”

“Uh huh. If he was out late last night and someone took those pictures, what are the odds that they’d go right back to the place and post them?” Lynne asked, handing the guy the money.

They headed over to a bench and sat, eating their pretzels.

“Dunno, but it’s possible Lynne, anything is possible. Hmm, they probably stayed open late on purpose, those places usually do.”

“Veronica you’re analyzing this to death! Why can’t you just accept it?” Lynne questioned.

“I’m not analyzing anything to death, I’m being practical…logical.”

“Since when?”

She glared at her

“ANYWAY, like I was saying. You have to admit, that is a possibility.”

“Fine,” Lynne responded, opening the bag and grabbing another pretzel, “but you know, you wouldn’t even be questioning it if there hadn’t been any pictures.”

Sighing, Veronica said nothing.

“Uh huh, exactly. You’re just looking for something to be wrong or suspicious. What happens if you find out that this really is a poser? You’ll feel terrible. So why not just go with it, believe it’s him and that’s that. You’ll have fun and so long as he doesn’t try anything weird or perverted, have fun.”

“Well, I guess I could.”

“Damn right you could. Ok, so that’s it, I don’t wanna hear you say anything else against this person. You’re going with the flow and we’re going on under the assumption that this is in fact Nick Carter and that’s it.”

Veronica started to say something, when Lynne silenced her.

“Enough.”

“Fine. You’re mean!”

Lynne smiled, “I know, you love it.”
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Grabbing the key, she made her way back out to her mailbox. Opening it, she pulled the few pieces of mail out, shut and locked the door and made her way back in. She was making this trip again because she’d conveniently forgotten to check the mail on her way back from the mall. Heading back in, she locked the door and made her way over to the living room, flipping the TV on, looking through the mail. Setting the flyers and bills aside, she stopped when she reached the last envelope, the letter from Nick.

Smiling, she made her way into her bedroom, flopping down on the bed, ripping the envelope open, to her surprise, pulling out two folded sheets of paper out this time. Slipping under the covers, she snuggled into her pillow and started reading.

Veronica,

Thanks for the letter. You’re the same age as me, that’s pretty cool. Honestly, I thought you were a bit older by the sound of your last few letters and all. You’re lucky, I wish my birthday was in July, I love the summer and all. January isn’t bad or anything, but in a lot of places, like New York, it’s cold and snowing, so if I wanna visit somewhere, I have to be careful with what I pack. Eh, I guess that could be true for wherever I go anyway.

Ya life kinda sucks in the fact that we gotta do the shit we don’t wanna in order to make it or whatever. Cause people look at me at the guys and all and think we’ve got it so easy, but it’s not like how everyone thinks, I know. We’ve done a lot of fucked up shit ya know just to make it. They say the entertainment business is a bitch and they aint joking. But we did it ya know? We did what we had to in order to be successful, I guess it was worth it all in the end.

So you were saying that there’s more for you, like what? What’s your like ultimate dream or goal? So you don’t wanna do what you’re doing forever, what is it that you do wanna do? Ya know people always used to ask me and I’d tell em and whatever, and they never believed me, always told me the same shit, how hard it was and that I should pick somehing more achieveable. So hey, you don’t gotta worry bout me tellin’ you that aight? I’m not gonna say that to you cause that’s a real lousy thing to tell someone.

You’re the youngest, wow, I hear you guys are supposed to be spoiled, is this true? Heh heh Aaron and Angel can be just as spoiled sometimes, damn. I couldn’t stand it, when I was home, my Mom always let them get way with shit, pissed me off. They’ve grown out of it for the most part, when they start actin’ up tho, I like to kick his butt and pick on Angel. It’s so hard being the oldest, y’all just don’t know. I gotta say, it sounds like I’d get along well with Bryan, he seems like he’d be the kinda guy I’d hang out with, what do you think? And your other brother, I think it’s cool that he does all that stuff. I’ve often wondered how guys like, do all that stuff with cars and machines. My Dad never really did any of that with me ya know? I wasn’t home a lot so it was hard, but I don’t remember ever seeing him try to do it.

So your parents are divorced huh? Yeah, I’m sure you know my parents are getting’ one too. I can’t remember if ya told me in your letter or not or before or something, but how long has it been for you? Does it still, ya know…hurt? Do ya have a hard time with it? It’s kinda hard sometimes ya know? Like, I can’t believe it’s happening so I just kinda, brush it off or whatever. Oh well

You’re in New York, that’s cool. I haven’t lived there since I was real little, not like I remember it or whatever, but it’d be cool to live there or something I think. Though getting used to the weather would probably be rough, I’m used to the heat and the sun all the time. The storms and all must really suck, I guess it’s no worse than hurricanes and like, anything else. Everyplace has their own thing.

I guess that’s it for now. I’ll talk to ya later, hope to hear from you soon.

Nick


Folding the letter back up, Veronica smiled; he sure had a lot to say that time. He’d actually responded to everything she’d written about in the last letter. She was surprised that he’d written as much as he had about his parents pending divorce. While she could relate to a lot of what he was saying he felt, she imagined the situation had to be a lot more difficult for him since the divorce was all over the media and everyone knew about it. Responding to it would take care; she’d have to watch what she said.

Quickly she opened the other email, rereading through it and opening the letter again and opened a new email to respond.
Chapter 42 by Gravity 721
Chapter 42


Nick looked at his watch as he made his way into the house, twelve o’ clock, still early. Turning, he pulled the girl into his arms, kissing her deeply as he fumbled to close the door. He’d met her at a club that night, she offered to show him how flexible she was and he accepted. It was fairly cheesy and stupid, but he really didn’t care. It’d been a while since he’d been with a girl and he was raring to go. They had all night and he didn’t plan on letting her go early.

He focused his attention on kissing her again, and they somehow made their way up the stairs to his room, starting to tare at each others clothes, heading for the bed. Nick pulled away to pull her shirt off, when he noticed he’d left his laptop on all night. He couldn’t stop and turn it off, but he didn’t want her, whatever her name was, to see anything on it either. He searched his brain for some excuse.

“Mmm, hold on baby, I’m gonna go freshen up a bit, just hold that thought,” she whispered, pushing her shirt back down before sauntering over to his bathroom, shutting the door.

He couldn’t believe his luck. Nick bolted over, preparing to shut the laptop down, when he saw the alert that he had some new mail. After a quick glance behind him, he brought up his mailbox and clicked into his inbox, scanning over the new emails. One from his brother, Kevin, and one from Veronica. Smiling, he quickly read the ones from Aaron and Kevin, giving quick replies and then started in with Veronica’s. With another quick look over his shoulder to make sure she hadn’t come out, he started reading.

Date: Tues, Nov 11 2004 4:45:40 -0700 (EST)
From: freesialover@yahoo.com
Subject: Letter and other email
To: chucktaylor11@aol.com

Hi!

Well I finally got your letter today! So let’s see, I’ll respond to both right now. This may be kinda long, so be forewarned. Ok, I’ll just kinda mix them together and try to answer everything all at once, sorry if it’s kinda choppy.

I guess I’m kinda lucky with having my birthday in July, I definitely wouldn’t want my birthday towards the end or beginning of the year here in New York, it’s rough. The winters are very cold with lots of storms, besides, I like to travel for my birthday, so depending on where I’m going I can usually avoid any bad weather. I try not to go anywhere in the winter though. See if I went to Florida though it wouldn’t matter, cause it’s usually nice there isn’t it?

I feel like I’ve been doing what I didn’t want to do my whole life. It was always about pleasing someone else, my Dad mainly. I just wanted him to be proud of me and if that meant doing what he wanted, I did. Not only that, I was a kid, you’re supposed to listen to your parents, you trust that they’re not gonna lead you astray or whatever.


He knew about that. Nick supposed even parents weren’t right all the time, in fact he knew they weren’t.

My dream, well I don’t really dream anymore, is to be published. It’s so hard and expensive, it’s not really a logical or realistic dream I guess. You have to be good, really good. I love to write, it’s my soul. I just don’t know if I’m that good you know? Deadlines, I’m terrible with deadlines.

She didn’t dream anymore? What’d that mean? Why not? He’d never heard anyone who didn’t dream anymore, everyone had some goal or something they wanted to accomplish in life. What’d happened to make her stop?

People have told me how hard it is and that it’d take me forever to get to the level where it’d matter if I even got there. It doesn’t matter I guess. Even if I did get published, to become known worldwide is damn near impossible. It’s alright, I’m not really aiming for that.

She was so cynical, bitter, it was truly depressing.

No, I’m not spoiled, I never was. I got that a lot. People assumed cause I’m the youngest and the only girl, that I was spoiled rotten. Nah, didn’t happen. My parents never treated any of us different. My Brothers picked on...

Nick jumped when he heard the door open; quickly he closed the email down.

“Whatcha reading?”

“Just an email from a friend,” he mumbled.

He wasn’t ready to share her with the guys and he most certainly wasn’t ready to share her with some girl he barely knew. For right now, he needed her to just be his. Turning, he went to say something else, when the words died.

“I think I’m ready to go,” the girl purred, a seductive smile on her lips as she stood naked before him.

Nick stood, making his way over to her, pulling her into his arms, kissing her deeply as they fell back onto his bed.
Chapter 43 by Gravity 721
Chapter 43

Wiping down the blade carefully, she looked over her shoulder to make sure there were no customers, then resumed cleaning. As always, her thoughts drifted to Nick. It’d been a while since she’d heard from him, maybe the time had come when he decided he didn’t have time to write to her anymore. It was just too depressing to think about. Frowning, Veronica looked over her shoulder again, no customers. Sighing, she turned to the slicer again.

“Hey Veronica!”

Veronica looked over, her frown quickly fading. “Carla, hi!”

“What’s up girl?” Carla asked as she came out, looking down at the pad on the counter, checking over what needed to be done.

“Nothing, it’s finally slowed down. God what a day.”

“Yeah, I heard it was busy today. Are we all caught up on temps?”

“For now, I managed to get it filled out for next time, so it shouldn’t take me as long to get it done.”

“Ok good. So how have you been? It’s been a while since we’ve worked together, Shelly keeps scheduling me at night,” Carla frowned.

“I know! I miss working with you. I’m doing pretty good, how bout you?”

“I’m alright, you know how it is. Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask you, what’s been going on with that guy you were writing to? Nick right?”

Veronica quickly filled her in on everything that’d happened so far.

“Tell me I’m crazy.”

“You’re not crazy,” Carla sighed, reaching out to put some gloves on. “You’re right about one thing though, I think you really are talking to him. Wow, I can’t believe it, that’s so cool.”

“So, what do I do?”

“You keep talking to him, that’s what you do.”

“Everyone’s telling me that.”

“And they’re right.

Veronica nodded. The rest of the day went fast and before she knew it, she was punching out and on her way home. She hated to admit, but she was anxious to get home and check her mail and see if Nick had written her back yet or not.

A few minutes later she made her way in, after checking her mail; she headed into her apartment, locking the door after her. Walking over to the table, she set the mail down then headed into her room, undressing and redressing quickly before reaching over to boot her computer. After putting her dirty clothes in the hamper, she made her way out to the kitchen to start dinner.

Making her way back into her room a few minutes later with her dinner of a salad and Ramen noodles, she sat at her computer and connected to the Internet. Munching on her salad, she headed to her email and logged in, clicking on her inbox, she found she had a few new messages. After a quick scan, she was sad to see that none of them had been from Nick. It’d been a while since she’d heard from him, she was starting to get a bit nervous. He was probably really busy and just didn’t have the time anymore.

Sighing she finished her email, checked out the rest of her usual sites before signing into her instant messenger.

Pinksneakers23: Hey!
Freesialover: Hey! How are ya?

It was her friend Erin; she hadn’t talked to her much online lately cause neither had been on as often as they used to. Erin lived in Indiana and they’d met through a mutual friend online one-day and that’d be it. They were close, very close, so the fact that hadn’t talked much over the last few months were rough. It was nice that they’d finally been able to connect now. The best thing was, they were both Backstreet fans, while Veronica leaned more towards Nick, Erin liked AJ.

Pinksneakers23: It’s been so long! What’s been going on with you?
Freesialover: Nothing, just working a lot, you know how that is.
Pinksneakers23: Oh man, how is work going?
Freesialover: Same as ever, lousy.
Pinksneakers23: You really need a different job.
Freesialover: I know I know, it’ll happen eventually.
Pinksneakers23: Mmmhmm…
Freesialover: So how bout you? How’s work and life and all?
Pinksneakers23: The same, you know how it goes. I sit at a computer all day, come home eat and fall asleep on the couch. It sucks that we haven’t been able to talk much here lately, I’ve really missed you.
Freesialover: Aww I’ve missed you too. We really gotta try to talk at least once a week ya know?
Pinksneakers23: Yeah!

Veronica chuckled, then sobered. Should she tell Erin about what’s been going on? They used to tell each other everything and she knew she’d keep it a secret. What the hell!

Freesialover: Actually, something kinda cool has happened.
Pinksneakers23: Oh yeah?
Freesialover: Yeah, I’ve kinda been doing something weird. I mean, I don’t know that it’s actually real, but the few people I’ve told think it is, I’m still not sure.
Pinksneakers23: Ok…
Freesialover: I think I’ve been writing to Nick.
Pinksneakers23: Nick…Carter?
Freesialover: Yeah…

Veronica waited for the typical questions and doubts, though part of her wasn’t sure Erin would react in the typical fashion because Erin herself wasn’t typical.

Pinksneakers23: Why do you say that?
Freesialover: Well actually, I’ve been talking to him for a few months already.
Pinksneakers23: A few months? You’ve been talking to him for months and you didn’t even tell me!
Freesialover: Well we haven’t had the chance to really talk a lot! What were we just talking about?
Pinksneakers23: So? You make time for something like that! You could’ve called me!
Freesialover: Sorry! LOL!

Veronica chuckled, just like Erin to get all excited and emotional.

Pinksneakers23: Whatever. So, how do you know you’re talking to him? How’d you start talking to him anyway?

Ok, so maybe she would ask the typical questions.

Freesialover: I’m not sure I’m actually talking to him, well I’m about 95 % sure, and I started talking to him through the fanclub.
Pinksneakers23: The fanclub?

Veronica spent the next twenty minutes explaining everything to Erin, only to find that she felt the same as Lynne, which wasn’t surprising, but scary.

Pinksneakers23: I don’t see why you’re so scared, this is cool! Do you know thousands of fans would kill to talk to Nick like this?
Freesialover: I realize that, but I dunno, I guess it’s just too good to be true.
Pinksneakers23: Look, you know it, I know it, Lynne knows it, just accept it. This person is going through an awful lot of trouble if it were a poser to make you believe.
Freesialover: But that’s what they do Erin, you know that.
Pinksneakers23: Yeah, but ya gotta draw the line somewhere! Let’s be reasonable here. You didn’t just get the address from some message board. You got it from his official site, official. People could get in trouble for posting as him and all that. So that right there narrows it down about 99%. You have a one percent chance that someone is posing as him and for me that’s not good enough.
Freesialover: Fine, but how in the hell would he get a hold of the letter? Everyone knows they can’t answer fan mail.
Pinksneakers23: Well he did, don’t ask questions, just accept it.
Freesialover: Still…
Pinksneakers23: God, you’re exhausting!

She groaned, if it wasn’t Lynne, it was Erin. No one seemed to understand the point she was trying to make. It was time to end this conversation.

Freesialover: Anyways, I’m gonna head off, go relax and watch some TV.
Pinksneakers23: Yeah, I’m gonna head out too. Ya know, It’s not going away, this conversation isn’t over. I want updates! Let me know what happens.
Freesialover: Yeah yeah, I know, I will.
Pinksneakers23: Ok good, I’ll try to give you a call later on, so stay offline.
Freesialover: Yes Mom.
Pinksneakers23: Bitch
Freesialover: You love me! J
Pinksneakers23: Mmmhmm, later!
Freesialover: Bye!
Pinksneakers23 signed off at 6:05:33 PM

Veronica signed off and then shut down then headed into the living room, grabbing the phone to call her Mom. She felt a little better now that she’d talked to Erin, having someone know who was an actual fan was different. Erin would appreciate it, she enjoy it, she’d make sure Veronica enjoyed it too.

Flipping the TV on, she dialed her Mom’s number.
Chapter 44 by Gravity 721
Chapter 44


He flipped the light on in his room and tossed his wallet down on his dresser, flopping down on the bed, toeing his sneakers off. It’d been a long day, meetings galore, one of which included the announcement that him and the rest of the guys had to go to Germany to work on the album and all that entailed at some point, and that management was working out the details and would let them know when they’d be leaving.

Fortunately he’d been able to hang out with his friends that night. After going from club to club, he was finally home for the night, or for what was left of it anyway.

Quickly he stripped down and headed into the bathroom to take a fast shower. Fifteen minutes later he emerged, towel around his waist. Heading over to his dresser, he opened a drawer, looking for a fresh pair of boxers when he noticed that once again, he’d left his laptop on. He’d forgotten to turn it off when he had gotten distracted by the girl he’d brought home and this morning in his rush to get to his first appointment, he’d forgotten to turn it off again.

Walking over, he sat and immediately clicked on his inbox, signing onto his instant messenger while waiting for his inbox to come up. After making himself invisible on the messenger, he started scanning through his email. It was near impossible to actually chat with anyone online, fans always found his screenname somehow and he ended up flooded with IM’s. He was damn lucky they’d started the option of being invisible. After deleting most of his emails, he set in to read the mail from his friends.

“Fuck, I gotta finish reading Veronica’s email.”

He sighed, he really didn’t like having to put it off as much as he was, he just had no choice. He was sure she understood, but still, it was important. Forgoing everyone else’s emails, he clicked on her email, opening it and picking up from where he’d left off last night.

… No, I’m not spoiled, I never was. I got that a lot. People assumed cause I’m the youngest and the only girl, that I was spoiled rotten. Nah, didn’t happen. My parents never treated any of us different. My Brothers picked on me relentlessly, but not as bad as they picked on each other. Really I mostly hung out with my Mom. Don’t get me wrong though, my Brothers weren’t that bad really, they were protective of me I guess, which is nice, but when you’re in high school and guys are afraid to talk to you because your football playing Brother threatened to beat them up if he “messed” with you, that’s NOT nice.

Nick chuckled, he knew if Leslie was in the same school as him, he’d have been the same way. Part of him wished he’d had that experience with his sisters, then again he wasn’t so sure he’d have been a football player or even had that kind of pull with anyone in high school. His time in school had never been good he’d been teased and picked on himself, he knew how it felt.

The divorce, does it still hurt? Yes, sometimes it hurts a lot. I’ll look at my friends and think, they’re so lucky, they don’t know how lucky they are cause everything can change in an instant. Part of me misses my parents together in a way. Then when I think of how things were, I’m very glad they’re no longer together. Things are just better that way. How long? It was six years this September. Hard time? Sure, sometimes I feel like a pawn between the two of them. Not so much my Mom, but my Dad has this way about him. I feel like he thinks I’ve chosen my Mom over him or something and that’s not the case. Though sometimes my Mom will say things about him and it just sucks all around.

Yeah I know what you mean about not believing it happened. I still stop and think, my parents are divorced, they don’t love each other anymore. It’s a weird feeling. Sometimes it’s like I can’t even remember things, ya know, like them holding hands or hugging or whatever. It seems like I can’t remember cause it’s too hard or something. Maybe because it hurts in some way.


Nick stared at the words his heart racing. It was almost like she’d gotten in his head and described what he’d been feeling the last few months. So he wasn’t the only one thinking these things, he wasn’t a bad person because he couldn’t seem to remember a time when his parents actually liked each other. Shit, his parents weren’t even divorced yet and they were already making him feel like he’d chosen sides, he hated to think it was only going to get worse once the divorce was final.

I guess that’s it for now. I hope all with you is well.

Talk to ya soon!

Veronica


He clicked on the reply button and quickly typed a response. He started to send it then stopped, did she have a screenname for instant messenger he wondered? Nick hesitated a moment before quickly ending the email and sending it before he could stop himself.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Veronica chuckled softly, typing back quickly. It was one of those rare times her and Erin were able to talk late at night. Luckily she was off tomorrow she was able to stay up late like this. Unfortunately, she was getting sleepy, she couldn’t stay up late like she wanted to even on her days off, she was so used to going to bed early.

She’d gotten everything she needed to get done, so she could head off at anytime, but she didn’t want to. She enjoyed talking to Erin, now more so that they didn’t get to chat often.

Pinksneakers23: You still with me?
Freesialover: Yup, I think I’m gonna do one final check of my emails then head off, god I’m so tired.
Pinksneakers23: Aww!
Freesialover: I know I’m sorry, I can’t help it.
Pinksneakers23: It’s just as well, I have to work in the morning anyway.
Freesialover: Well ok, but stay with me till I leave.
Pinksneakers23: You got it!

Veronica clicked window open and clicked on the ‘check mail’ button. Blinking in surprise, she clicked on the button that told her she had one unread message. Hoping it wasn’t spam she waited for the page to load and scrolled down, her eyes widening when she saw the email.

It was from Nick.

Clicking on it quickly, she opened it and started reading.

Date: Wed, Nov 12 2004 1:15:40 -1300 (EST)
From: chucktaylor11@aol.com
Subject: Letter and other email
To: freesialover@yahoo.com

Whoa, sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I’ve just been so damn busy. Really, that’s no excuse, but it’s the truth. Matter of fact, I just found out today that me and the guys gotta go to Germany for some album stuff, just don’t know when. I hate when they do that.

Ya know, a lot of what you said made sense about everything. I still think you should strive to get your stuff published. If it’s in your heart and it’s what you love, there’s no one stoppin you but yourself. Don’t let anyone hold ya back, you know what you’re capable of.

I tell ya, one of these days I’m gonna meet your brother, he sounds pretty cool!

I hear ya about your parents and stuff. I guess it’s nice to hear I’m not the only one.

Hey, I’m gonna get going but look, if you have instant messenger for AOL and wanna IM me sometime, feel free. I’m under the same name as my email. Drop me a line even if you don’t see my name cause I’m always invisible. I just ask that if ya do, please don’t give out my screenname. It’s just I always gotta end up changing it and I really like this one, I’d hate to have to give it up.

So yeah, I’d love to actually talk to ya in real time. I’m on right now and should be here for a little longer.

Hope to hear from ya!

Nick


Veronica stared at it. He wanted her to IM him. Quickly she clicked on the IM box.

Freesialover: Oh god Erin, he wants me to IM him sometime! He says he’s on right now!
Pinksneakers23: Huh?
Freesialover: He wants me to IM him, says he’d like to talk in real time! He says he’s on right now. I, what do I do?
Pinksneakers23: Who? What? Real time?
Freesialover: I couldn’t, I mean let’s be serious here. I’d make a complete fool of myself! Help me!
Pinksneakers23: With what?! What are you talking about? WHO wants you to IM them?
Freesialover: Nick! Nick Erin! He wants me to talk to him on here!
Pinksneakers23: He wrote you back?
Freesialover: Yes! Get with it here!
Pinksneakers23: Sorry!! You’re not giving me any info here!
Freesialover: Oh…oops! Sorry! Heh heh!
Pinksneakers23: ANYWAY…IM him.
Freesialover: Just like that?
Pinksneakers23: Of course just like that, you’d be crazy not to.
Freesialover: But…what do I say? No forget it, I’m not going to.
Pinksneakers23: Veronica you’d better or I’m gonna kick your ass!
Freesialover: Ohhh I’m scared. You’re waaaaay over in Indiana.
Pinksneakers23: So? That doesn’t mean anything. Just do it.
Freesialover: He probably wouldn’t even answer anyway, he was just being nice.
Pinksneakers23: You don’t know that. And if he wasn’t serious, he wouldn’t have suggested it. It’s not like you mentioned it. IM him.
Freesialover: No, and you can’t make me.
Pinksneakers23: Just do it. You’re gonna kick yourself in the ass if you don’t. Don’t be a wimp.
Freesialover: I’m not a wimp!
Pinksneakers23: Then do it.
Freesialover: Fine! I will. You just watch, he won’t answer.

Veronica opened her buddy list, added his name to it to find that he wasn’t online, or at least his name wasn’t showing up like he said it probably wouldn’t. Starting a blank IM she typed his name in the slot and then clicked on the inside of the box. Taking a breath she typed.

Freesialover: Nick?

Swallowing hard she waited and waited. Clicking back over into the other IM she typed.

Freesialover: See! I told you! Nothing, he hasn’t said anything.
Pinksneakers23: How long has it been?
Freesialover: About five minutes.
Pinksneakers23: That’s not long enough!
Freesialover: Just face it Erin, I was right. He wasn’t serious. He’s probably over there laughing at me.
Pinksneakers23: Oh stop! He is not.
Freesialover: Yes he is, and now I feel stupid!
Pinksnearkers23: Oh Veronica L

Veronica clicked over to the other IM and closed it out. She really was crazy to think he’d actually take the time to talk to her. She clicked back over to the other IM.

Freesialover: Ok, I closed the IM out.
Pinksneakers23: *frowns*
Freesialover: It’s ok, I’m not hurt, I was expecting it.
Pinksneakers23: You really don’t have a lot of faith in him do you?
Freesialover: Sure I do, I’m just being realistic.
Pinksneakers23: I can’t believe that after all this time, he’d just blow you off after he specifically asked you to IM him.
Freesialover: He didn’t blow me off he was just being nice. I appreciate it and

Suddenly a new IM box appeared on her screen.

Chucktaylor11: Veronica?
Chapter 45 by Gravity 721
Chapter 45


She sat there she was sure for a full minute, just staring at the IM box, her heart pounding, her hands ice cold. He’d responded, he’d actually responded. With that realization, she found she couldn’t move, she couldn’t bring herself to type anything. Fear poured over her, what should she say? How should she respond? She startled as the chime sounded, Erin had responded, she managed to click back to the IM.

Pinksneakers23: Hey, you still with me?
Freesialover: He responded
Pinksneakers23: No way! What’d he say? What’d you say?
Freesialover: He said my name.
Pinksneakers23: And what’d you say?
Freesialover: Nothing, I haven’t responded yet.
Pinksneakers23: Respond damnit!!!! He’s gonna think you’re ignoring him now!
Freesialover: I can’t!!! What do I say?!
Pinksneakers23: Hi for starters! Just say something, anything before he leaves! NOW!

She clicked over to the other IM and was just getting to type something, when he responded again.

Chucktaylor11: Are you there? Uh oh, did type the name in wrong or something?

Gathering her nerve she typed quickly.

Freesialover: No no, I’m here. You didn’t type the name in wrong.
Chucktaylor11: Ahh there you are! Finally, she speaks.
Freesialover: Sorry, ya caught me right in the midst of something.
Chucktaylor11: Ohh I’m sorry, I can let ya go if ya want.
Freesialover: No no!!! You’re fine, no problem.

Smooth move, make it sound like she didn’t want to talk to him. Groaning, she forged on.

Freesialover: You just took me by surprise is all. I thought you weren’t there.
Chucktaylor11: Oh yeah, sorry bout that. I had to put some clothes on, I didn’t hear the little thing…beep or whatever.

Put clothes on? He was naked? Veronica could feel her face flaming. He probably wasn’t, just had to put his pajamas on or something. She stopped, do guys wear pajamas?

Chucktaylor11: That sounded bad huh? LOL! I just got out the shower so I was just getting ready for bed.

Naked, he’d definitely been naked. She cleared her throat and responded.

Freesialover: I see. It’s no problem, I can let ya go if you were tired and stuff.
Chucktaylor11: Nah it’s cool, I can stay for a bit. I finally get to talk to ya, not gonna end it before it’s started.

Her heart dropped.

Freesialover: That’s sweet of you, thanks!
Chucktaylor11: No problem. So what are you up to tonight?
Freesialover: Just chatting with a friend. There’s not much to do online anymore. How bout you?
Chucktaylor11: Just finishing up mail, I’m thinkin’ I may play some games or something tho.
Freesialover: Online games can be addicting I learned fast.
Chucktaylor11: I know it. I can play for hours. A lot of the time none of my buddies are on when I get on so I gotta pass the time some way.
Freesialover: Yeah, well I’m usually on late with my friend, but she has to leave before me sometimes cause of her job so I’m all alone. Times like those I’ll just read or do some writing.
Chucktaylor11: Whatcha write? Oh wait, poems and stuff right?
Freesialover: Yeah, when I’m in the mood. Any other time I just kinda go with the mood I’m in.

Veronica quickly clicked over to the other IM while waiting for him to respond.

Freesialover: I did it, I’m talking to him.
Pinksneakers23: Good girl!! I’m proud of you.
Freesialover: I think I’m gonna piss my pants.
Pinksneakers23: Go ahead, he won’t know…unless you tell him and that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Freesialover: That’s nasty.
Pinksneakers23: I’m nasty? You’re the one who said you were gonna do it.
Freesialover: Anyway…
Pinksneakers23: Well, as much as I’d like to stay and find out what happens, I gotta go.

The familiar chime sounded and she looked down in her tray to see that Nick had responded.

Freesialover: You can’t leave! You can’t leave me all alone to deal with this.
Pinksneakers23: You’ll be fine! Just talk to him! Be calm and cool, you’ll be alright.
Freesialover: Yeah right. Well I’ll talk to you soon I hope.
Pinksneakers23: Definitely. Ya gotta tell me what happens!
Freesialover: I will. Have a good day at work tomorrow. Night!
Pinksneakers23: I’ll try! Night!
Pinksneakers23 signed off at 2:08:56 AM

Veronica clicked back over on the other IM.

Chucktaylor11: So, what kind of mood are you in now then?
Freesialover: Lazy mood! LOL
Chucktaylor11: I understand that. I don’t feel like doing much either. But hey, how you feelin’?
Freesialover: I feel alright. Just kinda sleepy. I had to work today.
Chucktaylor11: You don’t work everyday?
Freesialover: Nope, I’m only part time. Which isn’t good really considering I have rent and other bills to take care of.
Chucktaylor11: Hard huh?
Freesialover: Yeah, I need to get a roommate, it’s too much to handle on my own really.
Chucktaylor11: Sounds like a good idea.

Nick had no idea she lived alone too. He assumed she had a roommate at least, he wondered how she did it all on her alone, with only a part time job.

Freesialover: How bout you? How are you?
Chucktaylor11: I’m alright, just getting prepared for the trip with the guys to Germany.
Freesialover: Looking forward to it?
Chucktaylor11: I guess, these things are so fuckin’ drainin’ ya know?
Freesialover: I can imagine.
Chucktaylor11: Yeah, hey…I like your icon.

Veronica stared at the screen. He liked her icon?

Freesialover: My icon? My buddy icon?
Chucktaylor11: Yeah, you’ve got good taste.

Oh no.

Opening her buddy list, she pulled up her file and check her icon and sure enough, her icon was a picture of Nick.

Oh no no no.

She’d had it for so long, at some point she’d forgotten what it was. How embarrassing.

Freesialover: Oh yeah, I was gonna change it but I haven’t had the chance to.
Chucktaylor11: Mmmhmm
Freesialover: It’s true!
Chucktaylor11: Should I be insulted?
Freesialover: No! I’m sorry! LOL!
Chucktaylor11: I’m crying here now.
Freesialover: Nick! Cut that out! LOL!

Veronica chuckled, shaking her head.

Chucktaylor11: Is it that hard having my pic as your icon?
Freesialover: Of course not!
Chucktaylor11: Ok then, you don’t have to change it right?
Freesialover: Well no, I don’t HAVE to.
Chucktaylor11: But you want to?
Freesialover: Now now…
Chucktaylor11: *frowns*
Freesialover: Aww, I’m sorry! I’ll keep it ok?
Chucktaylor11: Promise?
Freesialover: I promise.
Chucktaylor11: *smiles*

Nick smiled, she was cute. He was thoroughly enjoying himself. She wasn’t like he expected, he should’ve known by now through her letters and emails, that she wasn’t like the typical fan. It was nice to just talk to someone without having to worry about them pressing him for information about the rest of the guys and when the new album was going to come out. The buddy icon thing did have him amused though. He could tell she was really embarrassed about it. He truly hoped she didn’t change it, not that he was vain, but it kind of made him feel good.

Freesialover: I’m such a sucker.
Chucktaylor11: Aww c’mon, you are not.
Freesialover: Hmmm, I’ll just blame you.
Chucktaylor11: Me? For what?
Freesialover: For charming me enough to keep my icon.

She certainly was charming him, that much he knew.

Chucktaylor11: I can be charming at times I guess.
Freesialover: That’s an understatement I’m sure.
Chucktaylor11: LOL Well lady, I’m gonna head out for the night, I’m sleepy. Ummm…I can email you and let you know when I’m going to Germany.

He wanted her to know when he was leaving, he was actually going to take the time to let her know. A small smile hovered over her lips.

Freesialover: Sure, that’d be great.
Chucktaylor11: Ok, once I get organized and get in some kind of schedule there, I’ll email you again. Hopefully we’ll be able to chat at some point.
Freesialover: Cool! Well I hope you have a nice night. I’ll respond to your email as soon as I can. Get some sleep. It was nice talking to you.
Chucktaylor11: I will, you too, email me back whenever you get the chance. Lata!
Freesialover: Bye!
Chucktaylor11 signed off at 3:24:15 AM
Chapter 46 by Gravity 721
Chapter 46


Veronica flipped through the stations, sighing. Over two hundred channels and there wasn’t anything good on. It was a sad way to spend her day off, but she really didn’t want to go out anywhere, she was just too tired. Reaching out, she grabbed the phone and pressed the preset button and waited.

“Hello?”

“Hey Dad.”

“Well hi, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, just thought I’d call and see how you are.”

“Oh, well I’m ok, how bout you?”

“I’m alright, it’s my day off and I’m just relaxing at home.”

“I see, how’s work going?”

“Eh, it’s alright I guess.”

“Oh. So is everything alright? Did you need something?”

Veronica sighed, shaking her head. “No Dad, I just wanted to touch base. It’s been a while since we talked last, I miss talking to you.”

“Yeah? You miss talking to me?”

“Of course, I rarely ever hear from you as is.”

“Wow, well I miss you too you know. You should come down and visit.”

“I’d like to, I should start saving up.”

“Well I can buy you a ticket you know.”

“I know Dad, but it’s alright, I’ll do it.”

“Is it so bad that I wanna help you?”

“No not at all, you’ve helped me lots.”

“So, it’s what I’m supposed to do, I’m your Father.”

“Dad…”

“Ok ok, I won’t push.”

“I wanna come see you Dad, but I wanna do it on my own. It’s not right for me to come see you and have you pay for me to get there.”

“I don’t mind you know.”

Veronica smiled, “I know Dad.”

“Well alright.”

“Alright, I’m gonna let ya go then Dad. Gonna clean the apartment.”

“Sounds like fun,” her Dad chuckled.

“Loads. So, give me a call later in the week sometime ok?”

“Sure, if you want.”

“I want you to want to Dad.”

“You know I always wanna talk to you.”

“Then show it, ok?”

“Ok, talk to ya later.”

“Alright.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too Dad, bye.”

“Bye.”

Veronica hung up and sighed, a small smile on her lips. Her Dad was almost as stubborn as she was, and that said a lot. She flipped the TV off and slid off the couch, heading over to the closet and getting the vacuum out.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
About two hours later, she put all the cleaning stuff away and headed into her room, booting her computer up. After her chat last night with Nick, she was anxious to get online and answer his email and check her other mail. She dialed up and headed over to Yahoo and signed in, clicking on the mail icon and opened her box. Quickly she scanned the few new emails and was happy to see another email from Nick. He must’ve found out when he was going to Germany.

She clicked on the email.


Date: Thurs, Nov 13 2004 8:38:17 -2000 (EST)
From: chucktaylor11@aol.com
Subject: Germany
To: freesialover@yahoo.com

Hey, it’s me. Well I just got a call letting me know that we’re going to Germany today in about seven hours. I’m so fuckin’ happy I can barely contain it. I hate this last minute bullshit the like to pull. So yeah, I’m here checkin’ my mail and whatever so I’m emailing as promised to let ya know. We’re gonna be gone for about two weeks, I’m gonna bring one of my laptops, so like I said last night, I’ll be able to keep in touch. I probably won’t be able to email ya much while I’m there, chatting would probably be easier cause during the day I’ll either be recording or doing a bit of promo crap. So when I am online to chat, it’ll be at night here. I think Germany is like, five or six hours ahead of us or something, so if you’re online around seven or eight our time, try IM’ing me even if you don’t see my name like before, I may be there. It’ll take a while to get the times streight and all, but we’ll figure something out. Yeah, when I get there, give me a few days to get used to the time there, it’s all screwy n shit. So don’t worry if you don’t hear from me right away.

Anyways, If I do get on during the day, it’d be during break or inbetween stuff to check mail or something, so make sure ya email me a lot so I have something to read when I check my mail, ok?

Aight, I gotta go, gotta finish packing and book a flight and all that. So I hope we get to chat soon. I’ll be looking for you!

Lata,

Nick


She let out a breath and looked at the time, four o’clock. Nick was either going to be leaving or had already left for Germany by now. He’d sent the email around eight thirty this morning, talk about short notice. Veronica clicked on the reply button and responded, trying to remember what he said in the other email so she could respond to both at once. She wouldn’t try to IM him tonight, he’d be just arriving and would be getting settled in. Should she wait to hear from him before she attempted to IM him or should she just wait a few days and then try? Figuring it’d be better to let him initiate so she didn’t seem pushy, she decided to wait until she got the email from him letting her know he’d gotten settled in.

To say that she was surprised that he was so willing to keep in touch with her would be an understatement. It was nice that he actually took the time out to email her this morning and let her know what was going on.

Veronica finished replying, sent the email then went back to take care of the rest of her mail.
Chapter 47 by Gravity 721
Chapter 47


“So I said to her, we should ya know, go out for lunch sometime and she was like, yeah. I’m excited, I’ve been trying to hang with her for months now…hey, you listening Carter?”

Nick looked over at AJ blankly, blinking rapidly. No he wasn’t listening, not really. He was preoccupied. Trying to focus on everything but the fact that they were thousands of feet off the ground and that AJ was rambling incessantly about some woman. He should be paying attention so that he wasn’t thinking about it, but he couldn’t. For some reason he just couldn’t concentrate. Why was he the one who always got stuck with AJ on flights? AJ always seemed to somehow get the same flight as Nick, even though they were flying privately.

“Nick? You ok man?”

“Yeah, I’m alright J, just can’t focus for some reason.”

“Well try, I’ve got more to tell you.”

Nick rolled his eyes.

“Don’t roll ya eyes at me, you’re gonna listen and like it.”

Nick looked over at him, raising an eyebrow.

“Ok then. Anyway, so I asked her when would be a good time, and she said next week and I’m like, I’m going out of the US for two weeks and that I could let her know when I got back and we could set something up. So she gave me her number and yeah,” AJ finished, beaming.

Nick continued to stare at him.

AJ’s smile slowly faded into a glare, “You’re an ass.”

“Hey, I told you I couldn’t focus.”

Sighing, AJ shook his head, “Whatever, so how bout we talk about you? Maybe that’ll work out cause you don’t have to listen much, just answer.”

“AJ, I don’t…”

“How’s things with you? Heard from your parents?

“AJ…”

“How bout your Brother or Sisters?”

“AJ…”

“When’s the last time you showered?”

“AJ!”

“Ya know, if you were a girl, you calling my name over and over like that would turn me on. Since you’re Nick, it’s annoying and pathetic. Answer the questions.”

Nick fought down the wave of annoyance; the only way he’d possibly get AJ to shut up would be to answer.

“Fine, no, no again and this morning. There, happy now?”

“Why don’t you call them?”

“Cause I don’t want to.”

“That’s pretty shitty.”

“C’mon AJ, you know how my family are. I don’t need to get involved in their fucked up family drama. I’m sick of it.”

“Your parents, fine, but what about your Brother and Sisters though? This isn’t their fault.”

“I know, but I just…can’t deal with them now.”

AJ stared at him.

“Don’t do that J, don’t ok? You don’t know what it’s like.” Nick cringed immediately, AJ knew, his situation wasn’t identical, but he knew what it was like on some level nonetheless. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, you’re right, I don’t know.”

“Just because your situation isn’t the same, doesn’t mean you don’t understand. Sorry, that was a fucked up thing to say.”

“Nick, look man. No matter how you slice it, what’s going on with your family sucks, it flat out sucks. I get that, my family, well my Dad I should say, screwed Mom and me over big time. But ya move on, ya keep living. I dunno, I can’t say that if I had Brothers or Sisters that I wouldn’t do the same thing. What I can say is that looking on as someone with no siblings, that you’re damn lucky and that you should try to be there for them if nothing at all. Ya gotta stick together, specially now, know what I’m sayin’?”

Looking away he nodded, he did know, he knew all of that. It made sense, but for some reason it just wasn’t enough for him.

“If anything, these two weeks will give ya a chance to think, or take your mind off it I guess, whatever you want it to do.”

“Yeah, I know. Part of me though, doesn’t wanna do this, does that make me bad? That I’d rather be at home bullshittin’ around. ”

“Nah, we’ve been doing this shit for years.” AJ gave a harsh chuckle, “You’d think it’d get easier, it doesn’t. The outcome is great and all, but damn,” he sighed.

Nick nodded, giving AJ a small smile.

AJ gave him a quick nod, “Alright, I’m gonna try to get some sleep. All this turbulence is making me feel sick.” Rolling to the side a bit he rested his head on the pillow he’d propped up against the window and closed his eyes.

Nick watched him from his seat across the aisle. AJ’d been through a lot, way more than he had, but he was still here and he was happy and healthy for the most part. In a lot of ways, Nick looked up to him, though he’d never tell AJ that, he’d most likely bring it up every chance he got and tease him about it.

Riffling through his bag, he pulled his headphones and CD player out, then his cd wallet. After careful consideration, he whipped a cd out, put it in and started it, resting his head against the pillow. He couldn’t stand flying, flying in private planes like this was nice, had his pick of where he wanted to sit; still it didn’t really make it any easier. No matter where he sat though, he didn’t like lying across the seat when he slept. If he kept his back to the window and kind of propped his feet up on the seats, it wasn’t so bad. Cramped and uncomfortable, but not too bad. It was easier in the long run to just rest his head against the window with his seat reclining. He’d have to choose what he was gonna do soon.

Nick stared out blankly, thinking. Maybe he should call his parents, his Brother and Sisters at least. Why did the thought of that make him so nervous? It was his family after all, but he was afraid of what he may hear. What crazy thing would his Mom do next? What would his Dad accuse his Mom of doing now? It was just too much, too much to think about.

Too hard.

Shaking his head he let his thoughts wander. What would they be doing these two weeks? For as many years as he’d done this, he never quite knew what to expect. He was glad he didn’t have to organize anything, that there was someone doing it for him. Granted he liked to be a part of everything, but the small details, someone else could do. When it came to the important things however, they were never really taken seriously. Writing or recording, or even picking what songs would be released, they were never really privy too. Someone was always doing that for them too, things they should be doing.

He had to stop thinking about that too, it made him mad and he needed to sleep. He closed his eyes then opened them right back up again. Had Veronica read his email yet? Hopefully he’d be able to talk to her soon, he’d only chatted with her once, but he really enjoyed it. Hell, he just liked keeping in touch with her period.

Yawning, he closed his eyes again. Shifting he let his seat back and turned so his head rested against the window. He’d suffer and if he was lucky, he could sleep through the rest of the flight too.
Chapter 48 by Gravity 721
Chapter 48


He swiped the card quickly, watching for the green flashing light and turned the knob, making his way inside the room, running his palm over the wall for the light switch. Once finding it, he flipped it up and the room was flooded with light. Walking in, he let the door close slowly behind him. He set his bag and suitcases down and made a bee line straight for the bed, flopping down heavily, groaning softly. Damn he was tired, long and uncomfortable flight. He hadn’t gotten any decent sleep and in a few hours he’d have to get right back up and start all that promo shit.

Sitting up slowly, Nick rubbed at his eyes, stifling a yawn. He grabbed one of his suitcases, opening it and riffling through it for a change of clothes. Stumbling sleepily, he made his way into the bathroom and into the shower. Twenty minutes later he emerged feeling cleaner and slightly more awake. After stuffing his dirty clothes in a bag, Nick climbed onto the bed and flipped the TV on. After flipping through the stations a few times, he grew board and went to his other suitcase and pulled his Xbox out and hooked it up. After loading a game he started it up. He would really have liked to have gone out, but it was so early in the morning, nothing would be open and he really was too tired to go wandering around. Tomorrow night there’d be time for that he hoped.

Nick played mechanically, he wasn’t even doing well, it was just too hard to focus, but he knew if he tried to sleep, he wouldn’t be able to. His system was all thrown off and now he was just overtired. His mind wandered, he wondered what his family was doing right now. How were his Sisters? His Brother? Guilt poured over him, but he couldn’t bring himself to call. He wasn’t a bad person; he just didn’t want to have to deal. Sighing, he inwardly cursed himself. It’s not like they could really leave his parents, not really. He was lucky, he had the means to escape to anywhere he wanted, no questions asked. Granted his Sisters and Brother weren’t exactly young, but he knew for a fact his parents wouldn’t let them just leave whenever and wherever they wanted, his Mother in particular.

Nick had never had a hard of a time with his Dad as he did his Mom. Things with them in the beginning had been so great, normal even. It’d all changed over time, but he couldn’t seem to remember what triggered it all. One minute they were fine, the next there was this coldness between them. It was hard on him, his family was important to him, but so was his privacy, something that his Mother had never really respected. He couldn’t live that way, he wouldn’t. His Mom had never understood that though, Jane Carter wanted what she wanted when she wanted it. It wasn’t all the way everyone thought. Yes money was an issue and if he let himself admit it, always had been. It was more than that too though; it was the constant negative comments and the things he was “supposed” to do since “she’d sacrificed so much to get him here.” It was always about what he owed her, what he should be doing because he was her son. What was done, they did to each other, the hurtful words and harsh looks, and she hadn’t been the only one.

Everyone thought it was so easy though, to tell her no and stand up for himself, but it wasn’t, it never had been. She was his Mom, and she knew all the right things to say to make him feel guilty for not wanting to participate in that event, or to buy her that car she wanted. How could he tell her no? When he told her that he no longer wanted her to handle his affairs she had been hurt and angry, more angry than hurt he suspected. It’d been the right thing to do, everyone had told him and he knew it. Still, all these years later, she mentioned it, bringing it up when he’d visit or when he’d call. To make it worse, she’d do it in front of his friends or other family. He never liked to bring his friends or girlfriends home, it was just too risky. Since the separation it was even worse. While he didn’t talk to his Mom much anymore, she made up for it when they did speak. Nick wondered if it’d ever end.

He blinked vigorously, his eyes watering, he needed to sleep. One more game and he’d stop; then again he could pop online and see if Veronica was on. Nick glanced behind him at the clock, three in the morning, which meant it was around nine at night over there since he was now six hours ahead of her. He knew she’d be up, but he really didn’t feel like booting his laptop up, he’d try to email her later on if he had a moment and let her know that he’d arrived.

Yawning loudly, Nick tossed the controller away, the images where starting to get blurry. After turning everything off, he climbed into bed, flipping the light off. He was going to be dead in the morning. Sighing he closed his eyes and quickly drifted off.
Chapter 49 by Gravity 721
Chapter 49


“Have a nice day,” Veronica smiled and handed the woman her package before turning around to pull the piece of meat from the slicer.

It’d been a slow day at work, everyone was struggling to find something to do. Veronica set the piece of meat back down in the case and then turned, grabbing a rag and starting to wipe the counters and slicers down. She couldn’t wait for the day to be over so she could go home, this was her weekend off and she couldn’t wait to start it. She didn’t have anything planned, but she did have a few things around the house to get done.

“Veronica, do you want to take your last break?”

“Sure.

“Ok, see ya in ten then,” Colette the night manager called.

She set the rag in the bucket of sanitizer and headed out the department. Whipping her phone out, she opened it and listened to her messages, one was from Lynne telling her to call when she got the chance. After finding her number in her phone book, she pressed the button and waited.

“Hello?”

“Hey it’s me, what’s up?”

“Hey, look I was wondering if you wanted to go out to a club tonight?”

“I dunno…”

“Come on Veronica, you and I both know you have nothing planned.”

“Well there are some things around the house that I wanted to do and…”

“Like I said there’s nothing you have planned.”

“Fine, alright.”

“You’re actually giving in so soon?”

“Yeah, I don’t feel like arguing and besides, I kinda wanna go out.”

“Whoa, you feeling alright?”

“Ha ha, very funny.”

“Well great, then I’ll come by to pick you up at about six thirty.”

“Ok, see you then.”

“C-ya, bye.”

“Bye.”

Veronica hung up and slipped the phone back into her pocket, she was looking forward to tonight, finally something to do. Deciding to cut her break short, she turned and made her way back to the department.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Later that evening…

Letting the towel drop to the floor, she started to dress, trying to hurry. Lynne was gonna be there in an hour and she still had to do her hair and makeup. Rushing out the bathroom and into her bedroom, she grabbed her skirt, stepping into it and hiking it up before pulling her blouse on. She grabbed her makeup bag and flat iron and headed into the bathroom. Twenty minutes later she emerged, makeup done and hair styled. Heading back into her bedroom, she grabbed her sandals and pulled them on, her thoughts drifting to Nick.

He was in Germany now and she wondered what he was doing right now, she hoped he was safe and that he’d had a good flight. Shaking her head, she chuckled softly. She still couldn’t believe what she was thinking, let alone who she was thinking of. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen to fans, to her more specifically. She wasn’t rejecting it, but still not believing it fully yet either. Veronica was dying to check her email, knowing full well though, that he hadn’t responded yet. She was still holding to the decision that she wouldn’t do anything else until she heard back from him. The waiting was hard though.

Standing, she grabbed her purse and headed downstairs just as the doorbell rang.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“C’mon Lynne, I don’t want to!!”

Lynne continued to pull her out to the dance floor, Veronica’s complaints falling on deaf ears.

“Now pick some random hot guy and dance!” Lynne yelled over the loud music.

“I don’t want to!”

“You’d love to? Really?” Lynne smiled.

“No!”

“Go for it!” Reaching out, Lynne gave her a gentle shove into the guy behind her.

Stumbling a bit, Veronica whirled around quickly, “Sorry, I’m sorry”.

“No problem,” the guy smiled.

“My friend, she pushed me.”

“Some friend,” the guy laughed. “I’m Calvin.”

She inhaled sharply, giving him a small smile, “Veronica.”

“Nice to meet you Veronica, did you wanna dance?”

No, really she didn’t, she didn’t want to make a fool of herself, but she couldn’t very well turn and walk away.

“Uh, sure.”

Calvin turned to face her fully, reaching out, he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her a little closer.

“This ok?” He asked loudly.

She wanted to say yes and mean it, desperately, but it wasn’t ok. Not that he was out of line, but it just felt wrong, it felt wrong to be out here with all these people, acting as if she belonged.

“Yeah, it’s fine.”

Couldn’t he tell though? Tell how uncomfortable and out of place she felt? Obviously not since he pulled her closer, grinding and rubbing against her suggestively. Veronica looked away, she couldn’t make eye contact, couldn’t let him have that. The song finally ended and he pulled away.

“Thanks Veronica.”

“No problem.”

“See ya.”

She nodded and watched as he turned, making his way through the crowd. Sighing, Veronica turned and quickly made her way through the crowd and over to the table. It didn’t matter, she just didn’t have what it took to make them stay beyond a single dance.
Chapter 50 by Gravity 721
Chapter 50


Later that night…

Reaching down, she tugged her sandals off and flopped down on the bed, sighing heavily. It’d been a long uneventful night. Granted it was only eleven, but she was tired and she had to work tomorrow. She felt bad though, she knew Lynne was upset that she never wanted to stay out later, that she never really enjoyed herself, but she couldn’t help it. Social situations of that caliber never made her comfortable, she always felt like people were staring at her and not in a good way.

After stripping down, she turned her computer on and then headed into the bathroom to wash her face as it booted up. Making her way back in a short time later, she sat down and dialed up, waiting to connect. She only really had time to check her mail and chat for a bit before she had to head off to bed, six thirty came so early. After connecting, she logged onto the instant messenger then headed off to check her mail. A few seconds later, an IM box popped up.

Pinksneakers23: Hey!

Veronica smiled, she hadn’t talked to Erin in a while, and there was a lot to catch up on.

Freesialover: Hi! What’s up?
Pinksneakers23: Not much, u?
Freesialover: Same, just getting ready to check mail and then head to bed, I said I’d work tomorrow.
Pinksneakers23: Bleh, that sucks.
Freesialover: I know, but I can always use the money.
Pinksneakers23: I hear that, I’m the same way. It’s been awhile since we chatted, what’s going on? Oh! What happened with you and Nick that night? Did you guys keep talking?
Freesialover: LOL! Yeah we did actually! J
Pinksneakers23: Ahh really? What happened?
Freesialover: Nothing really, we just chatted a bit. He said he liked my buddy icon.
Pinksneakers23: Awww that’s so cute!
Freesialover: Are you kidding? I was so embarrassed! I must’ve looked stupid.
Pinksneakers23: Well he must not have thought so.
Freesialover: I guess not.

She still couldn’t believe she talked to him, let alone that he’d commented on her icon. It still seemed too much to believe.

Pinksneakers23: So go on, what else?
Freesialover: Nothing really. We just talked about whatever, nothing really special. He’s in Germany now, he said he’d email me when he arrived and got settled in.
Pinksneakers23: Has he?
Freesialover: Nope not yet.
Pinksneakers23: Why not? How long has he been there?
Freesialover: I dunno, a day?
Pinksneakers23: Hmmm, and he hasn’t written yet.
Freesialover: Well he said that it might be a day or two, he wanted to get settled and into some kind of routine first before he emailed.
Pinksneakers23: Oh, well yeah I guess that’s alright.
Freesialover: I’ll tell him you gave your permission.
Pinksneakers23: You do that.

Veronica groaned.

Freesialover: So anyway, what have you been up to? How’s work?
Pinksneakers23: Eh it’s work, nothing exciting.
Freesialover: You’re lucky.
Pinksneakers23: I’m lucky that work isn’t exciting?
Freesialover: No you’re lucky cause work is consistent. And while it may not be exciting, you like what you do. You’re happy.
Pinksneakers23: It’s gonna happen for you Veronica, it is.
Freesialover: I hope so. Look I’m gonna get going, work in the morning and I’m exhausted, it’s been a long night.
Pinksneakers23: Did you do something special tonight?
Freesialover: Went out to a club with Lynne.
Pinksneakers23: Yeah? How was it?
Freesialover: It was ok.
Pinksneakers23: Just ok?
Freesialover: Yup, well I mean I danced with someone, but that’s about it.
Pinksneakers23: You danced with someone? That’s great!
Freesialover: It’s no big deal.
Pinksneakers23: Yes it is! Did you give him your number after?
Freesialover: No, he left.
Pinksneakers23: He left? Left where?
Freesialover: Left! I don’t know where, I didn’t follow him.
Pinksneakers23: Veronica!
Freesialover: What?! It’s no big deal Erin. He was probably with someone anyway. I really have to go. We’ll talk soon ok?
Pinksneakers23: *Sigh* Ok Veronica. Talk to ya later.
Freesialover: Bye!
Pinksneakers23: Bye!

She signed off and slumped back in her chair. There was nothing worse than to know one of your close friends was disappointed in you.
Chapter 51 by Gravity 721
Chapter 51


The last place Nick wanted to be on a Sunday afternoon was in a meeting with potential producers to discuss the new album. He was still jet lagged and cranky. Casting a quick glance at his watch, he saw that it was after one and they still hadn’t had lunch yet. He was having trouble focusing as is, reaching out he grabbed his pen and started pulling the cap on and off over and over.

Looking around the room, Nick smirked as he realized the rest of the guys looked about as involved as he did. AJ was staring intently at his shirt as if he were trying to figure out how many stitches there were on the sleeve. Howie was staring up at the ceiling and Brian and Kevin were staring at the guy talking, but it didn’t look like they were actually listening.

Chuckling softly, Nick jerked at the abrupt loud rumble emanating from his stomach. Suddenly all eyes were on him, clearing his throat he let out a nervous laugh.

“S-sorry.”

One of the businessmen gave a hearty laugh, shaking his head.

“It appears that Mr. Carter is trying to let us know that it’s way past due for lunch. How about we break and meet back here in an hour? There’s a buffet set up in the second conference room down the hall,” the man at the head of the table announced as he stood.

There were groans of relief from around the table as everyone else stood, making their way out the room. AJ came up behind Nick as they were leaving, slapping him on the back.

“Thanks man, I was dying in there. A few minutes longer and everyone would’ve been privy to my snoring, which at that point I think would’ve been a blessing,” AJ grinned, making his way out the room and down the hall. Nick shook his head, heading down behind AJ.

“Leave it to Nick to interrupt a meeting with his stomach,” Kevin chuckled, wrapping an arm around his shoulders as they walked into the conference room.

“I’m sorry but I don’t know how you guys were paying attention, we haven’t eaten since early this morning, I’m fuckin’ starved,” Nick sighed.

“Pay attention? Who? I know you’re not talking about me or Kev. Don’t tell me you didn’t recognize that glazed look in his eyes,” Brian laughed, loading a plate with assorted salads.

Nick smiled, “Nah, I saw it.”

“Whatever, I don’t know what you two are talking about, I was listening,” Kevin announced defensively.

Howie smirked, grabbing a can of pop, “Mmmhmm”

“I wouldn’t talk D, how many ceiling tiles are there?” Kevin questioned, starting over to one of the chairs in the room next to AJ who was already eating intently.

“How would I know that?” Howie asked, his expression reflecting pure innocence.

Nick rolled his eyes, finishing up his plate he started over towards the rest of the guys then stopped, he could use this time to check his mail and send Veronica a quick email and let her know he’d arrived safely. Turning he started out the room.

“Nick, where you goin’ man?” Brian asked.

“Got something to do, see ya in a while.”

Nick hurried out the room and over to the other conference room and grabbed his bag from the floor setting it down on the table, pulling out his laptop. The guys had been curious as to why he’d bring it with him to the conference, it’d been all he could do not to tell him, he’s managed to avoid giving them a direct answer.

He lifted the lid and turned it on and started to eat while it booted up. Rummaging into his bag, he grabbed the internet card and stuck it into the proper slot, and then connected. Quickly he finished eating and then slid his plate away and went to check his mail. He didn’t have a lot of time left, so he’d have to be quick. After going through his mail, he made a few quick replies before starting a new email, addressing it to Veronica. About ten minutes later, he finished up, hit send and closed down. He looked up as he slid his laptop back into his bag as everyone made their way back into the room.

The meeting was starting again.
Chapter 52 by Gravity 721
Chapter 52


Veronica looked up at the clock, fifteen after seven. She had forty five minutes to get everything laid out for work in the morning before her programs came on. She hurried around, getting her clothes set out and her lunch made before making her way back into her room. She’d hop online quickly and check her mail for the night and the go watch TV for the rest of the evening.

Looking around her room, her thoughts drifted to work. She really wished he didn’t have to work in the morning. Actually, she wished she didn’t have to go to a job she hated in the morning. It would all change, she was working on it. She connected to the internet and then went to check her mail, signing onto her IM’s while she waited for the page to load. Quickly she scanned the emails, deleting the junk. Scrolling down she read a few and responded and was about to scroll back up, when she say she’d missed one. Scrolling down a bit more, she saw that she’d gotten an email from Nick. Smiling, clicked on it and waited for the page to load and then read.

Date: Sun, Nov 16 2004 1:15:20 -2000 (GMT)
From: chucktaylor11@aol.com
Subject: I’m here!
To: freesialover@yahoo.com

Hey girl it’s me! I just wanted to drop you a line as promised and let you know that I arrived safe and sound about three days ago. Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond, just finally got settled and right now we’re in a meeting, well we’re on lunch, I thought I’d email you and let you know what was going on.
Anyway, I’ve gotta jet, the meetings gonna be starting again soon. So I hope to talk to you soon!

Lata,

Nick


Veronica smiled, so he had arrived safe and sound. Clicking on the reply button, she filled out the subject line and then clicked on in the box to start typing.

Chucktaylor11: Boo!

Veronica jumped, her heart pounding. He was online!

Freesialover: Nick! Wow, hi!
Chucktaylor11: Hey you! It’s been awhile.
Freesialover: Yeah I know.
Chucktaylor11: So how come ya didn’t IM me?? I’m hurt! *frowns*

She laughed, shaking her head.

Freesialover: I didn’t think you’d be on! Besides I just got on myself. Just checking my mail.
Chucktaylor11: Uh huh, I’ll let it go just this once.
Freesialover: Oh, you’re too kind.
Chucktaylor11: Yeah, I know… J
Freesialover: *Groan* Anyway, I just read your email, thanks for writing me. I’m glad to hear that you arrived safe and sound. I’d been wondering how you were.
Chucktaylor11: No problem, thanks for caring. Sorry it took so long, it’s always crazy when we first get here, tryin to get settled and all.
Freesialover: It’s ok, I understand totally. So how are you doing? Have you rested up at all?
Chucktaylor11: I’m doin’ alright. Busy busy ya know? I’m hoping to go out with some of the guys tomorrow night and go to some clubs or something.
Freesialover: Ohhh
Chucktaylor11: Yeah. But nah, I haven’t really caught up on sleep yet. I should be in bed right now, but I had to get online and see if you were on and say hi.
Freesialover: Well don’t let me keep you from sleeping, we can talk some other time.
Chucktaylor11: No no, s’ok I don’t mind. I’ve been looking forward to this actually.

Veronica blinked, he had?

Freesialover: You have?

Nick smiled, he had. He’d been thinking about getting online ever since he’d sent her the email. He missed emailing her, he wanted to know how she was doing. It was nice to get to talk to her and hear back instantly. It was funny, he never really thought he’d have the time to think about how easy or hard their communication was.

Chucktaylor11: yeah I have. Ya know, we haven’t talked in a while, I was curious to see how you’ve been and what’s been going on with you.
Freesialover: Aww that’s so nice of you Nick. I wish I had something exciting to report though.
Chucktaylor11: Nothing? Not a thing?
Freesialover: Nope
Chucktaylor11: You like clubs?
Freesialover: Eh, they’re alright. I go with my friend Lynne sometimes. I went about a week or so ago.
Chucktaylor11: Well then, you did do something. How’d it go?

She couldn’t very well tell him that she danced with a guy and he left her standing in the middle of the dance floor like the loser she was. She’d be as vague as possible, he wouldn’t really care anyway.

Freesialover: It was alright.
Chucktaylor11: Do you dance?
Freesialover: Uh, not really.
Chucktaylor11: No? C’mon, ya can’t go to a club and not dance.
Freesialover: I’m not that good of a dancer really.
Chucktaylor11: Mmmm
Freesialover: It’s true

For some reason Nick had the feeling that it wasn’t about her not being a good dancer. It was apparent she didn’t want to talk about it, but he couldn’t seem to let it drop for some reason.

Chucktaylor11: So then, what do you do while you’re there?
Freesialover: Well usually I watch Lynne dance and just ya know, hang out.
Chucktaylor11: Ok, so if a guy were to ask you to dance, would you?
Freesialover: Typically no…
Chucktaylor11: I feel a but coming on.
Freesialover: No but, just I usually don’t.
Chucktaylor11: Has there been an excpetion?

Should she tell him? What could he possibly say though? Worst could happen is he’d laugh at her or pity her. Veronica didn’t think she could handle either.

Freesialover: Oh ya know, when your friend decides to drag you out onto the dance floor and push you into the guy behind you. Only then.
Chucktaylor11: Ohh, ouch.
Freesialover: Mmmhmm
Chucktaylor11: Alright so you have an excpetion…what happened in that particular instance.
Freesialover: Nothing really.
Chucktaylor11: Nothing?
Freesialover: Right
Chucktaylor11: Did you dance with him?
Freesialover: yeah

Nick stared at the screen, she was obviously uncomfortable, he didn’t want her to be. He’d drop it for now and try to bring it up later.

Chucktaylor11: Aight.
Freesialover: So what kinds of things are you gonna be doing while you’re there?
Chucktaylor11: Oh ya know, radio and magazine interviews. Gotta do some tv shows and all that shit. I had a meeting yesterday with some potential producers for the new album, that kinda thing.
Freesialover: That sounds pretty exciting.
Chucktaylor11: It can be I guess, most of the time it’s just exhausting. We never really have time to enjoy where we are cause we’re always doing something. That sucks
Freesialover: I bet it does *frowns*
Chucktaylor11: Aww, is that sad face for me? You feel bad for me?
Freesialover: yup it’s for you. I do feel bad for ya, you go to all these different places and ya can’t even enjoy it. That ain’t right.
Chucktaylor11: Thanks for feeling bad for me honey, that’s sweet of you.

Veronica cleared her throat, rubbing at her cheeks a bit. She wouldn’t bring attention to the fact that he called her honey and thought that she was sweet.

Freesialover: Well, that’s the kinda person I am ya know. By the way, what time is it there?
Chucktaylor11: It is…1:45 Monday morning here.
Freesialover: Oh right, you’re about what is it…six hours ahead of us here.
Chucktaylor11: Yeah, that’s about right.
Freesialover: That’s pretty early.
Chucktaylor11: I know, I’m tired and all, but I think I’m overtired. I probably wouldn’t be able to get to sleep if I tried. Been having a hard time these last few nights, I‘m still on US time.
Freesialover: Reeks havoc on your system.
Chucktaylor11: exactly
Chucktaylor11: Just as soon as I get used to it, it’ll be time for us to come back.
Freesialover: Lucky you!
Chucktaylor11: You know it
Freesialover: LOL
Freesialover: So other than clubs, what else for fun are you gonna try to do with the little bit of free time you’ll have?
Chucktaylor11: Mmm, go to some parties, maybe visit some friends. Whatever comes up.
Freesialover: Ahh cool.
Chucktaylor11: yeah it’s nice when I can actually do those things. Oh well. Aight lady, I’m gonna head off, get ready for bed and try to get some sleep, long day ahead of me and I have to be up in a few hours.
Freesialover: Alrighty!
Chucktaylor11: Do you work today? Or tomorrow for you rather.
Freesialover: Yeah I do. Bleh
Chucktaylor11: Ok, well I hope you have a good day and that it goes fast for ya.
Freesialover: Thanks Nick, same to you.
Chucktaylor11: Thanks, hey, email me sometime ok? Tell me about how work went.
Freesialover: Sure!
Chucktaylor11: Cool. Aight I’m out. Talk to ya later!
Freesialover: Ok! Night/Morning Nick!
Chucktaylor11: lol Night Veronica!
Chucktaylor11 signed off at 8:10:27 PM

Veronica slumped back in her chair, taking a deep breath. A small smile hovered on her lips, it was great to talk to him. Her body was trembling and her stomach was in knots, she’d hoped it wouldn’t be so bad if she ever talked to him again, apparently it still was. Slowly sitting back up, she started typing in the box of the email. He’d have two emails when he checked again.

Nick shut his laptop down, unplugging it from the wall. A small smile formed on his lips as he headed into the bathroom. He enjoyed that. He would’ve liked to have talked longer, but he really didn’t have the time. Nick hoped when he got back home, he’d be able to talk to her for longer periods of time. Making his way back out, he slipped into bed, pulling the covers up over himself, staring up at the ceiling.

He really hoped she would remember to email him.

Sighing, he rolled to his side, closing his eyes, falling asleep a few minutes later.
Chapter 53 by Gravity 721
Chapter 53


He slipped the card into the slot and turned the knob when the green light flashed. Making his way in he tossed his card down and made his way into the bathroom, flipping the light on and then heading back out, stripping as he went. It was a little after six, he told AJ and Howie he’d meet them in the lobby at eight, that left a little less than two hours to shower, dress and check his mail.

It’d been a long day that started at six this morning and was still going on. Today had been interviews and photos for a popular German magazine followed by a few appearances on some talk shows. Then there was lunch with contest winners at noon and then a few radio interviews followed by another short meeting with some more producers and writers. Now it was six and he was anxious to get out and relax and eat, damn he was starving. Nick finished stripping down and made his way back into the bathroom and into the shower.

Twenty minutes later, Nick made his way out, a towel wrapped around his waist. Heading over to his bag, he pulled his laptop out and turned it on, starting to dress while it booted. Nick hoped there were some good clubs around, a lot of his favorites had been closed over the last few years, when he was here for his solo album, and there were only two or three good ones left. Buttoning his jeans, he grabbed his t-shirt and pulled it on, reaching out he clicked on his email account, opening his inbox. Turning, he riffled through his bag for his brush, finding it he ran it through his short damp hair a few times before tossing it back in. He grabbed his watch and snapped it on and then sat down on the bed, setting his laptop on his lap. He deleted the junk mail, clicking on Veronica’s email; he was a bit disappointed to see that there was only one. Quickly he counted in his head, it was only noon there, she’d still be in work. Sighing, it wasn’t her fault she was at work and couldn’t email him there about how her day was goings so far.

Shaking his head, he waited for it to load and then read once it came up on his screen.

Date: Sun, Nov 16 2004 8:25:54 -2000 (EST)
From: freesia lover@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: I’m here!
To: chucktaylor11@aol.com

Hey Nick!

I just got finished chatting with you, so I guess there isn’t really much left to be said. I will thank you once again for emailing me in the first place. I was hoping you arrived save and sound. You’re so far away; I’d hate to think of a flight getting cancelled or anything like that, it sucks.

Anyway, I guess that’s it. I’ll email you when I get home from work and let you know how it went. I really enjoyed chatting with you tonight, I hope we’re able to again soon!

Veronica


Nick clicked on the reply button and responded. Part of him was looking forward to coming back to read her email. Checking his watch, he saw that he only had about thirty minutes before he was to meet AJ and Howie. Finishing up, he logged off and then shut down. Slipping his laptop back into his bag, he set it in the corner and grabbed his card, making his way out.

Making his way out the elevator, he saw AJ and Howie standing by the entrance, talking to some fans. He made his way over, smiling when the fans caught sight of him, a few girls quickly making their way over.

“Bought time man,” AJ smirked, winking at one of the girls.

“Sorry, had to shower and all that,” Nick smiled, signing one of the girls “Black & Blue” liners.

“Well sorry ladies, but we’re gonna get going,” Howie announced, handing a sharpie back to the girl in front of him.

There were assorted “awws” around as they stepped back. The guys gave a small wave before making their way out and into the waiting van.

“Did you see them, they were hot,” AJ chuckled.

Howie rolled his eyes, “C’mon AJ.”

“What?! They were.”

Nick smirked, turning to look out the window as the van pulled away.

“You’ve been acting funny lately, you alright?” AJ asked.

“Yeah, just got a lot on my mind.” Nick responded.

Howie looked over at him, “Anything happen with your family lately?”

He shrugged, “No, not really. I wouldn’t know anyway.”

“Nick…”

“Not tonight guys, I just wanna enjoy myself…ok?”

Howie and AJ looked at each other before turning to stare out the window.
Chapter 54 by Gravity 721
Chapter 54


Heaving a sigh, Veronica waited to connect to the internet, rubbing at her forehead wearily, her head was pounding. It’d been a lousy day at work. More than once she had wanted to burst into tears. Customers had been at their worst all day; she wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up getting written up.

Heading over to Yahoo, she clicked to check her mail, signing in. She quickly deleted the junk mail and then read over the others, coming to Nick’s last. A small smile formed on her lips as she opened and started to read.

Date: Mon, Nov 17 2004 6:45:05 -2000 (GMT)
From: chucktaylor11@aol.com
Subject: When I’ll be on
To: freesialover@yahoo.com

Hey! It’s me. Just wanted to say and see what’s up. Thanks for the email, I enjoyed chatting last night too. Ummm, I’m gonna be goin’ out tonight for a bit, but I should be on when I get back. Probably around the same time as last night. I should be able to staye up later tho, I don’t have to be up as early tomorrow.

Sooo, I hope to talk to ya later tonight/this morning.

Lata,

Nick


Veronica looked down at the clock, eight, which meant it was about two over there. It was a little later than last time, but maybe he was on. Opening her buddy list, she brought up a blank IM box and found his name from the list and quickly typed a hello and hit send. He must be online because no message came on saying otherwise. Figuring he wasn’t at his computer, she minimized the box and decided to catch up on some work that had to be done on her site. About ten minutes later, she was right in the midst of uploading something into the server, when the familiar sound from the IM box blared through her speakers. Quickly she clicked on the box, the IM opening.

Chucktaylor11: hey!
Freesialover: Nick, hi!
Chucktaylor11: sorry bout that, just got out the shower. sup?
Freesialover: Oh nothing, just hanging out, messing around a bit. How are you?
Chucktaylor11: I’m alright, just got back.
Freesialover: Yeah? That’s right you said in your email that you were going out. Did you have fun?
Chucktaylor11: yeah it was alright.
Freesialover: So what’d you do today?
Chucktaylor11: all kinds of shit. I had a photoshoot, radio interviews, magazine interviews.
Freesialover: Wow, when’d you finish?
Chucktaylor11: At about six.
Freesialover: Long day huh?
Chucktaylor11: Yeah, I mean, it’s good and all, but god, it’s not like I can enjoy anything.
Freesialover: That sucks.
Chucktaylor11: It does, but it’s all worth it I guess. I can always come back on vacation if I really wanna.
Freesialover: True. So, where’d you go tonight?
Chucktaylor11: Went to some clubs with AJ and Howie.
Freesialover: Cool, wow, AJ and Howie.
Chucktaylor11: lol yeah
Freesialover: How are they?
Chucktaylor11: they’re good, real good actually. We’re all glad to be out here doin’ our thing again ya know.
Freesialover: Well us fans are glad you’re doing your thing again too! LOL

Nick smiled, he was glad to hear that. He ran his hand through his damp hair, yawning. Turning his head he watched as the girl gathered up the rest of her stuff and started for the door. She stopped at the door, giving him a wink before heading out. Slumping back in the chair, he ran a hand over his face. Standing he grabbed his laptop and made his way over to the disheveled bed, sitting, wishing he could change the sheets.

Sighing he focused his attention back to the screen.

Chucktaylor11: so tell me now, how was your day?
Freesialover: Ugh, don’t ask.
Chucktaylor11: That bad huh?
Freesialover: The worst. I hate days like this, makes me hate my job even more than I already do.
Chucktaylor11: Aww sweetie, I’m sorry to hear that. What happened?
Freesialover: Oh it’s just customers. You can’t please em no matter what and they’re so quick to wanna complain about every little thing. I’m sick of taking their shit.
Chucktaylor11: *Frowns*
Freesialover: Sorry, I’m sorry to lay all this on you.
Chucktaylor11: Hey don’t be sorry, its aight, ya gotta get it out. I wanted to know.

Veronica smiled, it was nice of him to put up with her ranting. She always felt bad telling everyone else about it, it seemed she was always complaining to them.

Chucktaylor11: Ya gotta try to let it go, forget it. They a bunch of assholes anyway.
Freesialover: Easier said than done.
Chucktaylor11: I know, but ya gotta try.
Freesialover: I will, talking to you helps.
Chucktaylor11: I’m glad to hear that! *Smiles* Freesialover: Well let’s go back to you. How were the interviews and stuff? Man I can’t even imangine doing that kinda stuff.
Chucktaylor11: eh, it’s boring really. Same old questions over and over, it’s kinda frustrating. I always hope for something fresh and original.
Freesialover: Yeah, fans get tired of the same questions too.
Chucktaylor11: Glad I’m not the only one.
Freesialover: LOL you’re not!
Chucktaylor11: I have hope that it’ll happen one day.
Freesialover: Heh heh. So, do you have any time off? Any days that you guys can do what you want?
Chucktaylor11: not really, we’re usually busy during the day, but we have the evenings so it’s not so bad.
Freesialover: I guess that’s better than nothing.
Chucktaylor11: yeah, I kinda gotta take what ican get.

Nick stifled another yawn, he didn’t want to sleep, but after the previous exertions, he was finding it harder and harder to stay awake. Shifting, he felt something below him, sliding his hand under his thigh, he pulled out the used condom wrapper which was stuck his leg and groaned, tossing it into the garbage can beside him. There really had to be a way for him to get some clean sheets.

Chucktaylor11: Do you work tomorrow?
Freesialover: Nah I’m off, I’m so glad.
Chucktaylor11: Good, I think you should do something to relax.
Freesialover: Yeah, I may just go to the mall or go visit my friend at work or something.
Chucktaylor11: sounds like a good idea. Buy yourself something nice.
Freesialover: Lol, maybe I will.
Chucktaylor11: yeah, email me and let me know what ya get ok?
Freesialover: Sure!
Chucktaylor11: Alright, I think I’m gonna go, I don’t wanna, but fuck I’m sleepy.
Freesialover: Aww alright.
Chucktaylor11: I’m sorry honey. We’ll talk again soon.
Freesialover: That’s alright, try to get some sleep, I’m sure you’ve got an early start tomorrow.
Chucktaylor11: Not really, not as early as today, so I can sleep in a bit.
Freesialover: That’s good.
Chucktaylor11: yeah, I’m pretty excited lol
Freesialover: It’s the little things
Chucktaylor11: it really is. But hey, you take care.
Freesialover: I will, you too.
Chucktaylor11: Ok, I’ll try to email you if I can.
Freesialover: Alright, no rush. Talk to ya later Nick
Chucktaylor11: Goodnight Veronica
Freesialover: Night Nick!
Chucktaylor11 signed off at 9:42:16 PM

Veronica smiled, she really enjoyed that. He was so easy to talk to. She quickly finished up and shut down. She was anxious to talk to him again, hopefully it wouldn’t be too long.

Nick shut his laptop down and set it on the floor next to the bed, he was too lazy to put it back in the case, he’d do it in the morning. Turning he flopped down onto the pillows, groaning. It was too late to call someone and get fresh sheets and he really didn’t feel like dealing with anyone. Sighing heavily, he kicked the sheets down on the bed, grabbing the blanket that had been shoved roughly to the side in an attempt for his knees to gain more purchase on the mattress. It had been left unscathed. Quickly he unfolded it over himself, flipping the pillow around before resting his head on it. He couldn’t wait to go home.
Chapter 55 by Gravity 721
Chapter 55

One Month Later…

Freesialover: Hey!
Chucktaylor11: Hey girl!
Freesialover: wow it’s been awhile huh?
Chucktaylor11: Yeah it has, how are you?
Freesialover: I’m pretty good, how bout you?
Chucktaylor11: Good, I’m doing good
Freesialover: Glad to hear it.
Chucktaylor11: Hey, I like the new color. So, how was your Christmas?
Freesialover: Thanks! It was really nice. I went over to my Mom’s with my Brothers.
Chucktaylor11: sounds really nice.
Freesialover: Yeah, it’s so good to see them all again.
Chucktaylor11: I know it, so…what’d ya get?
Freesialover: LOL Well I got a few cds, a gift card, dvd’s…some of my favorite perfume, well one of them anyway.
Chucktaylor11: oh yeah? Which one?
Freesialover: Ever heard of Givenchy?
Chucktaylor11: Yeah, that shit smells so good.
Freesialover: Heh heh, that’d be the one. It’s not my all time favorite, but I really like it.
Chucktaylor11: what is?
Freesialover: My favorite perfume?
Chucktaylor11: yeah
Freesialover: Well for women it’s my screename actually.
Chucktaylor11: Hey yeah, you never did tell me what your screename stood for.
Freesialover: Oh man all this time I kept forgetting. Freesia is a perfume from Bath & Body Works. Well other places have it, but I think theirs is the best. They’ve since discontinued it, which sucks. So I have like one bottle left and I’m just about out. It’ll be a sad day for me when it runs out.
Chucktaylor11: I hate when that happens. So you don’t want a different brand?
Freesialover: I suppose I could, but it’s not the same. B&BW did come out with a Sheer Freesia, but it’s not the same.
Chucktaylor11: lol I get it.

Nick smiled, Freesia, mystery solved. He’d heard of it before, though he wasn’t sure if he’d actually smelled it, he probably had and just didn’t realize it.

Freesialover: So what have you been up to? How was your xmas? I know the last time we talked you weren’t sure what you were gonna be doing.
Chucktaylor11: Not much. My Christmas was pretty good, yeah I went to Kev’s. I also visited my Brother and Sisters.
Freesialover: Aww that must’ve been nice.
Chucktaylor11: yeah it was. I went to Kentucky with Kev, cause his Mom wasn’t able to fly to Florida, Brian came with his wife and son too.
Freesialover: That’s so nice!
Chucktaylor11: Yeah, Baylee just turned two and Brian had a party for him and all.
Freesialover: Were you able to go?
Chucktaylor11: yeah! It was really nice, got him some things.
Freesialover: Oooh yeah? Like what?
Chucktaylor11: well ya know those…tractor and like…fire engine things that kids can ride on or like…push themselves on?
Freesialover: Yup
Chucktaylor11: Well I got him one of those…a fire truck. Then I got him one of those cool workmans tool benches, ya know the kind where ya can hammer those plastic screws and stuff in, I love those things.
Freesialover: LOL! Yeah I know what ya mean. Those are cute.
Chucktaylor11: So yeah, that…I figure it’ll kinda help with shapes or something. Then I also got him som of those stacking blocks, Kristin said those were a good idea, actually it was her idea.
Freesialover: LOL!
Chucktaylor11: and then I got him some books so Brian and Leigh could read to him at night.

Veronica smiled, he was so giving and she could tell how much he loved Baylee.

Freesialover: Those are very nice gifts Nick.
Chucktaylor11: I figured I had to get him something educational, Leighanne was real happy bout it. Brian says he really loves the workbench and the truck.
Freesialover: Aww!
Chucktaylor11: lol I think I was more worried about the books, I don’t know the first thing about picking out books for kids, but he picked out one at the party and like, I was sitting on the couch and he climbed up in my lap and wanted me to read to him.
Freesialover: I would’ve loved to have seen that. See, you didn’t have anything to worry about Nick. Give yourself some credit. It seems you know more about it than you think.

Nick chuckled, it’d made him happier than he wanted to admit to hear that Baylee had liked his gifts. He’d missed out on buying stuff for his Brother and Sisters when they were younger cause he was always touring. When they got older, it was different. Unreleased cd’s and all that thing were standard after a while, and then Aaron had started doing his own thing, so Nick really didn‘t have anyone to give anything to anymore. When he heard Baylee say “Nick…Nick read.” it’d done something to him, it made him felt good, made him feel as if he‘d done something right. Not that Baylee would remember when he was older, but even if he helped him learn something, or helped him grow, even a little, it was worth it.

Chucktaylor11: I guess
Freesialover: *Smiles*
Chucktaylor11: lol so, what are you doing for New Years?
Freesialover: Nothing
Chucktaylor11: Nothing?
Freesialover: Nope, I never do.
Chucktaylor11: That sucks!
Freesialover: LOL! It’s not that bad trust me. It’s always been that way with me, no big deal. I’ll have a glass of egg nog watch the ball drop then head into my room to read for a bit before going to sleep.
Chucktaylor11: Veronica…
Freesialover: Really Nick, it’s fine.
Chucktaylor11: damn, that depresses me.

Nick stared hard at the screen, why did that bother him so much? The thought of her being alone on New Years just wasn’t right. Why didn’t her friends take her out, how could they just let her be alone? More importantly, why didn’t she go out with her friends? He’d like to think that it’d be her friends fault, but somehow he wasn’t so sure she’d even go.

Freesialover: Aww don’t be depressed, it’s cool. How bout you? What are you gonna do?
Chucktaylor11: Probably hang out with some friends, go to some parties.
Freesialover: Get that kiss at midnight huh? Heh heh!
Chucktaylor11: You know it!
Freesialover: LOL
Chucktaylor11: Well it’s that time of…morning. I gotta jet honey.
Freesialover: Aww alright. Well if I don’t talk to you in the next couple of days, have a good new years.
Chucktaylor11: Thanks, you too.
Freesialover: Ok, talk to ya later Nick.
Chucktaylor11: Aight, night V
Freesialover: Night Nick!
Chapter 56 by Gravity 721
Chapter 56


One Month Later…

Nick tossed his jeans in the growing pile by his closet; he had to get around to doing some wash soon, he was running out of clean underwear. Frowning, he walked over to his drawer, pulling out a pair of boxers. He was just pulling them up, when the familiar chime of his IM sounded and he turned, smiling as he sat down on the bed, pulling his laptop onto his lap.

Freesialover: Hey!
Chucktaylor11: Hey girl!
Freesialover: How are you this evening?
Chucktaylor11: I’m alright, just getting ready to head out in a bit.
Freesialover: Aww, want me to let ya go?
Chucktaylor11: Nah, not leaving for a while, you’re fine.

They’d been talking more and more frequently, much to Veronica’s surprise. At least two or three times a week. She wasn’t sure how he did it; he always seemed so busy when she talked to him, always going out somewhere. He seemed busier than usual here lately; his twenty fifth birthday was coming up in a few days. Veronica wondered what he had planned for it.

Freesialover: Great! So…your birthday is coming up in a few days, whatcha got planned?
Chucktaylor11: well, gonna go out with some friends to a club or two. I’ll probably do something with one of the guys too, not quite sure yet.
Freesialover: That sonds nice, I hope you have fun. I’m gonna try to send you a card.
Chucktaylor11: aww honey, you don’t have to do that!
Freesialover: I know, but I want to.
Chucktaylor11: Well in that case, let me give you my actual home address. I think I’m just gonna close out the po box, it’s too much bother and we’ve been talking for awhile now anyway, so it’s cool.
Freesialover: Uhh Nick, don’t close the box just yet.
Chucktaylor11: how come?
Freesialover: Well it was supposed to be a surprise, but I already sent your card out. So you should get it fairly soon, in plenty of time for your b-day I imagine, if not the day after at the latest. So you’re gonna need to check it before you close it.

Nick sat there a bit startled and a lot embarrassed for some reason. She barely knew him and yet she sent him a card. Granted she was a fan and he’d gotten a lot of birthday gifts from fans before, but this felt different. It felt…real, like there was meaning because well, now that he thought about it, she did know him. She knew more about him than a typical fan; it was almost like she wasn’t even a fan anymore. He couldn’t count how many times over the last few months he found himself talking to her, forgetting the circumstances of their meeting.

Chucktaylor11: Thank you Veronica

Veronica felt her heart do a little dip, she wasn’t sure why. It’s not as if he’d said anything special, but she couldn’t seem to stop the blush from creeping into her cheeks. Clearing her throat, she started to type.

Freesialover: Eh, no big deal really. I’m sure you get tons and tons of birthday cards from your fans.
Chucktaylor11: yeah I do, but you’re different.

That stopped her, she stared at the screen. What did that mean? Different? How?

Freesialover: I am?
Chucktaylor11: yeah you are.
IFreesialover: hope that’s a good thing LOL!
Chucktaylor11: Don’t worry, it is.

Her heart dropped again and she shifted in her seat, trying to shrug off an unfamiliar feeling now coursing through her. She was different and it was a good thing.

Chucktaylor11: Well, I guess I’m gonna head out, gotta meet up with ma friends.
Freesialover: Oh ok, hey…Nick I wanna give you something.
Chucktaylor11: Girl you already gave me a card, what else is there? lol
Freesialover: My phone number.

Veronica wasn’t sure what had prompted her to want to do it. It was not as if he’d actually call or anything, but she had to put it out there. She supposed that part of her had longed to try to take the friendship to another level, that’s if he even considered her a friend. Then again he had suggested he give her his home address, but he hadn’t as of yet. She hoped it wasn’t too bold of her to offer her number, and that he didn’t feel pressure.

Chucktaylor11: Ohhh yeah? You tryin’ to hit on me or somthin’?
Freesialover: LOL Maybe, is it working?
Chucktaylor11: I dunno, why don’t you put that number up there and see. *grins*

Chuckling, Veronica put her number in. She would see.

Chucktaylor11: Thank ya much. Oh, I almost forgot, here’s my address…

She struggled to find a scrap piece of paper, quickly jotting the address down.

Chucktaylor11: Just…ya know, don’t give it out to anyone please.
Freesialover: My lips are sealed!
Chucktaylor11: Nah don’t do that, you’ll make all the guys upset.
Freesialover: How do you figure?
Chucktaylor11: well, how they gonna kiss you if you’ve got your lips pressed all together?
Freesialover: LOL! Believe me Nick, there’s no guy wanting to kiss me anyway, so I think I’m safe.
Chucktaylor11: I don’t believe that.
Freesialover: Believe it, it’s true.

Nick knew by now not to push, even though he was dying to get into it more with her, he’d leave it for now.

Chucktaylor11: Mmmhmm…sure. Anyway, I’m off. We’ll talk soon right?
Freesialover: Sure!
Chucktaylor11: Aight then.
Freesialover: Well have a happy birthday if I don’t talk to you before then.
Chucktaylor11: I will thanks. C-ya!
Freesialover: Bye Nick!

Veronica closed out of the IM and shut down. She looked at the calendar; there were still a few days before his birthday, which gave her just enough time. Shutting her computer down, she quickly changed clothes grabbed her purse and headed out her room, shutting the TV off before making her way out.
Chapter 57 by Gravity 721
Chapter 57


“Thanks for letting me celebrate your birthday with you Nick,” the young woman smiled, leaning in to kiss him deeply.

“I should be thanking you,” Nick smiled, leading her over to the door.

“So you’ll call me then?”

“I’ll try my hardest.”

“Mmm, make sure you try real…”she slid her hand down over his jeans, “…hard. Ok?”

He cleared his throat, “I will. I’ll talk to ya later Tanya.”

She gave him a small wave before making her way out. Nick shut the door and headed into the kitchen to make some coffee. It was late afternoon, almost one, a shower was in order. He’d been too tired to after Tanya had fallen asleep, and they’d been up most of the night screwing around, he’d crashed early in the morning. After starting the coffee maker, Nick walked over and checked his answering machine. He’d been vaguely aware of doing it last night, but he couldn’t remember anything he’d heard. He’d been drunk, horny and distracted. There were several birthday wishes, a message from his Mom which he quickly deleted, another from his Dad, deleted as well.

Rubbing at his eyes, Nick made his way back into the kitchen, grabbing the now full pot of coffee and pouring some into the mug he’d set out. After a few sips, he made his way back out and up the stairs to his room. Gathering up his clothes he made his way into the bathroom.

Another year older and what did he have to show for it? Nothing, not a damn thing. He knew he shouldn’t be complaining, he was lucky, damn lucky to have all the things he did. Still, something was missing, he wasn’t sure what, but with all that he had, he still felt empty, alone. When it came down to what really mattered, he was seriously lacking. He had friends sure, but his family life was seriously lacking. Was it too much to ask to have a normal loving family? Nick would watch the rest of the guys with their family and the jealousy at times would be overwhelming. Even AJ, whose personal and family life had suffered greatly over the last few years had never been quite like his. AJ at least had some kind of relationship with his Mom, while he was estranged from his Dad, his Mom had just remarried and he really liked his Stepfather.

Why couldn’t he have that?

Not only was his family an issue, the rest of the guys all had someone. Kevin and Brian were married, Brian had a family. Howie was in a serious relationship; AJ had just come out of one and was a recovering alcoholic, so his situation was a bit different. Again there was jealousy. Why couldn’t he be in a relationship that worked? A normal, sane relationship. It seemed he had the worst luck with women. It was an ongoing joke amongst the guys and even his fans. So why bother he figured? Why not have a little fun with no strings attached? It’d become a way of life for him here lately, and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy it. It was just easier for him that way. Until someone came along that made him want to make a commitment, made him want to make time, he’d keep on doing what he did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nick made his way inside, sighing at the air conditioned building. Turning, he made his way down, turning into his aisle and found his box, putting the key in the slot and opening it. Smiling, he reached in and grabbed the card shaped envelope, before shutting and locking the door. He’d been thinking about this all day. He’d rushed through his shower and lunch before making his way out. Turning, he headed over to the short line, waiting for his turn. A short time later he made his way out, glad he wouldn’t have to make separate trips here anymore to get his mail. Climbing into his truck, he set the card on the seat next to him and took off. Today he decided, he’d spend at home. One of his few days off, he’d been running around too much lately, and he felt like being lazy.

Pulling into his driveway, he punched the code in and made his way up. After getting out, he made his way up, letting himself inside, setting his keys down before heading back out to get the mail. Once at the mail box, he opened it, grabbing all the envelopes stuffed inside; when he noticed a piece of paper from the post office telling him that there was a package waiting for him at his neighbors. A bit confused, he made his way over to his neighbor’s knocking on the door.

“Oh, hello Nick!”

“Hi Mrs. Tanaka, I received notice that I had a package waiting for me here,” Nick announced smiling, holding up the slip of paper.

“Yes you do! It must be fun getting things like this in the mail,” she winked, turning and reaching down next to her, picking up a rather large box and holding it out to him. “Here you are.”

Nick blinked, he hadn’t ordered anything, what could this be?

“Thanks for holding onto it for me,” he replied, setting his other mail ontop of it before taking it out of her arms, it was fairly heavy.

“Not a problem. I had to sign for it, the mailman said it didn’t matter who so long as it was signed that someone received it.”

“No problem. Thanks again!”

“Anytime honey!”

Nick gave her another smile before turning and making his way down. Ten minutes later he made his way into his house, kicking the door shut. He quickly made his way over to the living room, sitting down on the couch, setting the box on the coffee table in front of him and removing his mail from it. Leaning in, he looked at the return address, his eyes widening.

Veronica Peterson.

He blinked, what’d she send him? Taking a closer look, he saw that it’d been sent out yesterday and that she’d had it delivered overnight mail. She told him about the card, but what was this? Why would she spend so much to have it arrive today? Looking at the stack of envelopes, he grabbed the card she sent him, ripping the envelope open and pulling the card out. It was one of those Hallmark Shoebox greetings. He read the front and then opened it, chuckling at the silly joke, it was signed simply,

Happy Birthday!

Your Friend (hopefully)

Veronica.


It didn’t say anything about a package on it. He reread the card, a smile playing on his lips. Setting the card down on the coffee table, he stood and headed into the kitchen, getting a pair of scissors, and heading back into the living room. Slumping down on the couch, he took the scissors and started cutting the box open on the side and then drew one of the blades down the center quickly. He set the scissors down and opened the flaps to find a ton of those packing peanuts. Nick riffled around inside anxiously, sticking his hand further. He’d just about reached the bottom, when his hand hit something. He stopped, shifting a bit; sliding his hand up until he reached what he believed was a corner. After getting a good grasp, he slowly pulled up. It was heavier than he thought, so he stuck his other hand inside, pulling the object out and clear of the peanuts.

It was a large flat item, wrapped in colorful birthday wrapping paper. He carefully set the object down, and then dug back into the box to see if there was anything else. His hand hit something else, his eyes widening. He stuck his other hand in again, managing to pull the other item out; it too was flat but much smaller and thinner. It was wrapped in the same wrapping paper. Taped to the top of it, was another envelope. Nick set the item down, pulling the envelope off and opening it, pulling the single sheet of paper out.

Nick,

Surprise! Well, I didn’t know I’d be sending you this until I thought of it, but that’s ok, it’s nice that I can surprise you like this.

Anyway, inside the box you’ll find two things. The first one, the large flat thing, open that first. I really hope you enjoy them. The large item…well I guess it’s the fan in me coming out. It’s a bit silly I admit, but, it turned out better than I’d hoped. I really hope you like it. There’s a note inside the second thing explaining it further.

I know it’s not much, but…what do you give someone who has everything?

Take care and happy be-laded birthday!

Veronica


He chuckled a bit; even she thought he had everything. Nick set the letter down beside him and grabbed the large item, setting it on his lap carefully. Starting at the corner, he ripped a small piece and then slipped his finger under, pulling back, ripping the paper. Growing restless, he tore the paper back fiercely, looking down as he did and then stilled. It was a picture frame, but it was what was inside that gave him pause.

Nick carefully lifted the frame, pulling the paper the rest of the way off. He swallowed hard, staring intently at it. Inside was his album. The CD was mounted next to the case and then there were pictures all around. Pictures from signings he’d done, radio and TV interviews, quotes from magazines, small articles. She’d printed out a listing of the tour dates, and there were various pictures from several concerts scattered throughout. It looked like she’d printed pictures onto picture paper, they weren’t actual photos, which meant she’d done it all herself. Found pictures, bought the paper, done all the printing herself.

He couldn’t tare his gaze from it, he just kept staring until the pictures and everything started to blur, his eyes starting to burn and sting, his throat starting to close. Unconsciously he started nibbling on his bottom lip as he brought his quivering fingers up, trailing them over the glass slowly. He’d received several of this kind of thing when he was with the guys. Far nicer, more professional than this. There was one he got when his album when gold, but it hadn’t felt the same, not as good as it should‘ve. This, this was different though. It was homemade and it was perfect. His album, the tour, everything had been so important to him, and yet it’d made so many people so mad. While he loved doing it, he hadn’t enjoyed it as much as he should’ve, and towards the end, he couldn’t even remember why he’d done it. What the positives were. Nick looked down at the frame again and smiled, this had reminded him. How could he have ever forgotten something so important? It really was stupid to let himself be so affected by something like this, but he couldn’t help it. It was so unexpected, so right.

Slowly he set the frame down next to him, letting out a deep breath. Rubbing at his eyes furiously, he reached out and grabbed the other item, ripping at the paper to revel a paper folder. Frowning in confusion, he opened it, remembering that Veronica had said there was a letter of explanation inside. Inside were several sheets of paper, fastened to the long strip attached to the folder. He pulled the sheet of paper from one of the pockets and opened it.

Nick,

These are some poems I wrote a few years back when my parents were going through the divorce. They’re all about the mood I was in and whatever. I thought maybe they’d help you some…when it’s really hard sometimes and it feels like you’re alone and no one understands. You can read these and know that someone has been there before, and that they know what it feels like.

I’m always here if you wanna talk.

Veronica

He put the paper back in the pocket and looked at the poems. There were pages and pages of them. Some long, some short. He flipped to one scanning it over. It was too much, all of it and more than a little overwhelming. Slowly he closed the folder, slumping back, staring out blankly. No one had ever given him anything quite like this. It wasn’t overly fancy or extremely expensive and yet somehow it meant more, so much more. How would he even begin explaining to her how much it meant to him, how much he appreciated it?

Slowly, almost mechanically he gathered up the wrapping paper, heading into the kitchen to throw it out. He felt a curl of fear starting to gather in his stomach, fear that he’d been found out, that someone was actually listening. How could he deal with the fact that there was someone out there who understood, someone he least expected.

Nick gathered the frame and folder up and headed up to his room.
Chapter 58 by Gravity 721
Chapter 58


Two Weeks Later…

“Have a nice day,” Veronica smiled at her customer and grabbed the meat from the slicer, putting it back in the case. Sighing heavily, she turned to the cheese slicer, slicing some cheese down for the display case. It’d been two weeks since she last heard from Nick and unlike before, it wasn’t good. They’d talked pretty much non stop for the last few months and now all of a sudden he’s never online and he never emailed her.

She hadn’t thought that a picture frame and some poems would be offensive, but maybe it was to him, she had no idea what he was thinking. Ok, so maybe the poems were a bit presumptuous, he had yet to talk to her about what was going on with his family, and honestly, she didn’t expect him to. Should she email him? What was the worst that could happen? He could either ignore her, or email her back telling her he didn’t want to be bothered with anymore. Would he even waste his time to do that?

“Veronica, could you work on the gourmet prep please?” Shelly asked, holding up the laminated pieces of paper.

“Sure,” Veronica smiled, but inwardly she groaned. She hated cutting for the gourmet sandwiches. It was long and tedious and stupid. Sliding the tray back into the case, she headed over and looked over the first sheet, heading into the kitchen to get the proper cambro’s, plastic dishes and containers they held food and the such in. Bringing them back out, she grabbed the proper piece of meat and started cutting, making sure that each set was a certain amount. Her thoughts drifted back to Nick.

Maybe the fact that she’d made one of those frames for him for his album, maybe he was mad because it hadn’t been a real official one, even though he already had one. It was such a fan thing to do, but she couldn’t help it. It’d seemed like a good idea at the time. She’d spend so much time trying to decide what to get him, knowing good and well that he could get anything he really wanted. The poems were personal to her, so she thought she’d share that bit of herself with him, just so he knew he wasn’t alone, that had obviously backfired in her face. The card too, apparently that was a mistake since he hadn’t even thanked her for it since he got it. That’d be the last time she’d send him anything.

“Hey V!”

Veronica looked up quickly, her heart beginning to race.

“James, hey.”

He gave her a smile before turning and heading into the kitchen to talk to Shelly.

Veronica let out a sigh of relief, going back to slicing. The faster she got it done the better; she didn’t want to do anything around him that could end in a catastrophe. A short time later, she was just finishing up when James came back out of the kitchen.

“What’s up?” James asked as he made his way over to her.

“Oh nothing, just finishing up gourmet prep.”

Just then a customer came up and she stopped, moving to help the customer. James came closer, the light scent of his cologne filling the air.
“So how has it been today?”

“Uhh, n-not too bad,” Veronica replied weakly.

He stopped right next to her, looking into the case to see what in wafer needed to be filled. She snuck a quick glance at him, still cutting for her customer. She wished he’d move away, she couldn’t think when he was that close. Sighing she set the paper with the meat on it on the scale.

“I only wanted a half a pound,” the customer spat.

Veronica could feel her face burning, if she hadn’t been watching James…

“Sorry,” she mumbled, reaching out to take a few slices off.

She caught James’s eye and he gave her a small smile and a wink before grabbing one of the trays out and walking away with it. Shaking her head, she quickly priced the meat up and handed the package to the customer.

“Sorry about that.”

The woman rolled her eyes and quickly walked off. Sighing again, Veronica grabbed the meat off the slicer to put it back when James came back over.

“God, what was her problem?”

“I cut too much.”

“So? That doesn’t mean she had to be nasty. So you had to take some off.”

Veronica smiled, “Yeah well, you know how it goes.”

“I know, just don’t let it bother you. Customers can be so damn nasty.”

She nodded, forcing herself to relax. She grabbed a cloth and started wiping a slicer down.

“So how have you been? We hardly ever get to work together.”

“I’ve been ok, ya know, same ole crap.”

“Yeah, I hear ya.”

“How bout you? How have you been?”

“I’ve been good actually. Working and going to class, hanging out a bit, ya know the usual.”

“Oh, so do you go to clubs and stuff a lot?”

“Yeah sure, I usually go with a couple of friends every Friday, well when I’m not working that is.”

Veronica nodded; she really should just ask him out sometime. Maybe one of those Friday’s she could go with him, or at least meet him at a club.

“How many people do you go with?”

“Mmm, there’s usually three or four of us, depending on if everyone’s available or if they want to ya know?”

They were quiet for a while, both involved in what they were doing. She should just ask him, just do it now. She looked over at him; he was finishing putting the meat on the tray, getting ready to bring it over to put in the case.

“James…”

“Hey guys!”

Veronica turned to see Carla come out of the kitchen, smiling, making her way over.

“Hey Carla!” James smiled.

“Hey,” Veronica whispered.

“What’s up?”

Veronica watched as James went over to talk to Carla as she washed her hands. She made her way over to the other slicer and she could hear James and Carla talking.

“…So yeah, he set me up with this friend of his, we’re supposed to go out this evening,” James announced.

“Oh yeah? Has he told you anything about her?” Carla asked.

“Not much, she’s my age, goes to the same college as me, so I may even have seen her around.”

“Where you guys gonna go?”

“Not sure, I’m thinking maybe bowling…”

Veronica frowned; she should’ve just asked him. Then again not that he would’ve said yes, he was already going out with someone now. She was stupid to think that someone like him would even consider it.

“Hey V, what’s up?” Carla asked as brought the tray that James had over and slipped it into the case.

“Hey Carla, not much,” Veronica responded as she watched her with the tray. “I thought…”

“He had to take the chickens down, Shelly cornered him,” Carla groaned.

Veronica chuckled, “Lucky him.”

“I know,” Carla winked.

“Better him than me I always say.”

“You should just ask him you know,” Carla announced suddenly.

“Ask who what?”

“James, ask him out.”

“What?! I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Carla I just heard him tell you he’s going out with someone tonight.”

“That’s a blind date, that doesn’t count.”

“Yes it does; besides, I’m not his type anyway.”

“How do you know that if you don’t even try?”

“I’m telling you, I don’t have to actually go out on a date with him to know. I can just tell.” Veronica finished.

“Aww Veronica,” Carla sighed.

Two hours later, Veronica made her way out of the department, waving bye to everyone. She gave James a small smile as she passed, hearing him as he talked to some of the other guys about his date that night. Feeling thoroughly depressed, she made her way to the back to punch out.
Chapter 59 by Gravity 721
Chapter 59


She shut and locked the door, kicking her shoes off. She was glad to be home, maybe more than usual. What a lousy day that had only gotten increasingly worse at the end. She made her way to her room, shucking her clothes and redressing. Veronica made her way back down to the kitchen to start dinner.

The whole thing with James was depressing her more than she would’ve liked. It’s not like she had any claim to him, it was that reason she shouldn’t be upset, couldn’t be. Yet…she was. She felt like she lost him when she’d never had him in the first place. She got a bowl out and then a box of cereal; she didn’t have much of an appetite for anything more. She sat down with her cereal, and had taken a few bites when the phone rang. Reaching out she checked the ID to see Lynne’s name and number come up.

“Hello?”

“Hey girl!”

“Hey Lynne.”

“God don’t sound so excited.”

“Sorry, sorry, just a lousy day today.”

“Worked sucked huh?”

“Yeah, but not for the typical reasons.”

“Oh? What else is there?”

“James.”

“Ahh loverboy,” Lynn chuckled.

“Yeah right.”

“Uh oh, what happened?”

“He’s going out on a date tonight.”

“Ok.”

“That’s it.”

“That’s what you’re upset about?”

“Isn’t it enough?”

“No, it’s a date Veronica, big deal.”

“It is a big deal Lynne; it’s a very big deal.”

“It is?”

“Yes! C’mon, he’s going out on a blind date with some girl who’s just gonna be perfect and sweet and all that shit.”

“Veronica, listen to yourself.”

“What? I can’t act immature every once in a while?” Veronica grumbled, shoving another spoonful of cereal in her mouth.

“You could, but it’s not becoming.”

“Fuck becoming.”

Lynne sighed, “You have no one to blame but yourself and you know it. Everyone, even the people you work with has been telling you to ask him out.”

“I know I know! It’s not that easy.”

“Yes it is Veronica. You just ask him out, to a club or…shit, I dunno, bowling.”

“That’s what they’re gonna do ya know? Tonight, bowl. His friend set them up,” she announced, eating more cereal.

“Oh Veronica, how’d you find out?”

“I heard him talking to Carla.”

“You eavesdropped??”

“NO! He was talking loud enough! I was cleaning one of the slicers and…”

“You’re pathetic,” Lynne laughed.

“Shut up!” Veronica moaned, finally pushing the bowl away, she’d lost her appetite completely now.

“So…”

“So, I still haven’t heard from Nick.”

“What’s it been now? Three weeks?”

“Two and not a peep. Maybe sending him the gifts was a bad idea; I must’ve really pissed him off or something.”

“By sending him a frame that glorifies his album and some poems? It wasn’t anything overly personal! I saw both and trust me, if someone’s gonna get pissed that someone gave them that, then there’s something wrong with them,” Lynne muttered.

“I dunno, I don’t know what to think to be honest. I guess this is it.”

“Eh he’s not worth it anyway; don’t even let it bother you.”

“I’m trying.”

“Well I’m gonna get going, gotta hop in the shower, but hey, keep me posted ok?”

“I will, later Lynne.”

“Bye.”

Veronica hung up, standing she grabbed her bowl to put it in the sink, when the phone rang again. She grabbed it and looked at the ID to see BLOCKED. Frowning she pressed the talk button, hoping it wasn’t a telemarketer. She’d put her name on the no call list, but she’d gotten a few stray calls here and there.

“Hello?”

“Hi, I’m looking for Veronica Peterson.”

Her frowned deepened, why was some guy looking for her?

“This is she.”

A small smile formed on his lips, she had a sexy voice. Soft and lilting, it reminded him of warm honey pouring over him. It suddenly seemed to fit what he thought she’d sound like. He could never define it now, could never find anyone who sounded close to what he imagined, but now…it was perfect. It was as if it was exactly what he’d heard in his head.

“Veronica? Hey, it’s Nick.”

“Nick? Nick who?”

He laughed, “Me, Nick Carter.”

She stilled, her heart dropping. Come to think of it, that voice did sound vaguely familiar. Try as she might though, she couldn’t bring herself to speak, she just stood there, blinking like an idiot.

“Uh hello? Veronica? You there?”

“Y-yes…I’m…I’m here, sorry.”

“You alright over there?”

“Mmmhmm, ya just…took me off guard.”

“You weren’t expecting me to call huh?”

“No…not…not really.” She was stuttering, she couldn’t believe it.

“Ouch, that hurt,” he chuckled softly.

“No no, it’s just, I mean you’re…it’s like…”

“Hey hey, it’s alright, I’m just teasing you,” Nick laughed. “I’m usually really bad about calling people back and all, so it’s ok.”

“Alright…uhh…umm…how are you?” She had to get it together, she had to relax. She slumped back down in the chair, her legs suddenly too weak and shaky to support her any longer.

“I’m doing alright. I just got home from a meeting with the guys for some stuff with the album, all that boring shit I’m sure you don’t wanna hear about.”

She couldn’t help but think she’d listen to him talk about scratching himself so long as he kept on talking, so long as she could hear his voice.

“No, it’s ok. How’s all that going?”

“Really good actually, we’re almost finished recording, got a few more songs to go.”

“Oh, well that’s good, I’m glad to hear that.” Sentences were becoming a bit easier for her now, she was starting to relax.

“Now Veronica, onto why I’m calling you.”

Uh oh, this didn’t sound good.

“Yes?”

“There’s more than me just wanting to talk to you, well that’s part of it. There’s more though.”

“Ok…” she replied hesitantly.

Nick laughed suddenly, “You sound like you’re preparing yourself for the worst.”

She gave a nervous chuckle, “Not at all.” But she was, she really was.

“Well, it’s about the gifts you sent me.”

Her heart dropped again, here it came. It was all the calm before the storm, the niceness leading up to him dropping her like a rock. She braced herself.

“Oh…ok.”

“It’s just, that I wanted to tell you in person so to speak, how much I liked them. Loved em actually.”

She blinked, obviously she hadn’t heard right.

“H-huh?”

“I loved them, really. I’ve…never gotten anything like that before.”

She let out a breath, “Wow really?”

“Oh yeah! I mean, fans give me stuff ya know, but…nothing quite like that. That frame, man it kicks ass. You did such an awesome job on it,” Nick said excitedly.

Veronica was blushing, actually blushing.

“Thanks…it’s…it’s not much and it’s really not that great or whatever.”

“C’mon, don’t downplay it. It rocks and you know it.”

“Well I know you got an official one for your album and all, and I tried to make it look as real as possible but ya know. It kinda pales in comparison to that…”

“Veronica, you made that yourself. You did all the work, it’s way more special than the other one. You put time and effort into it, trust me, it’s way better.”

She didn’t quite know what to say to that.

“Well…thank you Nick. I’m so glad you like it.”

“I should be the one thanking you, it was perfect, the poems too. I‘ve looked them over but haven‘t had the chance to read any yet, but I will.”

“Oh well that’s cool. I thought they’d help a bit.”

“Yeah, I think they might too.”

Veronica smiled, “Good.”

“So yeah, I just wanted to thank you for the gifts. They’re so cool cause you actually made em. I really appreciate it.”

“No problem, anytime.”

“I just didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten or that I didn’t like em, I’ve just been so damn busy here lately to even get online at night.”

She blushed, of course that’d been exactly what she’d thought.

“Ahh I understand, no need to explain.”

“Thanks. So, whatcha gonna be doing for Valentines Day?”

“Oh nothing, no one to spend it with anyway.”

“No boyfriend?”

“Nope.”

“Well damn, that sucks.”

Veronica laughed, “Nah, it’s no big deal, I‘m used to it.”

“Nah, this ain’t right. Let’s see…is there anyone you like that you could ask out?”

She grinned, it was just like talking to him online, it was amazing.

“Well…there’s this one guy at work. I think he may be seeing someone though, he‘s got a blind date tonight.”

“So, that doesn’t count.”

She sighed, what was it with everyone saying that didn’t count?

“You should ask him anyway.”

“Nah, I’m not up to it, besides he’s already going out with that girl, besides, I‘m not his type.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do.”

“Hmmm”

“So yeah.”

“Veronica…”

“Do you have someone for Valentines?” She asked quickly.

He was quiet for a moment before responding, “Not really, gonna play it by ear.”

“See, you’re talking about me and you don’t even have anyone!”

His soft chuckle sent shivers down her spine.

“I know I know, shame on me.”

Veronica laughed, shaking her head.

“Hey Veronica, can I tell you something?”

“Sure.”

“Well it’s just…it’s nice to have a voice to go with the letters and the emails and IM’s and all that ya know? It gives me an idea of how you are.”

Blushing, she was blushing again. “Well, I hope I didn’t disappoint you.”

“Not at all. It’s like…ya get an idea in your head of what someone sounds like that you’ve never heard, and then you hear them and it’s like…not what you thought, but it is. That’s pretty stupid right?”

“No, not at all! Like…you sound different on TV and when you sing then you do on the phone. I didn’t even recognize your voice.”

“I guess it is kinda different. Oh hey, let me give you my number. You can call me whenever. It’s hard for me to answer all the time, but you can always leave a message on my voicemail.”

“Oh ok, thanks.” She jotted the number down and hurried it up to her room to put in her phone book.

“Well I gotta get going. I should be online either tonight or tomorrow.”

“Are you sure? Tomorrow’s Valentines.”

“I’m gonna try my hardest. Can’t have you spending it alone.”

“Really it’s ok. You have fun.”

“I will, you take care and I’ll talk to you soon. Keep me posted on that guy too, cause I wanna know what happens.”

Veronica chuckled, “You bet.”

“Bye Veronica.”

“Bye Nick.”
Chapter 60 by Gravity 721
Chapter 60


Valentines Day…

She shut and locked the door, sniffling softly. This Valentines Day was turning out to be one of the worst in history. Not that she’d ever actually had a good one. She set her keys down on the kitchen counter. Guys buying their girlfriends roses and cards, husbands buying their wives things and what did she get? Nothing, not a damn thing. Granted, one of the ladies she worked with bought all of the women in the department a carnation, which was nice, but not the same.

Veronica couldn’t recall a Valentines where she’d ever gotten anything from anyone of the opposite sex, and it looked like this year would be no exception. Walking over, she grabbed the mail key and hurried back out, getting the mail and making her way back in. She shuffled through the letters, stopping at a red envelope. Smiling a bit, she tore the envelope and pulled out the lavish card. Her Mom never failed to send her a card on Valentines Day and for that Veronica was grateful. She could always rely on her Mom. She opened the card and read the inside, her eyes welling up once more. Sometimes she missed her Mom so much she couldn’t breathe. Granted they were only minutes apart, but it still hurt. She’d call her tonight and thank her. She walked into the living room, setting the card atop of the entertainment center. Walking over, she headed over to her bedroom, undressed and made her way back down, still full from lunch, she headed back into the living room, turning the TV on and plopping down on the couch.

Her thoughts drifted to work, which had started out fine, until James came in. It wasn’t that she hadn’t wanted to see him, that was never the case. No, it was because she found out that he was going on another date with that girl, and he seemed to be really excited about it. Just thinking about it now made her sick to her stomach. Her, that could’ve been her, but she’d waited, too afraid of being turned down. She wiped angrily at her eyes, she was wallowing in self pity and she couldn’t stand it.

Standing quickly, she made her way into the kitchen, she’d eat anyway. She grabbed a bowl and then her favorite box of cereal and poured a small amount, adding a little milk and then bringing it back to the couch. She ate slowly, flipping through the channels, finally stopping on the Game Show Network, she loved to watch Lingo. After finishing her cereal, she brought the bowl to the sink then headed up and booted her computer.

After logging on, she signed into her IM’s to see if anyone was on that she wanted to talk to, and was not surprised to find her buddy list of friends on practically empty. Sighing, she went and checked her mail quickly; preparing to sign out, when she saw an email she missed. Scrolling down, she frowned in confusion; someone had sent her an e-card. She clicked on it and waited for it to load. She scrolled down, her eyes widening, Nick had sent her a card. Smiling, she clicked on the link to pick up her card, another window coming up. She maximized it and watched as it loaded and then small hearts started to float around. Veronica laughed at the silly little animation and then the generic Happy Valentines Day! Then came the message from Nick.

Message from Nick:
Happy Valentines Day Veronica!

Will you be my Valentine?


Veronica chuckled, shaking her head. She’d never gotten an e-card from a guy on Valentines Day, hell she’d never gotten a card from a guy period. Closing the window, she started a new email, she’d send him a thank you note, she could send him another card, but she figured anything she’d pick out would look stupid. Then again, he did pick out a card with flying hearts on it. She couldn’t help but laugh. Veronica clicked on the body of the email and started to type.

Chucktaylor11: So…will you?

Her mouth dropped, he was online! It was so early, she didn’t figure he’d be on yet if at all.

Freesialover: Nick! You’re here! Will I what?
Chucktaylor11: You got the card right?
Freesialover: Yeah, I just got finished looking at it. Thanks so much by the way!
Chucktaylor11: you’re welcome. But you still haven’t answered the question.
Freesialover: What question?
Chucktaylor11: will you be my valentine?

She blinked, he was serious?

Freesialover: Are you serious?
Chucktaylor11: I’m asking aren’t I?
Freesialover: Yeah but…
Chucktaylor11: well?
Freesialover: LOL Sure, of course I will!

How could she not? It was too sweet.

Chucktaylor11: Whew! I was worried there.
Freesialover: I’m sure you were.
Chucktaylor11: I was! This kinda thing is nerve wrecking! Girls have no idea. You guys always want us to ask you to dance, ask you out…that kinda thing. It’s scary!
Freesialover: Ohhhhh I feel so bad for you! LOL
Chucktaylor11: maaaaaaan…
Freesialover: Aww poor baby!
Chucktaylor11: i’m not a baby!
Freesialover: LOL
Chucktaylor11: Yeah yeah…ANWAY…it’s official. For the rest of the evening you’re my valentine.

Her heart dropped, it was too bad he wasn’t there in person, then what?

Freesialover: Aww, you’re so sweet!
Chucktaylor11: Thanks! Now, I gotta ask, do you like candy?
Freesialover: Well it depends.
Chucktaylor11: chocolate, you like chocolate right?
Freesialover: Sure! I’m not crazy about it like some, but it’s alright. Why?
Chucktaylor11: Cause well, I got something for ya.

Veronica stared at the screen; a small picture of what she assumed to be a piece of candy appeared.

Chucktaylor11: candy and… ---}-}-@

Her eyes widened, her throat starting to close suddenly.

Chucktaylor11: There ya go! I hope you like roses. So now you don’t have to spend Valentines day alone and I don’t either.

She sniffled, wiping at her eyes. It was nothing, just something made out of symbols, but she couldn’t stop herself. Candy and a flower, now she couldn’t say she’d never gotten anything from a guy. Nick, he’d made it happen, he had no idea what it meant to her.

Freesialover: Thank you so much Nick, this is so nice. And yes, I do like roses, they’re my favorite flower actually.
Chucktaylor11: Aww it’s ok. I wish I could’ve done more.

He could’ve done more, why hadn’t he? He could’ve done like she had, sent something overnight. Groaning, sometimes he could be so lame. The next chance he had, he’d send her something, do something more.

Freesialover: Believe me, it’s plenty. I hope I’m not keeping you from something. You should be out there having fun.
Chucktaylor11: Who says I’m not having fun now?
Freesialover: C’mon Nick, this can’t be that exciting.

Nick frowned, granted he hadn’t figured he’d be home for Valentines, but when he thought about it, he really couldn’t think of any place he’d rather be than here talking with Veronica. It just didn’t seem right that she didn’t have anyone to celebrate it with, and all that junk going on with that guy she liked, he figured she was feeling pretty low. No, this was right.

Chucktaylor11: I don’t mind. Now…what should we do? Wanna go to a movie? We can share a large bucket of popcorn!

Veronica wiped at her eyes again. She’d do anything he wanted, she’d take the chance with him, risk it if only she could. God, why couldn’t he be there?
Chapter 61 by Gravity 721
Chapter 61


“Ok guys, let’s break for lunch. Meet back here in an hour and a half,” John called, flipping a few switches. The guys took their headphones off and filed out the room.

“Great job guys, it’s coming along nicely,” John smiled.

“Thanks John, see ya in a bit,” Kevin smiled as he made his way out the room, the rest of the guys in tow.

“I’m starving,” AJ groaned, patting his stomach.

“AJ, you’re always hungry,” Nick grinned.

“I wouldn’t talk Carter,” AJ muttered.

“So, are we calling out or what?” Howie asked.

“Leighanne made my lunch.”

“Awwwwww Brian got a homemade lunch!” AJ teased.

“Shut up!” Brian chuckled, shoving AJ playfully.

Kevin rolled his eyes, “Ok, everyone else, do you wanna just get whatever and meet back here?”

There were assorted “yes’s” and “year’s” from the other guys, and everyone left to get their lunch, while Brian headed into one of the conference rooms, with his bag. Nick headed out and across the street to the sub shop on the other side. He went in, ordered his sub and left a few minutes later, making his way back inside the building and into the room with Brian.

“Back already?”

“Yeah, I got a sub and pop from that place across the street.”

“Ohh yeah, they have the best meatballs subs,” Brian groaned, opening his bag and looking inside intently before pulling the contents out.

Nick opened the long bag and pulled the whole sub out.

“Want half?”

Brian eyed the sub longingly, “Nah, that’s ok. Leighanne will be hurt if I don’t eat this.”

Nick looked down at the sub and took one of the halves, sliding it over to him, “S’ok, save it for later.”

Brian’s eyes lit up, “Really?”

Nick chuckled, “Sure thing man, enjoy. God knows I don’t need a whole one.”

“Wow, thanks!” Brian grinned, taking the half sub and slipping it into his now empty bag

Nick shook his head, unwrapping the other half of his meatball sub, taking a bite.

“So Nick, how’ve you been?” Brian asked, opening a small Ziploc bag of Oreo cookies and popping one in his mouth, sliding the bag towards Nick.

“Mmm, ok,” Nick shrugged, licking his lips, swiping a cookie from the bag.

“We don’t talk much anymore, Baylee really misses you ya know.”

Somehow Nick found that doubtful, he knew Brian was just trying to be nice. He bit into the cookie, munching thoughtfully.

“I know, just busy all the time man, I’m always going out after we get done here, don’t have much time for anything else.”

Brian stared at him wordlessly, chewing on his half of a roast beef sandwich.

Nick looked at him and stilled, “What?”

“Nothing, just trying to figure you out. You’ve been so different over the last few months. You sure everything is ok?”

Nick took another bite of his sub, partially to keep from answering, he nodded yes, looking down at the table.

“You know you can talk to me Nick, about whatever.”

He swallowed hard, not just anything. He wasn’t ready yet, ready to share such a special person.

“I know Bri, thanks.”

Brian stared at him a moment longer before taking another bite of his sandwich, opening his plastic container of pop and taking a long sip.

Nick opened his bottle of pop, taking a drink as the other guys made their way in.

“Ya assholes, started without us!” AJ growled.

“Ohh too bad!” Nick groaned, rolling his eyes.

AJ slumped down next to Brian, leaning over to look at what he had. Brian slid his food closer to him.

“Back off AJ!”

AJ grinned, opening his bag and pulling out a large salad. “Whaddya say we trade lunches Rok? I’ve got this nice tossed salad and a hot bowl of chili with your name on it.”

“What, you want my HOMEMADE lunch now huh?” Brian smirked.

“That looks good, c’mon, share!”

“No way, you’ve got your soup and salad, deal with it.”

“Ya know, Leighanne wouldn’t like the fact that you’re not sharing. Didn’t your Mother teach you to share?” AJ pouted.

“She did, but that doesn’t include homemade lunches,” Brian winked, taking another bite of his sandwich.

AJ flipped him off and opened his salad, staring down at it with disgust, “Maaaaaaan.”

Nick chuckled, looking around as the rest of the guys all talked and ate their lunches. It’d been 12 years, but this was normal, natural for him. To him, he was having lunch with his family. There’d been a time when they had each gone their separate ways, doing their own things and he’d eaten with other people while on his solo tour, or alone. It never felt quite like this, comfortable.

“…So you’re all invited, Kristin wanted me to make sure to ask you all to come. Remember next Friday at 6:30.” Kevin finished.

“I’ll try man, I gotta see if we can find a sitter.” Brian replied, wiping at his mouth.

“Nah, don’t bother, bring Baylee, you know Kristin would love to see him, no problem.”

“You’re sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. So there, that takes care of that. Howie, AJ…Nick?”

Howie shrugged, “I’m in.”

“I gotta check my appointment book and get back to you,” AJ stated haughtily.

Kevin stared at him.

“Ok ok, I’m in!” AJ smirked, “I’ll have to cancel a few things, but I’m pretty sure I can pencil you in somewhere.”

Kevin rolled his eyes, “You’re too kind. How bout you Nick?”

Nick stared at him blankly, “Huh?”

“Cookout, my place…Friday at 6:30, you in?”

“Oh…uhh I don’t know yet.”

“Well, when will you know?” Kevin pressed.

“Uh, tomorrow, I’ll let you know then.”

“Fine.”

“Hey, how come he gets to get back to you but I had to tell you now?” AJ whined.

“Eat your lunch AJ, your salad’s getting cold.” Brian chuckled.

The table broke out in laughter, and AJ took a piece of lettuce and threw it at Brian.

“Homemade lunch hog,” AJ muttered.

Nick grinned, jumping a bit when vibrator on his phone went off. He pulled his phone out, turning it over and checking the ID, his Mom. Groaning, he pushed his chair back and stood slipping off to the far side of the room, flipping the phone open.

“Hello?”

“Hello Nickolas. Have you heard from your Father?”

“Well he called to wish me a happy birthday a few weeks ago, but that’s it.”

“What did he say?”

“Nothing really, he left a message cause I wasn’t home.”

“Oh so I take it you haven’t called him back either huh? Now I don‘t feel as bad that you didn‘t call me back.” She snapped.

“I’m sorry Mom, I’ve been busy and I haven‘t had the chance to call you or Dad back,” Nick muttered, casting a quick glance over his shoulder at the guys, who didn’t seem to notice or they were acting like they didn’t. Nick figured it was the later.

“I’m sure Nick, your Father probably told you not to call me, he did didn’t he? I still haven‘t heard from Aaron or Angel in weeks and I know he‘s told them not to contact me, just like he‘s told you!” Jane said coldly.

“Mom…”

“I want to know what he said Nick, tell me!”

“Nothing Mom! I’m telling you he left me a message wishing me a happy birthday and that was it! He never mentioned you or anyone else. I haven‘t actually talked to him in I don’t know how long. I keep telling you he hasn‘t said anything about me not talking to you,” Nick grated out, he was loosing his temper and fast.

“Damnit Nick!”

There was a click and the line went dead, she’d hung up on him.

Nick flipped the phone closed and slipped it back into his pocket, his body was shaking in frustration. Turning, he found the rest of the guys staring at him sadly.

“Hour and a half is just about up, we should get back to work,” he mumbled, walking over and grabbing his barely touched sub and tossing it into the garbage can on the way out.

Howie, Brian, Kevin and AJ watched him leave, sighing in frustration because Nick never wanted to talk about it. They stood, throwing out the remnants of their food, following him out and making their way back into the studio.

Nick stayed behind, pulling his phone back out, pressing a number and waited for someone to pick up.

“Hey, it’s me. Look, let’s go out tonight. I don’t care where, I just need to fuckin’ get away.”
Chapter 62 by Gravity 721
Chapter 62


Veronica clicked on her inbox, waiting for the page to load. She been anxious to get home all day, she’d been dying to talk to Nick; she hoped he’d be online. It’d been a few days since he’d called, and they hadn’t talked since then. Part of her wanted to call, but she didn’t want to seem obnoxious about it. She signed onto the instant messenger. It was eleven, she wondered if Nick was on right now. In a carefree moment, she brought up an empty IM box and typed in his name and sent him a message, then minimized the box. Not ten seconds later, the familiar chime was heard over the speakers, the little box in her tray flashing. Veronica quickly clicked on it.

Freesialover: Nick? Are you there?
Chucktaylor11: hey girl!
Freesialover: Wow you are there! I wasn’t expecting you to be home. I thought you’d be out with Brent.
Chucktaylor11: we did, earlier. I got back a little while ago. One of the guys we were with had to be home early.
Freesialover: So how have you been?
Chucktaylor11: honestly? Lousy.
Freesialover: Oh yeah? How come?
Chucktaylor11: eh, my mom called today and bitched me out for no fuckin’ reason.

Veronica hesitated a moment. Should she pursue it? Would he even talk to her about it? She had to try.

Freesialover: Hmm…do you wanna talk about it? The phone call I mean.

Nick blinked furiously, his vision blurring. He’d drunk way too much, he rarely ever got drunk, but tonight it’d been appropriate. Maybe that was why he was actually considering talking to her about it, no not considering, doing it. He was going to do it. He was tired of holding it all in, he needed to tell someone. Besides, she knew what it was like and he trusted her. Nick stilled, staring at the screen. He didn’t know when it’d happened, but he’d grown to trust her, more than he’d ever planned on. Nick knew it was the right thing to do, he could feel it.

Chucktaylor11: it’s just, she calls to ask me about my dad and wants to know why I haven’t called and all that. She keeps saying that dad’s telling me not to call but he’s not and…ugh I can’t stand it.
Freesialover: Aww Nick I’m sorry. I know how that goes. My dad still does that to me too.
Chucktaylor11: yeah? So what do you do about it?
Freesialover: I’m working on it. You know what you do? The next time your Mom or your Dad calls and starts spouting that shit, you tell them, look, if you didn’t call to talk to me and see how I’m doing, then don’t call. I don’t need to hear you bad mouthing each other, this is your thing, not mine. If that doesn’t work, then hang up on em. Honestly Nick, you don’t need to be brought into that. I’m still trying to do it too, it’s hard, really hard. All my friends are telling me to do it and I’m like, I can’t, but ya know what? I have to. Cause it’s pissin’ me off and I’m getting frustrated.
Chucktaylor11: yes! Exactly! I’m so pissed here lately, it’s just not right ya know.
Freesialover: I do know Nick, I’m sorry.
Chucktaylor11: it’s hard Veronica, it’s so hard.

Veronica frowned; she knew how hard it was. She hated the fact that parents could do that to their kids and not care, that they would hurt them to try to get back at the other.

Freesialover: Aww Nick.
Chucktaylor11: I love em both, but they just make it so hard, they’ve always made it hard.
Freesialover: I understand, but you can’t let em get away with this, with making you feel this way. It’s such a lousy feeling. It’s NOT your problem or your Brother or Sisters. It’s between them. What they’re doing is NOT ok.
Chucktaylor11: sorry to be bugging you with all this.
Freesialover: No no! You’re not, not at all. It’s fine.
Chucktaylor11: Thanks
Freesialover: Nothing to thank me for Nick, really. Ya know, I’m here if you wanna talk ever ok? It helps sometimes. I know when everything started with my parents, I just kept it all in, it’s just how I operate. I can tell you now, that it’s so much easier when you talk about it.
Chucktaylor11: That’s what everyone tells me, I just have a hard time with it.
Freesialover: Yeah, I understand that. Well I’m here, no pressure.

Nick let out a breath, that’s what he’d wanted. He wanted to know that there was someone there who wasn’t going to force him or pressure him to say something.

Chucktaylor11: wow, you don’t know how much I needed that. Thanks again.
Freesialover: Anytime.
Chucktaylor11: aight, I’m gonna head off. Feeling kinda bleh, but I’m hoping to be on again soon. I’ll talk to ya then alright honey?
Freesialover: Sure sweetie. Take care, try not to let it bother you. Hard I know.
Chucktaylor11: I will, promise. Night Veronica
Freesialover: Night Nick.

Veronica signed out and slumped back in her chair. She felt so bad for him. She knew how hard it was in the beginning to deal with everything and she could imagine what he was feeling. She shut her computer down and stood, heading out her room. Veronica was tempted to call him, but didn’t wanna bother him.

Nick shut his laptop down and flopped down on his bed, groaning. He felt like he was gonna throw up, but he wanted to sleep too. Damn he was a mess. He could call Veronica, he wanted to talk more, but he didn’t want to bother her. Besides, he’d just told her he wasn’t feeling good, it’d be weird if he called her. Licking at his dry lips, he closed his eyes, sleep soon taking him.
Chapter 63 by Gravity 721
Chapter 63


“Hello?”

“Veronica? It’s Nick.”

Her heart did a little drop, a smile spreading over her lips. She couldn’t believe he was actually calling her again.

“Nick, hey! What’s up?”

“Not much, I thought I’d give you a call before I went to bed.”

“Great, I’m glad you did. So, how you feeling? Better than last night I hope.”

“Yeah, I’m doing a lot better. Was kinda sick and all, but it’s better.”

“I hope you’re not getting sick.”

“Nah, it wasn’t that kinda sickness.”

“Oh?”

“Nah, I was…a little hung-over.”

“Oh!” Veronica couldn’t help but chuckle. “For some reason, I don’t picture you the type to get hung over.”

“I don’t usually, I can hold my liquor, but I went a little overboard last night. It happens every so often.”

He didn’t tell her it happened every time he tried to forget his life.

“That’s what I hear.”

“You’ve never been drunk?”

“Nope, I don’t drink.”

“Ever?”

“Ever.”

“Why?”

“I dunno, I just don’t. I don’t feel the need to.”

“Oh…so, have you ever had a drink before?”

“Well sure, but I mean, I didn’t go out and get plastered on my twenty first birthday or anything like that.”

“Wow,” Nick breathed. It seemed a bit odd to him, most people waited for that moment their whole teenage lives.

“Shocking I know. It just…never turned me on.”

“Turned you on?”

Veronica was glad he couldn’t see her, she was sure she blushed fifty shades of red.

“Well you know what I mean.”

“Uh huh,” he chuckled.

“ANWAY, so what’s been going on with you? How was your day?”

“It was pretty good, Aaron called me.”

“Oh yeah? How’d that go?”

“It went alright. He just wanted to see how I was.”

“Aww that’s nice of him.”

“Yeah, it was really good to hear from him. It’d been a while ya know.”

“Oh sure, you’re always wondering in the back of your head how he’s doing and all.”

“Yeah…” he hesitated, he was clear this morning. Did he want to continue talking to her about it?

“Nick?”

It’d been so easy last night, his defenses where down, he wasn’t worried. Now he wasn’t so sure. Did he want her to see that vulnerable side of Nick Carter, that non glamorous, human side of him?

“Nick are you there?”

“He said that my Dad’s been doing the same thing to him and Angel that my Mom’s doing to me. Asking him if Mom’s been saying anything to him about her, asking why me, Les or BJ hasn’t called him,” he blurted. Yes he did, he had to stop thinking about it and just say it. He went on, unable to stop himself now that he started.

“He said the reason he never called Mom is that he doesn’t feel like hearing her bad mouth our Dad.”

Veronica sighed, “That sucks Nick that it has to be like that. You said it’d been awhile since you heard from him. How often do you get to talk to him?”

“Not often, I’m busy a lot and so is he.”

“How bout your Sisters?”

“Hardly ever to be honest,” he felt like an ass just admitting it.

“Ohhh…” not that she was one to talk, she didn’t talk to her Brothers all that often, but she didn’t avoid them either.

“So how are things going with James?” Nick asked suddenly, desperate to get the topic off of him.

“Same, nothing really going on.”

“Alright, it’s settled then.”

“What? What‘s settled?”

“I’ve decided I’m gonna help you to ask him out,” Nick announced.

She stilled on the couch, he was gonna what?

“Huh?”

“I’m gonna help you ask him out, I am. You can do this Veronica.”

“It’s not gonna work Nick, I’m telling you.”

“You haven’t even tried, you don’t know it’s not gonna work.”

“Yes I do.”

“Veronica, honey you can’t keep being afraid of rejection. I know it’s hard and it hurts, but ya gotta try, you‘re not gonna get anywhere if you don‘t,” he finished softly.

She knew all this, she did. People had been telling her it forever, but it didn’t matter. Nothing helped.

“I know Nick, but I hate the feeling. I hate that feeling of…not being good enough or whatever.”

“Well that’s natural, everyone does. You’ll never know if you have a chance unless you give it a shot. You don’t know for sure he’s gonna reject you.”

“Yeah…”

“C’mon, will you at least try for me?”

“Nick…”Veronica whimpered.

“Pleeeease?”

She sighed, “Ok, I’ll try.”

“Really? Don’t just say that cause I’m asking you to. I want you to WANT to.”

Veronica hesitated a moment, realizing that she did want to, desperately. “I do want to Nick, I swear.”

“Alright good. So…I want you to ask him out next time you see him.”

“But…what do I say?”

“Just ya know, casually ask him out to the movies or something. Don‘t make it a big production or let on that you‘re nervous. Just…be cool.”

“Yeah, easier said than done. But yeah, I think I can handle that.”

“Good! I want you to call me as soon as you can and let me know how it goes. I want all the details.”

“I will.”

“And if I don’t pick up, which is most likely what’ll happen, leave me a message, but don’t tell me on there, just ya know let me know what you’re calling about and I won‘t forget to call back. I wanna be surprised.”

Veronica chuckled, “You’re like a little kid.”

“I can’t help it, I’m excited for you. I want this to work,” Nick said sincerely.

“Thank you Nick,” she whispered.

“No problem honey. I’m gonna get going. Don’t forget to call me though!”

“I won’t, I promise.”

“Great. Have a good night Veronica.”

“You too, bye Nick.”

“Bye.”
Chapter 64 by Gravity 721
Chapter 64


A Few Days Later…

She grabbed a handful of meat and set it on the tray, looking out. It’d finally slowed down, and she was trying to get caught up. She hated when they got hit and then everyone suddenly disappeared after and she had to refill wafer all by herself and wait on customers. Turning back to the slicer, she took the remainder of the meat off and turn the slicer off. After placing the meat on the long tray, she picked it up and walked it over to the case, slipping it inside, grabbing another tray to fill.

“Hey V!”

Veronica turned to look behind her, her heart dropping. “Hey James.”

He walked by, giving her a wink, his cologne lingering lightly in the air as he headed into the kitchen to look for Shelly.

She had to ask him, she told Nick she would, she had to try anyway. Veronica walked over, grabbing a piece of meat and putting it on the slicer, taking the other one off. Casual, she could be casual. Turning the slicer on, she leaned against the counter. Being casual isn’t something you practice, something you try, it should be natural, at least that’s what she thought. It had to be a convincing casual, it had to be…

“Ooh, watch out…”

Veronica whirled around just in time to see James grab the meat that was now piled to the top of the blade of the slider, and set it on the tray. Perfect. Maybe it was a sign that she wasn’t supposed to ask him.

“Sorry, was…distracted.”

“No problem, I do it all the time,” James smiled, throwing the thin sheet of deli paper out and grabbing some gloves and headed over to look at wafer. He grabbed a tray and brought it over to the cheese slicer.

Veronica quickly finished the tray she was filling and slid it back in. Clearing her throat, she grabbed the rag from out of the sanitizer bucket and proceeded to start to clean the slicers down. She finished one and then made her way down to the slicer closest to James, slowly cleaning it.

She could do this, she could just ask him. Lifting her head, she looked around to make sure no one was around to hear when he turned her down, she was sure he was going to.

“So James, what’s been up? Whatcha been up to lately?”

“Not much, just school ya know? So much damn homework, it’s been hell trying to keep up with it,” he replied, slicing vigorously, setting the cheese on the tray.

“Are you having a hard time in your classes?”

“Not really, it’s just trying to prioritize and make sure everything’s done.”

“Yeah, I remember that.”

“You gonna go back to school?”

“Eventually, I just wanted to take some time off for a while.”

“Yeah, I do too eventually, maybe after I get my liberal arts degree.”

“That’s what I did.”

James nodded, continuing to slice.

Veronica looked around again, the cost was still clear, she had to act fast. She turned her attention back on the slicer once more.

“So, what do you have planned for after work? Anything?”

“Well I’m only working five and a half hours, so I’m most likely gonna go home and just relax. I’m all caught up on homework for now, so…”

“Oh…”

You can do this Veronica…you can! Just remember what Nick said, no big deal, be casual.

She took a deep breath, “Well hey, since you’re not gonna be doing anything and neither am I, wanna go and I dunno, catch a movie or something?” Veronica felt him still behind her, the slicer stopped moving and she felt her heart drop again. Turning she found that he was staring at her, a slow smile spreading over his lips.

“Sure!”

Veronica stared at him for a few seconds, “Huh?”

“I said sure, sounds like fun.”

“Really?”

Yes, he’d said yes! She couldn’t believe it.

He chuckled, “Yeah, did you have a certain movie you wanted to see?”

She hadn’t thought that far ahead, she didn’t even consider him saying yes as an option.

“N-no I…I mean I figured we could just see when we got there.”

“Sounds good. Ummm, what time? I can pick you up if ya want.”

“You don’t have to do all that; I can just meet you there.”

“Are you sure? Cause I don’t mind.”

“Yeah, that’s fine; I’ll just meet you there. Uhh, how about nine? Is that too late?”

“Nah, that’s ok. So I’ll see you at the theater at nine.”

“Right.”

“Ya know, it’d be easier if I just came and got you.”

“James…”

“Come on, it’s ok, really.”

“Well…ok.”

“Cool! Just make sure you give me directions before you leave ok?”

“You got it.”

“Alright, it’s a date!” He winked and turned back to the slicer.

Veronica smiled.

A date.
Chapter 65 by Gravity 721
Chapter 65


That evening…

Veronica put her dirty dishes in the sink and started washing them. The smile had formed the minute after James stated it was a date and hadn’t left. She knew she must’ve looked like a fool for the rest of her shift, smiling and giggling to herself, but she couldn’t help it. Luckily, she’d been able to keep her composure and remain calm and unaffected while around James, or so she hoped.

Her mind was racing though, trying to figure out what to wear and when to leave, there was so much to do before hand. Looking at the microwave, she decided to try and call Nick. She grabbed her cell and headed into her room, finding his number and dialing quickly. She waited through the rings and then his voice came on the line.

Hey this is Nick, I’m either not available or in the country to take your call right now. Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Peace.

She waited for the beep and then left her message.

“Nick, it’s Veronica. Just wanted to let ya know that I talked to James today, and you told me not to tell you what happened so I won’t. So yeah, give me a call when you can and I’ll tell you bout it. Bye!”

She hung up and then called Lynne.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

At Kevin’s…

“Nick can you hand me that plate please?” Kristin asked.

“Sure,” Nick grabbed the plate and passed it to Kristen and noticed the bowl of Cheese Nips was empty. “Are there more nips?”

“Sure, they’re in the kitchen,” Kristen grinned, “you and those crackers Nick. Oh hey while you‘re at it, can you get me that plate of buns that are on the stove too please?”

Nick blushed, “I can’t help it, I love those things.”

“You love those cracker things period Nick, I swear that’s all you eat when we’re on the road, that and pop tarts. I don’t know how one human being can eat so many pop tarts,” AJ groaned.

Nick flipped him off as he took the empty bowl into the house to refill it. Once inside, he set the bowl down and looked around for the box of crackers. Spotting them he grabbed it and opened it, stuffing his hand inside and pulling out a handful of the crackers, stuffing them into his mouth before turning and pouring the rest into the bowl. Tossing the empty box away, he grabbed the bowl and the plate of buns and started out, when he remembered he needed to check his voicemail.

He set the bowl and plate back down and brushed his hands off. Reaching into his pocket, he whipped his phone out and flipped it open. He opened his voicemail to find he had one missed message. He brought the message up to find it was from Veronica, his eyes widening as the message played. He deleted it after and quickly called her back, grabbing the bowl and plate again, making his way back out into the yard.

“Hello?”

“Veronica? It’s Nick! I just got your message.”

“Hey Nick!”

“What’s up? How’d everything go? Did you ask him?” he asked as he handed the plate to Kristen.

Veronica chuckled, “Yeah I did.”

“And what happened? No wait, I wanna hear from the beginning.”

“Nick…”

“No, don’t leave anything out. Go ahead!”

“Well I was working and he came in later in the afternoon. We were talking and I kept trying to work up the nerve to ask.”

“Uh huh,” Nick mumbled, grabbing another handful of crackers and popping some into his mouth while he listened, finding an empty seat to sit in.

“Right, so I casually asked him what he was going to be doing tonight, and he said he was only working five and a half hours and that he’d probably go home and relax cause he was all caught up on his homework.”

“Ok,” he shoved more Nips into his mouth, crunching away.

“So then I said, since I wasn’t doing anything and he wasn’t, would he like to catch a movie together tonight.”

Nick’s heart sped up considerably for some reason as he waited, licking his lips, the taste of salt invading his mouth. “And?”

“And…well, he stopped slicing, cause he was slicing cheese for wafer. Anyway, so he stops slicing and I turn from the slicer I was cleaning to look at him and he’s like…staring at me.”

“Staring at you? Like…how? I mean…was it a creeped out stare or like an…amazed stare?”

“It was…well it was a nice stare if that makes sense. And then he smiled and oh man.”

“Well? What’d he say?!” his heart was pounding now, he couldn’t have turned her down, he just couldn’t. Nick wasn’t sure if HE could take it if she told him he’d said no.

“He said…sure.”

“No shit!! Really?” Nick screamed.

“Really!” Veronica laughed.

“Yes!!” Nick pumped his fist, some of the nips flying out of the bowl and onto his lap as he abruptly stood up. “I knew you could do it!”

Six pairs of eyes turned to stare at Nick who was now pacing around.

“Aww thanks Nick, I probably wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t convinced me to.”

“ I’m so proud of you! You must be on cloud fuc…I mean flippin nine.” Nick casted an apologetic glance at Brian and Leighanne and then at Baylee.
“Yeah, I’m pretty happy,” she replied breathlessly. Nick Carter was proud of her, he was excited for her, it was a heady feeling.

“Well I want you to call me and let me know everything that happens, I mean it!”

“Nick!” Veronica laughed.

“I don’t care what time it is call me!”

“I will, I promise.”

“Wow great! Ok, I’ll let you go so you can get ready. Congrats woman!”

“Thanks Nick, thanks for helping me to do this.” She really couldn’t thank him enough.

“No problem honey, anytime. I’ll talk to ya later then.”

“Ok, bye!”

“Later!”

He flipped the phone closed, turning to find everyone staring at him intently.

“What was that all about?” Leighanne asked, a small smile on her lips.

Nick grinned, “I just got some great news.”

“Oh yeah?” Kevin questioned.

“Yup.”

“Well, who was it?” Howie asked.

“A friend.”

“A friend?” Kristen pressed.

“Yeah.”

“Ok, so what was this great news?” AJ asked, grabbing a chip and popping it in his mouth.

“She finally asked this guy she’s had a crush on out for a date and he said yes!” Nick announced, his face lighting up.

“Uh huh, and who SHE again?” Brian replied.

“A friend.”

“Does she, your friend have a name?” Leighanne smiled.

“Yeah.”

“Why are you being so vague? It is a secret?” Howie countered.

“No.”

“Then why won’t you say who it is? And stop with the darn one word responses!” AJ muttered.

“Does it matter? No it doesn‘t. Anyway, I brought the nips,” he walked the bowl over and set it on the table. “Do you need help with anything else?”

They all stared at him

“No? Then I’m gonna go hang with ma little man! Baylee…you better watch out, I’m comin’ to get you!” Nick growled, making his way over to the squealing, laughing little boy.
Chapter 66 by Gravity 721
Chapter 66


“I’ve been dying to see this movie, but none of my friends wanted to go,” James explained, pulling his coat off and draping it over the back of his seat.

“Me too, but my friends are pretty busy, and I don’t wanna go to the movies by myself,” Veronica explained, trying hard to relax. She’d been tense from the moment he’d picked her up, she knew James could tell, and he was trying hard to put her at ease.

“Me either. Hey, do you want some popcorn or candy or anything?”

“No thanks, I’m all set.”

“You sure?”

“Yup, but you go ahead if you want something.”

“Nah, it’s no fun to eat alone, it‘s almost as lonely as coming to the movies alone.”

Veronica laughed, “That’s true. I don’t know if there’s anything more depressing than that.”

“Well I’m glad you asked me out, now we can see it and we don’t have to be alone,” James winked.

She could feel her cheeks burning, “I’m glad that you’re glad.”

“Yeah, well I’ve been waiting for you to ask me.”

Veronica looked over at him quickly, “Waiting?”

“Oh yeah, I thought you were gonna a few times, but you never did. I thought you weren’t interested.”

She felt her heart drop, “Oh, well no, I was interested.”

James smiled, “That’s good to know. So, what made you actually do it this time?”

“A friend told me I should at least try.”

“They were right.”

“I just didn’t know what to say, or if you’d even be interested.”

“I’m interested, definitely interested. Was just waiting for you.”

Veronica slowly released a breath, finally relaxing as the lights dimmed.

Two Hours Later…

She shut and locked the door before slumping against it, a dopey smile on her lips. Somehow she managed to sit through the movie and keep breathing, and it’d been wonderful. His cologne had filled the air and her head and she was sure her heart had stopped the moment his arm had circled her shoulders.

What she remembered of the movie, it’d been good. It’d been hard to focus on anything but the guy sitting next to her. He kept whispering silly things in her ear about the movie and soon the fear and tension had melted away. She’d been sad when the lights had finally come up and they made their way out of the theater.

Veronica made her way into her bedroom, quickly undressing and redressing in her pj’s before grabbing her cell phone, bringing up Nick’s number and pressing the number and waiting while it rang.

“Veronica?”

“Hey!”

“Hey girl! Just getting home?”

“Yeah.”

“Oooh, so how’d it go?” Nick chuckled, “Been thinking about you all day, dying to know what happened and wondering how it was going.”

“Ohh Nick it was great, it really was.”

Nick smiled, flipping the TV off and heading up to his bedroom, flopping down on his bed, getting comfortable, he‘d been trying to force himself to go to bed for the last hour, but had been too lazy to get up from the couch. Resting back against the headboard, he listened as Veronica spoke about her date. He could hear the relief and excitement in her voice.

“Aww it sounds like it.”

“He’s so nice. He was cracking jokes throughout the movie and he even put his arm around me.”

“Ahh, did he do the old yawn thing?”

“Nah, he just did it, like it was natural.”

“Ooo, he’s smooth.”

“Yeah, he is,” Veronica sighed.

Nick blinked; she really was head over heels for this guy. There was a moment, he would’ve not noticed it had it not been so quiet and still where he was sure he felt his heart drop, when a shiver of unexpected fear ran down his spine. He brushed it off, it was nothing.

“So what else happened?”

“Well he said, right before the movie started, that he’d been waiting for me to ask him out.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, that he thought I was going to a few times, but thought that I wasn’t interested when I didn’t.”

“Wow.”

“I know! I told him that I was interested, that I just didn’t know what to say to him or if he’d be interested.”

“Uh huh…”

“He said, get this. He said that he was interested, definitely interested, just waiting for me,” Veronica squealed.

Nick chuckled, and there it was again, that feeling, only stronger this time. Fear and something else, something he shouldn’t be feeling at all where she was concerned.

“We’re going to another movie tomorrow night!”

“Aww thatta girl! See, all ya needed was to get the ball rolling.”

“Well its all because of you Nick. I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t convinced me. Everyone had been trying, but you’re the only one who was successful. Thanks.”

“Nothing to thank me for, I was glad to help. You just needed a little positive encouragement.”

“It was more than that…you’re very convincing.”

“Charming, I can be very charming,” Nick grinned.

“Don’t I know it.”

“Ok, so you’ll call me tomorrow and let know what happens right?”

“Absolutely!”

“Cool!”

“Alright, I’m gonna let ya go. Gonna get read for bed, I’m wiped out.”

“I bet. Well take care Veronica, I’ll talk to you later.”

“Night Nick!”

Nick flipped his phone closed and rested back on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. She was so excited, so happy. He was glad for that, but he couldn’t help but feel a bit worried, scared. If this worked out and she ended up dating this guy, would she still talk to him? Would they ever…

He sat up quickly, slipping off the bed. He wouldn’t think about it, if he didn’t think about it, it wouldn’t happen. Rubbing at his eyes, Nick made his way out his room and back downstairs. He wasn’t so tired anymore.
Chapter 67 by Gravity 721
Chapter 67


“Well which did you like better? The one last night or this one?”

“Mmm, I’d have to say last nights, this one was kinda slow,” Veronica replied.

“Yeah it really was, which sucks, I had such high hopes for this movie,” James sighed.

“Aww major let down huh?”

“You know it,” he winked.

They made their way over to his car.

“Veronica wait a minute, before you get inside,” James called out suddenly, grabbing her arm gently to stop her.

Veronica turned to look at him, “Is everything ok?”

She’d noticed from the moment he’d picked her up that evening, that he seemed distracted, he was quieter than usual, even throughout the movie. She looked at him now; there was an unfamiliar sadness in his eyes, a quiet kind of acceptance.

“No, everything isn’t ok Veronica.”

She swallowed hard, bracing herself for whatever he was going to tell her.

James sighed softly, looking away for a moment before looking into her eyes, “I just found out that I’m going into the air force.”

Her heart dropped.

“Oh.”

“I…I wasn’t sure it was going to happen, I had to do all these tests and whatever and if everything cleared, they let me know. I just found out this afternoon. I didn‘t want to say anything until I found out for sure, no one at work knows yet either.”

Veronica knew she shouldn’t feel hurt, but she did, she was hurt and mad. Looking up at him, she could see he was just as upset and disappointed as she was.

“So…when do you leave?”

“In a few weeks, I’m really sorry Veronica,” he whispered, shaking his head. “I know it’s not enough, but…”

She smiled weakly, feeling something inside her crumble, “No, it’s ok James. Thanks for telling me and I’m happy for you. This is obviously something you want bad, I’m glad it worked out.”

“It was before…I…I guess I shouldn’t have…”

“Don’t, please don’t James. I’m glad we had these two dates, you’re a great guy. I’m glad I can say I took the chance.”

James smiled sadly, “Yeah, me too.”

“How long will you be gone?”

He winced, “Four years.”

The last bit of hope she was holding onto disappeared.

“Wow, that’s a long time.”

“Yeah, which is why I don’t want to start anything. It’s not fair, four years is a long time to wait for someone. I don’t want to tie anyone down like that and it’s the truth. I’m not just saying it get out of anything. If I wasn’t leaving, I’d want to pursue this, I’d want to try Veronica.”

“Thanks James.”

“C’mere…” he whispered, opening his arms.

Veronica smiled, moving into his arms, hugging him tight. She’d remember this night and this time forever, the smell of his cologne and the feel of his arms around her. In the end, it’d been worth it, the fear and the nerves. It’d lead her up to this moment and she was happy.

A short time later…

She set her keys down and shut and locked the door, slowly making her way into her bedroom. Her eyes stung with unshed tears as she slumped down on the bed, staring out blankly. How had everything gone so wrong? It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. She’d gotten her hopes up and for what? Now nothing was going to come from it. She kept trying to convince herself that it was the idea that she took the risk, but it wasn’t helping. Veronica grabbed her purse and opened it, pulling her cell out. She pressed the button for Lynne and waited while it rang and rang. She left a brief message then looked over at the clock, it wasn’t too late and he did say to call whenever.

Sighing she hung up and then pressed the button for Nick and waited, she was getting ready to leave a message when suddenly Nick’s voice came through the line.

“Veronica!”

“Hey Nick.”

“What’s up?”

“Not much.”

“Just get home huh? How’d it go tonight?” Nick asked. “Wait, let me get comfortable.”

There was some rustling and a few soft grunts before he started speaking again.

“Ok, I had to get in bed. Go ahead.”

Veronica didn’t know if she could make it through the story without crying, she was precariously close to tears.

“Well he uhh, picked me up and we headed over to the theater. He choose the movie this time, I insisted.”

“Ok.”

“So yeah…we watched and…and that’s about it.”

Nick was quiet for a minute, “That’s it?”

“Yeah.”

“You ok? You don’t sound so excited. Did something happen?”

“Uh…kinda.”

Nick’s heart dropped.

“Veronica, did…did he do something? I mean…are you ok? Seriously.”


“I’m ok.”

“No you’re not…what happened? Did he do something to you? Did he hurt you in some way? Cause if so you need to tell someone, call the police.” The anger came quick, his heart was racing.

Veronica chuckled softly, “It’s not like that Nick. He didn’t hurt me like that; he didn’t lay a hand on me out of anything other than friendship.”

Ok, he was confused.

“So…?”

“It’s stupid really, it’s not like we were dating or whatever,” she sniffled.

“What happened Veronica?”

She bit her lip hard, trying to keep her composure; it was harder it seemed to say it out loud than to just deal with it inside. Veronica didn’t want to come off as some kind of wimp to Nick, but she couldn’t stop the ache, the pain inside.

“Well we were walking to his car, when he stopped me, told me that there was something he needed to tell me.”

This didn’t sound good, not good at all. Nick slowly sat up in bed, his grip on the phone tightening.

“Yeah? That fucker better not have a fuckin‘ girlfriend,” Nick mumbled.

“No…he’s leaving.”

“Leaving?”

“Yeah, he’s going into the air force.”

Nick blinked, “Oh…oh…wow.”

“Yeah, he just found out today that everything is a go. He didn’t want to mention it cause he wasn’t sure he was going to be accepted and all. So…he’s leaving in a few weeks.”

“Aww Veronica.”

“He doesn’t wanna start anything, doesn’t think it’s fair since he’s gonna be away for so long. He said he doesn’t wanna do that to me and I thank him for that,” she grabbed a tissue, wiping at her eyes. Fighting it was futile.

“How, how long is he gonna be gone?”

“F-four years,” her voice broke and she wiped at her eyes again, her body shaking with unshed tears.

“Veronica…god I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be, nothing was promised, nothing happened. I’m glad I did it, that I took the chance. Ya know, we just went to the movies, he was never mine to begin with, it’s no big deal.”

“It is a big deal, it’s a huge deal. If I hadn’t…I’m sorry. I know how much you liked him, how much you wanted this,” Nick sighed. He was an ass, a major ass. If he hadn’t pushed her to do it, she wouldn’t be hurting, and she was. He could tell she was trying to hide it, but it sounded like she was crying, or trying hard not to rather.

“Eh it’s just as well you know? He said that if he didn’t have to leave, he would’ve wanted to pursue something, but…I doubt it.”

His heart was breaking, “Veronica, ya know it’s ok to be upset about this. You wanted it, you took the chance and you put yourself out there. It’s ok to be hurt.”

“It doesn’t feel right, I feel stupid and silly. Look at me, I’m twenty four crying over some guy who I was never with in the first place and it hurts so much and I just feel stupid,” her voice broke again.

There was nothing he could do, nothing he could say to stop her pain. Nick had never wanted to reach out over the phone and hug someone as bad as he did in this moment.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“L-look Nick, I’m gonna let you go. I gotta get some rest, work waits in the morning. Thanks for…listening. I really appreciate it.

“Anytime honey, you take care. Call me whenever ok? I’m here if you need to talk, I mean that.”

“Thank you,” she replied gratefully. “Night Nick.”

“Night Veronica.”

He flipped the phone closed and set it on the charger next to his bed, slumping back. What a mess, what a colossal mess. Nick hadn’t planned on it not working out, hadn’t planned for anything like this happening. He was so sure that this was going to happen for her, she was so happy. He hated to think of her lying in bed, heartbroken and alone, and she was alone.

Running a hand through his hair, he sighed in frustration. He shouldn’t have pushed so hard, shouldn’t have insisted that she do it. Nick couldn’t help but think all of this was his fault, like he’d let her down in some way as her friend. What was worse was the fact that in some way, part of him, some sick part of him deep inside felt some kind of relief. He’d been so worried the last time they talked, been so afraid that she would forget about him that she would no longer have time for him.

Nick squeezed his eyes shut, he was mean, that was all there was to it. She was in pain and he was feeling relief. Selfish, he’d never been like this with any girl before. He wasn’t sure why he cared so much, why he’d been so worried. Nonetheless, that fear was gone, replaced with an inappropriate joy that he didn’t have to worry about loosing her.

He sat back up again, his stomach rolling suddenly. What was happening to him?
Chapter 68 by Gravity 721
Chapter 68


A Few Weeks Later…

“See ya later Veronica,” Carla called.

Veronica gave her a wave as she started out of the department, untying her apron.

“Hey Veronica.”

She stopped, lifting her head, a sad smile spreading over her lips.

“Hey James.”

“I was wondering, can I talk to you a minute?”

“Yeah, let me just punch out, I’ll be right back.”

She made her way past him and over to the double doors. She’d been dreading this day for weeks; today was James last day at work. He’d be leaving in two days and the more she thought about it, the more it hurt. They hadn’t gone out on any dates recently, but they’d talked at work and on the phone at her insistence. James hadn’t wanted to hurt her anymore, but she was determined to show she supported him. It’d been nice, getting to know him and talking with him more. It was easy now that she knew nothing was going to happen, it was with quiet acceptance, that she deepened their friendship.

Nick had been amazing throughout. He called often to see how she was, and he was always trying to make her laugh or cheer her up. He seemed to understand how hard it was and even still seemed to feel guilty for how things turned out, despite Veronica’s constant insistence that she was glad he’d helped her. It was through all this, that their friendship had grown deeper as well. He seemed to be growing more comfortable with her and her with him. He’d been talking more about his family and the things going on, and her about her family, her issues with her Dad. Amazingly, or maybe not so amazingly, he understood. It was refreshing knowing there was something out there she could talk to who knew what it was like, what it felt like.

After punching out, she made her way back over to the deli; James gave her a small smile and waved her over to the end of the counter.

“So I guess this is it huh?”

“Yeah I guess so. I wish things were different, I wish we could happen. I’m sorry for how things turned out Veronica.”

“I’m not, I’m really not. It’s been great getting to talk to you, getting to know you. I never would’ve done it before. I’m glad that we’re friends now, better friends.”

“Me too.”

“Can I get your email address and your home address? Ya know, so we can keep in touch, if that’s ok.”

She smiled, “Of course.”

“Ok great, let me get some paper.”

After giving him her address, email and cell number, she gave him one last hug.

“You take care of yourself ok?”

“I will, and please keep in touch. Once I get settled and all, I’ll give you my cell number too so you can call.”

“Sounds good. Well good luck James, and…thanks again.”

Reaching out, he pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly. “Thank you.”

Suddenly there was a loud “awwww” coming from the behind them. They turned to find everyone staring at them, laughing.

“Ya’ll are just jealous cause you wanted a hug and aren’t getting one!” James laughed.

Veronica laughed, rubbing at her cheeks.

“Well I’d better get going. I’ll talk to ya later V.”

“Bye James.”

She stared at him a moment later before leaning, kissing him gently on the cheek before turning and heading out, wiping at her eyes.
Chapter 69 by Gravity 721
Chapter 69


“That’s good, let’s run through that once more and then we’ll break for lunch,” John announced.

The guys waited while the music played, running through their verses. Once they finished, they removed their headphones, starting to file out the booth.

“Ok, you know the drill guys. Meet back here at one thirty.” John announced.

“God, I’m starving today for some reason,” AJ groaned, reaching behind him to pull his wallet out of his pocket, starting for the door behind Howie and Kevin.

“AJ…wait up man,” Brian called, making his way over to him, his lunch bag in hand.

“I’ll be back, gonna go get lunch.”

“Nah, you don’t have to.”

“I don’t?”

“Nope,” Brian held out a second bag to him.

“What’s this?” AJ asked, reaching out to take the bag.

“Lunch. I told Leighanne how you had such a fit about my lunch last time, that she made one for ya this morning too,” Brian chuckled.

AJ’s eyes lit up, “No shit?”

“Seriously.”

“Sweet!” AJ exclaimed, opening the bag and looking inside. “Ohh hey, she even packed me my own bottle of pop too!

“You’re a dope J,” Brian groaned.

“Hey…what’s at the bottom?” AJ shook the bag, reaching inside and pulling out a handful of cheerio’s.

“Oh, those are from Baylee. He wanted to help his Mom with your lunch, so he gave you what he was having for breakfast,” Brian grinned.

“See, cause he knows how to SHARE, unlike his Dad,” AJ grinned smugly.

“Yeah yeah, ya got a lunch didn’t ya?”

“Well tell Leighanne and my little buddy I said thanks. Man, I haven’t had a homemade lunch in so long,” AJ beamed as he made his way into the conference room after Brian.

Grinning, Nick pulled his phone out, checking for messages. Suddenly a familiar voice called out to him.

“Hey Nick!”

He looked up, his eyes widening, “Aaron! What are you doing here man?”

“Nice to see you too,” Aaron groaned, making his way over.

Nick chuckled, “Sorry, just shocked is all.”

“Yeah whatever. I just wanted to come by and see how you were. It’s been awhile ya know.”

“Yeah man, c’mon, let’s go over here,” Nick pulled him over to one of the couches, sitting.

They sat, Aaron turning to look at him.

“Have you heard from BJ lately?”

Nick shook his head, “Nah, last time I saw her she was pissed at me. Can’t say I blame her either.”

“You should go see her.”

“I dunno, I don’t know if she even wants to see me.”

“She does, believe me.”

Nick looked at him, “How do you know?”

“She’s been asking about you, calling me and asking if I’ve heard from you,” Aaron explained.

“She’s pretty pissed at me AC; she barely even looked at me last time. I’m having a hard time believing it.”

“Well it’s the truth, if you wanna believe it or not.”

Nick sighed, rubbing at his eyes. He wanted to see his sister, all of them more, his brother too. But his parents made it so hard. He really didn’t want to have to deal with his Mom, she was the reason he kept away. It shouldn’t be like that he knew, but it was so hard.

“It’s Mom isn’t it?”

“Huh?”

“The reason why you don’t see her or Leslie, and Dad for me and Angel.”

He looked away, “It’s not right I know, but…”

“Nah, I get it, I’m the same way. Why do you think I stay away? Mom’s like…she bitches and complains, and then Dad. He gets defensive and pissed off if I even mention that I’m thinking of going to see her or BJ or Leslie. I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.”

“How’d our family get so fucked up Aaron? How’d it get so bad?”

Aaron shook his head, sighing, “I don’t know. I think though, we should go see BJ and Leslie together, I‘ll see if I can get Angel to come too.”

“Yeah, I guess that could work.”

“Maybe with both of us there, it won’t be so bad. Or, we can try to set up a time when Mom’s gone.”

“Aaron…”

“I don’t want to deal with her, besides; it’s BJ and Les I wanna see.”

Nick looked at him sadly, sighing.

“Hey, I didn’t want it to be this way, but SHE’S the one who’s fucked this up, her damnit!” Aaron growled.

“C’mon man, stop it; this is Mom we’re talking about.”

“I don’t care, she doesn’t seem to care that she’s hurting us, making us pick sides, making our lives miserable, neither one of them. I’m sick and damn tired of it.”

“I know Aaron, me too,” he whispered.

“So, are you with me?”

He had no choice, he did want to see his sisters, he needed to try at least.

“Yeah, I’m with you.”
Chapter 70 by Gravity 721
Chapter 70


“Man, another year older,” Veronica’s Mom sighed as she sat to the table.

“No, another year wiser!”

Her Mom Ginnie, groaned, rolling her eyes.

“And hey, I’m cooking ya dinner, that’s a plus right?” Veronica smiled, making her way around the kitchen.

“Of course it is, you didn’t have to do this you know.”

Veronica pulled the pan from the oven and set it on the stove, “I know Mom, but I wanted to, you deserve it.”

“It’s just a birthday, another day of the year.”

“No way! It’s the day you were born, I’m glad it happened.”

Ginnie laughed, “Thanks Veron.”

Veronica couldn’t believe her Mom still called her that after all these years. It wasn’t anything she ever told anyone and never planned to. She was glad to be there celebrating her Mom’s birthday, if she didn’t, her Mom wouldn’t do anything special for it.

“I can’t believe it’s the end of the month already. Well at least I know that after my birthday, spring will be around the corner.”

“Yeah, it is pretty cool to have your birthday at the end of March.”

“Eh I suppose, no big deal.”

“Mom, stop that! We‘ve been through this already.”

“Yeah yeah…”

“Ok, dinner’s done!”

“Here, I can start setting the stuff out.”

“Mo-om! I’m gonna do that!”

“Aww let me help!”

“No way! You stay seated, it’s your day, you’re not supposed to work.”

“Veronica geeze!”

“Hush!” She mumbled, grabbing a knife, starting to cut into the pot roast she’d prepared.

She was just starting to fix the plates, when her cell phone rang. Grabbing it, she flipped it open, not bothering to check the ID.

“Hello?”

“Well hello.”

She blinked, “Hey Dad.”

Ginnie looked over at her suddenly, raising an eyebrow.

“Did I call at bad time?”

“Well I’m making Mom dinner for her birthday; can I call you later this evening?”

“Oh? Is someone telling you not to talk to me?”

“No no, nothing like that, I’m just getting ready to serve it and…”

“It’s ok; I don’t wanna keep you from anything.”

“Dad stop it! It‘s not like that,” Veronica practically snapped.

“Whoa sorry. Hey look I’ll let you go and if you have the time or the desire, you call me back.”

“Dad…” she sighed.

“I’ll talk to you later.”

“Dad!”

“Bye”

And with that he hung up. She flipped the phone closed, sighing in frustration.

“What’d he say?”

Veronica shook her head, “Nothing, it’s not important.”

“Don’t let him do that to you Veronica, don’t let him make you feel guilty.”

She said nothing, just continued to prepare the plates. He did, as always, make her feel guilty. Maybe she should’ve talked to him, but…this was her Mom’s day. She couldn’t just ignore her Mom to talk to her Dad, but she didn’t want her Dad to think she didn’t want to talk to him either.

“Veronica?”

“It’s cool Mom, don’t worry about it. Let’s just enjoy dinner; I made you a chocolate cake too!”

Ginnie looked at her, frowning.
Chapter 71 by Gravity 721
Chapter 71


Nick pulled into the driveway, cutting the engine.

“I hope we’re doing the right thing Aaron.”

“C’mon, the girls wanna see you Nick, it’ll be good for them, and I wanna see em too.”

“I do too,” Nick sighed, making his way out, shutting and locking the doors.

The two guys made their way up to their old home. It was funny to go there and have it be so familiar and yet unfamiliar at the same time. Everything was the same, and still, it no longer felt like home. They walked up to the door and Aaron rang the doorbell. There was a pounding of feet and then the door swung open.

“Aaron, Nick, what are you two doing here?”

“Hey Mom, we’re here to see BJ and Les, are they home?” Aaron questioned, trying to look past her into the house.

Jane’s eyes grew cold suddenly, “Just BJ and Leslie?” She questioned, looking at Nick.

“Well, we just wanted to see how they were; it’s been awhile since we’ve been by…”

“Yes it has,” Jane cut him off, now looking at Aaron.

“Are they here Mom?” Aaron asked again, looking at her this time.

Jane stared at him a moment, then at Nick, before turning, calling out for BJ and Leslie before turning and walking off, not bothering to invite them in.

Nick rubbed at his eyes, trying to tell himself that this was all worth it in the end. He looked up as he heard footsteps approaching.

“Nick, Aaron!” Leslie smiled, making her way over to the door.

“Hey Aaron,” BJ said cooly, giving him a slight nod. She looked over at Nick, studying him hard.

“Hey Les, BJ. We wanted to come by and see you,” Nick explained.

“Angel would’ve come, but she had this modeling thing going on,” Aaron sighed, shaking his head.

“It’s alright, we talked to her yesterday,” Leslie announced, shrugging.

“How have you two been? It’s been a while since I’ve seen you Les; you weren’t home the last time I was here.”

“When do you mean? Six months ago? Oh that’s right, you were here a month ago, how could I forget?” BJ muttered.

Nick frowned, “C’mon BJ, I’m trying ok?”

“Are you? Are you really Nick? We hardly ever see you, you’re so fuckin’ wrapped up in your album and your group shit, you don’t give a damn about us do you?” BJ spat, her breathing labored.

“BJ, stop it…” Aaron started.

“No, I won’t stop it. I’m sick of you acting like we’re not here ya know? Like we don’t exist.”

Nick looked over at Leslie; there were tears in her eyes, “Les…”

“It’s true Nick, you never come by, and you don’t call. I get that you’re pissed at Mom and Dad but…what’s that gotta do with us? Why can’t you call or come by more? You don’t live that far away,” Leslie whispered.

“You know how it is, you know what it’s like,” Aaron reasoned.

“Stop making excuses for him Aaron! He doesn’t care, it’s that simple,” BJ yelled.

“That’s not true! I do so care!”

“Oh yeah? Well why don’t you fuckin’ prove it Nick?” She exclaimed.

“I’m trying ok? I’m here now damnit! Doesn’t that count for anything?”

“No, no it doesn’t! I don’t want your damn pity! I can handle this all by myself, we don’t need you. We’ve been doing just fine without you!” BJ screamed, tears streaming down her cheeks suddenly.

“Fine! Ya know what, fuck this. I’m trying here, if you can’t meet me half way, then fuckin’ fine! ” Nick yelled, “I’ll see ya later Les. “ Turning, he made his way down and over to his truck.

Later That Evening…

“I’ll talk to you later.”

“Do you promise? Cause you always say that, and you never call,” the young woman pouted.

“I’ll try hard ok?” Nick smiled, as he helped her with her coat, walking her over to the door, unlocking it. It’d been a long day, he’d called Nadia and asked her over, telling her he wanted her to distract him. And she had, boy had she. For four straight hours she’d done what she did best and that was physical pleasure.

He’d been tense and angry when he got back from dropping Aaron off. The visit with his Sisters didn’t go as he hoped it would. It made him wonder why he’d bothered in the first place. He knew they were hurt, and they had every right to be. He was really trying though, he was there, he wanted to talk to them, to see how they were. Leslie he figured he’d have a chance with, but BJ was rigid in her extreme dislike with him at the moment. Nick knew he had to keep trying though; he couldn’t alienate himself completely from his family, that meant Aaron and Angel too.

He’d just have to try harder.

“Try very hard,” the girl purred, sliding her hand down, rubbing him gently.

Nick cleared his throat, reaching down to intercept her hand, “I will.”

“Ok, I’ll talk to you soon then.”

“Yeah, ok.”

She smiled, leaning up to kiss him deeply, pulling away and making her way out the door just as his cell phone started to ring. Hurrying over, Nick grabbed his phone, checking the ID. Smiling, his flipped it open.

“Hello?”

“Whoa, you actually answered!”

Nick chuckled, “Hey Veronica, what’ s up?”

“Not much just wanted to call and chat. Are you busy?”

“Nah, it’s cool, just watching some TV,” he replied, flopping down on the couch and turning the TV on.

“Oh alright.”

“I’m glad you called. So what’s going on?”

“Nothing really, just getting ready for bed, so I thought I’d give you a call.”

“You always seem to call when you’re getting ready for bed, does your bed make you think of me or something?” Nick grinned.

“Maaaaaybe,” she laughed. “So, how’d today go? Did you go see your Sisters?”

“Yeah.”

“And…?”

“It was ok.”

“Just ok?”

“Well…kinda.”

“That doesn’t sound so good.”

“Well BJ is still royally pissed at me, and while I think Les may be upset, I think she’s more hurt than anything. In the end BJ and I were screaming at each other I ended up storming off.”

“Did you guys try and talk calmly?”

“I did…but BJ was on the defensive the moment she laid eyes on me, I don’t think I ever really stood a chance.”

“You’ve gotta keep trying Nick. It’s gonna be hard at first cause the communication is so scarce, but you gotta keep at it.”

“Yeah yeah I know, but it’s hard. I hate to hear her say things like that; I hate to see them so hurt and angry.”

“It’s really hard.”

“It is, and I want things to be better. I guess I just have to be patient and persistent.”

“Exactly! Once they see you’re serious and that you do want to do better, maybe then some of the anger will fade, it’ll take time.”

“Yeah, I know. So what about you? How was your Mom’s birthday dinner?”

“It was pretty good. The pot roast came out really nice and juicy, Mom loved it.”

“What’d ya get for her?”

“I got her a card, a pair of earrings and a stuffed animal.”

“Aww sounds nice.”

“Yeah, she seemed really happy.”

“Well that’s cool, glad that everything was a success.”

“My Dad called.”

“Uh oh…”

“Yeah, so I told him I needed to call him back cause at the time, I was making dinner for Mom. Well he got all defensive, asking if someone was telling me not to talk to him. HUGE mood killer. Of course after I finally get off the phone with him, I feel guilty for not talking to him longer, but then I also feel guilty for wanting to talk to him longer on Mom’s birthday.”

“Yeah but, ya told him you’d call him back.”

“I know, but I don’t want him thinking I didn’t want to talk to him, I just couldn’t right then.”

“Ya can’t be expected to just drop everything every time he calls though.”

“I know, but I feel like that’s what he does expect.”

“But you can’t, he’s just gonna have to accept that.”

“I know. I wish I could tell him that, but I just can’t. I just keep avoiding it, pretending like it’s no big deal.”

Nick knew about avoidance, he was the king of avoidance.

“Yeah.”

“My Dad as a real shitty way of making me feel guilty all the time.”

“I remember you telling me that before. What is it with parents man?”

“I dunno Nick.”

“Fuckin’ sucks.”

“I guess both of our days weren’t that great huh?”

“Sounds like it. We should start a club or something,” Nick groaned.

Veronica laughed, “Count me in.”
Chapter 72 by Gravity 721
Chapter 72


Rolling onto his back, Nick slowly opened his eyes, staring up blankly at the ceiling. He couldn’t sleep. He’d been laying there for an hour now and he’d tried everything. Counting sheep, deep breathing techniques he used for warm ups, he’d actually gone down and warmed up milk, nothing worked. Letting out a breath, he turned his head to look at the sleeping woman next to him; she apparently was worn out from that evenings exertions and didn’t have a problem sleeping. He was restless for some reason. Slowly he sat up again, rubbing at his face before slipping out of bed and heading over to his desk, turning his laptop on before heading into the bathroom. Making his way back out a few minutes later, he sat down and logged into the instant messenger, sighing in relief when he saw that Veronica was on, he’d logged on with the hopes that she would be.

Chucktaylor11: hey!
Freesialover: Hey
Chucktaylor11: what’s up? I’m glad you’re on.
Freesialover: Not much, yeah, you’re on awful late, even for you.
Chucktaylor11: yeah, I couldn’t sleep for some reason. I just lay there in bed ya know.
Freesialover: Yeah, that happens to me sometimes too, not often though.
Chucktaylor11: so what’s goin’ on? You ok, you don’t seem like your usual self.

It was amazing to him, that even through the computer; he could tell when something was wrong. It would seem pretty unbelievable to people not familiar with computers and instant messaging, but after chatting with someone for a while, you can tell how people are normally. Veronica wasn’t acting like herself tonight.

Freesialover: Nah, I’m not really ok, but it’s cool. It’ll pass.
Chucktaylor11: Aww sweetie what’s wrong?
Freesialover: Nothing, it’s not important.
Chucktaylor11: L
Freesialover: It’s ok Nick, don’t worry about it, please. Tell me about your day.
Chucktaylor11: I won’t until you tell me what’s wrong. Bad day at work?
Freesialover: No
Chucktaylor11: Veronica…please, talk to me.
Freesialover: It’s stupid, really.
Chucktaylor11: try me.
Freesialover: Well, my Dad called a few hours ago
Chucktaylor11: uh oh
Freesialover: I mean, I haven’t heard from him since my Mom’s birthday which was a few weeks ago, so I figured this was him trying to catch up. Normally I try not to let what he says get to me, but this time I don’t know, it was just. He patronized me and…
Chucktaylor11: and…?
Freesialover: And he called me lazy. And don’t pay attention usually like I said, but it just hit a nerve with me tonight. It’s stupid, he doesn’t know ya know? I just…I feel really bad now, and I shouldn’t cause I know that I shouldn’t but…
Chucktaylor11: well hell, that’s a fucked up thing to say, he’s not even there with you.
Freesialover: Yeah I know, but it gets me to thinking you know? What if he’s right?
Chucktaylor11: Veronica please tell me you don’t believe him.

Nick waited and waited, but she never responded.

Chucktaylor11: Veronica?
Freesialover: He could be right Nick…maybe I am.
Chucktaylor11: Get your cell, I’m gonna call you.
Freesialover: What? Why?
Chucktaylor11: Just do it. I’m gonna log off and call you in five minutes.
Freesialover: Nick, it’s not a big deal!
Chucktaylor11: Don’t argue, I’ll talk to you in a minute.
Chucktaylor11 signed off at 3:13:16 AM

Nick shut his laptop down, and grabbed his cell. Casting a quick glance at the bed to make sure the girl was still asleep; he slipped out into the hallway, sliding down to the floor. He waited a few more minutes then flipped his phone open, pressed the number and waited.

“Hello?”

“Hey.”

“Nick, honestly you didn’t have to call. I’m fine.”

“You don’t sound fine; you sound like you’ve been crying.”

And she had been, she’d been crying since she’d gotten off the phone a few hours ago. She’d scolded herself over and over for letting him get to her, for crying over something as stupid as a name, but it’d been more than that. She’d already had poor self-esteem as it was, and that hadn’t helped.

“I’m ok Nick.”

“So you believe him huh?”

“I don’t know what I believe. It doesn’t really matter.”

“If it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t be upsetting you so much. You know he’s wrong Veronica. How many times have you told me that he doesn’t want to come up to see you, and yet, he wants to tell you that you’re lazy and criticize you? He who doesn’t have the nerve to come up and see you? That’s bullshit.”

“But he’s my Dad…” she sniffled.

“So what? That doesn’t mean he can talk to you like that, no parent can,” Nick whispered harshly.

“Nick…”

“Are you lazy Veronica?”

“You’re asking me?”

“That’s right, I’m asking you, cause you know if you are or not. So are you?”

“Well I…I can be a bit unmotivated sometimes, but I mean, I do work and whatever.”

“Are you lazy?”

“Well…no, I don’t think so.”

“Then that’s all that matters. Until he comes up to see you and sees how you are in person, he’s got no right telling you you’re lazy or criticizing the things you do.”

Veronica sighed softly, he was right, she knew he was. The problem was, letting herself believe it.

“Veronica, I know you don’t like feeling like this, letting him make you feel like this, cause you are. How many times over the last few months that we’ve talked online and on the phone, have you told me not to let my parents get to me, it’s the same thing. Maybe our individual situations are a bit different, but our parents are doing almost the same thing.”

“I know.”

“I know you know, cause half the time it’s you telling ME the same thing. C’mon V, you’re stronger than this.”

“Yeah,” she whispered.

“Veronica…honey, don’t let him do this to you please. You’re so much more than what he tells you, what he says. You have to believe that.”

Veronica smiled weakly, “Thanks Nick.”

“Nothing to thank me for.”

She wiped at her eyes, “So…why are you whispering anyway? And where are you, I hear an echo.”

“I’m in the hallway.”

“The hallway? Why?”

Nick looked down at his naked form and then at his closed bedroom door, wincing, “Trust me when I say you don’t want to know.”

“Uh huh. I guess I should let you go, try to get some sleep Nick. Just relax, stop trying so hard. I find that works for me.”

“Yeah I will, you too. Take it easy Veronica ok?”

“I will, thanks for calling Nick, I feel a lot better now.”

“Anytime, I couldn’t let you go on thinking he was right…you know he’s not right?”

She laughed, “Yeah Nick, I know.”

“Ok then, mission accomplished. Good Night Veronica.”

“Good night Nick.”

He flipped the phone closed and stood up, quietly making his way back into his room. Walking over he set his phone down on the charger on his nightstand and slipped back into bed, cuddling up behind the still sleeping woman, forcing his body to relax. Closing his eyes, he tried something he’d never tried in the six months since he started talking to Veronica, to see her. He tried to picture what he thought she looked like. The color of her eyes, the shape of her body, the feel of her hair in his hands. Nick tried so hard, that after a few minutes, he could actually feel her body pressed so close to his, breathe in the scent of her hair, run his hands over her curves, touch her soft skin, he could pretend. Nick drifted off a short time later, with one thought lulling him to sleep…

He could pretend, if only for a few hours, that this girl was Veronica he was holding.
Chapter 73 by Gravity 721
Chapter 73


End of June

Day of Album Release…

“So, congratulations on the new album guys. All your fans have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” the DJ announced.

“Yeah, we have too, it’s great to get another album out, we hope the fans like it,” Howie commented.

Nick looked anxiously at his watch, another fifteen minutes and they’d be out of there, and then onto a CD signing at Virgin Megastore. He couldn’t wait to get home, with the stuff for the album release happening, he’d barely been able to talk to Veronica lately. Nick had emailed her and promised her he’d call her later that evening to tell her how things went and to just catch up. He just wanted everything to be over.

“So Nick, do you have anything you want to say to your fans listening?” The DJ asked.

He smiled, leaning in close to the mic, “Yeah, thanks for waiting for us. We know we’ve been gone for a while, and it’s nice to know that a lot of the fans are still there. I wanna say thanks for the love and the support, you’re the best fans in the world and I can’t wait to see you all on tour in August.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Does anyone know how long this signing is for?” Nick asked as piled into the van.

“What’s the rush man? Normally you love these things,” Brian asked, flipping his phone open and checking his messages.

“There’s things I’ve gotta do at home, I’m just…not in the mood this time.”

“Not in the mood? Well get in the mood, we’ve got fans waiting for us, they don’t have to be here ya know,” Kevin stated, glaring at Nick.

“I know I know, and I’m grateful. I’m just, distracted, that’s all.”

“What is it that you have to do anyway?” AJ questioned, looking over at him.

“Make a phone call.”

“You’re getting all worked up over a phone call?” AJ exclaimed.

“So, Howie fuckin’ lives on the phone and no one gives a damn about that,” Nick muttered.

Howie flipped him off.

“I just don’t get what phone call is so important that it’s got you all anxious to get done with this signing. Granted, it’s tiring after a while, but ya know, we haven’t done one in a while.”

“Just forget it, forget I said anything,” Nick sighed. He hated this, the having to hide everything, of having to explain. He wanted to tell them, at least part of him did.

“I just don’t get why you won’t tell us who it is you’ve been talking to here lately. We know it’s a girl, what’s the big secret?” Brian pressed, slipping his phone back into his pocket.

“There is no secret. I don’t ask you all who you’re talking to all the time.”

“Yeah well we don’t hide it either, like we’re ashamed of them,” Kevin put in.

“I’m not ashamed of her! You all wouldn’t understand,” Nick finished, turning to look out the window.

“Why do you try us?” Howie offered.

Nick shook his head. It just didn’t feel right, he didn’t know if it ever would. He didn’t want to hear them telling him that it was the wrong thing to do, that it was dangerous keeping in touch with a fan. He’d dated fans before, but it’d never worked out. Him trying to tell them that nothing was going on with them other than friendship, would be damn near impossible. The kicker was, it was the truth.

And that bothered him.

It was for him, a disturbing thought. It was a crazy stupid thought; them being more than friends would be a long shot. Those kinds of relationships never worked, he’d learned that from experience, still it always came back to that. To him wanting to meet her, to finally see her face to face. Ever since that phone call that one night almost two months ago, it was all he could think about. She’d never told him what she looked liked, he had no idea. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to see her. The more he wanted to take a trip before the tour started in August, to New York and see the girl who in such a short time, had become so important to him.

Later That Night…

Freesialover: Congratulations! You must be so excited.
Chucktaylor11: I am, I can’t believe it’s actually happened.
Freesialover: I’m surprised you’re not out celebrating.
Chucktaylor11: Eh, it’s ok, I’d rather talk to you.
Freesialover: Nick…
Chucktaylor11: What? It’s true.
Freesialover: Please, like I believe that.
Chucktaylor11: You should.

It really was the truth. AJ had invited him to go out to a club and hang out, but Nick had turned him down. He really did want to talk to Veronica; he’d been looking forward to it all day. AJ hadn’t believed it and said that he must be on something. Nick had just ignored him; he wanted this time with Veronica.

Freesialover: Anyway, what’s next?
Chucktaylor11: well we’ve got a few more appearances coming up, one tomorrow that’s live for the Today show.
Freesialover: Ohh yeah that’s right! I’ve already got my VCR set!J
Chucktaylor11: Gotta work?
Freesialover: Yeah, I took today off, but it’s back tomorrow. I’ll just watch it when I get home from work when I’m eating dinner.
Chucktaylor11: You took today off?
Freesialover: Yeah, I always take the day when you guys release an album off. It’s always been this thing with me and my friends. We go and try to find one of those twenty four hour stores that are open and get a copy at midnight.
Chucktaylor11: Seriously? Hey, that’s pretty cool.
Freesialover: I can’t believe I just told you, but yeah.

He probably thought she was a freak, at this point she just didn’t care. She’d been talking with him long enough to know that he knew she wasn’t that kind of fan.

Chucktaylor11: Nah, that’s sweet of you. So you got a copy?
Freesialover: Absolutely! I loved it! Great job!
Chucktaylor11: Cool, thanks! Glad you like it.
Freesialover: Nothing to thank me for, I am a fan.
Chucktaylor11: Aww well ya don’t have to. By the way, are you gonna go to a concert?
Freesialover: I’m gonna try. When do you guys start getting ready for that?
Chucktaylor11: Well we have rehearsals coming up, then we have about two weeks off to do whatever before we actually leave in August. Have you bought your tickets yet?
Freesialover: Nope, they don’t go on presale for the fan club until the last week in July, then I think that weekend, they have the public sale. So I have to wait till then.
Chucktaylor11: Damn, that’s a long time.
Freesialover: It feels like it, really it’s just a few weeks.
Chucktaylor11: Are ya excited?
Freesialover: Hell yeah! To be honest, I didn’t think…I mean…
Chucktaylor11: Didn’t think what? That we’d release another?
Freesialover: Well…yeah.
Chucktaylor11: :-(
Freesialover: I’m sorry! It’d been so long and everyone was doing their own thing and ya know.
Chucktaylor11: Yeah I know, I understand. Glad you’re still around ya know.
Freesialover: I don’t think I could stop being a fan per say.
Chucktaylor11: that’s good to know. Hey, can I ask ya something?
Freesialover: Of course.
Chucktaylor11: We’ve been talkin’ for a while and all, do you got a pic of yourself on your comp?

Nick hoped she did, he really wanted to see her, and he had to have a face to go with the words and the voice.

Freesialover: Nope.
Chucktaylor11: :-(
Freesialover: Aww honey, I try not to keep pics of myself on the computer.
Chucktaylor11: How come?
Freesialover: I don’t like to show people what I look like. I figure if they see what I look like, they’ll stop talking to me. It’s just another form of rejection.
Chucktaylor11: Veronica, that’s bullshit and you know it!
Freesialover: No it’s not!
Chucktaylor11: Fuck, if that’s the case, you don’t need to talk to them anyway. Has it ever happened?
Freesialover: No and I don’t plan on letting it either, hence the no pics on comp policy.
Chucktaylor11: You know I wouldn’t do that right V?

Veronica stared at the screen, she wanted to tell him yes, she wanted to badly, but she couldn’t. He was famous, a celebrity. He was one of the beautiful people and she was just…Veronica. Nothing special, she wasn’t thin and pretty, she didn’t have loads of money and that natural grace those actresses did. She was average. The thought of him seeing her and knowing that he wasn’t attracted, would hurt her more than she’d like. She didn’t think she could put up with the false proclamations that he thought she was cute or pretty, especially when she knew he wouldn’t mean it. She didn’t want his pity. What she wanted was for him to have whatever way he pictured her in his mind, for him to have that so she could be that for him.

It was that fact that kept her from picturing him ever falling for someone like her. Well it should’ve. Over the last eight months, she couldn’t even count how many times she thought of being with him, of what it’d be like to be his girlfriend, of him wanting to be with her. It was painful and sad. It was beyond what a typical fan felt. Now that she knew she was actually talking to him, getting know him, the fantasies became more involved, more intricate. She waited all day for just a moment to talk to him, be it online or on the phone. To hear his voice, to know he’d been thinking about her, it was driving her crazy. She wanted to stop the feeling, but she couldn’t.

Chucktaylor11: Veronica?
Freesialover: Does it matter Nick?
Chucktaylor11: Of course it matters! You mean to tellme after we’ve been talking all this time, you think I’d be as shallow as to stop talking to you after seeing what you look like?
Freesialover: Nick…
Chucktaylor11: That hurts Veronica.
Freesialover: I’m sorry Nick.
Chucktaylor11: You don’t’trust me do you?
Freesialover: It’s hard for me to trust anyone, you know that Nick.
Chucktaylor11: Me especially huh?
Freesialover: *Sigh*
Chucktaylor11: *Sigh* Well, will you at least tell me what you look like?
Freesialover: Is it that important to you? To know what I look like?
Chucktaylor11: yeah, it is.

Fine she would give him as little detail as she could.

Freesialover: Well, I’m about 5’2 with dark brown hair and eyes.
Chucktaylor11: ok
Freesialover: That’s it.
Chucktaylor11: that is not it! C’mon Veronica, don’t do this.
Freesialover: Don’t do what? I told you, there’s not much else to tell. What, do you wanna know my bust size and how much I weigh? Is that it?

She was getting defensive she knew, but she couldn’t help it. What else was there?

Chucktaylor11: That’s not fair.
Freesialover: Well I’m sorry, but I don’t see what else there is to tell.
Chucktaylor11: You know what I look like.
Freesialover: Nick, everyone knows what you look like.

She waited and waited, he never responded. Sighing she gave in a bit.

Freesialover: I look like I’m either Spanish or Indian, but I’m not. I’m about the same complexion as Halle Berry, minus the good looks. I’m not huge, but I’m not thin either. I’m a comfortable medium. I guess I could be considered curvy.

Chucktaylor11: Thank you. And that Halle Berry crack was uncalled for.
Freesialover: So says you.
Chucktaylor11: Why do you do that? Why do you put yourself down?

She felt her heart drop. No one like him could understand what it was like to feel not good enough, to always be overlooked by the opposite sex. To have been told guys wouldn’t like you unless you were thin and wore a ton of makeup. It was all she’d heard from her father growing up. She was too chubby, guys don’t like chubby girls.

Freesialover: I’m not putting myself down, it’s the truth. I’m not model material Nick. Guys don’t go for girls like me, especially guys like you.
Chucktaylor11: What kind of girl are you exactly? And what kind of guy am I?
Freesialover: Average. And you’re the hot guy, the socially acceptable guy. You guys have the really pretty women, no one like me. Famous celebrity guys don’t date average girls.
Chucktaylor11: What would you say if I told you I do?
Freesialover: You do what?
Chucktaylor11: Go for average girls.
Freesialover: I’d tell you not to say what you think I want to hear.
Chucktaylor11: *Sigh* Veronica…
Freesialover: Just know that I’m a fan and a friend Nick, that’s all you need to know. You can picture me however you want and I’ll be that for you.

Nick shoved a hand through his hair, he felt sick. He couldn’t believe she felt that way about herself, was her self image that distorted? Granted, he was like any other guy, he appreciated a beautiful woman, but he was also realistic. Beauty was one thing, it was superficial, an image. It was what was on the inside that mattered. The fact that she didn’t trust him hurt more than he thought it would.

Freesialover: Look Nick, I’m gonna get going. Sleepy and work awaits in the morning. I’ll talk to ya tomorrow ok? Have fun here in NY ok?
Chucktaylor11: yeah, I will. Have a good day tomorrow.
Freesialover: You too! Night!
Chucktaylor11: Night.

Nick signed off and slumped back in his chair. That had to be the worst conversation they’d ever had. There was more to her than he’d realized. She was insecure and didn’t ask guys out for a reason. He didn’t know who was telling her things, but they’d been wrong and if he ever got the chance, he’d prove it to her.

The Next Evening…

Veronica brought her plate of hot pockets over and sat on the couch, rewinding the tape while she got her drink and everything else up together. Once it finished, she sat down and pressed the play button, watching intently.

It’d been a long day at work, slow as usual so it felt as if it had drug by. She was glad to be home, she’d been dying to watch the tape. She fast forwarded to the part with the guys. They performed a song and then came the interview.

She sipped at her drink while she listened to the interviewer as the same boring questions, she rolled her eyes at the generic answers, smiling as the guys laughed and joked around. She grabbed the remote, preparing to turn it off as the interview came to an end, when suddenly Nick asked the host a question.

“Hey Matt, can I give a quick shout out to a friend before we leave?”

The other four guys looked over at Nick questionably.

“Sure Nick, go right ahead.”

“What camera am I looking at?” Nick asked.

“That one right there,” Matt pointed.

Nick turned, staring straight into the camera and smiled suddenly.

“I just wanted to say hi to my freesialover and I hope that she had a good day at work.” Nick grinned, giving a small wink.

Veronica who was right in the middle of taking a bite of her hot pocket promptly choked, bits of her dinner flying from her mouth as she bolted up from couch, her plate with the other untouched pocket, falling to the floor. She stared hard at the screen as Matt Lauer thanked the guys and went to commercial.

“No way…no fucking way!”

She grabbed the remote, rewinding it back and listening again. Sure enough, Nick had just said hi to HIS freesia lover…HER on national TV.
Chapter 74 by Gravity 721
Chapter 74


“Yeah, so I was thinking of coming in July, is that ok? Yeah, great, so I can start making the plans then…ok yeah. Alright I love you too, tell Grams I said hi, alright, bye,” Nick hung up and walked over to his laptop, sitting at his desk he went to his email and typed Veronica a quick email asking her to IM him when she got home.

After shutting down, he grabbed his wallet and headed downstairs, getting his keys and heading out to rehearsals.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

At Rehearsals…

“Take ten guys,” the vocal coach called as she made her way out the room.

Nick looked at the guys and decided this was the best time as any to tell them.

“Hey guys, I’m gonna be going to New York for our two weeks off, gonna visit my grandparents.”

“What are you gonna do with them for two weeks? Most of the time you complain that you can barely find anything to do for one week,” Brian grinned.

“Well I’m only gonna be with them for one week,” Nick explained.

“Oh? Where are you gonna be for the other week?” Howie asked, taking a drink from his water bottle.

“With a friend,” he replied elusively.

“This wouldn’t happen to be that same friend from before would it?” Kevin questioned.

He said nothing.

“Who do you know in New York?” AJ pressed.

“I know a lot of people in New York.”

“So…is it this same girl?” Kevin countered.

Nick sighed, “Yeah it is.”

“What, is she another one of your fuck buddies?” AJ smirked.

“No she’s not! Shut up AJ! God,” Nick spat.

The four guys stared at him, a bit stunned.

“What?” Nick muttered, a hint of annoyance in his voice.

“Why are you so defensive?” Howie questioned, watching him intently.

“I’m not defensive. Did it ever occur to you all that I can be friends with a girl without it being physical?”

“No”, the four answered in unison.

Nick gave them a sour look, “Well I am, she’s a friend, that’s all.”

“I don’t believe it,” Kevin laughed.

“Well too bad, cause it’s true.”

“So…ok, she’s a friend. Are you gonna finally tell us her name?” Brian prodded.

Again he hesitated.

“C’mon Nick! What’s the big deal? It’s just her fuckin’ name!” AJ groaned.

“Veronica, her name is Veronica ok?” Nick exclaimed.

“There, was that so hard?” Brian laughed.

“Whatever.”

“So, is she looking forward to seeing you?” Howie asked.

“Where does she live in New York?” AJ questioned.

“How long have you two been friends?” Kevin smirked.

“Whoa stop, I’m not answering anymore questions, so just drop it ok?”

“What is it about this girl that you don’t want to tell? She’s more to you than just one of your many flings, so what is it then? What are you hiding Nick?” Kevin asked.

Nick stared at him, saying nothing.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

That Night…

Veronica clicked on her inbox and scanned through the emails, deleting the junk. She smiled when she saw an email from Nick. She clicked on it and read it, he wanted her to IM him as soon as she got the email. She pulled up a new IM box and found his name from the drop down list.

Freesialover: Nick?
Chucktaylor11: Hey!
Freesialover: What’s up? I got your email.
Chucktaylor11: Nothing really, just really wanted to talk to you.
Freesialover: Aww you’re so sweet!
Chucktaylor11: Thaaaaaaaat’s me!
Freesialover: Don’t let it go to your head, tho I think it’s too late.
Chucktaylor11: Hey!
Freesialover: :-)
Chucktaylor11: Yeah yeah, so what’s been going on? Anything exciting?
Freesialover: Nah not really, just getting ready for vacation in a couple weeks.
Chucktaylor11: Oh yeah, was gonna ask you about that. What are you gonna be doing for your birthday? Got anything planned?
Freesialover: Nothing really, gonna hang with my friends if they can, other than that, nothing. I might do something that weekend with my Mom. Not sure yet.
Chucktaylor11: How many days are you taking off?
Freesialover: Eight, the twenty first through the twenty eighth.
Chucktaylor11: Ahh that’s cool, well I hope you have fun.
Freesialover: Thanks!
Chucktaylor11: What’s the name of the store you work at again? And can I have the address?
Freesialover: Sure, what are you doing anyway?
Chucktaylor11: I wanna look it up online, see if I can see a pic of it or something.
Freesialover: Geeze it’s not that exciting trust me.
Chucktaylor11: So? I wanna see where you work. Besides I may wanna come and visit you at some point.

Her heart dropped, he had to be joking.

Freesialover: No way
Chucktaylor11: Seriously, I’m gonna be visiting my Grandparents in Jamestown really soon, I thought I’d swing by and meet you, if that’s ok. I’d let ya know first of course.
Freesialover: Well of course I wouldn’t mind, but I mean, wouldn’t that be out of your way? It’s a long way from Jamestown to Rochester.
Chucktaylor11: Eh, a few hours, not too bad. So, can I have the address?
Freesialover: Oh, yeah sure.

Veronica typed in the name and address of the store, her heart racing. Him come to see her? To actually meet her face to face? She felt her stomach start rolling, nausea rushing over her. She forced herself not to jump to conclusions, she was sure he simply didn’t have time to come see her, and why would he really want to? He had two weeks off, and she knew during that time he’d be getting ready for the tour, it just wouldn’t work out. He’d say he wanted to see her now, but he’d forget, she was sure of it.
Chapter 75 by Gravity 721
Chapter 75


A Week and a Half Later…

Veronica pulled the hot bag from the microwave, tarring it open, a waft of smoke rising. The small apartment was soon filled with the heady scent of popcorn. She sat down on the couch, flipping the TV on and changing it to the station her favorite program was on. As she started to eat, her thoughts drifted to her upcoming vacation.

At this point, she didn’t have any plans, but she had been meaning to call Lynne and see if they wanted to make some plans. Veronica munched loudly on the popcorn, and as always, her scattered thoughts came back to Nick.

It’d been a long while since she’d last heard from him. He hadn’t been returning her calls, she hadn’t seen him online, he hadn’t emailed, she hadn’t checked today yet though. Leaning over, she grabbed the cordless and called Lynne. After making tentative plans for her vacation, she hung up and continued to watch her show, or tried to anyway. She was distracted; she couldn’t stop thinking about Nick, wondering if he was ok.

Getting up she headed into her bedroom to boot up her computer. Once booted, she dialed up and then checked her mail. She had a few new messages but nothing special.

Nothing from Nick.
Chapter 76 by Gravity 721
Chapter 76


Nick turned off the thruway and made a right. According to the built in map system in his car, there should be a Marriot close by. He had to hurry though, it was already two o’clock and Veronica would be going on her break shortly.

He’d left from his Grandparents at about eleven to allow enough time to get there since he wasn‘t familiar with that part of New York. According to the directions he’d gotten off the internet, it would take him about two and a half hours to get there, it’d taken him just about that, of course he’d been gunning it a bit, but he didn’t want to be late. It’d been nice to see his Grandparents and he’d enjoyed spending time with them, but as usual, he’d gotten bored quickly and spent a lot of time out at clubs and visiting some old friends.

Making a left, he made his way further down until he found the hotel he sought. After parking he got out, grabbed his bags and headed inside to check in. He booked a room under an alias just incase, he didn’t figure he’d be found out here, but fans always seemed to find a way to find him, he could never be too careful. He thanked the woman at the desk and took the pamphlet with his key cards and headed to the elevator and up to his room. His head was racing with thoughts of what was to come. Would she be happy to see him? Mad? Nick knew he should’ve given her some kind of notice, but he wanted to surprise her, he hoped that within the last week and a half since they last talked, she hadn’t made any serious plans.

Nick found his room and opened the door, heading in he dropped his bags off and hurried back out. He checked his watch, two-ten. He had twenty minutes to get to her job. Nick quickly made his way back to his car and got in and started for the store, remembering suddenly he had one more stop to make.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Veronica tossed the remaining chicken into the garbage can next to her and grabbed the other, ripping the skin and pulling the meat apart and tossing it into the cambro. She’d been picking chicken for Chicken Broccoli Curry for the last twenty minutes, she was just about done and then hopefully with the ok from Carla, she could go on her break. She tore the piece of chicken she hand in her hands into small pieces and tossed them too into the cambro.

What was Nick doing? Was he mad at her? Their last phone conversation wasn’t bad at least she hadn’t thought so, what had she done wrong? She knew he was busy, she understood that, but he’d always seem to have made time, be it a phone call or a simple email. Veronica hadn’t wanted to think she’d become spoiled or too comfortable with their relationship, she didn’t want to be blindsided.

“Hey V, when you’re done with picking, go on your last break,” Carla announced from across the deli.

“Ok thanks,” Veronica smiled, tossing the remains of the final chicken into the garbage. She put the lid on the cambro and labeled and dated it before sliding it onto the cart. Pushing her cart along, she headed into the kitchen to put it away before heading out to her break.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Nick made his way into the store and was immediately hit by the cool air. He looked around; there weren‘t many people in the store, he was grateful. He saw someone who he assumed to be an employee and made his way over.

“Excuse me…”

The lady turned to look at him, a pleasant smile on her face.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, can you tell me where the deli is please?”

“Oh sure, it’s just over there, right past the rotisserie,” she pointed.

“Thank you,” Nick smiled, turning and heading over. Nervous, god he was nervous suddenly. He wiped his sweaty hands on his jeans as he stopped in front of the counter.

A young woman came over to the counter, smiling at him. As she studied him a bit, her smile faltered, she appeared to be trying to decide something about him, as if she was trying to figure something out.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m looking for Veronica Peterson.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Veronica was making her way out of the cooler just as Carla came back.

“Veronica, there’s a guy out there looking for you,” Carla announced, a weird expression on her face.

Veronica blinked, “A guy?”

“Yeah, he looks familiar but I can’t place his face. Are you expecting someone?”

She shook her head, “No, no one. I don’t know of any guy who would come visit me.”

“I can’t help but think I’ve seen him somewhere,” Carla pressed. “Well anyway, go on out, he’s waiting for you.”

Veronica was still trying to think of any guy who would be visiting her at work when she poked her head out of the kitchen. She scanned the counter right to left, her eyes stopping on a tall blonde haired guy who was looking around casually. Suddenly he turned his head and looked right at her, a slow smile spreading over her lips. She stilled, her heart dropping suddenly…

Nick Carter was there to see her.
Chapter 77 by Gravity 721
Chapter 77


Nick was looking around the store casually, when suddenly he could feel someone watching him. Turning his head, he stilled, his heart dropping to his feet. It was her, he was sure of it. He may not have seen a picture of her, but he just knew. A slow smile started over his lips and he looked down at the nametag on her shirt.

Veronica - Serving You For 8 Years

He looked back into her eyes and forced himself not to laugh, her look of utter disbelief was amusing.

“Veronica?”

She felt the insane urge to vomit; she swallowed hard, her mouth suddenly felt as if it were stuffed with cotton.

“N-Nick?” She whispered, cursing herself for sounding so breathless.

He smiled widened, “Hey, am I in time for your break? You haven’t gone yet have you?”

“Uhh…n-no…I mean…I was just about to…”

She couldn’t think, couldn’t form sentences.

“Go ahead Veronica, take twenty minutes,” Carla said suddenly, looking at her intently.

Veronica turned to look at her, “Twenty?”

“Yeah, it’s cool,” Carla grinned.

“Oh…ok thanks…yeah thanks,” Veronica mumbled, starting to untie her apron, then thought better of it and kept it on. “So…yeah I’ll be back…in twenty.”

“Alright, have fun,” Carla smirked.

“Fun, right,” Veronica whispered, starting out of the department. She slowly made her way over to him, taking a deep breath before stopping in front of him.

“Surprise,” Nick chuckled.

She blinked, a small smile on her lips, “I’ll say. Wow.”

“Here…I got this for you,” he smiled, holding out a single long stemmed yellow rose surrounded by baby‘s breath. “I remember you saying roses are your favorite flower. The florist said a yellow rose stands for joy and gladness…so I figured it was appropriate.”

Veronica slowly reached out and took the flower, staring at it before looking up at him, “For me?”

He only smiled.

“It’s beautiful, thank you.”

“You’re very welcome. So…do you wanna go to my car and talk? It’ll be quieter and we can be alone.”

Alone, he wanted to be alone with her, her body started shaking harder.

“Uh sure, that’d be fine,” she replied softly.

“Cool,” he smiled, turning and starting to walk with her, placing his hand on the small of her back as they started out.

Veronica was trying to breathe, was trying to make sense of everything. She could feel eyes on her, on them. She looked around, several girls had stopped walking and were just staring at them, or more so, Nick. She looked over at Nick only to find that he didn’t even seem to notice or mind for that matter, it was second nature to him.

They made their way outside and into the warm sun.

“I’m right over there,” he pointed, leading her to his car. Nick pressed the button and there was a soft noise, letting him know the doors were now unlocked. He hurried over to the passenger side and opened the door.

“Thanks,” Veronica said softly as she slipped in.

He made his way around to the other side and got in, shutting the door and turning the car on, starting the air conditioner.

“Well, here we are.”

“Yeah…”

“I hope I wasn’t interrupting your work. I tried to time it so I could get here when you said you usually go on your last break. I hope you won’t get in trouble.”

“No…no actually I was just getting ready to go on my break when you came up.”

“Ohh good, perfect timing then, I tried to time it just right.”

She nodded, and then looked over at him, “What are you doing here?”

“I told you I was going to come and meet you.”

“I know but…I didn’t believe you.”

Nick grinned, “I know, I wanted to surprise you.”

The whole thing had been perfect though, he’d truly surprised her and it’d been such a great feeling, to turn his head and see her standing there.

“And you did, boy did you.”

“Yeah, well I’ve been meaning to visit my Grandparents, so I figured I could come up and meet you at the same time since it’s in the same state, you’re only a little over two hours away.”

“You really didn’t have to ya know, I’m sure you’d rather spend your time off doing something more exciting.”

“Meeting you…all of this is exciting for me. If I didn’t want to be here, to spend my time in this way, I wouldn’t. I’m right where I wanna be,” Nick responded softly.

Veronica looked over at him, a soft smile on her lips, “Thank you.”

“Nothing to thank me for, it’s my pleasure trust me.”

“How long are you staying for?”

It’d be just her luck that he’d be there for a day or two before he had to go back.

“I thought I’d stay for your whole vacation. I realize that I really didn’t give you much warning, so if that’s not ok, I can head back, it’s not a problem.”

“No no! That’s fine, it’s great, I’d love it if you stayed.”

He smiled, “So, what are your plans for tomorrow?”

“Well, I was gonna stop by and see Mom, she wanted me to come over, she was going to return the favor and make dinner for me.”

“Ooh, sounds nice.”

“Would you…ya know, like to come?”

“Really? Your Mom wouldn’t mind?”

“No way, I’ll give her a call when I get home and let her know, it won’t be a problem I’m sure.”

“Wow, I’m already meeting your Mom, this is pretty serious huh?” Nick winked.

Veronica grinned, “Absolutely.”

“Well if you’re sure it’s ok, yeah, I’d like to.”

“Great, I’ll call Mom when I get home.”

Nick stared at her a moment, drinking in her features. “Can I ask ya something kinda weird?”

“Sure.”

“Have you ever…ya know, talked to someone without seeing them and formed a picture in your mind of what they looked like. Then when you meet them, they look nothing like what you thought they did, and yet…they do?”

She stared at him for a moment before nodding, “Yeah I have. It’s kinda like that with you, I’ve seen you and all on TV and pictures, but in person, it’s a totally different thing.”

“Hmmm”

“So…what, do I look way off from what you pictured?”

He shook his head, “No and yes. You of course didn’t give me a lot to go on…”

“Hey I went into more detail later…”

Nick laughed, “You did, but still.”

“I’m not good at describing myself.”

“I think you got it right. God, it’s so good to actually see you, to be able to look into your eyes…” he stopped, staring straight ahead suddenly. Too much, he didn’t want to scare her off, but he couldn’t help it, it did feel so good to finally be able to see her.

Veronica swallowed hard, staring hard at her hands. “It‘s nice to see you too. I never thought it‘d happen. I can‘t believe I‘m actually talking to you…looking at you.”

“Me either.”

“It’s all very…surreal for me.”

“Hey, it’s just me Veronica.”

“You’re more than ‘just’ anything Nick.”

“So are you.”

She looked over at him again, smiling when his eyes met hers.

“I should head back in, my twenty minutes are just about up.”

“So…you’re off in an hour or so right?”

“Yeah.”

“How bout I come back to pick you up and we can go somewhere and get dinner?”

“Well I’ve got my car here. Ummm…well you can come back and you can follow me to my apartment and I can get changed and then we can go out if you want.”

“Yeah, that sounds good. Give me a chance to get settled in my room.”

“Where are you staying?”

“The Marriot.”

“Ohh, that’s a nice hotel.”

“Seems like it.”

They looked at each other a moment before both starting to laugh.

“That was pretty lame,” Veronica chuckled.

“I know,” he agreed, grinning.

“Ok, so I’ll meet you at three thirty then. You may have to flag me down; I won‘t remember your car I‘m sure.”

“It’s ok; I’ll come in and get you.”

“You don’t have to.”

“You’re right I don’t, but I want to…so I will.”

Her heart dropped again.

“Ok, sure.”

“C’mon, I’ll walk you back in.”

She started to argue, but he gave her a look and she just smiled. He turned the engine off and they got out and made their way back into the store.
Chapter 78 by Gravity 721
Chapter 78


“So…he actually came to see you, can you believe it?” Carla asked as she finished wiping the slicer down.

Veronica shook her head, “No, not at all. It’s still very…surreal to me.”

She’d been having a hard time focusing since she’d left Nick’s car. For the last fifty minutes, all she could think about was him standing there, him waiting for her. The more she thought about it, the more nervous she became. Nausea had crept up on her more than once.

“What’s gonna happen? I mean…is he gonna stay with you or something?”

“Nah, he’s got a room at the Marriot.”

“Wow, I can’t believe it. I knew he looked familiar but wow.”

Veronica chuckled, “Yeah. God Carla, what do I do? I’m taken totally off guard. I start my vacation tomorrow and he’s gonna be here. What do I do with him? This is Rochester, there’s not a lot going on here. It’s boring here! He’s used to clubs and…and…a lot of women.”

“Veronica, I’m sure whatever you do will be fine. Go to a movie or to a club or something. Hell, hang out at your apartment. I’m sure he’s not expecting to go out everyday.”

“I guess, but I don’t want him to regret coming either. I’m not that great or exciting.”

“If he thought that, he wouldn’t be here Veronica. Just enjoy it!”

“Yeah I know.”

“Hey, you’d better go, didn’t you say he was gonna be in to pick you up?”

“Oh yeah,” Veronica looked at the clock, untying her apron and pulling it over her head.

“Hey look, have fun ok? Stop in and introduce him to everyone ok?”

“I will,” she smiled, making her way out of the department.

“Have a happy birthday! Enjoy your vacation!” Carla called.

“Thanks!” Veronica gave a small wave and headed back to punch out when she saw Nick make his way over to her, he was right on time.

“Hey.”

She could feel herself blushing, wishing his first encounters with her, wasn’t in her work uniform.

“Hi, I’ll be right back; I just have to punch out.”

“Ok sure, oh, nice hat by the way,” Nick winked, reaching out and tugging on the bill of her hat.

Veronica smiled shakily, “Thanks, it’s the latest style don’t ya know?”

“You’ll have to get me one.”

“No problem,” she winked, reaching up to quickly pull the hat off, turning and hurrying towards the back.

Nick looked the store over again, they didn’t have anything like this in Florida, and he really wanted to take a good look at it at some point. He wanted to see her world, what she saw and where she spent a lot of her time. Looking over, he noticed a few people where staring at him, he saw a girl watching him intently, he gave her a small smile and chuckled when she winked, giving him a wave. It’d been a long hour, he’d gotten settled in his room, but he’d been restless. He couldn’t wait to spend more time with her, to really get to talk to her, to get to know her better.

Turning his head, he saw Veronica making her way towards him, a small smile forming on his lips. She really did look cute in her uniform, it wasn’t anything special. Black pants and a white dress shirt. Nick could tell that she was uncomfortable with him seeing her in it though.

“Ready?”

“Yeah, glad to be done.”

“I hear ya, freedom.”

“Oh I know it; I consider my vacation officially on as soon as I punched out. I‘ve been looking forward to this vacation since the end of my last one.”

Nick smiled, walking with her, unconsciously placing his hand on the small of her back again as they started out the store.

“How was your day?”

“Eh it was alright. It drug by you know? It’s always like that the day before vacation.”

Nick nodded as they made their way out.

“It’s like that for me too, ya know when we’re overseas or whatever and it’s the last day before we head home. It’s like the flight back takes forever and the ride home, ya just can’t get there fast enough.”

“Exactly.”

“So…where are you parked?”

“I’m right over here,” Veronica led him to her small car.

“Nice car…”

“Right, it’s a clunker, but it gets me where I wanna go. I’m saving up for a better one.”

“Are you gonna take a loan out?”

“Nah, I don’t think so. It’d just be one more bill you know? I’ll just keep saving up. It’s a good car and all; it doesn’t need to be fixed often so long as I keep up with it.”

He nodded, looking over at her.

“So…umm, if you want, you can meet me over here and then just follow me from here.”

“Ok, I’ll be right over.”

Veronica watched as he jogged off, slumping against her car. She prayed for the strength to not crash her car. Unlocking her door, she slipped in and started the engine. Leaning forward, she let her head hit the steering wheel. She had to get it together, had to stay calm. He’s just a guy, she’d been talking to him for almost a year now, she could do this. Veronica heard a car pull up next to her and she lifted her head, seeing Nick smiling at her.

She could do this, right.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

At Veronica’s Apt…

Veronica pulled into the parking lot and then into a parking spot, Nick parked right next to her. The whole ride home, she’d been trying to sike herself up for whatever was to come in the next few days. Taking a deep breath she unlocked the door and swung it open, grabbing her purse and keys before sliding out. She locked the door and slammed it shut. She watched as Nick got out of his car and made his way over to her. Her heart started pounding yet again, her mouth dry. She was trying desperately to remain casual about all of this, but was finding it harder and harder.

It was like he was here out of her dreams and fantasies. He was never supposed to be this real, he wasn’t ever supposed to invade her space, her territory, and yet…here he was. All she wanted to do was reach out and touch him, make sure he was real and that this wasn’t some dream. She gave him a smile and turned, leading him across the parking lot to the door; she opened it and motioned for him to go ahead.

“No no, I got it,” he smiled, holding the door open so she could get through.

“Thanks,” she hurried through and over to the second door.

Using her key, she unlocked it and held it open. Nick followed her through and they made their way down the small hall to her apartment. Bending down, she quickly untied her shoes and kicked them off, setting them in the shoe tray by her door. Nick followed suit.

“Aww you don’t have to, I just do it cause I’ve got all this crap on my shoes from work.”

“It’s alright, no problem.”

Smiling, she unlocked the door and made her way in.

“Apartment sweet apartment. Come on in, make yourself comfy.”

Nick walked in, looking around as Veronica shut the door. Turning he watched as she walked over and grabbed a small key from a hook next to the phone.

“Be right back, gotta get the mail,” she announced, walking past him and back out the door.

He made his way into the living room; it was a small neat apartment, just right for one. Walking over he sat on the couch, resting back. Slowly he let out a breath, he had to relax. He didn’t know why he was so nervous, but he was, being here with her made him very nervous. Quickly he sat up when he heard the door open, Veronica made her way through the kitchen and over to the table as she sifted through her mail before tossing it down on the table. Nick wondered if that’s what she’d done when she’d found his letters. She turned to look at him, chuckling softly.

“Relax Nick, I’m just gonna hop in the shower and we can head out for dinner or whatever, ok?”

“Sure, ok.”

“Here…” she made her way over, turning the TV on and handing him the remote. “I’ve got digital, hopefully you’ll be able to find something you like.”

“No problem.”

“Ok, be right back,” she smiled, turning and making her way out the room.

Nick watched her leave a few minutes later he heard the door to the bathroom close then the spray of water. He stilled, listening to the sound of the water. She was just there, out of his reach, standing naked under a spray of water.


Shaking his head, Nick turned back to the TV, flipping through the stations. He had to stop it; he couldn’t think those thoughts about her, about Veronica. He stopped on a station and stared blankly at the screen, not really watching. He couldn’t focus on it, it was his own fault. Standing, he started looking at the various pictures. There were some of her from school, and some of who he assumed to be her Brother, they did look alike. Smiling, he made a note to say something to her about it.

Walking over, he noticed her DVD collection. She had a lot of different things, his eyes widened when he saw several BSB DVD’s and videos, his enhanced cd and the movie “The Hollow” that he’d been in. Smiling, he reached out and plucked one of the videos, looking it over. The Backstreet Boys as a group had all different kinds of things out, but most of the time, they never got to actually see any of it. He looked the case over, putting it back before grabbing another. He put that one back and noticed that she also had a Playstation 2. Veronica had never mentioned that she played. Leaning in, he looked over the games that she had, it appeared that she was a Harry Potter fan, for she had all of the games for that and all of the movies he’d noticed as well.

“Not a large collection, but I’m working on it.”

Nick turned to find Veronica standing behind him; she’d changed into a light sundress.

“Yeah well games are expensive. I see you’re a Harry Potter fan, I know you told me before online that you liked it, I didn‘t realize just how much.”

“I like it lots, love it actually.”

“You did tell me before that you read all the books right?”

“Yup, I read the sixth one in thirteen hours,” Veronica grinned.

“Oh right, how could I forget calling you crazy?”

“Yeah yeah, whatever.”

Nick winked, turning fully to look at her. “You look very pretty.”

She blushed, looking down at herself, “It’s just a sundress, but thank you.”

He moved in closer to her suddenly, leaning in right by her ear, inhaling deeply. “What’s that you’re wearing? It’s really nice.”

Veronica cleared her throat, wringing her hands together, “F-freesia, it’s freesia.”

Nick’s eyes lit up as he pulled away, “Wow really?”

She nodded, “Yup.”

“So that’s what it smells like, yeah, I have smelled that before. It’s very nice; I see why ya like it.”

“Well thanks,” she swallowed hard, forcing herself to smile. He too she’d noticed, had been wearing some kind of cologne, she’d smelled it the first time she’d gotten close to him. The scent had been intoxicating, but she’d been too nervous before to really enjoy it.

“Nothing to thank me for. You look nice and you smell nice, I’m a lucky guy.”

“Oh yeah? Are you around a lot of bad smelling, badly dressed women?” Veronica groaned inwardly as soon as the words were out of her mouth.

Nick grinned, “I think you know the answer to that.”

“I plead the fifth.”

“Right,” he laughed.

“Anyway,” Veronica cleared her throat, fighting back a laugh. “Where would you like to go for dinner?”

“Umm…how about The Olive Garden? Do you have one close by?”

“Ohh yeah, I love that place! Yup, there‘s one not too far from here.”

“Ok cool, so we’ll go there.”

“Great, let me just get my purse and we’ll leave.”

Veronica hurried off to her room grabbed her purse and they headed out.
Chapter 79 by Gravity 721
Chapter 79


“So how have things been going? I haven’t talked to you in a while, well before you got here that is,” Veronica smiled.

“Yeah I know, once I got to my grandparents it was harder to get online. They want me to hang out with them and talk and I feel bad for hiding away and pulling out my laptop you know?”

“Oh yeah, I understand.”


“And I was afraid to call you; I didn’t want to blurt out that I was coming up.”

“I don’t know how you did it,” Veronica chuckled.

“I don’t either, I’m lousy with secrets.”

She shook her head, grinning. They’d arrived at the restaurant about ten minutes ago and had already placed their order and were waiting for it to arrive. Silently, Veronica was cursing herself for ordering the fettuccini alfredo, knowing she should’ve just gone with a salad, but she loved their pasta. She’d been relieved when the complimentary salad came out, maybe if she stuffed herself on that, she wouldn’t look like a pig eating a huge plate of pasta in cheese sauce. She hated eating in front of guys.

“Are you looking forward to the tour?”

Nick nodded, messing with the fancy cloth napkin, “Yup, it’ll be great to get back out on the road; I really miss it when we’re off.”

“Didn’t get enough on your tour?” Veronica asked.

“Nah, it’s never enough, granted there are times when I just don’t feel like it, but overall it’s really fun. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s what I know. When I’m not doing it, it feels wrong after awhile.”

“Are you ready for it? I know you have to kind of…mentally and physically prepare for touring.”

“Mmm, I’m getting there. I still have a bit of time left. I see this time; these two weeks off I’m spending with my grandparents and you, kind of like that prep. The calm before the storm,” Nick announced, looking up at her suddenly.

Veronica smiled suddenly, “Thank you for letting me be a part of your…preparation.”

“My pleasure,” he winked. “In any case I’ll be ready when the time comes, I have to be.”

“I couldn’t do it, I know that. I don’t have the mentality for it.”

“It’s very rough, very demanding.”

“Yeah it sounds like it.”

“Have you heard from your Dad lately?”

“Mmmm a few weeks ago, but not recently.”

Nick didn’t know how she did it, how she dealt with it. His parents barely kept in touch with him and when they did, he didn’t want to talk to them. Veronica had her Dad calling her and most of the time she felt so bad after and she went on and dealt with it. He just didn’t understand why she didn’t just put an end to it.

“Man, I just don’t get your Dad. He’s so…”

“Controlling?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s what he does best. He knows the right things to say, the right buttons to push. It’s really not a good way to be.”

“Why don’t you just…”

Veronica stared at him intently, her head cocked to the side. She had an idea of what he was going to say, and she knew exactly what she’d tell him if he did.

“What?”

He shook his head, “Nothing, never mind.”

She stared at him a moment longer, a smile lingering on her lips. Just then their food came, Veronica thanked the waitress after she’d set their plates down, noticing her watching Nick for a moment before walking off.

“Isn’t that unnerving?”

Nick looked up, “What?”

“Having people stare at you all the time? I mean, some people are discrete about it, but others…us fans, blatantly stare. That’s gotta be annoying.”

He laughed, “In the beginning it used to bug the shit outta me, but I guess I’m used to it. I don’t mean that to sound cocky or whatever, but ya kinda gotta learn to just zone it out sometimes.”

“Wow,” Veronica sighed, grabbing the pepper and adding an overgenerous amount to her pasta. Clearing her throat, she started to eat. She’d tried hard to fill up on the salad, but after awhile she hadn’t wanted anymore.

Big mistake.

The moment the pasta hit her lips she was gone. She wanted to eat with gusto, but couldn’t bring herself to do it. So after two bites, she sat back in her chair, playing with her food. It felt as if everyone was watching her, wondering how she could sit there eating something like that in front of Nick Carter. Sighing heavily, she grabbed her glass of pop and took a long drink.

Nick cut a piece of his chicken parmesan and shoved it into his mouth, groaning in pleasure. He really did love to eat, and he knew he should be cutting back, but this was a special occasion, so he’d allow himself to pig out and not feel bad. Nick had been talking to Veronica for so long, that he’d forgotten that she was a fan, and he knew how fans felt about his weight. It hurt, and a lot of the time he tried to play it off, act like he didn’t know.

But he did.

Clearing his throat, he looked up at Veronica and stilled. She was playing with her barely touched food, literally playing with it. He watched in shock as she moved the pasta from one end of the bowl to the other with her fork. Her gaze on the food was intense, deep and she kept licking her lips as if she were hungry. She hadn’t eaten much of anything, just a couple platefuls of salad, she couldn’t possibly be full.

“Veronica?”

She looked up at him suddenly, her fork stilling in the bowl, she looked as if she’d been caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

“Yes?”

“Is everything ok?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Your food, you’ve barely touched it. You can’t possibly be full, you’ve only had salad. Does it taste ok?”

“No no, it’s great, delicious actually.”

“So then…what’s wrong? Do you feel ok? Are you sick,” Nick asked frowning, a hint of concern in his eyes.

“I’m ok Nick, really. It’s just…”

“What?”

“I dunno, I have a hard time eating in front of guys. I always feel like they’re gonna think I’m a pig if I eat something other than a salad. I’m not exactly a small girl,” she replied, her face turning red.

He blinked, “Veronica…”

“I’m sorry, I can’t help it.”

Here he was worried about what she was thinking of him, when she was worried about what he was thinking of her.

“Hey…c’mon. I don’t care about that. If any guy were to care or comment on it, he’s a jerk. Everyone needs to eat, no one should feel uncomfortable about what or how much they eat. Eat please; besides, I like a girl with a healthy appetite. I mean hey, look at me, god knows I have one.”

Veronica looked up at him and he smiled. She knew he was not only saying that for her, but for himself as well.

“Eat up girl, you know you want to.”

“I am really hungry.”

“Ok then, that pasta stuff you’ve got there is calling your name, you better answer,” he winked.

“Nick?”

“Yeah?”

“That was really lame,” Veronica smirked.

“Heeeey!”

She giggled, taking a hearty bite of her pasta.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“So here’s the kitchen, what there is of one anyway,” Veronica spread her arms open wide.

They’d left the restaurant a short time after finishing and drove around for a bit so she could show him a few places that she liked to go before heading back to her apartment. Veronica promised Nick a tour of her apartment, which wasn’t that big, but he insisted.

“It’s small, just the right size for you don’t you think?”

“No way! You can never have too much kitchen space.”

“That’s what I’ve heard,” Nick groaned.

“Ok, moving on. You know the living room and here’s the dining room, and down this hall here we have my den type room. I have a desk and all that crap in here. Over here is the bathroom on the left. Down further we have a hall closet where I keep towels and sheets and such. And last is my bedroom, which luckily is clean at this point.”

She swung the door open and flipped the light on.

“Nothing special.”

Nick poked his head in and looked around, his eyes resting on her computer.

“So there’s where the magic happens huh?”

Veronica laughed, “I guess you could say that. Just your run of the mill computer.”

“I love those flat screens; they’re so much nicer than those big bulky monitors ya know?”

“Definitely, I’m spoiled now. I don’t know if I could go back to an old monitor.”

He brought his gaze around to the small bed and dresser straight ahead. It was a feminine room, a poster of Harry Potter on one of the walls, a BSB poster on another and then his gaze stopped on a poster of himself…right over the head of her bed.

“So…do I chase away all the bad dreams at night?” He asked softly, looking over at her.

“Huh?”

Nick motioned with his head and smiled when Veronica turned her gaze to her room, namely to the poster over her bed, her face turning beet red.

“Damn, I forgot about that.”

“Do I do a good job?”

“Can we just forget you saw that please?”

“No way! I think it’s cute!”

“Yeah sure,” Veronica moaned, closing the door.

She couldn’t believe she’d forgotten about that, how embarrassing! Part of her had wanted him to forget that she was a fan, for him to treat her like any other girl, but then again part of her wasn’t sure if that’s what she wanted either.

Nick laughed, following her out into the living room, sitting on the couch.

“So…that’s it. Nothing spectacular. I know you’re used to something…slightly bigger and all.”

“Hey it’s cool, it works for you. You don’t need anything huge you know.”

“True, too much space I can fill with stuff I don’t need.”

“Yeah, I do that too.”

“But it’s different for you.”

“In a way, but I have the tendency to buy things I don’t need, just cause, ya know I can.”

“I don’t know that I can relate to that exactly, but I get where you’re coming from.”

“God that sounded so bad didn’t it?” Nick frowned.

“Nah it’s cool, it’s the truth.”

“Still, I feel kinda uncomfortable talking about it sometimes, I don’t want people to think I’m bragging or whatever.

“You should brag, you’ve earned everything you’ve got, you should be proud of it.”

“I am, but still.”

He never did feel right talking about it with his friends. They always looked uncomfortable when he talked about a new car he bought or a new stereo system he’d received. There never seemed to be a time when it was appropriate.

Veronica looked over at him and smiled.

“Well, it’s late, so I guess I’m gonna head over to the hotel. What time are we leaving for your Mom’s tomorrow?”

“Twelve thirty, but come anytime you’d like.”

“Mmmm, ok. I’ll try to be early, but when I do that, I’m always late, so we’ll see how it goes,” Nick laughed.

“That’s fine.”

He stood, making his way towards the door, “Thanks for dinner Veronica.”

“I should be thanking you ya know. You’re the guest and YOU paid, that’s not right and you know it.”

“For the fiftieth time I didn’t mind.”

“Still…”

“Shhhh, I’ll hear no more about it. I’ll see you tomorrow then?”

“You will.”

“Have a good night.”

“You too Nick.”

He gave her a small wave before heading out.
Chapter 80 by Gravity 721
Chapter 80


Nick turned the knob and poked his head in, “Hello?”

“Come on in!” Veronica called from the bathroom.

Nick made his way in and shut the door. “You must’ve been moving pretty fast to buzz me in and get back in the bathroom before I got to the door.”

“Yeah well I wanna hurry, I don’t mean to keep you waiting and hey…you’re on time! Early even!”

He grinned, “Yeah I know, can you believe it? I had them wake me an hour and a half early so I could shower and all and still have time.”

“I’m proud of you,” she laughed as she made her way out of the bathroom, putting an earring on in the process.

“You look very nice,” Nick smiled, taking in her skirt and light blouse.

“Thanks, so do you. I like the shirt.”

“It’s not too casual you think?” Nick questioned, looking down at his simple light blue polo shirt and then at his grey khaki pants.

“Not at all, it’s just my mom, believe me, she’s not that formal.”

“Do you think she’ll be dressed up?”

“I can guarantee it. Once I told her I had a friend coming, which eliminated the whole casual thing.”

“Aww, I don’t want her to be uncomfortable.”

“She won’t be, I remember when I was at home and my brother and his girlfriend would come over and she’d get dressed up. I mean, she wasn’t in a dress or anything, but a nice pair of dress slacks and a sweater or whatever. Don’t even worry about it.”

“So…you told her?”

“That I was bringing someone, yes. That it’s you in particular, no.”

“Why not?”

Veronica grinned, “She wouldn’t have believed me.”

“Ahh I see.”

“Yeah, it’ll be a nasty little surprise for her,” she smirked.

“Veronica that’s so mean!”

“Nah it’s cool, she’ll be taken off guard, but it’ll be alright. I have to warn you about her though.”

This didn’t sound good.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, my mom’s not like…typical moms.”

Nick frowned, “How so?”

Veronica made her way into her bedroom to grab her purse and then back out again, “Let’s just say she’s unique. My friends all love her to death, she’s just…she’s a lot of fun. She’s been to a couple of concerts for you guys. She…ya know, she’s not like a typical mom, that’s all I can say.”

“That’s a good thing though.”

She smiled, putting her sandals on.

“Stop trying to scare me.”

“Sorry sorry!” She chuckled.

“I bet you are, you just like to see me squirm.”

“Have you…met a lot of your ex-girlfriends mom’s?” Veronica asked cautiously.

Nick hesitated a moment, “A few, a lot of the time we never lasted long enough to get to the meeting the parents phase.”

She nodded, standing. “Ready?”

“Whenever you are.”

Veronica grabbed her keys and they headed out.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Veronica! Hi, come on in, did you bring your friend?” Ginnie asked.

“Hi mom, yeah I did. I want you to meet Nick, Nick this is my mom.”

Nick stepped into view and smiled, offering his hand. “Nice to meet you Ms. Peterson.”

The look on Veronica’s mothers face was comical to say the least.

“Nick? You…you look a lot like Nick Carter.”

He chuckled, “That’s be cause I am.”

“Oh! Oh, well hello! It’s nice to meet you too!” Ginnie stuttered, reaching out to shake his hand. “Please come in!” She stepped aside to let them through before shutting the door.

“Thank you for having me Ms. Peterson,” Nick smiled, turning to look at her.

“It’s no problem! Please, call me Ginnie, Ms. Peterson is too formal. Make yourself comfortable, the dinner is just about ready,” she smiled.

“I’ll help mom,” Veronica called.

“You will not, it’s your birthday, just sit down and relax.”

“Then I’ll help,” Nick stated.

“You don’t have to do that, you’re the guest.”

“I don’t mind, no problem,” he smiled, making his way into the kitchen.

“Well thank you. Wow, I wish Veronica had told me we’d be having someone famous here, geeze.”

“Aww it’s no big deal Ginnie really.”

“How did you and Veronica meet anyway?” She asked, handing him some plates to set the table with.

“Well, Veronica wrote to me through my fan club and I happened to get a hold of her letter and we’ve been writing and emailing back and forth for almost a year,” Nick explained.

Ginnie’s eyes widen hurrying out of the kitchen and over to Veronica, “You’ve been talking to him for almost a year and you never told me?!”

“Sorry Mom! For about three months I wasn’t even sure it was actually him!” Veronica laughed.

“I just can’t believe you didn’t tell me! Wow!”

Nick struggled not to laugh as he set the plates on the table.

Ginnie looked over at Nick and smiled, “She used to keep me informed about everything you guys did. Anytime there was any new news or gossip or whatever, she’d tell me. Now that she’s living on her own, she withholds information.”

“Mo-om!” Veronica blushed.

“See that, she’s mean that way,” Ginnie grinned, handing Nick a few glasses.

“Hey! I am not! I didn’t know you were still interested that’s all.”

“Sure,” Ginnie groaned, placing the sliver wear down before pulling a huge pan out of the oven. “I do still ask about them often.”

“Mom, can we not talk about this now please?”

“What, are you embarrassed cause Nick’s here? I think he’d be happy to know that an older woman like me thinks they’re great. I really love you guys you know, I love your music,” Ginnie exclaimed as she finished setting stuff on the table.

“Aww well thank you, it’s cool that all different kinds of people like our music, that’s what we really want,” Nick smiled, as he set a glass on the table by each plate.

“Well you’re all a bunch of hotties too!” Ginnie winked.

“Mo-om!!!! Cut it out!”

Nick could actually feel himself blushing, “Thanks.”

“Ok, now that I’ve embarrassed the both of you enough, please sit and we’ll eat.”

“What did you make?” Nick asked.

“Veronica picked stuffed shells.”

“My Mom makes the BEST stuffed shells,” Veronica announced as she came over to sit.

“Stuffed shells, don’t know that I’ve ever had them.”

Veronica and Ginnie both looked over at him.

“You’re kidding,” Ginnie said incredulously.

“Nope, I’ve had a lot of different food, but not stuffed shells.”

“Wow, well you’re in for a treat,” Veronica stated.

“They’re not that great Veronica. It’s kind of like lasagna, only a little smaller.”

“They are! No one makes them like you, trust me Nick, they’re good.”

“Well you’ve got me excited to try them.”

“I hope you like them. Hand me your plates please,” Ginnie said.
Veronica handed her mom her plate and then Nick, Ginnie scooped a large amount on each plate then handed them back. Nick took Ginnie’s plate and handed it to her and she put a small amount on her plate and then grabbed the basket of bread and set it down on the table followed by a large bowl of salad.

“Dig in everyone please,” Ginnie smiled.

Nick took a bite of his and groaned, “Ohh that is good.”

“See, I told you,” Veronica grinned.

“Wow, this is really good.”

“Thank you! They’re really easy to make, Veronica can give you the recipe.”

Nick looked over at her, “You cook?”

“Sure, Mom’s taught me how to make all kinds of things. I have to be in the mood, but yeah, I love to cook and bake and whatever.”

“When Veronica’s father and I were still married, I did a lot of cooking. Now that it’s just me and even when Veronica was still living with me, we didn’t eat huge meals, only on holidays. But I taught Veronica how to make just about everything I make. It’s so hard now, with work and all, I come home and I don’t feel like cooking you know?” Ginnie explained.

“Yeah, I understand that. A lot of them I’m always running around doing interviews or recording, I don’t take the time to cook for myself either, always eating fast food.” Nick announced.

It showed in his case unfortunately, he’d eat a little more than usual, and later he always knew about it, not just him but the guys and the general public.

“Yeah, it’s so easy to just stop and pick up something quick. It’s hard to stay healthy too though, everything is so expensive,” Ginnie sighed.

Nick nodded, he knew how lucky he was to be able to afford to go to gyms and have personal trainer, but for the average person, that kind of thing was a luxury.

“Where do you work Ginnie?”

“I work at an infirmary.”

Nick frowned, “I’m sorry, but what’s that?”

Veronica grinned, he looked thoroughly confused. He seemed to be enjoying himself, she was worried that he’d be bored or uncomfortable, but he didn’t appear to be.

“It’s a place for retired nuns and priests who are sick and unable to take care of themselves. I do physical therapy and I’m also a hair dresser.”

“Oh wow, do you work at a salon?”

“Nope, I go to the homes of seniors who can’t get out and do their hair there.”

“That’s really nice,” Nick smiled.

“Yeah I like it. Eventually I’d like to get out of working at the infirmary, I’ve been there for a few years and it’s getting harder and harder. I love to do hair and that’s what I’d really like to do now.”

He nodded, “It’s no fun when you don’t enjoy what you’re doing.”

“Exactly.”

They finished up a short time later, had dessert and Nick and Veronica helped with the dishes before they moved into the living room where Ginnie gave Veronica a couple of books and a movie she’d been wanting. They chatted for a bit before deciding it was time to leave.

“Well thank you again for having me over on short notice Ginnie,” Nick announced.

“It’s my pleasure, anytime.”

“Thanks mom and thanks for dinner and the books and movie,” Veronica smiled, leaning in to hug her mother tightly.

“You’re welcome; I wish it could be more.”

“It’s enough mom, thanks.”

Nick bit his lip before blurting out, “Would you cut my hair Ginnie?”

Veronica looked over at him, blinking rapidly.

“Excuse me?”

“Could you give me a hair cut? I really don’t want to have to wait till I go home, this way I’ll have someone I at least know to do it. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; I just want to shorten it in the back a little.”

“Uh…sure if you have the time.”

Nick looked over at Veronica.

“Sure! Fine by me.”

Fifteen minutes later, Veronica and Nick said their goodbyes again and made their way out to Veronica’s car.

“Ya know, that was nice of you Nick.”

“What?” He asked as he slipped into the car.

“Asking my mom to cut your hair.”

“Eh, it needed to be done.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Nick got out of the car and stretched.

“Whew, I’m stuffed.”

“Me too, it’s all very filling.”

“Well I guess I should get going.”

“Hey, why don’t you come in and hang out for a bit? It’s still really early,” Veronica offered.

“Yeah ok, sounds like fun. Hang on; I gotta get something from my car.”

Veronica made her way up and inside, she unlocked the security door just as Nick made his way back in. They headed in, she unlocked the door and they entered her apartment.

“It’s always good to come home,” Veronica sighed, unhooking her sandals and pushing them off. “Let me quickly get undressed and I’ll be back out.” She hurried off to her room while Nick went to sit on the couch.

He’d really enjoyed himself, he liked Veronica’s mother, she was right though, she was different. He envied the relationship she had with her mom; he wished things were like that with him and his mom. Sighing, he let his head fall back to the couch, for someone like him who everyone thought had everything, he was really lacking what counted.

“Nick? Are you ok?”

He lowered his head to find Veronica staring at him; she’d changed into shorts and a t-shirt. “Yeah I’m alright, just thinking. C’mere and sit with me,” he smiled, patting the spot next to him.

Veronica walked over and sat, “Wanna watch some TV?”

“Sure,” he replied, moving in closer to her, his arm draped around the back of the couch.

“Let’s see what’s on,” she flipped the TV on and started scanning through the channels.

“I noticed before, you have all the Harry Potter movies don’t you?”

“Yup, hardcore fan remember.”

“I’ve only seen the first two, never got to see the third one. Isn’t the fourth one coming out soon?”

“Yeah, in a few months, I’m so excited. It’s my favorite book.”

“I’ll have to see it.”

“Ya know if you want, we can watch all three of them tomorrow if you want. We’ll have to get kind of an early start cause they’re long and all, but if you’re up to it…”

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Cool, that’s what we’ll do then.”

“Hey…can I talk to you for a minute.”

Veronica turned the volume down on the TV and then turned to look at him, “Sure, what’s up?”

“Well…it’s just…hang on.”

He stood, walking over to the door and grabbing a medium sized gift bag and bringing it back over to the couch, he pulled a long white envelope out of the bag before sitting down, turning to face her.

“Here,” he announced, holding out the gift bag out to her. “Happy Birthday!”

Her eyes widened, “You didn’t have to get me anything Nick!”

“I know, but I wanted to. You sent me so many nice things for my birthday, I wanted to reciprocate. By the way, I’ve started some of the poems; you’re good, really good.”

Veronica blushed, looking away. “Thanks.”

“Well here…take it.” Nick shook the bag in front of her.

“Nick…”

“Come oooooon!”

Chuckling, Veronica reached out to take the bag, setting it on her lap. She hadn’t been expecting anything, and here she was with a rather heavy bag from him sitting on her lap.

“Go on, look inside!” Nick grinned.

Reaching in, she pulled the colorful tissue out and looked inside. There were several bottles of something. She pulled one out and turned it so she could look at the label and gasped.

“Freesia! You found Freesia and it’s from Bath and Body Works! How?!”

He shrugged, “I have my ways, my connections.”

She grabbed another and another and another until she had six bottles of the perfume on her lap. “ Six! Oh god Nick, you have no idea how happy this makes me. Thank you so much! I’m at the end I mean the very end of my last bottle. I’ve been having to take the hose thing and run it over my clothes. I don’t believe this.”

Nick chuckled, “You’re very very welcome.”

“Wow,” she sighed, putting the bottles back in the bag.

“Ok, we’re not finished yet…”

“Nick no more! Believe me that’s plenty!”

“Nope…here. This will appeal to the fan in you,” he handed her the white envelope he’d taken from the bag.

She took the envelope looking at him a moment before tarring it open, pulling out a square of heavy plastic. Turning it over she read it, her eyes widening.


Backstreet Boys
Never Gone Tour 05’

Veronica Peterson
ALL ACCESS


In the center was a place for her picture.

“It’s what we give crew members. You can get into any concert with that pass. It’s official and legal. You can get into any area any of the staff or crew members can. I want you to meet the guys when we come to Buffalo. It’ll be fun! You can come backstage, meet the crew, hang out with us and watch the whole concert from either backstage or in the pit. I know Leighanne will be there for the first few shows with Baylee, and they usually sit in the pit, so you wouldn’t be alone. So yeah, you’ll be able to meet the both of them and I think Kristin will be there too. And hey, you can come to another show too. You don’t have to worry about tickets or anything either.” Nick finished.

“N-Nick I…”

He smiled, “You can’t not take it. I gave it to you it’s yours now. Inside the envelope is the cord you put it on so you can wear it around your neck. Don‘t forget it for the show, that‘s your ticket in. I‘ll put your name on the guest list just incase, but if you have that, you‘ll be all set. Just make sure you get a picture to put on it for ID.”

Veronica let out a breath, her heart was racing. She couldn’t believe it, she couldn’t. “Th-thanks Nick, so much. Whoa this is…huge.”

“Alright, there’s one last thing.”

“No, nothing else. I don’t think I could take it.

“One more,” he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a long thin box, handing it to her. “This is for…being my friend.”

She stared hard at the box, “Nick…”

He reached out and put it in her hand, “Open it.”

Breathing hard, she grasped the box tightly, hesitating a moment before opening it, a whimper escaping her lips. Resting on soft velvet was a bracelet.

“Nick…I…it’s beautiful. Oh…I can’t take this.”

“Yes you can. I want you to have it. Please.”

“It’s…it’s too much. Nick really.”

“Veronica…”

She looked up at him.

“You’ve been such a great friend to me over these last few months. I wanted to do this for you, to give back a little of what you’ve given me. Please take it.”

Veronica looked down at the bracelet. It was just right, exactly what she would’ve picked out. It had to have cost a small fortune.

“Here…try it on.” He took the box from her and pulled the bracelet out and hooked it on her wrist.

She stared at the bracelet; it was so elegant and pretty, everything she felt she wasn’t. Tears burned at the backs of her eyes. He was so generous, all of this for being his friend. Slowly she looked up at him.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he replied softly, staring at her intently.

She didn’t think, just acted on her first instinct, reaching out suddenly and pulling him into her arms, hugging him tightly. “Thank you, for everything,” she whispered.

Nick let out a breath, wrapping his arms around her, hugging her close to his body. He’d been waiting for this moment, not wanting to come on too strong, not wanting to make her uncomfortable. He’d lost count of the nights he’d laid in bed dreaming about this moment, trying to imagine what it’d feel like to hold her in his arms. He breathed in the scent of her hair, nuzzling her neck gently. It was better than anything he could’ve imagined.

“You’re welcome Veronica.”

Slowly Veronica pulled away, blushing a bit.

“Sorry, I got a bit overwhelmed.”

“It’s alright honey, I love hugs.”

“That‘s good to know, I‘ll have to do it more often.”

His eyes met hers, “Yes you will.”

She swallowed hard, looking away.

“Well it’s late, I’m gonna get going.”

Veronica nodded, trying to compose herself. “Thank you for coming to dinner today.”

“Thanks for inviting me, your mom is great,” Nick smiled, standing heading for the door.

“She’s a character that’s for sure.”

She led him to the door, unlocking it and opening it. “So I’ll see you tomorrow at what time?”

“How about eleven?”

“Yeah ok. I can make us a late breakfast.”

“Ohhh, I’m dying to try some of your cooking,” Nick winked.

“Great! What would you like?”

“Surprise me.”

“Ok then, I will.”

“Have a good night, and happy birthday,” Nick smiled.

“Thanks Nick, you too.”

He hesitated a moment before leaning in, kissing her cheek lightly before turning and heading off.

Veronica shut and locked the door, slumping back against it.

Oh, she was in trouble.
Chapter 81 by Gravity 721
A/N : To those who've been sending me reviews/feedback, I haven't been getting notifications, so I JUST found fairly recently and saw all the reviews. So if you sent me something, sorry it's taken me so long to write back. If you head over to the reviews, I've responded to everyone who's left one. Sorry all and I promise to check in more since for some reason the notifications stopped working for me.

Chapter 81


“Hey come on in, breakfast is just about done,” Veronica smiled as Nick made his way in, shutting the door behind him.

“God it smells good in here.”

“That’s always a good sign right? At least ya know I didn’t burn anything,” she winked.

Nick chuckled, he was hungry. He’d been looking forward to this. Granted he hadn’t been up all that long, but for the time he’d been up and since he’d left last night, he’d been thinking about breakfast…about her.

“Have a seat and I’ll fix you a plate.”

“I can do that ya know, it’s alright.”

“I know you can, but I want to so sit!”

“Whoa, yes ma’am,” he laughed, as he pulled out a chair and sat to the table.

“That’s better, now, I was thinking. How bout later this evening we go to a club or something? We can watch the Harry Potter movies after we get back. We’ll stay up late.”

“Ohh yeah! That sounds like fun, maybe we can go out shopping before. Do you have a mall close by?” Nick questioned.

“Yup, it’s about ten or fifteen minutes from here.”

“Cool, you up for some shopping?”

“Mmmm, sure. I don’t know that I’ll buy anything, but at least I can show you our rinky dink mall. It’s not that great.”

“It’s fine, and you should buy something. Even something small, like a book,” Nick insisted, backing up a bit as Veronica set a steaming plate in front of him.

“Maybe I will, I do wanna read the new James Patterson. Do you like grits?”

“You never mentioned you liked him, and I’m not sure. I think I’ve had them before.”

“Oh yeah, I’m addicted. Do you want some now?”

“Wow, I’ve never read him before and sure, I’ll give em a try.”

Veronica smiled, grabbing a bowl and pouring some in and setting it down next to his plate before fixing hers, sitting down.

“Wow look at all this food!”

“I hope you’re hungry.”

“That’s an understatement. I can’t remember the last time I had breakfast that wasn’t from a restaurant or McDonalds.”

Veronica frowned, “That’s really sad Nick.”

“It’s like I told your Mom, I’m not in the mood to cook when I’m home and I’m not that great of a cook anyway,” he explained, taking a bite of eggs.

“I hope you don’t mind scrambled.”

“Nah, don’t matter, these are really good.”

“Ya know what I like to do?”

He looked up at her, “What?”

“First, add sugar to my grits. This a personal preference, you don’t have to. Anyway, a little sugar…”she spooned a generous amount of sugar into the warm cereal and mixed it. “Then, you take your eggs, and put some in the grits.” Veronica put all her eggs into the cereal and mixed again.

Nick watched in uneasy fascination. It really didn’t look good.

She grinned, “Trust me on this Carter…”

He blinked, “What did you call me?”

Veronica looked up at him, “Huh?”

“Did you just call me Carter?”

She blushed, looking away, “Sorry.”

“Don’t be, it’s cool. My friends I grew up with called me that a lot, I don’t mind,” he smiled.

Veronica cleared her throat, “Now…”

“You’re not gonna...not call me that again now are you?”

“Nick…”

“Aww see, you’re starting already!”

“Ok ok, I’ll keep calling you that ok?” She laughed.

“Alright, continue.”

“Thanks for the permission,” Veronica groaned.

He winked.

“Anyway…next you get a piece of toast,” she grabbed a slice. “Then you get a spoonful of the cereal, glob it on the toast like so and then fold taco style and voila!”

She took a bite and groaned.

“Bis booooo bood!”

“Veronica? That’s disgusting.”

“No, really it’s not, try it! Just put a little cereal on the toast and add a bit of egg to try.”

Nick looked down at the cereal, adding a bit of sugar then grabbed a slice of toast. He spooned some of the cereal on and then a little of his eggs and folded it.

“If I wretch it’s gonna be YOUR fault.”

She rolled her eyes, “Just try it Carter.”

He eyed the concoction one last time before taking a bite, chewing cautiously.

Veronica watched as he chewed, an amused expression on her face. He hadn’t spat it out; he didn’t appear to be grossed out, in fact…

“Hey…this is kinda good.”

“Surprise surprise.”

“Wow, it’s really good. Mmm…” he took another bite, licking his lips.

She laughed, continuing to eat.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“So…where to?”

“Uhhh, I kinda wanted to get a new cd.”

“Ok, there’s a music store in here, but be forewarned, it’s expensive…” Veronica started then stopped, blushing.

Nick smiled, “Thanks for the heads up.”

“That was stupid,” she mumbled, looking away.

“Nah, it’s cool, don’t worry bout it.”

She was sure that’s what he wanted to hear, sometimes she just didn’t think before she spoke.

“It’s right over here,” Veronica announced, leading him into the music store.

“Cool,” Nick smiled, walking down one of the aisles, looking the cd’s over.

Veronica turned, making her way as far away from as she could. She figured she couldn’t say anything else stupid if she wasn’t around him.

Nick flipped through the cd’s, plucking a few here and there. He’d forgotten just how expensive cd’s were, Veronica had been right. Most of the time he got cd’s for free; he never really had to worry about buying anything, not really. Looking at the prices now, he could see why people downloaded and burned cd‘s, not that he was for it, but he understood a bit more.

“Hey, have you…” Nick stopped when he realized he was by himself in the aisle.

Looking around he saw Veronica all the way at the other end of the store, flipping through cd’s, trying it seemed to be inconspicuous. He watched as she looked around cautiously, a hand going to her hair to smooth it down, she kept tugging nervously at her clothes, her tongue darting out to lick her lips unconsciously. Nick blinked, his eyes resting on her now moist lips. He had the insane urge to walk over to her and…

Shaking his head, he made his way down the aisle to the one right in front of the one she was in. Turning he looked at the rack of cd’s facing her aisle so he could see her. He shuffled through the cd’s not really paying much attention, his gaze kept wandering to her. She’d pick up a cd, flip it over and then put it back. When she moved down a bit, he moved with her. To anyone looking, it probably seemed like he was following her, and he wasn’t he was just…making sure she was ok.

Nick made his way down the aisle and slowly around to her aisle, quickly he started looking through cd’s, stealing glances of her and there. He inched down closer until he was right next to her. Leaning in he whispered in her ear.

“Find anything good?”

“Oh! God Nick you scared me!”

He grinned, “I can be really scary I know.”

“No no, I just…I thought you were still over…there.”

“Well I went to tell you something but you were gone.”

She blushed, looking back down at the cds, “Yeah.”

“So did you find anything?”

“Nope, nothing out that I’ve been wanting.”

“Aww that sucks.”

“It really doesn’t. I spend an obscene amount of money on cds, this little reprieve is nice.”

“I feel lame buying all these and you’re not getting anything,” Nick pouted.

“I see you got a huge stack. That Gorillaz cd is really good. I have that.”

“That’s what I hear,” Nick nodded, making his way up to the register, pulling his wallet out and then his credit card.

A few minutes later they made their way out.

“Are you hungry, do you want something to eat?” Nick asked, as he let his bag sway back and forth between them.

“Nah not really, but feel free to get something.”

“I’m still full from breakfast,” he laughed.

“Yeah, it’s really filling.”

“Oh hey, let’s go in here,” Nick pointed to a store.

Veronica turned and looked, it was a store she shopped in regularly, but hadn’t been in a while because the prices were so high.

“Sure, ok.”

They made their way into the store.

“We have these in Florida, I really love the look,” Nick smiled.

“Do you uhh…do a lot of shopping in here Nick?” Veronica grinned.

“Well…hey! I used to shop in here for some exes of mine! Geeze!”

Giggling, Veronica made her way over to a display, sighing wistfully.

Nick made his way over to another display, looking through the various blouses and skirts. He grabbed a couple and folded them over his arm.

Veronica made her way towards the back of the store to the clearance rack, it was the only clothes she’d be able to afford at the time, but nothing there was her style. Turning she looked at some of the other clothes, wincing at the prices. It was absolutely amazing, prices rose within a matter of months. Everything was just too expensive. Sighing, she made her way back over to Nick, feeling slightly self conscious in a store of petite pretty girls.

“V, what do you think of these?” He asked, holding up some blouses and skirts.

“They’re nice, very pretty.”

“Would you try em on? I’m not sure of your size and all. I can take you to the racks and you can get your size, I won’t look or nothing,” Nick smiled.

She looked down at the pile of clothes he had hanging on his arm, “Huh?”

“Would you try these on? I mean, I suck at coordinating, but you can mix and match. I thought…I dunno, I thought I’d buy you an outfit for the club tonight.”

“Buy me an outfit?” She was stunned.

His eyes widened, “Hey, I’m not trying to say anything or insinuate nothing, I just thought I’d do this cause I wanted to, that’s all.”

“Nick…”

“I KNOW I don’t have to, but I want to Veronica, so let me ok?”

“Uhh…o-ok.” She took the clothes and went over to the racks, looking the sizes over grabbing the right ones then headed over to the dressing room.

Nick headed inside the dressing room and sat on one of the couches. A few minutes later, Veronica came out in one of the blouses and a skirt.

“Mmmm…”

“No good?” She asked.

“I don’t know…it’s not…you.”

Veronica smiled, “Ok, I’m taking your word for it.” Turning she made her way back into the dressing room. She came back out again a short time later. “How bout this?”

“Eh,” Nick shrugged.

She headed back in.

Nick hoped she’d find something, granted he picked them out, but there had to be something in there. In his head they’d looked good, but now that he’d seen them on her, he realized that they didn’t compliment her, didn’t show what he knew about her. Sighing, he looked over when he heard the door open and she stepped out.

“What do you think?”

He slowly looked her up and down, his mouth suddenly dry. Clearing his throat he looked up into her eyes. “That’s it.”

Her eyes lit up, “Really?”

Nick stifled a groan, “Absolutely.”

The purple blouse clung to her body, the soft swells of her breasts just visible over the v cut at the neck. The basic black skirt hugged her curves, accentuating her legs. She’d hidden herself behind baggy clothes, Nick had no idea she looked like this.

She watched him closely, an unreadable expression on his face. He was staring at her in such a way that she felt the need to cover up. Veronica brought a hand up to her chest.

“It’s not too low cut is it? I feel so exposed.”

“Trust me on this Veronica, it’s fine. Guys are…visual people, you know that.”

“Guys? I don’t want guys looking at me,” she moaned.

Nick raised an eyebrow, “Women?”

“What? NO! I don’t mean like that!” Veronica blushed, looking away.

“What do you mean then?”

“I’m not going to this club for guys to look at me.”

“Well they’re going to, why not have a little fun,” Nick grinned.

“Nick, I’m not much to look at. I look stupid, I don’t have the figure to pull something like this off, you and I both know that,” she mumbled, her face turning bright red.

“Whoa whoa hey…”

“It’s the truth, I‘m taking it off. This is a joke,” she finished, turning to head back into the dressing room.

“Wait a minute,” Nick bolted up off the couch and gently grabbed her arm. “Veronica stop.”

“Nick please…”

“No. Let me get this for you.”

“No way, for one it’s too expensive and two I can’t wear this out in public.”

“You can,” he stated, staring at her intently.

Veronica looked into his eyes, her heart dropping, her eyes drifting to his lips.

“Veronica…let me get this.”

“I don’t know…”

“I do, trust me. You look sexy as hell in it. Get it.”

Her eyes widened.

“Go in and get dressed and bring it back out, ok?”

She stared at him, her breathing labored and nodded. He let her go and she turned, making her way back into the room, shutting and locking the door before resting against her. Her heart was pounding, her hands trembling. She’d never had a guy look at her like that, like he actually liked what he saw.

Nick slumped back down on the couch, rubbing at his eyes. He shouldn’t have pressed, but she deserved it. The outfit looked great on her, and if she wanted guys to notice her, which Nick figured secretly she did, this was the way to start. She hid behind the clothes she wore, it was time she used what she had. He’d been pleasantly surprised, and he knew other guys would be too and for some reason, that thought made him angry.

“Ok…”

Looking up he stood, taking the outfit from her, “Ok, let’s head up to the register.”

“Are you sure you want to do this Nick? It’s really…”

“I don’t wanna hear about the cost.”

She tried a different tact.

“This would be the only time I wore it. Wouldn’t that be a waste of your money?”

“No, you’d be just like any celebrity,” he winked, heading over to a display of earrings. “How bout some earrings to go with it?”

“No! Nick no!”

“Yeah!” He swiped a couple pairs. “Your ears are pierced right?”

“Nick it’s too much!”

“It’s not enough,” he brought the clothes and earrings up to the counter. He paid for the stuff and handed her the bag as they headed out the store.

“Thank you Nick,” Veronica sighed, looking over at him.

Nick looked at her, reaching out to take her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“You’re welcome.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Ok, so I’m gonna go to the hotel and get ready and I’ll be right back.”

“Alright, so I’ll see you in a bit,” Veronica smiled. She gave a wave as he took off.

She hurried in to get ready.
About an hour later Veronica hurried out the bathroom to answer the buzz letting her know someone was there. She pressed the button and flung the door open just as Nick appeared.

“Ahh I’m almost done, c’mon in!”

Nick stared at her, his eyes widening. The transformation had been amazing. Turning Veronica hurried back into the bathroom and Nick had the urge to follow her in. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. Cautiously, he made his way down the hall and over to the bathroom.

“Honey you look great.”

Veronica poked her head out, “You’re just saying that, but thanks.”

“No no, I’m being serious,” Nick let out a breath.

Smiling, she ducked back in and emerged a few minutes later, hurrying into the living room, grabbing her sandals, slipping them on, bending over to hook them.

“Here, let me, you sit down” he knelt down suddenly, taking her ankle in his hand and bringing the strap over.

Veronica stared down at him as she sat, watching while he hooked both of her sandals.

“There you go,” he smiled, looking up at her.

Their gazes locked and held.

“You look very nice Veronica,” Nick whispered.

“So do you…you…smell great.”

He chuckled suddenly, standing. “Thanks, so do you.”

Cursing herself inwardly, she stood, grabbing her purse.

Nick stared at her, she’d applied light make up, and it wasn’t too much, just right. She looked beautiful.

“Ready?”

He nodded, wiping his sweaty hands on his jeans. “I can drive if you want.”

Veronica smiled, “Sure.”

They made their way over to the door and headed out.
Chapter 82 by Gravity 721
Chapter 82


At The Club…

Veronica slowly made her way in with Nick. It was crowed and the sent of cigarettes and alcohol hung in the air. They found a table and sat.

“This is nice,” Nick announced, looking around.

Veronica nodded, looking around as well. She felt completely uncomfortable, and she kept putting her hand to her chest in a feeble attempt at covering herself up. It was different coming with Lynne, but now she was here with a guy. She felt more out of place than usual.

“Would you like a drink?”

“Ummm…”

“I know you said you don’t drink, but one drink isn’t gonna get ya drunk. C’mon…” Nick pleaded.

“Uh, sure, why not.”

“Great, what would you like?”

“Uh, how bout a Pina Colda?” She responded, grabbing her purse and getting some money from her wallet.

“Sounds good and don’t worry, I got it,” Nick said as he stood and made his way to the bar.

“Nick…” Veronica frowned as he made his way off, the money clutched in her hand. Letting out a breath, she continued to look around. Girls and guys breezed by, hugging and holding hands, that longing she felt to be like them, was even stronger now. Here she was at a club with the guys of her dreams and she felt like a fish out of water. What was she doing here with him? Why had she even suggested it?

“Here ya go,” Nick smiled, setting the large glass down in front of her.

“Thanks, I would’ve paid for the both of us Nick.”

“Nah, it’s cool.”

“Wow that was fast, usually it takes Lynne forever,” Veronica commented, taking a small sip, the sweetness of the coconut filling her mouth.

Nick sat, taking a swig of his beer, “Yeah, the bartender was going pretty fast actually. I’m surprised myself. I’ve waited a good ten or fifteen minutes at the clubs in Florida.”

She nodded, taking another sip of her drink.

“How is it?”

“Good, really good. I love these things.”

“You should have em more often,” Nick grinned, taking another drink of his beer.

Veronica shrugged, “I guess, they’re so expensive, all drinks are it seems.”

“Aww, it’s not too bad.”

“Well…in the grand scheme of things I guess they’re not.”

“There ya go,” he laughed.

“Excuse me…”

Veronica looked over; she hadn’t realized that a woman had come up.

“Do you want to dance?” She smiled at Nick.

Veronica stared at the woman, her face flaming. She was beautiful, long blonde hair, thin, perfect smile. She looked away, her stomach churning.

“Oh, no thanks honey…”

She didn’t know why she said it; the words came out before she could stop them.

“Go on Nick, it’ll be fun.”

The woman looked over at her, “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were with someone.”

“He’s not, we’re just friends. Go ahead Nick,” Veronica forced what she hoped looked like an unforced smile.

Nick looked over at Veronica, his head cocked to the side, expression unreadable.

She smiled wider, giving him a wink, “You know you want to.”

“I really want you to,” the woman chuckled.

Nick continued to stare at Veronica when he replied, “Ok, sure.”

The woman smiled, taking a step back and offering her hand. Nick stood, finally looking up at her, a smile on his lips. He slipped his hand into hers and let her lead him away.

Veronica watched as the woman led him to the dance floor, smiling as he turned to her, pulling her closer. Blindly she picked up her glass, she took a sip and then pulled the straw out and took a long drink before setting it back down. It’d been the right thing to do, she knew it, but why did she feel so lousy?

“Would you like to dance?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Nick looked over at the table, narrowing his eyes. A guy was standing there talking to Veronica. He looked away quickly; the woman in front of him smiled and moved in even closer, resting her hands lightly on his waist. Nick smiled at her and then focused his attention back to Veronica. She shook her head, a small smile on her lips. The anger was upon him fast, he let out a frustrated breath, fighting the urge to go over and see what was happening. Suddenly the guy smiled and left and Veronica went back to her drink. Nick swallowed hard, the tension slowly draining from his body.

The song ended and he thanked the woman and quickly made his way back over to the table.

“Enjoy the dance?”

Nick sat, picking up his beer, “Mmmhmm.”

“It looked like it, that woman looked like she wanted to devour you,” Veronica giggled.

Nick groaned, shaking his head. “So…I saw some guy here just a minute ago…”

“Oh yeah…”

Nick looked up at her, she was blushing. “What?”

“Nothing it’s just…he asked me to dance.”

“That’s great!”

“Yeah, well I told him no.”

“Obviously, but why?”

“You know why, I told you I don’t dance.”

“I didn’t believe that for one second then, and I don’t now.”

“Well it’s true.”

“Would you like to dance?”

Nick looked up; another woman was standing there, smiling hopefully. “Uh, no thanks.”

“Are you sure?”

Veronica opened her mouth to say something, but was cut off when Nick replied.

“I’m sure, but thanks anyway.”

The woman shrugged and walked off.

“Nick, why’d you do that?”

He looked over at her, his gaze intense, almost fierce.

“In case you’ve forgotten Veronica, I’m here with you. I’m not looking to dance with random women.”

She blinked, “Nick…”

“Would you like to dance?”

Veronica looked up at the guy staring at her.

“Excuse me?”

“Would you like to dance?”

She looked over at Nick who was watching the guy closely, his eyes sparkling coldly. “Uhh…n-no thanks,” she smiled. The guy nodded and walked off, Veronica watched as Nick’s gaze followed him until he was out of view. Shaking her head, she picked up her drink, putting the straw back in.

“Why’d you do that?”

She looked up at him, “Do what?”

“Turn him down, why?”

“Cause I…you know why. We just discussed this. Ohh I love this song,” she sighed as one song faded into the current single from Gorillaz.

Nick stared at her for a moment, “Dance with me.”

Her eyes widen a bit and she set her drink down on the table a bit too hard, the table rattling slightly.

“Uhh…”

“C’mon…”

“No, that’s alright. You go ahead, I’m fine.”

“It’s a shame to hide that outfit Veronica, and as much as you don’t want them to, guys are noticing it. It seems to be working, you‘ve already been asked to dance twice, and now three times. I’m not taking no for an answer.”

Her heart dropped, what did that mean?

“Nick, please, I really don’t want to.”

He pushed away from the table and stood, walking over to her. Reaching out, he took her hand and pulled her up and leading her out to the dance floor.

“Nick…Nick stop, don’t do this.”

Nick refused to listen, he couldn’t stop himself. He refused to sit through another guy asking her to dance, no if anyone was going to dance with her, it was going to be him damnit.

“Nick…no! People are gonna stare!”

He whirled her around, pulling her up against him, “Let them stare, they’re probably jealous.”

She shook her head no and cautiously started moving in time with him.

“This is so wrong,” she whispered harshly.

“Doesn’t feel that way,” Nick replied, sliding his arms around her waist.

Veronica stared at him, swallowing hard.

“Would you please just relax? I’m not some stranger you’ve just met, this is me. Please try to enjoy this,” he said softly.

Clearing her throat, looking from side to side.

“No…” Nick reached out, placing his fingers under her chin and turning her head so she was looking at him. “Never mind anyone else, just look at me.”

And she did, and never stopped looking the entire time.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A Few Hours Later…

“I love this movie, is the next one any good?”

“Yeah, but I dunno, I’m partial to the second one at this point. The third book and movie are not my favorites…the second one isn’t either, but until the fourth movie comes out, this pulls rank.”

They had gotten home a few hours ago and started right in on the Harry Potter movies.

“I can’t believe you’ve only seen the two, well then again I can, I know you’re busy.”

“Yeah well me and the guys try to go out and do normal things when we’re on the road or like, overseas for album stuff, but it’s so hard cause there’s always some shit going on you know? I was lucky I was even able to see this one. I’m gonna try damn hard to see the forth movie.”

“Well good luck.”

Nick looked over at Veronica; he couldn’t believe he’d acted the way he had at the club. He was lucky she hadn’t slapped him. It wasn’t in his nature to force women to do what they didn’t want to, but he’d wanted to dance with her so bad, that he was almost animalistic in his need to be the one to get her to dance. The guy that had approached her the last time had pushed him over the edge. Never had he felt so angry, or so mad at a perfect stranger before.

“Well that’s it, ready for the next one?”

“Did you have fun tonight?”

Veronica looked over at him, smiling, “Yes I did.”

“Really? Cause I mean…I was a major ass.”

She laughed, “No you weren’t.”

“Yes I was, I practically forced you to dance…”

“And I’m glad you did.”

He smiled a bit, “Yeah?”

“Absolutely, once I got out there, I forgot about everyone else and yeah, it was fun.”

“Yeah, you should dance more often, you’ve got natural rhythm.”

Veronica grinned broadly, “Do I?”

“Well I mean, I’m no expert that’s for damn sure, but ya know, Fatima was always talkin’ about that crap and we had dancers and I’ve seen people in movies and in clubs and…”

“Nick…it’s ok, I got it. And thank you.”

Nick scooted closer, slinging an arm around the back of the couch.
Chapter 83 by Gravity 721
Chapter 83


“I can’t believe this weather, then again yes I can. Rochester weather changes every five minutes.”

“Oh yeah?” Nick grinned.

“Yup we have a saying here…‘Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes’” she giggled.

“So that’s true huh?”

“Absolutely, that’s why people are always sick. One minute it‘s nice and sunny and then the next it‘s like this, stormy and cold.”

“I guess I’m kinda lucky, it’s not that bad in Florida.”

“Yeah yeah, don’t rub it in Carter,” Veronica moaned as she focused back on the TV again.

Nick looked over at her for what seemed like the one hundredth time that day. Ever since he’d gotten there, he couldn’t stop staring at her. Every move she made, every time she laughed or smiled, he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. He hadn’t been like this about a girl in a long time; he’d never been this unsure, this hesitant before.

“I love this movie, I remember when I was…what?” Veronica blinked, as she caught him staring at her.

“Nothing…”

She raised an eyebrow, “You sure?”

“Mmmhmm.”

She stared at him a moment longer before turning back to the TV once again.

Nick scooted closer to her on the couch, his hip brushing hers lightly. He inhaled deeply, the light scent of her hair surrounding him. His gaze rested on her lips, it always seemed to. Leaning in, he went to brush his lips against the side of her mouth, when suddenly her cell phone went off.

“Oops,” she stood hurrying over to the kitchen table, picking her phone up, checking the ID. Her eyes lit up as she flipped the phone open. “James?!”

Nicks heart sank suddenly and he slumped back on the couch, letting out a breath.

“James hi! Wow, I can’t believe it. How are you? How’s things going?”

He sat there, watching her intently. It was so wrong to be so jealous of someone he didn’t know, someone he’d tried hard to help her get. He wanted her to be that excited over HIM. She never seemed to be though, she never seemed to be flustered, she didn’t act like she…like she’d even…

Groaning, he pulled his own phone out, flipping it open to find he had one missed message. He brought the message up and listened.

Hey Nick, it’s me. Look, I’m just callin’ to let ya know that…Mom and Dad’s divorce became final today. It’s been weird, Dad’s happier than I’ve ever seen him and he all of a sudden brought this woman over who he says he’s been seeing for a while and…fuck, I don’t know what the hell is going on. Angel is pissed, I tried to call BJ and Les, and neither of them answer their cell, maybe you can try. Anyway, give me a call when ya can ok? I’ve been trying to reach you all day, where’ve you been? I called the guys and they said you’re in New York, you visiting grams and gramps? Tell em I said hi ok? Later

Nick flipped the phone closed, his stomach rolling.

Divorced, it was official.

He flipped his phone back open and quickly deleted the message, setting the phone down on the coffee table in front of him. It’d finally happened and his Dad was already seeing someone. When’d that happen? How could he do that? How long had it been going on?

Taking deep breaths, he let his head fall back to the couch, closing his eyes. He wished he hadn’t listened, he should’ve just deleted it, he wouldn’t have known, at least not until he got home. God, he didn’t need this right now, he didn’t. Bringing his head back down, he looked over at Veronica, she was still talking to James, and she was positively glowing. Nick narrowed his eyes, fury washing over him suddenly. Veronica looked over at him just then, giving him a thumb up before going back to the conversation. Stupid him, he’d been the one who convinced her to ask him out, to get closer and now…he was gone. He kept forgetting that, it was just a phone call.

Shifting, he looked towards the door. He could tell her he had to go to his hotel for something and then…no, he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t just up and leave her like that, but he had to get away. He knew too much, his family had interfered like they usually did when he was happy. There was always SOMETHING. His family, his friends, his job. Why couldn’t he just be happy and stay that way?

Nick watched as Veronica flipped the phone closed and made her way back over, sitting next to him.

“That was James! I can’t believe he called! He sounded great; this is the first time he’s called since he left in March, wow!”

“Veronica…”

“This is so cool, he says he’s gonna call me again soon, can you believe it?”

“Veronica…”

She looked over at him, a broad smile on her face, “Yeah?”

“Can I kiss you?”

She stilled, her eyes widening, “What?”

“Can I kiss you?”

Veronica stared at him, her heart pounding. Surely this couldn’t be true, he didn’t want to…wasn’t asking to…

Nick brought a hand up, cupping her cheek lightly, “Please?”

She could do nothing more than nod, not even think of the consequences or about why it was happening. No, all she could think of was how she’d wanted this moment since the first email, the first letter, the first look.

Nick stared at her a moment, everything in him telling him to stop, it was for all the wrong reasons, and he knew it. It wasn’t right, and yet it felt right. But he couldn’t stop himself, he couldn’t stop. Leaning in, he lightly brushed his lips against hers and heard her sharp intake of breath.

If only he could stop it.

He leaned in again, brushing his lips against hers again, and then again. Their gazes locked and he cupped her face in his hands as he pressed his lips to hers gently, watching as her eyes fluttered shut and everything was worth it. He was damned and it’d never felt so good. Slowly he pulled away, her eyes slowly opening.

“Nick…?”

Leaning in once more, he captured her lips with his, kissing her desperately, closing his eyes, blocking it out, blocking everything out. He would let himself get lost, like always. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her close to him, and felt her hands come up to clutch his shoulders. Urging gently, he pushed her back on the couch, resting on her carefully.

She couldn’t think, everything was happening so fast. He was kissing her, and there was an urgency in his kiss, a desperation she couldn’t quite place. He pulled away, burying his face in her neck, nibbling and sucking on her skin. Veronica felt him press against her and a moan escaped her lips. It wasn’t right, it didn’t feel right. But she wanted it, she kept telling herself that this was ok, that it could happen. It was going to be so great, if only she could feel he felt it too.

Nick slid his hands down, pushing her shirt up, sliding his hands underneath, rubbing her skin, moving his hands up further, he pushed her bra up, cupping one of her breasts in his hand. He heard her moan, and stopped. This was wrong, it was all wrong, it shouldn’t be like this. Veronica moved below him and he squeezed his eyes tightly shut, panting heavily. He could hear his brother’s voice in his head telling him about the divorce, about his father. No, he didn’t want to think about it, he just wanted to get away. Sliding his hand down, he fumbled with the button of her jeans.

She jerked when she felt his hands slide down to the button of her jeans, starting to undo them.

“N-Nick…”

It was wrong, she couldn’t explain it, she just knew.

“N-Nick…no…stop…stop!”

He pulled away almost at once, staring into her eyes, confusion and what Veronica almost thought was hurt lingered there. She placed a hand on his chest, gently pushing him back as she sat up. She struggled to breathe as she looked up at him, his face flushed, his eyes flashing.

“Veronica, what…?”

“No.”

He blinked, “No what?”

She shook her head, “This…this is wrong.”

“What’s wrong? We were kissing.”

“It was…it was more than that,” she couldn’t focus, she couldn’t think. All she could do was feel his lips on hers, the weight of his body resting on hers. She squeezed her eyes shut.

“I don’t understand.”

Slowly she opened her eyes, “Look Nick, what just happened…it wasn’t right. You weren’t…we weren’t….I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not that kind of girl.”

Nick stared at her, “What? You’re not what kind of girl?”

“That was not JUST kissing Nick, that went from a kiss to…to something more too fast. I’m not like that, I don’t do that. I’m not like the girls you’re used to.”

He wasn’t sure if he should be insulted or scared. No other girl he’d been with had ever been this hesitant. Not that he hadn’t gotten turned down before; actually he had, more times than he cared to remember. Still, what did she know about the kind of women he hung out with?

He raised an eyebrow, his eyes going cold, “Oh? And what’s that exactly?”

“Girls who do this, who let themselves be used, girls who’re willing to give themselves time and time again to a guy who doesn’t care. A guy who has no more respect for them than he does for himself.”

“Veronica…”

“I’m not gonna sleep with you Nick.”

Nick stared at her, his heart racing, “What?”

“I’m not gonna have sex with you Nick, I’m not some quick…fuck ok?”

“Hey! I never said that, I wasn’t even thinking that!”

But it was a lie, it was a boldfaced lie and he was ashamed.

“Weren’t you? I’m not a groupie Nick; I don’t go around sleeping with random men. I have more respect for myself than that.”

He knew that, he knew this, but he couldn’t believe she was actually saying it to him. Nick was angry, and he didn’t know why.

“I won’t let you use me, I refuse to be your distraction,” she whispered.

He stood suddenly, staring hard at her, “What the fuck? My distraction? I don’t need a fuckin’ distraction.”

“Sure you do, you need to be distracted all the time don’t you?”

“Oh yeah? From what?”

She shrugged, “From your job, from life, from…your family,” she looked up at him suddenly.

He swallowed hard, “You don’t know shit about what I do.”

Veronica stood, “Do you feel that poorly about yourself Nick, that you have to go and sleep with all those women so that you feel good about yourself? You keep doing it. Do you ever let yourself get attached to someone? Do you ever let yourself care?”

“Screw you; you don’t know anything about me. This isn’t some fuckin’ tabloid, this is my life, and I can live it how the hell I want. Who are you to judge?” He spat coldly.

“I’m not judging you Nick, I just…this isn’t just about you this time ok? It’s not about you getting what you need and then leaving. I actually care about the things I do and what happens to me. When I finally choose to be with a guy, it’s not gonna be because he wants to forget what’s going on in his life, it’s gonna be because I care for him and he cares for me. So you can use women and clubs and whatever to help you to forget whatever’s going on in your life at the time, that’s your choice. But I’m not gonna let you use me and use me up and then walk away when you’re finished with me until next time something happens and you want to forget. I won’t let you hurt me,” she finished, looking down.

“You don’t know anything about me, nothing!”

“If this is what there is to know about you then…I don’t want to know anymore,” she whispered.

“Fuck it, that’s fine with me. I’m outta here.”

Turning he made his way out, slamming the door. Veronica stood there for a few seconds before slowly slumping down on the couch, fighting hard against the tears that were now welling in her eyes.

She knew it was the right thing to do, yet, why did it hurt so much?
Chapter 84 by Gravity 721
Chapter 84


He rubbed at his head, pressing down hard on the gas. What the hell had he done? What was he thinking? Nick couldn’t believe the things he’d said, the things he’d almost done. The more he thought about it, the sicker he felt. It wasn’t even so much about the sex, it was the fact that she called him out. Accused him of doing exactly what he been doing for years, and it scared him.

Sometimes it was all too much, even for him. He was tired of taking it all in stride, of just accepting what was and letting things be. Screw it, he was only human. Nick pulled into the parking lot of a bar and got out. Sauntering inside, he slipped onto a stool and ordered a Jack Daniels, looking around the near empty room.

How had things gotten so bad? He couldn’t even remember when he’d become so jaded, so empty inside. Picking up the glass he took a sip, staring hard at the amber liquid. He couldn’t even count how many women he’d used, how many had let him. It was expected…accepted even in his line of work. Not that that made it any better, but it really was second nature to him. Somewhere along the way though, Nick had known not everybody was like that. Not everyone allowed themselves to be used and not care.

Veronica was one of those people.

His family, all shot to hell and there was nothing he could do about it. Hell, he couldn’t even stand to be around his parents. Home was anywhere away from them, especially now. Nick couldn’t stand to think that maybe his parents would be happier this way, he couldn’t bare to comprehend each of them moving on. It’s not like it’d change anything with him and his brother or sisters. He wished it would.

Groaning, Nick took another sip of his drink, what was he supposed to do now?

Wish that I could cry, fall upon my knees. Find a way to lie, about a home I’ll never see.

Digging into his pocket, Nick pulled his phone out and flipped it open. Scanning through his phone book, he found the person he wanted to call and pressed the button, waiting while it rang.

“Lo’?”

“Hey man.”

“Well well the prodigal son calls. What’s up man?”

“You’re such an ass J.”

“I know. So what’s going on? God, this is the first I’ve heard of ya since you left. You call any of the other guys?” AJ asked.

“Nah, haven’t had the chance, been busy.”

“Oh yeah? How’d things go with your grandparents?”

“They went alright, it was good to see them again.”

“Oh, your brother’s been looking for ya, ya get in touch with him?”

“Yeah, he called me a little while ago. My parents divorce became official today.”

“No shit? Damn, sorry man,” AJ sighed.

“Whatever, no big deal.”

“Nick…”

“Anyway J, I just wanted to let ya know I was alright.”

“Were you not alright before?”

“No, I mean yeah…forget it.”

“What’s up Nick? You didn’t just call to check in, what’s on your mind?”

Nick sighed, he really didn’t want to say anything, but he had to tell someone. He’d been carrying Veronica around inside for so long, it was time he finally shared her with the guys.

“Well…it’s about where I am now.”

“Didn’t you say you were visiting a friend? Fuck what’s her name…uhh…Victoria?”

“Veronica.”

“Right, Veronica. What about her?”

“I…well I’m here visiting her and we…kinda got into a…disagreement.”

“She’s the one who’s your…friend, right?”

“She IS my friend AJ, that’s it.”

Nick winced, every time he said that it hurt just a bit more.

“Right, sorry man. Ok, so what about her? And you still haven’t told how you met her.”

“Why is that so important?”

“I’m just curious as to where you met a girl that you only want to be friends with. What makes her so special that you don’t just screw her and run like usual?”

“AJ shut up man!”

“Whoa hey, don’t get so damn defensive,” AJ groaned.

“Anyway…that’s the problem.”

“What?”

“Today…I…well I…”

“What? You didn’t try to screw her and she turned you down did she?” AJ chuckled.

“AJ…”

“Whoa she did didn’t she?” he laughed.

“Shut up,” Nick mumbled.

“Why? Girls usually don’t turn you down.”

“I…well, Aaron had just called and she had just gotten off the phone with this guy and I’d been thinking about ya know, kissing her and I did and then one thing led to another and…”

“Wait wait, you kissed her cause Aaron called and she was talking to some guy? I’m confused.”

“No! I…I just…I found out about the divorce and she was so happy over that guy…”

“So you decided you’d use her like you usually do with women to make you forget about the divorce, AND you were jealous of this guy so you figured you’d sc…uhh, have relations with her to what? Make her miserable when she found out you were using her? Is that what you wanted?”

“I dunno,” Nick rubbed at his eyes.

“Sure you do man. Well shit, I don’t blame her. Sounds like she’s not like your usual woman.”

“AJ please! C’mon, help me. I don’t know what to do,” Nick pleaded.

AJ sighed, “What do you want me to say Nick? It all catches up with you eventually you know. We’ve been trying to tell you that.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“What was the fight about exactly?”

“Well we were ya know…making out and I…I went to go further and she stopped me. Said she wouldn’t let me use her or be a distraction for whatever was going on. I mean…fuck man, she called me out, said exactly what I’ve been doing. I lost it, I mean I was a prick, straight up. I don’t think she’ll ever forgive me.”

“Ya gotta apologize to her for one.”

“I know, but what if she doesn’t wanna talk to me?”

“Can you blame her?”

He couldn’t, he’d understand completely, that’s not to say he’d like it.

“Nah, I guess not.”

“Fine, second take it easy. Give her time and don’t smother her.”

“I can’t believe I’m getting advice from you, the biggest ladies man out of all of us,” Nick grinned.

“Well I didn’t get that reputation for nothing. Granted I haven’t been the smartest in relationships myself as well both know.”

“Which makes me question why I’m asking you in the first place.”

“Hey…you want my help or not dude?”

Nick smirked, “Go on.”

“Mmm…anyway. Yeah, just take it easy. Leave her alone for a few days to think.”

“AJ, the whole reason I’m here is to see her, I can’t just leave.”

“Well you wouldn’t have to leave if you hadn’t screwed up in the first place. Damn man, didn’t you know she wouldn’t? You know what type of girl is up for that kinda thing.”

“I did know, I’ve known from the moment we first started talking.”

“And you STILL tried?”

“I couldn’t help it! Shit, I’ve been trying this whole time to not…want her like that, but I can’t help it.”

“What I don’t get is why you waited until you wanted a distraction to decide to make a move,” AJ questioned.

“I…I guess I figured she wouldn’t any other time, and any other time I wouldn’t care.”

“Nick, that’s not cool man.”

“I know I know,” he sighed, he was feeling worse than before.

“Look, ya gotta go apologize to her.”

“Yeah, I will.”

“Do it now, don’t wait too long.”

“Yeah, I’m gonna finish my drink then I’ll go, give her a chance to…”

“Right, trying to make it easier on yourself huh? Wimp,” AJ laughed.

“Whatever, I’m hanging up. I’ll talk to ya later ok? Tell the guys I said hey.”

“Will do, take care, call me and let me know how it goes.”

“Alright, later.”

“Wait! When you comin’ back?”

“Four days.”

“Aight cool. See ya later.”

“Bye.”

Nick hung up and slipped the phone back into his pocket. Picking up his glass, he finished his drink and ordered another. He couldn’t put it off much longer, he had to see her, he had to apologize.

It may sound absurd…but don’t be na´ve, even heroes have the right to bleed. I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede, even heroes have the right to dream. It’s not easy to be me

He was allowed to make mistakes, lots of mistakes. Still, he feared that this would turn out to be one of the biggest. She was right, on so many levels. He did use women and whatever he could to distract himself. There was more to him though, something inside him that he had to find, something special that could help him change, he just had to find it. It was all so easy to get caught up in everything, the glamour, the money.

Nick sighed, it wasn’t easy, nothing ever was.

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet, digging for kryptonite on this one way street. Only a man in a funny red sheet looking for special things inside of me. It’s not easy to be me.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“So he got mad and stormed out,” Veronica finished, sighing.

There was silence on the other end for a good ten seconds.

“Whoa…”

“I know, I don’t know what I was thinking Lynne.”

“Why didn’t you call me sooner?”

“I never had the chance, we’ve been doing stuff ever since he arrived.”

“Man, he’s a prick.”

“Lynne!”

“Well he is! Trying to make moves on you like that, what a loser.”

“He’s not a loser Lynne, he’s going through a lot right now.”

“Don’t…do NOT make excuses for him. He can pull that shit with his little sluts and whatever, but not with you. If he was your friend, he’d know that.”

Veronica sighed, she knew to expect this when she called Lynne, but she so badly needed to talk to someone, that she figured she could deal with it. Now she wasn’t so sure.

“I know Lynne.”

“Look Veronica, be careful. Guys like him, they’re not…they’re not the kind of guys you date, at least fans. They use their fans, they figure you’re all groupies, wanting to screw him senseless.”

Veronica started to deny it but stopped, biting her lip.

“Veronica?”

“Hmmm?”

“This would be the time when you emphatically deny it.”

She laughed nervously.

“Veronica!”

“What? It’s not like I actually would.”

Lynne sighed, “Anyway, as I was saying. He’s probably out to use you Veronica. I know you’re smarter than that. Don’t be deceived by him just because you think he’s cute.”

“I know Lynne, but we’re just friends. I know he doesn’t think of me like that anyway. I was convenient and whatever, that’s the only reason what happened happened.”

“Just be careful ok? I don’t want you thinking that you could become involved with him. Guys like him don’t date girls like you.”

Veronica stilled.

“Now hang on, you know what I meant.”

“Yeah.”

“Veronica c’mon! He’s not good enough for YOU. That’s why he wouldn’t date you. He’s crap compared to you and he knows this. That’s why he always goes for those sluts and gold diggers, girls who are no better than him.”

“I know I know.”

“Guys like him, celebrities don’t want anyone that could help them change, that are decent people, they just want someone to make them look good.”

“Lynne, not all of them are like that.”

“A good 99%.”

Rolling her eyes, Veronica stood from the couch. “Look Lynne, I’m gonna let you go.”

Lynne sighed, “I’m sorry Veronica, that was harsh.”

“It’s ok. I’m gonna go, I’m tired and I need to get ready for bed.”

“Veronica…”

“I’ll call ya later and we can get together ok?”

“Yeah…ok.”

“Bye.”

Veronica hung up and walked the phone back over to the charger. She felt like crap and urge to cry hadn’t subsided. Looking up at the clock, she was surprised to see it was almost midnight. It’d been at least six hours since he’d left, and it didn’t look like he was coming back. Inwardly she was still cursing herself for saying what she had, but she also knew she was right, and if Nick didn‘t realize that, then maybe he wasn‘t really her friend after all.

Turning, she locked up and then flipped the light off and headed into the bathroom to brush her teeth and get ready for bed.

It's Not Easy To Be Me (Superman Song) - by Five For Fighting
Chapter 85 by Gravity 721
Chapter 85


Veronica made her way out of the bathroom and started for her room, when there was a knock on the door. She stopped, looking at the door, who would be coming over this late at night? She waited a moment longer then proceeded to go into her room again, when there was another knock. Blinking, she hurried into her room, grabbed her robe and pulled it on, making her way back out and over to the door. She hesitated a moment before calling out.

“Who is it?”

No one answered.

“Who’s there?”

Again no answer. Turning she went to leave, when the person behind the door, knocked again. Swallowing hard, she went into the kitchen, locating the rolling pin; she made her way over to the door. Slowly she turned the deadbolt and reached out; she slowly opened the door with one hand, the other brandishing the rolling pin poised overhead. Veronica poked her head out the door and stilled, her eyes widening.

“Nick!”

“Hey,” he whispered.

“Wha…why didn’t you answer?”

“I didn’t think you’d open the door if you knew it was me.”

“Nick god! You scared the crap out of me! Of course I would’ve answered.” Veronica sighed in relief, pulling the door open, dropping her arm.

“Sorry, I…what’s with the rolling pin?” Nick questioned, gesturing to the rolling pin in her hand.

“Oh, I…I thought…never mind,” she groaned.

“Uh, can I come in?”

“Sure.”

She stepped back, shutting and locking the door once he made his way in. She walked into the kitchen, setting the rolling pin down before heading back over to him.

“Let’s sit.”

They walked over to the couch and sat.

“Nick…look, I…”

“I’m really sorry.”

Veronica looked up at him, “Huh?”

“I want to apologize for earlier.”

“It’s ok, really.”

“No it’s not, it’s never ok. What I did to you, to…everyone else, it’s not ok.”

“Things happen, we make mistakes.”

“I was an ass, pure and simple. Please, don’t make excuses for me.”

Veronica blanched, first Lynne now him.

“I was…upset, mad that you called me out, that you said exactly what I’ve been doing.”

She shook her head, “I never should’ve said anything. It’s not my business, not my concern.”

Nick winced, looking down suddenly. “Yeah.”

“What happened? I mean…what brought what happened this afternoon on?”

He bit his lip, an unfamiliar lump forming in his throat, “Aaron called, left a message on my voicemail, I checked while you were talking to James. My parents divorce was finalized today.”

Veronica let out a breath, it all made sense now, she had been his distraction, well at least he’d wanted her to be.

“Ya know, it’s real easy to let yourself become…absorbed in things to make reality not so…real. It’s ok to forget for a while Nick, but it’s not ok to act like it’s not happening.”

“I don’t want to know it’s happening, I’d rather not know all the shit that’s going on, it sucks and I don’t want to deal with it.”

Veronica smiled sadly, “Unfortunately honey, that’s life.”

Welcome to the planet, welcome to existence. Everyone’s here, everyone’s here.

“Stuff like this…divorce, it’s not supposed to happen, not to me.”

“That’s what it always seems like I know. You don’t wanna be another statistic right? Here’s the cold hard truth Nick, you’re only human. You’re just like any one of us, I know you know that. It’s out of your control, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

He looked up at her suddenly, his eyes blazing, “Why? Why can’t I take control of it and not let it bother me? Why can’t I just distance myself from it? It’s their shit; it’s THEIR problem, not mine.”

“It is their problem you’re right, but it’s what you do with the knowledge of their problem, that will effect how you live your life Nick. It’s not for you to handle or for you to have much of a say in. What you do have a say in and what you can handle, is how you let it effect your life, of how you vent or deal with it. It’s this part that people see; it’s the part of you that you let people see. Everyone handles things differently Nick, escapism is normal, but my personal opinion is that it’s more dangerous to escape from your problems than face them. Hell, I’m still dealing with it, still facing it. It’s…it’s not easy.” Veronica sighed.

Everybody’s watching you now, everybody waits for you now. What happens next, what happens next?

Nick watched her intently, trying to understand, trying to figure out how to get to that point. She made it seem too easy, made it seem like she had it all together. Looking away he sighed.

“Nick, I’m still dealing with it, you know it. You know all the hard times I’ve had with my dad. It’s not just about me. It’s the comments my mom makes about him and vice versa. Sometimes it’s too much and I want to get away and I do. I’ll read or I’ll write, but then I also know that I have to deal with it. If that means telling my dad not to call unless he wants to talk to me about stuff going on with me and not make nasty digs about my mom, or if it means asking my mom not to bad mouth my dad in front of me, then so be it. I’m working on it; it’s a lot harder than it sounds.”

“Yeah well, I don’t want to have to do all that, I shouldn’t have to. Fuck it, and fuck them too!” Nick spat.

“You shouldn’t have to, but you might. I don’t know if it’s gonna be the same with your parents as it was for mine.”

“Whatever, I just won’t call them.”

“And that will solve it?”

“Damn straight it will.”

“Alright, what about your brother and sisters? What about them?”

He shrugged.

“Nick, you can’t avoid them too, they’re in the same position you’re in, now’s the time you’re gonna need each other the most.”

“I just…I just don’t want to deal with them, with…any of them,” he whispered, feeling more ashamed of himself than ever.

Veronica slid closer to him, hesitantly reaching out and sliding her arm around his shoulders, she felt him tense for a second, and then relax.

“It’s hard to deal with this alone Nick. If you choose to have little or no contact with your immediate family, it’s gonna make it that much harder. That said, I know you have the guys. Use them ok? They’re there, they love you and I know they want to help, so let them. I don’t know if you’ve talked to AJ about it, but I’m sure he’d be willing to listen.”

She paused for a moment before reaching out, taking one of his hands in her other, giving it a tight squeeze.

“I understand alright? I’m here if you wanna talk. I know you want to deal with it in your own way, or by yourself. But trust me when I say, it’s so much easier with that support, with someone to talk to, with someone who knows. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my friends, even the ones who didn’t know what it was like, they were there. They listened and let me vent and let me cry and it was cool. I want you to have that; you need to have that Nick. You don’t have to be strong all the time.” She whispered, tightening her hold on him, pulling his body closer to hers in the semblance of a hug.

Welcome to the fallout, welcome to resistance. The tension is here, the tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be. Between how it is and how it should be.


He could barely breathe, could barely think. It felt so good having her hold him like this, to have someone tell him they knew what he felt. He wanted to tell her he realized, tell her all he was feeling and thinking. He wanted to help her deal with it and have her help him.

“Veronica?”

“Yeah?”

“I…I never thought you were a groupie.”

She chuckled suddenly, her arm sliding from his shoulders, “It’s ok Nick.”

“No,” he clutched at her hand when he felt her start to pull away. He lifted his head, looking her in the eyes, “I never thought you were groupie, I apologize for…making you feel like one for…showing you so little respect.”

Veronica let out a breath.

“I’m sorry.”

She leaned in, kissing his cheek gently, “It’s ok Nick, I mean it.”

He pulled away, a pained expression on his face.

“Now c’mon, let me pull the bed out and you can get some sleep,” Veronica announced.

“Huh?”

“I got a pull out bed on the couch here, and it’s got an actual mattress so it’s actually very comfortable.”

“Veronica it’s ok, I’m just gonna head back to the hotel.”

“No way, it’s too damn late. You can stay here, it’s fine.”

“Veronica…”

“Matter of fact, why don’t you just stay here for the rest of time? It’s too expensive to stay at a hotel, and I know you can afford it but hell, you know someone here. You can get your stuff from the hotel and check out tomorrow.”

“Veronica…I can’t.”

“You can and you will,” she replied from the hall closet.

No he really couldn’t, he didn’t know if he could stay here under her roof knowing she was asleep in the next room. Nick didn’t know if he’d be able to keep his hands to himself.

Veronica made her way back in, pulling the cushions off the couch and with Nick’s help, pulled the bed out and quickly made it up.

“There ya go.”

“You really don’t have to do this.”

“It’s not a problem Nick, please don’t worry bout it.”

“After…after what happened today, you still want to be my friend? You’d let me stay here like this?”

She stared at him, “Of course Nick.”

“I was so mean to you.”

She nodded, “Yeah you were and it hurt. But what’s that saying? To err is human, to forgive is divine?”

Nick frowned.

“I…think that’s right,” she shrugged.

“Veronica…”

“You can only run so long Nick, it’s gonna catch up with you. It’ll all be there in the morning. Goodnight.”

She walked over, giving him another kiss on the cheek before turning and heading into her room.

Maybe redemption is stories to tell. Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell. Where can you run to escape from yourself? Where you gonna go, where you gonna go? Salvation is here…

Veronica made her way into her bedroom, shutting the door. Her heart was pounding wildly. She couldn’t believe she’d asked him to stay, insisted on it. She wasn’t going to get any sleep knowing he was only a few feet away in the other room. Groaning, she slipped her robe off and hung it on the handle of her closet. Walking over she opened the window and looked out.

Things had gone better than she would’ve ever thought. Not that she had planned what she’d say to him, she didn’t even think he’d be back, never thought she’d see him again. She was more than a little surprised to open the door and see him standing there. It helped that he’d apologized, it didn’t stop the hurt that still lingered, but it did help. There was so much good to him, so much he was capable of if he’d just let himself.

Turning, she made her way over to the bed, slipping under the covers. Reaching out, she flipped her lamp off and lay back, staring up at the ceiling. It’d be best that she forgot today ever happened. Lynne was right, she couldn’t get her hopes up, couldn’t let herself think that what happened on the couch that afternoon was out of anything more than an escape, that maybe she wasn’t just a distraction to him.

Letting out a breath, she closed her eyes.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Nick watched her leave, stunned and more than a little humbled. He slowly started undressing; his mind was racing with everything that had happened. After stripping down to just his boxers, he pulled the covers back and slid into bed, laying back, staring up at the ceiling. He couldn’t believe he was here, he was sure she wasn’t going to let him back in, that she wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him ever again, but she’d surprised him, just like she always did. Nick knew this was his second chance and he wasn’t going to screw it up. Not his life and not his friendship with her. It was time he made some changes.

Turning to his side, he listened; he could hear her moving around in her room. There was a click of what he assumed was her turning the light off and then silence. He closed his eyes, trying desperately to think of anything other than wanting to be in her room, in that bed with her.

I dare you to move, I dare you to move I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor. I dare you to move, I dare you to move. Like today never happened, today never happened, today never happened, today never happened…before

Dare You To Move - by Switchfoot
Chapter 86 by Gravity 721
A/N: Here's a little mini update. I'm sorry I'm not posting more, but I don't wanna leave readers hanging for too long. I hope to be back with another update later on! Enjoy!

Chapter 86


Veronica made her way quietly out of her room and over to the bathroom, setting her clothes on the sink. Hesitating a moment, she made her way back out and pressed up against the wall. Slowly she peeked around the corner, he was still asleep. He appeared to be comfortable, which took a weight off her shoulders. Turning, she pulled the tie tighter on her robe and headed into the bathroom, shutting the door quietly behind her.

The sound of water woke him up slowly, almost melodically. Nick rolled over on the bed, groaning softly. He’d been surprised; the mattress had been as comfortable as Veronica had promised. Still, he’d tossed and turned, bad dreams of him making out with Veronica and having his teeth fall out kept him up most of the night. Slowly he opened his eyes, memories of what had happened the day before, came rushing back.

It all seemed clearer in the morning, he could focus, make sense of it and it all boiled down to one thing.

He was a loser.

Nick couldn’t believe how much of a loser he was, it was all clear now, and Veronica. Oh god he was surprised she was still talking to him. The talk they’d had the night before had been great, still he had an enormous amount of guilt. He didn’t deserve a friend like her. How was he going to speak to her? What was he gonna say? Nervousness swept over him suddenly, his mouth very dry. He was never good at awkward situations and small talk, he normally clamed right up when it came to filling in the gaps, especially when it had to do with something he did wrong. This all meant too much to him, she meant too much to him to screw it all up. He’d be mature about it, despite what everyone thought about him, he could be mature and discuss things like an adult when the situation called for it. He stilled when he heard the water turn off and the sound of the door sliding open. God, she was naked in that room and he was there on the couch. He couldn’t stop thinking about it, about her in nothing more than a towel. Rubbing at his eyes, he jerked when the phone started to ring. His eyes widened when he heard the bathroom door knob start to turn. Quickly he closed his eyes, his body going still once more as Veronica bolted out of the bathroom and over to the phone. He listened carefully.

“Hello? Oh, hey dad,” she whispered.

Nick winced, he knew he shouldn’t be listening, but he couldn’t help it. He hoped this would turn out to be a good conversation between her and her dad.

“Sorry…well I have a friend over and he’s on the pull out bed and I don’t…yes a he…”

He couldn’t help but smile.

“No no, it’s nothing like that, he’s a friend. Well if he were more than that, would he be on the pull out bed?”

Nick’s smile turned into a grin, not if had his way about it.

“No…NO! Dad really, he’s a friend. Nick, his name is Nick. Online…well we’ve been talking for a while and he surprised me on my birthday. I know, he’s completely safe, we talked on the phone and everything before hand, I’m being careful I promise.”

He slowly opened his eyes, looking over at her, his mouth dropping. She was wearing that damn towel, just like he thought. Her hair was still damp and he could see a fine sheen of water on her chest. Swallowing hard, he propped himself up on his elbows, looking her over.

“Not much, just on vacation. Yes I got your gift, thanks. Well I’ve tried them on and they fit pretty well. No I’m not gonna tell you how much I weigh, they fit so it’s ok.”

Nick frowned, slowly starting to sit up.

“I know dad, I’m trying to be careful, I know how important it is,” Veronica sighed. “I will dad, I’m gonna get a new job, things are just a little hard right now, but I will. I’m not wasting my degree; it’s a liberal arts degree anyway, besides I need to get my bachelors.”

Nick watched as she winced, rolling her eyes.

“I am going back to school dad; I’m just taking time off. You have so little faith in me that you don’t think I will? We had this conversation before and I went back right? I need a better job first dad, college is expensive…I know but I don’t want a loan, of course I’ll try to get grants. No, it’s ok dad, I’ll take care of it. C’mon dad don’t be like that, I appreciate the offer, but I’ll take care of it. Dad…well the government is supposed to…no I didn’t mean it like that!”

Nick sighed, shaking his head. It was one thing when she’d describe how one of their conversations would go, but it was another to hear it first hand. He could see how she’d get so frustrated, and yet…she did it. She put up with it all. He just couldn’t understand why she’d put herself through it. Pulling the covers back, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood and started towards her.

“Dad, I’m gonna let you go. I just got out of the shower and I’m dripping on the kitchen floor and I don’t wanna wake Nick up. No…no, cause I told you he’s just a friend. Because…I’m not his type anyway.”

He stopped walking and listened, was she really going to tell her dad his type?

“You know, tall, thin, and beautiful. Everything I’m not…you’re supposed to say that, you’re my dad. Nah, it’s ok, it’d hurt too much when he turned me down. No I don’t know that for sure, but I don’t wanna take that chance.”

Nick frowned, his heart dropping. So that’s what she thought of him.

“Ok dad, I gotta go. I will…I know, I will dad. Dad…dad please. I talked to Mom a few days ago…she’s fine. Dad stop it! Just stop it, I told you I’m not gonna answer when you say that. Yeah ok…love you…bye.”

He watched as she walked over and set the phone on the charger, sighing heavily. Nick made his way up behind her quietly, her head was bowed, and her shoulders slumped.

“Are you ok?”

She whirled around her eyes wide, “Nick! You scared the crap outta me!”

He gave a small smile, “I seem to do that a lot. Are you alright?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah I’m fine.”

“Ya know, you said it was bad and everything when we talked on the phone and all, but damn.”

Veronica looked away, “It’s no big deal.”

“Yeah it is, don’t let him do that to you.”

“Too late, he already did.”

Frowning, he reached out, cautiously putting a hand on her bare shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah…me too.”

Nick stared at her, trying not to focus too much on the feel of her bare skin below his hand.

“Uh…” Veronica looked down at his hand on her arm and then down at the towel, and then at him in his boxers, her face turning red. “Whoa, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“It’s alright, I was up.”

“I tried to get to the phone before…you were?”

He gave her a sheepish smile, “Yeah.”

“O-oh…well…I’m just…gonna go…get dressed.”

“Alright.”

She slowly lifted her eyes to his, “Nick?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks…for…well this,” she looked down at his hand and then back up at him.

“No problem,” he smiled.

Veronica smiled softly before carefully making her way around him and back down the hall to the bathroom.

Nick listened as the door clicked shut and closed his eyes. It was becoming more and more difficult for him to control himself around her. Shifting, he pressed a hand to is crotch, wincing. He had to learn to curb his thoughts or they were going to get him into trouble again. He had to keep his hands off, or try to at least. Sighing, he turned and headed over to the couch, grabbing his clothes and starting to dress.
Chapter 87 by Gravity 721
Chapter 87


Veronica made her way out of her bedroom and into the living room to find Nick putting the pillows back on the couch.

“You didn’t have to do that, I would’ve.”

He shrugged, “It’s no big deal. I left the sheets on so it won’t be too much to make it up again tonight.”

“That’s fine.”

“So…” Nick turned to look at her. “What would you like to do today?”

“I was thinking we could go to the beach.”

His eyes lit up, “Ohh yeah!”

Veronica smiled, “Great! Let me get my stuff up together. Do you have trunks with you?”

“As a matter of fact I do, I usually go swimming at my grandparents.”

“Alright, let me get ready, I’ll pack a lunch and then we can go.”

“Cool,” Nick smiled, grabbing his bag and digging through it for his swim trunks.

Veronica hurried into her bedroom and over to her drawer, looking for her bathing suit. She of course hadn’t stopped to think of the repercussions of her suggestion. She’d be wearing her bathing suit around him. She had to be crazy.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

An Hour Later…

They lugged the stuff out onto the sand. The beach was crowded today, kids screaming and yelling and splashing in the water could be heard from miles away. The head bore down on them relentlessly, which only made the idea of jumping into the refreshing water, more appealing.

“Here, how about over here? It’s a bit more deserted and we won’t have to worry too much about you being noticed, not that you don’t want to be noticed, just that maybe it won’t be as…noticeable to be here…” Veronica frowned.

Nick chuckled, “This is fine.”

Veronica set her mini stereo down and then spread the blanket she’d brought, out on the sand, sitting down, Nick sitting next to her.

“Beautiful day out isn’t it?”

“It is, I love the summer. I haven’t been to the beach in so long, this is a nice treat.”

“Don’t your friends come with you?” Nick asked as he whipped his socks and shoes off.

“Yeah, but most of the time everyone is busy or they don’t feel like it. I hate going to places alone. Granted I like to be alone sometimes, but not all the time.”

“Yeah, me too.

“But this is nice, it’s nice to be here with you and yeah…I’m not alone now and that’s all that matters.”

Nick looked over at her suddenly, his gaze fierce, “No you’re not.”

Veronica smiled and dug through the small bag she brought for something.

“You gonna go out in the water?”

“Nah, I’m gonna put some sunscreen on first and then read for a bit,” she announced pulling the bottle out of sunscreen and a magazine out of her bag.

“Alright, well I’m gonna go out for a quick dip, I’ll be right back.”

“Ok.”

Veronica watched as he stood, her eyes widening when he slowly pulled his shirt off and tossed it on the towel next to her. Her heart dropped as he sauntered across the hot sand and into the water.

She stared hard at him, her eyes following his every move. God she wanted him! She couldn’t believe she was thinking it, but she was. She’d been trying this whole time to not feel anything, to not be taken in by his charm, but she had. The opportunity had come yesterday, and she passed it up. Inwardly, she was still cursing herself for not taking advantage of a moment…of a situation that would never happen again. It wasn’t as if she had offers of men wanting to sleep with her piling up, what did she care if he really wanted her or not? She could’ve been with him and it would’ve been great.

But she did care; she cared too much to ever let herself be used. In reality she knew it wouldn’t have been great, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near great because he wouldn’t have been into it. She wanted him there, all there. She deserved that at least. She wasn’t a prime catch, but she was a human being and wanted to be treated as such. There was no denying that if she felt she could, or that she stood a chance, she’d want to be with him. Not just physically, but in every other way too. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, she did care for him, a lot.

Sighing, Veronica picked up her newest copy of Cosmopolitan and started reading.

A short time later, Nick made his way back over, sitting back down beside her.

“Ya know, you should come in with me, the water feels great and I‘m lonely,” he pouted.

“Aww Nick I’m sorry honey. I think I’d rather just read anyway.”

Nick stared at her a moment, “What have you got on under your shirt?”

She blinked, “Excuse me?”

“I only want to know if you have your bathing suit on under,” he grinned.

“Oh…oh well yeah, yeah I do.”

“Well it’s pointless to wear a bathing suit and not go in the water don’t ya think?”

“Not necessarily. I’m not comfortable with people seeing me in my bathing suit. It‘s mostly guys really, and especially you.”

Nick frowned, “C’mon Veronica, it’s just a bathing suit, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“Uhh Nick…have you looked at me lately? I’m not exactly thin you know. Let’s face it, guys don’t like…chubby girls.”

Nick’s eyes widened, “What?”

“It’s the truth, I remember my dad telling me that one time and I‘ve learned that he‘s right. Those rare times that I do actually go swim or whatever, I wear a long shirt over to cover it.”

“Your dad is a liar.”

Veronica looked over at him, “What? No he‘s not, he…”

“He’s lying Veronica. Not every guy likes thin girls, and that’s the truth.”

“You do,” Veronica whispered suddenly.

Nick blinked, he could feel his face flaming. He didn’t know how to respond to that, he knew to everyone that that’s what it seemed like, but it wasn’t true. He couldn’t tell her that he didn’t like thin women, because most of the time, that’s who he was seen with. But there were girls, girls he’d dated or been with who’d been way more than thin, but people never took pictures of them.

She stared knowingly at him, “You just proved my point.”

“Come swim with me.”

“Nick, I really don’t want to.”

He stood, leaning down; he pulled the magazine out of her hands and tossed it aside.

“Nick!”

Reaching out, he grabbed her hands and tugged, forcing her to stand up.

“Nick c’mon, leggo!”

Turning, he pulled her with him.

“No Nick! Please don’t make me do this.”

Nick led her out into the water and deep enough so that the water was just above her waist before turning to look at her.

“Nick…please, let me go,” she whimpered, a hint of panic in her voice.

He stared at her a moment before pulling her into his arms.

“There’s something I want to tell you,” he said softly and pulled her tighter against him, he felt her body stiffen slightly. He waited a moment before slowly sliding his hands down into the water, clutching at the hem of her shirt.

“N-Nick…”

He leaned in, his lips right by her ear.

“You shouldn’t hide yourself, you shouldn’t be embarrassed,” he murmured, carefully inching her shirt up her body.

“I…I…”

Nick brushed his lips over her temple lightly, closing his eyes, “I like chubby girls…and I like you too.” With that he stepped away and quickly pulled her shirt off, letting it drop into the water.

“Nick!” Veronica squealed, trying to pull away.

Nick pressed her tightly to his body, “Don’t…move,” he whispered, his breathing labored, his heart pounding.

She stilled, her heart pounding so hard and so fast she thought it’d fly right out of her chest.

“Let me see you.”

Veronica swallowed hard, “What?”

“Let me see you Veronica, I want to look at you.”

“No.”

“Veronica…”

“I…I don’t, I don’t know…”

“You don’t have to be embarrassed.”

She closed her eyes, what should she do?

“Veronica?”

Again she went still.

“Please?”

Groaning inwardly, she gave up the fight and slowly took a step back and then another and then another until she was about three or four feet away from him, her head lowered.

“Look at me,” he whispered.

She hesitated.

“Veronica, look at me please.”

Slowly she lifted her head, her eyes meeting his. He stared at her for a few seconds, his expression serious and then ever so slowly, his eyes made their way over the course of her body. She stood there before him, letting him look his fill and found that his intense perusal of her was oddly arousing. Her arms were tingly, her legs shaky, and yet, with his eyes on her like this, she felt strangely powerful. Veronica watched as he looked her body over, there was no look of disgust or anything of the sort in his eyes. If she didn’t know any better, she could swear it was something else, something else entirely.

She heard his sharp intake of breath and looked to find he was staring at her again.

“Veronica?”

This was it.

“Yeah?” She replied wearily.

He smiled suddenly.

“You have no idea how wrong your dad was.”
Chapter 88 by Gravity 721
A/N: I just wanted to drop a quick line and thank everyone for their comments and reviews for this story. It's so appreciated, I'm so glad everyone likes it so far and is so anxious for updates. I know how annoying it is that I don't update as often as I used to, but since I'm so close to where I actually am as far as writing goes, the less I update. The more I write and the further I get ahead, the more often I can update. Hang in there all! Thanks again and please continue to let me know what you think!

Chapter 88


Veronica unlocked the door and made her way inside.

“Whew it’s good to be back, I love to be out in the sun, but it is kinda draining.”

“Yeah I know, we swam a lot,” Nick smiled.

Once he had her shirt off and helped her to relax, she was actually a lot of fun in the water. They swam and splashed around for hours, her insecurities seemed to melt away suddenly and she looked liked she was enjoying herself.

“We did, I’m wiped out. Mmm, feel up to watching a little TV before we go to bed?” She asked as she set the basket she’d brought with them on the counter in the kitchen.

“Sure, sounds good.”

“Alright, I’m gonna go get in the shower and you can see if you can find anything good on.”

“Cool, if it‘s ok, I‘d like to get in after you,” Nick responded.

“Ok, that‘s fine,” she smiled and headed into her bedroom, gathering up her clothes before heading into the bathroom.

Nick flipped the TV on and then pulled his phone out of his pocket, checking his messages. There was one from Kevin, he listened to it and then called him back.

“Hey man.”

“Nick! It’s about damn time, what’s up? AJ said he talked to you a few days ago.”

“Just chillin’ at my friends house.”

“Ohh right, Veronica.”

“That’s right.”

“So…how is she? How are things?”

“She’s great, things are fine ya know. Just hanging out.”

“And she’s your friend right?”

Nick narrowed his eyes, “Yeah she is.”

Kevin sighed, “Nick, you really don’t need to be distracted right now.”

“Distracted?”

“Yeah, our tour is coming up shortly and you don’t need this…friend to keep you from this.”

“She’s not, she won’t,” Nick could feel his anger rising, this was why he didn’t want to say anything to any of them.

“I don’t understand why you’re hiding her. What’s the big secret? It was like pulling teeth for you to even tell us her name. If she’s JUST your friend, then it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“It isn’t a problem and she is my friend, what difference does it make Kev? I’ll be there in a few days, you don’t need to worry bout me.”

“Well ok, I guess I’ll see you then.”

“Yeah, alright, see ya.”

Nick hung up and slumped back. Leave it to Kevin to fuck everything over. Where did he get off telling him not to get distracted? What was it with everyone thinking he was distracting himself? Granted it’d been the case most of the time, but he could safely say that this time, he was clear headed. He was focused on what was in front of him, or who was in front of him rather. He turned his head and looked over at the bathroom door, sighing heavily.

She was his friend, she was a great person. He knew he didn’t really deserve anyone like her; she’d been far too kind to him. He really didn’t want to screw this up, he couldn’t screw it up. He closed his eyes when he heard the door to the bathroom open.

“The bathroom is all yours Nick!” Veronica called out as she headed into her bedroom.

Slowly he opened his eyes; it was so hard to want what you couldn’t have. Standing, he grabbed his clothes from his bag and headed into the bathroom.

Veronica made her way back out and headed to the couch, pulling the cushions off and pulled the bed out for Nick. She’d really enjoyed herself today, once she got past feeling self conscious in front of him in her suit, she’d actually been able to have fun. He was a great guy to hang out with, and more than once she’d found herself staring wistfully at him, wishing for the impossible. It’d been all she could take to not touch him or kiss him the way she wanted. To her, he was off limits. There was always something holding her back, something that told her she just wasn’t worthy of him. He could break her heart she knew it, and part of her didn’t care. Part of her just wanted to feel if only for a moment, that she was the one he wanted.

She quickly remade the bed, getting the pillows ready for him before heading into the kitchen to make some popcorn. A few minutes later Nick made his way out and into the living room.

“Wow that was fast.”

“I’ve perfected the twenty minute shower. Being on the road will do that to ya, especially when you’ve only got so much hot water,” he grinned.

“That’s rough, I hate being rushed. I’m making some popcorn and I got us some drinks.”

“Ohh good, I am kinda hungry,” Nick smiled, heading into the kitchen. “How can I help?”

“You can get the glasses if you want.”

Nick grabbed the glasses and Veronica pulled the popcorn out of the microwave, poured it into a bowl and followed Nick into the living room. They settled on the bed and Veronica set the bowl between them.

“Find anything good?”

“Speed.”

“Ohh I love this move!” Veronica grinned.

“It’s Keanu isn’t it?” Nick sighed, rolling his eyes.

“He’s HOT in this movie, I mean, seriously.”

“Whatever,” Nick groaned, shoving a handful of popcorn into his mouth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ahh I love that ending! A relationship based on sex can’t be a bad thing,” Veronica giggled.

“Oh please! That’s why they don’t make it to the second movie.”

“No way, it was because he went all…paranoid on her and bought her safety stuff for her birthday or something.”

“A likely story.”

“It’s the truth Carter, deal with it,” she smirked, gathering up the bowl and glasses and bringing them into the kitchen.

“Mmmhmm.”

“Well, I’m gonna head to bed, I’m sleepy.”

“Yeah, me too,” Nick replied softly, watching as she made her way out of the kitchen and over to the foot of the bed.

“You got everything? Do you need another pillow or blanket or anything?”

“Nah, I’m cool.”

“Ok, well goodnight.”

He watched her for a second, the words on the tip of his tongue. “Night Veronica.”

She smiled and turned, flipping the light off and heading into the bathroom to brush her teeth.

Undressing quickly, he slipped into the bed. Nick frowned, rolling onto his side, he listened as she finished a few minutes later and headed into her bedroom, the door shutting softly behind her. He turned his head and pushed his face into the pillow, screaming in frustration, his body going limp. There had to be something he could do to stop it, the longing, the aching to be with her. It wasn’t because she’d turned him down before; no it was more than that, beyond that. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.

He would get no sleep tonight.

Veronica stared up at the ceiling, she could hear him shifting around and her heart sped up. She’d been so sleepy a few minutes ago and now she was wide-awake. She couldn’t stop thinking about him, about him being just there in the next room. Her bed seemed awful cold, empty for some reason. She closed her eyes, willing herself to fall asleep, but it didn’t work, she knew it wouldn’t. She needed something, wanted…something.

Nick rolled to his other side, hitting his pillow viciously before resting on it again. He couldn’t get comfortable, he just couldn’t relax. Nick let out a breath, trying to force himself to calm down and let sleep take him, but his body wouldn’t listen. Slowly he opened his eyes, staring straight ahead. He couldn’t stop thinking about her.

Neither one of us can get to sleep, cause what's on your mind, is what's on my mind and both of us know that we just might regret it.

Slowly she sat up, rubbing at her eyes. She couldn’t sleep, she just couldn’t. She stilled, listening. It was quiet; apparently Nick had no problem sleeping. Still, maybe she should check on him to see if he was ok, to make sure that he didn’t need anything and was just too afraid of waking her up.

Slipping out of the bed, she quietly opened the door and made her way down the hall, careful not to make a sound. Once again, she flattened herself against the wall and poked her head around the corner. He was on his side, his body still. She didn’t want to wake him, but she couldn’t take her eyes off his sleeping form. She pulled away from the wall, watching him longingly. She couldn’t stop herself from imagining herself spooned up behind him, her arm draped over his waist.

Wincing, she turned to leave.

“Veronica?”

She whirled around, “Nick? I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“You didn’t, don’t worry,” he replied, sitting up.

“Oh, ok.”

“Hey, c’mon on over and talk to me, I can‘t sleep.”

She hesitated a moment, “Me either.”

“So then c’mon,” he patted the spot next to him.

She smiled, making her way over and sitting next to him.

And neither one of us can fight the truth, cause you’re feelin' me and I'm feelin' you, and both of us hope that we'll never forget it.

“So, why can’t you sleep?”

Nick smiled, “Got…a few things on my mind.”

“Ahh, me too it seems.”

“So, what would you like to do tomorrow?”

“Hmmm, I’m not sure. At some point I do want you to come with me to my job so I can introduce you to my friends, if that’s ok.”

“Sure, that’d be cool. I’m dying to meet these people you used to tell me about all the time.”

“I did talk about them a lot didn’t I?” Veronica grinned.

“Yeah ya did, but it was cool. I liked to hear what it was like to be normal.”

Veronica shifted, slowly lying back down on the bed.

“Who says you’re not normal?”

Nick followed her lead and laid back as well, “C’mon, a singer doesn’t exactly lead a normal life.”

“Whatever the hell normal is anyway.”

“I know, but still, it’s just…”

Veronica tried to listen as he spoke, but suddenly she couldn’t focus on anything other than the fact that he was laying next to her in the bed, the heat from his body engulfed her and she felt herself moving in closer to him, wanting desperately some kind of contact. Veronica felt her heartbeat starting to increase, her body tense. It came to her in a flash, so hard and fast she couldn’t have stopped it if she’d wanted to, and in all honesty, she didn’t want to.

Oh, she was in so much trouble. How? How could it have happened? After what went down yesterday, how could she even think of him like that? Here was someone who was going to use her to help him forget, it was only a day later, and she was seriously considering…thinking about…

Sitting up suddenly, she struggled for air, her head spinning.

“Veronica? You ok? What‘s wrong?” He asked, sitting up now as well.

She looked over at him, she could just make out his outline in the darkness, but she could feel his eyes staring intently at her. She wouldn’t let herself think right now, not of the consequences, of the repercussions or how he’d feel about her later. All she knew was that she wanted to be with him, and that she may never have the chance again. What scared her the most was that she cared for him deeply, more than she ever had any guy. She prayed that some part of him cared for her too.

“Veronica?”

Leaning in, she kissed him suddenly, pressing her lips gently and cautiously against his.

So we get closer and we touch, and the feeling gets too much. No need to hurry, no need to rush, and I'm tellin you, girl I'm tellin you…

Nick started, his whole body going still. What was happening, what was she doing? Slowly he pulled away.

“Veronica? What are you doing? What’s going on?”

“I…I can’t…I can’t stop thinking about yesterday, about what I did and…”

“Veronica, you don’t…I’m not expecting you to do anything, I’m not pressuring you to…”

“I know.”

“Then why?”

She couldn’t tell him why, she couldn’t even admit it to herself.

“Because, I want to be with you tonight.”

He swallowed hard, his body already starting to react to her words. He didn’t know what to do, he’d been thinking about this, dreaming about it…about her.

“Veronica, I think…”

“Nick, don’t think, just kiss me please,” she replied softly.

He let out a breath, his pulse racing as he brought hands up, cupping her face as he leaned in, kissing her gently. He felt her hands rest on his biceps, squeezing gently. He brought his hands down, sliding them around her waist, pulling her closer.

Veronica tried to relax, but she was nervous and as much as she wanted this, she was scared.

“Veronica?” Nick pulled away, dropping his arms from around her.

“Yeah?”

“Are you ok?”

“Mmmhmm, why?”

“You’re shaking.”

She was glad it was dark so he couldn’t see her blushing.

“I’m sorry…I…”

“Are you sure you wanna do this?”

She nodded, “Yes, I’m very sure. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize…Veronica, really if you’re not…”

“I am…I am I swear.”

God he wanted her so bad he couldn’t believe he was actually giving her an out, but he couldn’t treat her like the other women, she wasn’t like other women.

“Nick?”

“Hmm?”

Reaching out, she took his arms, wrapping his arms around her. “Hold me?”

He pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly. Moving his hands down, he grabbed the hem of her shirt and slowly pulled it up and off. Nick frowned as the shaking increased; he kissed her shoulder gently, rubbing her back lightly.

She took a breath, she had to tell him, it was important, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it, it was too embarrassing. Her eyes fluttered shut when she felt his lips on her shoulder and then on her neck. Suddenly she felt herself being lowered to the bed as Nick rested on her carefully.

“God, you don’t know how much I’ve wanted to do this,” he whispered, burying his face in her neck, nuzzling gently.

Her eyes widened, “You…have?”

“Hell yeah, god…” he slid his hands up, cupping her breasts, kneading them gently.

She felt her face starting to burn.

“Veronica…touch me,” he whispered.

You're not just givin' it up to me, I'm not just givin' it up to you, and since it's what we both want to do that’s good enough.

Lifting her arms, she hesitantly wrapped them around him, pressing him closer to her.

He made his way down her chest, reaching behind her, he unhooked her bra, pulling away to pull it off. Nick wished he could see her, but he had a feeling that if he suggested turning the light on, she wouldn’t agree. He leaned down, burying his face between her breasts, he wanted to move faster, he wanted to be inside so bad, but he had to go slow.

Veronica slid her hands down until she met the band of his boxers and stopped, she couldn’t make herself go any further, but god knew how bad she wanted to.

“It’s ok, go ahead,” he murmured, as his lips found her nipple, drawing it into his mouth suddenly.

She cried out suddenly, whimpering softly. Urging herself to act, she pushed her hands inside the band of his boxers and down, sliding her hands over his ass lightly.

“Shit…,” he sighed.

She started to pull her hands out; maybe that was not what he had in mind.

“Take em off…”

Ok, definitely not, what he had in mind. Veronica tried to wrap her mind around how she was going to approach it, when she felt Nick’s lips on her other nipple this time and all thought escaped her.

He tugged gently, she tasted so good. He swirled his tongue around her nipple, biting gently. Nick felt her jerk below him and wondered why she hesitated in pushing his boxers off. He gently pressed against her, wiggling his hips a bit. Suddenly he felt her hands come out and start to push his boxers down and he kicked them off and to the floor. Leaning up, he kissed her gently, moving his hands down to her underwear, starting to push them down. Nick felt her tense and pulled away.

“You ok?”

“Mmmhmm, I’m fine.”

“I wish I could see your face,” he said softly.

“Huh? Why?”

“Cause I’d like to know what you’re thinking. You seem so…nervous, so scared. You don’t have to be ok?”

That’s what she kept telling herself, but she couldn’t help it. She was going to do something wrong, she knew it.

“Ok.”

Nick strained to make out any of her features through the darkness, it wasn’t pitch black, there was a bit of light from the blinds, but he couldn’t see her expression. She was holding back, like there was something bothering her.

“Is…is everything ok? I mean…”

“No no! Everything is fine, I promise.”

He hesitated a moment before kissing her again, pushing her underwear down and off the rest of the way. He slid his hand up her leg to her thigh and then around. Nick could hear her breathing starting to quicken, and his body started to harden more. He wanted her so bad; he didn’t know how he was keeping himself from taking her right then. Nick brushed a finger over her and heard her moan softly, bending down, he kissed her stomach gently as he pushed a single finger between her folds and was alarmed to hear her startled cry. He frowned, and then groaned softly when he felt her tighten around his finger.

“Damn baby.”

Veronica panted softly, her body contracting around his finger. He’d taken her totally off guard, and she had no idea how good it would feel. She stifled a moan when she felt him move his finger, rubbing her gently. Her hips bucked gently, pushing up against his hand. He gently inserted another finger, sliding them both up to rub at her clit. She cried out again, her hips rocking instinctively against his hand. It felt so good; nothing had ever felt so good. A moan escaped her lips finally, and her hand slid down to cover his, his fingers starting to rub harder, faster.

Neither one of us can shake the past, are we movin' to slow? Or movin' too fast, they can’t touch us now, if we don't let it…

“N-Nick…” she whimpered, her eyes tightly shut.

“C’mon baby, let go, cum for me.”

She clutched at the sheets as her orgasm hit, her body arching up suddenly, a strangled gasp emanating from her.

Nick continued to rub her with his fingers, only slower, gently now. He pulled his hand away, rolling back onto her.

“Uhh…do you have a condom?” he whispered in her ear. Again, he felt her still, normally he didn’t really care, he’d wear one if the girl insisted or if she didn’t care, he didn’t. This time though, he did care.

“N-no…I don’t have any.”

“Ok, I’ve got one, hang on.”

Nick pulled away and grabbed his jeans, pulling his wallet out.

Veronica stared up at the ceiling; she listened as he grabbed his jeans and then heard a small crinkling sound. Fear welled up in her strong and fast. It was going to happen; it was really going to happen. She opened her mouth to say something when suddenly he was there again, his lips pressed tight to hers. She brought her hands up, clutching at his shoulders as he hovered over her.

Nick slid his hand down, drawing her leg up and wrapping it around his waist. He rocked against her gently before resting on her. Her hands came up suddenly, clutching at his shoulders; he went to move when suddenly he realized she was shaking, badly. Nick pulled away a bit.

“Veronica, honey you have to relax, this can‘t be enjoyable if you‘re so nervous.”

“S-sorry…”

“Veronica, are you sure there’s nothing wrong? Please tell me if there is, I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes, god she didn’t want to say it, she didn’t want to have to tell him, but she knew she really had no choice.

“There…there is something.”

He took a breath, “Ok.”

“I’m, I just…I’ve never…”

“You’ve never…?”

“Nick…please don’t make me say it,” she whispered.

He blinked, his eyes widening. “Shit, Veronica…”

“I’m sorry…”

“No! Don’t be sorry, you have nothing to apologize for. Fuck I’m such a prick.”

“No you’re not.”

“I am, I didn’t even think that.”

“It’s ok Nick.”

“Are you sure you want to do this? That you want it to be with me?”

She looked up at him, from the position he was in, the small bit of light hit his face, she could see the concern, the seriousness in his eyes, and she smiled. Lifting her hand to caress his cheek.

“I’m sure.”

Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled him down to her, silencing him. She wanted to remember this always, she wanted it to last, she knew it’d be the only time she ever wanted anyone this bad and was doing something about it. Veronica brought her other leg around his hip, urging him forward.

“Veronica…”

He didn’t know what he wanted to say, but he knew that if she wanted him to, he would stop. He also knew that if she wanted him, he would take her, have her because he needed this, needed her. Nick wanted so much for her, more than he’d ever wanted for anyone else. And he did want this; he wanted this moment, this night with her too. Nick wished for more, for something he shouldn’t be and he knew it was too late for him.

And neither one us wants this night to end, if forever was now and time could suspend, and wishes came true if we just said it…

Bracing his hands on either side of her head, he slowly moved forward, carefully resting on her completely. He gently pulled away from the kiss, panting softly. Taking a breath, he moved, sliding into her carefully, gently. He heard her sharp intake of breath and stilled, he knew it would just be easier if he did, it fast. Nick closed his eyes, God he didn’t want this to be bad for her. Wrapping his arms around her, holding her tightly. He pushed forward hard and fast, her body jerked below his, a soft whimper came from her.

“A-are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m alright.”

“God you’re so tight Veronica.”

Veronica held him tightly, her body suddenly starting to relax a bit. She shifted slightly, trying to get adjusted to the feel of him.

Nick stifled a groan, his body hardening more, whimpering, he buried his face in her neck, his eyes tightly shut. She was killing him and he was sure she didn’t even realize. What had he done? It shouldn’t have been him, not like this. It was too late for that though, now he had to take it easy and make it as enjoyable for her as he knew it would be for him. He leaned in, kissing her gently, struggling to not move. Nick reluctantly broke the kiss, his breathing labored.

“Veronica…baby, I-I need to move, oh god…please.” He couldn’t help it, she felt too good.

And somehow, she understood that need, that urgency, it was the same as hers. She pushed her hips up to his suddenly, causing him to slide in deeper.

So we get closer and we touch, and the feeling gets too much. No need to hurry, no need to rush…

“Then…move baby,” she whispered.

Ohh what we have right here now baby, it’s good for me and it’s good for you, and all we were waiting for…

“Hold onto me Veronica…I‘ll take you there,” Nick murmured, brushing his lips over hers. He felt her hold on him tighten and he started to move. It was amazing and so unlike anything he’d felt before. It was stronger, truer…perfect.

Take my hand, and I’ll take you to that special place. Come with me through this open door…

A moan escaped her, her hips pushing up against his of their own accord, intensifying the feeling. She could feel that familiar feeling, that pressure, the heat spreading through her body and then suddenly, he was bigger and harder inside her.

“N-Nick,” she whispered.

He could hold back no longer, “Veronica…I…I’m sorry…” he whimpered, thrusting harder, faster now. He’d wanted to be here so bad, for so long and she was everything he’d dreamed she’d be.

“Y-yes…yes…”

She matched his thrusts, needing the release just as much as him, maybe even more. The pressure took over, her body exploded suddenly and she clenched around him hard and tight, calling his name out loudly. She felt his hips jerk and then he was calling out for her and they fell limp, his body resting heavily on hers.

You're not just givin' it up to me, I'm not just givin' it up to you, and since it's what we both want to do that’s good enough. You’re not just givin' it up to me, I'm not just givin' it up to you and since it's what we both want to do that’s good enough.

Nick held her tightly, kissing her neck gently before rolling off her and to his side.

“Veronica?”

“Mmm…mmmhmm?”

“Are you ok?”

Veronica smiled sleepily, “Ok is definitely not the word I’d use.”

He frowned, “It’s not?”

“No”

“Ok, so then…what would you use?”

“Mmm…fantastic, wonderful…sated. Mmmm tired.”

Nick smiled suddenly, “Really?”

“Fuck yeah.”

“Sleep baby,” he whispered, kissing her forehead gently. Nick pulled her to him and he could tell she was already asleep. He waited for that feeling, that need to bolt like he always did, but it never came. He felt completely content to stay right there, his body pressed so close to hers. All those nights he’d dreamt of her here, lying beside him. How many times had he pretended that the girl in bed with him was Veronica? How many? Nick had lost count. Now, now it had finally happened, and he didn’t want the moment to end.

Letting out a breath, he closed his eyes. They’d taken that last step, into more than friends, into something he wasn’t sure of.

It scared him to death.

But he wouldn’t think of that now, he wouldn’t think of anything. Not of the people who would definitely be against this, his feelings. The people who would try to stop it, do whatever it took to not let him act on these feelings. Nick didn’t care though; he was tired of hiding and tired of pretending he didn’t feel anything, because he did. And he had Veronica to thank for it.

Scooting in closer to her, he buried his face in her neck and drifted off.

I’m not gonna worry about, what others may say or do…as long as it’s me and you baby.

Good Enough - by Brian Mcknight feat. Joe, Carl Thomas, Tyrese and Tank
Chapter 89 by Gravity 721
Chapter 89


Nick slowly rolled over, his eyes opening. His gaze found the clock on the cable box, three thirty. He still couldn’t believe what’d happened that night. It’d seemed like a dream, an impossible dream because he’d screwed up so badly the day before. Nick couldn’t get over how lucky he’d been, to have her trust, her forgiveness. He couldn’t help but wonder what it’d be like when they woke up, what would she say? How would she act? He was nervous he realized, nervous and worried about what the morning would bring. Nick carefully slipped away and headed into the bathroom. A few minutes later he made his way out and back over to the bed.

He couldn’t get past the guilt, though. He’d taken something precious, something valuable from her and he couldn’t even believe he hadn’t thought of it earlier. Nick knew how nervous she was around guys, how she wouldn’t even ask a guy out, how could he not have figured out sooner that she hadn’t…

Sighing, he rolled to his side, gazing down at her still body, a soft smile on his lips. He didn’t regret it though; he didn’t regret one moment, one feeling, one kiss. Scooting closer to her, he leaned down, placing a gentle kiss on her shoulder, running his hand up and down her arm. That light scent that always seem to cling to her swirled around him in a mist of memories and his body started to harden. He slowly pulled away, looking at her again. He waited once again, for that feeling, that need to leave before she woke up, before the morning came and he’d have to answer questions.

And still, it never came.

Running a hand through his hair, he closed his eyes, draping an arm across her hip and pulling her back close and tight against his body, burying his face in her hair once again. The morning would tell, the morning would answer all his questions.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Veronica slowly opened her eyes, yawning softly. Bringing a hand up, she rubbed at her face and went to move, when suddenly she realized an arm was draped over her waist, a hard unyielding body resting behind hers.

Oh god what’d she done?

How could she have possibly forgotten? Shaking her head, she carefully pulled away, sitting up. What did she do? Turning, she looked back at the sleeping form behind her and her stomach dropped. Carefully, she slipped away, hurrying into her bedroom and grabbing her robe, slipping it on. Her head was pounding as she gathered her clothes up and headed into the bathroom and then into the shower.

Veronica let the water beat down on her as she blindly started to wash. What did he think of her? The day before she’d told him she wasn’t a groupie, that she didn’t just sleep with random men and then what did she go and do the day after? Her eyes started to burn, and the lump in her throat grew bigger and bigger. What if he lost all respect for her now? Veronica knew, she knew because it was exactly what she’d accused him of. But she wasn’t like those women, she wasn’t. He’d been the only one, the only one she’d ever been with and it hadn’t been because he was famous either.

She was a mess, she could hear herself telling Nick how she had more respect for herself, how she would never be with a guy unless he cared for her, and she hadn’t even known if he had. Veronica knew she had to admit to herself that she did care for him, and that she was starting to fall for him. She closed her eyes, not knowing where the tears ended and the water started. Wrapping her arms around herself, she leaned back against the wall, quiet sobs raking her body.

A short time later she made her way out and over to the kitchen. Her headache had eased up a bit, but not enough and her body ached in places she didn’t even know existed. Reaching into the cabinet, she got her bottle of ibuprofen out and pressed down and turned the cap to open it, shaking one out onto her hand and then getting a glass of milk. She took the pill and reached for the cap for the bottle.

“Good morning.”

Letting out a startled gasp, her hand jerked forward, knocking the bottle of pills all over the counter.

“Shit,” she mumbled, frantically reaching out to grab the pills before they fell into the sink.

“Sorry, I guess I startled you again.”

She gathered up the pills and poured them back into the bottle, taking a calming breath before slowly turning. Veronica slowly lifted her eyes a bit and let out a silent breath, he’d put his boxers on. Knowing she’d have to sooner or later, and not wanting him to know how nervous she was, she lifted her gaze the rest of the way, staring right at him.

“Good morning.”

“Are you…ok?”

“Yeah, I’m alright, why?”

He nodded to the bottle in her hand.

“Huh?” She looked down at the bottle, “Oh! Yeah, I’ve just got a bit of a headache and I’m…” she stopped suddenly.

“You’re…what?”

“I’m…well I’m a bit sore,” she looked away quickly.

He blinked, and then frowned, clearing his throat, “O-oh…”

“It’s alright, it’ll kick in in a little while and I’ll be fine.”

Nick stared at her, “Veronica, we need to talk…”

Oh no, here it came. She couldn’t do it; she couldn’t hear him tell her what she knew he was going to.

“Do you want breakfast? How bout some eggs and toast? I’m not sure if I have bacon though.”

“Why didn’t you stay in bed longer?” He asked suddenly.

“I wanted to get into the shower, try to get rid of the headache,” she lied.

“Ya know, I kinda hoped that…that we could ya know, wake up together, I dunno…maybe cuddle a bit or something before we ate,” Nick said softly.

Veronica stared at him, shaking her head suddenly as if to clear it, she couldn’t have heard him correctly. “Or how about oatmeal? Or Cream of Wheat? Honestly I think Frenia is better,” she went on, making her way over to the fridge.

“Veronica, will you just…”

“How many eggs do you want? Six, no seven right?” Veronica opened the fridge and poked her head in.

“C’mon, stop.”

“Coffee or juice? Coffee right? I can’t remember how you take it. Black? Just sugar I think…”

Nick reached out suddenly, grabbing her wrist, pulling her from the fridge, shutting the door, and pulling her into his arms. He frowned when he felt the slight tremble of her body.

“Stop.”

“Nick…”

“Veronica, please…talk to me, tell me what you’re thinking about.”

“I’m thinking about breakfast right now.”

He let out a breath, surprised at the small stab of hurt that coursed through him.

Veronica pulled away to look up at him, “I’m sorry Nick, I…I guess I’m a bit confused, but even so, you don’t have to worry.”

He frowned.

She pressed on, determined to not let him hurt her, “I want you to know that I don’t…I don’t expect anything from you. Last night was, well it was…” she stopped, a sad smile coming to her lips. “It was perfect and, I’ll never forget it. I just don’t want you to think that you’re obligated to anything you know? I get it ya know? I know that in your position you can’t like…and that it’s hard to…just know that I understand. It’s cool.”

He couldn’t breathe; it felt as if someone had punched him hard in the stomach.

“I’m gonna go get dressed,” she said softly, giving him a small smile before heading into her room.

Suddenly it hit him, she’d done to him, exactly what he’d been doing to all those women before and it felt lousy. In any other case, he would’ve been grateful that the girl had understood that he didn’t want a relationship, or the old tried and true lie that he just couldn’t in his line of work or that, he didn’t want to be in one. Now however, he wasn’t so sure that he couldn’t, that he didn’t want it.

Never before had he been the one getting “the talk”, he had always been the one making excuses, never letting anyone close. It was him that would blow the sex off as if it hadn’t happened or like it was no big deal. He was the one breaking hearts, hurting the girl, only this time, he was the one hurting.
Chapter 90 by Gravity 721
Chapter 90


They made their way into the store, Nick watched as she smiled and waved at some people she knew. After she’d changed, Veronica suggested them going to her job so she could introduce him to some of her co-workers. Nick had agreed, all the while trying hard to act normal, he wasn’t sure he was succeeding, though Veronica didn’t seem to notice.

So here they were, she led him over to the counter and he recognized the woman he’d first met when he was here last time come cover.

“Hey V!”

“Hey Carla, I thought I’d finally bring Nick by so he could meet everyone.”

“Cool, Hey Nick, I’m Carla, Veronica’s told me a lot about you.”

Nick smiled, offering his hand, “Nice to meet you Carla, Veronica’s told me a lot about you as well.”

Veronica watched the two, feeling slightly out of place, which was odd considering the situation. A few other people came over and Veronica introduced them all to Nick. Some knew who he was and others, mostly the older adults, had no idea. Nick seemed to be greatly relieved. He was relaxed and charming, offering several smiles. They made their way from the deli over to the bakery and Veronica introduced him to some of the people there that she was friendly with. From there they headed over to the meat department.

“Hi Geoff! C’mere,” Veronica called to a tall thin guy.

He made his way over, staring intently at Nick, “Hey girl.”

“What’s up? I decided to be the nice one and say hi since you obviously weren’t going to,” Veronica smirked.

Her and Geoff always teased each other about who said hi first, he’d always mess with her when she went into the meat cooler to get the chickens; she enjoyed the mini flirting even though he was dating someone.

“Please, I ALWAYS say hi but you’re always too busy to respond, and where have you been anyway? I haven’t seen you in like, fifty years!” Geoff exclaimed.

“I’m on vacation thank you.”

“Again?!” He grinned.

“Whatever, I want you to meet someone. Geoff, this is Nick, Nick this is my friend Geoff.”

Geoff brought his gaze back to Nick smiling, watching him, “Hey.”

Nick offered his hand, “Hey.”

“You look familiar, aren’t you ummm…” Geoff narrowed his eyes in thought.

“Don’t strain yourself Geoff,” Veronica grinned.

“Hey!”

“It’s hard I know.”

“Girl, you better stop,” Geoff laughed.

“Ohhh sorry, I’m scared now,” Veronica chuckled.

Geoff shook his head and looked back over at Nick, “Do you see how she treats me? And it’s like this all the time man; I don’t know how you put up with her.”

“That wasn’t very nice!”

He grinned, looking over at Nick again, “Damn, I know you from somewhere.”

“Give it up Geoff, you don’t have a clue who he is, so just forget it.”

“Well if you’d just hush and let me think, I’m sure I could figure it out,” Geoff groaned.

“No way, you can’t and you know it,” Veronica giggled.

He’d watched the whole interaction with interest and a lot of discomfort. She flirted, not blatantly, and teased Geoff with a subtly that he didn’t see often anymore. She wasn’t bold, she didn’t throw herself at him or make suggestive comments or anything of the sort, it was almost…classy. Nick felt the mild twinges of jealousy sparking in him as he watched Veronica and Geoff tease each other, Geoff reached out, poking Veronica in the side, she batted his hand away and shoved him gently, telling him she’d see him later.

Nick looked away, why wouldn’t she do that with him?

He couldn’t stop thinking about what’d happened earlier that morning. He kept going over it in his mind. It didn’t seem to bother her, not at all. It looked like she’d forgotten last night already, content in not mentioning it, not talking about it. She’d said that she hadn’t expected anything, and part of him was glad for that, but he also didn’t want to act as if it hadn’t happened. It’d been a huge thing; it’d been a first for her and for him in some ways. Nick just couldn’t make it stop hurting.

Veronica continued to lead him around the rest of the store until they were back at the entrance.

“Well that’s everyone, was there anything you wanted to get before we left?”

“Nah, I think I’m ok.”

“Aright.”

“Hey, can we rent some movies? We can just hang out today,” Nick offered, wanting any excuse to get her alone.

“Ohh yeah, there’s a video store right behind here.”

“Isn’t there a video store in here?”

“Yeah, but we don’t much of a selection,” Veronica explained as they made their way out and over to her car.

They got in and headed over to the plaza and then into the video store. Once inside, they got a couple movies and headed out and at Veronica’s suggestion, headed over to get Chinese before heading back to her apartment.
Chapter 91 by Gravity 721
Chapter 91


He tried to focus on the food, on the movie playing, but he couldn’t. He kept sneaking peeks of her out the corner of his eye, she ate, completely oblivious it seemed to him. Nick could barely eat; he had too much on his mind. Looking over again, he saw that she had now finished and was cleaning up a bit.

“Veronica?”

“Yeah?”

“Can we…turn off the movie and talk for a bit?”

Veronica turned to look at him, this didn’t sound good, he wanted to talk.

“Uhh…sure,” she mumbled, reaching out to turn the DVD player and then TV off. “Let me just clean up a bit and then…hey are you ok? You barely touched your food.”

“Huh? Oh, oh yeah I’m fine, just…not that hungry.”

“Do you want me to wrap it up and you can have it later?”

“You don’t mind?”

“Nah, give me a few minutes and then we can talk,” Veronica smiled, gathering up his stuff and hers and heading into the kitchen, thankful for the extra time to get her thoughts together and prepare for whatever he was going to tell her.

She washed the dishes and wrapped up the rest of Nick’s, sticking it into the fridge. She took a fortifying breath before making her way back out and over, sitting next to him.

“So…what’s up Carter?”

“I want to talk, about what happened last night.”

She blinked, “Umm…”

“We haven’t talked about it and I know you think that…that I’d rather forget, but to be honest, I’d rather not.”

“Nick look, you don’t have to say that alright? It’s fine, just don’t worry about it.”

“I am gonna worry about it, it’s important.”

Why wouldn’t he let this go? Why did he insist on doing this to her?

“Why don’t you ever touch me?” He asked suddenly.

“Huh?”

“You rarely ever touch me or…flirt with me, I don’t get it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you have to hang all over me or anything like that it’s just, I…I figured that after what happened you’d be a bit more…I dunno, open or something,” he whispered.

She was confused, really confused, “I thought that…that you wouldn’t want that. I thought you’d rather have things be this way.”

“Well it’s not, not this time. This is the one time I don’t want it to be nothing, I don’t want it to be “not a big deal”, you’re a big deal to me. You’re more than just a quick lay to me Veronica,” He stated firmly. “I feel like…you want nothing to do with me after, and even before. I tried ya know to touch you or hug you, but I didn’t want you thinking I was trying to pressure you into anything but I wanted that contact with you.

She just stared at him, too shocked to speak.

“You never get close to me, why?”

“Why bother? I mean it doesn’t matter in the long run, I refuse to let myself get attached to someone who could never feel that way about me.”

“What way is that?” Nick questioned.

“The romantic way.”

He raised an eyebrow, “How do you know?”

“I told you before Nick, guys like you don’t go for girls like me,” she sighed. “I’m not the kind of girl attractive guys like.”

“Bullshit, does this have to do with what your Dad told you?”

“He’s right, even if you don’t want to admit it. It’s not as easy as you think; I’ve put myself out there time and time again only to be shot down for the pretty, thin girls. I’ll never be quite good enough, so why bother trying to be something I’m not?”

Nick stared at her for a moment before responding, “You don’t want to.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me; I think you don’t want to try. You want to believe your father is right rather than take the risk. Any guy that would ask you to change or not accept who you are or how you look isn’t worth your time anyway. You need to let go of your father’s control over you and your esteem and start thinking of yourself. Stop trying to be how he thinks you are or how he thinks you should be. Believe me, please believe me when I say you’re good enough for me, more than good enough,” he finished.

She swallowed hard, fighting the urge to wipe at her eyes, to stop the tears that were threatening to spill over. “Nick…”

“Veronica please, stop letting yourself be not good enough. If you tell yourself that, and act like that, then people are gonna believe it and treat you that way. You’re so much more, so much better than you think. If you want to believe anything, think that any one thing is true, then believe that.”

Veronica wrapped her arms around her stomach, looking away, heedless to the tears that were now streaming down her cheeks.

Nick scooted closer to her carefully, hesitantly wrapping his arm around her and pulling her close to him. “Veronica, take that chance sometime ok? Risk it, you never know if you don’t try and keep trying. There could be…someone great out there waiting for you, wanting to be with you only he’s too afraid to take that chance. Who knows, he could be just as scared as you.”

She sniffled, squeezing her eyes shut, she didn’t want to cry in front of him, but she couldn’t help it. He’d called her out, done exactly what she’d done to him. He was right, her father was controlling her still, and she was letting him do it. It was easier to just believe what he said rather than go out and prove him wrong. She didn’t want to hurt though, and all the times that she had tried, she did end up hurting, no getting around it. Veronica didn’t want to hear him talking about some other guy wanting to be with her, of him being scared, it just didn’t seem possible.

“Veronica…look at me.”

Slowly she lifted her head, looking up at him, her heart dropping as he brushed her tears away.

“It’s time.”

She let out a breath, staring hard at him before nodding.

“You can do it Veronica, I know you can.”

“Thanks Nick.”

Nick smiled, pulling her into his arms, “Hug me anytime ok? I wasn’t kidding before when I said I liked hugs, I need lots of them.”

She gave a weak laugh, “Ok, I got it.”

“And relax ok? I’m not gonna yell or snap if you tease me or poke me or whatever.”

Veronica raised an eyebrow, “Does this have to do with me and Geoff earlier?”

“Huh? No!”

“He’s got a girlfriend Nick,” Veronica smiled.

“Oh yeah?”

“Mmmhmm, we always tease like that, it means nothing.”

“Oh.”

She chuckled softly, “If you want me to tease you so much, I guess I could, so long as I don’t come across as some kinda…well…tease.”

“I wouldn’t mind ya know.”

She smacked him in the arm, “Nick!”

“Hey!”

“Anyway, what would you like to do now?”

He stared at her, smiling slowly.
Chapter 92 by Gravity 721
A/N: Ok guys, I'm only gonna post one chapter cause I've been seriously slacking in writing lately, but I don't wanna leave anyone hanging for too long. Soooo...I'm gonna post this just keep it going. I hope to post again fairly soon! Thanks for all the comments, greatly appreciated!

Chapter 92


“Ok, I’ve got Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, Pictionary…Monopoly…umm…Scrabble?”

They’d finished watching movies and were now trying to decide on what game to play. After the talk, things had gone back to normal much to Veronica’s surprise. She thought he was going to suggest…well she felt stupid now because he hadn’t. He’d offered to finish the movie and then got his food back out and devoured it. She kept waiting for him to make some kind of offer, to hint at something physical, but it never happened.

So here they were, trying to figure out what game to play, per Nick’s request. She was confused, but greatly relieved. She hadn’t been sure if after what had happened, if he was expecting it to keep happening, Veronica wasn’t sure what she‘d say if he asked.

“Mmm, how bout Scrabble? I love that game.”

“Me too.”

“I haven’t played in a while, and I usually don’t win. Kev doesn’t like to play it with me; he takes it way TOO seriously.”

“Let me guess, you like to make up words and swear they’re real,” Veronica grinned.

“They are real!”

“Uh huh, right Carter,” she laughed, pulling the box out. “Why don’t you get it set up and I’ll get us some snacks ok?”

Veronica handed him the box and then headed into the kitchen, getting some glasses and filling them with ice and then some pop. She quickly filled some bowls with some chips and crackers, rummaging around her cabinets; she found a couple boxes of Pop Tarts and grabbed a couple packages. After gathering up everything, she brought it into the next room, and after a several trips, sat, getting her tray ready.

“Ohhh, Cheese Nips!”

“Cheez-Its actually.”

“Eww!”

“They’re just as good, even better actually, not as heavy.”

“Whatever, nips are the best man.”

“You do like Doritos right?” Veronica groaned, rolling her eyes as she offered him the bowl.

“All is forgiven,” Nick winked, taking the bowl and grabbing a chip, popping it in his mouth, crunching loudly.

“Lucky me,” she sighed.

“Pop tarts too!”

“I love pop tarts.”

“Mmm me too, they’re the staple of my diet.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”

Nick grinned, shoving his hand into the silver bag, grabbing a handful of tiles and arranging them on his tray.

Veronica followed suit, watching him carefully as she popped a couple of crackers in her mouth before taking a drink of her pop. She couldn’t stop watching him, couldn’t stop thinking what’d happened.

“You can go ahead…”

“Huh?”

“Where were you just then?” Nick asked, his head cocked to the side.

“N-nowhere…” she mumbled, looking the tiles over.

He stared at her for a moment before taking a drink of his pop.

Veronica cleared her throat and tried to focus on the game. She studied the tiles and then formed a word.

“Hope, eight points,” she muttered, jotting the points down.

Nick looked down at his tray, grabbing a few tiles and making a word off Veronica’s.

“We should’ve set some ground rules before we started,” Veronica sighed.

“What? Boob is a word!”

Shaking her head, she shoved a handful of Cheez It’s into her mouth, jotting his points down.

About an hour later, Veronica added up the points, grinning.

“Well Nick, it looks like you won.”

“Huh? No way!”

“It’s true, look,” she handed him the pad of paper.

“Wow, I never win. Are you sure this is right? You didn’t…let me win did you?”

She rolled her eyes, “You won fair and square ok?”

“Man, wait till I tell Kevin, he won’t believe it. Can I keep this piece of paper?”

“It’s yours,” she chuckled.

Nick tore the piece of paper off and shoved it in his pants pocket.

“Well, I’m gonna head to bed,” Veronica announced, gathering up the empty bowl and plates, bringing them into the kitchen.

Nick followed her in with the glasses, “Ok.”

Smiling she headed back into the living room, gathering up the game. “Have a good night.”

“Wait, why don’t you stay with me?”

She looked at him, “Stay?”

“Yeah, we’ll sleep on the couch.”

“Umm…”

“Nothing has to happen, just ya know, we can chill or whatever.”

“I dunno Nick.”

“C’mon, besides, you owe me some cuddle time anyway,” he winked.

“I do do I?”

“Absolutely, and I’m a good cuddler, or so I’ve been told.”

Veronica chuckled, looking away. She wanted to, but she was scared, not that she thought he’d force her to do anything, but that she would end up hoping that he would.

“Veeeeerrrrooonnniiiicaaaaa…”

“Ok ok, let me just go get changed first,” she sighed, turning and heading to her room

“Cool, I’ll get the bed ready.”

She stumbled a bit, looking at him over her shoulder, “Yeah, you do that.”

Nick watched as she went into her room and let out a sigh of relief, he was glad he’d convinced her to stay. Walking over, he took the cushions off the couch and pulled the bed out, getting she sheets and blankets organized before grabbing the pillows Veronica had let him borrow and tossing them on. He heard the door open and turned to see Veronica making her way out and over.

“Oh wait, I gotta brush my teeth, hang on,” she turned, hurrying into the bathroom.

She was nervous, he could tell. Nick knew she was worried that he was going to try something, that he was expecting something to happen, and while he wanted a repeat of the night before, he knew that the circumstances were different now. Last night had been great, but it couldn’t happen again unless he knew for sure that it’s what she wanted, that she wouldn’t run from it in the morning or downplay it. When and if that time ever happened, he’d be more than willing. Until then, he’d take what he could get, even if that meant having her in the same bed and just holding her.

“Ok, all set, minty fresh,” she grinned.

“Well that means I gotta now,” Nick sighed dramatically, reaching into his bag and grabbing his toothbrush holder.

“Aww, you poor baby.”

“Mmmhmm, you know it,” He made his way past her and into the bathroom.

Veronica walked over to the bed, sitting on the edge. Just last night she’d been here, she’d been with him in a not so innocent way. It seemed like it was years ago, like it’d all been just a dream, but it wasn‘t.

“Alright, better.” Nick said suddenly as he made his way back over, pulling the covers back and slipping under. “C’mon, get in.”

She took a breath and stood, making her way around the other side of the bed, quickly slipping under the covers, scooting as far to the edge as she could.

Nick looked over at her, an eyebrow raised, “You ok?”

“Uh huh.”

He laughed, sliding down lying on his back, “So…tell me about your parents’ divorce, what brought it on?”

Letting out a breath, she slid under the covers, lying down as well.

“Insecurity.”

“Huh?”

“My Dad, he’s very insecure. He always thought that my Mom was cheating on him, he’d had a bad first marriage and his first wife did end up cheating on him. So naturally when him and my Mom got married, he eventually started thinking she was cheating on him too.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, it just…each year it got worse and worse. My Mom left a couple times too, which was hard cause I was only like, five or six ya know? Dad is big on control you know? So he’d try to control all of us and he did for the longest. My oldest brother, Paul, well he ended up kicking him out and then Bryan, but once Bryan got to a certain point, he wouldn’t take it anymore. He stood up for himself. After he went to college, it was just me and Mom. It was hard sometimes, to see Mom so unhappy, what could I do you know? I was in high school, I had no idea what would happen. The only thing that I could think of was to be around at all times. I couldn’t go anywhere, but I was always hesitant to go to friends houses for what I’d find when I got home. They‘d fight, man could they fight. It was mostly my Dad, he could be so…so…mean sometimes Nick. I can see it clearly in my head. I used to make myself sick from worrying so much, literally. I never knew what to expect, none of us did. What kind of mood would he be in when he came home from work? What would set him off?”

He let out a breath, closing his eyes, “That really sucks.”

“Yeah it does, my high school experience wasn’t great. My junior prom was a mess. I couldn’t enjoy it properly cause I was worried about Mom. When I got home I found out that they’d had another fight and well…anyway, by the time I had my senior ball, they were already separated so that had worked out better than the prom in that sense. Overall…well that’s a different story entirely.”

“Separated…when did that happen?”

“February of 98. They had one last big fight and…it’s a long story. Let’s just say in the end, my Dad moved out of the house and eventually moved to Georgia. Mom and I stayed in the house until I graduated and then we moved to an apartment.”

“Wow, it happened fast huh?”

“Real fast. They separated in February of 98 and got officially divorced in the same year. It was weird to say the least.”

“And…how did you deal with it?”

“I wrote a lot. I was hurt and angry with my Dad, angry that he would do all of it to my Mom, to our family. Eventually I dealt with it, not that I had a choice and I kind of distanced myself from it. It makes it easy to talk about it when you do.”

“What about now? How are you dealing with it now?”

Veronica shrugged, “The best I can. I have nightmares sometimes, where I’m back home and they’re fighting and I get that nervous sick feeling in my stomach. I wake up and have to remind myself that it’s over. Sometimes though, it’s really bad, and it hangs on for the whole day. I try to forget about it, but it’s always there.”

He looked over at her, “What about you and your Dad? How’s your relationship now?”

“Wow, well we used to be close, really close actually. After the divorce, that all changed. He moved and when we do talk, you know how it goes. He swears everyone is against him and it’s just different, which sucks. I miss him, I miss how things used to be, but I know it’ll never go back to how it was, too much has happened. I’ve seen him do and say too many things for me to ever have this…idyllic idea of him anymore. I’m twenty four and I’ve seen things that I’d never wish on my worst enemy.”

“Yeah, I know how that is. I’ve seen sides of my parents I never knew existed, it kind of ruins that image you have of them.”

“Isn’t that scary? They’re supposed to be the ones that support you, the ones you look up to. They’re not supposed to hurt you, to make you feel bad about yourself.”

“And he did didn’t he? Still does,” Nick said softly.

She sighed, “Yeah he still does. It’s sick cause he knows just what to say or do to make me feel so…so horrible.”

“Aww Veronica.”

“It’s not intentional I know, and I’m not making excuses for him. I know he thinks he’s doing right by saying what he does, but he’s not doing right.”

“Yeah, my parents are like that too, so are the fans. Fans…it’s weird, they can make me feel so great, so good, and then they can also make me feel so bad, like…like there’s something wrong with me cause I don‘t look like everyone else, cause I don‘t always say the right thing, cause I don‘t look a certain way. To top it all off, my parents, more so my mom, always has to get these little digs in.”

Veronica looked over at him for a moment before looking away, “Can you guess what my favorite part of you is?”

Nick frowned, looking over at her again, “Huh?”

“Guess what physical feature of you is my favorite.”

He blinked, “Uhh, I have no idea.” However, he knew what she wouldn’t say. He looked over as she suddenly scooted closer to him, sliding her hand under the sheet. His eyes widen and he stilled as her hand met his thigh, slowly moving upward. He shifted when her hand slid up and over, stopping on his stomach. He stared at her, “Veronica?”

“Not what you were expecting huh?”

Nick pushed the covers down to reveal her hand resting on his stomach, “My stomach?” It didn’t make sense, it wasn’t what he‘d been expecting. Of all the places, he knew she wouldn’t pick his stomach, and yet, she had.

“Mmmhmm.”

“Why?”

She shrugged, “Cause I know what it feels like to be constantly attacked about your weight. Never thin enough, always too big. My Dad always used to harp on me about my weight. He used to tell me repeatedly that guys don’t like chubby girls and I always hear his voice in my head when I eat dinner or whatever. There was this girl who used to be a friend of mine who was always bigger, heavier than me. Dad always used to say that each year I got bigger; I was where she was at the year before. Now, whenever I get dressed or look in the mirror at myself, I cringe. Even now after all this time, I can‘t make it stop, I can‘t erase the words from my mind. It‘s hard to care, to want to look nice when you figure no one else sees you as nice looking anyway. I‘ve always thought, it wouldn‘t matter what I wore, I was always too big for it to make a difference.”

Nick let out a breath, trying to tamp down the anger that was suddenly starting to rise.

“I know what fans say, or what they’re saying and I always thought it was mean. Unless you know what it feels like first hand to be constantly ridiculed about your weight, you have no idea how damaging and painful it is. It screws with your self-esteem and your self worth. I-I’ve always liked you no matter how much you weighed. How much you weigh doesn’t matter to me, never has and never will. If you want the truth I kinda prefer you slightly…chubby, more to hug in my humble opinion.”

The lump in his throat threatened to get bigger and he had to swallow hard to fight back the tears and screamed to be released. No one ever seemed to understand what it felt like, how much it hurt to be teased and taunted, no one except her. Reaching out, he lifted her head so she was looking at him, “Thank you.”

Veronica blushed, looking away, “It’s ok, I can’t believe I told you that. My friends always laugh at me when I tell them. You probably think I’m a freak or something, me and my whole…thing with your stomach and all.”

“No.”

“It’s ok, you can say it.”

“Veronica…I don’t think you’re a freak.”

“Yeah well, I feel like one.”

“You’re not. Look at me.”

Slowly she lifted her eyes to his again.

“Thank you.”

She smiled suddenly, “You’re welcome.”

It was then he knew she was more like him then he ever realized, than he’d ever know. Leaning in he kissed her gently, holding her tightly. Slowly he pulled away.

“Let’s get some sleep ok?”

She nodded, “Yeah.”

She rolled to her side and scooted back against him. Nick draped his arm across her waist and closed her eyes, finally feeling at peace for the first in in a long time.
Chapter 93 by Gravity 721
A/N: I just wanted to say a quick thank you to those who've been sending me feedback, it's so appreciated. I'm trying to write, I'm currenly up to chapter 102 and I've been so tired at night that I'm not in the mood to write. I hope to get some done over the weekend. In the meantime, enjoy this chapter and please keep sending your comments and thoughts!

Chapter 93


Sighing softly, she slowly opened her eyes, blinking rapidly. Veronica couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept so well. A soft smile formed on her lips, the arm draped over her hip this time was welcomed, was comfortable. She shifted, starting to pull away, when that arm suddenly tightened, pulling her back against the hard warm body behind her.

“Wha?”

“Don’t…move,” came the groggy voice.

“Nick…”

“Don’t go anywhere.”

“I have to go to the bathroom, let go.”

“Veronica…”

“Nick, c’mon.”

“You coming back?”

She smiled a bit, confused as to why he was asking. “I’d planned on it.”

Nick let out a deep groan, “Mmm, you’d better.”

Veronica pulled away again and this time met with no resistance. She heard Nick sigh softly and turned to look at him; his eyes were closed and appeared to have fallen back asleep. Shaking her head, she slipped off the bed and headed into the bathroom. Why had he been so reluctant for her to leave? She was only going to the bathroom, she’d be back. It hit her suddenly, she’d left last time and hadn’t come back, he’d told her later that he’d wanted to cuddle, to wake up together. At the time she’d blown it off, it appeared that he’d been serious.

She made her way back out a few minutes later and slipped back into the bed, rolling back onto her side, when an arm snaked around her hip and pulled her back a bit. Veronica let out a soft squeal as she felt herself being pulled back and then suddenly rolled onto her other side so she was facing him.

“Mmm, better.”

“Nick, what are you doing? I thought you were asleep.”

“I am.”

“You are not.”

“Give me a minute, I will be,” a sleepy grin spread across his lips as he pulled her closer still, burying his face in the crook of her neck.

Veronica blinked, her eyes widening suddenly as his leg came up, draping possessively over her lower half. She went stock still when he shifted, nuzzling her neck, apparently getting comfortable against her, sighing heavily.

“God you smell so good.”

“I-I do?”

“Mmmm.”

She struggled to fight off the nervous laughter that bubbled up in her throat when he gave her a gentle squeeze and stilled. Veronica could feel the moment he fell asleep, his body relaxed and his breathing evened out, and yet she just lay there trying to figure out how he’d managed to wrap himself around her body. They were entwined and tangled together in a heap of arms and legs. Amazingly enough she didn’t feel closed in, she felt no need to bolt, in fact, she felt tired and completely comfortable, comfortable and relaxed. Yawning softly, her eyes slowly closed and she drifted off, her head resting on his shoulder, her arm wrapped around him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

She opened her eyes to see Nick sitting up, rubbing at his eyes, stretching.

“Mmm, morning,” she whispered.

Nick turned to look at her, smiling suddenly, “Morning baby,” he leaned down, kissing her forehead gently. “Sleep well?”

“Like a baby, god you’re comfortable,” she moaned, slowly sitting up.

He smiled wider, “See what you were missing? Should’ve done this the first time.”

“Yeah yeah, whatever Carter,” she stretched and then yawned.

“Well I slept great thank you very much.”

“Glad to hear it, would you like some breakfast?”

“Mmm, I am kinda hungry.”

“Alright, I’ll get started on it.”

“I wanna help,” Nick exclaimed, slipping out of the bed.

Veronica chuckled, “Sure thing.”

After breakfast, they finished the dishes and Veronica grabbed the phone.

“Can I ask who you’re gonna call?”

“My Dad.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, I think it’s time we had a talk.”

“Would you like me to ya know…leave?”

“Nah, it’s cool, you’re part of the reason I have the nerve to do this, actually a lot of the reason,” she smiled, turning the phone on and pressing the number she had set for her dad.

“Hello?”

“Hey dad.”

“Well hello, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I just wanted to talk, to see how things were going,” she looked over at Nick and he gave her an encouraging smile.

“Oh, well things are going alright, just trying to get over this cold, it’s been hanging on.”

“Aww, maybe you should go to the doctors.”

“Yeah, I’m gonna call and set up an appointment.”

“Good, let me know what happens.”

“I will. Is your boyfriend still over?”

Veronica sighed, “He’s not my boyfriend dad.”

Nick frowned, looking away.

“Well is he?”

“Yeah he’s here till Friday.”

“Oh, so what have you two done?”

“Just hung out, showed him around Wegmans and we went to the mall and some clubs and stuff, just did whatever.”

“Aren’t you a little embarrassed taking him to Wegmans?”

“Well it is where I work dad.”

“I know, but if you’d did like I said, you could’ve shown him some place nicer.”

“Dad…”

“Hey I’m just saying.”

“I know but…Wegmans as lousy as it is sometimes, it is where I work. It’s how I earn money. I know it’s not as glamorous as you’d like, but it’s the best I can do for right now.”

He sighed, “I know Veronica, it’s just you can do so much better. What about what you went to school for?”

“I know I know, but you’re going to have to trust me dad. I’m working on it ok? Don’t worry, I know what I’m capable of and what I can do and Wegmans is not going to be a career for me. Please just trust me.”

“I do trust you, I do.”

“Then say it more ok? I know you want a lot for me and all, and I want it too. That said I need you to not…not…be so adamant on making me feel bad for what I am doing. I need you to support me no matter what.”

“You know I do.”

“Then tell me. Instead of saying what I should be doing or asking why I’m not doing it, support what’s happening now, help me to accomplish the things I need to, but supporting my choices, not just in my work but in my personal life and whatever too.”

Her dad sighed.

“Ok, I’ll try.”

“Thanks.”

“So what about this guy? You say he’s not your boyfriend, do you want him to be?”

Veronica looked over at Nick, who suddenly looked at her and she looked away, “I dunno.”

“What? Is he a bad person?”

“No, it’s not that it’s just…”

“Just what?”

“I’m not…not his type,” she mumbled, turning so her back was to Nick.

Nick raised an eyebrow, not his type huh.

“Well ya know, like I told you, guys don’t like chubby girls.”

“Dad…”

“I’m just telling you the truth.”

“It’s not the truth, it’s not always the way it is dad. Why do you say things like that? I’ll never be stick thin, and why would I want a guy that wants me to change for him? Shouldn’t I be good enough just as I am?”

“You are, I never said you weren’t. I’m just trying to tell you…”

“No you want me to look how you think I should look. Granted, I’m no great catch, but there’s nothing seriously wrong with me. Yeah I’m slightly chubby dad, but me losing weight should be because I want to, cause I need to. Not to get guys to like me,” Veronica stated firmly.

“I never said…look I’m sorry ok?”

“I don’t want you to be sorry. I want you to be proud of who I am and how I am and have that be enough. No more little digs about my weight and about what guys find attractive. When I can find a guy who likes me for who I am regardless of how much I weigh, then I can date. When it doesn’t matter, when I can do it for me. I can’t keep trying to change for everyone else, otherwise it’s not worth it. Can you understand that?”

“I’m sorry; I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

Veronica sighed, “You saying all that hurts more than any guy saying it to me ever could. I need you to make me feel beautiful, no matter how I look or how much I weight.”

“Aww you are though.”

She bit her lip, “It’d be nice to hear it once and a while.”

He sighed, “I’ve been a lousy dad huh?”

“No, I get that you want what’s best for me and you think you’re doing good but, it’s different when you’re the one hearing it. I just need you to support me no matter what ok?”

“I will, I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright.”

Nick listened, his heart swelling. She’d actually done it, he was very proud of her.

“Well I’m gonna let ya go, gonna get some sleep.”

“Ok, but call me after you see the doctor ok?”

“Yeah, I will.”

“Alright, I love you dad.”

“I love you too Veronica, talk to you soon.”

“Ok, bye!”

“Bye.”

Veronica hung up, smiling softly. That had gone a lot better than she’d hoped. Turning she found Nick grinning widely.

“Good job.”

She blushed, “Thanks.”

He made his way over to her, pulling her into his arms, “I’m proud of you. You stood up for yourself, said what needed to be said. Do you think things will change?”

“Well I hope so, he seemed to get it. We’ll see I guess.”

Nick gave her a tight squeeze, “God I’m so proud of you. I know how hard that was.”

Veronica smiled, resting her head on his shoulder, “Yeah it was, but I feel so much better now that I’ve done it.”

“That’s the whole point. Well if you don’t mind, I’m gonna hop in the shower.”

“Alright, I gotta make another call anyway. Thanks Nick.”

“Nothing to thank me for,” he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before turning and heading over to his bag.

Veronica picked up the phone again, pressing the preset number for Lynne.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I can’t believe you did it…with Nick Carter! Veronica!”

“I know I know!”

“How…I mean…”

“It just ya know…happened. And I felt and still feel like a major hypocrite after telling him I wasn’t that kind of girl.”

“Did he make you feel guilty or something?”

“No not at all, in fact he was really cool about it. He never pressured me and he kept telling me I didn’t have to but…I wanted to, I really wanted to. It was different this time.”

“Oh Veronica.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen now. I don’t want him to lose respect for me, though he hasn’t treated me any different. He hasn’t made any comments or suggestions as to wanting to…ya know, do it again.”

“Well that’s a relief.”

“It is?”

“Of course it is! Look Veronica, you don’t want him using you to get his rocks off. What happened was nice and all I’m assuming, but it’s not something he should get used to. That’s not how you are. You‘re not the kind of girl he‘s used to, remember that V. He‘s a celebrity, used to using women and tossing them aside.”

Veronica frowned, “I guess.”

“God, I still can’t believe you did it. “

“Me either, and funny thing is…I don’t regret it, not for one minute. Oh sure, I may have had a mini breakdown in the bathroom and kind of blew him off after…”

“Wait wait, you blew him off?”

“I panicked!”

Lynne chuckled, “Gave him a taste of his own medicine huh?”

“Well…”

“I bet he didn’t like that, was he an ass to you?”

“No, he seemed…well actually he seemed kinda hurt.”

“Yeah well it’s one thing to do the blowing and quite another to be blown.”

There was dead silence for a good five seconds.

“That didn’t come out right at all,” Lynne giggled.

“You’re so nasty,” Veronica laughed.

“You know what I mean!”

“Well I talked to my dad just now, finally got things out in the open about how I was feeling and the things he says.”

“Did you? How’d it go?”

“Pretty good, hopefully things will change a bit now.”

“Good for you girl, I’m proud of you.”

“Yeah, I’m proud of me too,” Veronica smiled.

“As you should be.”

“Look I’m sorry for not calling all this week, we’ve been pretty busy.”

“So it seems,” Lynne teased.

“Whatever.”

“It’s alright; I’ve been busy with work. We’ll have to get together soon.”

She hung up with Lynne a short time later, and a few minutes after, Nick made his way out of the bathroom. Veronica watched him intently as he carried his dirty clothes over to his bag; his hair was still slightly damp and clung to his head in would should’ve been an innocent way. But for Veronica, it was more of a turn on than she would’ve liked to have admitted.

Looking away, she frowned; she was in way over her head.
Chapter 94 by Gravity 721
Chapter 94


Later That Evening…

“Well that was a good movie,” Veronica announced as they made their way back into the apartment.

“Yeah, I liked it; I thought it could’ve been a little better though.”

“Really? I didn’t think it was bad,” she said as she shut and locked the door.

“It wasn’t bad just…I was expecting more action.”

Veronica rolled her eyes, “Typical guy.”

“It’s not an action movie without the action V! I mean, where was the violence? The shoot out‘s, the killings, the blood on the street? It was a bit depressing.”

“Mmmhmm,” she grinned, heading down the hall to her bedroom.

Nick watched her leave, a soft smile on his lips. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled his now ringing phone out, flipping it open.

“Lo?”

“Hey man!”

“Oh, hey Bri, s’up?”

“Not much, what’s up man? I was hoping you’d call sometime.”

“Sorry, been busy ya know.”

“Yeah? How’s things been going with Veronica?”

“Pretty good, I’ve really been enjoying it here, she’s really sweet.”

There was silence for a moment.

“Sweet?”

Nick frowned, “Yeah, sweet.”

“Since when are your girlfriends sweet?”

“She’s…she’s not my girlfriend,” Nick sighed, his heart dropping.

“Well I don’t mean like that, she’s a friend who’s a girl, she’s a girl…friend.”

“What? The girls I hang out with can’t be sweet?”

“No it’s not that, it’s just…usually they’re ya know…well you know,” Brian hedged.

“No, I don’t know, why don’t you tell me.”

Brian sighed, “Are we ever gonna meet her?”

“Eventually.”

“She must be something special.”

Nick narrowed his eyes, “Why do you say that?”

“Cause, you’ve never kept any of your female friends so close to you before. You seem to be protecting her from something…from us.”

He sighed, she was special.

“I’m not protecting her from you guys.”

“Are you sure?”

No, no he wasn’t sure.

“I’m gonna get going.”

“When do you come home?”

“Two days, early afternoon.”

“Well alright, stop by after you get settled, Baylee wants to see you.”

Why did he keep doing that? Did he actually think he believed that?

“Sure man.”

“I’m serious Nick; Leigh wants to see you too.”

Nick chuckled, he sure was persistent.

“Not you though right?”

“Who me? No way!”

“Uh huh, I’ll talk to ya later.”

“Later!”

Nick flipped his phone closed and shoved it back in his pocket. Most of the time he never knew how to take the things Brian said anymore. Their friendship wasn’t like it used to be and it hurt. Nick missed Brian, but he knew that things had changed for him, priorities had shifted and their friendship while still important wasn’t high on his list of priorities anymore. Nick always felt like a forth wheel when he went to visit.

Turning he headed towards his bag, when he heard a sound coming from Veronica’s room. Hesitantly he turned and made his way down the hall to her room, he stopped by her door, listening intently. He knocked, but got no response.

“Veronica?”

I sounded like music playing and…it couldn’t be.

“Veronica?”

Reaching out, he turned the knob, slowly opening the door. He hoped she wasn’t half dressed or anything, even though they had been intimate, it’d been dark. He didn’t actually see her.

Carefully, he poked his head around the door.

“Veronica? I tried knocking but I guess…” he stopped. She was fully dressed, bent over looking for something. She had the radio on pretty loud, so that explained why she didn’t hear him call her or knock. Nick stared hard at her, licking his lips suddenly and just that fast he wanted her.

He’d been right, she was humming something, and her soft voice could barely be heard over the soft melody now playing.

“I'm scared, so afraid to show I care. Will he think me weak, if I tremble when I speak?” she sang, slowly straightening up and turning to her dresser.

Nick made his way inside, quietly closing the door behind him. His lips curved up in a half smile as he watched her, slowly making his way closer to her.

“…And whisper, tender words so soft and sweet. Hold him close to feel his heart beat, love will be the gift you give yourself.”

He stopped just behind her, listening intently, the song sounded familiar, he’d heard it before, but he didn’t know the name of it. She was barely singing, it was hard to make her out, nonetheless, Nick found himself growing more and more aroused. He cursed himself inwardly for the sheer stupidity of it, she was singing, barely, and yet he found it hard to keep himself from touching her.

“I love him, of that much I can be sure. I don't think I could endure, if I let him walk away, when I have so much to say…”

He slid his hands around her waist suddenly, pulling her back to him.

“Oh! Nick, you scared me! I was just going to show you some…”

Nick whirled her around, pressing her close to him as he kissed her deeply.

Veronica pulled away, “Whoa, where’d that come from?”

“S-sorry, but you were bent over and singing and…” he shook his head. “Sorry.”

“No no, it’s ok,” she blinked.

Nick sighed, “Veronica?”

She slowly looked up at him, “Yeah?”

“I really want you right now.”

Her eyes widen.

“I know I know, it sounds bad, but holy shit.”

She smiled, looking away, a slight blush on her cheeks, “Nick…”

He looked over at her again, pulling her back into his arms, “I want you Veronica.”

Her heart dropped, and that familiar ball of fear welled up inside. Still, she didn’t hesitate; Veronica wrapped her arms around him, hugging him close as he kissed her deeply.

Nick led her back to the bed, gently laying her down.

“Hurry Nick…”

He groaned, sliding his hands down to unbutton her jeans, pushing them down.

Her head was spinning and all she knew was that she wanted this, and that she was glad that he’d been the one to say something this time. She could finally admit it to herself, she’d wanted this to happen, hoped it would happen again and now it was.

She fumbled with the button of his jeans, unzipping them and then pushing them down. Somehow they both managed to get undressed, Nick rested on her carefully, sliding his hand down and hooking her leg over his hip and went to move when suddenly he remembered.

“Fuck…”

“Wha-what?”

“C-condom.”

Veronica’s eyes widened, how could she have forgotten?

“Shit…hang on; let me see if I have another.”

He pulled away quickly, grabbing his jeans.

She prayed silently that he’d have another and she also thanked god for him remembering. How could she have been so stupid? So careless? Veronica had never understood or believed when people said they got caught up in the moment, she no longer had any doubt it could happen. If it hadn’t been for Nick…

“I have one left, I can’t believe it.”

Veronica looked over at him and smiled; the fear came on quick once again, but wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been the very first time. There was a light crinkling and then he was there, resting on her again. She brought her legs up, wrapping them around his waist and pulling him down for a kiss as he slipped into her.

She let out a soft sigh, hugging him close to her as he moved. Veronica felt herself slowly starting to relax, and at the same time, her body tensed, and she tightened around him.

“V-Veronica…”

She moaned, pushing her hips up to meet his instinctively, crying out softly as the feeling increased. They moved together, faster, harder, and they both called out as they hit their peak together and then lay back, panting hard.

“God…”

Nick moaned softly, hugging her close, his eyes tightly shut. He couldn’t get close enough, deep enough. He managed to somehow pull the covers out from under them. Once he’d covered them both, he shifted so he was lying beside her.

“Baby?”

“Mmm?”

“How do you feel?” he whispered.

“Mmm…k” she murmured sleepily.

He smiled, she was already half asleep. Leaning in, he kissed her forehead gently, pulling her even closer, making sure she was covered and warm. Things certainly had changed since two days ago and he was glad. She seemed more relaxed, more comfortable around him. He hadn’t thought this moment would come again, would ever happen. He was glad it did, but he also didn’t want her to pull away from him again.

Sighing heavily, Nick watched as she slept. He had two days left and then he’d have to leave, back home, back to reality. How was he going to do it? How could he leave her?

Closing his eyes, he snuggled against her, drifting off into a troubled sleep.

Song bits : Tell Him - by Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand
Chapter 95 by Gravity 721
Chapter 95


She made her way out of the bathroom and into the living room, flopping down next to Nick on the couch.

“Man we slept in too late, now I don’t feel like doing anything besides lounging like a lazy bum,” she sighed.

Nick grinned, leaning in to kiss her temple, “That’s cool; we can just stay in on this last day and chill.”

“You don’t mind?”

“No way, it’ll be a nice way to end the vacation.”

“Ok, then we’ll stay in.”

“Cool.”

She looked at the TV then at him again, “I bet…you’ll be glad to go home.”

Nick looked over at her and she looked away quickly, “Mmm, sort of, but I’m really gonna miss you.”

“Psh, I bet you said that to all the girls,” she chuckled, blushing a bit.

He nodded, “Yeah I do, but this time I actually mean it.”

And he did he realized as he looked over at her, he really was going to miss her. Sleep had been fitful at best. He kept dreaming that he was standing in the middle of some road and he kept trying to reach out and grab someone in front of him, but he couldn’t reach, he somehow kept moving further and further away. He’d woken up frustrated and had grabbed Veronica and made sure she was still there.

“Yeah? Well I’m gonna miss you too. Having you here has just been amazing.”

Nick leaned in, kissing her deeply, sliding his hand up to cup her cheek gently. She slid closer to him, wrapping her arms around him.

“Girl, don’t get me started.”

“Me? You’re the one who started it.”

He grinned, “Oh yeah.”

Veronica chuckled, “But now that you’ve started it, I have no problem finishing it,” she leaned in and kissed him again just as the phone started to ring.

“Maaan…”

“Hold that thought,” she winked, standing and hurrying over to grab the cordless. “Hello?”

“Hey.”

“Bryan?”

“Yeah.”

“Wow what’s up? You never call.”

“It’s about dad.”

She frowned, what had he told Bryan? “What about him?”

“He’s sick, he’s in the hospital.”

Her heart stopped, “What? I just talked to him yesterday, he was fine. He said he was getting over a cold.”

“Yeah well, he’s been sick for a few days and I took him to the hospital last night and now…well he’s in a coma.”

“C-coma?”

Nick frowned, what was going on? He could tell from her expression that whatever it was, it wasn’t good news.

“Yeah, look Veronica, you need to try to come down here, you’ve gotta see him incase…”

“Incase what?”

“Just…come down.”

“I don’t know that I can, I’ll try and see what I can do. Keep me updated.”

“Ok, I’ll talk to ya soon.”

“Alright, bye.”

She hung up and turned, heading over to the couch, sitting slowly.

“Veronica? What’s wrong? Who was that?”

“My brother Bryan.”

“Oh? What’d he say?”

“It’s…it’s dad, he’s sick. He’s in the hospital, he’s…in a coma.”

“A coma? What…I mean, what’s wrong? Er…what’s…” he stuttered, trying to make sense of what she told him.

Veronica shook her head, “I don’t know, he was fine yesterday, he was fine. He promised he would go to the doctors, that he’d tell me what was wrong.”

Nick sighed heavily, “Damnit.”

Veronica closed her eyes, slumping back on the couch.

Now what?
Chapter 96 by Gravity 721
Chapter 96


“How’d you do that?”

“Press x then o twice,” Veronica explained.

Nick looked over at her and sighed, he could tell she was distracted and rightfully so. They’d been trying to do things to take her mind off her father, but nothing was really working. He’d suggested playing Playstation on a whim and while she acted as if she was excited to, he could tell her heart wasn’t really into it.

She’d spent several hours after the phone call trying to make arrangements to go to Georgia and so far, things weren’t looking so good. She was just getting ready to go back to work, money was tight and it looked as if she would have to use her credit cards. Her Mom was trying to help her out and now Veronica was waiting to hear back from her before she could make any other plans.

“What do ya say we order a pizza and watch some movies?” Nick suggested.

“Sure sounds good.”

“Alright,” he stood, putting the game away, “I’ll order. Anything specific you want?”

“Nah, just cheese is fine with me.”

Nick grabbed the phone, found the listings of pizza shops on the fridge, and dialed.

Once the pizza arrived, they settled down and watched a couple movies while they ate. Nick kept stealing glances of her, wanting to say something, do something to try to make it easier, but he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to bug her, he didn’t want her to push him away, but he also didn’t want to act as if it wasn’t happening. Sighing he wiped at his mouth with a napkin and then took a drink of his pop.

She could barely taste the pizza; she may as well have been eating cardboard. She really wasn’t that hungry and she couldn’t focus on anything. Everything had changed in a matter of minutes, and now faced the reality that something may happen to her dad. The thought sickened her, made her wish she hadn’t been so caught up in herself, hadn’t been so quick to want him to not interfere. Now all that Veronica wished for was to hear his voice again.

Sniffling, she wiped at her eyes with her napkin and stood abruptly, grabbing her plate and heading into the kitchen.

“Veronica? You ok?”

She whirled around, “Oh sorry Nick, I should’ve asked if you were done and taken your plate too.”

“S’ok, no big deal. Gives me an excuse to come in here with you,” he winked.

She chuckled weakly, “Mmmm.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Few Hours Later…

“Well, I’m gonna get some sleep.”

“Alright.”

“Tomorrow’s the big day, back to work for me and back home for you. Make sure you’ve got all your stuff, boarding pass and all that fun stuff,” Veronica smiled.

Nick groaned, “Yeah, lots of fun.”

“Poooor baby.”

“Yeah yeah.”

“Anyway, good night Nick.”

“Wait, stay out here with me tonight. I don’t want you to be alone.”

She looked over at him, smiling a bit. “Yeah, ok.”

She changed and made her way over, Nick had already pulled the bed out and gotten the sheets and blankets readjusted.

“Alright, I’ll be right back,” he slipped away and headed into the bathroom.

Veronica sighed; her head was starting to hurt. It’d been a long stressful day. After her Mom called and told her the help she was hoping to get fell through, Veronica had been online the rest of the evening trying to find a flight she could afford and a time that would work. Her brother had called several times updating her on her dad. Things weren’t looking good, his liver and kidneys had shut down and he’d developed pneumonia. It made it even more critical that she work something out. She’d called her job and left word with the night manager what had come up and told them that she’d talk with Shelly tomorrow about it.

Nick made his way back in and over to the bed, slipping under the covers and pulling her into his arms.

“So…how are you?”

“Scared, I feel like I’m gonna get sick.”

“I’m sorry baby, I wish I knew what to say,” he frowned.

“It’s ok.”

“Try and get some sleep ok?”

“Yeah, night Nick.”

“Night Veronica,” he whispered, pulling her close to him, hugging her tightly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The ringing of the phone woke her out of the dreamless sleep she’d been in. Looking up at the clock, she saw that it was about fifteen minutes to one in the morning. Her heart dropped, no one called her this early in the morning.

Bolting out of the bed, she hurried over to the cordless, grabbing it and pressing the button.

Nick groaned, and then quickly sat up when it finally registered that the phone was ringing. He looked over at the clock and then hurried out of the bed, flipping the light one before looking over at Veronica, who had just grabbed the phone.

“Hello?”

There was silence for a moment before someone finally responded.

“Veronica…,” came the soft voice.

Her heart dropped.

“He’s…he’s gone Veronica.”

Nick stilled, she’d gone completely white.

Oh no.

“You…you need to come down Veronica. I’m gonna try to make the arrangements up, and I’ll let you know as soon as I can.”

She nodded, unable to find the words to speak; she had no voice to make a sound.

“Veronica? Are you there?”

“Y-yes,” she managed to whisper.

“Ok, I’ll call you later today and let you know what’s going on alright?”

“Uh huh.”

“Ok, b-bye.”

She hung up, blindly setting the phone on the charger.

“Veronica?”

Turning she started down the hall to her room, “I have to…go online and get tickets.”

“Veronica, come back…”

When she didn’t respond, Nick hurried down the hall after her. He grabbed her just as she was walking into the room, pulling her back against him.

“C‘mon,” he whispered, pulling her away and leading her down the hall. She didn’t fight him, didn’t make a sound. He led her over to the bed and sat with her. “Baby?”

She closed her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Veronica…”

“He’s dead.”

His heart dropped, “Oh god.”

Veronica squeezed her eyes tighter shut, wrapping her arms around her stomach, starting to rock back and forth. The numbness was starting to wear off, replaced by the cold hard reality that her father was dead, that she’d never hear his voice again, never feel his arms around her, never hear his laugh, or look him in the eyes.

He was gone.

The sob that escaped her lips came from the depths of her soul, dissolving the last shred of innocence she had left. It wouldn’t be stopped. Everything seemed so stupid now, what she wouldn’t give to have him asking about her life, telling her he knew she could do better. Never again. The sobs came harder and suddenly there were arms around her holding her tightly, and she pushed her face against the hard unyielding chest, her hand fisting up in the plain white t-shirt. She cried for the loss she would never get over, the emptiness that no one would ever be able to fill. Veronica wrapped her other arm around him, clinging to him desperately, wanting him to make it stop, make the pain go away. But it wouldn’t, the pain would never go away. She had lost her best friend.

Daddy’s little girl, was all alone.

Nick held her tightly, her cries cutting through him as nothing ever had. He rocked her gently, whispering soothing words the best he knew how. He closed his eyes, not bothering to hold back the tears that slipped from his eyes. She cried and cried, and he held her, wanting to take the pain and make it his, wanting to stop the pure agony and desperation he not only heard, but also felt.

He’d never seen it, never saw what it was like for someone to lose a parent, the emptiness he’d seen in her eyes, the life gone from her body. And there was nothing he could do, except hold her.
Chapter 97 by Gravity 721
Chapter 97

“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay? Cause I can just call the guys and…”

“No no Nick, I’m fine. You need to go, you’ve got obligations, and I’ve held you hostage long enough,” Veronica smiled.

“I can tell them a family emergency came up, no problem.”

“Nick, they know where you are. Please don’t worry, my Mom is gonna come over in a bit and I’ll be busy getting everything up together and whatever.”

Nick stared at her, his heart breaking. “At least let me help you out with the plane ticket.”

“Thanks but it‘s alright, I’ve got it covered, it’s all set.”

“Veronica…”

“Nick honey you’ve gotta go, you have a long drive ahead of you and you need to get there in time to catch your flight.”

He rubbed at his face, “I feel like an ass leaving now.”

“Nick, you didn’t know this was going to happen, it’s not your responsibility to stay,” she whispered.

He dropped his hands, staring sadly at her.

“I’m sorry Veronica, so sorry all this happened, it’s not fair.”

Veronica smiled sadly, “Such is life.”

“You’re sure you’re going to be ok?”

“I’ll be as good as I can be considering.”

Nick reached out, taking her hands in his and pulling her close. “Thank you for letting me stay, for everything this last week. It’s been amazing, I’m glad I came.”

“Oh Nick, god so am I. I was so surprised and thankful. You’ve made this last week so great, my best birthday ever hands down. Thank you so much for the gifts,” she smiled, she could feel herself starting to get choked up. Deep down, she didn’t want him to go.

“Well put em to good use, I expect to see you in September.”

“I’ll be there don’t worry, after all this, I’m gonna need the pick me up.”

“Yeah I guess huh.”

She nodded, looking away suddenly. “So, call me when you get to Jamestown so I know you’ve arrived safely ok? Or when you get to the airport, whichever is easier. If I don’t answer, just leave a message.”

He nodded, “I will.”

She looked over at him again, “Well I guess this is it.”

“Yeah.”

Bending down, he grabbed his bags and started for the door, Veronica following.

“Thanks again Veronica.”

“Nothing to thank me for, but you’re welcome.”

Stopping, he set his bags down and turned to her, she smiled, her eyes questioning. He reached out, pulling her into his arms, hugging her close.

“Hang in there ok? Call me if you need to talk, anytime and if I can’t answer, leave a message and I’ll call you back ok?”

She nodded against him, her throat was starting to close and she didn’t trust herself to try to speak. She held him tightly, trying to memorize how he felt in his arms, how he smelled.

Nick pulled away, staring at her a moment before leaning in, kissing her deeply.

Veronica slowly pulled away, looking down. “Nick…”

“I’ll see you soon ok?”

She lifted her head, her eyes welling up, “Ok.”

God he didn’t want to leave.

“Bye Veronica.”

“Bye Nick.”

He stared at her a moment longer before opening the door and making his way out. Veronica shut and locked the door, reaching up to wipe at her eyes.

She really was alone.
Chapter 98 by Gravity 721
Chapter 98


Nick unlocked the door and made his way inside, tossing his bags down and shutting the door, slumping against it. It’d been a long drive and a long flight, or maybe it just felt that way. The whole drive back and the flight back all he could think about was Veronica. The closer to his home get, the more depressed he‘d grown.

Gathering up his bags again, he headed up to his room, setting his stuff on the floor, getting ready to unpack, when he thought better of it. He’d do it later. Pulling his phone out of his pocket, he called Kevin to let him know he was back and then hung up and called Veronica. After leaving a message, he dressed quickly, grabbed his keys and headed back out.

A Few Hours Later…

Groaning, he slipped out of the bed, looking over at the sleeping woman, his stomach turning. Walking over, he sat at his desk and signed on to his instant messenger and frowned, she wasn’t there. Opening his email, he dropped her a line and then shut down. Grabbing his cell from the dresser, he made his way out into the hall, dialing her number. Four rings later, he left a message and hung up, heading back into his room. Looking over at the bed he frowned, he couldn’t go back. He couldn’t lay there beside that girl whose name he couldn’t remember and pretend like he had before. He couldn’t pretend any longer. The feeling was back, that need to get away, to bolt.

Sighing he headed out, shutting the door behind him. Heading into the kitchen, he went to the fridge got a bottle of water and headed over to the couch, slumping down. He wasn’t back even a day and he’d already gone back to his old ways. Why should he expect anything different? He hadn’t gone to meet her thinking that he’d change, he hadn’t gone thinking what had happened, would.

But it did happen, and he had changed.

Nick took a long drink and stood, setting the bottle on the coffee table. Grabbing the cushions off couch, he pulled the bed out and grabbed the throw blanket and climbed on. Using one of the throw pillows, he laid back, staring, up at the ceiling. It felt familiar and comfortable. He had guest rooms he could use, but being on the pull out bed appealed to him more.

What had he done? How could he have slept with that girl? It hadn’t even been worth it, he’d been a zombie. It just didn’t feel right anymore, and he’d gotten no real satisfaction. He’d closed his eyes and seen someone else and that had made it bearable. But he couldn’t keep doing that, imaging another woman in his arms, below him, crying out. He couldn’t.

Rolling to his side, he looked at the empty spot beside him and frowned, she’d never been there, but somehow he expected to see her there. Reaching out, he ran his hand over the blanket, staring out blankly. He didn’t want to sleep alone, he wanted someone to cuddle close to, someone to hold, just not the one sleeping in his bed right now.

The one he wanted was far away.

Closing his eyes, he tried to forget and to remember the feel of her body, the taste of her lips just enough to bring him to exhaustion. Only then did he sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She set the plastic bag inside her suitcase and zipped it closed, tugging it off her bed and setting it on the floor. Turning she headed out her room and into the bathroom. After washing her face and brushing her teeth, she made her way back into her bedroom.

Veronica couldn’t believe it, who would’ve thought at twenty five she would be heading to another state for her father’s funeral. Slumping down on her bed, she stared off blankly. Everything had changed, her world had shifted and she didn’t know how to handle it. Sliding back on the bed, she slipped under the covers and rolled to her side.

Her dad had died and half the time she was thinking about him. The man who’d walked into her life eight days ago and who’d walked out, having changed her life forever. She couldn’t stop thinking about him, his smile, and his touch. It’d all been very surreal, even now when she thought back on it, it felt like a dream, a dream she’d just woken from. Only it wasn’t a dream, it’d been real, very real. Reaching out, she ran her hand over the empty space on her bed, her eyes welling up.

He’d been there, if she closed her eyes, she could still smell him. She grabbed the pillow he’d used, stuffing her face in it. She could smell him there too, and she clutched it tightly to her. It was wrong, so wrong to want someone she couldn’t have, could never have. Veronica wiped at the tears streaming down her cheeks, she wanted him back. She’d wanted him back the moment he’d left and here several hours later, she still wanted him back. She had no idea how she’d let him go, how she could let him walk away like that.

But she’d had no choice, he wasn’t hers and she had no hold on him. He was her friend that was all. What she couldn’t figure out was why the thought of that hurt so much. Burying her face once again in the pillow, she cried softly for the man who’d given her life and for the man who had somehow managed to find his way into her heart.
Chapter 99 by Gravity 721
Chapter 99


Nick slid out of the truck and headed into the building, duffel bag slung over his shoulder. After taking the elevator over to the rehearsal room and walked in, the other guys were there already, talking and warming up. Nick walked over to the corner and set his stuff down with everyone else’s.

“Ah ha, the prodigal son returns,” AJ laughed, making his way over.

Nick rolled his eyes and watched as the rest followed AJ.

“So Nick, how’d everything go?” Kevin asked.

“It went good, she’s really sweet.”

Howie raised an eyebrow, “There’s that word again.”

“What? She is!”

“So are we ever gonna meet her?” Kevin asked.

“Yeah, in September, I gave her an all access pass for her birthday.”

“Wow, that was nice of you,” Howie grinned.

“Yeah, surprise surprise right?” Nick rolled his eyes.

“Anyway, what’d you guys do?” Brian questioned, sitting down on floor.

Nick followed, “We hung out. She took me to her job; we went to the movies, the beach, the mall, a club.”

“Sounds nice, what’d you do on the last day?” AJ smirked.

“Waited to hear from her mother about helping her to see her dad in Georgia, he was in the hospital.”

“Was?” Howie questioned.

“Yeah he was sick, really sick.”

“What happened? Is he out now?”

He sighed, “Nah, he died early yesterday morning.”

There was silence for a moment before Howie spoke.

“Aww damn.”

“Yeah, his liver and kidneys shut down and he developed pneumonia and well…”

“How…I mean…how was she?” Brian asked softly.

Nick sighed, “She was pretty broken up about it naturally. Her and her dad were kinda having a hard time for awhile, luckily the day before they’d talked and cleared the air a bit. Still she was a mess…I’ve never been close to anyone who’s lost their parent right then with the exception of you Kev, I wasn’t there for that. But this, it just tore me up. I mean, like, she was crying and all I could do was hold her.”

“Hey man, I’m sure that was enough,” Kevin smiled sadly.

“It didn’t feel like it.”

“I’m sure Veronica was grateful that you were there though Nick. And hey, her dad is in a better place now, I’m sure she knows that,” Brian offered.

Nick nodded, sighing heavily.

“You said we’re gonna see her in September for a concert? Which one is she going to? I know it’s in New York, but is she gonna be in New York City or in Buffalo?” Howie questioned.

“I dunno, didn’t ask, but I’m assuming Buffalo, that’s only an hour or so from her I think, and that‘s the one I mentioned when I gave the pass to her.”

“Has she ever been to a concert before?” AJ asked.

“Yeah, she’s told me she’s been to a few, and that she’s never been real close to the stage.”

Kevin stared at him for a moment, “Now that you’ve told us all this, are you gonna tell us how you two met?”

Groaning, he ran a hand through his hair. He couldn’t keep putting it off, and he wasn’t ashamed of Veronica, quite the opposite if he wanted to be honest with himself. He found that he was finally willing to share her with four of the most important guys in his life, even though he knew what their reactions would be. Veronica was important to him, and he wanted them to know it, to know she wasn’t like the others he knew.

“Yeah, alright.”

Brian blinked, “Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Wow ok then.”

“We met through my fan club,” Nick started.

“Your fan club? Why didn’t you just say that in the first place?” Howie sighed.

“Where does she work?” Brian asked.

“Huh?”

“What department does she work in? She works at your fan club right?”

“What? Oh no…no she doesn’t work there,” Nick continued.

“You met her at your fan club, but she doesn’t work there? What was she there looking for a job or something?” AJ prodded.

“No, nothing like that.”

“What then?” Kevin pressed.

“I met her through my fan club.”

They all stared at him, confusion in their eyes.

“She…wrote me a letter and I happened to find it and I wrote her back.”

“Ok, so someone from the fan club wrote you a letter?” Howie frowned, trying to piece together what Nick was saying.

Groaning in frustration, he glared at Howie, “No! I told you she doesn’t work there. She wrote to me through the fan club, using the address they give out to get a hold of me.”

They stared at him for a moment, the realization slowly hitting each of them at different times.

“A fan? She’s a fan?” Kevin blinked.

Nick looked away.

“A fan? I can’t believe you’d go and meet a fan Nick, what are you thinking man?” AJ asked.

“She’s not just a fan AJ, she‘s more than that ok?”

“Nick, man I thought you’d gotten over that whole groupie stage,” Kevin groaned.

“Fuck you Kevin! She’s not some fuckin groupie! See? This, this right here is why I didn‘t wanna say shit to none of you,” Nick spat, he was so mad he couldn’t see straight.

“Hey relax Nick, it’s cool, no big deal. We’ve all been friends with fans before at one time or another,” Brian soothed, shooting Kevin a look.

Kevin rolled his eyes.

Nick looked over at Brian, struggling to keep his temper down, “She’s not just a fan I said. She‘s more to me than that.”

Brian stared at him, “You’re not…falling for her are ya man?”

Nick stared at them, he wanted to deny it, the words were on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t make himself say it.

“Nick…you do realize that nothing can come of this, you know that don’t you?” Kevin frowned.

And that’s what he was afraid of, everyone telling him no, telling them no. It was why he couldn’t admit it to himself, why he couldn’t say it aloud, he knew then there’d be no turning back.

“It’s not right Nick, she’s a fan, an actual relationship is basically out of the question.”

“I know Kev ok?” Nick growled, his heart dropping.

He knew Kevin was right, but part of him wasn’t so sure.
Chapter 100 by Gravity 721
Chapter 100


Bryan pulled the inflatable bed out and set it in the middle of the room, grabbing a couple blankets.

“Is this ok?”

“Yeah it’s fine.”

“You sure? You can take the bed.”

“It’s alright Bryan, really, I’m fine.”

“Alright, well I’m gonna hop in the shower, you wanna get in first?”

“Nah, you go ahead, I’m gonna get my stuff ready for tomorrow, I’ll get in when you get out.”

“Alright,” Bryan announced, turning and heading back into his room.

Veronica watched him walk away and then turned, flopping down on the couch. She’d arrived in Georgia earlier that evening and had spent most of the day getting her hair done, after her and her brother had gone out to dinner where she could barely eat. She’d felt bad considering how much her brother had spent, but she’d been so nervous about the funeral the next day, she didn’t have much of an appetite.

Standing, she grabbed her bag and opened it, pulling out the black top and black skirt she’d brought and set them out, staring at them. Everything had changed so fast, it didn’t seem like it was real. Veronica couldn’t believe she was there, and in a matter of twenty four hours, her father would be officially gone and her life would still keep going. The more she thought of it, the sicker to her stomach she grew. Her head was pounding and she wasn’t sure if it was from hunger or stress. All she knew was she couldn’t stand to eat anything, even the thought of food made the nausea worse.

To say she couldn’t wait for it all to be over would be an understatement, everything. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, she hadn’t wanted to come, if there was away for her to have not come, she would’ve done it. But she also knew she needed this, as much as she didn’t want to, she needed the closure of going to the funeral and saying goodbye to her father. She’d rebelled against it, kept telling herself she didn’t need to go, that she didn’t have to go, but she knew she did. Veronica didn’t know if that made her a bad daughter, but she’d been so tired of thinking of everyone else. In the end she knew she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t and here she was, the night before one of the biggest days of her life, setting her clothes out to wear to her dad’s funeral.

Reaching back into her bag, she pulled out her journal and sat back down, pulling the pen she’d stuck inside out, she opened to the page she’d left off of and started writing. It was all she could do to make sense of things. It was the only way she knew how to deal with it.

After a short time, her thoughts drifted to Nick, she wondered what he was doing. She’d gotten the message yesterday that he’d arrived safely, he’d told her to call her when she had the chance, only she hadn’t. There’d been plenty of opportunities, but she couldn’t bring herself to call him, or anyone for that matter. She’d talked to her Mom, but that was it, she just couldn’t do it, not yet. She wanted to call him, she desperately wanted to hear his voice, but she couldn’t make herself do it. Veronica knew hearing his voice would make it that much harder, making the longing that much stronger.

Setting her pen inside, she closed her journal and stuffed it back into her bag.

“The bathroom is all yours,” Bryan called out suddenly as he made his way into the living room.

Standing, she grabbed her clothes and headed into his bedroom and then into the bathroom

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Next Day…

They slowly made their way from the gravesite and piled into Bryan’s truck. A couple of his friends had come along and it had surprised and warmed Veronica to see his friends come to support him the way they had. It’d been odd, but she’d been thankful for them. The young women were very nice and Veronica had felt instantly at ease with them. She stared at the window at the coffin that was waiting to be lowered into the ground and sighed.

It’d all gone so fast it’d been a blur. She wasn’t sure if she’d remember any of it. There was a moment when the minister had asked if anyone had anything they wanted to say, and she’d sat there. Veronica had wanted to stand and say something, there was so much that needed to be said still, but she’d sat there. She couldn’t make herself stand up and speak. Still, she had no feelings of regret any longer. The last thing her and her father had said to each other was that they loved each other, and somehow, it made everything ok, even now.

She had her closure.

They arrived back at her brothers and made their way inside. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out her phone and called her Mom, she needed to hear her voice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey this is Veronica; I’m not able to answer my phone right now. Leave a brief message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can! Thanks, bye.”

Nick sighed, leaving another message and hung up. It’d been days now and he still hadn’t heard back from her, he was starting to get worried. Turning, he headed back into the rehearsal room and tried to focus on what was happening, but found he was too distracted.

“Nick…hey man.”

Maybe he should call and leave another message and tell her to call him back, that he’s really worried, then again he didn’t want to annoy her either.

“NICK!”

He looked over to see AJ staring at him as if he were waiting for something.

“Huh?”

“I’ve called you like fidy times, your brother is here,” AJ announced, pointing to the young blonde talking to Brian.

“Oh, sorry man, I was thinking about something.”

AJ rolled his eyes, “No shit.”

Nick flipped him off and headed over to Brian and Aaron.

“Hey squirt.”

“Hey!”

“Alright everyone, let’s take a break, be back in twenty,” the choreographer announced.

Nick and Aaron made their way off to the side away from the group.

“What’s up?”

“Not much, where’ve you been? I called you earlier in the week and you never called back.”

“I went to see grams and gramps and then to go meet a friend.”

“Well you could’ve called,” Aaron pouted.

“Sorry, I was busy.”

“Well anyway, you got the message though right?”

“Yeah, yeah I did.”

Aaron sighed, “Dad wants us to get together to talk tonight.”

Nick thought back on everything that had happened with Veronica, of how short time was and knew he had to attempt to make some kind of change, even if part of him still felt that he didn’t need to be involved.

“Yeah ok, sounds good.”

Aaron blinked, “It does?”

“Yeah.”

“Wow, so uhh, you’ll come?”

“Yeah, I’ll be over after rehearsal.”
Chapter 101 by Gravity 721
Chapter 101

“I’m glad you all could make it here tonight,” Bob smiled at the five pairs of eyes staring at him.

Nick groaned inwardly, it hadn’t been easy that was for sure. Aaron and him had spent a half an hour convincing BJ to come, Leslie and Angel hadn’t been quite so difficult. Hell, it’d been difficult for him, but he knew he had to do something, make some kind of effort before it was too late.

“Well we really wanted to be here dad,” Aaron replied softly, looking away.

“There’s two things I wanted to tell you all. First off, I’m going to be moving in with Linda.”

“Linda? You mean…” Leslie started, looking over at BJ then at Nick.

“Yeah, my girlfriend. We’ve been dating for awhile now and we wanted to wait until…well anyway, the time is right now,” Bob explained.

Nick, Aaron, Angel and Leslie all stared at him in shock.

BJ rolled her eyes, “Why don’t you just say it dad? You wanted to wait til everything was done with mom right?”

“Well yes, it wouldn’t have been right to any sooner.”

“Oh, but you had no problem being with her before the divorce was final did you?” She muttered coldly.

“BJ, c’mon,” Nick sighed.

She looked over at him then away quickly, her face cold and hard.

Bob sighed heavily before turning to look at Aaron and Angel, “We want you two to come live with us, we’re gonna move a week from tomorrow. Leslie, BJ, I’ve already talked to your mom and you’re gonna stay with her, we don’t want to change things too much.”

Angel rubbed at her face, avoiding her dad’s gaze.

“So what, you don’t wanna be bothered with us?” BJ spat.

“Bobby Jean stop that, you know that’s not true.”

“Well c’mon dad, you’ve gotta know what that sounds like,” Nick reasoned.

“That’s not what it means though, we just don’t wanna change the way things are right now, this is going to be hard enough on you all without fighting over who stays with whom.”

“Did it ever occur to you dad that maybe me and Les would like to stay with you sometime? We hardly see you as is,” BJ frowned.

“I know I’m sorry about that honey, I mean it. All of this you guys, I know it’s hard, what happened between your mother and me. It’s gonna be rough, but we’ll work through it ok?” Bob said, giving them a small smile.

Leslie wiped at her eyes, staring hard at the table.

Nick looked at his brother and sisters and then over at his dad, “So that’s it then?”

“Nick…”

“No no, let me get this straight ok? Aaron and Angel are gonna live with you and your new girlfriend, you’ll see BJ and Leslie whenever and maybe me sometimes too huh?” He stated. He couldn’t help it, it was trying to be mature about it, but it hurt, it still hurt. He was twenty five, he should be able to handle this, but for some reason he felt like a little kid, a little kid whose parents had once again let him down.

“I told you it’s not like that. Look, you all are going to have to be patient, make changes. We’re all still trying to figure this out, get things smoothed over and then we can try to figure out visitation. You’re all of age, so we really don’t need to go court over custody or anything like that, we’re gonna all sit down in a few weeks and decide how we want to do this amongst ourselves. I’d like for you all to be there, Nick that means you too.”

Nick stared at his father, a harsh chuckle escaping his lips, “Yeah, sure dad.”

“Nickolas…”

“Yeah yeah, ok.”

“Whatever, I’m gonna get an apartment with a friend and then I can get away from everyone,” BJ sniffled.

“BJ, maybe it won’t be so bad…”Angel started.

“Shut up Angel ok? I don’t want to hear it,” BJ snapped.

“Don’t get nasty with your sister BJ,” Bob warned.

Nick stood suddenly, “C’mon guys, let‘s go. Look dad we’re gonna get going ok? I’ve gotta go home and start packing, I leave in a few days.”

Aaron, Angel, Leslie and BJ all stood, making their way towards the door.

“Thanks for coming over BJ, Leslie and Nick, I know how busy you all are,” Bob smiled.

Nick looked over at his dad sighing heavily, following his brother and sisters out. “Hey guys, what do ya say we go get something to eat? My treat. Aaron, Angel, go tell dad.”

There were mumbles of agreement as they headed over to Nick’s truck, and Aaron headed in to tell their dad.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

She zipped her bag closed and set it down next to the bed. Veronica had never been so glad for a day to be over as she did then. She couldn’t wait to get home, not that she didn’t enjoy being with her brother, but she wanted things to go back to normal. Bryan had let her have the bed and she slid onto it, grabbing her phone and flipping it open. She checked her voicemail and found two messages, one from Lynne and one from Nick. She listened to them, sighing heavily before deleting them both. She just wasn’t ready, just couldn’t seem to face anyone right now.

Tomorrow she’d be on a flight back home, back to her life and back to reality. It all seemed so far away and so foreign. She kept trying to imagine life without her father, without the phone calls and the worries and she couldn’t. Veronica had told herself repeatedly that she could definitely do without his badgering and constant need to tell her what he thought she should be doing. Now she wanted it, longed for it. It was funny how you always want what you could no longer have.

Sighing, she pulled the covers back and slipped under, reaching out to turn the light off.
Chapter 102 by Gravity 721
Chapter 102

He shoved the last piece of his sandwich into is mouth and stared hard at his phone. Why wouldn’t she call? Nick was dying to know what was happening, and he hadn’t heard a peep from her.

“It’s a phone man; people use it to call you.”

Nick looked up at AJ and flipped him off.

“You’re so dumb sometimes man, I swear,” AJ groaned as he started out the room. “Hurry up, if you’re late again, John is gonna kick your ass.”

Nick ignored AJ and grabbed his phone, flipping it open. Quickly he checked his voicemail again to make sure he didn’t miss any notifications.

Nothing.

Drumming his fingers on the table, he called Veronica’s name into the phone and waited for it to dial. He desperately wanted to get a hold of her before he left tomorrow, it’d be too hard once he was on the road to talk, and he’d be too tired after shows. Letting out a breath, he propped his head up on his hand; he’d just have to make time.

Nick frowned when the now familiar voicemail started to play, he’d heard it so much over the last couple of days, he knew it by heart. He waited for the beep and then left yet another message and hung up. Reaching down, he grabbed the duffle bag he’d brought with him and set it on the table; he unzipped it and pulled his laptop out. While he waited for it to boot up, he flipped his phone open and then closed it again, he needed to get a grip here. Slumping back in his chair, he let his head loll back.

The dinner last night had been nice, he’d been able to catch up with his brother and sisters and they’d all actually gotten along. They’d been able to bond over the mess that was their family. Nick hadn’t realized just how much he missed being around them all and everyone, BJ most of all, seemed to be starved for attention from him. Shaking his head, he felt sick to his stomach. He’d been so selfish these last few months and he hadn’t realized just how much it affected everyone else.

Sitting up, he looked down at his laptop, dialing up and then clicking on his inbox, his heart dropping, she still hadn’t replied to his emails. He clicked and brought up a new message and quickly typed a short message asking her to email him as soon as she could and then hit send. He wished he could shake the feeling, the nervousness that something had happened. There was no other way for him to get ahold of her; he didn’t have her Mom’s number or any of her friends’ numbers. Nick made a mental note to ask for them the next time he talked to her.

He groaned, he had no right to ask for the numbers though, it wasn’t as if he was her…he didn’t want her to get the wrong idea, he didn’t want to come across as if he wanted to keep tabs on her, cause he didn‘t. Nick closed his laptop and slid it back into the bag, gathering up his empty bag and crumpling it up and throwing it into the garbage can as he made his way out and into the studio.

“Ohh buddy, you just made it,” AJ grinned.

“Shut up AJ ok?”

“So, have you heard from Veronica yet?” Howie asked, scooting over on the couch to let Nick sit once he’d set his bag down.

“No I haven’t.”

“I’m sure she’s ok Nick,” Brian smiled.

“I dunno, I’m really worried. This isn’t like her; she hasn’t called or emailed me or anything.”

“Nick man, she just lost her father, she’s not just gonna jump right back into her old routine, it’s gonna take time,” Kevin frowned, “She probably doesn’t feel like dealing with anyone right now, it’s normal.”

“I know Kev, I know. It’s just…I want to know that she’s alright, how things are going. I’m really worried about her.”

“It’s usually you who doesn’t call back,” AJ teased.

They all laughed as Nick glared at them, a wave of guilt rushing over him. They were right he knew and now he knew how it felt.

Howie looked over at Nick, a small smile on his lips, “Why are you so attached to her anyway? She‘s just a friend.”

“Well fuck Howie; you don’t give a damn when a friend of yours loses their father? I care ok? We became really close while I was there.”

“Yeah, but you’ve never gotten this riled up before over any of your other friends,” Howie stated, staring at him intently.

Nick stared at him.

“So…how close did you two get exactly?” Brian questioned, raising an eyebrow.

Nick sighed heavily, shaking his head.

“Nick, you said you were just friends’ man,” Kevin said wearily.

“We are, but…”

Kevin rubbed at his head, “Nick…look, you’ve got to start distancing yourself from her. It won’t work, you know this. We’ve all been there and done it and it was always the same. Fans…they don’t understand, they don’t know us, not how we really are. It’s just too hard.”

“Fuck off Kevin!” Nick spat suddenly, standing and storming out the room.

He didn’t want to hear it anymore; he was so tired of it. He knew all of this, he did and he’d promised himself he would never do it again. And then he’d met Veronica.

Why couldn’t they see it was different, she was different. If there was anyone, any fan that he remotely had a chance with, any girl he would try to make it work with, it was her.

And that scared him.
Chapter 103 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Sorry everyone, fairly short chapter this time!

Enjoy!
Chapter 103


She shut and locked the door, setting her bags down and slumping heavily against the door. It felt so good to be back home, back to some kind of normalcy. Letting out a sigh, she shuffled through the kitchen to her bedroom.

The flight home had been a rough one, one she hadn’t expected. She cried for most of the flight, off and on. Now she was emotionally and physically drained and wanted to sleep. She set her bags down and flopped down on the bed, letting out a breath. It felt so good to be home. Veronica sat up and headed out her room and over to the answering machine, pressing the button and listening to the various messages. There weren’t many, most people called her cell, most of the calls were from her job, one or two from her Mom who preferred to call her apartment than her cell. Turning to head into the kitchen, she opened the fridge and got a bottle of water out, opening it and taking a drink. Walking back over she grabbed the phone and called her Mom to let her know she’d arrived and then called her job, letting them know she’d be in the next day.

After deleting the messages, she made her way back into her bedroom, turning her computer on and waiting for it to boot up and then connecting to the internet. She checked her mail, deleted most of it and then stopped on several emails from Nick. A frown spread over her lips, he’d called several times, left several messages and she hadn’t responded to any of them. It hadn’t been just him though, Lynne had done the same, not quite as many as Nick, but she’d left a few and Veronica hadn’t responded to any of those either. She just couldn’t for some reason. She knew he was worried about her, she could hear it in his voice in all the messages, and see it in his writing now as she read over his emails.

She missed Nick and thought of him often, still part of her was actually embarrassed that she had cried in front of him, that she’d let him see her in such a vulnerable state. Shaking her head she sighed, she was being silly. She’d been thankful he’d been there, glad she didn’t have to go through it alone and a small part of her was also thankful that it’d been him, no matter how embarrassed she was now. Veronica shut down without responding to any of the emails and pulled her phone out of her pocket and tossing it on her bed as she grabbed her bag and also set it on her bed, opening it and starting to unpack.

After she finished, he made her way out of her room, cell phone in hand and headed into the kitchen to make a light lunch. She brought the plate with her sandwich to the table and sat, eating quietly. She wiped at the tears that had come on suddenly, swallowing hard, trying to stifle the sobs that needed to be released. It was nothing new to her and she knew she’d have to get used to it. Veronica finished her sandwich and stood, putting her plate in the sink before grabbing her phone again. Flipped it open, she pressed the button and waited. She listened when his voice filtered through the line and then the beep, she left a quick message then shut the phone and set it down.

Walking over, she slumped down on the couch, sniffling. She grabbed the throw pillow and laid down on her side, hugging the pillow close, inhaling deeply. It’d been several days, but she could still smell his cologne, that familiar comforting scent. Burying her face in the pillow she cried softly, wanting…needing for him to be there.
Chapter 104 by Gravity 721
Chapter 104


Later that night…

He shoved the last shirt in his case and slowly pulled the zipper around. Nick was anxious to get going, it was going to be good to get back on the road again, get back into shape. Grabbing his suitcase, he pulled it off his bed and set it down on the floor, grabbing his cell phone from off his dresser. Flipping it open, he turned it on and saw that he had one missed phone call. He dialed his voicemail and headed into the bathroom, grabbing his toothbrush. Nick pressed the button to listen to the missed message.

Hey Nick it’s me. Just returning your calls, sorry it took so long. Things have been kinda crazy and I just…well anyway; I know you’re getting ready to go on tour. Have a safe trip and if and when you have the chance, give me a call. Hope to talk to you soon, take care, bye.

“FUCK! I can’t believe I missed her fuckin’ call!” Nick groaned.

Nick quickly pressed the speed dial number for Veronica and waited, pacing anxiously back and forth.

“Hello?”

His heart dropped, “Veronica!”

“Hey Nick, how’s it going?”

“It’s fine, I was so worried about you!”

Veronica blinked then frowned, “Worried?”

“Yeah, you never returned my calls or emails and I…” he stopped, suddenly at loss for words.

“You what?”

“I was just…worried that’s all. I just wanted to know that you were ok, it‘s good to hear your voice.”

She smiled even though he couldn’t see her, “I’m ok Nick. I’m dealing with everything, just trying to move on with my life and adjust. I’m sorry for not responding I just…I wasn’t up to talking to anyone. I kept in contact with my Mom and my job and that was it really. I didn’t mean to worry you.”

Nick sighed in relief, “It’s ok really, I had a feeling that’s what it was, everyone told me that that was probably the case but I just…I…sorry, “ he whispered.

“Don’t apologize, I should be thanking you for caring so much,” she smiled, fighting back the urge to cry. She hadn’t expected him to be like this and it was surprising to say the least. Not once did she think he would actually worry about her like he said he did.

“You’re my friend, of course I care.”

“Thanks for that.”

“So…umm…how’d everything go? Ya know, the funeral and all?” He asked quietly.

“It was…odd you know? I don’t remember a lot about it, but what I do remember is sitting there staring at the coffin and knowing that…that…he was…” she stopped, wiping at her eyes. “It made it very real; I don’t think it really hit me until that point.”

Nick slumped down on the bed, wiping his palms on blanket below him, “God Veronica.”

“Ya know it’s funny, as me and my brother pulled away from the gravesite, I just kept staring at the coffin until I couldn’t see it anymore and the whole time while it was real, it also felt really…surreal. That doesn’t make much sense does it?” Veronica chuckled softly, wiping at her eyes again.

“No no, it makes a lot of sense. God baby I wish I was there so I could hold you, I hate that you’re there all alone.”

“Aww Nick I’m ok, if I really need someone, I can go see my Mom, she’s not far from me,” she finished, inside secretly wishing that he was there too.

“I know but…” he sighed.

“I’m alright Nick, honestly. I just want to go back to my old routine and have things go back to some semblance of normal.”

“Yeah.”

“So, enough of me, what’s going on with you? How were rehearsals?”

He wouldn’t tell her he spent most of his rehearsals worrying about her.

“They were alright, same shit ya know, nothing new. Though I do have to admit that part of me is really excited about getting back on the road.”

“Only part of you?”

“Yeah well it is very draining, the other part of me wants to stay home and sleep, but it’s all good.”

And another part of him still wanted to be there with her, but he wouldn’t tell her that either.

Veronica chuckled, “I hear ya. So are you all packed?”

“Yeah just finished up, leaving early in the morning, I hate waking up early, means I have to go to bed early.”

“Yeah that does suck; I’m not a morning person myself.”

“I told the guys about you,” he blurted out suddenly.

Veronica stilled, she wasn’t sure what that meant, but he sounded nervous about it.

“Oh?”

“Yeah.”

“What did they say?”

“They were…shocked to say the least.”

“I see.”

She wasn’t sure that she did though, was he ashamed of her? Is that why he hadn’t told them sooner?

“It’s just…I couldn’t bring myself to tell them sooner cause well…I kinda wanted you to myself in a way,” he finished, he could feel his face turning red.

Veronica blinked, her heart racing. “O-oh…”

“Yeah, kinda stupid sounding but, I wasn’t ready til just recently to share you.”

“I-I…I’m nothing special Nick.”

“You’re wrong.”

She wiped at her eyes again, it had to be one of the nicest things a guy ever said to her. Nick seemed to do that a lot, be that for her a lot, the one guy who said just the right thing without even knowing it.
Chapter 105 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Ack, sorry it's taken me SO long to update, I swear this is the first time I've been on my comp since some time last week! I haven't written in a while, but I'm gonna post another chapter in the meantime.

Enjoy!
Chapter 105

Three Weeks Later…

Veronica opened the door and made her way inside, a smile on her lips. That had been fun, interesting, but fun. Veronica and Lynne had met a couple of guys last weekend at a club and had decided to double date this weekend. Scott, Veronica’s date was nice, but he wasn’t really her type. She didn’t foresee another date in the near future.

Making her way into her bedroom, she quickly changed and grabbed her cell phone, sitting down on her bed. She called Nick and left him a message since he was in the middle of a concert, telling him to call her whenever he had the time. She flipped the phone closed and sighed heavily, a small smile on her lips. Things sure had changed over the last few weeks, she gone out more with Lynne, been on a few dates, tried hard to open up a bit more. Still it all paled when it came to one thing.

She’d be seeing Nick again next week.

She couldn’t stop thinking about it, she didn’t think she’d be so excited to see him, but she was. Part of her was somewhat worried about how he would treat her in front of everyone else, if he would act as if nothing had ever happened. Would he treat her like a normal fan or as an actual friend? How would the rest of the guys treat her? Veronica nibbled nervously on her bottom lip, all that considered, she still couldn’t stop the longing to see him, the need to hold him again. Sighing, she stood and made her way out her room and into the kitchen. After making herself a cup of cocoa, she headed into the living room to watch TV.

~~~~~~~~~~~

A Few Hours Later…

“Hello?”

“Hey girl.”

“Nick! How’s it going? How was the show tonight?”

“Good, the crowd was great and everyone was just really on. Last night was a disaster.”

“That bad huh? I did get your message last night; I was asleep though, so I didn’t get to read it till today.”

“The worst, we kept having prop issues, the snow that was supposed to come down for “Siberia”, never came down. My black glove was missing; Brian’s shirt got caught on something and tore…ugh.”

“Aww I’m sorry, always gotta have an off day…or concert in this case.”

“Yeah I know, but they suck cause then it’s like…the fans get jipped ya know?”

“Well to be honest, a lot of the time we can’t even tell.”

“That’s a relief,” Nick sighed.

“It’s cool, don’t stress too much about it.”

“So…I’m really looking forward to coming back to New York next week.”

She smiled, “So am I! I can’t wait for the concert, I’m so excited.”

Nick smiled, he was excited for the concert too, but more excited to actually see her. He couldn’t stop thinking about it; the days seemed to drag by.

“I’m glad, I was hoping you would be and that you hadn’t forgotten,” he teased.

“Psh, yeah right.”

“So, have you put a picture on the pass yet?”

“Yup, got it done last week and put this plastic, laminate stuff over it so it doesn’t fall off.”

“Cool, please don’t forget it next week, granted you’ll get in anyway, but still.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll have it. I’m considering going to sleep with it on the night before,” Veronica chuckled.

“Don’t do that, you’ll choke,” Nick laughed.

“Yeah, that thought did occur to me later.”

“Good. How’d this evening go?”

“It was alright, Scott was really nice, but not my type.”

He couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, like I said, he was nice, but there were no…sparks, ya know?”

“Definitely.”

“So yeah, we exchanged numbers anyway, but I don’t think there will be any calling from either of us, which is fine with me.”

“Damn, well sorry it didn’t work out.”

And he was, at least a small part of him was.

“It’s cool; Lynne and I are going out again this weekend with some guys we met at another bar. Lynne insists that I need to play the field more.”

He swallowed hard, slumping down on the couch, looking out the window as the world sped by. Of course she needed to play the field, Lynne was right. It’s not as if she needed to wait for anyone or that there was someone that maybe…

“She’s right you know, it’s good that you’re going out more.”

“Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.”

“So you’re looking forward to it then?”

“I am actually, it’s been cool to meet different people, and this guy, Caleb, seemed really cool when we talked, so ya never know.”

He cleared his throat, trying to fight the wave of jealousy that once again reared its ugly head. It’d been the same way when she told him last week of the date for this weekend, and he’d thought about her being with that guy all week.

“Right. Well I’m gonna let ya go, I gotta hop in the shower and get some sleep, I’m exhausted.”

“Ok, take care Nick and thanks for calling me back.”

“No problem sweetie, I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Alright, night!”

“Night.”

He hung up and stared at the phone for a moment before looking back out the window blindly. The bus was quiet now except for the hum of the motor. He felt sick, sick and angry and he had no right to be. She wasn’t his girlfriend, she wasn’t his anything except friend.
Nick stood, shaking his head; he grabbed his towel and headed back to his bunk to get his clothes before heading into the shower.
Chapter 106 by Gravity 721
Chapter 106

He made his way out of bus, rubbing at his eyes, yawning sleepily. He’d gone to bed early the night before, but he was still exhausted. Nick looked over to see Kevin getting out of his bus, already on the phone with someone. He made his way over; joining Howie how had also just come up.

“God, did this seem to take longer than usual? I feel like I’ve been on that bus forever,” Howie frowned, running his fingers through his hair.

“All I know is I’m freakin’ starved, have they set up breakfast yet?” Kevin questioned, stifling a yawn.

Howie shrugged, “Dunno, I don’t smell anything.”

“That don’t matter D, they could’ve just started. I’m gonna go look, I’m too hungry to sit around and be patient,” Nick groaned, starting past the two men.

He made his way around the venue, saying hi to various people. Nick noticed the tents set up and various serving pans sitting out.

“Wherever there’s food, that’s where Nick will be,” AJ laughed, coming up behind him.

“Fuck off McLean,” Nick groaned.

“Well I hate to burst your bubble, but they’re not ready yet.”

“Damn, I’m starving.”

“I’m sure you can handle it man,” AJ chuckled.

Nick waved him off, turning and heading back for his bus, when his cell rang. He pulled the phone out of his pocket, looking at the display, his face falling. He flipped the phone opened, making his way back onto his bus.

“Hello?”

“Nicky? It’s Cheryl!”

He winced, “Oh, hey Cheryl, what’s up?”

“Hey baby, not much, I miss you. I heard that you’re in town for a concert, you know I’m gonna be there.”

“You are? That’s great,” he sighed, slumping down on the couch in the back of the bus.

“Mmmhmm, so I was thinking, maybe we can get together, ya know, like old times. Hang out and catch up,” Cheryl giggled.

Yeah, he knew exactly what she meant, and normally he’d be all for it. This time however, he wasn’t as interested.

“Aww I dunno baby, me and the guys were thinking about hanging out for a while.”

“Aww c’mon Nicky, you can see the guys everyday, it’s been forever since we last hung out. Please? I’ll make it worth your while,” she murmured.

“I know Cher…”

“I’ll get us some wine and some movies and we can just relax and talk and ya know, mellow out.”

He rubbed at his forehead; he really didn’t want to be bothered. He supposed he could just go to get her off her back, but he couldn’t seem to stop the overwhelming feeling of guilt for even considering it, even it was just to get her to shut up. Nick drummed his fingers on his leg, shaking his head, he couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t.

“Sorry baby, but I can’t. Look, if my plans change before tonight, I’ll give you a call ok?”

“Aww Nicky…” Cheryl whined.

“I’m really sorry, but I gotta jet, AJ’s calling me, we’re getting ready to head out,” he lied.

She sighed heavily, “Fine, please call if anything changes ok? I’ll come to you.”

“Yeah, sure. I gotta go, talk to ya later.”

“Bye.”

Nick flipped the phone closed, letting out a breath. Since when was she so annoying? He was sure that before he would’ve jumped at the chance to meet up with her. Letting out a growl of frustration, he flipped his phone open and pressed a number for speed dial and waited.

“Hello?”

“Hey V.”

“Nick! How are you? Wow this is a surprise so early in the morning.”

“I hope I didn’t wake you,” he smiled.

“Nah, I was up. So what’s going on?”

“Not much, just waiting for breakfast then I’m probably just gonna chill till the concert.”

“Can’t you hang out with the guys?”

“Well they’re all gonna be doing their own thing, most of the time we hang out individually since we’re together so much. It gets lonely after a while.”

“Don’t you have someone you can hang out with while you’re there?”

He did, but he didn’t want to.

“Yeah I guess, but I don’t feel like it, besides, I‘d rather talk to you.”

“Oh sure, wanna wallow in your own self pity is what it is,” Veronica laughed.

“Exactly! You know me so well.”

“Uh huh, I bet you say that to all the ladies.”

“Nah, I don’t.”

“You’re smooth Nick; sure you do, because you know they’d rather be talking to you than doing whatever it was they were doing when you called.”

Nick chuckled, “If you say so.”

“It’s true, so I can’t consider myself special.”

“Yeah, but with you I mean it.”

There was silence for a moment before she responded.

“You’re cute Nick.”

Suddenly AJ poked his head into the bus.

“Yo Nick, breakfast is ready, you better get your ass out here before I eat it all,” AJ grinned.

“Look V, I gotta jet, breakfast is ready and I gotta go get some before everyone else gets all the good stuff.”

“Alright, take care and good luck tonight!”

“Thanks, I’ll talk to ya later honey.”

“Bye!”

“Bye!”

He hung up, a smile lingering on his lips. Standing he slipped the phone back into his pocket and made his way out the bus.
Chapter 107 by Gravity 721
Chapter 107

Nick flopped back on the bed, stretching out as much as he could in the confined space. The concert had gone well and as always after concerts once he finally calmed down, he was exhausted. It was early morning; he’d showered and played his video games for a bit before deciding to finally turn in for the night. So here he was, back in the tiny bunk, even for a luxury bus. Rolling onto his stomach, he shoved his hand through the curtain and grabbed his phone from off the floor from where he set prior to getting into the bunk. He’d had one too many experiences of somehow managing to end up laying on it when he carried it in with him.

He flipped the phone opened and pressed a button.

“Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me.”

“Nick?”

“Yeah, what, you forgot your own brother?” Nick laughed.

“No I…I just…wow.”

“God, don’t sound so surprised BJ,” he sighed.

“I’m sorry but I am, I didn’t think you’d actually call.”

“I told you that I wanted to try harder.”

“I know but…I’m sorry Nick.”

“You should be.”

“Shut up,” BJ laughed.

“Anyway, what’s up with you? What’s been going on?”

“Not a whole lot, just been hanging out, working. Trying to get some modeling done.”

“Hey, that’s cool. I’m sure you’ll get something.”

“I hope so.”

“So how’s things with mom and dad?” Nick questioned, he was hesitant to know to be honest.

BJ sighed, “Eh whatever. Mom is fuckin’ impossible and dad; I don’t even know what the hell is going on with him. Aaron and Angel call and stuff, but dad, it’s like he’s too fuckin’ busy to call me or Les and I’m just tired of it ya know?”

He frowned, “Yeah, I know. Just hang in there ok? You do what you gotta do and that’s it. This is mom and dads shit, let them figure it out.”

“Yeah I know, that’s what everyone keeps telling me, but I miss how things used to be. Ok, so things weren’t always great, but at least we were all together. Now it’s like, we hardly see each other, mom and dad are so wrapped up in getting back at each other it’s like…”

“I’m sorry BJ,” Nick whispered.

“Our family has fallen apart Nick; I just never thought it’d happen ya know?” BJ said softly.

“Yeah, it’s always like…someone else’s family, not yours.”

“Exactly! I miss you too you know. I know…I know I’ve given you a hard time lately and I’m sorry. It’s just been hard and I guess I kinda took it out on you cause you can leave and whatever.”

Nick smiled sadly, “I know, it’s cool, I understand.”

“It still doesn’t make it right. I know you’re doing the best you can.”

“I could’ve done better, I’m trying to now. I’m sorry too…for not being there more, for not calling more for just…everything. I’ve seriously been slacking in big brother duties for a while. I’m gonna do better ok? Just give me some time, it’s hard considering, but ya know, I can definitely make time to talk to you, to all you guys.”

“Thanks Nick, I appreciate that.”

“Well girl, I’m gonna let you go. I’m exhausted.”

“Ok, oh, how was the concert tonight?”

“It was good, everything went well, the crowd was great and ya know, it just felt good to get back out there after so long.”

“Yeah, I’ll have to see if I can go to one of the shows.”

“Just let me know when you’re planning on coming and I’ll hook you up ok?”

“Sure!”

“Ok great. So I’m out, talk to ya later.”

“Ok, night Nick.”

“Night BJ, I love you.”

“Love you too, bye.”

“Bye.”

He hung up, setting the phone on the small shelf next to him, bunching the pillow up below him, closing his eyes, drifting off a short time later.

~~~~~~~~~~

Her eyes flew open, her heart pounding wildly in her chest. Veronica let out a shaky breath, slowly sitting up in the bed. She rubbed at her face, her eyes burning. Slowly she lowered her hands; her whole body trembled in the afterglow of her dream.

Veronica wiped at her eyes, the tears wouldn’t be stopped though. He’d been right there, and he’d touched her, wrapped her in his arms and held her tightly and then she’d woken and he was gone.

Gone.

She would never see him again. Swallowing hard, she tried to fight the tears, tried to stop herself from crying, but she couldn’t. Reaching out, she fought blindly against the darkness for her phone. She flipped it open and started to dial and stopped. She couldn’t call her mom, it was too late and she couldn’t wake her for something as silly as a dream about her dad. But she so badly need to talk to someone, needed to hear another voice. She could call Lynne…but no, it wasn’t right. Who could she call?

Veronica looked down at the phone, her heart breaking, her hand shaking so bad she could barely hang onto the small phone. She could call him, he’d told her to call anytime, but had he truly meant it? All she knew was that she needed him; need to hear his voice, needed to know that she wasn’t alone. Veronica pressed the number and waited, praying that he’d pick up, praying that he’d meant what he’d said.

Nick groaned as the insistent ringing of his cell broke the silence of bus. Reaching out, he slid his hand across the shelf, finding the phone. He flipped it open, cursing himself for not turning it off after his call to BJ, he looked at the screen and went to press the button to turn it off, when he noticed the caller ID.

It was Veronica.

She never called this late. He put the phone up to his ear quickly.

“Hello?”

There was silence for a moment before he heard the soft reply.

“N-Nick?”

He sat up as much as he could in the small area, his heart pounding.

“Veronica? Baby what’s wrong? What’s the matter? Are you ok?”

“N-no.”

He blinked, she sounded like she was crying.

“What honey?”

“I’m sorry for calling so late…m-my dad…y-you said I could call whenever…my dad, I had a dream about him and…he was hugging me and…s-sorry, I…I just needed to hear your voice…”

Nick sighed softly, slumping back, listening to the soft whimpers of her crying on the other end. He shook his head, he wanted desperately to reach out, to be able to hold her and yet this time…he couldn’t. There was truly nothing he could do but listen.

She felt so stupid, but she couldn’t help it. Couldn’t stop the tears, couldn’t stop crying. Hearing his voice only made it worse. She wanted him there with her, to hold her, to take the emptiness away. But he too was far away, so far away.

“Veronica…I’m sorry baby. Shh, it’s gonna be ok,” he soothed; he didn’t know what else to say, what else to do.

“I-I wish you were here,” she whispered, her voice breaking.

Nick rubbed at his eyes in frustration, “So do I sweetie, and I wish I could be.”

“I’m sorry, that wasn’t very fair. I just miss him and…” she sighed, trying to calm herself, to regain her composure. “I didn’t mean to call so late…or early rather. I just needed to hear your voice. I…hope you meant it when you said I could call anytime. I guess it’s a little late to be worrying about that huh?” she chuckled softly.

“I definitely did mean it, I’m glad you called me.”

“Well…I thought of calling mom or Lynne but…”

“I’m glad it was me, I mean that.”

“Thanks Nick. I’ll let you go so you can go back to sleep. Thanks again.”

“Wait, what are you gonna do?”

“I dunno, maybe I’ll read til I get sleepy.”

He hesitated a moment before replying.

“How about a song?”

“A song?”

“Yeah, how bout I sing you to sleep?”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“I know, but I want to. Granted it is early in the morning so it’s not gonna be the greatest, but I’ll do my best.”

“Well alright, I’d love it if you sang a song,” Veronica whispered; her heart racing, only this time it was for a different reason.

“Ok, so turn off the lights and get into bed if you aren’t already.”

“I am, and the lights are already off.”

“Good, now close your eyes and try to relax,” Nick whispered.

“Ok, “she let out a breath, closing her eyes, forcing her body to relax.

“Alright, do you have a special request?”

Veronica chuckled, “Nah, just go with whatever pops into your head.”

“Got it and I apologize now if this sounds like crap.”

“It’s fine Nick, don’t worry bout it.”

“Ready?”

“Mmmhmm.”

He cleared his throat started singing the first song that came to mind.

“So long… I've been looking too hard, I've waiting too long. Sometimes I don't know what I will find; I only know it's a matter of time, when you love someone…when you love someone.”

Veronica recognized the song immediately, her heart dropping.

Nick didn’t know why it was this song, didn’t know why when he thought of songs to sing to her, this is the first one to come up. It just seemed right.

“It feels so right, so warm and true I need to know if you feel it too. Maybe I'm wrong, won’t you tell me if I'm coming on too strong? This heart of mine has been hurt before this time I wanna be sure…”

She could feel her body starting to relax, the sound of his rough sleep filled voice echoed in her mind and it was almost as if he was there, right next to her, holding her, lulling her to sleep.

“I've been waiting…for a girl like you to come into my life. I've been waiting for a girl like you and a love that will survive. I've been waiting for someone new to make me feel alive. Yeah, waiting for a girl like you…to come into my life…”

As Nick sang the words, he realized how true they were. He had been waiting for someone, though he didn’t know it. He’d been waiting for a girl, someone he could be close to…someone like her. Even though she was just his friend, it seemed like it was meant to happen. He didn’t seem to be searching anymore. It all made him realize how much he wanted to be there with her now, even though they were only friends. He closed his eyes as he sang, imaging she was right there next to him.

“Now, I know it's right. From the moment I wake up till deep in the night, there's no where on earth that I'd rather be, than holding you, tenderly…”

She could feel herself starting to drift off; it was getting harder and harder to keep a grip on the phone.

He paused; he could hear the deep breathing on the other end. “Veronica?” Nick whispered.

“Mmm?”

“I’m gonna hang up now baby, get some sleep ok? I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”

“Mmmhmm.”

“Hang up the phone ok? Don’t forget.”

“Mmm.”

“Night sweetie.”

“Night…Nick…mmmm thanks.”

Nick waited until he heard the dial tone and then flipped his phone closed, setting it on the shelf next to him again. He stared out into the darkness and suddenly felt very alone, alone and tired. Soon she’d be there; soon they’d see each other again.

Sighing, he rolled back onto his stomach, drifting off a short time later.

I've been waiting…for a girl like you to come into my life. I've been waiting for a girl like you and a love that will survive. I've been waiting for someone new to make me feel alive. Yeah, waiting for a girl like you…to come into my life…I've been waiting, waiting for you. I've been waiting for a girl like you I've been waiting…

Won't you come into my life?


Waiting for A Girl Like You - by Foreginer
Chapter 108 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
No snickering at the choice of song, it's a great song and I happen to enjoy this artists songs quite a bit! LOL! The song really fits the situation if you pay real close attention to the lyrics, you'll see!
Chapter 108

The Day of the Concert…

She slipped the cord around her neck, staring down at the badge, her smile growing wider. She couldn’t believe the day had finally come. In a few hours she’d see Nick again and she’d be meeting the rest of the guys. A wave of nervousness rushed over her. She had no idea what to expect, how would they treat her? How would Nick treat her? Sighing, Veronica made one last look through her purse to make sure she had everything.

“Wallet, camera, phone…pass,” she tugged on the cord around her neck. “Ok, I think that’s everything.” She zipped up her purse just as her cell rang. Unzipping her purse again, she pulled the phone out and flipped it open. “Hello?”

“Hey!”

“Nick hi!”

“I just wanted to let you know that we’re gonna be pulling into the venue in about a half an hour.”

“Ok cool, I’m gonna be leaving in about twenty minutes, gonna eat something first make sure I have everything and then I’ll head out.”

“Alright, how long does it take for you to get here?”

“About an hour and a half, so I should be there at…mmm…”she looked at her watch. “Probably around 9:30, then again they don’t open the park until eleven.”

“Don’t worry about that, you’re there with us, you’ll be able to get back into the venue. I don’t know how familiar you are with this venue, but you can just come around back.”

“Yup, I know where to go.”

“Make sure you have your phone on you incase you have a hard time getting in, which you shouldn’t, but just incase. Call me if you run into any problems and I’ll take care of it ok?”

“Ok.”

“Cool, so I guess I’ll see you in a couple hours.”

“Yeah, see ya then!”

“Drive careful Veronica.”

She chuckled, “I will. Bye Nick!”

“Bye!”

She hung up and slipped her phone back into her purse, making her way out her room and into the kitchen to eat something before heading out a short time later.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Nick flipped the phone closed and slumped back on the couch. God he was nervous, he was so nervous, and anxious. In a few hours from now, he’d finally see Veronica again. Granted it’d only been a month since they last saw each other, but it felt longer. Besides, their parting hadn’t been the best and so much had happened, he was dying to see her and see how she was doing.

He couldn’t wait to arrive at the venue, he had to get off the bus, he was going crazy. Standing, he headed over to the stereo, turning the radio on. He might as well start to get ready for when the arrived to make the time go faster, he had to do something to make time go faster. Nick switched through the stations until he found a song he liked, turning he went to his bunk, getting his bag out and pulling some clothes out to change into. He made his way into the bathroom, showering quickly; dressing and then making his way back out.

Stuffing his dirty clothes into a bag, he stuffed that bag back into his other bag and then proceeded to clean his bus a bit. Normally he didn’t care, but since Veronica was coming, he did want to show her around his bus. Sniffing he frowned, it didn’t smell so pleasant in there either. Nick shuffled around, opening the windows and spraying some air freshener he’d brought with him. Usually he used that to spray in his bag when the smell of the dirty clothes became so overwhelming when they couldn‘t get to a laundromat, a trick he’d learned after years on the road. Not that it was the smartest thing to do; he’d had to throw out several pairs of shorts and pants because they smelled too much like “fresh linen”.

Hands on his hips, Nick looked around, wishing desperately that he had one of those portable vacuum cleaners. He could just ask to borrow Howie’s once they arrived, Howie had everything. Nick hurried around, throwing out several empty pop cups and cans and picking up dirty clothes and shoving them in his dirty clothes bag and then shoving the bag underneath the bunk. She was going to think he was a pig.

Nick hurried around for another ten minutes before finally finishing, he slumped back down on the couch, looking at his watch again, they’d be arriving anytime now. Time was going so slow for some reason. He stood again, this time to turn the radio off, he’d forgotten he’d turned it on and now it was annoying him. Maybe he’d play a video game until they arrived. He made his way over to the stereo, wincing at the song playing, it sounded like something Kevin would listen to, though it did sound strangely familiar. What the hell was he listening to?

Last night, I said goodbye, now it seems years. I’m back in the city where nothing is clear. But thoughts of me holding you, bringing us near.

He blinked, frowning, he started to press the button to turn the stereo off, but found that he couldn’t do it.
And tell me, when will our eyes meet, when can I touch you…when will this strong yearning end? And when will I hold you again?

Nick did recognize the song, Kevin did listen to it. Nick had heard the song coming from Kevin’s hotel room on several occasions and had been thoroughly disgusted by it. That was until now. He couldn’t believe he was listening to it, couldn’t believe he was actually liking it, couldn’t believe that it made him think of…

Stepping back, he slumped down on the couch yet again, listening carefully to the words that seemed to be telling his story.

Time in New England, took me away. To long rocky beaches, and you by the bay. We started a story, whose end must now wait. And tell me, when will our eyes meet, when can I touch you…when will this strong yearning end? And when will I hold you again?

His features softened, a small frown on his lips. It was all so dramatic and cheesy, but he’d be damned if it wasn’t exactly how he felt, what he’d been thinking. This was pathetic, here he was, a twenty five year old man listening to…to this and relating to it. What was worse, it made him even more excited to see her.

I feel the change coming, I feel the wind blow. I feel brave and daring, I feel my blood flow. With you I can bring out all the love that I have. With you there’s a heaven, so earth ain’t so bad. And tell me…

Standing suddenly, Nick started pacing, ok so maybe not all of it he could relate to, but most of it. Still it was a good thing the guys weren’t here to see this, to witness Nick Carter totally going sappy over a song that made him think of her. Biting his lip, he walked over and forced himself to turn the stereo off. He wouldn’t listen to anything else; he didn’t want to listen to music anymore anyway.

Looking around, he realized that he’d been so caught up in the song, that he hadn’t realized they’d arrived at the venue. Grabbing his phone, he slipped it into his pocket and hurried off the bus, making a mental note to get the cd with that song on it.

And tell me, when will our eyes meet, when can I touch you…when will this strong yearning end? And when will I hold you again?

Weekend in New England - by Barry Mannilow
Chapter 109 by Gravity 721
Chapter 109

An Hour and a Half Later…

“Ok, I’m pulling in right now,” she called into the phone, holding up the badge to the man, handing him the money for parking and then pulling through.

“Everything ok?”

“Yup, I’m through.”

“Great.”

“Yup, I’m gonna let ya go so I can park and make my way in.”

“Ok, call me if you run into any problems.”

“I will.”

“See ya in a few minutes!”

Veronica couldn’t help but smile, he sounded so excited.

“See ya Nick,” she hung up and made her way around, her heart dropping when she saw the various tour buses and trucks around. She parked and got out, starting over towards the entrance to the venue.

A security guard came over, stopping her.

“Excuse me ma’am, the park isn’t open yet.”

“I know, I have a pass and I’m on the guest list as well,” she replied, holding up her badge to inspect, a small wave of fear passing through her.

The guard looked the badge over, “Ok you’re fine,” he looked down at the list, “Veronica Peterson, go on back,” he smiled. He made his way over to the gate, unlocking it and opening it and motioning for her to go through.

She gave him a smile and made her way through, stopping to watch the guard shut and lock the gate again. Letting out a breath, she forged on, looking around. She’d been to this venue several times as it was part of a popular amusement park. Her very first Backstreet concert had been at this very same venue, it seemed so long ago. Now here she was going backstage to meet the rest of the guys.

Veronica made her way through the refreshment and souvenir area, though nothing was set up as it was too early. She headed over to the entrance of the outdoor auditorium, flashing her badge to the guard and making her way in. She looked around, not quite sure of how exactly to get backstage. Veronica forced herself to take several deep breaths, to relax and try to calm down, but with very little success.

Looking around, she tried to find someone to talk to, making her way deeper into area, she watched as several people walked by, all with places to go and things to do. Turning, she made her way down the long aisle towards the front row to a man talking with someone else. As she approached, one of the guys left and the man behind what appeared to be the pit, continued looking through the papers on his clipboard. Veronica approached cautiously.

“Excuse me.”

The man looked up, blinking, “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, I’m here to see Nick Carter,” Veronica explained, holding up her badge. “I…”

The man looked back down at his clipboard, “Contest winners are to meet over at the pavilion tent in the…”

“Um, I have a pass, my name is Veronica Peterson, Nick’s expecting me.”

The guy looked back up at her and then down at her pass, “Ahh so you’re Veronica,” the guy chuckled. “Nick hasn’t talked about anything else since we arrived. Does he know you’re here?”

Veronica blushed, “Yeah, I called him to let him know that I’d arrived.”

“Cool, I’ll take ya back to him, I‘m Rich by the way” the guy announced, putting his pen through the clip part of the clipboard. “Come right around there, up those steps.”

Veronica turned making her way over to the far end of the stage, making her way up the steps and over to the guy.
Chapter 110 by Gravity 721
Chapter 110

“So she’s here now?” Leighanne smiled.

“Yeah, she’s around somewhere. I told everyone that I was expecting her and to bring her back when she came, I hope she doesn’t get lost,” Nick frowned.

Leighanne chuckled, “I’m sure she’ll be fine Nick, someone will help her out.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right.”

He couldn’t stand the waiting, he was wondering what was taking so long. He hoped she hadn’t run into any problems. Pulling his phone out he checked to make sure that he hadn’t missed any messages.

“Relax Nick,” Leighanne laughed.

“I am, I’m fine.”

“I haven’t seen you this worked up over a girl in long time, it’s nice to see that she makes you so happy.”

“I’m not worked up, it’s just it’s been a while since I’ve seen her and everything that happened with her dad, I just want to make sure she’s ok and introduce her to everyone.”

“Well you’re positively glowing.”

“Leigh, I am not!” Nick mumbled, he could feel his face burning.

“Aww look at you!” She giggled, reaching out to shove him playfully.

“Cut it out,” Nick groaned, sighing.

“Poor baby, c’mere!” Leighanne laughed, pulling him into a hug.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Veronica followed Rich back around the small maze of rooms backstage, her nervousness growing every second. She couldn’t help but keep wondering what was gonna happen, how was he going to introduce her to everyone? Would he tell everyone that she was just a fan? Would he be reserved and cold towards her? He sure seemed really excited on the phone, but maybe that was just because there was no one around. He did hold off on telling the guys about her in the first place.

Rich stopped suddenly by an open door.

“This is the rec room, he said he’d be here and to just bring you here when you arrived.”

“He told you specifically?”

“Well he told everyone actually, made sure that everyone knew you were coming and where to bring you,” Rich grinned. “Everyone kept teasing him about it.”

She laughed, “I would’ve too.”

“See, I knew I liked you for a reason,” Rich smiled, gesturing for her to go in.

Veronica took a fortifying breath before stepping into the room. Her gaze found him immediately, her heart dropping. He was hugging a small blonde haired woman. She let out a breath, she didn’t even think of the fact that maybe he had someone with him, that the reason he wanted everyone to bring her there and didn’t meet her right out was because he didn’t want her to know…maybe he figured he’d still have time before she actually got there. She had to get away. Turning, she went to leave, when she ran right into Rich.

“Hey Nick, Veronica is here,” Rich announced suddenly.

She stilled, her body stiff, ready to bolt.

“Veronica!”

Veronica closed her eyes for a moment, taking a breath before slowly turning to look at him. She gave him a nervous smile and a small wave. She watched as he started towards her, her eyes widening as he came forward, pulling her into his arms, hugging her tightly in front of Rich and everyone else in the room. She looked over and noticed that the blonde haired woman was now gone.

“God I’ve missed you,” Nick whispered, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

She smiled suddenly, slowly bringing her arms up and around him, hugging him close and tight, “I’ve missed you too Nick.”

He slowly pulled away, looking at her.

“I-I didn’t mean to interrupt,” she blushed.

He frowned, “Huh?”

“I saw you hugging someone, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Nick blinked, “You mean Leighanne?”

“Huh?”

“That was Leighanne.”

The realization slowly sinking in, she looked back over at the empty spot and then up at Nick to find him grinning down at her.

“Who did you think it was?” He asked, knowing good and well who she thought it was.

Veronica shrugged, her face beet red.

Nick chuckled, reaching out he took her hand, leading her out the room. “C’mon, I want to introduce you to some people.
Chapter 111 by Gravity 721
Chapter 111

“It was nice to meet you,” Veronica smiled, following through the crowds of people. She’d spent the several minutes saying hi to the various people they met along the way.

It was a buzz backstage. People running here and there, cords all over the place, banging, pounding, and other assorted sounds swirled around her.

“I wanna introduce you to the rest of the guys, I’ve…Veronica? You ok?”

Veronica looked over to see Nick staring at her, concern in his eyes.

“Huh? Oh yeah I’m fine.”

“You looked a little freaked out,” he smiled.

“Sorry, it’s a bit overwhelming. I’ve never actually been backstage for something like this, it’s…amazing.”

“It loses its coolness fast trust me.”

“Well you’re used to it, it would, but for someone like me…”

Nick looked over at her, smiling suddenly. It was so refreshing to bring someone who all of it was new for to see the look of excitement and awe on their face. It almost made it a new experience for him, and he wanted it to be great for her. He hoped that the rest of the guys wouldn’t ruin it, specifically Kevin. Kevin had been so against it, he prayed that he wouldn’t treat Veronica any differently, not that he thought that low of Kevin, but still.

Veronica wiped her hand on her shorts, she was going to meet the rest of the guys, suddenly she felt very sick. It’d always been one of her dreams to meet Nick, let alone the rest of the guys. Of course she never figured either would happen, she never figured she’d ever start conversing with Nick Carter through the mail either. Shaking her head, she fought the sudden thought that she’d forgotten her cd liner to get their autographs. She almost laughed at the absurdity of it. She listened as Nick asked various people if they’d seen any of the guys, her anxiety growing.

“Yeah, Kevin is on stage, he’s talking to one of the techs,” Larry, one of grips advised Nick.

“Thanks Larry,” Nick sighed, looking out across the stage at Kevin who was talking heatedly to the tech about something. He looked over at Veronica and smiled. “C’mon, Kev’s over there.”

Veronica smiled shakily and allowed Nick to pull her across the stage to Nick, her anxiety had reached a fevered pitch, for some reason meeting him made her not only nervous, but apprehensive.

“Hey Kev,” Nick called, stopping behind him. He could feel the hesitation from Veronica and turned to look at her again, giving her a soft smile. “Relax baby, it’s ok.” He wouldn’t tell her he was as nervous as she was.

Kevin turned, smiling suddenly, “Hey Nick.”

“Hey, Kevin, this is Veronica. Veronica, Kevin.”

“Veronica, great to finally meet you,” Kevin grinned, offering his hand.

Veronica shook his hand, smiling, “Nice to meet you too Kevin.”

“Nick has talked about nothing else, you have no idea how excited he was that you were coming today,” Kevin laughed.

Veronica couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Shut up Kevin,” Nick blushed.

“So sorry Nick,” Kevin faked a serious expression, winking at Veronica.

“I’ll bet.”

“By the way Veronica,” Kevin started, his expression turning serious suddenly. “I wanted to give my condolences on your loss. I know how hard it is, just hang in there ok?”

Veronica smiled, “Thanks Kevin, I’m trying.”

“Let’s go Veronica, we’ll talk to ya later Kevin,” Nick sighed, secretly relieved Kevin was being so nice.

“Nice meeting you Veronica, I hope we can talk more later without the warden around,” Kevin smirked.

“Shut up!” Nick groaned, pulling Veronica away.

Veronica could barely stifle her laughter as Nick led her away.

“Now, let’s see if we can find A…Hey, what are you laughing at?”

“N-nothing!”

“Traitor,” Nick mumbled, and groaned when heard the laughter suddenly burst from Veronica.

Clearing his throat, Nick made his way off stage, heading into the dressing rooms.

“AJ! AJ you in here?”

“Maybe…”

“Come out, there’s someone I want you to meet,” Nick announced.

AJ made his way out, clad in nothing but boxers.

“AJ!”

“What?”

“Put some clothes on!” Nick screamed.

“You said there was someone you wanted me to meet,” AJ reasoned, looking over at Veronica who was now blushing a colorful shade of red.

“AJ you ass, you knew I meant Veronica! Put something on…now!”

“Fine, but you were the one who came in here; it’s a dressing room for a reason Nick!” AJ announced, turning to head back into the room.

Veronica could feel her face burning; she looked up at Nick and then away quickly, trying to hide a smile.

“Uh huh, I’m sure you enjoyed that didn’t you?”

She bit her lip, fighting off another wave of giggles.

“I don’t know about you Veronica,” Nick laughed.

“Ok I’m back and I’m decent,” AJ announced. He’d put jeans on, and that was it.

“AJ…really,” Nick sighed.

“What? I’m dressed. Veronica I assume,” he looked at Veronica, smiling.

She nodded offering her hand, “Yeah, nice to meet you.”

“AJ Veronica, Veronica, AJ,” Nick offered.

“Great to meet you sweetie, Nick’s been talking everyone’s ear off about you, it’s cool to finally meet the woman who’s gotten our little Nicky all riled up,” AJ smirked.

“Bone I swear…” Nick grated out, blushing once again.

Grinning Veronica chuckled, “Thanks AJ, nice to meet you too.”

“Well I hate to cut this short, but I need to finish getting dressed, cause despite what some think, it is more convenient to dress in an actual room and not on a bus,” AJ smiled.

“Bye AJ,” Nick called, pulling Veronica away.

“Later, nice meeting you Veronica.”

Veronica gave him a small wave. “He’s really nice.”

“Mmmhmm,” Nick muttered. “Howie, Howie is nice, AJ is…well…”

“Unique.”

“That’s putting it lightly,” Nick winked.

They made their way across the stage again catching up with Howie by one of the various refreshment tables that had been set up.

“Yo Howie, there’s someone I want you to meet,” Nick announced, stopping behind Howie.

Howie turned, smiling, “Let me guess, Veronica right?”

Veronica blushed, offering her hand. “Guilty as charged.”

Howie shook her hand, “I’ve heard so much about you from Nick, he hasn’t…”

“Ok, we don’t need to hear it. I just wanted to introduce you. Have you seen Brian?” Nick interrupted.

“What’s the rush? Maybe I’d like to get to know Veronica a bit,” Howie winked.

“Later, where’s Brian?”

Veronica cleared her throat, “It’s nice to meet you Howie, this is all a bit overwhelming.”

“I bet it is, and it’s nice to meet you too. Last I saw Brian he was in the rec room with Leighanne,” Howie explained, looking over at Nick.

“Cool, well we’ll talk to you later Howie,” Nick announced.

“Fine keep her all to yourself, I’ll talk to her later,” Howie smirked.

Nick shot Howie a look before leading Veronica away.

“Bye Howie,” she called.

Howie gave her a wave and a smile before turning back to the table.

“It seems like we just left here,” Nick sighed, leading her back to the room in which they’d started, poking his head in. “Brian! Veronica’s here…”

“Oh yeah? Bring her in,” came the accent tinged voice.

Veronica followed Nick in, smiling as she made her way over to Brian. “Hi Brian, nice to meet you.”

“Hey Veronica, Nick’s told me a lot about you, it’s great to finally meet you,” Brian grinned, shaking her hand.

“Same here.”

“You just missed Leighanne, she stepped away to call and check on Baylee, you can meet her at the concert tonight or I’m sure you’ll probably see her around before then.”

“Yeah, I’m sure I will.”

“Well if ya’ll excuse me, there’s some things I gotta do, but I’ll see ya later. Nice to meet ya Veronica,” Brian winked.

“You too!”

She watched as Brian made his way out of the room before turning to look at Nick.

“They’re all so nice; this is so cool, thanks so much for all of this Nick.”

“Veronica it’s no problem, you deserved this, and besides, I wanted you to meet the guys and my friends. This is just as exciting for me as it is for you.”

She grinned, “So I’ve heard.”

Nick could feel his face burning, “Anyway, c’mon, I wanna show you my bus.”

Veronica stared at him

“What? I just want you to see it, we can chill and relax, catch up.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes,” he sighed, rolling his eyes.

She chuckled, “Let’s go Carter.”
Chapter 112 by Gravity 721
Chapter 112

She made her way onto the bus, looking around as walked in. It was roomier than she expected, on TV it looked so small and cramped, and while it wasn’t a full sized house, it wasn’t a rabbit hole either. Veronica made her way over to the table, not wanting to go in too far and seem presumptuous, and looked over the small area. It could fit four people comfortably; the table was about the size of one of the small booth tables you’d see in a McDonalds. Veronica looked over at the microwave and mini refrigerator and then down the narrow hallway where the bunks were and down further where she saw the small bathroom and down at the end what she assumed to be the lounge area.

“This is really nice, it’s spacer than I thought it’d…what?”

Veronica blinked; he was looking at her, watching her intently.

“You look great, it’s been so long and…I can’t believe you’re here,” Nick replied softly, walking towards her, slowly wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her close.

She could feel herself blushing, “Thanks Nick. I’m glad to be here, it’s great to see you again.”

“I was so worried. After everything that happened and I had to go…I’m just glad you’re ok.”

“I’m fine, taking it a day at a time.”

“You went through all that and you’re still smiling, you’re a very strong woman Veronica.”

Veronica rubbed nervously at her cheeks, “Cut it out Nick, you’re gonna give me a swelled head,” she chuckled.

“I got something for you,” Nick whispered.

“Oh yeah?”

“Mmmhmm.”

“You didn’t have to get me anything else Nick, all of this…it’s enough trust me.”

He smiled, pulling away for a moment, heading to the fridge opening it and pulling something out before turning back to her.

“For you,” he announced, holding out a single pink rose.

“Aww Nick, it’s beautiful,” she smiled, taking the rose from him.

“The florist guy says a pink rose stands for admiration, and after all you’ve been through, I really do admire you.”

Veronica could feel her eyes welling up as she stared at the rose then up at him, “Thank you Nick.”

“C’mere,” he said softly, opening his arms, “Give me a hug.”

Veronica chuckled, stepping forward, wrapping her arms around him, “You’re too good to me ya know Nick.”

“You deserve it; you’ve been such a great friend to me.”

She shrugged, “No better of a friend than anyone else would be.”

“I’m not so sure about that.”

Veronica sighed, resting her head on his shoulder, wishing she could stay like this forever.

“Would you like a drink? Are you hungry?”

She smiled, slowly pulling away. “Nah, I’m fine thanks.”

“Alright, hey, let’s sit ok? C’mon,” Nick announced, taking her hand and leading her down the narrow hallway to the lounge, sitting on the couch. “Tell me what’s been going on with you?”

“Nick I’ve told you it all over the phone already.”

“I know, but it’s better in person. C’mon, tell me how your Mom’s doing, and how was the date last week?”

“It was alright, Dominick was really cool.”

“So is there gonna be another date?”

“Maybe, not sure, but honestly I don’t think so.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, he was nice, but eh. I’m not like, dying to see him again, I think it’s mutual.”

“Mmm,” Nick nodded, a hint of a smile on his lips.

“That’s fine though, I’m really starting to like this dating thing anyway, it’s cool getting to meet so many different guys.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah! I’m glad I’m getting out more.”

Nick stared at her, nibbling at his bottom lip. He was glad too, but also a little nervous. She had been out on several dates, but there never seemed to be a second, there was always something wrong with him, no connection or no personality. Amazingly, Nick was relieved each time she told him what was wrong with the current guy.

“I’m glad you are too, you look like you’re a lot happier.”

“I feel a lot happier, and I have you to thank. If it wasn’t for you in a lot of ways, I never would be doing it, meeting different people and all. Thanks Nick.”

Oh great.

“You’re welcome Veronica, I’m glad to help.”

Yeah right.

Veronica smiled at him and he felt his stomach drop, he had to change the subject.

“So how’s your Mom doing? How’s she handling everything?”

“She’s ok; it’s a bit different for her though you know? She was married to him and then they got divorced and everything that happened. It affected her more than I realized I learned later.”

“Yeah, I can imagine.”

“All in all, things are starting to go back to normal; we have our good and bad days as everyone does.”

“It’ll get easier with time.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Hey, wanna go on some rides?”

“The park isn’t open though.”

“It’s alright, we’re able to go on rides though, they kinda open it up for us.”

“Ohhh must be nice,” Veronica chuckled.

“It’s a nice little perk I must say.”

“Well I’m game.”

“Cool,” he replied, standing. He couldn’t be so close to her and control himself, it was becoming harder and harder.

She stood and they made their way off the bus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Hour Later…

“Whew, that was great. Only problem is that ride always hurts my ears, I never remember to take my damn earrings off,” Veronica laughed as she made her way back onto the bus.

“It does jerk ya around a lot.”

“I’ll say,” she moaned, rubbing at her neck, “Still it’s great.”

“Yeah, I love roller coasters.”

“I never used to, but eventually they grew on me,” Veronica explained, walking over and sitting on the couch, scooting over so Nick could join her.

“Whew, it’s kinda draining.”

“Yeah it is,” she replied, closing her eyes, resting her head back.

Nick turned his head to look at her, slowly licking his lips.

“What?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“I can feel you watching me.”

He grinned, “Sorry.”

“I bet you are,” she slowly opened her eyes, turning her head to look at him.

He didn’t think about it, just acted, leaning in and kissing her gently, forcing himself to take it slow, but it was hard.

She pulled away, blinking rapidly, “Nick…”

“I’m sorry Veronica, I’m sorry,” he whispered, leaning in to kiss her again, cupping her cheek in his hand. He just couldn’t help himself; it’d been so long, too long.

Veronica felt his hand slide around her waist, pulling her closer to him. She was helpless to stop him, her hands sliding up to his shoulders, clutching at him desperately, trying to push him away and pull him closer at the same time.

Nick groaned, kissing her deeply, it was never enough. He needed to be closer, deeper inside. He tore his lips away, panting hard.

“W-wow.”

“I-I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help it.”

She brought a hand to her head, clearing her throat, “It’s…it’s ok, don’t worry.” Veronica let out a breath, scooting closer to him, resting her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes.

“Sleepy?”

“Mmm, a little, couldn’t sleep last night, too excited.”

He too had been excited and had had an equally hard time sleeping himself.

“It’s the anticipation,” he whispered, running his hand up and down her back soothingly. He looked down to see that she had already fallen asleep, her hand resting lightly on his chest over his heart. Smiling a bit, he leaned in, kissing her forehead, squeezing her gently. In a few hours she’d be gone and he’d be alone.

Letting out a sigh, he tried to pull her closer still, resting his head against hers closing his eyes, he drifted off a few minutes later.
Chapter 113 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
When I heard the song I used for this chapter, it made me think of Nick. It's one of the two songs by this group that I like. It really fits Nick in this story.
Chapter 113

An Hour Later…

Veronica shifted, sighing softly as she opened her eyes. Looking up, she saw that Nick too was asleep. She carefully pulled away, stretching. She couldn’t believe she’d fallen asleep, her time with him was limited and she wanted to make the most of it, and she’d fallen asleep. Frowning she turned to look at him, to find that he was now staring at her.

“Hey.”

“Whoa, hey. I thought you were still asleep.”

“I felt you move.”

“Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Eh, no big deal,” Nick replied, his voice laced with sleep. He straightened up, stretching as she had. “Mmm I’m hungry, wanna go grab some lunch? They should be all set up,” he stated, looking down at his watch.

“Actually I am.”

“Cool, the food is really good actually,” he announced, standing.

Veronica stood and followed him out the bus and over to the area sectioned off for catering.

“Help yourself, it’s buffet style and whatever, so have as much as you want.”

“Yeah, you’re trying to make me chubbier than I am,” Veronica smiled.

Nick rolled his eyes, “Whatever.”

Veronica grabbed a plate and added a little to it and made her way over to a table, sitting. Nick joined her a few min later. They ate quietly, talking amongst themselves, when someone came up to the table.

“Veronica right?”

She looked up at a woman she recognized from pictures on the internet.

“Yes.”

“Hi I’m Kristin Richardson, do you mind if I sit here?”

“Of course not,” Veronica smiled, a bit stunned.

“It’s so great to finally meet you, Kevin told me you’d arrived and I’d been looking for you, Nick was trying to keep you all to himself it seems,” Kristin grinned.

“I have not! I introduced her to a lot of people.”

“Yeah, except me and Leigh.”

“I couldn’t find you two.”

“Sure Nick,” Kristin sighed, winking at Veronica.

Veronica grinned, clearing her throat.

“I wish everyone would stop pickin’ on me man,” Nick pouted.

“Aww poor baby, anyway Veronica, Kevin tells me you and Nick met through his fan club?”

Nick watched as the two started talking, his thoughts starting to drift. So much had happened over the last few months, it was different now.

He was different.

This is my life; it's not what it was before. All these feelings I've shared…

He couldn’t believe he’d come so far. It felt like it’d taken forever, and he had one person to thank for it. It didn’t seem like enough, and Nick was sure she’d never know, never realize just how important or how special she was.

Staring down at his plate, he couldn’t help but wonder if it was all a dream, if he was just imaging everything. It was as if any moment he’d wake up and be right back where he’d started. Nick lifted his eyes, his gaze resting on Veronica again.

If it was a dream, he didn’t want to wake up.

And these are my dreams that I'd never lived before. Somebody shake me 'cause I…I must be sleeping…

A hint of a smiled crossed his lips, he would do it all over again in a heartbeat if it meant meeting her again, being around her. Nick thought back to his family, his steadily deteriorating relationship with his parents and his mending relationship with his brother and sisters and it all seemed worth it now.

It was getting easier, he felt it. He’d made so many mistakes, hurt so many people, and he wasn’t proud of it. Still he was trying, making the effort he never took the time before to make. He had a long way to go, he had to regain the trust of his siblings that he’d lost, find a way to get along with his parents and deal with the divorce. It all boiled down to being there for his brother and sisters, it was about being there more and not letting them deal with everything alone anymore. It was going to be hard, but they needed each other and he wasn’t going to give up again without a fight.

Now that we're here, it's so far away; all the struggle we thought was in vain. And all the mistakes, one life contained…they all finally start to go away. And now that we're here, it's so far away, and I feel like I can face the day. And I can forgive and I'm not ashamed to be the person that I am today.

It was time to move on he knew, time to start over again. He couldn’t change the past, but he could change now, make the future better. Nick never thought it mattered, always thought whatever happened, happened. Now he knew better, knew that he had to take the chance, just way he’d told Veronica to.

These are my words that I've never said before I think I'm doing okay. And this is the smile that I've never shown before. Somebody shake me 'cause I must be sleeping…

It could all be over in a second, in a heartbeat and he didn’t want to miss out on anything. He’d spent way too much time being angry and apathetic. It was time to face everything, no more hiding, no more pretending. He needed to open his eyes and see what was in front of him for what it was.

Nick looked at Veronica again, really looked at her. He really hoped it wasn’t a dream, really hoped that it was real, that she was real.

I'm so afraid of waking please don't shake me… afraid of waking…please don't shake me…

Veronica looked over at Nick to find him staring at her.

“Uhh Nick? You ok?”

“Hmm? Yeah I’m fine, sorry, just thinking.”

“Must be pretty serious.”

“Yeah, I guess it is.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Nick smiled, “Nah, it’s cool.”

“Alright.”

He reached out suddenly, taking her hand, “I’m glad you’re here, thank you Veronica.”

She blinked then smiled, “You’re welcome Nick.”

“You don’t know how much you being here means to me.”

“It’s not a big deal really.”

“It is Veronica.”

“Oh…well, I’m glad that…that…you’re glad I’m here,” she chuckled.

He smiled, bringing her hand to his lips, kissing it gently.

He was very glad.

Now that we're here, it's so far away; all the struggle we thought was in vain. And all the mistakes, one life contained…they all finally start to go away. And now that we're here, it's so far away, and I feel like I can face the day. And I can forgive and I'm not ashamed to be the person that I am today.

So Far Away - By Staind
Chapter 114 by Gravity 721
Chapter 114

“So, what do you want to play? I’ve got Xbox, PS2...umm…Gamecube…”

“Uhh…well considering I’ve never played the other two and they give you the distinct advantage, I’ll have to say PS2,” Veronica chuckled.

“Damn, I figured you’d say that.”

“You know I’ll kick your ass Carter,” she laughed, following him towards the back of the bus.

“Whatever. I’m so confident; I’ll even let you pick the game.”

“Hmmm…”Veronica looked the titles over and selected one.

“Man, you don’t pull any punches do you?” Nick asked as he sat on the couch after loading the game.

“No way, all or nothing baby,” she grinned, sitting next to him.

“Well, it’s your funeral.”

“We’ll see about that.”

An Hour Later…

“Damnit, not again!!”

“Do you give up yet Carter? I mean…this is getting kinda…pathetic.”

Nick sighed, “I don’t believe this, I’m loosing…I’m loosing badly, I’m loosing to a girl.”

Veronica smirked, “Hey, you were warned.”

“Yeah, sure. If I wasn’t tired and worried about hurting your feelings, I’d challenge you to a rematch.”

“Oh please!” Veronica groaned, shaking her head.

Nick grinned, startling a bit when his cell phone went off. Standing, he pulled his phone out of his pocket, flipping it open.

“Hey, what’s up J?”

“Hey, I was wondering if I could…first I should ask are you two decent?”

“Huh? Decent?”

“Yeah, you two dressed and whatever?”

“AJ shut the hell up man!! Of course we are, god.”

“Well damn, it wouldn’t be the first time I called and you were indisposed with some chick.”

“Yeah well, Veronica’s not some chick ok. She’s not like that I told you.”

“I can tell from meeting her, but you have a way of taking girls who aren’t like that and making them like that.”

Nick sighed, shaking his head, “I wouldn’t do that with her ok? Now what did you want?”

“I wanted to come over and chill with you two.”

“Oh.”

“Is that a no?”

“No that’s not a no…just…let me check with her first.”

Veronica watched as Nick talked on the phone. The last hour had been interesting. The last time they’d played video games together, was the day her father was in the hospital and she hadn’t really been able to focus. This time however, her focus was all there and in the beginning she’d been a bit intimidated and nervous. Nick was a fierce competitor and didn’t like to loose, and after awhile, she’d been able to relax and actually play properly.

“Hey V, AJ wants to come chill with us, is that ok?”

She blinked, was he serious?

“Of course, you don’t have to ask.”

“Well I didn’t know if…if you wanted to…uhh…ok cool. Yeah J, come on over.”

Veronica watched him in confusion, didn’t know if she wanted to what?

Nick flipped the phone closed, looking over at Veronica. “Ok, he’ll be here in a few minutes.”

“Really? Wow cool,” she smiled.

Nick frowned, the jealousy rising. She looked entirely too happy that he was coming over; he’d hoped she would’ve refused. He’d hoped that she wanted to spend this time with him alone, that they just hang out together.

Damn AJ.
Chapter 115 by Gravity 721
Chapter 115

A Few Hours Later…

Nick watched the two talking, frowning slightly. He should’ve known it was a bad idea to have AJ around Veronica for a long period of time, everyone knew AJ was a flirt. His eyes narrowed when the bus was suddenly filled with the sound of Veronica’s laughter.

“AJ stop it, it hurts to laugh!”

“It’s the truth though, I swear,” AJ grinned.

“I wish I could’ve seen it, it had to be hilarious!”

“It was, but Nick always did things like that when he was younger,” AJ smirked.

Nick rolled his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Aww it’s ok Nick, I’m the queen of looking silly, just ask Lynne.”

“Mmm.”

“So V, can I call you V?”

She blushed, “Sure.”

“Great, V, you’re from New York. Lived there all your life?”

“Yup, I mean, I’ve been to other states and all, but yeah, was born and raised in New York.”

“I’ve always wanted to live there or at least get a house there or something, I’d been thinking about it, and now that I know someone else who lives there, maybe I will, “AJ winked.

Nick took a calming breath, the jerk. Sometimes AJ just didn’t know when to quit.

“Aww don’t go and do that because of me, I don’t even live in New York City, it wouldn’t be worth it.”

“So? I can always come up to visit and maybe bring ya down to NYC and we can go and shop or something.”

“Ohh that does sound like fun” Veronica smiled.

Nick looked over at Veronica, feeling slightly annoyed.

“Alright, so I’ll let ya know as soon as I get a house, I’ll have a housewarming party.”

“Call me crazy but for some reason I can’t picture you throwing a housewarming party AJ.”

“Oh sure, I’ll get some woman named Kim to sell Tupperware and shit, it’ll be great!”

Veronica giggled, shaking her head, “I’m gonna hold you to that. If you don’t have Tupperware at your party, I’m gonna be really disappointed ya know.”

“We can’t have that, don’t worry sweetie, I won’t let ya down.”

Nick glared at AJ, “Funny, I don’t remember you ever throwing a housewarming party for any of your other houses.”

AJ looked over at Nick, cocking his head to the side, “I never had Veronica to invite over Nick, get with it man.”

Veronica laughed, swatting playfully at AJ, “Stop that!”

AJ winked again.

Nick cleared his throat, looking over at Veronica and then over at AJ again.

AJ looked over at Nick, chuckling softly. “Well kids, I’m gonna get going, gonna rest up a bit before we have to go for soundcheck.”

“Aww,” Veronica frowned.

“Aww it’s cool, we’ll hang out again sometime ok?”

“Ok sure,” she smiled.

“J, you don’t gotta go man.”

“Yeah I do,” AJ announced, making his way towards the door to the bus. “I’ll see ya later V.”

“Bye AJ!”

Nick followed him over to the door, “Seriously, you don’t gotta go AJ. Soundcheck isn’t for another couple hours.”

“Nick, you ain’t shittin’ me man, I saw the looks you were givin’ me.”

“Huh? What you talkin’ bout?”

“Nick, seriously this is me you’re talking to. I’ve known you almost as long as your mom man, those you looks you were giving me were enough to kill. Relax though, I ain’t after your woman, it’s cool.”

Nick blinked, “Wh-what? She’s not my woman AJ! Besides, I wasn’t giving you any kind of look.”
AJ shook his head, laughing, “Whatever man.”

Nick watched as AJ made his way out the bus. Turning his gaze rested on Veronica who was watching him expectantly. Part of Nick had wanted AJ to leave, but part of him had wanted him to stay too. All his control had a tendency to fly out the window when he was around her.

He didn’t trust himself alone with her.
Chapter 116 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Hey all, I just wanted to say thanks for all the great feedback you give me on a regular basis. Please don't forget to check the reviews because I do repond to each and every review anyone gives. Thanks again and enjoy!
Chapter 116

Veronica watched him, waiting for him to come over. He was staring at her as if he were expecting her to attack him or something. She blinked, the corner of her mouth tipping up.

“Nick?”

“Yeah?”

“You coming back over?”

“Huh? Oh yeah, yeah.”

He made his way over, sitting next to her, slumping back.

She looked over at him, trying not to smile.

He looked over at her, “What?”

“Nothing!”

He chuckled softly, turning on the couch. Scooting back, he rested in the corner, his legs stretched out behind her, his arms open, “C’mere.”

“Huh?”

“Come…here.”

She looked at him, “I’m not laying on you Nick.”

“Why not?”

“Uh, I’ll smoosh you that’s why.”

He rolled his eyes, “Veronica?”

“Yeah?”

“C’mere.”

She sighed heavily, scooting up a bit, letting her legs hang down and somehow managing to end up resting on his hip. Shifting, she moved so that most of her weight was against the couch so that she wasn’t actually resting on him.

Nick looked down at her, sighing heavily. Not quite what he had wanted, but he’d take what he could get. Sliding his arm down he ran his hand up and down over her arm gently.

“Ya know I was thinking about that night you called, remember? When you had that dream about your dad.”

“Oh god do I, I was hoping you’d forgotten,” she winced.

“Huh? Why?”

“I can’t believe I did that. It was like something out of a cheesy movie. So overdramatic and lame. God, it’s a good thing you couldn’t see me, how embarrassing.”

It was true, the morning after she’d been thoroughly embarrassed that she’d called him so late and had cried to him over the phone about a dream.

“You shouldn’t be embarrassed, I told you to call me anytime and I’m glad you did. I hope you’ll continue to do so.”

Veronica shook her head; he was just saying it she knew. Still, it was nice to hear it.

“Anyway, as I was saying. I was thinking about that night, and how upset you were, and there was something I wanted to do then, that I couldn’t…but that I wanna do now.”

She looked up at him, “Oh yeah? What’s that?”

He stared at her for a moment before wrapping his arms around her, tugging her up a bit,hugging her tightly.

“I wanted so badly to hug you, to tell you that it was gonna be ok, that it would get better. I just…wanted to be there with you,” he whispered, burying his face in her hair.

She swallowed hard, resting her head against his chest, “Thanks Nick.”

“Mmm…”

“It really meant a lot to me that you listened, that you didn’t just blow me off, cause you could’ve.”

“No I couldn’t.”

“Yeah you could’ve, and I appreciate that you didn’t. That you respected me enough and my feelings enough to care. Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me, it’s what friends do.”

“You…realize why I really called you right?”

He lifted his head to see her looking up at him, “Why?”

“To get you to sing to me,” she winked.

And just like that, she’d lightened the moment.

He chuckled, “Yeah well, all you have to do is ask ya know.”

“Yeah, but it’s better when I catch ya off guard and half asleep.”

“Cause you know I’m at my best then.”

“Yup!”

Nick smiled, shaking his head.

Veronica was quiet for a bit before speaking again.

“Nick…is it…ok for me to go over to the refreshment area before the concert to get some things?”

“Well sure, but if you’re hungry you can get something from catering.”

“No, it’s not that I’m hungry.”

“If you don’t want food then what are you gonna get?”

She didn’t say anything.

Nick looked down at her to find she was avoiding his gaze.

“Veronica?”

“Hmm?”

“What were you gonna get?”

She shrugged, a light blush on her cheeks.

Nick cocked his head to the side, confused until it finally dawned on him.

Souvenirs.

“Oh, you wanted to get some…” he smiled.

Veronica blushed deeper, burying her face in his neck.

He laughed softly, “Of course you can baby, you’re not on a leash or anything.”

“Ugh, forget it.”

“No no, get em! Don’t let me stop you,” he smirked.

“Just nevermind, I can’t believe this.”

“It’s cool Veronica really; I’m just teasing with you.”

“Damn I feel like the biggest dope ever,” she sighed, finally looking up at him.

“Why?”

“I just do. Me and my friends would always get ya know…the stuff when we went to a concert, that was half the fun. Spending obscene amounts of money and ya know…”

Nick smiled, “Yeah I know.”

“Bleh, it’s gotta be kinda freaky for you isn’t it?”

He had to admit, it was weird to look out in the audience and see his picture on shirts, even after all this time he hadn’t gotten used to it. He never really understood why girls wrote his name on their faces and put his picture up on their walls. Then again he was a fan of music and of people and part of him could relate to showing love or support for a group or person. It was just weird when he was that person and part of that group.

“It’s weird, but cool at the same time ya know. It’s flattering that you wanna buy our merchandise.”

Veronica looked up at him, a smile on her lips as she leaned up, kissing his cheek gently.

“If you’re lucky, I may even buy myself a Nick Carter keychain, what do ya think of that?”

He grinned, “Maybe if you’re lucky, you can get his autograph.”

Her eyes widen, as if she the thought hadn’t occurred to her until that moment, “Hey you’re right! You think he would sign the keychain?”

Nick shrugged, “Maybe, I hear he can be a real jerk when it comes to signing stuff.”

She frowned, “Yeah you’re right, I heard that too.”

He blinked, she had? He looked down at her to see that she was smiling.

“Gotcha!”
Chapter 117 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Just incase anyone was wondering who has been to my site lately, my site is currently down due to bandwidth issues with the site/host that hosts me. Hopefully it will be back up shortly!

Enjoy!
Chapter 117

A Few Hours Later…

Nick looked at the clock and sighed, he had to start to get ready for the soundcheck party, and unfortunately, he didn’t want to go. He looked over at Veronica who was watching TV intently and smiled. They’d spent most of the time after AJ left playing games, watching TV and talking, it reminded of Nick of the week he spent with her. The closer it got to the concert, the more nervous and depressed he grew. He knew it would only be a matter of time for him to leave and for her to return home. He tried not to think about it and just enjoy the time, but it was hard.

He turned on the couch and looked at her, there was still so much about her he didn’t know, so many things, her likes and dislikes.

“Hey V, tell me something you’ve never told anyone before, or something you’re generally too afraid to tell someone.”

She looked over at him, raising an eyebrow, “What brought this on all of a sudden?”

“I’m just curious, c’mon tell me.”

Veronica stared at him, “If I don’t tell anyone else, why would I tell you?”

“Cause you like me and I’m a cool guy,” he winked.

She rolled her eyes, shaking her head, “Sure.”

“C’mooooooooon!”

“Ugh, mmmm…oh man…well…”

“Yeah?”

She sighed, looking at him a moment before looking away, “I…I love Kenny G.”

He blinked, “That’s it?”

“What do you mean that’s it? That’s a big thing! The few times I’ve told people I like him they’ve looked at me like I’m crazy.”

“I don’t see why, he’s cool. I listen to him sometimes too.”

Veronica rolled her eyes again, “Sure Nick, thanks for trying to make me feel better.”

“I’m not, it’s true! I have one of his cds…seriously!” Nick exclaimed at her incredulous look.

She simply stared at him.

“You don’t believe me? Fine…” he stood, walking over to his bunk, rummaging around inside for a minute before pulling out one of his cd wallets, bringing it back over and sitting next to her again. He unzipped it and started flipping through it.

“Nick, what are you doing?”

“Here…see?” He turned the cd wallet suddenly.

Veronica stared down at the cd in the sleeve, her eyes widening.

“Uh huh, his greatest hits cd. You can apologize anytime.”

She blinked, looking back up at him, “I’m sorry, honestly I never pegged you as a Kenny G type is all.”

“Hey now you’re a fan, I’ve always said I’ll listen to anything.”

“I know, but I always thought that was just one of those generic statements,” she grinned.

“Anyway…don’t be like…embarrassed or anything about that. Kenny is really cool, and he’s a nice guy.”

“You’ve met him?”

“Yeah at an awards ceremony one time, great guy, he’s got a nice family too.”

“Wow Carter, I’m impressed. I guess I learned something new about you too.”

“That’s right you did. As much as I hate too, I have to get ready, soundcheck is in forty five minutes.”

“Oh ok.”

“Well you’re coming right? No…you are coming, I’m not taking no for an answer. You can sit in the pit and watch.”

Veronica smiled, “Sure!”

“Cool and after you can go and get…stuff,” he winked.

She blushed, “Yeah, stuff. Ok, so I’m gonna go head out, have fun.”

Nick watched as she made her way out the bus, sighing softly. Digging into his pocket, he pulled his phone out, dialing quickly.

“Hey it’s me, look I need a favor, is Tricia around?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Veronica made her way down from the stage and into the small area sectioned off. She stopped right in the center and looked the venue over. Since it was an outdoor venue, the actual seating wasn’t as great as an indoor arena. She’d seen several concerts in this arena, including her first ever concert, which happened to be Backstreet Boys, there, were a lot of memories. Now she would have one more to add, one more extraordinary memory, it was beyond anything she could’ve ever imagined or dreamed.

She watched as a few girls started to make their way in, brandishing BSB t-shirts, their favorite guy’s name on their faces, assorted sized poster boards in various colors decorated with glitter, markers and pictures. Veronica couldn’t help but smile, she could relate to it all. She too at one point had had her sign made declaring her love, it never seemed silly because she knew she would be surrounded by others who felt the same way, would do the same thing. It was very much like being a part of an extended family, a very large extended family. It didn’t matter that everyone may not speak the same language, but they all came together because of five guys.

Clearing her throat, she looked away when a few girls started pointing towards her; she knew they were trying to figure out who she was. In the end it really didn’t matter, they’d never see her again and really, she wasn’t anyone they’d need to worry about. Looking around, she found an area to sit and waited. A short time later the announcer came out and explained that the guys would be out in a moment and that afterwards, there’d be a few minutes for them to ask questions and take pictures before they left to get ready for the concert. Veronica found herself growing anxious, almost forgetting that she wasn’t here as just a fan this time, but as a friend. Still it didn’t seem to matter, her heart was racing.

A short time later, the guys made their way out onto the stage amidst the small clapping from the winners, only ten were selected and each could bring with them one person, so it averaged out to about twenty girls. Veronica dug around in her purse, pulling her camera out and getting it ready. Just because she knew Nick, didn’t mean she wasn’t going to take pictures to remember. She smiled as the guys started singing, acting silly and teasing each other. Veronica waited until Nick came center stage and lifted her camera, snapping a picture quickly. She saw him look down at her, his eyes widening when he noticed the camera in her hand, giving her a questioning look. She shrugged and grinned. Shaking his head, he turned and headed back over to the rest of the guys.

Over the next several minutes, the guys sang a few songs, never quite finishing all of them; Veronica snapped several pictures before putting her camera away, saving the rest of her film for the actual concert. At one point during the performance, Kristin had come to talk with her before heading backstage.

About ten minutes later, they finished up, taking a few minutes to sign cd liners and take pictures with the winners before heading backstage to get ready for the concert. Veronica gathered up her purse and started out the venue and over to the souvenir area, when someone tapped her on the back, it was Rick.

“Veronica, Nick asked me to have you meet him in the rec room, he said it won‘t be long and that you can come right back to get your stuff, whatever that is.”

“Ok,” she chuckled, following him as he led her back on stage in search of Nick.
Chapter 118 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Sorry everyone, short chapter this time. More soon!
Chapter 118

She waved bye to Rick and made her way into the room.

“Nick?”

“Over here.”

She made her way in, looking over to find him standing there with a basket in his hands.

“For you,” he smiled, holding the basket out.

“What is that?”

“Well duh come here and look.”

Making her way over she stopped in front of him, peering into the basket, her mouth dropping.

“Nick…”

“Go on, take it. I got the guys to sign everything.”

Reaching out, Veronica took the basket, looking the assortment of things over. There were t-shirts and key chains and programs scattered all over the basket. He’d gotten her what looked like all the different souvenir things that were being sold and every single item was signed.

“Nick…you didn’t…you didn’t have to do this. I was fully prepared to get a few things.”

“Why only a few? Why not all of it?” He frowned.

“Because for one it’s a bit expensive and I…oh Nick, geeze this is too much.”

“It’s no big deal, you said you wanted it so I got it for you,” he shrugged.

“Yeah but…this stuff is really expensive and I know I know, it’s different for you but…but…”

“Stop, it’s cool, no big deal. I wanted you to have it.”

“God, thank you, thank you so much. This…all of this is so overwhelming. Thank you Nick,” she replied softly, looking up at him.

He smiled, “You’re welcome. Look, I gotta start getting dressed; you’re welcome to chill here or on the bus, whatever you want.”

She nodded, “Ok.”

“Cool, see ya in a bit,” he smiled, starting for the door.

Veronica hurried over, taking his arm, stopping him. “Thanks again Nick,” she smiled, leaning up and kissing his cheek gently before giving him a quick hug. He winked and made his way out the door. Veronica turned her attention back to the basket, looking the contents over, a soft smile on her lips.
Chapter 119 by Gravity 721
Chapter 119

Veronica set the basket down on the table, staring at it thoughtfully before reaching into her purse, pulling her phone out and sitting on the couch, pressing the speed dial button for Lynne, waiting for her to pick up. She’d decided to head back to Nick’s bus to stay out of the way as much as possible. She didn’t want to disturb any kind of routine he had.

“Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me.”

“Ohh hey what’s up?”

“I’m at the concert, on his bus.”

“Cool, how’s things been going?”

“Really good, I got to meet the rest of the guys and everyone who works on the staff and stuff, it’s been really cool!”

“Aww!”

“Yeah, we had lunch together and I met Kevin’s wife, I haven’t met Leighanne yet, I’m hoping to soon.”

“Sounds pretty exciting.”

“It is, he bought me this really pretty yellow rose and then get this, he got me at least one of every souvenir that they’re selling and had all the guys sign the stuff. He just got done with the soundcheck party and now he’s getting ready for the concert so I’m just relaxing here on his bus.”

“You’re beaming, I can’t see you, but I can tell.”

“I am not, I’m just really excited. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to me ya know.”

“Which is why you have to be careful.”

Veronica blinked, “Be careful? Of what?”

“Nick.”

“What do you mean?”

Lynne sighed, “Veronica we’ve been through this before. I just…I dunno, I hate to see you getting all worked up and happy over all of this and then have it just…end one day with no reason.”

“Lynne it’s not like we’re dating, we’re friends, and I keep telling you that.”

“I know that’s what you keep telling me, but you don’t talk about him like he’s just a friend Veronica.”

She didn’t?

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“You don’t hear yourself Veronica, how you sound. I’ve never heard you like this before, even with James. It sounds like you’re starting to more than just care about him.”

“I am not, look Lynne it’s not like that. He doesn’t like me like that; he never has and never will. I’m not his type, there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Veronica…”

“Friends Lynne, we’re friends.”

“I understand that, but what if he decides he’s bored with being just friends and decides that’s it? No more phone calls or emails…then what Veronica? Where does that leave you? Guys like that…like him, they don’t care. They loose interest and move on to someone else, I don’t want you to get hurt,” Lynne finished softly.

“Am I really that repulsive or something?” Veronica muttered coldly.

“Veronica, I didn’t mean it like…”

“You keep saying this, why can’t I be friends with him? You said I’m supposedly too good for him, but you sure seem to think opposite. You’ve done nothing but warn me against him. If it was all about sex, he would’ve left a long time ago, in case you’ve forgotten Lynne, we’ve done that already!” Veronica spat.

Lynne sighed, “Veronica…I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be mean, really.”

Veronica groaned, “No, that was mean. I’m sorry, I just…I don’t know why it’s so wrong that we’re friends. Why can’t I be friends with him without having to worry about his intentions?”

“I know, I just care about you is all, I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I appreciate that Lynne, I do. You’re going to have to trust me ok? I wouldn’t do anything to purposely hurt myself ok? Who knows how long this is gonna go on, I’m just enjoying it while it’s happening. I’m not expecting that we’ll be friends forever, that he’s always gonna call or email or whatever, in fact I keep waiting for the day when it will happen. It’s gonna be hard enough as it is without…without…” she stopped, shaking her head.

“Without me making it worse, yeah, I hear ya.”

“Lynne…”

“It’s ok Veronica, I get it, really.”

“Please don’t be mad.”

“I’m not, I promise. I dunno, I worry too much sometimes I know. I know how important he is to you, how important he’s always been. I guess I just want him to be everything that you want him to ya know.”

Veronica smiled a bit, “Yeah I know.”

“Well if I haven’t totally ruined it for you, enjoy the concert ok?”

“I will, thanks Lynne.”

“Sure, I’ll let ya go. Call me and tell me how it was.”

“I will, bye!”

Veronica flipped the phone closed and slumped back, closing her eyes. She couldn’t get Lynne’s words out of her head. What if she was right? What if he did decide to stop calling? What if he did get bored with just being friends? Granted it was always in the back of her mind, the moment when everything stopped, but it was another thing entirely to have someone voice those thoughts, made it that much harder.

Maybe she should stop it first, maybe she should be the one to stop calling, get him before he got her. She groaned, she couldn’t do that, not when she’d come this far. No if anyone was going to stop this friendship, it would have to be him…and that left her vulnerable.

All Veronica knew was that she was going to hold on for as long as possible.
Chapter 120 by Gravity 721
Chapter 120

Nick slipped the glove on before turning to look into the mirror, ruffling his hair up a bit. He was more nervous than usual about the concert that evening; he knew it was because Veronica would be there. He just wanted everything to go ok; he wanted reassurance that it would be a smooth night, no mishaps. Of course there was no way he would be able to get that reassurance, it’d be just his luck that that he forget a verse or his voice would end up cracking.

Groaning, he sat on the bench to pull his shoes on when Kevin along with Brian, made their way inside, grabbing some stuff off the shelves.

“You ok Nick? You look kinda peeky man,” Brian grinned.

“Yeah I’m cool.”

“You sure?”

“Uh huh, pre concert jitters, you know how it goes.”

“Yeah I do, but I haven’t seen you like this in a while. You sure that’s all it is?” He winked.

“Yes Brian, that’s all it is.”

Kevin smirked, “I think someone wants to impress a certain someone tonight.”

“I do not, it’s cool.”

“Ya know Nick it’s ok if that’s the case. I think it’s great that you’ve finally found someone that you want to be that for, that you want ya know…for this to be more than just a concert and something special. Especially when this is so important to this certain someone,” Brian finished.

Nick looked over at the two, “Ya know, we don’t have to speak in code ok? I feel like I’m in some James Bond movie n’ shit.”

Brian chuckled, sitting on the bench next to Nick.

“Hey Nick, I really like Veronica, I think she’s sweet, Kristin really liked her too, says she’s got class.”

Nick raised an eyebrow, “Yeah?”

“Mmmhmm, and there’s something I wanted to say…”

Nick groaned, “I knew it. Look, if you’ve come in here to warn me against her and that you still think that we can’t be friends then don’t ok? Cause I don’t want to hear it. We’re friends and…”

“I’m not,” Kevin interrupted. “What I was going to say is you’re a grown man, you can make your own decisions and you know what’s right. You should do whatever it is that you want.”

“Oh? What brought this change on?”

“No change, I just saw the two of you together and I just want you to be careful. Think hard before you do anything that could hurt Veronica or you for that matter. She’s different, and I know you know that because you treat her different that you did any of your other…well…girlfriends or girls who are friends. Just keep that in mind ok?” Kevin finished before turning and making is way out the room.

Nick watched him leave, more than a little confused.

“Nick, he’s not being mean, so don’t take what he said the wrong way. It’s just…I think he doesn’t want you to…inadvertently hurt Veronica,” Brian raised a hand when he saw that Nick was getting ready to defend himself. “I know Nick I know, that’s why I said inadvertently. It could happen and you don’t realize it. Anyone can see how special, how important she is to you, if she wasn’t, me and the rest of the fells wouldn’t have spent thirty minutes signing all that stuff for her.”

He smiled a bit.

“Everyone knows how you are when it comes to women Nick, you get bored easily. I know you’ve been hurt before and so you kind of blow things off. I also know you’ve been in an odd place lately with all this crap with your parents and all, but it looks like you’re doing better. All the guys really like Veronica, so just be careful with her ok? We all know that you’re used to a certain kind of woman, but she’s not that type. You better than anyone knows this.”

Nick sighed heavily, looking away. “Yeah, I know.”

“So don’t screw it up ok?”

Nick looked over at him for a moment before nodding.

Brian smiled, giving him a pat on the back before standing and leaving.

Nick rubbed at his eyes, it was becoming way more complicated than he would’ve liked. Still, everything that Brian and Kevin had said was true. He did get bored easily, and he did blow things off, he’d used a lot of women and had always ignored the guilt. He wanted this to be different, he didn’t want to use Veronica because she did mean a lot to him, more than any other woman ever had. What he wasn’t sure of, was if he could be friends with her and not screw it up. All he wanted was to do right by her.

All he wanted…was to keep her.
Chapter 121 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Whoa, got two chapters written tonight, so you get two chapters as well! Enjoy!
Chapter 121

A Few Hours Later…

Veronica made her way into the pit looking around at the swarms of fans that were filing into their designated seats. There was a buzz in the air, a sense of electricity and excitement that never failed to get her heart racing. The concert was set to start in about ten minutes, the opening acts had already gone on and night had finally set in. Taking a deep breath, Veronica started forward, noticing for the first time that Leighanne was already there, talking to one of the security guards. She hesitantly made her way over just as Leighanne sat, staring up at the stage.

“Do you mind if I sit with you?” She asked cautiously.

Leighanne looked up, her head cocked to the side. “Of course not.”

“Thanks,” Veronica sat.

Leighanne’s eyes lit up suddenly, “You must be Veronica.”

“That’s me, it’s great to finally meet you,” she smiled, offering her hand.

“Likewise! I’d been asking Brian about you but it seems like we kept missing each other.”

“Yeah I know, I was hoping I’d get to meet you. Brian had told me that I’d probably be meeting you here.”

“Too bad it wasn’t sooner, I would’ve loved to have hung out with you.”

“Same here. How‘s your son?”

At the mention of her son, Leighanne’s features softened, “He’s great, I miss him so much. I’ve always missed Brian when he was traveling, but this is even worse. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice for us to have time for ourselves and all, but it’s really tough.”

Veronica smiled sadly, “I can imagine.”

Just then the lights on the stage dimmed, the chanting of the guys name increased and suddenly the large screen started to show scenes from a video made of various shots of the guys from their videos and concerts and such. A few minutes later, the video ended and smoke started to swirl around the stage as a few lights flickered and came up; there was an increase in the volume of screams as the guys suddenly appeared, slowly making there way down the steps on the stage. Veronica pulled her camera out of her purse again, turning it on and snapping a few pictures. She inhaled sharply as the lights came up and AJ started singing, the screaming of the fans rose to a fevered pitch and Veronica struggled not to scream for fear of scaring Leighanne. She smiled broadly as she watched the guys dance, moving from one side of the stage to the other, waving and smiling at fans.

Veronica continued to snap pictures, when suddenly Nick came center stage, staring right at her, he pointed and winked. She could feel her face flaming, she took another picture quickly and was embarrassed to see Nick chuckle. Clearing her throat, she chanced a look at Leighanne who was grinning from ear to ear at her.

She continued to watch, singing along to the songs softly to herself at first until she realized that Leighanne was singing too, rather loudly. Veronica looked over at her, her eyes widening. Leighanne winked, nudging her gently. Veronica grinned, joining her in singing loudly.

All through the concert, her gaze kept resting on Nick. She took lots of pictures and had to change film a few times, she got a lot of great shots of all the guys, but she couldn’t stop staring at Nick. He too seemed to be having the same issue with her. Several times he’d walk by and smile at her or give her a small wave.

After about twenty minutes, each guy came out to speak to the audience. First up was Brian, then came AJ and then Nick. Veronica smiled, watching him as he flirted with the whole audience, walking back and forth, laughing and joking, reading some of the signs. As he wrapped up, he made his way center stage again.

“Well that’s all I have to say, enjoy the concert everyone and remember to scream as loud as you can ok?” He looked down at Veronica suddenly, “Hey sweetie.” Turning he waved and walked off stage, the crowd screaming and yelling wildly.

Leighanne looked over, watching Veronica closely. Nick rarely ever pointed out any of his friends when they came to the shows, even his girlfriends. There must be something special about the young woman sitting next to her.

Veronica shook her head; she hoped no one had heard that. Most likely it would turn up on the internet at some point. She took a calming breath, wiping her sweaty hands on her pants. She somehow managed to make her way through the first half of the concert, Nick continued to smile and point at her throughout the concert and she was sure one of the guys was going to mention it, but they hadn’t.

She watched as they all quickly exited the stage after they finished the current song to go and do a quick wardrobe change, when suddenly Leighanne leaned over close to her.

“You love him don’t you?”

Veronica looked over at Leighanne, startled, “What?”

“You love him; you’re in love with him.”

“Wha-what? No I don’t.”

“Couldn’t tell by the way you’ve been looking at him all night.”

“I don’t, I really don’t. We’re just friends, that’s all.”

Leighanne smiled suddenly, “That’s how it all starts.”

Veronica shook her head ‘no’.

“Listen Veronica; don’t listen to what everyone else says. People like to talk and say what you should and shouldn’t do. Despite what everyone says, it’s ok to love him, you can‘t help who you fall in love with.”

She looked over at Leighanne, fear starting to course through her. She looked back up at the stage just as the guys made their way back out, her gaze finding Nick; he smiled at her and made his way over to the left side of the stage.

No, she hadn’t fallen in love with him, she couldn’t.
Chapter 122 by Gravity 721
Chapter 122

“We have to go now and avoid the rush, it’s already gonna be really busy, but not as bad as when the concert is actually done,” Leighanne yelled over the screaming crowd as she lead Veronica backstage.

Veronica’s ears were ringing and her throat was horse from screaming so much. As it would turn out, Leighanne didn’t mind the screaming in the least, and as she had explained to Veronica, she was used to it by now and to by all means, scream as loud as she wanted.

So she had.

It turned out to be the best Backstreet concert she’d been to. Now the concert was just about over and they were making their way backstage. Leighanne had told Veronica that Nick had asked her to tell Veronica to meet him back on his bus before she left, and to bring her back to make sure she didn‘t have any problems or get lost in the shuffle. Leighanne lead her off to the side to a quiet area.

“Ok this is it. Nick usually heads over to his bus right after the concert to shower and of course to get ready to leave, so you can head on over.”

“Ok, thanks Leighanne, it was great to finally meet you.”

“It was great meeting you too. You have my home and cell numbers, please call anytime, I’d love to chat with you. When Brian’s gone and Bay is asleep, it gets lonely.”

Veronica smiled, “Ok I will. Take care.”

“You too!” Leighanne smiled, giving her a small wave before turning and making her way into the crowd of the crewmembers, filtering around, starting to disassemble the stage.

Veronica took one last look around before hurrying back and around. She made her way over to Nick’s bus, it was already running and the driver was standing outside, finishing a cigarette. She gave him a shy smile and he nodded, gesturing with his head for her to go up.

She made her way up onto the bus; she could hear the water in the shower running. Veronica made her way down the narrow hallway and back to the lounge area, sitting on the couch to wait for him. She looked around, still not quite believing that it had happened, that she was really there. She was tempted to take her camera out and take a picture of his bus. Shaking her head, she relaxed back, closing her eyes.

Nick made his way out, towel around his waist, he looked around anxiously and smiled when he saw Veronica sitting on the couch, her head tipped back and eyes closed. He studied her intently; his smile fading as he realized this was it. She would leave and he didn’t know when he’d see her again.

He suddenly felt very sick.

Looking away quickly, he shook his head as if to clear it, before looking back over at her. It’d all happened so fast, too fast and here they were again, saying goodbye.

“Hey,” he whispered.

Startled, her eyes flew open and she brought her head down, her eyes widening as she looked him over.

“H-hey…”

“Hang on, let me get dressed, I’ll be right back,” he announced, making his way into his bunk, grabbing his clothes and heading back into the small bathroom.

Veronica sat up straighter, her heart pounding. She hadn’t even realized that the water had stopped, hadn’t heard the door open or anything. She wrung her hands together, suddenly nervous. This was it, in a few minutes she’d be leaving, she didn’t know when she’d see him again, if ever. The thought saddened her more than she liked. Tears started welling in her eyes, she groaned in frustration, rubbing at her eyes angrily. She wouldn’t get upset over this, she wouldn’t cry over him, she couldn’t let him have that. The door opened and she looked away, wiping at her eyes again quickly, looking up again as he made his way out, smiling at her as he flopped down next to her on the couch, the scent of soap filling the air. He sighed heavily, leaning over to rest his head on her shoulder.

“Great concert tonight Nick, you guys were great,” she smiled.

“Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“I did, this has just been amazing.”

He smiled, tilting his head up to look at her, the smile fading. “This is it huh?”

Veronica looked down at him, nodding, “Time for me to go, you too.”

Nick looked away, suddenly feeling very anxious and angry at the same time.

“Thanks so much for everything Nick, really. The pass, meeting the guys…the gifts. I’ll never forget this day.”

He didn’t want to hear this; it was as if she was saying goodbye forever. It’d taken so long for her to get back here, for her to be near him and now…

“You’ll have to thank the guys for me too, and your crew members. Everyone was so nice, you guys really are like a family, and it’s so cool to see.”

Nick lifted his head, staring at her.

She blinked, “What?”

He shook his head, “Nothing.”

She stared at him for a moment before standing, “C’mon, walk me to the door.”

They made their way down the hall towards the front of the bus, stopping just by the entrance.

“Well…I gotta get going, got a bit of a drive ahead of me, and so do you,” she chuckled.

He nodded, “Thanks for coming Veronica.”

“Are you kidding, I wouldn’t have missed this for a second. This is exactly what I needed.”

“I’m glad it made you happy.”

“More than happy.”

“Cool, oh yeah, the guys told me to tell you bye and it was nice to meet you.”

She nodded, reaching out to grab her basket and rose, tucking it into the basket carefully. “Ok, so I’m out, thanks again Nick. See ya later.”

Nick watched as she turned, starting out the bus and that’s when he knew he couldn’t let her leave and not know, not know when he’d see her again.

Suddenly he was in front of her, his hands on her arms, holding her still.

“The…the tour is over in February. I…I want you to come…to Florida and stay with me.”

She blinked, “What?”

“I want you to come visit me when the tour is over, come stay with me for a week, two weeks, whatever. I’ll pay for your ticket.”

“Whoa whoa…wait a minute Nick. Come see you?”

“Yeah, c’mon.”

“Nick, you don’t have to do that.”

“I want to.”

“I don’t know…”

“Please Veronica, you let me stay with you, let me into your world. Let me bring you into mine, besides, it’ll be nice to be able to hang out for longer than a day again.”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing, couldn’t believe that he wanted to see her again, that he wanted her to go to his house and stay with him. Her mind was screaming for her to say no, but her heart wanted something else.

“Please?” he whispered, “I want you to.”

Veronica looked up at him, there was something in his eyes, something flickered for a moment and then it was gone. She chuckled softly, nodding her head. “Ok fine, I’ll come. But I’ll buy my own ticket thank you.”

“Sweet! Nevermind the ticket, that‘s not important, when we can agree on a date, I‘ll get the ticket and I don‘t want you to argue.”

She frowned. “Fine.”

“Cool cool, alright it’s settled then. The tour ends I believe the first week of February, so maybe that next week or the week after, we can settle that once it gets closer and hey, you let me know if you can get the time off from work ok?”

Veronica nodded numbly, it was all happening so fast, and her head was reeling. He looked relieved suddenly, as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

“Ok…so…ok then…it’s settled. I’ll see you…in February Nick.”

He was beaming, “Ok!”

She shook her head; unable to stop herself from smiling, turning she started for the door again, when again Nick stopped her.

“Hey…wait, can I get a hug before you leave?” He asked softly.

“Aww Nick, of course you can.”

She set the basket and her purse down before turning to him, intending to keep the hug as friendly as possible. Smiling, she walked into his open arms, giving him a gentle squeeze, intending to end it there, when she felt his hold on her tighten a bit. She inhaled sharply, trying desperately to hold onto the last bit of restraint she had.

“Veronica?”

“Hmmm?”

“I’m really gonna…miss you.”

Veronica squeezed her eyes shut, burying her face in his neck suddenly. “I’m gonna miss you too Nick. We’ll see each other again soon though.”

“Not soon enough,” he whispered.

She bit her lip, hugging him tighter, “Yeah.”

Nick pulled away suddenly, watching her closely for a moment before leaning in, kissing her gently at first, and then deeper. Veronica moaned softly, clutching at him suddenly, unable to get enough, unable to let go.

After a few long seconds, they pulled apart, both panting softly.

“I have to go Nick…”

He nodded, his eyes closed, his forehead resting against hers. “So do I.”

“See you in a few months. Take care of yourself ok?”

Again, he nodded.

“Bye,” she gave him a small wink before pulling away, grabbing her purse and basket once again before making her way out the bus.

Nick watched her leave, his bus driver making his way onto the bus, buckling in and shutting the door. There was an unfamiliar pressure in his chest, making it hard to breathe suddenly. Turning, he started back to his bunk, slipping in and stuffing his face in his pillow.

They were always saying goodbye, only this time, she was leaving him.
Chapter 123 by Gravity 721
Chapter 123

She rubbed at her eyes as she made her way inside her apartment, shutting and turning the deadbolt. It’d been a long drive and she was glad to be home, she was exhausted. It’d been a very exciting day and she was mentally and physically drained. Veronica made her way through the kitchen and over to her bedroom to get undressed.

Her thoughts drifted to Nick, a wistful smile forming. It’d been great seeing him again, the whole day had been great. Sitting on the bed, she sighed heavily. She’d been nervous about meeting the rest of the guys, but they’d all been nice, everyone had. Reaching out, she grabbed the rose Nick had gotten for her, inhaling the soft sense, god she missed him already. He was most likely in a different state by now, far away, and that made her miss him even more.

Standing, she headed into the bathroom, brushed her teeth and headed back into her room, starting to slip under the covers when her cell started to ring. She grabbed her purse and pulled her phone out, looking at the id, her face lighting up suddenly. She flipped the phone open.

“Hello?”

“Hey!”

“Nick, hi!”

“What’s up? You make it home safely?”

“Yup, all in one piece.”

“Good, I was worried about you.”

“Aww you’re so sweet.”

“Yeah yeah…anyway, I just wanted to call and see if you made it home alright.”

“I’m fine.”

“Cool…so whatcha up to?”

“Nothing, just getting ready to go to bed.”

“Ahh yeah, me too.”

“You must be exhausted.”

“Yeah I am now that I’ve been able to relax, I’m always worked up after a concert, takes me a couple of hours to relax enough to be able to sleep.”

“That’s understandable.”

“Well I just wanted you to know that I really enjoyed myself today. It was great to see you and have you here with me and being able to introduce you to the guys and everyone.”

Veronica smiled, “Same here, it was nice to hang out with you again.”

“I can’t wait until February when we’ll see each other again, seems so far away.”

She chuckled, “It’s only a few months.”

“I know but it’ll be a looooong few months,” Nick laughed.

“I’m excited to see you again too Carter, today went by so fast and you’re so busy and have so much going on, it’s hard ya know.”

“Yeah I know, I wish we could’ve had more time together.”

“Can’t complain, at least we got to hang out at all you know.”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t sound so sad Nick.”

“Can’t help it,” he sighed.

“You’re so cute,” she smiled.

“Mmmhmm. Well girl, I’m gonna get going, I’m half asleep.”

“Ok, have a good night Nick, stay safe.”

“I’ll try, you too. Night Veronica.”

“Night,” she replied softly, flipping the phone closed.

Setting the phone on the nightstand next to her, she laid back, staring up at the ceiling, wishing desperately that she didn’t have to sleep alone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nick flipped his phone closed and turned to look out the window at the world passing by, sighing heavily. He really was tired and he needed to go to bed, but he was lonely, lonely and missing Veronica. Shaking his head sadly, he leaned in, resting his forehead against the cool glass, closing his eyes, letting the gentle rocking of the bus lull him to sleep.
Chapter 124 by Gravity 721
Chapter 124

October

Two Weeks Before Halloween…

Veronica shoved a handful of popcorn into her mouth, munching loudly.

“Can you crunch any louder?”

She grabbed another small handful and threw it at him, “Shut up.”

He grinned, reaching out to flick her nose.

“Stooooop!” Veronica moaned, rubbing at her nose while giving him a playful shove.

“Stoooooooop!” He whined, mocking her.

“I swear Jared, you’re such…”

She was cut off when his lips met with hers, she sighed softly, kissing him gently before pulling away.

“You don’t play fair,” she sighed softly, licking her lips.

“I know,” he winked, giving her another quick peck, shoving a handful of popcorn into his mouth, chewing dramatically.

Veronica rolled her eyes, smiling. Her and Jared had been out on few dates over the last several weeks, she was enjoying herself and him. She looked over at him and smiled, the first couple of dates had been somewhat awkward, but she found herself liking him more and more with each date and each phone call. So here they were, date four and several late night phone calls later, hanging out at his house watching a movie.

She snuggled in closer to him, and he tightened his arm around her. Smiling, she rested her head against his chest, only half paying attention to the movie; she was more focused on his arm around her, on his scent. Her smile faded a bit as she suddenly thought of Nick, it always seemed to happen whenever she was really close to Jared, all of a sudden there was his face, she couldn’t shake it.

Shaking her head, she slowly pulled away from the warmth of his body.

“Well it’s getting late, I should be heading home.”

“Aww c’mon honey, it’s late, why don’t you just stay here?”

“Eh, I don’t wanna impose.”

“You’re not, it’s no big deal, it’s too late for you to be driving. Stay, I insist.”

Veronica chuckled, “Ok fine.”

“Great, you can have the bed; I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“No no, it’s fine, I’ll stay out here, I’m not gonna run you from your bed.”

“No, if you’re gonna stay out here, then I will too, I’ll just pull out the bed.”

“Jared, are you sure?”

“Absolutely as long as you don‘t mind…ya know, sleeping together.”

Did she mind?

“No, that’s no problem.”

They got off the couch; Veronica flipped the light on as Jared proceeded to pull the bed out, then hurrying down the hall to get some sheets and blankets. Veronica stared at the bed, a flood of memories rushing back, arms and legs entwined, soft caresses, whispers and promises kept. Memories of something that she had tried to forget, but never quite could. Of something that had ended up meaning a lot more to her than she wanted, of something that she’d be better off forgetting. She swallowed hard, taking a step back just as Jared came back into the room, spreading the sheet out over the mattress. Veronica watched him tuck it in and then spread another sheet and then blanket before turning to her.

“Here, I brought you a pair of my boxers and a t-shirt to sleep in,” he announced, holding the clothes out to her.

“Thanks,” she replied softly, taking the clothes, giving him a quick smile before hurrying into the bathroom. Once inside, she shut the door and slumped against it.

She couldn’t sleep on that bed with him thinking about what she was thinking about. It was her on her pull out bed for one, and a totally different guy. Shaking her head as if to clear it, she stepped forward, turning the cold water on and splashing some on her face before reaching out to grab a soft towel, blotting at her face. Looking up she stared back at the person looking back at her, what she saw gave her pause. Fear and uncertainty in eyes that never could quite hide her emotions. She’d told herself over the last few weeks that this had been right, that going out with Jared was the first step to breaking free, of moving on from those blue eyes, of that pull that he’d always had over her.

Turning, she grabbed the clothes, quickly changing into them and folding hers. Taking a fortifying breath, she made her way out the bathroom to find that Jared had turned the lights and TV off. Clearing her throat, she set her clothes on the floor beside the couch and slid under the covers, pulling the blanket and sheet close to her and stared up blankly.

“I hope you don’t mind that I turned the TV off, you looked tired so I thought we should just get right to sleep.”

“Sounds good to me, I am pretty beat.”

“Alright, well…uhh…goodnight Veronica.”

She turned to look at him to find him watching her closely, she knew how she must look, blanket clutched to her chin, stiff as a board. She forced herself to relax, a slow smile spreading over her lips.

“Sorry Jared.”

“It’s alright, just…I…I‘m not sure what I did to make you so nervous.”

“Nothing, it’s just me,” she turned on her side to look at him.

“I don’t snore, so you don’t have to worry about that.”

She chuckled suddenly, “Whew!”

“I knew it; I knew that’s what it was!” Jared laughed.

She shook her head, “Figured me out.”

Jared stared at her a moment before leaning in, kissing her on the cheek, “Night Veronica.”

“Night,” she whispered, leaning in kissing him gently.

She could feel him trying to hold back, trying to control himself. Reaching out, she cupped his face in her hand gently, slowly pulling away to look at him. Veronica didn’t know who moved first, but suddenly they were in each others arms. They rolled so Jared was resting on Veronica and she moaned softly. She felt his hand move up and then slide into the boxers she was wearing, she shifted, crying out when she felt him rub her over her underwear.

Jared tore his lips from hers, nibbling down her neck, nipping and sucking gently. Veronica closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of his lips on hers, running her hands over his back lightly, urging him closer still. His hands moved again, pushing the boxers off, she sighed softly, squeezing her eyes tighter shut.

“Veronica,” Jared whispered, pressing against her gently.

She would’ve been ok, she would’ve been able to go through it and let nature take it’s course if Jared hadn’t spoken, if the memories would just go away. Just like that, he was there. Those blue eyes, the lips, his touch on her body, it was all there, he was there. Gently she pushed Jared away, she couldn’t do it, she wasn’t sure what it was, but she couldn’t do it.

“Jared…wait…”

“Mmm, what’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry…I can’t…can’t do this right now.”

“What…I mean…are you sure?”

She nodded, slowly sitting up, rubbing at her eyes. Why couldn’t she just do this? Why? Every part of her was screaming out to.

“I’m sorry Jared, I mean it. I should go,” she announced suddenly, reaching under the covers to grab at the boxers.

“Veronica it’s late, nothing’s changed. I’m not gonna let you go driving at this hour of the night. Stay, we’ll sleep, nothing more.”

She looked over at him, startled.

“It’s cool, c’mon,” he replied softly. He took the boxers from her hand and tossed them on the floor before reaching out and grabbing her arm gently, pulling her back down.

Veronica settled back down and let Jared pull her into his arms again as he spooned up behind her, burying his face in her neck, taking a deep breath. Veronica felt when he’d finally fallen asleep, his body relaxed and his breathing deepened.

Staring straight ahead, she brought a hand up, wiping at her eyes; She wanted to go on, why couldn’t she just go on?
Chapter 125 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Happy New Year! Enjoy!
Chapter 125

She set her keys down on the table, yawning as she made her way into the bedroom. She couldn’t wait to get into bed. She’d left Jared’s early much to his dismay, but she needed to get home get some rest and go out, she had some errands to run.

Quickly she undressed, smiling a bit as she thought about last night. It’d been awkward at best, she had been surprised that Jared hadn’t kicked her out after she’d refused to be intimate, but he didn’t. It’d been nice waking up in his arms, it’d been comfortable. Veronica slipped under the covers and had just settled down, when her cell rang. Scrambling up, she bolted out of her bed and rushed over to grab her purse off the table, whipping her phone out, flipping it open.

“Hello?”

“Hey.”

“Nick, hi!”

Nick smiled; it was good to hear her voice. “Hey sweetie, what’s going on?”

“Not much, just getting ready to go to bed.”

Nick checked his watch, “Sweetie, it’s seven in the morning your time.”

“I know, I just got home.”

“Late night huh?” He grinned.

“Well kinda, I was at Jared’s.”

Nick stilled, his gaze roaming around the bus suddenly, “But I thought…”

“I stayed over; it was late so he was like, just stay over.”

His heart dropped suddenly, his mouth felt like it’d been stuffed with cotton.

“Oh.”

“Yeah, I mean, I told him I was fine to drive home, but he wasn’t hearing it,” Veronica laughed.

Nick had tried hard to shut it out the first time Veronica had told him about Jared, it hurt too much for some reason to hear her talking about some guy and how they were going out on dates and how nice he was. As far as Nick was concerned, he was too night, to perfect. She had yet to say anything negative about him and it just wasn’t right, something about the guy wasn’t right.

“I’m so excited, we’re going out to a club tonight with a couple of my friends from work and Lynne and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Nick brought his gaze to the window, staring out blanking. She sounded so happy, so content and part of him was angry over it. It shouldn’t be like this, it shouldn’t be…

“Nick? You still there?”

“Huh? Yeah, sorry I’m here, just listening.”

“Ok, you’re so quiet.”

“Just listening. So…you guys have gone out on a couple dates huh?”

“Yeah, four so far, five tonight. I dunno, I really like him, he’s…he’s not, I dunno, I don’t know how to explain it. After last night, it’s just really nice.”

He wanted to ask, god he wanted to ask so bad, but he knew he had no right. A friend, he was just her friend.

“I’m really comfortable around him, and you know how hard that is for me, to be comfortable around a guy.”

“Yeah.”

“But I’m enjoying this, enjoying him.”

He bit his lip before blurting out, “Are you two a couple now? I mean like…officially?”

Veronica hesitated a moment, were they? It felt like it to her, the way he treated her wasn’t exactly casual. They hadn’t said that they were yet, but she really hoped they were.

“I…I’d like to think so. I mean we haven’t really come out and said it, but it seems implied. Granted I don’t want to assume anything, but…I think it’s safe to say that we’ve gotten past the whole casual aspect,” she smiled.

Nick narrowed his eyes, his anger rising suddenly; he ran a hand through his hair in frustration suddenly, squeezing his eyes shut.

“Wow, that’s great Veronica.”

“Yeah, things are really looking up.”

He felt sick, he felt sick and lost. It was almost as if he didn’t know her anymore, as if…he’d lost her. Slowly he opened his eyes, staring out the window again.

“I’m gonna get going ok? Have fun tonight.”

“Nick? Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? You don’t sound ok.”

“I promise sweetie, I’m cool. You take care and I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Alright, take care Nick and good luck with your concert tonight. Tell the guys and everyone I said hi.”

Nick smiled sadly, “I will. Bye Veronica.”

“Bye!”

He flipped his phone closed and flopped back on the couch, staring up at the ceiling. She was slipping away suddenly, he really was losing her.
Chapter 126 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Whew, I got two chapters written today, which is rare. Huge thanks to Laureen for the prod! You go girl! If not for Laureen, I most likely wouldn't have gotten done, three cheers for Laureen!

Enjoy!
Chapter 126

A Few Weeks Later…

She giggled softly as Jared pulled the shirt off her, tossing it aside.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?”

“Getting fresh,” he winked.

Veronica giggled again, pulling him down with her on the couch, “Ya know, I don’t appreciate it when guys think they can get fresh with me and that I’ll just allow it.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“And mmm…what would you do about it?” Jared asked, leaning in, nibbling at her neck gently.

“Demand that he let me get fresh with him first.”

Jared started to chuckle causing Veronica to smile.

“What?”

“You, you’re too much lady,” Jared grinned, lifting his head to look down at her.

“Yeah, but that’s what you love about me right?”

He turned serious suddenly, “Yeah…yeah it is.”

Veronica smiled, “Well then…”

Jared leaned in close to her ear, brushing his lips over her skin lightly, whispering, “I want you…”

Her heart dropped, her eyes closing as he continued to nibble at her neck. She took a breath, trying to focus, to try to make it not so nerve-wracking.

“God, you’re all I think about Veronica, I miss you when you’re not with me.”

Drawing in a shaky breath, she turned her head away as Jared slowly made his way down her body, unbuttoning her jeans, starting to tug them down. She could feel herself starting to zone out as she always did when it came to being with Jared on a more intimate level. It’d been like this for the past few weeks, every time they’d start something, she never could seem to bring herself to want to reciprocate, she couldn’t seem to bring herself to feel all those things one is supposed to feel at times like this.

The way she had felt when…

She shook her head, squeezing her eyes tighter shut, no, she had to stop.

“Mmm, Veronica…”

She licked at her dry lips, slowly opening her eyes, staring up at the ceiling, taking a fortifying breath before slowly sitting up.

“Jared…wait.”

He leaned in, kissing her deeply before Veronica pulled away, staring at him.

“Jared…”

He sighed heavily, sitting back on his haunches, “Veronica…”

“I’m sorry, I’m just, I can’t…”

Jared stared at her in silence for a moment, before shaking his head, slipping off the bed.

Veronica looked away, rubbing at her temples.

“What’s wrong?”

She looked up at him, “What do you mean?”

He looked back over at her, the hurt evident in his eyes, “I mean what’s wrong? Anytime we try to…every time I try to get close to you, every time I try to do more than kiss you, you freakin’ zone out on me. What the hell is going on?”

“Nothing is going on Jared.”

“You’re always so distracted when it comes to anything other than hugging or kissing, the moment things start to get heavy or more physical, you just…” he sighed in frustration, throwing his hands up.

“Whoa hey, we’ve done a lot of physical stuff Jared.”

“I know, just not…”

“If this is because we haven’t had sex then I’m sorry ok? But I’m just not ready and I’m not right now.”

“Well ya know, that’d be fine if I thought that that’s really all that there was to the way you act, but…” he hesitated, staring at her intently.

She blinked, shifting uncomfortably, “What?”

“Is…is there something you want to tell me?”

Veronica stilled, staring hard at him. “No.”

He raised an eyebrow, “No?”

“No, everything is fine.”

Jared looked away, taking a deep breath.

Biting her lip, she stared hard at the sheet covering her. “I just…I just want to take it slow Jared, that’s all. It’s not anything to do with you I promise, I just need time.” She looked up at him; he wasn’t looking at her, but staring at some point on the floor. She could tell he didn’t believe her, but what else could she do.

“Jared, I’m sorry, I am.”

Finally, he looked up at her, a sad smile on his lips. “It’s ok baby, no problem. We’ll wait for as long as we need to ok?”

It hurt to look at him and she lowered her gaze to the floor, inwardly cursing herself. It shouldn’t have been so hard, she shouldn’t feel as if she was betraying anyone, but she did. She couldn’t help the feeling, couldn’t stop the guilt.

Slowly she lay back on the bed, turning her head to look at him. He stood after a few moments, turning the lights off before climbing into the bed beside her, scooting up behind her, pulling her back to him. Silence ensued, and sleep descended a short time later.
Chapter 127 by Gravity 721
Chapter 127

Thanksgiving Day

“I’m gonna go make a quick call, I’ll be right back,” she smiled before making her way out the door and onto the deck.

They were spending the first half of the day at Jared’s parents house, once they finished here, they‘d be going to her Mom‘s for the second half. They had just finished dinner and were relaxing a bit. Veronica figured she’d take the time to make a quick call. She looked out across the spacious yard and took a deep breath. Things between her and Jared had been strained at best. She knew he was trying to understand, trying to be patient, and she was thankful. She also knew though, that it was getting harder and harder for him to wait, and Veronica knew it wasn’t just about sex, but like he’d said before, anytime he tried to get close to her, she shut down. She tried hard to relax, to get past that feeling, that uneasiness. It wasn’t working though.

Sighing, she pulled her phone out of her purse, flipping it open and pressing a single button to dial a number.

“Hello?”

“Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Veronica! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!”

“Thanks, how are you Nick? What’s going on?”

“Not much, just relaxing before the concert, you know how it goes.”

“Mmm, is there anything special going on with you all?”

“Well they’re gonna have a turkey dinner and all and that kinda thing, but that’s about it.”

“Sounds nice.”

“Yeah, how bout you?”

“Well right now I’m at Jared’s parents, we just had dinner and we’re hanging out before we head over to my Mom’s.”

“Whoa, you never told me you met his parents.”

“Yeah, I met them once before earlier in the month.”

“Sounds pretty serious.”

She shrugged, “I guess.”

Nick blinked, “You guess?”

“Yeah…” she sighed, staring hard at the ground.

“Veronica, is everything ok?”

No, everything wasn’t ok, but what was she supposed to say to him? She couldn’t very well go into the details of her relationship with Jared, she was sure he didn’t want to hear it for one.

“Yeah, everything is fine Nick.”

“You sound so sad baby,” he replied softly.

A sad smile crossed her lips, “Nah, I’m cool.”

“Well hey, give me a call later and we’ll talk ok, when you’re alone.”

She nodded, “Yeah ok,”

“Aight good, I gotta go sweetie, but we’ll talk later.”

“Ok, tell the guys and everyone I said hi and happy thanks.”

“I will, bye V.”

“Bye,” She flipped the phone closed, rubbing at her forehead, sighing heavily.

“Hey…”

She looked up quickly, smiling, “Hey.”

“What’s up?”

“Just wishing a friend a happy thanks,” she held up her phone.

Jared stared at her phone a moment before looking up at her, “Was it Nick?”

Veronica looked away, “Yeah.”

He cocked his head to the side, staring at her thoughtfully, “You guys are pretty close huh?”

“We’re just friends Jared, I told you that.”

“So you have, but that’s all you’ve told me.”

“Yeah well, there’s not much else to tell.”

“Are you sure about that Veronica?” Jared asked softly.

“Yes.”

“I’m not.”

She looked up at him suddenly, “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean there’s something about you and Nick that you’re not telling me Veronica, I can feel it.”

She wiped her sweaty hands on her pants suddenly, “Me and Nick have always just been friends, nothing more, nothing less.”

Jared continued to stare at her.

“Nothing could’ve happened if either of us had ever wanted it to, you have nothing to worry about,” she finished, turning and heading back into the house.

Jared watched her leave, his heart dropping. He looked away, sighing heavily, feeling decidedly resigned.
Chapter 128 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Ahh I'm at a great point in my story and I was dying to write chapter 138 so I actually wrote tonight too which is rare. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this second update!
Chapter 128

Nick flipped the phone closed, slipping it back into his pocket before making his way back over to the table, sitting back down. That had been interesting conversation, Nick was glad she had called, but she sounded so sad. Something was wrong, he could tell in her voice.

“Hey man, s’up?” AJ asked as he sat next to him.

“Not much.”

“Oh yeah? Doesn’t look like it, what’s wrong?” AJ asked, “Were you just speaking to Veronica?”

“Yeah.”

“So what’s up with you two anyway? You’ve been so quiet about her here lately.”

“Nothing, she’s got a boyfriend now, I try not to bother her too much.”

“Ahh so that’s why you’ve been moping around for the last two months.”

“I have not been moping,” Nick growled.

“You have so and you’ve been in a real shitty mood, everyone’s been saying so.”

Nick gave him the finger, rolling his eyes.

AJ smirked, “So tell me, is that why you’ve suddenly been so interested in hooking up with your uh… “girlfriends”?

“No! I’ve just needed some companionship, that’s all.”

“Ok fine, but you’re settling for women whose “companionship” you don’t really want.”

Nick glared at AJ, “If I didn’t want it, then I wouldn’t be with them.”

“Sure you would, if you were trying to pretend they were someone else.”

He shook his head, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Trust me on this Nick; I’m probably one of the few who do know. C’mon Nick, this is me we’re talking about here. I’m the king of sleeping with random women to try to fill that void when someone I like is dating someone else. It’s natural.”

He groaned, “It’s not natural.”

“What I don’t get,“ AJ went on as if Nick hadn’t spoken, “is why this is getting to you more than usual, I mean, normally you’d pout for a few days, but after that you’d be right back in the saddle with someone else.”

“Whatever AJ, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

AJ smiled, “Boy, she’s really gotten to you hasn’t she?”

Nick sighed, looking over at AJ.

“Hey Nick, it’s cool man, ok? I mean…I talk big and all, but I do know what it’s like when you meet that special woman who makes all other offers off the table ya know? Someone who makes every other woman seem like second best.”

“AJ…”

“When that happens, I’ve learned not to let her go, cause once you do, it’s damn near impossible to get her back. Now, she’s dating someone, but ya know, don’t let that dissuade you or anything. Be there for her, so if an opening comes along, you can jump in there.”

“AJ…listen to me, it’s not like that. I…we’re friends, that’s it. Me hanging out with girls is not anything unusual. What Veronica does or who she dates is none of my business.”

AJ sighed heavily, “Then you’re gonna lose her man.”

Nick watched as AJ stood and sauntered off. Cursing in frustration, he buried his face in his hands.
Chapter 129 by Gravity 721
Chapter 129

Two Weeks Before Christmas…

“Aww that was really good, I enjoyed it,” Veronica smiled, standing up, stretching a bit.

“Mmm, yeah, it was better than I thought it’d be.”

“Well I’m gonna get ready for bed, I’ll meet you in there,” she grinned.

“I’m gonna going.”

“Are you ok? What’s wrong?”

Jared looked up at her, sighing heavily. “This isn’t gonna work.”

She blinked, “Huh?”

“This…us, it’s not working. We’ve been dating for a few months now and our relationship isn’t anywhere that it should be. We’re more like friends than a couple, which isn’t bad…if we were friends, but we’re not. We’re supposed to be more than that.”

“Jared…I…I just…I know we haven’t really ya know, but I think it’s time now, I think I’m ready.” However, as she said the words, she wasn’t really sure if she was.

Jared groaned in frustration, standing up suddenly. “It’s not just that Veronica, there’s more to a relationship than sex.”

“Jared, I never said that there wasn’t!”

He shook his head, “I know I know, I’m sorry. It’s just…it’s not just that. You’re not in this relationship; your heart isn’t in to it. It’s like there’s something keeping you from actually opening up and giving anything of yourself to me, something or…someone, is holding you back.”

Veronica stared at him.

“It’s time you told me about Nick.”

Her eyes widened, “I already told you about Nick Jared.”

He shook his head, “Not everything, if you had, you wouldn’t shut down, you wouldn’t look so nervous whenever I bring him up.”

She looked away; she did not shut down when he brought him up.

“Look Veronica, I’m not trying to start anything here, but I’m tired of competing against someone who is supposedly just a friend.”

This wasn’t happening, it wasn’t.

“He’s always there somehow, we don’t even need to be talking about him but somehow he’s always there. You never mention him and when I ask you about him, you act like there’s some secret.”

Veronica swallowed hard, looking back over at him helplessly.

Jared stared at her, “I don’t believe you’re just friends, or that you’ve always just been friends at least.”

She exhaled loudly, rubbing at her forehead as she made her way over to the couch, sitting next to him.

“Veronica?”

She looked over at him.

“Have you ever been with Nick?”

“I keep telling you we’re friends Jared! I don‘t see him from one month to the next.”

“But he came to meet you in July; you don’t have to see someone everyday to be with them for one night.”

Her heart dropped and she stared down at her hands.

“It’s not my business I know, but were you?”

She looked back up at him.

“Did you…were you…intimate with him Veronica during that time in July?”

Veronica struggled to come up with a reply, struggled for an answer that was anything but the truth.

“Jared…”

“It’s ok; you don’t have to say anything else.”

“Jared I’m sorry, I…”

He shook his head, “Don’t, it’s ok Veronica, really.”

She bit her lip, staring at him sadly.

Jared gave her a sad smile, “I’m sorry honey, but I can’t keep doing this. Pretending that it’s ok and taking a backseat to someone who is obviously very important to you, so important that you’re not able to let anyone else in.”

She looked away again.

“I need to be with someone who wants to be with me.”

“But I do want to be with you Jared.”

“No, it’s not me that you want to be with,” he finished softly. Slowly he leaned in, kissing her gently, cupping her cheek in his hand. “Bye Veronica, I love you.”

He stood then and made his way out.
Chapter 130 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
I particularly love the way this chapter turned out, it was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy it!
Chapter 130

He kissed her deeply, rocking his hips against hers gently, groaning softly. Nick rolled them quickly so she rested atop of him, sliding his hands up and under her shirt, pushing it off and tossing it to the ground. The girl giggled, bending over, kissing his chest gently. Nick closed his eyes, sighing softly. He should’ve been enjoying this and maybe on some level he was, but mostly he just wanted it to be over already.

Reaching out, she took his arms, wrapping them around her. “Hold me?”

He shook his head, trying to stifle the soft voice that he suddenly heard in his head. His eyes slowly opened as the girl started to unbuckle his jeans, pulling the zipper down. Nick struggled suddenly with a nagging thought that this was wrong all of a sudden.

“God, I’ve been dying to see you again Nick, you don’t know how many times I’ve dreamed of this, of feeling you again,” the girl whispered.

Nick licked his lips slowly, staring up at the ceiling blindly, he wished he could say the same about her, but he’d be lucky if he’d remember her name after this. Slowly he looked down, watching as she pulled his jeans off, sitting up slowly.

“Leeza…”

She leaned in suddenly, kissing him deeply as she reached out, rubbing him through his boxers. Nick squeezed his eyes shut, shifting uncomfortably. He waited, waited for that feeling that always came, should’ve come whenever something like what was happening, happened, but it didn’t, but the memories kept coming.

“Veronica…”

He didn’t know what he wanted to say, but he knew that if she wanted him to, he would stop. He also knew that if she wanted him, he would take her, have her because he needed this, needed her. Nick wanted so much for her, more than he’d ever wanted for anyone else. And he did want this; he wanted this moment, this night with her too. Nick wished for more, for something he shouldn’t be and he knew it was too late for him.


Groaning loudly, he opened his eyes to find Leeza watching him expectantly.

“Have you got anything?”

He nodded, reaching over, grabbing the small foil packet from the bedside table, handing it to her.

“Leeza, look…”

“Shh, just lay back and enjoy,” Leeza smiled, pushing him back on the bed. Scooting back, she tugged at his boxers, pulling them off. She tore the package open and turned to him, stilling suddenly.

Rubbing at his eyes, Nick slowly sat up.

“Uhh, Nick? You ok?”

“Fuck…yeah, yeah I’m fine.”

“So then…”she looked down and then back up at him again.

“Sorry just give me a second.”

“Aww baby, you’re probably still stressed from the concert aren’t you?” Leeza replied softly, leaning in to kiss him again, reaching out, taking him in her hand, stroking him gently.

He tried, he tried hard to get into it, to feel anything, but he just couldn’t.

“Hold onto me Veronica…I‘ll take you there,” Nick murmured, brushing his lips over hers. He felt her hold on him tighten and he started to move. It was amazing and so unlike anything he’d felt before. It was stronger, truer…perfect.

Nick broke the kiss, sighing heavily.

“What’s wrong? You’re not even…I mean…”

“I know I know,” he muttered, clearing his throat.

“So what’s up? You’ve never had a problem before, c’mon…”

“I’m sorry Leeza; I’m not sure what’s going on with me tonight, I guess I just have a lot on my mind.”

She stared at him, “Never stopped you before.”

He shrugged, “I guess it’s just really getting to me this time.”

It seemed like the logical excuse, but in his heart, he knew that wasn’t it, but he also knew he didn’t know what it was either.

Leeza blinked, “Ok, so now what?”

“Well…I am kinda tired.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, so this is it?”

He looked away, “I’m really sorry, but I need to get some sleep.”

“You’re not even gonna try? Let me distract you; you know I’m good at that. I brought some stuff with me, handcuffs and whatever, that always seems to do it for you, let me get em from my pur…”

“Nah, it’s ok Leeza, I think I just need to sleep.”

“I don’t believe this, you’re a prick, you know that?!” She screamed, sliding off the bed, starting to redress.

Nick groaned, “Leeza c’mon, I said I was sorry.”

“Whatever, screw you, oh I forgot, apparently no one is gonna be screwing anything. I’m outta here,” she yelled, grabbing her coat and storming out.

Slipping off the bed, he grabbed his boxers and slowly pulling them on before slumping back on the bed, sighing heavily. He’d like to say that that had been a first for him, but it hadn’t. Granted it didn’t happen often and most definitely not lately, but for some reason, this time, he hadn’t been able to. Over the last several weeks, he’d been back to a lot of his old ways, and he’d managed to form some kind of interest, but it’d been hard even then.

Tonight had been different though, tonight he hadn’t been able to pretend, hadn’t been able to block the images and the sounds from that night from his mind. He kept hearing her voice. Closing his eyes, he tried to relax; he really did need to get some sleep.

He could hold back no longer, “Veronica…I…I’m sorry…” he whimpered, thrusting harder, faster now. He’d wanted to be here so bad, for so long and she was everything he’d dreamed she’d be.

“Y-yes…yes…”


Shifting, Nick rolled onto his side.

“Sleep baby,” he whispered, kissing her forehead gently. Nick pulled her to him and he could tell she was already asleep. He waited for that feeling, that need to bolt like he always did, but it never came. He felt completely content to stay right there, his body pressed so close to hers. All those nights he’d dreamt of her here, lying beside him. How many times had he pretended that the girl in bed with him was Veronica? How many? Nick had lost count. Now, now it had finally happened, and he didn’t want the moment to end.

“Fuck!! Damnit!” He sat up, he couldn’t stop it. He rubbed furiously at his eyes, but it wouldn’t stop the images. It’d seemed to have gotten worse now that she had a boyfriend, he found himself thinking about her and those two nights more than ever. He could still feel her below him, around him. Nick swore he could smell her sent, taste her lips on his. He shifted again, groaning as a rush of desire swept over him. God what he wouldn’t give for one more moment, to slide into her and get lost in her softness, in her warmth.

Slowly he opened his eyes, looking down, apparently it wasn’t Leeza that he needed for his body to be interested.
Chapter 131 by Gravity 721
Chapter 131

He rubbed the towel vigorously over his head before letting it drape around his shoulders. A shower seemed to help, he felt less aroused and more relaxed. He flipped the light off in the bathroom and made his way back over to the bed, sitting. Reaching out he grabbed the remote and turned the volume down on the TV and then grabbed his cell phone, maybe he should call her, it’d been several weeks since they last spoke and he really missed her.

Nick pressed the number programmed for her and waited.

“Hello?”

“Hey.”

“Nick! Wow hi!” She couldn’t believe he called, it’d been a few weeks since they’d last spoke.

He chuckled, “Hey girl, how are ya?”

“I’m ok, god; it’s so great to hear from you.”

Nick could hear the relief in her voice and frowned in confusion.

“It’s good to talk to you too.”

“I tried calling you a couple of times, I left a few messages.”

“Oh yeah, I got em, I’ve just been so busy I haven’t had the chance to call ya back until now, I’m sorry bout that.”

“No no, I understand completely, I guess I was just kinda worried that…I dunno, that you were mad at me maybe and that you didn‘t want to talk to me anymore,” she said softly.

Nick sighed softly, “Aww baby no, not at all. I have no reason to be mad at you.”

“Yeah? I dunno, I have a tendency to wear on people’s nerves and make them mad at me without even knowing and if that was the case with you, I didn’t want to keep calling and bothering you. It’s just…I’ve…I’ve really missed talking you lately, you’ve been so distant.”

He felt like the biggest ass there ever was.

Veronica blinked at the silence that ensued, maybe she’d said too much.

“Whoa, I’m sorry Nick; I didn’t mean to freak you out or anything.”

“Don’t…don’t apologize, you’ve got nothing to be sorry for. I’m really sorry for not calling more, honestly. I’ve really missed you too and since we’re being honest here, I have to say that I was worried about bothering you by calling so often like I was.”

“Did I give you that impression?”

“Not really, but so much has been going on for you over the last month or two, that I didn’t want to be in the way.”

“Aww Nick, you could never be in the way, trust me. I’ve always got time to talk to you Nick and if I don’t, I’ll make time. You…this friendship is very important to me.”

Nick smiled softly, “For me too.”

“Ok then it’s settled, neither one of us is bothering the other nor we’ll go back to calling whenever we can.”

“Deal.”

She chuckled, “Alright.”

“So, are you looking forward to Christmas?”

“Kind of, I don’t really have anything planned other than going to Mom’s.”

“Really? You’re not going to be doing anything with Jared?”

Just saying his name made Nick sick to his stomach.

“Jared? Nah, we broke up a few weeks ago.”

Silence once again fell.

“Uh Nick? Still with me?”

He couldn’t believe it, he just couldn’t. Last time he spoke with her she sounded happy, sounded happy and as if things were great and now…

“Huh? Oh yeah, I’m here, sorry, just caught me off guard. If you don’t mind me asking, what happened?”

“Oh ya know, the relationship wasn’t really going anywhere, so he ended it.”

“Sweetie, I’m sorry,” Nick replied softly, and he was but part of him was also happy. He felt bad that he felt that way, but he’d be lying if he didn’t admit that when she’d first said it, he’d felt a rush of extreme happiness rush over him.

“It’s alright, it just wasn’t meant to be I guess.”

“Yeah,” he answered, unable to stop the smile from spreading over his lips.

“So how bout you? You looking forward to Christmas?”

“Yeah, I’m flying Aaron and my Sisters down to spend a few days with me, kinda like a mini family Christmas ya know? The guys are gonna have their families with them too as usual, so yeah, it should be nice.”

“Aww that sounds really nice.”

“I’m looking forward to it actually now that I think about it. It’ll be nice to see everyone again.”

“I’ll bet. Well I’m gonna get going, I know you had a concert tonight so you must be pretty tired.”

Actually he felt great, he was happier than he’d been when he first called. He wouldn’t be getting to sleep anytime soon.

“Yeah a little, I’m a bit more awake now.”

“Well that makes one of us, I’m exhausted and it’s two hours later here than there anyway.”

“Since when’d you become such a wimp?”

“Excuse me?”

“You used to be able to stay up late, such a shame,” Nick tsked.

“Shut up man!”

He chuckled, “Alright seriously, I’ll let ya go. I’ll give you a call tomorrow ok?”

“Ok sure. Take care!”

“You too, night Veronica.”

“Night Nick.”
Chapter 132 by Gravity 721
Author's Notes:
Ahh I love this song and it really fits V and N. Who wouldn't love to have him sing this for you?

Enjoy!
Chapter 132

Christmas Day…

“Are you ready to open the presents now Mom?” Veronica asked, setting the towel down.

“Yup, just wanna finish wiping the sink down first.”

“Mom it’s fine, c’mon, let’s get going,” she grinned, walking over to the tree and sitting down in front of it.

Veronica had arrived at her Mom’s the night before and had brought all of her gifts from home to put under her Mom’s tree, she was grateful to not have to open the gifts and spend Christmas alone. Bryan had sent his gifts, they’d arrived a few days ago according to her Mom, and Paul would be coming over later in the afternoon. Turning her head, she watched as her Mom made her way over to the tree as well, sitting across from her. As usual, Veronica found all the gifts for her Mom and pushed them over to her.

“Ok Mom, you first.”

“Why do I always have to go first? You can go ahead.”

“No no, you go on.”

Ginnie shook her head, smiling, “I don’t know why you insist that I go first every year.”

“Cause I want you to, now c’mon, start.”

Veronica watched as her Mom opened various gifts from her friends at work and finally she got to Veronica’s gifts.

“Aww thanks for the chocolate and perfume.”

“No problem, you basically ask for the same thing every year,” Veronica sighed.

“So, I know what I want, that should make it easy for you.”

“Yeah yeah Mom, go on,” she rolled her eyes, grinning.

After her Mom finished opening her gifts, she shoved all of Veronica’s over to her.

“Your turn.”

Smiling, Veronica opened the gifts from a few friends at work and the one from her Brother and then started in on her gifts from her Mom.

“Aww socks, thanks Mom.”

“Well you said you needed some!”

“No no, I’m not complaining, I did need them, thank you.”

Ginnie stared at her.

“Seriously!”

“Uh huh.”

Chuckling, Veronica continued to open her gifts. She was just about finished when she got to the gifts she’d received from Nick. They’d arrived through the mail in the beginning of the week, it’d been hard waiting to be able to open them, she was dying to know they were, and after hours of insisting that he didn’t have to buy her anything over the phone, she’d finally given up and just accepted the fact that he’d done so.

“Ooh, that wrapping paper is pretty, who are those gifts from?”

“Nick.”

“Aww he sent you something? That’s so sweet!”

“Yeah I know, I told him not to, but he insisted.”

“Well go on, open it, let’s see what he got you, that is unless you wanna open them in private.”

“Of course not, if that was the case I wouldn’t have brought them.”

She grabbed the first gift, ripping the paper off, and flipping the object around to find a DVD of a Kenny G concert.

“Aww he got me that DVD I told him I wanted but was having a hard time finding,” she chuckled, holding the case up so her Mom could see it.

“Aww, that’s so nice of him. What’s that on the cover?”

“What do you mean?”

“There’s something written on the cover, look at it.”

Frowning, Veronica turned the case around, her eyes widening.

“Oh my god, it’s…it’s autographed! He got Kenny G to autograph my DVD case, whoa.”

“Wow Veronica.”

“Yeah I know geeze.”

“You’ll have to call him up and thank him for that.”

“Don’t worry, I plan on it.”

Grabbing the next gift, she tore it open and flipped it over to find a Kenny G cd this time also autographed.

“Is this some kind of thing with you two? What’s up with all this Kenny G stuff?”

“I just…he wanted to know something about me that I don’t tell people about and I told him that I liked Kenny G, amazingly enough, he’s got one of his cd’s too.”

“He must really like you to do this for you.”

Veronica shrugged, “I’m sure he gets this kinda thing for his friends all the time.”

“I dunno.”

She stared at her Mom for a moment before opening the next package to reveal a stationary set and pens.

“That’s perfect for you to do your writing on, your poems and stuff.”

“Yeah, but it’s so nice I don’t want to use it.”

“Veronica it’d be a waste of his money if you don’t use it! You know he’s gonna probably ask you if you like using it and if you tell him that you don’t wanna use it, he’s probably gonna be hurt and maybe upset that he spent money on something you won’t use.”

“Mo-om…”

“It’s true!”

Sighing, Veronica looked the pen over, pulling the cap off to reveal extra fine tips, her favorite. She couldn’t believe he actually remembered, that he actually paid attention when she went off on her tangents about her favorite kind of pens. Biting her lip, she swallowed against the lump in her throat and reached for the next package, tearing it open to reveal another cd, this one was different though; it looked as if it was homemade.

“Mom, can I use your cd player please?”

“Sure, I’ll go get it.”

She flipped the case over and pulled the note that was attached to it off and started to read it as her Mom set up the CD player.

Veronica,

Merry Christmas! I hope you’re having a great day! Please tell your Mom I said hi and merry Christmas. Anyway, I hope you enjoy your gifts, I’ve also sent a card that all the guys and Leigh and Kris signed for you as well.


“Nick says hi Mom and Merry Christmas.”

Her Mom smiled as she plugged the CD player in, taking the cd from Veronica and putting it in the player, she drew her attention back to the note.

Now about this cd. This is a song I wrote since I’ve been on the road for this tour. Ya know sometimes after a concert I can’t fall right asleep, too wound up. Anyway, so yeah, I wrote this song with you in mind and…well actually this song is for you, yeah it is for you. You inspired it and I’m not gonna lie, it is about you. The guys helped me record it, I played the guitar on it and besides the hard copy I have, you have the only other copy there is. I thought this would make a nice gift ya know? Something a bit more personal than something ya just buy in a store.

So I hope you enjoy it and you have a great day. Talk to ya soon,

Nick


“So what’s on the cd?”

Veronica stared at the note, “A song, he wrote a song for me.”

“Aww Veronica!”

“It’s a little weird, I don’t know what to think,” she explained, opening the card that was signed by the guys and Brian and Kevin’s wives.

“Well…can I play it? Is it ok for me to hear?”

“Of course, go ahead.”

Veronica watched as her Mom pressed the play button, reaching out and grabbing the last gift from Nick, tearing the paper off to reveal leather bound diary.

“Wow, this is beautiful,” she murmured as she flipped through the blank pages, stilling suddenly when a haunting melody started to fill the room. Slowly she looked up at the sound of Nick’s voice.

A hundred days have made me older since the last time that I saw your pretty face. A thousand lies have made me colder and I don't think I can look at this the same…

She looked over at her Mom who was staring at her, a startled expression on her face. Whatever it was that Veronica had been expecting to hear, it hadn’t been that. She slowly set the diary down, focusing her attention on the song.

All the miles that separate...disappear now when I'm dreamin' of your face. I'm here without you baby but you're still on my lonely mind. I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time. I'm here without you baby but you're still with me in my dreams…and tonight, there's only you and me.

She let out a shaky breath, trying to keep herself from crying, but that lump in her throat was slowly getting bigger and it was getting harder to keep the tears at bay. What did it all mean? What was he saying?

Veronica was trying hard not to read too much into it, but it was all so overwhelming. He dreamt about her? Was that the truth or…

The miles just keep rollin' as the people leave their way to say hello. I've heard this life is overrated but I hope that it gets better as we go. I'm here without you baby but you're still on my lonely mind. I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time. I'm here without you baby but you're still with me in my dreams…and tonight girl, there's only you and me.

It was so wrong, so wrong to wish he were there or that she could be with him, and she tried to play off the fact that there was a hint of sadness in his voice, a longing…for something, for someone. She shook her head, she wouldn’t let it happen, she wouldn’t let him get to her. She feared it might be too late though.

Could it be that he really did think about her? That it wasn’t just her in the relationship that thought about being together, who couldn’t wait for the phone to ring, or to hear that voice that haunted her thoughts…her dreams.

Everything I know, and anywhere I go it gets hard but it won't take away my love. And when the last one falls, when it's all said and done. It gets hard but it won't take away my love…

Veronica stared hard at the floor as she listened, willing her heart to stop pounding so hard, so fast. She tried to make herself lose the hope that had suddenly welled up inside her over those last words, tried to ignore what it could mean. She looked up suddenly at her Mom, who was wiping at her eyes with a tissue.

She didn’t want to hurt; she didn’t want him to hurt her. It was so much easier to pretend, to force herself forget his touch, his kiss, the feel of his body pressed against hers. It would make it so much easier when he left, and he would, she knew it. Squeezing her eyes shut, she was oblivious to the tear that made it way down her cheek, landing on the letter, smearing the ink.

I'm here without you baby but you're still on my lonely mind. I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time. I'm here without you baby but you're still with me in my dreams.

And tonight girl, there's only you and me.


Here Without You by 3 Doors Down
Chapter 133 by Gravity 721
Chapter 133

Nick reached out, grabbing the phone, blindly flipping it open, not bothering to check the caller ID.

“Lo?”

“Hey,” came the soft reply.

His whole face lit up, “Veronica!”

Nick had been hoping she’d call, every time his cell had rung, he’d anxiously checked the id to see if it was her, he’d finally given up checking, resigned to the fact that she wasn’t going to call.

But she had.

“Hey you.”

“Hi! Merry Christmas.”

“Thanks, same to you. How was your day?”

“It was really nice, we all exchanged gifts and had dinner, it was just nice ya know? Nice to have the day off and to be able to just chill and relax.”

“Ahh, that’s good. Glad you were able to enjoy it and have it off.”

“Me too, so how bout you? How was your day? How’s your Mom doing?”

“It was very nice, my oldest brother came over later in the day and Mom’s doing fine, she told me to tell you hi and merry Christmas as well.”

“Great, I was hoping you’d call, I figured you’d be busy with your family and all though.”

“Nick I told you, I always have time for you and if I don’t, I’ll make time, that’s not even a problem.”

“Aww!”

He smiled, she had no idea that she’d made his day by calling. His brother and sisters had come down with him, and that had been nice. He’d called his parents and that had been not so nice, but being with the guys and his siblings for some reason didn’t even come close to how it felt to talk to Veronica, to hear her voice. He’d been waiting all day for this moment.

“Nick…there’s…I got your gifts.”

“Oh yeah? What’d ya think? I hope those are the right pens. It’s hard to go by a description, but I think those are the right ones.”

“No no, they are, they’re right, it’s perfect all of it…everything…perfect…”

Nick blinked, she’d stopped suddenly, her voice wavering.

“Veronica? You ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine a bit overwhelmed I guess, I feel like such a loser. Anyway, I wanted to call you and thank you for the gifts. The CD and DVD are awesome and God, the stationary and the journal, they’re beautiful, I love them.”

“The CD and DVD are no big deal, Kenny was happy to do it. I’m glad you like the writing supplies, you haven’t mentioned writing in a while, so I didn’t know if you still were, but I know that a lot of the time writers have special paper and pens and all that they use or that kind of…I dunno, gets them in the mood or something.”

She chuckled, “I don’t know if certain paper gets me in the mood as you say.”

“Well you know what I mean. But yeah, I was at this art supply store and this lady was real helpful ya know? She was showing me all this different paper an shit, talkin’ about the kind that really takes the ink well and a certain type that is made for writers and keeps the ink from fading and something about…umm…keeping for a long time if it’s stored.”

“Geeze Nick, ya didn’t have to go through all that, really.”

“Nah it’s alright, it was kinda fun actually. I picked up some paper and pens for song writing and all, so I got something outta it and learned too, which is like…wow.”

Veronica laughed again.

“So cause of you, I learned something.”

“Well I’m glad I was able to help you albeit indirectly.”

“You rock girl.”

She chuckled again, “Nick…I also want to thank you…for the song. It was beautiful.”

“Oh…yeah well I just…I dunno. I’d be up at night and these lyrics just came to me, and it always happened when I’d be thinking about you and it just flowed. You inspire me, which is nice cause, I don’t get inspired often, at least not by people and when I do, it’s often negative.”

“Nick…”

“But yeah, so I thought ya know, a song would be a cool gift. It’s personal, it’s not a song that’s been released, so it’s all yours. You don’t have to share it with a million people and that’s ok, cause I don’t want a million people to hear it, it’s your song.”

Nick distinctly heard sniffling on the other end and frowned. “Veronica?”

“Y-yeah, I’m here. God Nick…I’m a mess over here, knock it off.”

He grinned when he heard the sound of her blowing her nose.

“Well thank you, it seems so inadequate, but thank you Nick. Trust me when I say you have absolutely no idea what it means to me.”

Nick smiled a bit, “Really? Ya liked it that much?”

“I loved it, my Mom was there listening, I hope you don’t mind. Anyway, Mom was listening and she was crying and…it’s beautiful Nick, thank you so much. I’ve never had anyone write me a song before. This is so special.”

Blushing, he could actually feel himself blushing.

“It’s no big deal.”

“It’s a very big deal. I’m sure people have songs written for them all the time and that…you’ve probably done it before for someone else. I’m sure they didn’t get all emotional over it like I am, and…well that’s kind of sad because it’s such a gift, it’s so…personal and private, how can you not be? How do you become so unaffected? Well I can’t be and I don’t want to be. So yes, it is a big deal Nick and I want you to know I don’t take it for granted and I appreciate it very much.”

Nick slowly sat on the edge of his bunk, staring out. No one had ever said that to him before. He’d written songs for his girlfriends before and none of them had ever been so touched or so vehement about their appreciation for it as Veronica had been and she wasn’t even his girlfriend. He’d always felt a bit silly even a bit pissed because they never seemed to really be excited about it.

“Well…you’re very welcome and thank you, for saying that. To be honest, no one has ever really thanked me for writing a song for them, certainly never any of my girlfriends.”

“That sucks, I guess they didn’t know how lucky they were.”

He hesitated a moment before blurting out, “I wished you were here today.”

“Huh?”

“I did, all day. I just kept thinking, it would be even better if Veronica were here, or, god I wish I was with Veronica right now so that I could open gifts with her, so that…so that I could just be with her.”

There was dead silence on the line and Nick felt like the biggest ass there ever was.

“You…you did?”

He blinked, “Well yeah I mean…it just didn’t seem right to be celebrating Christmas without you.”

“Nick…”

“I know it’s not right, I mean I had my family with me and you were with your family and I guess it’s kind of selfish of me to want that…to want you with me or for me to be with you but, I couldn’t help it.”

“It’s not…I wanted you with me too, I wanted to be with you too Nick. I know it has to be hard, being away from home on Christmas.”

“Even harder to be away from you.”

His heart was racing, he couldn’t believe he’d just said that, it’d just slipped out, it’d been exactly what he’d been thinking, and before he could stop himself, he said it. He didn’t give her a chance to respond.

“You wanted to be with me too huh? Well…maybe sometime, we can spend Christmas together.”

Veronica smiled, “Yeah, maybe someday.”

“Yeah. Well I wish I didn’t have to but…I’ve gotta go honey.”

“Ok.”

“I’m beat and now that I’ve talked to you, I can go to bed.”

“You were waiting to go to bed until you talked to me?”

“Well I was hoping I would, I was trying to stay up as late as possible.”

“Damn, I’m sorry I waited so long, I figured you’d be with your family and stuff and I didn’t wanna bother you.”

“Veronica?”

“Yeah?”

“Bother me. I don’t care what it is, or when it is just…bother me. Ok?”

“Ok.”

“Well I guess I’ll let you go. Merry Christmas Veronica.”

“Merry Christmas Nick, night.”

“Night.”

He flipped the phone closed, staring hard at it. Slowly he slid back into the bunk, pulling the curtain closed, a blanket of darkness filling the small area. Reaching out, he pushed the curtain back from the small window and peered out, a beam of moonlight illuminating the area. Staring up, he watched the stars go by, sighing heavily he closed his eyes, wishing that she was there for him to hold as he drifted off to s