What Lurks Around the Corner by Mare
Past Featured StorySummary:

It's the winter of 1995 and as Nick and the boys are on tour, he finds himself growing anxious for unexplained reasons. As he slowly discovers the truth behind his fears, he is thrown into a world he had forced himself to forget.


Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: Group, Nick
Genres: Drama, Suspense
Warnings: Violence
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 40 Completed: Yes Word count: 110880 Read: 122605 Published: 06/29/10 Updated: 02/13/11

1. Chapter 1 by Mare

2. Chapter 2 by Mare

3. Chapter 3 by Mare

4. Chapter 4 by Mare

5. Chapter 5 by Mare

6. Chapter 6 by Mare

7. Chapter 7 by Mare

8. Chapter 8 by Mare

9. Chapter 9 by Mare

10. Chapter 10 by Mare

11. Chapter 11 by Mare

12. Chapter 12 by Mare

13. Chapter 13 by Mare

14. Chapter 14 by Mare

15. Chapter 15 by Mare

16. Chapter 16 by Mare

17. Chapter 17 by Mare

18. Chapter 18 by Mare

19. Chapter 19 by Mare

20. Chapter 20 by Mare

21. Chapter 21 by Mare

22. Chapter 22 by Mare

23. Chapter 23 by Mare

24. Chapter 24 by Mare

25. Chapter 25 by Mare

26. Chapter 26 by Mare

27. Chapter 27 by Mare

28. Chapter 28 by Mare

29. Chapter 29 by Mare

30. Chapter 30 by Mare

31. Chapter 31 by Mare

32. Chapter 32 by Mare

33. Chapter 33 by Mare

34. Chapter 34 by Mare

35. Chapter 35 by Mare

36. Chapter 36 by Mare

37. Chapter 37 by Mare

38. Chapter 38 by Mare

39. Chapter 39 by Mare

40. Chapter 40 by Mare

Chapter 1 by Mare
Author's Notes:
Hey guys! I haven't written anything in a very long time. It feels good to be back. I hope you enjoy!!! :O)

~ 1 ~

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Alone Time

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I hate being alone. In fact, next to asparagus, it’s probably my least favorite thing ever. I can’t even tell you why that is exactly. You would think because I’m famous and am surrounded by people 24/7 that I would relish those few moments when I get to spend some quality time alone, but that’s not the case. On those rare occasions that we’re given a night off I usually manage to get someone to hang out. Most of the time I’d have to settle for whoever was ‘in charge’ of me for the night, like a bodyguard or random person in charge of our ‘security,’ but sometimes, it was even one of the guys, mostly Kevin, much to his dismay.

á

Brian enjoyed being my babysitter by default and yes, I’m getting more comfortable calling them that. At first it was a joke made at my expense, “Who is babysitting Carter tonight?” They would ask each other as they got ready to go out on the town. I didn’t mind them calling themselves my babysitters as long as I wasn’t alone. They could call themselves whatever they wanted for all I cared. AJ made me mad though, acting all grown up when in reality, the dude needs a babysitter more than I do. The guy is lucky he can manage to get his pants on without help.

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Getting back to Brian, he would willingly volunteer to hang out with me when no one else would. He didn’t much like going out to clubs especially in Europe where he was actually old enough to drink. They all are old enough to drink in Europe, except for me…of course. Yeah me and my almost sixteen year old self has to stay at home with my thumbs up my ass while everyone else is surrounded by supermodels and alcohol. Please tell me how that is fair and more importantly, tell me why Brian isn’t in to that?

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So, here we are somewhere in Germany and all the guys were off to a club. Brian had no intention of going until he was enticed into a date with some random girl with big boobs. AJ managed to introduce them over our dinner of weird things with sauerkraut. I will be happy when we go home tomorrow and leave all the cabbage and sauerkraut behind. I won’t miss all the weird meat in casings either. Anyway, Brian cannot say no to boobs. It’s his weakness, the only one he has as far as I can tell so that ends with me being here all alone.

á

My only hope is some guy named Bjorn who was on our security detail this evening. He was left in charge of me but his idea of in charge was to say “If you need me give me a call,” in his broken English. So, that left me all alone and my life now officially sucks.

á

Let’s go through the cycle, shall we? It starts off as boredom. At least that’s what it feels like. I find myself playing my videogames and letting out deep breaths as I do. My concentration starts waning after about the first hour I’m alone. I find I no longer care about killing things on the screen or beating my last score so I move on to watching TV. You can only imagine how long that lasts with my attention span being the way that it is, coupled with the fact that everything on is in German.

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This is really when we shift from boredom to anxiety. It’s about this time when I swear I start to see shadows of people along my walls. I know it sounds crazy, my door is dead bolted and the windows are locked. There is NO way anyone can get in. Even if they have a key, they are stuck unless I let them in. Still, I always feel like someone is standing behind me watching my every move.

á

Now’s the time I usually try to call people to distract myself. First I try my dad but he usually has his hands full with the bed and breakfast so I go for Mandy, which usually ends in an argument and an apology from me even though half the time I don’t even know what I’m sorry for. I go down the list of all the other people I could call and talk myself out of all of them. My life has now reached an all time high of suck-a-tude. What’s even worse is? It’s only 10! Brian won’t be back until way after midnight.

á

This is the part of my alone time that usually causes me the most grief. I make a decision whether or not to stay where I am or go out and explore. Contrary to popular belief when it comes to the guys, I really do not like to cause trouble purposely. They think I go out on my mini excursions for attention from the fans or just to try to worry them. Neither of those theories is true. I go out because sometimes the silence is suffocating. It’s easier to go out there then stay in here and wait for whatever the hell it is that scares the crap out of me to show up.

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Do I explain that? Hell no. I tried once, when I got into a lot of trouble one time in Sweden for leaving without letting anyone know. Kevin was pacing back and forth yelling at me as if he had the right to do that in the first place. In-between his rants of how irresponsible and stupid I was, I managed to tell him I did it because I was scared, at which point he let out the most sarcastic laugh I have ever heard. That was the last time I chose honesty. Let them think I’m an attention whore, I don’t care. I know why I leave and now I have to make that decision again.

á

This time I decided it’s probably best to stay put. We have an early flight back to New York tomorrow and whenever I go out, I usually end up coming home late. At this point, I move over to the small table located next to the balcony. I think about going outside and getting some fresh air but once again that feeling is there. Maybe someone is out on the terrace just waiting to grab me and throw me down 15 stories to my death. I swear it’s the oddest thing. I am so weird! So, I settle for the table and find myself nervously drumming my fingers on the corner. Wow, this is fun. I only have to do this for another what? 2 or 3 hours? Yay me!á

á

The tapping lasted for about 20 minutes by my calculation before I landed in my next familiar alone time destination, the bathroom. I always lock the door to the bathroom when I’m alone and yes, it’s the opposite when I’m not. I never lock the door when someone is sharing a room with me. This has resulted in several awkward moments especially with Howie who tends to view the bathroom as his own private sanctuary. He always walks in on me when I’m in here and it’s always the same thing, “AH! Why don’t you lock the door Nicky?” Every single time.

á

I decide to sit on the toilet and read a comic book even though I don’t have to go to the bathroom at all. I’m fine for a little while until I hear sounds coming from the bedroom. I have to let out a sigh because my heart is beating so fast I can’t keep up with it. I feel like I’ve run a marathon I’m so out of breath. All I can do is stare at the doorknob, praying that I will not see it try to turn.

á

If it was Brian, he would have called out my name or turned on the TV by now. The unmistakable sounds of footsteps are coming from the other side of this door and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I don’t have a phone to call for help and there are no windows to escape from. I keep staring at the doorknob, silently praying that it will not move when suddenly there it goes. It starts to move slowly at first. They give a small jiggle to see if it’s locked. Now, I am no longer sitting on the toilet. I look frantically around the small room for anything I can use as a weapon if the need arises. There is nothing in here at all besides a hair dryer attached to the wall. I suppose I could hold the guy’s head in place and dry him to death if need be.

á

The doorknob jiggles once more, this time with a little more force and determination. The person on the other side of the door doesn’t make a sound though. No one shouting for help or that someone is in the bathroom. I decide that as a last resort I can break the mirror and use the shattered glass as a weapon. I wrap a towel around my hand and just stand there next to the huge mirror, ready to strike if I need to, when the handle jiggles one more time.

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I want to scream but I can’t find my voice. Instead I feel the tears coming down my face. This isn’t how I planned on dying. Alone in a bathroom in Germany on the day before we get to go back to the states is not my idea of a perfect death. Death by fornication is more the way I’d like to go. Okay I stole that idea from AJ, but still…

á

The jiggling stopped suddenly and it got very quiet. This was the time, at any moment someone was going to try to force their way into my safety zone. They were probably looking for a way to break in. The chair I had vacated after doing my finger tapping would probably work wonders. Just take that baby and slam it into the door a few times and I’m sure it would give, or maybe he was just looking for a screwdriver to loosen the hinges. It would sure be a lot less sloppy and make a lot less noise.

á

I decide to sit on the sink because it’s much closer to the mirror and I’d be able to break it faster. My breathing is shallow and I’m kind of afraid that I’ll pass out and miss my own death. I have been staring at the door for so long now it’s beginning to look like a big white blur with a tinge of yellow in the middle. I haven’t heard any movement since the door stopped jiggling. Maybe they left?

á

I would say I let a whole hour go by before I was brave enough to unlock the door and make my way back into the bedroom. My heart was still thumping so hard that I felt the need to place my hand on top of it to try to calm it down. I looked like I was saying the pledge. The thought of breaking that mirror before I walked out the door did cross my mind but if I was wrong, there would be hell to pay so I just sucked it up and took a small step outside the door. Luckily it was right by the front door so maybe if they were still in the room, I could make a run for it.

á

I was baffled to see that the door was still dead bolted from the inside. How on earth did they get in if it was still locked up tight? That’s when I went over to the balcony, very slowly and making sure I brought along a weapon as I walked. This time the weapon of choice was one of my shoes. I know I have to work on the weapons. The door to the terrace was also locked tight.

á

Sitting on the bed, I finally managed to calm myself down enough to take a normal breath. Could I have imagined the whole thing? It wouldn’t be the first time. In fact it wouldn’t even be the second or third time.

á

á“The doorknob jiggled, I saw it.” I said to the empty room in disbelief.

á

Then, another frightening thought occurred to me, maybe whoever it was had relocked the doors and was now hiding under the bed. You know, make me feel safe and let my guard down and then when I fall asleep I would be his for the taking. I suddenly pulled my legs up and sat Indian style, once again feeling my heart escalate to unhealthy proportions.

á

Staring at the digital clock next to my bed, it was nearing midnight, but that didn’t necessarily mean that Brian would be walking through the door at any minute. In fact, he wouldn’t be walking in at all because he was locked out. I would have to let him in, which would mean I would have to get off of the bed.

á

“Great!”

á

After another thirty minutes or so, I decided that maybe I was being irrational and that no one was under the bed and that no one had been in my room at all. I finally allowed myself to stand. Because I had been sitting like a pretzel and was all tense on top of that, I had the worst case of pins and needles running up and down both of my legs.

á

I walked as if I was a 90 year old man, back towards the bathroom to get myself some aspirin. I am sure my blood pressure was so high my head was ready to fall off. When I got in there and looked at myself in the mirror, I almost started to cry once again. I looked like a wreck. My cheeks were flushed but the rest of my face was as white as a sheet.

á

What was wrong with me? Why did this shit always happen when I was alone? I doubt it’s normal but it’s not like I’m going to ask anyone. It’s also gotten a lot worse over the last few months or so. I threw some water on my face and then filled a small cup and gulped down 4 Tylenols.

á

Before walking back to my bed, I unbolted the lock for Brian, just in case I fell asleep because let me tell you, having a full blown anxiety attack like I just did, was the surest way to wear yourself out. I still felt uneasy about the bed. What if I was wrong and there really was someone under there? I grabbed a pillow from the bed and then took a deep breath and bent down to look.

á

No one was there.

á

I headed for the huge desk in the center of our room. It sat across from both of our beds. I moved the chair out of the way and decided that I would feel safest if I just hung out under there until I heard Brian enter. I could always say I was looking for something.

á

I placed the pillow by my head and laid down in a fetal position. I was amazed at how much room was under here. If someone were to come in, they wouldn’t find me. Of course that would only work if I pushed the chair back where it was, which is what I kind of did.

á

Only then did I feel safe enough to close my eyes for a few minutes and pray that Brian would be home soon.

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Chapter 2 by Mare
Author's Notes:
Hello, hope you're enjoying this one. I'll be back middle of next week with chapter three. Until then, thanks for reading! :O)

~ 2 ~

á

The Crazy Ones

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The next morning I was kind of groggy and not in the best of moods. Of course my entire body hurt since I spent the night under the desk. I’m sure I was quite the site to Brian who oddly enough didn’t even bring it up. We were running really late and had no time to discuss it, which was a good thing but now as we sat side by side on the plane going back home, I felt him staring at me.

á

I had a pair of sunglasses on. AJ taught me this neat trick that if you want to avoid unwanted conversations on a plane the best thing to do was wear sunglasses and pretend you’re asleep. It’s much easier to pretend you’re sleeping when no one can see your eyes.

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I’m sure this was a habit he picked up after a few years of having D as a roommate. We’ll see how good it works because I am doing the pretend sleeping thing now, even though I can still feel him staring at me.

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“What?” I asked as I slowly turned my head toward him. I guess it only works if you don’t speak to the person you’re trying to avoid. AJ would be so disappointed in me.

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“What?” He asked half chuckling as he did.

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“Yeah, what?”

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“Uh…you want to explain why you were sleeping under the desk when I came home last night?”

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“I was looking for something and I guess I fell asleep.” I shrugged my shoulders as if what I said made the most sense in the world.

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“With your pillow, or is that what you lost?” of course he wasn’t buying it. I mean, I wouldn’t even buy it and I’m supposedly the gullible one.

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“It was comfortable and I wanted to feel like I was camping.”

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He gave me a look as if I was insane…or someone who stupidly spent the night under a desk. One of those looks. It’s hard to tell them apart. “What’s going on with you? Did something freak you out?”

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I rolled my eyes and blew air out of my mouth, “Pfft! As if…”á

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He smiled at me and bit his bottom lip in triumph. Damn him!á “What freaked you out Frack?” he turned his entire body toward me now. Great…just fan-friggin-tastic.

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“Nothing…I just thought I heard something outside the room, that’s all.”

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“So, you thought you’d hide under the desk?” He seemed very amused by this. If only he knew the sheer terror I was actually feeling. He wouldn’t have thought it was so funny then.

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“You try being all alone in a foreign country with no one to talk to and strange people standing outside your door and get back to me!” I kind of snapped at him. I didn’t mean to and the look on his face alone had me wanting to instantly apologize. He wasn’t expecting that.

á

“Sorry.” Was all he said before turning his body back towards the front of the plane.

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Well, now I was feeling like a jerk. “I’m sorry for jumping down your throat. I’m just tired.”

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“Because you slept under a desk.”

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“You didn’t tell anybody, did you?”

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“You’re odd secret is safe with me, for now, although if you keep acting like a little smartass I might have to rethink that.”á Sometimes, Brian took the role of big brother a little too seriously. Right down to the blackmailing.

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“Thanks Bri…” I said while yawning. I tilted my head back and tried to get some sleep. I usually had a hard time sleeping on planes. They made me uneasy but lately, everything made me uneasy.

á

For the last few months, I have had this constant feeling that someone was out to get me. It started at the venue right before a show. I kept thinking someone was waiting and watching me from the wings. I know that sounds dumb because lot’s of people wait and watch us from the wings, but this was different. I felt like my life was in danger. Usually those feelings kind of avoided me. I was the one that would walk into traffic or a crowd of a million people without a body guard. This time I felt myself constantly looking off stage and even avoiding getting close to the wings. The guys brought it up, wanting to know what was going on but I just said I was trying to avoid a chick I had met earlier that day.

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Those ‘attacks’ as I like to call them, began happening more and more frequently to the point that I didn’t even want to perform anymore. All I wanted to do was stay in my hotel room with the guys. That was important, because that’s the other thing, I did not want to be alone. Not that I ever wanted to be alone. Maybe it was Germany. I usually loved being here, but maybe being back home would make me feel better.

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“I’m sad I’m not spending Christmas with my family.” Brian blurted out. I guess this means he’s not mad at me at least, but at the same time, I guess it also means that I’m not meant to sleep.

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“Yeah, that does kind of suck, but at least we’ll all be spending it together.” I said, taking off my sunglasses and looking over his way.

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He nodded at me, “Are you okay with not being with your dad for Christmas?”

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“I guess I’ll have to be. He’s too busy with my uncle and running the bed and breakfast anyway.”

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Truth is I wanted more than anything to be at home for the holidays. I barely saw my father at all this year and just wanted to chill out and be a kid for a month or so while we were still in the US. Since we haven’t really conquered America yet, I was actually still able to walk around unrecognized. It would have been nice to be able to hang at the beach, right by my house without having to run from packs of screaming girls.

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Instead we were stuck in NYC for the holidays because of an obligation with our record company. We had a series of mini concerts we were doing all throughout Manhattan and they figured Christmas was an ideal time for exposure since the tourist season was at its maximum.

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“Is that why you are acting so strange Nick? Is it because you miss your dad?”

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“I’m not acting strange Rok. I’m just tired.” I wish I hadn’t taken off my sunglasses.

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“Then you’ve been tired for a really long time now.”

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“What’s that supposed to mean?”

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“I’m worried about you.”

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“Don’t be.”

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“Easier said than done.”

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“What’s there to worry about?” I was getting defensive again.

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“You always seem paranoid and uneasy, you have had trouble sleeping and when you do sleep, you have nightmares.”

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That’s the other thing that’s been happening this month. I find myself waking up with a start, all out of breath and sweaty. Brian is always asking me if I’m okay and I always say yeah and fall right back to sleep.

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“Nightmares don’t count if you don’t remember them.” I said as if reading out of a nightmare rule book or something. I thought it was weird that I didn’t remember them, I mean if they were bad enough to make me break out in a sweat, I should have some recollection, don’t you think?

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“Okay, I won’t bother you about it anymore; just know if you need to talk I’m here.” I smiled at my best friend. I don’t know what I would have done without him.

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I turned to look out the window and saw clouds, clouds everywhere and not a spot of ground to see at all. My stomach suddenly got all tense when in the reflection of the mirror I saw a man, staring at me from across the aisle. Quickly I turned my head to him and sure enough he was staring. When he caught my eye, he turned his head and looked away. My heart began to race again as Brian looked at me with concern in his eyes.

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I felt the need to have to get up and get to a safe place. “Excuse me Rok, I need to use the bathroom.”

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He nodded and moved his legs so I could climb over him. “You okay?” he asked, but I didn’t answer. I needed to get out of there.

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Luckily one of the bathrooms was empty so I went in and locked the door, sitting on the toilet and taking deep breaths to calm myself down. I wish I knew what the hell was going on. Was I going crazy? I knew mental illness ran in my family. My mother’s sister was mentally ill and supposedly so was a few of her cousins. When dad would show me pictures of us as a family, before my mother died, he would always refer to my mom’s side as “The crazy ones.” God, what if I was turning into one of the crazy ones?

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I stood up and threw some cold water on my face. Thankfully, my heart rate was going back to normal as I kind of convinced myself that no one was out to get me. I wasn’t ready to go back out there just yet though, because…what if I was wrong? It’s funny that I never gave my friend’s lives a second thought. You would think I would want to rush out there and make sure they were all okay, but I knew they would be. It was me the phantom menace was after, not anyone else.

á

The guy in that seat did look a little familiar. He could have very easily been in my hotel room last night. He also could have been in the wings during all our German concerts and now he was following me home.

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That’s when I turned around and vomited. Good thing I was in the bathroom.

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Maybe I could just spend the rest of the flight in here. I mean there are at least four bathrooms; they can sacrifice one for the well being of a teenager, right?

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“Stop being a wuss and go back out there Carter.” I actually said to myself in the mirror. So, I sprayed some more water on my face and after a few minutes of hesitation and second guessing, opened the door and walked back into the plane.

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I got halfway back to my seat when I stopped dead in my tracks. Suddenly the thought of being murdered by the guy across the aisle wasn’t that bad. Kevin had switched seats with his cousin and was now anxiously awaiting my return.

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I found myself dragging my feet as I made the slow walk back towards my seat. Looking over at Brian who was now sitting in Kevin’s old seat, I mouthed the words “What the hell?”

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He just shrugged at me in return. It was a sympathetic shrug but I wasn’t buying it. There would be hell to pay when we finally made it to our hotel room. For now, it looked like I was stuck so I grabbed my sunglasses from my back pocket and put them on before sitting down. Maybe I could make him think I was sleep walking.

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“Hey.” He said as he stood up to let me in.

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“Hi. What are you doing here?”

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“I’m going to the same place as you.” Luckily he couldn’t see my eyes because they were rolling.

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“I meant, why are you sitting here now?”

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“Because I wanted to sit next to you for a little bit, is that a problem? And you should take those stupid glasses off. You don’t want everyone thinking you’re high on something.” He actually moved to take my glasses off but I beat him to it. I placed them on my tray table and let out a sigh. I swear I saw him smirk.

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“So, I’ll get right down to it. What’s going on with you? We’re all worried and want to know, so spill it Carter. Why are you acting so strange, I mean stranger than usual.”

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Geez, talk about getting straight to the chase. “I am not acting strange, GOD how many times do I have to tell you people I’m just freaking exhausted!”

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“We’re all tired but you don’t see us all falling asleep under desks.” Son of a bitch! Brian is a lousy traitor!

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“I don’t want to talk about this.”

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“Well, we are going to talk about it, if not now, when we land. I’m sharing a room with you.”

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“WHAT?”

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“You heard me.”

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“But Bri and I…”

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He interrupted, “will have to manage just as next door neighbors.”

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“So, who gets their own room?”

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“Howie.”

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“I don’t understand why…” I found myself breaking up. Was I actually going to cry about this?

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“Jesus kid, I’m not that bad. Good thing I’m not taking this personally.” He shook his head as he opened a book.

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It wasn’t having to room with Kevin that had me so upset. It was the utter betrayal I felt from Brian. Not only did he break my trust and tell his cousin about my sleeping arrangement, he also scored out of a room with me and managed to get one with AJ who I noticed he was sitting next to now. Maybe it was all a big scheme. I looked over at Kevin and found myself apologizing for the second time in the span of a few minutes.

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“Sorry, it’s not you…I’m just tired.”

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“So, you’ve mentioned a few dozen times. Why don’t you try to sleep?” He smiled and handed me a pillow. I laid my head down and finally drifted off to sleep.

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Chapter 3 by Mare
Author's Notes:
Hello! hope you enjoy the chapter. I will be back on Monday with chapter 4! Thanks for reading and all the reviews. I appreciate it! :O)

~ 3 ~

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No Fan land

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Turns out I slept the rest of the way back home. If Kevin hadn’t nudged me awake, I probably would have just spent the night on the airplane. It was nice getting some sleep. I felt rested for the first time in a long time. Maybe that was a good sign. Things will start turning around for me and I won’t be so ‘weird’ anymore. It bothered me that they all thought I was acting strange. This only means that they were talking about me behind my back.á I hated when people did that! It bothered me more than anything else. Well with the exception of being alone, being watched or being followed by people. I’m also not a huge fan of clowns, fires, popping things or midgets.

á

We made it to our hotel without incident. I just kind of stayed quiet and avoided all of them, especially Brian who I was still really mad at. He tried to talk to me a few times and even started by half apologizing to me, but I just walked ahead and decided I would have none of it, not now anyway. Let him feel bad for betraying my trust first.

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Our hotel room was pretty sweet for being in America. This was no fan land for us so when it came to doing any promotion here, we usually found ourselves downgraded from the best hotels to dingy little motels that looked like they were future crime scenes. This time though, our management took pity on us and booked us in a nice four star hotel in the middle of Manhattan. The beds were king sized; there was a nice comfy couch, a huge television and a balcony that overlooked the busy streets below.

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Kevin plopped his stuff on the floor and jumped on the bed closest to the balcony. He stretched his legs out and placed his hands behind his head as he laid on his back staring up at the ceiling. “This is sweet.”

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I wanted that bed. I didn’t like to sleep in the bed closest to the door. The door is where someone could enter and drag me away or shoot me dead. No one could get all the way up to the balcony from outside so that bed was much safer. “Can I have that bed?” I asked in barely a whisper. I knew it was a losing battle but I still had to ask.

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“Why?”

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“Just cause…” Yeah, of course I would win with that shining argument.

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He sighed but did the very unexpected by standing up and moving to the other bed, “No problem…Merry Christmas little man.” Wow.

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“Thanks Kevin.” I walked over and sat on the bed starting to think that maybe rooming with him wouldn’t be so bad after all. I mean, he’s really the one person who I feel safe with most of the time. Even though we had our share of differences, at the end of the day, if I were to scream for help, it would be Kevin who would come running.

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Just as I sat down, there was a knock on the door. “Don’t forget to ask who it is!” I said as I started to unpack.

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“Good job Nickolas, I’m proud of you. Now you go ask who it is, I’m laying down.”

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I went over to the door, “Who is it?”

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“Me,” came the southern reply. If Kevin wasn’t in here, I probably would not have opened the door but since he was, I really had no choice.

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When I opened the door to Brian, he looked like a lost puppy that had just peed on my leg and was begging for forgiveness. If he had a tail, it would be between his legs.

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“Hey,” He said with his head down.

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“Hey.” I answered doing the same thing.

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“Can I come in for a minute?”

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“I guess.” I cleared a path for him to enter and followed him to my bed, sitting on the floor instead of next to him.

á

He gave his cousin an uneasy look, like he didn’t want to say what he came here to say with Kevin in the room. Sadly, Kevin wasn’t paying any attention. He had his eyes closed as he just laid there. “You want to come next door?” Brian asked me.

á

“Okay, yeah…I guess.” I stood up, using Kevin’s bed as an anchor, “I’m going to Rok’s room, I’ll be back.” I told him.

á

“Uh huh,” the unexcited one way or the other reply came.

á

When Brian let us into his room, I was kind of bummed to see AJ sitting there watching TV. Howie was also in there. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry about the plane. I know it might seem like I abandoned you back there.”

á

“Seemed like? You kind of DID.”

á

“He didn’t give me a choice. When he saw you run to the bathroom…”

á

“I didn’t run to the bathroom.”

á

“Fine, when he saw you walk briskly to the bathroom…”

á

“Whatever dude!”

á

“He wanted to know what was going on.”

á

“You didn’t have to tell him.” I looked over to AJ and Howie, wondering if they knew already.

á

“He just has a way of pulling things out of me.”

á

I rolled my eyes and wanted to be angrier than I was, but honestly, I knew what he was talking about when it came to his cousin and how persuasive he could be. Kevin could be downright mean and scary when he wanted to be.

á

“He’s treating me like I’m a child.” I sat on the bed with a humph.

á

“You are a child.” AJ said from his bed.

á

“Am I even talking to you?”

á

“Now you are.” Ugh!á

á

“He’s just concerned about you. Maybe after a night he’ll figure out everything’s okay and let you room with me again.” Brian then walked over and pat me on the shoulder. “So, am I forgiven?” He asked giving me one of ‘my’ trademark puppy dog smiles.

á

“For now, I guess. So, what are you guys up to? I think Kevin’s going to take a nap but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun!” Suddenly I wanted to get out of the hotel room. Why not? I’d have three of my best friends with me to keep me safe and hopefully they’d get my mind off things. There were so many places we could explore in NYC without worrying about girls running after us. We could actually be anonymous.

á

Howie stood up and stretched, “Maybe that’s a good idea. I think if I stay in this room for much longer I’m going to end up sleeping.”

á

“Where to?” Brian asked, grabbing his jacket.

á

“Somewhere close. Let’s just go walk around and window shop or something.”

á

“Maybe we can go see the ginormous tree.” AJ added putting on his coat.

á

“I guess I should go get my jacket too.” I really didn’t want to go back into my room for some reason. I was feeling good right now and I was afraid that if I went back inside, maybe my fears would restart or something.

á

“Or you can just go outside and freeze your nuts off.” AJ shrugged.

á

“At least I have nuts!”

á

“Ha, freaking ha, you’re a real riot Carter.”

á

“AJ, you’re just annoyed because he had a quick comeback.” I high-fived Brian who quickly made up some brownie points for that. á

á

“I have to get my coat too.” Howie said walking out the door and waiting for me to follow him. “Should we all meet in the lobby in about 15 minutes?”

á

“Why don’t we all just go down together?” I said rather anxiously.

á

“I guess that makes the most sense.” Howie agreed. I wasn’t sure how riding an elevator all alone would bode for me so I was grateful we were going down in a pack.

á

Howie left me off in my room to the sounds of Kevin snoring. I refrained from getting a bucket of warm water and sticking his hand in it, but I was more than tempted. I decided to leave him a note, just so he wouldn’t get all panicky when none of us were anywhere to be found. I almost wanted to pat myself on the back for being so responsible. I grabbed my jacket and followed the sound of Brian’s laughter out into the hallway.

á

“Is Kevin joining us?” AJ asked trying to look over my shoulder into the room.

á

“He’s sleeping. I left him a note that we were going out.”

á

“Wow, very responsible of you, young Nickolas.!” Brian nodded and ruffled up my hair.

á

“I think we’ll need to take the subway to get to Rockefeller Center.” Howie said grabbing a map out of his long coat pocket. “It doesn’t look too difficult to figure out and we could always ask someone where we need to go.”

á

Suddenly all the confidence and happiness I was feeling crashed in on me like a collapsing house. There was no way I wanted to go on the subway. Too many things could go wrong.

á

á“What’s wrong?” They were all looking at me but it was Howie who asked the question.

á

“I don’t think we should go that far. Maybe we should just stay locally around the hotel.”

á

“Why?”

á

Yeah Nick, think…why? Oh, because I’m a giant wuss who is suddenly afraid of my own shadow and that the boogeyman might possible grab at my feet and carry me away while no one is looking. I don’t think that explanation will fly, so how about plan B. “Kevin…He’d probably want to see that with us.”

á

They all nodded then AJ added, “You’re right. He did mention it at least once on the plane.” Score one for me and my quick thinking!

á

“Okay, let’s just walk around and see what’s out there.” Brian said, but once again he looked at me suspiciously, as if I was hiding some deep, dark secret. It really wasn’t that deep or dark if it was I’d probably be afraid of it!

á

It was a nice day out. For being so close to Christmas, it wasn’t all that cold. In fact it felt more like early fall than winter. The streets were packed with people. I mean wall to wall. Hundreds of tourists were out and about taking pictures and posing in front of various site seeing attractions. There were even lines in front of department store windows. Yes, New York did take the term window shopping literally.

á

At first the constant throngs of people didn’t bother me, but after walking about a block and a half I started getting that uneasy feeling. For anyone lucky enough to never have had this overwhelming sense of anxiety, I’ll explain it to you like this. It’s like being in the middle of nowhere and then suddenly having to go to the bathroom. The urge just hits you and when it does it’s hard. You can’t hold it in but there’s nowhere for you to hide so you have to wet your pants. That’s what these attacks feel like.

á

“Are you okay?” I jumped when I felt Brian’s hand on my shoulder.

á

“I think we should go back to the hotel.”

á

“We just left.” He half laughed.

á

“I need to use the bathroom.”

á

“I’m sure we can find one, this is New York.”

á

“Please Brian…I need to go back now.” The look of urgency on my face made his smile go away.

á

“What’s up?” AJ said when he noticed we had stopped. Howie was still walking along and whistling to himself. Oh, to be as clueless and blissful as Howie D.

á

“Nick and I are going back to the hotel.”

á

“Why?”

á

“My stomach hurts.” I lied, which was blatant since I had just told Brian I had to go to the bathroom.

á

AJ looked from me to Brian and then shrugged, “Okay, whatever man. Feel better.” AJ wasn’t buying it. “You want me and Howie to wait for you?” He asked Brian.

á

“Nah, you guys go on ahead. I’ll stay behind with him.”

á

“You sure?”

á

He nodded at AJ and then smiled. “You better go or he’s going to lose you!” Brian pointed to Howie who was now almost out of eye range. Remind me never to count on D to back me up because I’d be long dead before he even realized I was missing.

á

As we turned to walk back towards the hotel, Brian put his hand on my shoulder, “You know you’re going to have to tell me what’s going on with you.” His voice was sterner this time.

á

“Can we please just hurry; I’m going to be sick.” Now it wasn’t so much a lie. If we didn’t get there soon I’d end up vomiting on his shoes.

á

We didn’t talk for the rest of the way. I just let my eyes focus on the sidewalk directly in front of me, counting the number of squares we passed until we met our destination. Brian was mad at me, I could tell by his quietness. It felt awkward, which didn’t help ease my mind.

á

I was grateful to see the door to my hotel room. I had the key in my hand and as quickly as I could, opened the door. I wasn’t even going to look up. I had just planned to run in to the bathroom but hearing Kevin gasp, I couldn’t help but see what the deal was.

á

He had the look of a deer caught in headlights and I’m sure I looked about the same way.

á

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I asked him as Brian walked in right behind me.

á

Shocked, I saw Kevin standing over my bed and opening my backpack. It looked like he had already searched my luggage and was just about to empty the contents of my bag onto the floor when we interrupted him. á

á

á

Chapter 4 by Mare
Author's Notes:
I hope you guys are enjoying this? Sorry this chapter is so short. It's kind of a filler as was the last one. LOL I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. I promise! I will be back on Friday with chapter 5. :O)
~ 4 ~

A Matter of Trust


Kevin just stood there with the stupidest look on his face. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this nervous. If I wasn’t so angry, I probably would have savored the moment a little more. Instead, I found myself asking again “Why the fuck are you going through my things?”

I glanced over at Brian to see he looked as surprised and angry as I was. I’m glad because for just a brief moment, I thought that maybe they had planned this together. “I’ll distract Nick while you go through his things.” Type of good cop bad cop crap you see on TV all the time.

“I just…I…”

“What?” I walked over and looked at all my stuff on the floor. Reaching down I grabbed a pile of my clothes and threw them on my bed. So help me I wanted to grab his legs and tackle him down to the ground but I refrained from doing it. Instead, I got right up into his face, well kind of, considering I was still way shorter than he was. I am catching up to him height wise but I wasn’t intimidating in the least. I didn’t care, though, I was mad as hell. “Answer me Goddammit!”

Brian took that as a cue to walk over and put himself in-between his cousin and I. “Nick, relax. I’m sure Kevin has an explanation. Right, Kevin? Because now would be a great time to explain.”

Kevin stepped away from me and sat on his bed. “I didn’t think you’d be back so soon.”

“That’s your explanation for going through my stuff? That’s a piss poor excuse!”

“You said you were going exploring in your note.” He actually said that sounding annoyed like how dare I come home before he has time to finish riffling through my belongings. You’ve gotta be kidding me with this guy! I mean what the hell?

“Do you go through my underwear and put it on while I’m not here or something like that?” He rolled his eyes at me when I asked him that. AT ME!

“I was looking for drugs, okay?” This time he shouted. Why the hell does he think he has the right to yell at me?

“Drugs? Are you doing drugs now?” I shouted back at him.

Brian looked at me sympathetically. Okay, I was a little slow, sue me. I was angry. Even Kevin laughed before answering. “No Nick, I’m not doing drugs.” Moving his hands through his hair in frustration, he sat down on his bed and looked up at me, “I thought you might be.”

Now it was my turn to look dumbfounded. “What?”

“I was just checking to see if you had drugs.”

“You still don’t have the right to go through my things!” I was angry and even though he took me by surprise, I wasn’t letting him get off the hook. “Even if I’m on all the drugs on the planet, that wouldn’t give you the right to take them away from me!” I know it was a weak argument, but it was all I could come up with.

“I know, I’m sorry…I just…”

“You just what?” I cut him off, “Thought because you are older than me, it gives you the right to boss me around and do whatever the hell you want?” I growled at him. Yes, I actually growled.

“Okay relax baby tiger. Why don’t you come over here and sit down.” Brian actually smirked at me as he sat down on my bed and motioned for me to do the same. I think my pacing was making him nervous, and possibly the growling too. Maybe he thought I was going to bite his cousin.

I could tell Kevin was trying to control his anger. Maybe if Brian wasn’t in the room he would have screamed at me, not that Frick had any control over Kev’s emotions or anything but I just got the feeling that Brian being there was a good thing, for me anyway.

“Because when your dad isn’t here, I’m in charge of you, so yeah. I feel like it gives me the right.”

“Even my father wouldn’t go through my stuff!” We weren’t yelling at each other but our tones were so staccato that you could here our lips and teeth biting out each word.

“Maybe that’s part of the problem.” He mumbled, just loud enough for me to hear him.

“Excuse me?”

“Nick, we’re just worried about you. You’re acting like an insane person and there has to be a reason.” Brian interjected before our argument took another turn.

“I keep telling you people, I’m tired!”

“Yeah, you do but that’s not good enough. Are you on drugs? Are you taking something because if you are we need to…”

“Jesus! NO Kevin, I’m not taking any fucking drugs, okay?”

“Are you sure?”

“Fucking positive!”

“You can stop with the swearing. It’s not helping your case any.”

“You know, I can call the police and have you arrested for going through my stuff!” I mumbled at him.

“Call the police, go ahead.” He shook his head at me, “OR we can try to have a semi adult conversation about what the hell is going on with you.”

Brian wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “Nick, tell us what’s going on. We all know something is up and we want to help.” It was almost as if Brian was acting as Kevin’s translator. Repeating everything his cousin said, but much nicer and calmer.

“By going through my shit?”

He sighed and gave Kevin a nasty look. “No, that was stupid.”

“It was…” Kevin finally admitted. “I’m sorry Nick. I didn’t mean to invade your privacy. I just didn’t know what else to do. You have my back against a wall.”

I began to calm down when I really noticed the look of concern on both of their faces. “Okay, fine.” I started biting on my bottom lip and pulled my legs onto the bed so I could sit Indian style. “I’ve just been having these weird; I don’t know what you’d call them. I guess anxiety attacks.”

“How so?” Brian asked while Kevin just looked at me.

I shrugged, “At first I just kind of felt uneasy like I was being followed.”

“You aren’t getting any kinds of threats, are you little man?” Kevin asked with concern, ready to call the police right away.

“Nope, nothing like that at all.”

“Because if you are, all you have to do is tell us and we’ll…”

“I know Kevin…I know. No one is threatening me.”

“Okay, well then why were you sleeping under the desk?” He looked confused. I don’t blame him. This whole situation was one huge ball of what the fuck.

“Because I thought someone had broken into the room while I was in the bathroom. I swear I heard someone walking around and I was afraid they were hiding under the bed.”

“I don’t understand…”

I let out another sigh, wishing that I could just take everything I said back. It was so hard trying to explain this to someone. “Every little thing scares me, like on the plane. I thought for sure the guy across from us wanted to hurt me.”

“Why would you think that?” Kevin asked with growing concern in his voice which I didn’t even think was possible.

I shook my head, “I don’t know.”

“Something must have happened…how long has this been going on?”

I wanted to lie about this and I almost did, but we were way beyond lying now. “For about 3 months. It’s starting to get a lot worse.”

“I believe that.” Brian said, “You’ve been acting weird for about that long now. Did you have a panic attack just now outside?”

I nodded at Brian, “It’s like out of nowhere I just feel like I can’t breath and need to get somewhere safe.” I let out another sigh this time trying to fight the tears that were threatening to spill. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Kevin and Brian looked at each other and then I felt Kevin’s hand on my leg, “There’s nothing wrong with you buddy. We’ll figure it out. I’m sure maybe it’s just a combination of things. Being away from home for so long, being so young and being in the spot light. Have you talked to your dad about this?” I have to admit this was a much different reaction from the one I had talked about earlier. Maybe they could really tell how scared I was this time. No laughing or mocking was involved at all. It made me feel dumb for waiting this long to say something.

“No, he would just worry and it’s not like he could do anything about it. He’d probably just demand I come home and then Lou would kick me out of the band.”

“I still think maybe you should mention it to him. It might not hurt to see someone too.”

I knew this was coming. That’s one of the reasons why I had avoided having this conversation sooner. The dreaded ‘your nuts and need to see someone’ conversation. Kevin swore by therapy. After his dad died, his family insisted he go talk to a therapist and to this day, he says without doing that, his life most likely would have taken a different turn and not in a good way. I am not Kevin though.

“I’ll be fine. Like you said, it’s probably a mixture of things and now that we’re home and have some time off, maybe things will settle.”

“There is medicine doctors can prescribe for these kinds of things, Nick. It might make it worth it for you to try to get a prescription.”

I looked at Kevin and had to smile, “didn’t you just yell at me because you thought I was on drugs and now your solution is for me to take drugs. Make up your mind dude.”

“Anti-anxiety meds and crack are two different things.”

“You thought I was a crack head?”

“Well I know you’re already a bonehead so…”

That was a pretty quick and witty comeback, I’ll give him that. Not up to my standards or anything, but still, for Kevin, it was impressive. He knew it too. I could tell by the look on his face. “Do you want me to try to find someone for you to talk to? It’ll be confidential and I promise we won’t even tell AJ, okay?”

I looked at Brian to see what he thought about it, his nod made me do the same, “Okay…fine.”

Kevin stood up, “Good, and Nick…I am sorry for going through your things. I was only…”

“Yeah, I know.” I put the man out of his misery.

Maybe talking to a therapist wouldn’t be so bad, especially if I could score some meds out of the deal, anything to make me stop feeling like this.

If only I would have known…

Chapter 5 by Mare
Author's Notes:
Thanks for reading and reviewing. I'm a day early with this update! yay me!! I'll be back on either Tuesday or Wednesday with chapter 6. :O)
~ 5 ~


The Blueberry Pig



“When I was a little boy I had this stuffed pig that I took with me wherever I went. The thing might as well have been attached to my arm as a third hand. At least that’s what my mother always told people. It made me feel safe and warm, even as a little baby. I think that’s how long I had it. Mom said I used to sleep with it in my crib and whenever she took it away to be washed, I would scream and cry so loudly, she would give it back to me before she even had time to put it in the dryer.

That pig was my best friend. I never let it out of my sight until one day it just up and disappeared. I wish I knew what happened to it.”

“Did it have a name?” I looked over at the lady I was telling all of this too. I think her name was Joan. I didn’t really pay attention when she introduced herself. I was too embarrassed by having to get to this point to begin with.

“Huh?”

“The pig, did it have a name?”

“I don’t remember.”

“But, if it was that important to you, I would think you’d at least remember its name.”

“I’m bad with names. I don’t even remember yours.” I said it kind of mean and angry, angsty, teenager-ishy. If the shoe fits, I guess. She wasn’t making a very good impression on me. In fact I found her kind of condescending. Kind of like what Kevin would be like if he was a female and a therapist.

She smiled at me and crossed her legs, “Jane and that’s okay. I am bad with names too.”
She lied. She might be a good therapist but she’s not a good liar. As for me, I was pretty close with her name. Jane…Joan, pretty good Nick!

“That’s my mother’s name.”

“Nice.” She sounded unimpressed, kind of like how I felt right about now.

“So, what does my favorite toy when I was a kid have anything to do with anything?”

“I didn’t ask you what your favorite toy was, Nick. I asked you to give me one of your best memories from childhood. You are the one that brought up a toy.”

“Still...what does that have to do with how I’m feeling now?”

“And how are you feeling now?”

“Annoyed.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I feel like we’re not getting anywhere.”

“We just started.”

Maybe it was just me, but I felt like Jane was having a little fun with me. I was beginning to feel like this was a practical joke. Kevin probably hired this chick to pretend to be a therapist and they are in the next room filming this entire thing to show at the Christmas party.

“How old were you the last time you saw that pig of yours?” Back to the pig?

“I don’t remember…” I scrunched my face in thought. “I was really little. Five, maybe? I haven’t thought about it for a really long time until I saw it in my dream the other night.” Actually I had forgotten all about it completely. I don’t remember much of my younger years. I swear I think I was just born a teenager.

“Tell me about your dream.” She pulled out her pad and pen.

I had it two nights ago, after I told Kevin and Brian everything. It started out as a nice dream. “I was in my mother’s arms holding this stupid pig in one hand dangling it behind my mom’s back as she carried me. My other hand was in my mouth. At least the thumb was. She was humming to me, rocking me back and forth. I’m not sure how old I was. I had to be maybe three or four at the oldest.”

I paused, trying to remember some of the details. I was having a hard time, “It was kind of a nice dream but then…I don’t know. Something changed.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t remember exactly. Just I felt scared and uncomfortable.”

“What made you uncomfortable? Try to remember.”

“It was a dream, it could have been anything. Jesus, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles might have come out of nowhere and lopped my mom’s head off.” As I said that, trying to be a smartass, I did have a memory. “There was something weird…my mom didn’t look like my mom.”

Jane nodded at me, “That happens sometimes. People sometimes morph into other people while you dream.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t know who this person was. She looked nothing like my mother and my pig changed too.”

“How so?”

“It changed colors on me. It went from pink to blue.”

This seemed to intrigue her for some reason. She did the whole stereotypical therapist ‘uh huh uh huh’ thing and then she just kind of changed the subject on me.

“So tell me about these panic attacks you have.”

I told her all about my anxiety attacks. About how I tend to lock myself in the bathroom when I’m alone and how scared I am all the damn time. She didn’t write anything down at all while I was talking. I’m not sure why, but it made me uneasy.

When I was finally done rambling on and on I asked her, “So, what do you think? Am I crazy?”

She smiled at me, “I think you’re a teenager who is under a lot of stress. I think it’s something to pursue further.”

“You mean I’m not instantly cured?”

“Do you feel cured?”

“I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like, but I don’t think so, no.”

“There’s nothing to cure, Nick. What we have to do is problem solve. In the meantime though, I’ll prescribe something for you to take to help with the nerves.”

“My mom’s dead.” Whoa, that came out of nowhere.

She glanced over at me and her eyes held mine a little longer than they should have. “I’m sorry to hear. How long ago?”

“Not recent, if that’s what you’re thinking. She died five years ago.”

“Do you dream about your mom often?”

“Not really. If I do, I don’t really remember.”

She nodded and went back to writing out her prescription, “Well, like I said, this should help you sleep and be a little less anxious. I do want to see you again. Maybe we can schedule another session next week.” She stood up and I followed suit.

“I would like to leave you with some homework.”

“Great, because I don’t already have enough homework.”

She laughed at that. “Next week I want you to tell me about a warm memory from your childhood having to deal directly with your parents.”

I shrugged at her, “Okay, whatever floats your boat.”

She shook my hand, “It was very nice to meet you.”

“Same here.” Now it was my turn to lie.

~*~


When I got back to the hotel, I was greeted with Kevin and Brian who were anxiously waiting to hear how it went. I didn’t feel like talking about it though. Before I told them about anything, and there really wasn’t anything even worth telling, I had to process the information myself. One thing I kept going back to was that stupid pig. Why hadn’t I remembered it until now?

I got kind of annoyed when she asked me if I remembered its name but honestly, the fact that I couldn’t was troubling me. I named everything when I was young. Hell, I name everything now. My Playstation’s name is Pete. I even named my favorite sneakers my yuckapoohs. Long story…smelly feet, but that’s not the point. Point is, if this pig had a name I should be able to remember it.

Once Brian and Kevin figured out I wasn’t going to purge all the details of my first session with Jane the wonder therapist, Brian decided to go back to his room and chill a bit before we had our first concert tonight.

Kevin must have opened his mouth ten times to ask me a question but then chose to close it again. He looked kind of funny, like a fish trying to breathe out of water. Eventually he gave up and put the TV on.

I pulled the bottle of pills from my pocket and looked at the instructions. They will make me drowsy so I can’t take them until after we’re done with the show, but just seeing them and knowing that maybe I’ll have a good night’s sleep for once made me smile.

I lay on my bed and closed my eyes, hoping to take a quick nap before I had to get ready for tonight’s performance.

She was quietly humming to me again. A song I didn’t know, yet, it sounded so familiar. I looked down to see that pig in my hand. It was pretty small and definitely pink. Her voice was so soothing and lovely, yet unfamiliar. My cheek brushed against her curly brown hair as she continued to rock me.

Her hair wasn’t supposed to be brown.

My mother has blonde hair. This is where I began to feel uneasy in this dream. Maybe it was because the safe feeling was being replaced by uncertainty. We were walking towards a bed, a very small bed with bumpers on the side so I wouldn’t fall out of it.

I felt the need to jump out of her arms. Something bad was about to happen and I didn’t want to see it. I closed my eyes. Maybe I’d be able to block it out that way?

The sound was deafening. Like a fireworks display only this time it was right in my room. Was this my room? Nothing about it even looked familiar. Nothing felt familiar.

She dropped me to the floor when she heard the noise. It hurt and my pig flew out of my hands. I started to cry, reaching for my pig and my mother at the same time only having them both ignore me. She looked down at me and then walked out of the room. I cried out for her but because of all the noise she couldn’t hear me.

I crawled towards my pig but just as I was about to grab it, another loud bang made me scream and fall so, I left it there and ran to the desk. I crawled underneath it before the whole house fell down around me.

She came back into the room and yelled a name. It wasn’t mine. Maybe it was the pigs? At that moment, I heard another explosion but this time it was more of a pop. She fell to the floor right next to the pig. Her face was turned away from me so all I saw was her brown curly hair. It looked wet and the wetness was starting to cover my pig, turning it from pink to blue...


I jumped out of bed and landed in the corner, pulling my legs towards my chin as best I could, “God….oh God…oh God…” My heart was beating so fast, it actually hurt. I couldn’t calm myself down. Next thing I knew, Kevin was beside me.

“Nick its okay, you were only dreaming.” I heard him say, but he sounded so far away. All I could hear were the explosions of sound coming from that room where I was under the desk, just like the other day.

“God, no!”

“Nick…breathe.” He had his hands on both of my shoulders now and was intently staring at me. “Focus, it was only a dream. You had a nightmare, you’re safe.”

“There were explosions and the pig…”

“What?”

I knew I wasn’t making any sense to him. He had no clue what the pig even was. I hadn’t mentioned it to him at all, yet I still needed to verbalize it. It was important. “The pig changed colors in my dream.”

“Yes, it was only a dream….” He interrupted himself, “Wait… You freaked out like that because of a pig?” He gave me a confused, comical look.

“It changed from pink to blue because it was covered in blood.”

“What? Nick, you aren’t making a lick of sense.”

“It was so real Kevin…so real.” I let out a long breath and allowed myself to leave the confines of my dream and come back to reality which was the face of a distraught Kevin Richardson.

“Nicky, are you okay?”

I nodded at him, “Yeah, just had a nasty dream.”

“Uh, you think?” He helped me to my feet and led me back to my bed, “You want to talk more about it?”

“There’s nothing to talk about.” I answered, running a hand through my sweat soaked hair. Now I definitely had to shower before the show. I was a mess!

“Besides a bloody pig?”

“Yeah, besides that.”

“Are you sure you’re okay little man?”

I smiled at him, “Yeah.” I was far from okay though. That nightmare was a little too real for me and there was only one person I could call to help me answer some of the questions I had spinning around in my head, but that phone call would have to wait until after our show.
Chapter 6 by Mare
~ 6 ~


A Disturbing Revelation




After I got out of the shower and got dressed everyone was waiting in my room. I could tell that Kevin filled them in on my little nightmare because I was getting the looks. You know the “Poor Nicky” look from Howie. “I hope he tells me more than he told Kevin” look from Brian and “That kid is such a whiny ass crybaby and I’m jealous of him because he gets all the damn attention so I’m going to go do something else rebellious to up the anti,” look from AJ. No one said anything to me though, and I was happy about that.

Considering the state I was in by the time we left for the venue, I managed to have a pretty good show. I only messed up about three times, two times on the choreography and once on the lyrics. Unfortunately, that was considered good for me. We barely had anyone in the audience so that kept my anxiety at a minimum. It probably escalated our management’s anxiety but I didn’t much care about that. All I cared about was coming home and calling my dad.

When we got back to the hotel, once again Kevin seemed like he wanted to ask me a few questions. I have to give the guy credit for not pushing, especially after my dream about killer pigs, in his eyes anyway.

“Who are you calling?” He asked me when I picked up our hotel phone.

“My dad.”

He smiled at me, “Good! I’ll give you some privacy.” He got up to leave the room.

“Wait!” I yelled. I didn’t mean to, it just kind of came out as a yelp.

He quickly turned, “What?”

“Stay, please?” Wow, I really am pathetic.

“I’ll only be next door and we can leave the adjoining room door open.” As proof he walked over and knocked on the door. AJ answered and peered inside.

“Yello?”

“I’m coming in but let’s leave this open.”

“What if we don’t want you to come in?”

“AJ let me in!”

“Okie dokie.”

Kevin smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up. AJ then stuck his head through the door and checked out what I was doing.

“He letting you play with yourself unattended for a little while?”

I rolled my eyes at him, “Yeah AJ, that’s exactly it.”

“Have at the little man then….little man.” In spite of how annoying he could be, I couldn’t help but laugh. You’ve got to love AJ sometimes, but only sometimes.

I was really looking forward to talking to my dad and as would always happen, with every number dialed I found myself getting more and more homesick. I wish he was here spending the holiday with me. He answered after the third ring.

“Hello?” He always answered the phone so seriously.

“Hey dad!”

“Nicky! How’s my boy?” And then he would loosen up when he heard a familiar voice on the line.

“I’m good.”

“Is everything okay? You’re calling me kind of late.” I looked over at the clock and cringed when I saw it was nearing midnight.

“Sorry. We just had a concert and I lost track of time.”

“How did it go?”

“Good.”

“That’s good,” He paused and suddenly I didn’t know how to bring this stuff up. “So, what’s up?”

“Nothing…can I ask you kind of a weird question?”

He laughed, “Yeah, what is it?”

“When I was a little kid I used to have this stuffed pig. Do you remember the name of it?”

“A stuffed pig?”

“Yup, I used to carry it around everywhere.”

“Nick, you never had a pig.”

“Yes I did. Mom used to tell me I brought it everywhere I went.”

He laughed again, “I’m telling you Nick. I don’t remember any pig. You used to carry around that stupid dump truck though.”

“Oh Willy?” I told you I named everything. “Not that, the pig!”

“Nick, I’m telling you, you never had a stuffed pig. I would remember that.” I was getting annoyed now and I think he could tell by my voice. “Why is this so important to you?”

“Because I usually remember stuff like that and for some reason I can’t. When my therapist asked what its name was I couldn’t remember.”

There was a pause, then a slow question “Therapist? What therapist?”

I found myself curling my fingers along the phone cord, “I went to talk to someone the other day.”

“Why? Is everything okay?” He sounded alarmed.

“Yeah, I’ve just been having these really bad dreams and Kevin thought it would be a good idea if I talked to someone about them.”

“Kevin thought? How come nobody called me?” there was a tinge of jealousy in his voice.

“I didn’t want you to worry dad, but that’s not the point. It’s just bothering me that I can’t remember the pig’s name.”

“Probably because it doesn’t exist, son.”

I took a deep breath and moved on to the next question, “What about a babysitter?”

“Huh?” Now he just seemed confused.

“Did I ever have a babysitter with brown curly hair?”

“Your mom and I never wanted to leave you with strangers.”

“What about after mom died?”

“I managed.” I was just about to ask my final question when he cut in, “So, back to this therapist. What did you guys talk about exactly?”

“Just stuff and things.”

“Stuff and things?”

“Mostly about my dreams. She wants me to tell her a memory from my childhood the next time I see her.”

“You’re seeing her again?” He sounded angry now. I wasn’t sure where this shift in his mood was coming from.

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Why is she so concerned about your childhood? Shouldn’t she be focusing more on the present and your nightmares? Doesn’t she realize what you do for a living and how stressful it could be?”

“It’s because most of my dreams are about when I was little.” There was a really long, almost uncomfortable silence at that point. “Dad, are you still there?”

“Nick, I don’t want you seeing this person anymore, do you understand me?”

I have to admit I wasn’t expecting that reply. It kind of shocked me, “But dad, I really think she might be able to help me out.” Isn’t it funny how before this conversation I didn’t even like this therapist or thought she did anything to help me at all but now that I was being told I couldn’t go, I found myself defending her. I am weird. I guess I need to stop getting annoyed at people thinking I’m weird and just start embracing it.

“You shouldn’t have gone in the first place. You’re just a kid. Nobody even called me to ask for permission.” He was actually raising his voice at me now. Something he very seldom if ever did.

“But dad…”

“No Nick! I do not want you seeing this lady again. Do you understand me? Maybe I should call Lou and have you come home. I knew it was a bad idea to have you away from home.”

“No dad!” This was my biggest nightmare coming true. “I want to stay.”

“Fine, but I plan on having a word or two with your management about this!”

“Dad, I’m not even sure if they know I went.”

“How could they not know? They are supposed to be watching you!” I was making things worse and starting to fall over my words. My dad never really acted like this.

“I promise I won’t go back.” I could tell he was pacing back and forth by the way he was breathing. “Why are you so angry?” I finally asked after a few more moments of complete silence.

“What exactly did you dream Nick?” He asked, totally ignoring my question.

I hadn’t realized that throughout my father’s tirade I was standing up. When he asked me that question I allowed myself to sit back down. “I was being put to bed by this woman with dark curly hair and then there was an explosion…” I stopped myself. For some reason, even though it was just a dream and it wasn’t even my mother, I didn’t want to tell him what happened next.

“And then what?”

“She dropped me.”

“And then?” He was sounding impatient again. I was afraid he’d start to yell.

“I hid under a desk.”

“Why?”

“Because of all the noise…dad what difference…”

“Then what?”

“Then…she ran out of the room. She was yelling a name but it wasn’t mine.” I closed my eyes and brought myself back to the dream and that’s when I remembered the name. “Andrew! She was yelling for an Andrew.”

There was a click and for a second I thought my father had disconnected our call. “Dad? Are you still there?” I asked placing the phone closer to my ear as if that would somehow bring him back.

“Did you tell your therapist everything you just told me?” He was speaking in barely a whisper now. Call me paranoid but he sounded scared.

“Everything except for the name. I just remembered that now.”

“Did you tell anyone else? I mean anyone?”

“The guys…well Brian and Kevin but…What’s going on dad?”

“Listen to me son…you can’t tell anyone else about this, do you understand?”

“Why? What’s going on, you’re scaring me.”

“Do you understand? This is really important.”

“Yes…”

“Good. Listen, I’m going to come out there. I’ll try to get a flight as soon as possible.”

“I thought you couldn’t get away.”

“I’ll manage.”

“What’s going on?”

“I’ll explain when I get there; just promise me you’ll not talk about this with anyone else!”

“I promise.”

So much for calling my dad to make me feel better because after I got off the phone with him I proceeded to go into the bathroom and throw up what little I had for dinner. After I pulled myself together, I walked into AJ and Brian’s room where they were all sitting on the floor playing cards.

“So, how did it go?” Brian asked me as he handed the deck of cards to AJ.

“Weird.”

“That’s an odd answer.” Howie said smiling.

“He said he’s coming out.”

That peeked Kevin’s interest. “I thought he couldn’t be here for the holidays. Isn’t this the busiest time of year for the Bed and Breakfast?”

My parents opened up a bed and breakfast when I was little. It was always one of my mom’s biggest dreams since she grew up as an only child in a very lonely house. She felt it was important to have people around at all times. My dad was never very wild about the idea, but since cooking was his thing and he loved my mom more than anyone ever loved anyone, he said yes. So, in 1978 or so, they opened up the Carter House. Very original name I know. My whole life was spent in the presence of people I barely knew but they also helped me hone in on my talent because I was the entertainment. I can’t tell you how many times I used our main dining room table as a stage while I sang my heart out for couples passing through Tampa.

After my mom died, dad briefly thought about closing up the place but part of him just couldn’t do it. We get pretty good business, especially in the winter months from the northerners wanting to escape the snow for Christmas. It’s usually a packed house and up until last week, my dad said the place was full every night until after New Years. For him to drop everything and just come out here seemed a bit horrifying to me.

I nodded at Kevin, “He was also pissed about the therapist thing. He doesn’t know why no one called him about it.”

“You didn’t tell your dad you were going to go see her?” Brian asked me, kind of surprised, like I’d want to announce that I’m crazy to everyone who I came into contact with.

“I didn’t plan on telling him at all, it just kind of came out when we were talking.” I bit at my bottom lip and worried my fingers through the small hole in my tee shirt. “Something isn’t right. He wasn’t acting like himself.”

“Nicky, I’m sure you’re just being paranoid…” D stopped himself and tried correcting what he said which made things awkward in the way Howie could only do, “I mean… not paranoid, we know you’re not paranoid…just I’m sure everything is fine.”

“Yeah, maybe…” Before I could finish my thought the phone in my room rang so I jumped up and ran in there to get it. Knowing it would be my dad because who else would it be after midnight?

I got to the phone just in time before it got sent back to the hotel switchboard. “Hello?”

“Nick.” It was my dad but once again he was barely talking in a whisper.

“Hey dad.”

“I’m taking a flight out there first thing in the morning.”

“Dad, why are you coming? I know you have a full house. What’s going on?”

“I called and cancelled them all. I said I had a family emergency.”

“Emergency? Dad what’s going on?”

“I’ll tell you everything when I get there.”

I gulped and once again felt my heart drop. “Everything? What’s there to tell?”

“I’ll explain when I see you.”

“Does this have to do with my dream?”

He paused for a really long time and I heard some clicking going on. I was afraid it was static that would break our connection. “Son, I think what you’re experiencing is more than a dream. I think you’re starting to remember things. The doctors said it wouldn’t happen, but I guess it is.”

“What are you talking about? What doctors?” My voice was getting higher as my anxiety was growing, “Dad just tell me what the hell is going on!”

“Nicky, I don’t feel comfortable doing this over the phone, but there are things you don’t know. Things I have wanted to protect you from. You’re not who you think you are.”

“What?”

He paused again as I shifted uncomfortably, “I promise I will tell you everything when I get there tomorrow, okay? In the meantime just know I love you.”

“I love you too, but…” And then he hang up on me.

I just sat there, confused and scared to death.



End Notes:
Thanks for reading everyone! Just so you know, my plan is to update this story every five days so I will be back on Sunday with chapter 7! :O) I appreciate all the feedback you've given me! You guys rock!!
Chapter 7 by Mare

~ 7 ~

 

 

 

Who am I?

 

 

 

Brian came into my room about 30 minutes after I got off the phone with my father. When he saw the look on my face he immediately called his cousin in. They both sat across from me on Kevin’s bed and stared. I’m sure it looked odd. I wasn’t sure if I should share any of the conversation I had just had with my dad or not. He warned me not to say anything to anybody and even though as far as I was concerned, the guys were the exception to the rule, I wasn’t sure if this time the rules might have changed. How can I be expected to keep this to myself though? It will kill me if I don’t say something. So, I changed the rules.

 

 

 

“My dad is coming first thing in the morning.”

 

 

 

They both looked disappointed. Maybe they thought that after having to wait so long for me to say something, when I finally opened my mouth anything better than that would have popped out.

 

 

 

“Yeah, you told us that already. What time?” Kevin asked.

 

 

 

I shrugged, “I’m sure he’ll call with more info in the morning.” I took a deep breath, “He said something else but I’m not supposed to say anything.”

 

 

 

They both looked at each other knowing full well that I was going to spill the beans. I was Nick Carter after all. I was the person who couldn’t keep a secret if he tried his hardest. They all learned that the hard way.

 

 

 

“I’m sure he didn’t mean us, Nick.”

 

 

 

“I don’t know Bri, he was pretty scary about it.”

 

 

 

“What did he say?” Kevin insisted. It wasn’t even really a question more like a demand.

 

 

 

“That I’m not who I think I am.” I blurted out.

 

 

 

“Maybe you’re Batman!” Brian said it as a joke, deepening his voice to match Batman’s. I guess I would have appreciated it more if it wasn’t my life we were talking about. Seeing my reaction and his cousin’s scowl he added, “Sorry.”

 

 

 

“What do you think he meant by that?” He asked a few seconds later.

 

 

 

“I wish I knew. I’m thinking maybe I’m not his son.”

 

 

 

“That’s ridiculous Nick. You look just like your dad.” Kevin added, getting up and grabbing a bottle of water out of our fridge. He handed it to me, “Drink this. You look pale.”

 

 

 

I untwisted the cap and took a drink. “He said something about doctors telling him I wouldn’t remember.”

 

 

 

“Wouldn’t remember what?”

 

 

 

I shrugged at Kevin once again. “I think it has something to do with my dream. That’s when he started freaking out on the phone.”

 

 

 

“So, you think maybe you saw someone…”

 

 

 

I finished Brian’s thought. “Die…I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like something someone should forget, right?”

 

 

 

“But you were really little. It’s possible.” Kevin gave me a half sympathetic, half anxious look. “Well, I guess we’ll find out all the answers tomorrow.” He looked over at his cousin hoping he would take that as his cue to get out and go to bed. He did not. Brian is not very big in the hints department. “Goodnight Brian! Tell AJ and Howie we are hitting the hay in here.”

 

 

 

This time Brian got the ‘hint’ and stood up to leave. “Nicky, try to get some sleep, okay buddy?”

 

 

 

“I will.” Right before Brian walked back into his room I stopped him with probably one of the dumbest things that has ever come out of my mouth, “Maybe we can all have a sleepover!” What am I, A ten year old girl all of the sudden? Yes and then maybe we can paint each others nails and do each other’s hair. Good lord…

 

 

 

Brian looked over at his cousin and I looked down at the ground in total embarrassment. Good thing I was in distress because otherwise I would have never lived that one down. It’s still kind of iffy now.

 

 

 

“Night Brian, try to get some sleep.” I guess that was my answer.

 

 

 

After his cousin left, Kevin walked over to his bed and threw back the covers. “You’re not going to crawl into bed with me in the middle of the night are you?” He asked highly amused. Okay I’m never living it down.

 

 

 

I rolled my eyes at him and boldly stuck out my middle finger. He laughed, “I’ll take that as a no then.”

 

 

 

Laying in my bed with the light still on, I found my mind racing. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep tonight. Not with all the questions my father left me with. How could he drop a bombshell like that and then hang up on me? Did he really think I would be okay with that? And what’s worse is I have no freaking idea what he is even talking about. It could be something small and stupid. Although if it was small and stupid, why would he be dropping everything, losing a lot of money just to come out here?

 

 

 

“I’m shutting off the light Nick. Try to get some sleep. I know you and you’re probably just laying there dwelling on everything. It won’t make you feel any better so go to bed.”

 

 

 

“Don’t turn off the light yet. I need to go the bathroom!” I yelled jumping out of the bed and ignoring Kevin’s grunt of disapproval.

 

 

 

I needed a safe place again. I wasn’t ready to commit to a full sleepless night in the dark. I poured some water on my face and stared at myself in the mirror. Kevin was right. I did look just like my dad. Everyone always said it. I was a mini Bob Carter. We had to be related. It was dumb of me to think he wasn’t my father, but then how could I not be me?

 

 

 

Kevin was also right about something else. I was pale. Wow he’s right about two things at once. “Let’s keep that between us.” I said this to my mirror image. Yeah, I’m sane. “Can you die from anxiety?” I asked myself. Anxiety…and that’s when I remembered the pills! I had forgotten about those! I felt for the bottle in my pocket and smiled when I heard them shake. Maybe I could get a good night’s sleep after all. I shoveled two of them in my mouth and gulped some water from the faucet.

 

 

 

By the time I finally got out of the bathroom, the light was already switched off, big surprise there. The walk to my bed was a tricky one since I was closest to the balcony. I almost wanted to make it with my eyes closed because in the dark all I felt were eyes on me. I knew there wasn’t anyone else in the room besides Kevin, but that didn’t change the feeling. I was almost hyperventilating by the time I made it to my bed.

 

 

 

“Are you okay?” 

 

 

 

I gasped when I heard Kevin’s voice. He shouldn’t be scaring a kid like that. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

 

 

 

“You’re breathing really heavy.”

 

 

 

“I said I’m fine.”

 

 

 

“Well, all right then. Stop making all that noise and go to sleep, Darth.”

 

 

 

I gave him the finger once more, even though he couldn’t see it. It made me feel better.

 

 

 

“Put that finger up one more time, I’ll break it!” How does he always know?

 

 

 

With that being said, I took a few breaths and let my medicine take effect. It was strong stuff. It made me feel all oogish and woozy. I like that.

 

 

 

I was sad. She made me sit in a time out chair in the corner over by the kitchen table. Just out of reach of all the food. They were having McDonald’s again. That’s why I got into trouble. I was reaching for the Happy Meal. He slapped my hand away and I pinched him. He was just about to hit me when she grabbed me and put me in time out. It was the same woman with the curly black hair. He was just a big blur though.

 

 

 

‘That kid is a nuisance!” the big blur said. I know I didn’t like him too much.

 

 

 

“He’s adorable. Leave him alone!” She looked over at me and smiled. I got a really good look at her this time. She didn’t look familiar at all.

 

 

 

“Nickolas Gene, how many times do I have to tell you to stop sitting around and help me out!” I was still sitting in my timeout chair but this time it was my father who was barking at me. He was holding a broom and a shovel.

 

 

 

“I’m in time out. I am not allowed to move!” I said.

 

 

 

“They can’t put you in time out, only I can. I’m your dad!” I looked over at the table, to where that woman with the black hair was but she wasn’t there anymore. Instead it was just some random customers from the Bed and Breakfast. We were in the same kitchen but a different place.

 

 

 

I stood up and grabbed the broom from my father. “That’s my boy. Now go sweep up the mess you made!”

 

 

 

When I walked past him, he gently tapped my butt and the three people sitting at the table all laughed. I was embarrassed. My dad was always embarrassing me in front of our guests.

 

 

 

As I walked out of the kitchen, suddenly I was in unfamiliar territory again. The living room had changed from the massive one we had at our B&B to a smaller, more reserved place with a love seat, a small recliner and a TV sitting on a crate.

 

 

 

“Daddy?” I called out, feeling a knot in the pit of my stomach. That’s when she grabbed me from behind.

 

 

 

“You need to be quiet. He’s really angry right now!” She whispered to me as she carried me up the stairs, taking two at a time.

 

 

 

“Let me go, I don’t know who you are!” I insisted as I struggled in her embrace. “I want my daddy!”

 

 

 

“You need to be quiet Andrew! Do you understand me?”

 

 

 

“My name’s not Andrew!” I insisted and I bit her shoulder. She yelped in pain and dropped me to the floor.

 

 

 

“Damn it! I don’t have time for this! He’s mad!” Just as she said that, I heard him running up the stairs.

 

 

 

She grabbed me by my arms and threw me into the bathroom. Slamming her body against the door, “No matter what you hear, do not come out of there!” She said when he finally reached the top.

 

 

 

I sat on the other side of the bathroom door with my ear as close as I could get it. I couldn’t really understand what they were saying. They mostly sounded like mumbles but I was terrified. I know I did not want that door to open unless it was her opening it. So, I locked it.

 

 

 

I sat there with my entire fist in my mouth. My thumb wasn’t enough for all of this drama. I wish I had my pig with me, but this time I was on my own. I was crying when the doorknob jiggled. If it was her, she would have said something, but no one said a word.

 

 

 

It jiggled again, this time more forcefully. I was paralyzed in fear. I didn’t know what to do. I was so young, so small. But not sure how young and small I was.

 

 

 

“Nickolas Gene let me in, this isn’t funny!” It was my father’s voice. He sounded mean. He was scaring me.

 

 

 

“Nickolas! Look I’m sorry for embarrassing you, open the door. I don’t want to have to call the fire department to get you out of there!” this time he sounded more like the dad I knew.

 

 

 

“Andrew!” Then it was her voice again. She started jiggling the doorknob. “Let me in, everything will be all right.” More jiggling.

 

 

 

“Nickolas!” My father yelled

 

 

 

“Andrew!” The mysterious woman yelled.

 

 

 

Back and forth the two of them took turns yelling names. One name very familiar and one not so much. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know which one I should open the door for, so I just left it closed, found a spot under the bathroom sink and fell asleep…

 

 

 

I woke up feeling unsettled and even more so when I felt a deep coldness under my body. At first I thought I wet myself. That’s how cold I was, not that I knew what wetting myself felt like mind you because well…I don’t do things like that but if I did know what it felt like, it would probably have felt like this. Okay fine…I used to wet the bed from time to time when I was little.

 

 

 

I was lying on the floor on cold, wet tiles.

 

 

 

I took a double take at my surroundings and instantly recognized them. I was in the bathroom under the sink. I crawled out from the tiny space I managed to squeeze into and rubbed at the kink in my neck. When did I end up in here? I swear I went to bed last night.

 

 

 

I stood up and felt woozy. Whoa! I grabbed onto the sink before I fell over. Seems like the pills I had taken were still working their magic. I had a headache which was working its way from the back of my skull to my eyes. Those really suck!

 

 

 

Seems like I was still as pale as I was when I went to bed last night, or went to under the sink last night? I never sleepwalk. This is new. Just something else to add on to my list of things that make me crazy I guess. I put on the faucet and was about to dunk my entire head under there when the doorknob jiggled. The sound of it scared me so badly, that I jumped back against the wall and fell to the floor.

 

 

 

The jiggle was followed by a knock, “Nick!” Kevin’s voice rang from the other side of the door. “You’ve been in there for a century now. I need to pee!”

 

 

 

“Okay, just a second.” I stood up and slowly walked over to the door.

 

 

 

“Christ, it’s about time.” He pushed his way past me and closed the door.

 

 

 

I sat on my bed and looked at the clock. It was 7:30. My bed looked like it had been slept in. As a matter of fact it looked like it had been overslept in. The pillows were on the floor as was one of the blankets. The fitted sheet was half on and half off and the comforter was clear across the other side of the room.

 

 

 

“Did you get ANY sleep last night?” Kevin asked when he came into the room with the sound of a flushing toilet in the distance.

 

 

 

“I don’t know.”

 

 

 

“You were up and pacing most of the night.” He started making his bed. Only Kevin would make his hotel room bed.

 

 

 

“I was?”

 

 

 

He looked over at me, “Yeah, you were. Don’t you remember? I must have yelled at you a thousand times to go back to bed.”

 

 

 

“What did I say?”

 

 

 

“You kept telling me that you needed to clear your mind and think.”

 

 

 

“I did?” I felt like he was playing with me when clearly I could tell he was not.

 

 

 

“You don’t remember, honestly?”

 

 

 

“I guess not.” I shrugged at him.

 

 

 

He tossed me one of my pillows that had landed over by his bed. “By the way, your dad called while you were in the bathroom. He gave me all his flight information. I hope I got it all right, the reception sucked.” He handed me a piece of paper. “I’m not sure if I can go to the airport with you or not. Brian has an interview and you were supposed to do it too. I could cover for you or maybe we could get AJ or Howie too.”

 

 

 

“I’d really like you to come with me Kev, if you don’t mind.”

 

 

 

He smiled at me, “It’s no problem little man. I’m sure we can get AJ to do the interview with Brian and Howie and I will come with you.”

 

 

 

“Thanks…Kev?”

 

 

 

He looked over at me. “Yeah?”

 

 

 

I wanted to tell him about everything. My dream and how I ended up sleeping on the bathroom floor but I just couldn’t do it. I’m not sure why. It scared me so much, this whole thing. Just verbalizing it would make it seem so much more real. Why was I sleep- walking and how did I end up in the bathroom? Why am I dreaming about this person I didn’t know and why was she calling me Andrew? The one that scared me most is why my father seemed to be tied into this woman, in my dreams at least. I was tired of having all these questions and still no answers.

 

 

 

“Nick?” I looked up at Kevin who was staring at me, “What?”

 

 

 

“Never mind.”

 

 

 

“Okay.” He walked over and knocked on Brian’s door. “I’m going to make sure they’re up and ready to roll.

 

 

 

I looked down at the flight information and breathed a small sigh of relief when I saw my dad would be getting in by 10:45 this morning. It was nice to know that in less than 4 hours I would have all my answers! Whether I wanted to know the truth was a different story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End Notes:

I will be back on Friday with chapter 8 :O) Thanks all of you for reading and your nice feedback! You've really helped me to get back into full on writing mode again!  On Wednesday I might have something else posted that some of you have been asking for so keep an eye out!

Chapter 8 by Mare

~ 8 ~

 

Without a Trace

 

 

 

I was grateful that Kevin and Howie were coming to the airport with me although I really wish Brian could have come too. Okay, even AJ. I just didn’t want to go alone. Not that I would have done that because they wouldn’t let me go alone, but still. I’m glad it wasn’t some random guy who worked for Lou since those are the only people who seemed to be accompanying us this trip.

 

The cab ride seemed eternal. It’s so funny how everything in New York is so close but yet seems so far away. It took us almost an hour to get to the airport and it cost a boatload of cash! Both Kevin and Howie had to contribute because I didn’t bring enough money. I’m sure they were thrilled about that.

 

Howie must have hit my leg a thousand times during our trip. I tend to have this nervous habit of shaking my leg and apparently since we were all squished into the back seat of the cab my leg was shaking his leg as well. In the terminal as we waited for my father the leg shaking commenced once again.

 

“Nicky, stop with the leg!” He said, getting up and moving over by one chair. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that wouldn’t help since they were all connected.

 

“Sorry.” I smiled at him and he winked at me in return.

 

It was 10:30 and my father’s flight was miraculously on time. Fifteen more minutes until I got to see him. I felt a surge of happiness go through me at the thought of having my father here for Christmas. Maybe it would feel like a holiday after all. Maybe he would be the thing that makes all my shakiness and anxiety go away.

 

“Nicky, please!” I looked over at Howie once again as he glanced down at my leg.

 

“Sorry, I’m just excited.”

 

“Can you be excited without the leg shaking?”

 

I stood up, “I’m going to go get some money out of the MAC machine since I owe you guys.”

 

“Sounds good to me.” Kevin said, briefly looking up from the magazine he was reading.

 

The ATM was right down at the end of the terminal where all the gift shops were and by the time I got back, my dad would be getting off the plane. I was hoping one of them would have volunteered to go with me but when neither did I just started my slow walk with my head down. I found it easiest to walk with my head down when I was nervous. There was less chance of me freaking out that way.

 

The terminal was very busy as expected since we were so close to Christmas time. There was a little too much merriment for me here. The chiming bells were bothering my ears since I still had the smallest hint of a headache left. “I’m a real Scrooge McDuck!” I said just as I got to the machine.

 

The person in front of me smiled my way and laughed. I must remember not to talk to myself in public. I placed my card into the machine and punched out my password. Starting to feel a little uneasy I took a few deep breaths. I can do this. The guys are right down there. I glanced to where they were sitting and sure enough Howie was looking at me and waved. Nice to know he was watching out for me. I smiled and waved back as my cash came shooting out of the slot.

 

Grabbing my receipt and putting it in my pocket, I started making my way back to the guys when I caught site of someone staring at me. I swear he looked familiar. I gave him a very quick and unsure smile and continued on my way. When I got halfway to Howie and Kevin, I glanced back and the guy was gone again. “Probably my imagination.” I said under my breath as I sat down and handed a few bills to each of my friends.

 

“Looks like your dad’s flight is here!” Howie said pointing towards the door that was opening up and letting passengers in to the airport.

 

“Yahtzee!” I said standing up and walking as close as we were allowed to go. Kevin and Howie stood up as well and the three of us waited in anticipation as person after person gradually got off the plane and passed us by.

 

“Leave it to my dad to be the last one off the plane.” I said looking at my watch. It was 11:17.

 

“Be patient Nick.” Kevin said, placing a hand on my shoulder. He could tell I was getting antsy. I think I was actually bouncing.

 

We stood there for about another half hour as we watched the last few people come out of the door, followed by the flight attendants and finally the pilots. Once everyone was out, the person working the terminal closed the doors and I full on went in to panic mood.

 

“Why didn’t he get off the plane?”

 

“Maybe he did and we missed him?” Howie said to Kevin.

 

“He would have had to pass right by us.” He answered.

 

“Kevin, how come my dad didn’t get off the plane?” I asked again. Maybe they didn’t hear me the first time.

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Did you have the right information?” I turned to him frantic. “Kevin?”

 

“I don’t know Nick. I told you, the reception was pretty bad but I’m almost positive this was supposed to be the flight.”

 

“How can he not be on it then?”

 

He grabbed my shoulder, more firmly this time. “We’ll figure it out, okay? Let me go talk to the reception area. Maybe they can tell us something.” He gave Howie a small nod and then walked over to the desk.

 

“We’ll find him, Nicky. Maybe he had to take another flight.”

 

I nodded at Howie but I was a mess. What if something had happened to him? If he needed to change flights he would have called me. He might have tried and maybe we were already here at the airport. “Maybe we should try the hotel to see if he left me a message?” I asked hopeful.

 

“Let’s wait and see what Kevin finds out first.” Howie answered.

 

We both watched Kevin at the desk. I was getting discouraged just by the body language the attendant was conveying as she looked up things. She left her station to check on something and Kevin gave us a glance and smiled. I didn’t like that smile. That was his, ‘try to look like everything is okay when it isn’t’ smile. When I saw that, I made my way over to him, much to the dismay of Howie who for whatever reason, thought it was best if we waited faraway.

 

“What’s going on?” I asked Kevin as he gave me that smile once again.

 

“She’s just checking on something for me.”

 

“Was he on the flight?”

 

“No, he wasn’t listed as a passenger. She’s checking all the other flights that were arriving from Tampa today.”

 

She came back a few minutes later, “Sir, I’m sorry there is no Bob Carter listed on any of the flights arriving today. Are you sure you have the name correct?”

 

“Positive. Maybe it was a different airline?” I asked the lady in a visibly shaky voice.

 

She glanced over at me and smiled, “That’s a possibility, but there’s not much I can do about that. I’m sorry.”

 

“But…”

 

“Okay, thank you so much for checking it out for us.” Kevin said, pulling me away from the desk.

 

“Kevin, what the hell are you doing? We need to find out where my dad is? He’s probably in the airport somewhere waiting for us.”

 

“We could try to have him paged.” Howie suggested. That was a great idea! I hugged him.

 

“Yes! Let’s do that! A page will go through this entire terminal at least.” I was happy again.

 

“You guys go figure out how to do that and I’ll go try to call some other airlines to see if maybe I got the airline wrong. Don’t worry Nick, we’ll find your dad.”

 

“And we can call the hotel too!” I added.

 

“Why don’t you be in charge of that?” He said to me. “Howie will try to get him paged.”

 

Howie walked back to the reception area and Kevin and I walked over to the pay phones. As I put in my phone card info I was trying my best to calm down. I’m sure he called the hotel. This was probably some big misunderstanding. Maybe he couldn’t get away from the B& B after all and just forgot to call and tell us. I know it was an out there way to think since he called in the morning with the flight info and as much as I wanted to believe Kevin got the information all wrong, I knew he probably didn’t, but still it made me feel better to think that way. I’m babbling. I babble when I’m nervous.

 

The front desk clerk told me I had no messages waiting for me just as I heard the page come over the loud speaker for a Bob Carter to please call the courtesy phone. I asked to be patched in to AJ and Brian’s room not sure if they would be back from their interview or not by now.

 

I was happy to hear AJ’s voice. “Yello?”

 

“Hey J, it’s me.”

 

“Sleep over boy! How’s the dad?” Great!

 

“He’s missing.”

 

“Come again?”

 

“He’s not here. I was hoping that maybe you guys might have heard from him?”

 

I heard AJ ask Brian if he heard anything from my dad and that’s when I heard them arguing over the phone. Apparently Brian won because it was his voice I heard next, “What’s going on Frack? Why would we have heard from your dad?”

 

“Brian, he’s missing. He wasn’t on the plane and wasn’t even supposed to be!” now that I was actually confessing this to someone other than Howie and Kevin, I found myself getting very upset to the point of tears.

 

“Relax Nick I’m sure he’ll turn up. Have you tried other airlines?”

 

“Your cousin is working on that now.” I heard the announcement for Bob Carter once more over the intercom. That only heightened my emotions.

 

“What are you guys gonna do?”

 

“I don’t know. I’m not going anywhere until we find him.” I probably sounded like I was two the way I said it, but I didn’t care because it was the truth.

 

“If he calls here we’ll try to contact you guys.”

 

I gave Brian the name of the terminal we were in and then hung up on him just as Kevin was also getting off the phone. “Well?” I asked him.

 

“He wasn’t booked on any flights Nick.”

 

“How is that possible?”

 

He shook his head at me, now looking as nervous as I felt. “Maybe I got the entire day wrong.”

 

We both walked over to Howie who was waiting by the reception desk. “No sign of him yet.” He said, smiling at me.

 

“We have to try my house.”

 

“Good idea buddy. Why don’t you do that now?” Kevin motioned for me to go back over to the phones.

 

I walked over and sat back down, taking a few deep breaths before I made the call. I tried to convince myself that everything would be all right. Hearing his voice on the phone would be such a relief. I would kill him later. Right now, I just had to make sure he was okay.

 

I let it ring and ring and ring until finally I got our answering machine. “Dad, it’s me. You said you were coming but you aren’t here. I’m worried…please call us back. I’m at the airport waiting for you but you can call the hotel. Please….I don’t know what I’m supposed to do!” And there were the tears. Finally, after about an hour or so of pure fear, they came freely and wouldn’t stop. “Just call me!” I said hanging up the phone, suddenly mad as hell at him and everything in general. I would have thrown the phone across the terminal if it wasn’t connected to a cord so instead I hung it up repeatedly hitting it as if it were a hammer and nail.

 

“He wasn’t there.” I said, wiping away tears and hoping that Howie and Kevin didn’t see them.

 

Howie reached over to me and put his arm on my shoulder, “We’ll find him Nicky.”

 

They both seemed like a broken record that I was beginning to resent so I felt the need to get away from them. “I’m going to the bathroom, I’ll be right back.” I said, getting up and brushing past them both as I went. In the state I was in, I didn’t even want their company. I just wanted to be alone.

 

I walked in the bathroom, got myself into a stall and just sat there. Looking at my watch was another mistake. It was almost 1. I held my face in my hands and just closed my eyes. “Think Nick…think…where can he be?” a toilet flushed next to me and then I heard the water go on. Great, he probably heard me talking to myself as well. Who the hell cares? Let everyone think I’m crazy. Maybe he was traveling under another name? I mean, why not? We do that sometimes in Europe when we don’t want to be recognized. Although, why would he need to do that?

 

I heard someone enter the bathroom. He was wearing the type of shoes that made a lot of noise. Almost like tap shoes on the hard tile floors. It sounded like he was walking around from stall to stall and then I saw his feet stop right in front of mine. I found I wasn’t even breathing as I watched his feet. He was just standing there, not making a sound, not moving. It was clear he wasn’t in here to go to the bathroom. There were a ton of empty stalls all around him yet, he was just standing there in front of mine. They definitely weren’t Howie or Kevin’s feet and as much as I wanted them to belong to my dad’s they weren’t his either. My dad had kind of fat feet and this guys shoe’s were long and pointy.

 

After a few minutes, some more voices entered the bathroom and that made the guy finally move. I listened for his shoes as he walked out the door and only then did I leave the safety of my stall. I walked out with my head down and gasped when I felt an arm on my shoulder. I saw the shoes before I could react.

 

“What?” I said, trying to push away from him.

 

It was the same guy I swore I had seen earlier in the day. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” He said. “You just seemed lost.”

 

“I was in the bathroom. How do I seem lost?”

 

“Before you went in the bathroom, you looked out of place.”

 

“Have you been following me?” I was getting defensive and angry but mostly I was scared. I started back stepping away from him but he had his hand still firmly on my shoulder.

 

“No, you just looked upset and lost. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. You’re too young to be here at the airport alone.”

 

“He’s not alone.” Kevin said as he walked around the corner. “He’s with me.” He gave the man a threatening look to which the guy instantly removed his hand from my shoulder. Kevin pushed me behind him as Howie also walked into view.

 

“Good. I would hate to think he was by himself…well, have a good day then.” He said as he smiled and walked away from us.

 

“Well, he was creepy. Are you okay?” Kevin asked me once he stopped staring at the guy who rounded the corner and finally disappeared from view.

 

“Yeah, he was following me Kevin, I’m sure of it.”

 

“Nick…”

 

“No, I’m serious! When I went to go get money out of the MAC machine, he was there too!”

 

“Why didn’t you say anything before?” He asked kind of annoyed.

 

“Because…I wasn’t sure if I was just seeing things or not.”

 

Kevin and Howie looked at each other. I hate when they do that. It makes me feel like a child. “Well, let’s get out of here and go back to the hotel.”

 

“NO WAY!” I yelled that. I didn’t mean to be so loud, it just kind f happened.

 

“Nick, your dad isn’t here.”

 

“We don’t know that for sure Kevin! He could come around the corner any minute!”

 

“Or he could be waiting for you at the hotel.”

 

“How would he have gotten there?”

 

“Nicky, it’s better to wait at the hotel than here. There’s a better chance of him calling you there. If you’re here he won’t be able to track you down.” Howie said as calmly as possible. 

 

“But…” I stopped myself because as much as I hated it, he was right. “Fine, let’s just go home.” I let out a sigh. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

 

We started walking away from the terminal when Kevin stopped short. “Let’s try to find another way out.” He said as he turned us all around.

 

“Why?” I asked, turning to see what had him spooked. Sure enough it was that guy again. He was standing against a wall pretending to read a magazine. He glanced at me just as I looked at him. I swear he grinned before turning and walking in the other direction.

 

In the cab ride home, no one said much of anything. All I did was stare out the window. This was turning into a living nightmare. “Guys, I think we should all sleep in the same room tonight, okay?” I asked just as we pulled up in front of the hotel.

 

This time there were no smart remarks or snickers. “I agree.” Was all Kevin said and that was when I knew he thought there was definitely something wrong.

 

End Notes:

:O) You guys didn't actually think i'd make it that easy to find out what's happening did you? LOL I'll be back on Wednesday with chapter 9. Thanks for reading and especially reviewing. Getting your feedback helps me to know that you're enjoying this story and helps keep me motivated to work on it.

Chapter 9 by Mare

~ 9 ~

 

Nightmare and Dreamscapes

 

 

I was really hoping that he would be sitting on my bed and waiting for my arrival but when we did get back to the hotel I was saddened to hear my father had not even called. Kevin called his mom for some guidance on the matter since we really didn’t know where else to turn. Since the Littrell’s and the Richardson’s were together, they banded to help out. Kevin’s mom called the police for us but they told her my dad has to be missing at least 48 hours before a missing persons report could be filed. Brian’s dad also tried all the local hospitals in Tampa but my father wasn’t listed as a patient in any of them.

 

He just vanished, disappeared into thin air. Something was wrong. He was most likely dead or someone took him. He wouldn’t just abandon me like that. Unless that has been his plan all long. Maybe he was sick of me and my drama. I was always getting in trouble with the group. Lou was always calling him and complaining about my behavior and how immature I was. Maybe he just got to the point where it was better for him to leave. Am I that bad of a son that my own father would leave and never want to see me again?

 

“How are you holding up?” Brian managed to sneak up next to me on the floor where I was sitting as all these thoughts were flowing in my brain. I’m kind of glad he interrupted them because I wasn’t much enjoying my foray into the deep dark world of gloom.

 

I shrugged at him, “good I guess.”

 

“We’ll find him. My entire family is on it.”

 

“They aren’t even anywhere in Florida.”

 

“Doesn’t matter. Don’t tell anybody but we’re like the Secret Service. When we want something we get it.”

 

“Is that the secret service’s motto?” I asked him all confused.

 

“I have no idea, but it sounded good, didn’t it?”

 

I laughed. Thank God for Brian and thank God for all the guys. At least I still had them for now, at least. “Nicky, my mom told me to let you know, if you need her for anything just call.” Howie said as he joined us on the floor carrying a bag of Cheese Doodles with him. He popped them opened and handed them to me. “I know they’re your favorite and you should eat something.”

 

I grabbed the bag but just sat there holding it. “Maybe I should try the house again.”

 

“Nick, you have called there about twenty times already. All it’s doing is upsetting you. He’ll call. Just try to relax.”

 

“That’s easy for you to say Brian. It’s not your dad that’s missing!” I snapped at him. If it was his dad he would be beside himself with worry. But then again he also had a huge family that would be there for him if he needed something. I was slighted in that department. All I’ve ever really had was my parents. My mother was an only child and my dad had a brother that he rarely talked to. I wouldn’t even know where to find him if I needed to contact him. He’s my godfather supposedly. I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve actually ever even seen the guy.

 

When my mother died, my dad and I really only had each other to depend on. The two of us and all of our customers at the Bed and Breakfast were our family.  We had a nice bunch of regulars depending on the time of year, who would come and stay for a few days or weeks at a time. I would pretend that they were relatives coming in from out of town and staying with us for the holidays. We also had a few people working for us that would enhance my imaginary family tree.

 

“I could call Tina!” I said out of nowhere.

 

“Who?” Brian asked, trying to brush off my annoyance at his earlier statement.

 

“Tina! She’s one of the people who work for us at the B&B! Maybe she’ll know something.”

 

“That’s a great idea.” Howie said, “Do you have her number?”

 

I got up off the floor in one motion and went for my bag. I was pretty sure she was on the list of numbers my father gave me in case of an emergency. Sure enough, there it was. “I got it!” I said, walking over to the phone and punching in the numbers.

 

As I was doing that, Kevin and AJ walked in. After he dropped me off, Kevin decided he needed to run some errands and because he knew that a stressed Nick and AJ didn’t get along very well. He gratefully took him along for the ride.

 

Kevin glanced over at me and smiled before clustering in front of all the other guys and talking. I’m sure it was about my dad or me or probably both but before I could start to eavesdrop, Tina answered the phone.

 

I explained to her that my dad wasn’t here yet and asked her if she knew where he was. She said all he said to the workers was he had a family emergency to attend to and wasn’t sure when he would be back. He never told them where he was going. She promised me she would call if she heard from him or anything at all.

 

“Well?” Kevin asked as I joined everyone on the floor. I hadn’t noticed the two pizza boxes that the guys brought in with them until just now. They smelled good and greasy. The way a New York pizza should, but instead of wanting to eat it. It was making me nauseous.

 

“She didn’t know anything.” I sat on a chair as everyone else sat on the floor in front of the television. I took a deep breath and ran my hands through my hair. I felt so lost. I was at the point of not even being able to care anymore. Seeing the desperate look on my face, Brian stood up and brought me over a piece of pepperoni pizza.

 

“Nick, I won’t tell you everything is going to be all right anymore if you don’t want me to. But, you have to eat something. Let’s just try to eat some dinner and have a good, fun night tonight. We’re all going to spend the night in here just like back in the old days.”

 

“Really like the old days, because I don’t want to sleep in the tub!”

 

They all laughed but I wasn’t kidding. In the early days of Backstreet when we shared five to a room with only two beds it was me who either slept on the floor or in the tub.

 

“No tub, we promise. We’ll all sleep on the floor! How does that sound to everyone?” I almost laughed at the threatening undertone of his statement. Kevin might as well said, “It doesn’t matter how it sounds because if anyone even acts like they don’t want to, I’ll kick your asses!”

 

“Sounds like a party to me Bob.” AJ answered, taking another piece of pizza from the box and holding it slightly above his face so he could lick the tip with the cheese on it.

 

Maybe Brian was right. The best thing I could do was relax and try to have a good night. I mean whenever I was stressed I played pretend. Why not now? Sure I was a teenager and playing pretend when you’re fifteen is just wrong, but I think under the circumstances, if I needed to pretend I was someone else and somewhere else to avoid wanting to jump off a bridge, so be it.

 

I scooted down to the ground and took a bite out of the pizza Brian had handed to me. “Thanks guys, for doing this.”

 

“Doing what?” Howie asked.

 

“Just being here with me and trying to help me forget everything.”

 

“That’s what we’re here for.” He said, winking at me in his winky fashion. I’ll be happy when that little weird winking thing of his goes away. When my dad first met Howie, he was afraid he was being hit on because Howie kept winking at him. “What’s with the winky kid?” My dad had whispered to me on the day I became a Backstreet Boy. I’ll never forget that. I almost peed my pants and I still say it to mock him when he annoys me. Not to Howie of course, but to everyone else. Great, and now I’m thinking about my dad again. Stupid, winking Howie.

 

“Guys I do have something serious I need to say to all of you.” Kevin said this long after the pizza was gone and all the junk food was just about depleted. We had pushed the two beds together and were all lying on the floor close to the balcony. We tried to fit on the beds but it didn’t happen. So we were in a square shape and I was in the middle. Like a human campfire.

 

“When we were at the airport, we saw this guy…” He stopped for a second and looked at me. I could tell he didn’t want to bring this up. I smiled at him which was his cue to continue. “He was about my height and kind of skinny. I would maybe put him at around 45 or so, black hair with a little gray. Anything else you remember about the way he looked?” He asked me. I tried to remember but, he pretty much had said all that I remembered as well.

 

“He had long, pointy feet.” I remembered that.

 

“Anyway…” I guess that answer didn’t wow him. “We believe he might have been following Nick in the airport, for whatever reason so just be on the lookout for him.” He looked over at me again before he continued, “I mean, it was probably nothing but if you happen to see someone fitting that description, you need to let me or someone else know.”

 

They all looked confused but just nodded. That told me they thought it was me just being paranoid. I don’t think Kevin thought that way though. The way he was talking about the guy, it seemed like he was scared. He could tell that something wasn’t quite right about him. I’m not sure if that made me feel better or not.

 

Shortly after his little warning to us, we laid on all the blankets we had piled on the floor and tried to get some sleep. I have to admit, in my little cocoon in the middle of everyone I felt safe. Maybe not safe enough to sleep without having my mind race to a thousand different conclusions, but still, safe. I took another pill to help me sleep and just laid there in the dark, hoping it would take effect soon. I closed my eyes and listened to the conversation around me.

 

“Is he sleeping?” Someone whispered. I couldn’t really make out the voice but I think it was a very very quiet AJ and most likely they were talking about me, so I made sure to play my part.

 

“I think he is.” Brian answered. I heard him come really close to me and check out my eyes. Really guys?

 

“What the hell do you think is going on with his dad?” AJ asked.

 

“Shh!” Kevin answered. I mean I am just assuming it was Kevin. It could have been anyone, but my eyes were closed and I was pretending to be asleep and if anyone would shush anyone it would be him. 

 

“I don’t know, but I’m kind of worried. When my dad called the hospitals, he also called the morgues to see if anyone fitting Bob’s description showed up. I wasn’t going to say that in front of Nick though. No way. Luckily, no one did.” Yeah, I’m glad Brian left that out before.

 

“I don’t think he would just up and leave like that. I know he has a history of being a heavy drinker, but it’s been a long time, right?” That was Howie and I almost rolled over and punched him in the face he made me so angry. Yes, maybe when my dad was younger, he did some stupid things.  Maybe he used to drink too much and get in trouble, but that was a long time ago, long before I was even born. Why bring that up now?

 

“Poor kid, he’s too young to be dealing with this kind of stuff, especially at Christmas time.” I felt Kevin staring at me as he said that. He was right. I shouldn’t have to deal with this crap. It wasn’t fair.

 

“Guys, what’s going to happen to him if, you know, something does happen to his dad?” AJ asked innocently.

 

“Let’s not think like that AJ. I’m sure Bob will turn up safe and sound.”

 

“But what if he doesn’t?”

 

“Then, we’ll deal with it. He won’t be alone.”

 

There was a long silence and then finally AJ spoke again, happily changing the topic. “Guys, you want to play some truth or dare?”

 

“NO!” They all said at the same time.

 

“Jeez, just asking. It’s not like I asked you to yank my weenie or anything!”

 

“Did you seriously just say yank my weenie? What are you…five?” That was definitely Kevin.

 

“Okay, you know what! You can all bite me!” AJ pouted. I was trying my best not to laugh. I was after all supposed to be sleeping.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want us to bite your weenie instead?” Howie asked while laughing.  It’s the last thing I remembered before falling off to sleep.

 

It was the same dream all over again. The woman with the black, curly hair was carrying my pig and I to bed. There was a loud explosion and I am dropped. The pig goes flying out of my hands. The woman is on the floor with her blood flowing on to my pig. I can see it more clearly this time. She’s definitely dead. She’s facing me instead of away from me and I am under the desk. I want to scream but whoever just killed her, is looking for me. At least he’s looking for something. I’m not sure if he realizes I’m in the room so I stay as still and quiet as possible.

 

I feel a dampness and I know I’ve wet myself. I want to cry about it, but I can’t. Even though I’m young, I still realize that my life is in danger. If I make a sound, I will die. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to look the way the woman with the black, curly hair looks.

 

The person who was in the room leaves and finally I allow myself to crawl out from under the desk. I’ve never gotten this far in this particular dream before. I know I’m dreaming. It makes me a little less fearful of what’s to come so I make my way over to the lady and allow myself to really take a good look at her. She was the one who put me in time out and threw me into the bathroom. Her eyes were opened and it scared me so I went to grab for my pig which was all soggy with blood.

 

I threw it down and cried. I loved that pig, it was the only familiar thing I had to hold on to and now, I knew I would never see it again. There was an intense heat coming from the hallway. I got up and moved my way towards the door.

 

The entire house was on fire. It was the Bed and Breakfast. Suddenly I was back home again.

 

“Nickolas!” I turned and walked back into the bedroom. The dead lady was still there but so was my real mother now.

 

“What are you doing in here?” I asked her. She was over by the window and trying her best to pry it open. I was my age, no longer a child.

 

“You have to hurry baby. We don’t have much time. The house is on fire and you’ll burn up if you stay in here!”

 

“Mom, who is that person?” I asked pointing at the dead lady on the floor.

 

She managed to open the window and motioned for me to come over there so I did. I was looking over at the dead woman on the floor. Her eyes were still popped open and it looked like her mouth was moving. Even though I couldn’t hear her I could tell what she was saying.

 

“Don’t do it!” She was mouthing.

 

“Don’t do what?” I asked her just as my mother grabbed at my shoulder.

 

“You need to get out of here before it’s too late!” She pushed me towards the window and in that instant another explosion rocketed us both off of our feet.

 

The fire was now inside the room, gradually making its way in like a demon shadow of some kind. “Go!” She yelled at me.

 

I stood up and tried to pull her up as well but she wouldn’t budge. It was like she was glued to the floor, “I can’t leave you here!” I said.

 

“Just go!” She said again.

 

“I love you Mommy.” I said as I squeezed one leg through the window.

 

“Nick stop!!” Another voice shouted in the distance. “What are you doing?” I looked back into the burning room to see if I could find the person speaking to me. The voice sounded familiar.

 

“Dad?” I asked.

 

“Go Nickolas, before it’s too late!!” My mother yelled. “He’s coming for you! GO!!!”

 

“Nick!! Get down!!” I heard again but this time I wasn’t about to listen.

 

I put one leg through the window and then the other. I looked down and it wasn’t that big of a fall. I would probably break something but there was grass so chances were if I jumped and rolled I’d be okay. I heard another explosion in the house and realized I was running out of time.

 

“Nick NO!!!” I heard again just as I jumped.

 

A hand grabbed me just before I fell…

 

End Notes:

Are you enjoying this so far? I hope so!! I'll be back on Monday with chapter 10. :O) As always, thanks for taking the time to read and review. The feedback helps me to keep going.

 

 

Chapter 10 by Mare

~ 10 ~

 

A Face in the Crowd

 

 

“Let me go! I shouted at the man who was holding me in place.

 

“Nicky hold on! Grab his other arm!” There was more than one of them now.

 

“You have to let me go!” I yelled again. I was so close to the ground I could almost touch it. “Don’t you dare hurt my mother!” I threatened since I remembered she was still trapped in the room.

 

“Nick wake the hell up NOW!!!” The shout pierced through me like a bullet and suddenly everything changed again. I wasn’t hanging out of the window at the Bed and Breakfast. I was…

 

Wrapped around the railing on the balcony of my hotel room! One leg was dangling off the side completely and the other was just about to go over the edge. Kevin was grabbing hold of my waist. Brian and Howie were pulling at my arms and AJ was trying to pry my hand off of the rail itself.

 

I almost went over when I woke up but luckily the guys had such a firm grip on me that when I did release, instead of falling off I fell in towards them and on top of Kevin.

 

“What happened?” I finally asked after a few minutes. Kevin was breathing so hard I could feel his heart beating underneath me. Everyone was just frozen in time and not saying a word. I rolled off Kevin and sat on the ground next to him, it was really chilly outside and I found myself shivering slightly. . Looking up at Brian who was white as a ghost I asked again, “What happened?”

 

He finally allowed himself to look at me instead of the railing I was just dangling from, “I don’t…you just…you…” Okay that explained everything.

 

“Are you hurt?” Howie knelt beside me and picked up one of my arms to make sure it was still attached I guess?

 

“No, I don’t think so.”

 

Kevin was still laying there on the ground. “Are you okay Kevin?” AJ wanted to make sure I didn’t accidentally kill him but I knew his heart was beating…I felt it.

 

“Give me a second…” Kevin sounded all out of breath.

 

“What were you thinking?” Okay, seems like Brian managed to string together a nice coherent sentence finally.

 

“I wasn’t…I don’t know what happened. How did I end up out here?” I looked around at all of them, including Kevin who was finally sitting up and rubbing his neck.

 

“You were sleepwalking.” He answered. “We tried to stop you but you wouldn’t listen to us.” 

 

“God Frack, if you didn’t accidentally kick AJ…you would be…Wow…”

 

“Yeah, thanks a lot for that by the way.” AJ rolled his eyes at me and showed me the slight bruise that was forming by his right eye.

 

“You’re telling me I almost slept walked off a balcony?” I was still shivering but this time it wasn’t just because I was cold. I almost became and ex-me.

 

“Uh….yeah, that pretty much sums it up.” AJ said walking towards me and patting my shoulder, “You made us all age about twelve years and some of us can’t afford to be aging that quickly.” He winked over at Kevin who ignored his little jab. AJ always tried to make light of situations like this. Not that accidental balcony diving was usually among one of our situations.

 

I looked down at the ground and realized there was a small coating of snow around my legs. “Guess it’s snowing.” I said nonchalantly.

 

I turned myself around and stood up, using the railing to help. I don’t know why, but I had to look over the side. Yup, it was a much farther fall than in my dream. I would have been smooshed. Why would my mother want me to jump to my death?

 

We made our way back inside and all sat quietly around the room. Howie and Brian were sitting on the chairs by the table. Kevin was sitting on the desk chair and AJ and I were sitting on one of the beds that were still pushed together. “Thanks guys….for…you know…saving my life and all.” I smiled at them as I wrapped another blanket around myself.

 

“Why are you sleepwalking now? I don’t think you’ve ever done that before.” Brian asked with concern in his voice. It looked like the color was coming back into his face. They still didn’t know that I spent the night under the sink and I wasn’t about to tell them that now.

 

“I don’t know. I guess it’s a new thing. Hehe lucky me.”

 

“Nick, you could have died tonight. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen again. What made you do that? Where did you think you were?” Kevin walked over to the balcony door, closed and locked it and then proceeded to place the table in front of it.

 

I told them everything I remembered about the dream right up until the time I walked over to the window and tried to jump. “So, you keep changing ages?”

 

I nodded at Brian. “I was the way I am now at the end of the dream.”

 

“What was your mother doing there?”

 

“I don’t know Howie. It was a dream. She was telling me to jump.”

 

“Were you ever in a fire? Was there ever a fire at the Carter House?”  There’s nothing I enjoy more than being interrogated by my friends.

 

“I don’t think so Kev, at least not that I remember.”

 

“What time is it?” I asked, yawning.

 

Brian glanced over at the small alarm clock next to me. “3:45.”

 

“Guess we won’t be getting much sleep tonight.” AJ said laying the upper half of his body down as his legs dangled off the side of the bed.

 

There was no way I was going back to sleep especially now that I knew I could potentially sleepwalk myself to death. “What time is our show?” I asked Kevin who always seemed to keep track of these things.

 

“10 but we need to be ready to go by 7.”

 

AJ slowly sat up as he said, “We should just stay awake then because I know if I go to sleep now, no one is getting my ass up by 6:30.”

 

“I doubt we’d be able to sleep anyway…I know my adrenaline is pumping like crazy!” Brian stood up and decided to do a cartwheel to demonstrate this. It was weird and out of place but I still managed to laugh. Brian was probably someone’s pet monkey in a previous life.

 

“I think I’m going to need some coffee.” Kevin said, walking over to the closet and putting on his coat.

 

“Where are you going?” Howie asked.

 

“The Dunkin Donuts, you want to come with me?”

 

He stood up and followed, “Might as well. We’ll bring back some donuts.”

 

“No going anywhere while we’re gone!” Kevin warned as if the second they left we would all decide to run amuck in New York City. I was lucky if I could manage to walk to the bathroom without having an anxiety attack.

 

“Okay mom and dad!” AJ joked.

 

After the two of them left I moved over to Kevin’s old seat and sat pretzel style on the chair. “I’m really sorry I woke everyone up.” I tried to shake the memory of my mother out of my head, but her presence in my dream was disturbing me. Not so much that she was there but that she was the one trying to get me to jump. Then of course thoughts shifted from my mother to my father and his whereabouts. Was he safe and sound? Or while I was here in the safety of a nice, warm hotel room was he laying at the bottom of the ocean or in a dumpster somewhere.

 

“Nick…hello…earth to Nick!” I looked over at AJ.

 

“You okay?” He asked. “We lost you for a second there.”

 

“Sorry, I was just thinking about my dad. I hope he’s okay.” I semi smiled as I said it hoping somehow that if I showed any kind of optimism at all it might help him out, wherever he was.

 

Neither of them said anything and to be honest, I was kind of grateful about that. Sometimes there’s just nothing to say. I think Brian learned that when I snapped at him earlier. We sat quietly for a few more minutes until Kevin and Howie showed up with a dozen donuts and a coffee for each one of us, mine had extra sugar. Just the way I like it. You know, I’m the ‘why don’t you have some coffee with your sugar’ type. We sat and ate with the TV on in the background. Some random infomercial on how to improve your financial situation was on but no one was really watching.

 

By 5:30, I was really regretting the decision to not go to sleep as were all the guys except Howie who sat snoring in his chair. The guy could fall asleep anywhere and I was jealous of him.

 

Why our gig was so early in the morning was beyond me. I mean, it was just a stupid mall show, somewhere out in the middle of New Jersey which is why we had to leave so early. It’s amazing to me how much prep time we need for a show that’s going to last all of about thirty minutes if even. But, if we wanted to break into the American market, we had to keep doing crap like this or so we’ve been constantly told. Even though I felt like a walking zombie, the show would also help to take my mind off things. Maybe by the time we made it back here my dad would be found?

 

I made the mistake of closing my eyes and trying to fall asleep on the car ride over. Normally, I would have been smacked in the back of the head but I think the general feeling from everyone in the car was that I needed it. I just laid there with my eyes closed as visions from the last dream I had came back to me. The lady who was clearly dead, the fire happening right outside my room and the explosions all played like a symphony of horror in my mind. Wow, that was poetic. I need to remember that one for later!

 

My mother being there is the only part of the puzzle that didn’t fit. Maybe she was an angel or something. Can’t angels come to visit you in your dreams? But if she was angel, why would she be trying to get me to kill myself? Certain that I was thinking too much into this, I tried to block that and everything else out of my mind. Unfortunately for me though, by the time I did that, we were already at the mall.

 

For it being butt early in the morning on a weekday, it was pretty darned crowded. We followed our management and the mall security guards to the center of the mall right by where Santa was holding crying babies on his lap. His line was longer than the lines of people waiting for us to perform. I’m really hoping that will change someday.

 

“You okay buddy?” Kevin asked, placing a hand on my back and giving it a quick pat.

 

“I’ll live. I just want to get this over with and go back to the hotel.” I answered as he handed me my headpiece.

 

We made our little circle and did our usual prayer before performing. None of us sounded like we had as much energy as we normally would for something like this. That was my fault again.

 

Once we got on stage I started feeling better. Performing was better than any kind of drug I could take. The love you feel coming from the crowd better than any amount of caffeine you can drink. The crowd was less like a crowd and more like a small gathering. If I had to guesstimate, I would say maybe 50 to 75 people were standing around and watching us, plus the people who were hanging on the upper levels and peering down. If this was anywhere in Europe, we would have ten times this amount, but it wasn’t Europe, it was New Jersey. A lot more hair and a lot less screams!

 

Everything seemed to be going well. I hadn’t even made one single mistake until we were halfway through “Get Down.” As we were singing that one, I looked out into the crowd and saw him. It was the same guy from the airport. He was just standing there towards the back of the blocked off area, in front of a few teenaged girls.

 

I was supposed to be bouncing up and down at this point of the song but I was so intent on watching the mystery guy that I hadn’t realized I stopped both bouncing and singing. I just stood there staring at him. He was staring at me too. That’s when I lost it.

 

“Hey!” I yelled into my microphone during the song.

 

At first the guys kind of ignored it, thinking that maybe I was talking to a girl in the audience, until I continued on. “Where’s my father?” I asked.

 

The man stopped staring at that point and then turned to walk away.

 

“Come back!” I shouted. At this point not only was the audience looking around the crowd to see who I was talking to, but the guys had all stopped singing and were staring at me.  “Don’t let him leave!” I yelled to the security guards who were standing along the perimeter of where we were performing. They ignored me though. The guy was now blending himself into the crowd and trying to get away.

 

“Nick, what the hell are you doing?” Kevin whispered…well, more like hissed at me.

 

“It’s him Kevin! He’s here!” I pointed out into the crowd again but I no longer was able to see him. Panicking that he would be lost, I stupidly jumped off the stage and into a crowd of people, forgetting for a second how scared to death I was of being around all of these people to begin with.

 

That is when all hell broke loose. Next thing I know, security is making their way through the huge clump of girls who decided to suddenly become screaming teenies. They were grabbing at me and preventing me from moving past them.

 

“Stop that guy!” I shouted again, but my shouts were diminished by the screaming girls and the feedback from the headpiece I was wearing that flew off my head and onto the ground.

 

The security guards and two people from our management company grabbed me out of the crowd and carried me back behind the stage as the other four guys stood up there dumbfounded and not sure what to do.

 

I was thrown onto a chair, I mean thrown! “You sit there and shut the hell up while I try to fix this mess!” Ken, our soon to be ex manager’s assistant said. He walked up on the stage and announced something to the crowd and then a few minutes later the music started up again. I wasn’t paying attention to that though. I was still trying to look around for the guy.

 

When he came back, Ken got in my face, “You listen to me! You go back on that stage and SAVE this performance or I will make sure this will be the last one you ever have! Do you understand me?” Yeah, he was angry.

 

I nodded at him, “Sorry.”

 

“Go!” He shouted as he forcefully helped me out of the chair and pushed me back onto the stage right as “Let’s Have a Party” started playing.

 

When I rejoined the guys, a lot of our crowd had already dispersed but many of them decided to stay. Maybe they were more anxious to see what the crazy blond kid would do next.

 

I couldn’t focus on the song or the other three that followed. I mean I was singing my parts just fine and dancing along with everyone else but I wasn’t there on that stage. I was a small child scared to death and hiding under my sink and now I’m pretty sure that it was that man who I was hiding from. I think maybe that’s why he looked so familiar. He was the blurry guy from my dreams and now he was coming back into my reality.

End Notes:

I will be back on Saturday with chapter 11 :O) Thanks for reading!!

Chapter 11 by Mare

~ 11 ~

 

 

Losing It

 

 

 

After our concert from hell, which we have affectionately nicknamed it, a series of events occurred. Firstly, I was lectured and screamed at for about an hour by everyone that has ever worked for Lou Pearlman. Luckily the big man himself was out of town since it was only a few days before Christmas. They were brutal. Seriously, I know what I did was stupid but it’s not like I had no reason to act the way I did, which brings me to another thing that happened. Management refused to believe me when I told them my father had gone missing. They insisted that I was just saying that because a) they wouldn’t try calling my father to tell him how I screwed up again or b) so I would get the poor little Nick free pass.

 

Ken lost his job because of the concert debacle, Merry Christmas, Ken. I felt horrible about that, but then again one of the reasons he lost it was because of how he threw me around. I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but apparently someone did. Not sure who, but my money was on one of the guys. Most likely Kevin who was never a big fan of Ken and the way he tended to bully all of us around in the first place. Still, to lose your job two days before Christmas Eve was just terrible. I was told not to blame myself, but yeah, right.

 

The guys were all mad at me for most of the car ride back to the hotel. I think that’s what bothered me most of all. I could take the yelling from management because at the end of the day, all I am to those guys is money in their pockets. But not the boys, they are my family! I trust them more than I trust anyone, well besides my father of course. So, when I got attitude from them when it felt like I needed them most, I just felt lost.

 

It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel room and I had gotten back from being lectured that they finally asked me what had happened. I didn’t even want to say anything at first. Mainly because I was still so worked up from being screamed at, the last thing I needed was more lecturing.

 

“I saw him.” Was all I had said, as I plopped myself down on my bed. It was still pushed against the other one as we had left it.

 

“Who?” Brian asked.

 

“The guy! The same one from the airport and my dreams, that guy.”

 

“Wait, now you’re saying you saw him in your dream?” the way Kevin said that made me mad. What the hell? He sounded like he didn’t believe me anymore.

 

“I’m pretty sure he was the blurry guy from my dream, but whatever…I’m so done talking about this with anyone. Just leave me alone!” Okay, maybe I was being a bit of a drama queen, but considering the lack of sleep, the near death experience and the concert incident, I was having kind of a bad day. And it wasn’t even dinner time yet!

 

“Are you sure you saw him?” Kevin asked. So much for the leaving me alone thing. Where’s my damn sunglasses?

 

“Yeah, I’m positive, he was standing in the back and when I called him out, he left.”

 

“Why on earth would you jump off the stage and go after him, if you thought it was the guy who has been following you?” Was he actually doing this now? Was Kevin actually raising his voice at me after the day I have had? “I mean Nick! You have to use your common sense! If it was that guy he could have…”

 

I sat up, “What? KILLED ME? Yeah he would have really done a bang up job with that in front of a crowd of people!”

 

“It would have only taken one bullet!” he shouted at me.

 

“At this point he might as well!”

 

“DON’T YOU DARE SAY THAT!”

 

“Okay…let’s just calm down, both of you. Kevin why don’t you go get something from the vending machine.” Brian to the rescue again.

 

“That’s a great idea.” Howie said basically pulling Kevin out of the room as AJ watched everything unwind as if we were a reality show.

 

“Sometimes I hate your cousin!” I admitted, even though I didn’t really mean it.

 

“Nick, he just cares about you. He was right. It was dumb of you to jump off the stage like that.”

 

“I know! Jesus, are you going to start with me now? Christ can I get a break please?” I stood up and walked towards the balcony that was blocked. I felt like I needed fresh air. Of course when I saw I had to move the table I lost it and instead punched the wall.

 

It hurt like a bitch and I just fell on the ground and started to cry like a baby. I was even in the fetal position for Christ sakes. This is where Nick finally loses his mind, in case anyone is wondering.

 

I’m not sure how long I laid there in the fetal position. Both Brian and AJ were there trying to calm me down. AJ was even patting my leg. I must have really been a wreck for him to be doing that. When Kevin and Howie came back, there were a lot of hushed explanations as to why there was a hole in the wall and why I was a sobbing mess on the floor.

 

“Nick…I know things seem bad right now, buddy. We’re here for you, okay?” Kevin said as sweetly and honestly as he could. “Are you okay? Let me look at your hand.” I didn’t want to move from my spot. I wanted them all to go away, but I didn’t want to be alone. I needed them here. “Let me see it Nick…” He asked again but careful not to grab me just incase I decided to punch him I suppose.

 

I finally allowed myself to sit up and let Kevin get a look at my bloody hand. It wasn’t that bad but my knuckles were scraped. He let out a sigh, “At least it’s not that bad. We can fix that up.”

 

I felt so dumb. These guys have seen me at my very best but they have also seen me at my worst and I think this episode wrings up there as one of, if not the absolute worst yet.

 

“Why doesn’t anyone believe me?” I asked once I was able to manage a few words out without hyperventilating.

 

“We believe you Nick, of course we do.” Brian said now sitting beside me against the wall I had just ruined.

 

“Management thought I was lying.”

 

“Well, they can all go to hell!” Kevin stood up and went for the first aide kit. Yes, he is that anal. He always brings a first aide kit with him and yes, we always do make fun of him for it but yes, we always end up using it when we’re on tour. Not just me either. We are all accident prone. I just seem to create my own accidents.

 

“You acted like you didn’t believe me either.” I admitted once he walked away.

 

He turned around, surprised. “I believe you Nick. I think you saw someone. I’m hoping it’s not that guy because if it is, that means that he’s really following you or us for whatever reason and I find that unsettling.”

 

“I think we all do.” Howie agreed.

 

 “We could always tell the police about him.” Brian said.

 

“Tell them what exactly? We have no proof of anything when it comes to him. He was at the airport, and he left. That’s it.” Kevin walked back with the kit in hand and started to fix up my knuckles.

 

Suddenly I felt a small light in the pit of my stomach. “Guys, has enough time gone by to file a missing persons report yet?”

 

“Probably by tomorrow morning Nicky but I’ll call my dad and ask.” Howie walked into AJ and Brian’s room to make the call.

 

“Ow! That burns!” I tried pulling my hand away from Kevin but he held it firmly in place.

 

“That’s what you get for punching a wall kiddo.” He poured a little more alcohol on my knuckles and then proceeded to bandage my hand up. He made it look a lot worse than it was. “I was thinking…” He was going to say something touchy. “Does that feel okay?” He asked. When I nodded he stood up and brought the kit back to the bathroom. “Maybe it would be a good idea if you saw that therapist again.” He finished as he walked back towards us and sat down.

 

“My dad didn’t want me to Kevin. He was pretty adamant about that.”

 

“I know but, Nick…these dreams you’re having and now with the sleep walking and your dad’s disappearance. It’s a lot of stuff to have to deal with. I think you should talk to somebody.”

 

“You do think I’m crazy. You all do, don’t you?” I was starting to feel the tears form in my eyes again. Okay, here comes round two! Nick loses it, the sequel!

 

“We don’t think you’re crazy Frack. Hell, you’re just going through a lot of crap. All of us would be feeling the way you are right now. It’s too much for one person to deal with.”

 

“But I’m not dealing with it alone. I’m telling you guys.”

 

“We know, but maybe a therapist can actually help you get through this. She might even be able to hypnotize you or something. Don’t they do shit like that?”

 

I never thought about that! AJ could be on to something there. “Maybe…”

 

“I can call and see if Jane is still willing to meet with you again.” Kevin sounded hopeful.

 

“Yeah, okay. Set it up.”

 

I can’t even explain how exhausted I was. Having a nervous breakdown can really wear someone out. Well that and lack of sleep will do the trick. I took two of my happy pills and waited in anticipation for them to work. Howie walked back into the room and told us that it was still too early to file that report but first thing in the morning his parents would see to it. It was easiest for them to file it because they were in Florida and technically that’s where my dad disappeared.

 

Knowing there wasn’t anything left for me to do. I closed my eyes as I laid on the bed. The guys were all still in the room with me as wiped out as I felt I’m sure. There was brief talk of strapping me in place by AJ followed by some laughter by the guys and middle finger pointing by me. I was glad they stayed at least until I fell asleep.

 

This time the dreams didn’t come like they usually did. This time it was more thoughts than dreams. Thoughts about this guy I had seen at the mall and the airport. I was trying to figure out why he looked so familiar to me. I mean, if he was the guy in my dreams it would make sense, but the face of the man in my dreams was a blur. I really tried my best to remember every detail of the guy. He was wearing all black at the mall just like he was at the airport. He was carrying a magazine. I wish I got a chance to look at his feet.

 

“Nicky pay attention to what I’m saying to you!” Howie? Where did he come from? I wasn’t thinking about Howie. “I hate the way you zone out!” I looked over at him and he wasn’t pleased with me. Where the hell were we? Looked like a hotel lobby but it wasn’t the one I was just in.

 

“We have to get this part of the song right or we’ll be kept up half the night going over it and over it!” I remembered this now. We were in Germany, about to go on some local news station and sing. This was when we first got to Germany about three or so weeks ago. 

 

“You stay here. I’m going to call up to the others to see what’s taking them so long.” He said. I just nodded and watched him go up to the front desk. I looked around and saw our management hanging pretty close to where I was standing as well as a few girls carrying signs for us, trying to get my attention.

 

He was there as well.

 

He was sitting on one of the chairs in the lobby, trying to blend in with everyone else. He was there! That’s when memories of seeing him before came back to me.

 

He was also at a few shows we did all throughout Europe including the last ones we did in Germany. He was on the plane coming back to the USA and he was the one staring at me. It wasn’t my imagination! It was him!! He’s been following me for a really long time now.

 

I opened my eyes but still laid still and quiet. I could tell there was at least one more person in the room besides me because of the snoring. I glanced over to see Kevin sleeping on a chair and followed the sound of other snoring right on the bed next to me where both AJ and Brian were conked out. Howie was nowhere to be seen. He most likely went back to his room which I didn’t much like. None of us should be alone.

 

I sat up and almost immediately Kevin sat up as well. Wow, he has a Nick internal alarm clock now. That would be cool if it wasn’t so disturbing. “Is everything okay little man?” He asked alarmed at how quickly I shot up.

 

“Where’s Howie? He shouldn’t be alone!”

 

Kevin glanced around the room, “I told him not to leave.” He said just at we heard the toilet flush. We both let out a sigh of relief as Howie walked back in to the room, surprised to see us awake.

 

“Is everything all right?” He asked as we both stared at him.

 

“Guys, remember when I told you I thought someone was staring at me on the plane?” I asked Kevin.

 

He nodded, “It was him, wasn’t it?” when I nodded at him he kind of surprised me with what he said next, “I remember that too. I was thinking back to the airplane and I remember him. Just as Brian and I were going to change seats he was walking back from the bathroom area. I knew he kind of looked familiar to me as well, I just couldn’t place it.”

 

“What are we supposed to do?” I asked him, hopeful that maybe he would have an answer.

 

“I don’t know Nick. We’ll think of something. In the meantime, I was able to get Jane for tomorrow morning. Maybe she’ll be able to help.”

 

I nodded at him again and the three of us just kind of sat there quietly as AJ and Brian snored peacefully in the background.

 

 

End Notes:

Thanks for reading and all the great feedback! :O) I'll be back on Thursday with the next chapter!

Chapter 12 by Mare
Author's Notes:

I would just like to say before you read this chapter, that I wrote it before the George Lopez interview aired. You will understand once you read, but needless to say I found the coincidence kind of humorous!

~ 12 ~

 

Send in the Clowns

 

 

My therapy session wasn’t as successful as I hoped it would be. I could tell that the last thing Jane had on her mind was helping me. As she was writing notes down, I swear if I were to glance over her shoulder I would see Christmas lists and possibly a few recipes for cookies. Who could blame her though? Tomorrow was Christmas Eve. I wouldn’t want to be here listening to me either if I were her. Heck, I don’t even want to listen to me now and I’m not her.

 

I explained in detail what happened since the last time I saw her. About both sleepwalking incidents and the dreams mixed with memories. She didn’t look up from her notes until I mentioned that my father was missing That seemed to get her mind off whatever she was thinking about and back to me, at least that’s what it felt like.

 

“How long as he been gone?” She asked.

 

“It’s been two days now. Howie’s parents are filling out a missing person’s report today.”

 

“No one has heard from him?”

 

I shook my head, “I’ve tried everyone. Something has happened to him.”

 

“Okay, we need to contact family services then.”

 

I panicked, “What does that mean exactly?”

 

“You are a minor without a guardian. We can’t have that happen.”

 

“But I do have all the guys. They are watching out for me.” My voice was growing higher as I spoke. The level of panic I felt was almost overbearing. I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.

 

She smiled at me, “It’s not the same. You need someone looking out for you legally while your dad is missing.”

 

“Kevin is usually in charge when my dad’s not around. Can’t he be my guardian?”

 

“How old is he?”

 

“45.” I know it was a lie, but I was desperate. There was no way I was going to end up in a foster home on top of all of this crap!

 

“How about I talk to Kevin, he brought you here, right?” She asked and I nodded at her. “Don’t worry Nick; we’ll get someone you know to look after you. We just need to make sure that you’re being looked after legally. I didn’t mean to make it such a big deal. I’ll talk to him after we’re done here.”

 

The rest of the session was pretty uneventful. She told me that my dreams could be memories but the actual events themselves could be distorted by anxiety. “The brain is a very complex thing that we are still trying to figure out.”

 

She said that even though hypnotherapy might work, she didn’t really focus on it. If it’s something I wanted to pursue, she would give me a few names. She then shook my hand and told me that everything would work out and she would be here the day after Christmas if I needed to see her again. She even gave me a special number to call if there was some kind of emergency before then. Maybe she really did care. I should probably stop doubting her.

 

When we walked out into the lobby she asked to speak to Kevin for a minute and that left Brian and I alone. I was glad Frick offered to come. “How did it go?” He asked putting down the Rolling Stone Magazine he was reading.

 

“I should have never told her about my dad. She said I need a legal guardian. I told her Kevin was 45.”

 

Brian got a kick out of that. “Yeah, he acts about 45.”

 

“She said the dreams might just be anxiety related and not real memories. That I shouldn’t read into them as much as I am.”

 

“Well, maybe she’s right.”

 

We waited for what felt like forever for Kevin to come out of the room, “You think they are talking about me?” I asked at about the fifteen minute mark.

 

“I hope not or we’re never getting out of here!” Brian joked giving me a friendly tap on my back after he said it.

 

Finally Kevin and Jane came out of the room, “I’ll be in touch with your mom.” She said to our oldest band member. “Everything has worked out. I’ll let Kevin explain it to you Nick.” She said looking over my way.

 

Kevin shook Jane’s hand and made his way over to where his coat still sat on the chair next to mine. As he put it on he looked over at me, “45?” Was all he said as he shook his head and motioned for us to follow him out the door.

 

“Sorry, I panicked.” I answered as we made our way into the elevator. “What did she say?”

 

“My mom is your temporary guardian and she has put me in charge of you while we’re here.”

 

“Your mom?”

 

“Yup, we called her and she had no problem with it at all. Jane said I was too young to be appointed your legal guardian and since it’s most likely only a temporary thing, she felt like the best thing to do was to have my mom do it.”

 

“It is only temporary, because my dad’s going to show up soon.” I said sounding more desperate than I wanted to.

 

“So, now you need to stay out of trouble or my mother will kick your ass AFTER I do!” He playfully messed up my hair as we made our way into a cab and back to the hotel.

 

Howie’s dad and oldest sister Angie where in the process of filling out a missing person’s report for me. Turns out they had to go in person so they made the long drive to Tampa from Orlando. It took them an hour and a half to get there but they finally arrived just as we made it back to the hotel.

 

Hoke decided to make the day of it and told his wife it was a good distraction from all the craziness which was the Dorough house during the holidays. Even though I was overcome with emotion about how willing everyone was to help out, I also felt an enormous amount of guilt because I was ruining their Christmases with my family drama. I don’t think they even like my dad. None of them really, but yet here they all were going out of their way to help me out. I didn’t deserve it.

 

Brian’s mom also put in a call to Lou’s management and told them that I was not making up my father’s disappearance and that they were to treat me with respect and not yell at me no matter what happened. I was going through a traumatic experience right now and needed support. I’m sure AJ’s mom would be helping out too but she was away on a cruise somewhere much to the disappointment of AJ who really wanted his mom here as much as I wanted my dad.

 

We all sat around the room for an hour or so, just talking and trying to get my mind off things I’m sure. When the rest of the guys left to get ready for our performance Kevin looked over my way and said, “Nick, if you see this guy out in the audience…”

 

“I won’t jump off the stage or go bonkers, I promise.” I finished Kevin’s thought for him. We had another concert do in less than an hour and I was going to try my best not to screw it up. I knew I was walking a fine line and the last thing I needed was to become not only an ex-Nick but an ex- Backstreet Boy. At this point, I wasn’t sure which one would be worse.

 

Kevin ran down exactly what I should do if I saw the guy in the audience. He told me that I should walk over to Security and let them know. We concocted a story about me getting a weird fan letter from a man saying he was going to be out in the audience and then proceeded to give a description of the man who left me a picture of himself. If anyone asked to see it we would be screwed, but we’d cross that bridge when we got to it. I was kind of happy it was Kevin who came up with the whole story. Kevin is a good liar which is nice to know for future reference.

 

Before going out on stage, both Kevin and I once again described the guy to Brian and AJ who were the only two people to have never seen him before. He told them the same story we told management and the two security guards on duty. If he was to show up this time, we were going to get him!

 

We were playing in a hotel this time around at some kind of convention that felt it appropriate to have a bunch of kids as the main attraction a day before the Christmas holidays. I have to admit we were thrown off a little when we saw an entire room of clowns sitting in there waiting for us to sing. As if that wasn’t surreal enough, they were also wearing reindeer antlers.

 

“Well, this is going to be interesting.” Brian whispered to me as we made our way on the stage.

 

“I hate freaking clowns!”  AJ grunted as he took his place next to me for the very first number. He isn’t a fan of clowns. He is scared to death of them. This is probably what his version of hell would look like, minus the antlers.

 

I took a minute and really let the fact that we were performing in front of a bunch of clowns set in and I did the one thing that I’ve needed to do for weeks now. I started to laugh. I’m not talking just a little giggle. I’m talking about uncontrollable laughter. Maybe it was just the lack of sleep plus all the stress, or maybe it had to do with the packed room of clowns! Whatever the case, I was gone. Brian of course seeing my reaction immediately started laughing as well. Even Kevin and Howie were trying their best to hold it together. AJ didn’t find the situation amusing at all which only made the whole thing funnier. The music started for We Got It Goin’ On and we all tried our best to compose ourselves for the song. I didn’t think we would make it, but by some miracle, we did.

 

This set actually ended up being one of the best shows we have ever done in the US! Go clown power! I actually forgot about everything for the 30 minutes we were up on stage. All the anxiety was gone. I didn’t even seek out the stalker guy, not that he would have been stupid enough to show his face in here. He would have stuck out like a sore thumb. He could have been one of the clowns I guess, but my mind didn’t even go there until we were off stage and in the dressing room.

 

“I need to put in my contract, no performing for damned clowns!” AJ said as he wiped sweat off of his forehead. “Did you see them all staring at me with their beady clown eyes? If one of them started to juggle I would have been so out of there!” He was making us all laugh and even he was laughing too now. “And what’s the deal with the antlers?” He paused just long enough to gather more thoughts, “And why do clowns need a convention? What do they discuss exactly? Pie throwing 101?”  

 

I was laughing so hard I was crying.

 

“That was the weirdest show ever.” Kevin finally said after he stopped laughing. Yes, even he was laughing uncontrollably. He can have a sense of humor when he wants one.

 

One of Lou’s people came in. I think his name was Gus or something. He was Ken’s last minute replacement, “If you guys are ready, the van is waiting outside.”

 

“Thanks.” Howie said as he threw his sweaty towel on a chair. “Let’s get out of here!”

 

As we left the hotel all the clowns were waving at us and telling us we did a great job. Weirdness, but in a good way.

 

“Maybe we should invite them all over for pizza, what do you think AJ?” Brian kidded. It was nice not being the brunt of the joke every once in a while.

 

“Ha friggin haha. You’re a real riot Rok.”

 

“I know it!”

 

When we got back to the hotel we were greeted with Christmas. There were tons of presents waiting for us in our room. I mean a ton! Wall to wall presents from all of the families. Lou even had the hotel people send us up a Christmas tree all decorated and strung across was a banner that said “Merry Christmas from your Trans-con family”

 

I’m glad they decided to put everything in my room. I needed this although it hurt to know that there wouldn’t be anything from my dad among the piles of stuff that was there for everyone else. I tried not to let it get to me. My father always drilled into me that Christmas was not about presents but about the company you keep and looking around the room, I kept good company.

 

“Wow, looks like someone really made out like a bandit this year.” Kevin said as he surveyed all the presents in the room. “Are any of these for me? Looks like my mom is taking being your guardian pretty seriously because I swear these are all for you little man.” He smiled at me as I walked over and took a look for myself.

 

Sure enough, it seemed like my name was on many of the tags and not just from Kevin’s mom but also from his brother’s and Brian’s family and even Howie’s. They all sent me presents. They sent all of us things, but the amount of gifts I had in front of me was amazing. AJ made out pretty well too since everyone knew his mom was going to be out of town.

 

Even though there were a ton of gifts laying there under the tree, my eyes still searched for my dad’s name. I wanted so badly to see something from him. Maybe he would be the gift. Maybe he would walk through the door and surprise me! Okay Nick…stop letting your mind go there! You have been having a great day so far. Don’t let your doubts ruin it! So, I brushed all the negative thoughts out of my head and decided that the next two days would be all about Christmas with the guys. I’d just pretend that dad was out of town and nothing weird was happening. I can do that! I have a great imagination.

 

We all decided to order some pepperoni pizzas and a few orders of garlic bread and mozzarella sticks as a present to ourselves. Hey, if you’re going to splurge, go big! As we sat around waiting for our food to come, we all decided to play poker. Well, they decided to play and I watched. I had no idea how to play and they all enjoyed giving me some pointers, especially AJ who seemed to think he was the best poker player on earth, even though he lost three rounds in a row. Turns out this is one of the many things they would go out and do when they left me at the hotels in Europe.

 

I was peering over Howie’s shoulder, trying to help Brian cheat when our pizzas arrived. The knock on the door made me jump to my feet, “I’ll get it! Where’s the money?” I asked Kevin.

 

“Why do you assume I’m paying for it?”

 

“Because you called! Isn’t that how it works?”

 

“I didn’t think so.” He said grabbing his wallet and handing me two twenties. “Tell him to keep the change.”

 

“Can I just keep the change?”

 

“No!”

 

“Fine…be that way!” I rolled my eyes at him and smiled as I made my way over to the door and opened it.

 

There stood the guy with two pizzas and a bag in his hand, but it wasn’t a pizza delivery guy. Before I got a look at his face, I saw his pointy shoes. It was the guy who was following me. “It’s time we had a talk.” He said as he pushed his way into the room and closed the door.

 

 

End Notes:

I have had the worst day ever! So any feedback would be great. Seriously, lol it was a horrible day! :OP Thanks for reading!! I'll be back on Tuesday with chapter 13.

Chapter 13 by Mare
~ 13 ~

Max




He had me by my shoulder, squeezing tightly as he clung onto my shirt. I’m not sure how he even did that with the pizza and the bag in his hand, but still he managed. None of them were looking my way at all. They all were so consumed in their poker game, the guy could have dragged me away if he wanted to and not a single one of them would have even noticed.

The guy who was holding on to me placed the pizza boxes on the bed and said, “Surprise!” that’s when they FINALLY looked up.

“What the hell!” Kevin said jumping up to his feet and grabbing the Bible off of the desk. The other three also jumped to their feet and moved to face us.

“Let him go!” Kevin said holding the Bible in his hand. I’m not exactly sure why.

“Or what? You’re going to bore me to death by reading the Bible?”

I can’t believe I actually laughed. I’m sure it was nerves but I laughed at the guy’s joke, because if anyone could bore anyone to death it would be Kevin. What the hell is wrong with me? This guy was holding me against my will for Christ’s sake! He forced his way into our hotel room! He was probably going to friggin’ kill us! Okay not laughing anymore. Now I’m panicking!

Kevin just stood there with a ridiculous look on his face. “What do you want?”

The guy let out a sigh, “Put your, uh…’weapon’ down first and I’ll tell you.” He said sounding amused as he pointed at the Bible.

Kevin slowly placed the Bible back on the desk, “Let him go.” He said once more.

“Fine...” The guy pushed me away from him and towards Kevin as he sat down on the bed and opened one of the pizza boxes. “You don’t mind, do you? I’m starving. I haven’t eaten anything all day.”

That was unexpected.

“Go ahead.” Howie answered as he looked over at me perplexed.

“Thanks… you guys have a seat. We need to talk about some things.”

“Yeah, why don’t you start with why you’ve been following me everywhere?” I yelled now that I was safely standing in-between Kevin and Brian who were staring at the guy with a mixture of awe and anxiety.

“I said sit, you’re making me nervous just standing there staring like that.” The intense look on his face as he was mid chew made us all follow his orders, even though he didn’t have a weapon in sight. We could have just run at him, tackled him to the ground and called the cops. It’s funny how brains work when this stuff happens. Instead, we just let the guy eat our pizza as we all sat across from him on the floor and watched.

He rolled his eyes at us and handed the pizza over, “Aren’t you hungry? I mean you’re the ones that ordered it. Eat it before it gets cold.”

AJ was closest to where the guy sat so he grabbed the box. “What do you want from us?” Kevin finally asked since it was apparent that the man had no intention of answering my question.

He waited until he was done with his pizza, cleaned his face with a napkin and then let out a huge burp, “Excuse me. Pizza always makes me burp. Do you guys happen to have beer in here?”

When no one moved to help him out, instead just staring at him with annoyance, he finally continued, “Okay fine…why I’m here. You need to stop telling people about me.” He said that looking at me.

“You’re following me all over the place. How am I not supposed to tell anybody? That was you on the plane too, wasn’t it?”

He nodded at me, “The less people that know about me, the better. I wanted to make sure you didn’t do anything dumb like tell the police.”

“I didn’t.”

“Good.” He opened the second pizza box and took out another slice, “Because the last thing we need are cops.”

“What did you do to my father?” I asked him as calmly as possible while walking over and pushing his new piece of pizza out of his hands and on to the floor.

He shook his head, keeping it down, “I don’t know what happened to your father, Nick.” He then looked up at me. “I’m afraid he might be dead.”

He might as well have shot me because it had the same effect. I fell back onto the bed feeling like I was about to die. “What kind of game are you playing mister?” Brian said as he placed a loving hand on my back and started rubbing.

“I wish this were a game Brian, but it’s not.”

“How do you know all of us?” Howie asked.

“You’re kind of famous.” He answered, picking up the pizza from the floor and throwing it in the trash.

“Not here in America.” Kevin answered. “No one knows we exist here.”

“I have been following you around for quite a while. Let’s leave it at that.”

“No, we can’t leave it at that. You just told me my father might be dead. You better start explaining or I am calling the police right now! I don’t care if you try to shoot me down in the process!”

He smiled at me, “You’re just like your father. You both have the same stubborn determination.”

“So, you know his dad then?” Kevin asked.

The guy nodded, “I work for him.”

“I’ve never seen you at the Bed and Breakfast.” I answered.

“Not there.”

“I don’t understand!” I was really confused now.

He looked over at Kevin, “Beer?”

“Sorry, we have some Coke though.”

He sighed, “That’ll do.”

Kevin walked over to the fridge and took out a can of Coke. He handed it to the man as he continued, “The less you know the better Nick.”

“I don’t know ANYTHING!” I screamed.

“Tell me about your memories. Your father said you were starting to remember things.”

“I’m not telling you anything. I have no idea who you are. For all I know you could have killed my father!”

“My name’s Max, okay? Now tell me what you remember.”

I couldn’t believe this guy. He had the nerve to just walk in here and start asking me all kinds of questions as if I was supposed to trust him or something. “I’m not telling you shit!”

“Can’t you tell by now that I’m on your side?” He asked as if it should have been crystal clear.

“What? No, I can’t tell that. For all I know you came here to kill me!”

“If I did, you’d already be dead.” He said it so matter of factly that chills ran down my spine. He spoke with a confidence, like someone who has killed before, more than once. How did my father know this man? Why were they working together? He had to be lying.

“If you are one of the good guys, why can’t we tell the police about you?” Kevin asked, trying to get me to calm down by giving me his look.

“I never said I was a good guy. I just said I was on your side. Look, I don’t have much time. I really need to know what the last thing you told your dad was. If we have any hope of finding him alive.”

“I don’t know if I should tell you anything.”

“You’re going to have to trust me.” He looked me straight in the eyes, “Like I said before, if I wanted to hurt or kill any of you, you’d be dead already. I could have killed you at least a thousand times over by now and if you don’t tell me what you told your dad, someone else will be coming to do just that!”

I took a few deep breaths and then looked over at my friends for guidance. I had no idea what to do. From the time I was a child, I never trusted anyone. They all looked at me with a great amount of sympathy in their eyes but a nod from both Kevin and Brian made me finally speak up.

“Okay fine…I’m having dreams.”

“I know, but what do you remember?”

“I don’t know the difference between memories and dreams…” I then proceeded to tell him everything including the very last dream I had which ended with me on the balcony.

He sat there in silence for a little bit, taking it all in. “I knew those memories would come back. Your dad said they wouldn’t but I knew.”

“He saw someone murdered, didn’t he?” Kevin asked. “He witnessed it and now the murderer wants revenge.”

“Someone watches too much Law and Order…” Max said shaking his head and grabbing yet another piece of pizza out of the box. “The less you know the better.”

“Why would anyone want my dad and I? I mean if I did see a murder, it happened so long ago. Why all the sudden would they care now?”

He stood up and walked over to the balcony, glancing at all the other hotels in the distance, “Because now you are remembering.”

“How would they even know that?”

“That’s the million dollar question. Who have you told besides these guys and your dad?” He closed the shades, turned away from the balcony and looked at my four friends one by one. It was one of those looks that went right through you, not meant as warm and friendly by any means.

“Just my therapist.”

“Therapist, so that’s what your dad was talking about.” He went to the desk, opening the drawer, he started searching for something. “What’s the name?” He asked me as he finally found the official hotel stationary and a pen.

“Jane.”

“I need a little more information than that.”

Kevin stood up and moved to his luggage, “I have her card.” He said handing it over to Max and then sitting back down.

“You don’t think she would have anything to do with this, do you?” I asked.

“Not sure, but I plan on checking it out. Is there anything else you remember about your last conversation with your father, anything that stuck out at all?”

I tried my best to think of anything odd and then I remembered, “He told me he loved me. He almost never says stuff like that but he told me I should remember he loved me.” I was suddenly overcome with sadness. Was he saying goodbye to me right then and there and I just didn’t realize it?

He nodded, “Okay…I’m going to go and check out this Jane woman. No matter what, do not open the door for anyone and no leaving the hotel room. Also, stay away from the windows, just in case.” Max stood up and walked towards the door. “I will check in with you again soon.”

Kevin followed him, “So, that’s it? You just come in here lay all this crap on us and then leave?”

Max nodded, “Yeah, that about sums it up nicely.” He opened the door, stopped then turned around, “Try not to keep bugging the police about things. You do not want to attract attention to yourselves or Bob.”

Max handed Kevin a small piece of paper, “Bob trusts you to watch out for the boy, not sure why unless you also carry around a copy of War and Peace when you don’t have your Bible handy. Anyway, I’m giving you my number. Call if you need me but ONLY if you need me! I’ll be in touch.”

And just like that, he walked out of the door and was gone. Leaving us all with more questions than answers and making me wonder for the first time, who the hell my father was.

“That was weird.” Brian said after we all just kind of stood around not saying anything.

“Weird seems to be the new normal.” AJ said, now allowing himself to take a piece of pizza and in three big bites, he managed to finish it.

“Do you think he really works for my father?” I asked anyone in the room.

Howie shrugged, “Nicky, does your dad have a side business?”

“I didn’t think so.”

“That guy isn’t just a businessman. No, this is something more.” Kevin said as he safely tucked the phone number into his wallet.

“You think my dad is a bad guy, don’t you?” I asked the entire room. “I mean, I heard you talking about his past problems last night Howie. You think he’s gone off the grid because he did something wrong.”

If you asked anyone who knew my dad as a teenager what they thought he was going to be doing twenty years from now, they would probably say the same thing to you. “He’d either be dead or in jail.”

My dad was a real trouble maker as a kid. He enjoyed telling us stories about his past around our fireplace at the Carter House. He was on that road to being a homeless drunk. He used to steal from grocery stores and gas stations all the time. Never actually robbed them or anything like that, but shoplifted a lot. That’s how he got by after his parents kicked him out of their house. My mom would get embarrassed by these stories, but I always thought there was something cool about the way he was able to get past his demons and move on to a better life. Maybe he didn’t get past it though? Maybe I’ve just been na´ve.

He always said the turning point in his life was when he met my mother. She didn’t scare him straight, she loved him straight. I know… I want to vomit too. There’s no way someone who could say something that corny could be a bad guy, right?

I looked at them all again, knowing that the silence was my answer. “He’s not a bad guy.” I said taking a deep breath and wishing they would all go away so I could be alone. Yeah I know…I whined and complained about not wanting to be alone and now suddenly that’s all I wanted. Would you want to be around a bunch of people who thought your father was a no good, rotten criminal?

“No one said he was, little man. We’re all just trying to figure this out like you are. Maybe we should eat. I know I’m kind of hungry and we need to keep our energy up.”

We all nodded in agreement.

“Well, one thing’s for sure. This Christmas is going to suck spectacularly!” AJ added chugging down a Coke like it was a beer. I’m glad he’s not old enough to drink sometimes because I have a feeling he’d be an alcoholic. Kevin always has to cut him off when we go overseas. See? Like he can judge my father, like any of them can!

I felt myself getting really anxious and decided it was time for a pill. When I went to go pop them in my mouth though, Kevin grabbed the bottle out of my hands. “What the hell are you doing? I need those!”

“Maybe that’s not a good idea. If Max suspects Jane of doing anything wrong, she’s the one that gave you these pills.”

Brian nodded, “Wow, Frack…Kevin is right. I mean it’s after you took those things that you started to sleepwalk, right?”

I thought about it for a second, and he was right. I mean I have had the dreams long before Jane came into my life but I didn’t start with the near sleep death walking until after I started with the pills. “Yeah, maybe…”

Kevin took the pills and put them off to the side. “I’m going to call Max and tell him about the pills.”

“He said to call only if you need to.” Howie said kind of looking anxious.

“I think this is pretty important. I totally forgot about the pills and maybe there’s a way he can get them checked out or something.”

Kevin moved from our room to AJ and Brian’s, leaving the adjoining door opened just so he wouldn’t be all alone. He wasn’t gone for very long, coming back in and sighing. “He didn’t answer his phone but I left him a message and told him about the pills.”

“Well, maybe we should hit the hay then?” AJ suggested, “It’s been a really long day. Or at least it’s felt like one!”

They all nodded but I wasn’t pleased. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Let’s add that on to my new list of phobias. That’s one fear that I never thought I would have, the fear of going to bed. Oh sleep, why must you let me down?

*sigh*

“Don’t worry Frack, I’ll stay awake with you.” Brian said as if reading my mind. “I’m not really that tired yet.”

“Thanks Brian.”

“And think about it this way, tomorrow starts Christmas! I love Christmas! Maybe we should go around the hotel and carol!” He joked.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea! I’m sure Lou would love the idea of us singing for all of these people for free. Not to mention Max loving us leaving the room and going door to door.” Howie answered.

“I know it’s not really even Christmas yet, but I have a present for you.” Brian said making his way over to AJ.

“What is it? Did you buy me a porno mag or something?”

“Even better!”

“Okay, what?”

Brian went into his backpack and brought out a pair of reindeer antlers. The same ones the clowns were wearing earlier in the day. “I figured you’d want a pair of these to remember our clown experience.” He said as he placed the antlers on AJ’s head.

We all started laughing uncontrollably again. It felt good and well needed.

We decided it was best to stay together again, but this time there was no camp on the floor. Kevin took one bed while AJ and Howie took the other one. Brian and I volunteered to sleep on the floor because I knew I wasn’t even going to sleep and Brian decided it was best to sleep with me rather than his cousin who always ended up kicking anyone he ever shared a bed with, right off of it.

Howie fell asleep first, much to no one’s surprise. AJ went next about an hour and a few discussions about boob sizes later. Kevin wanted to sleep pretty badly but I could tell he kept fighting the urge. I’m pretty sure he was afraid that I might sleep walk into the bathtub and electrocute myself to death or something, but eventually at around 4 in the morning, he dosed off as well.

That just left Brian and I. Alone in the dark with the TV on very quietly.

“Frick, can I ask you a question?” I said after a few moments of us just watching HBO hoping for some nudity of any kind to pop up on screen.

“Yup.”

“Answer me honestly, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Do you think my dad’s alive?”

I could tell by looking at him, that he didn’t’ want to answer honestly at all which in fact was the only answer I needed. “I hope so Nick.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“He might just be hurt or unable to get to a phone, but I think if he was okay, he would have called you by now.”

I let out a sigh, “Me too.”

And with that being said, neither of us spoke again until the sun rose.


End Notes:
Thanks for reading! I'll be back on Sunday with another update! I might even be a little bit earlier on it. We shall see :O)
Chapter 14 by Mare
~ 14 ~

Nicole



I got such a little amount of sleep that I’m pretty sure it was dreamless. I woke to the smell of coffee brewing in the room and opened my eyes to Kevin stepping over me to get to the table. “Morning little man, did you sleep okay?” He asked, taking one more step over his cousin. “Any dreams?”

I sat up and wiped some drool off of my mouth, yuck. “I don’t think I dreamed. What time is it?”

“About 8.”

“I just fell asleep about two hours ago.”

He nodded at me. “If you want the bed, feel free to take it. I’m awake now.” He motioned for me to move to the bed which I thought about for a second before declining.

“Nah, I’m not really all that tired.” I stood up and looked down at my best friend who had the goofiest expression on his face. I couldn’t help but smile at him. He had his arms wrapped around the pillow as if it was a woman and had this odd smirk going on. “Wonder what he’s dreaming about.” I said as I slowly stepped over Brian and joined Kevin at the table.

“I’m not sure I want to know, are you hungry?”

I felt my stomach as if that would be able to properly answer the question. “Not really. I know I should be though.”

“Once everyone wakes up, maybe two of us can make a breakfast run or hell, we could always order room service. I mean why not, right?”

I shrugged, “Yeah, I guess that would work although so would a nice, greasy McDonald’s biscuit or seven.”

He laughed at me as he took a sip of his coffee, “God, this stuff is gross!”

“Do we have a performance today?” I asked him.

“Yup, just a short one right in the lobby of this hotel. It’s only three songs and then we’re done!”

“What time does that happen?”

He thought about it for a second, “Noon which is why I think it might be a good idea for you to grab a quick nap. Besides, I’d rather you sleep when we’re all awake anyway.”

I laughed at him. “So this way you can stop me from sleep walking to my death?”

“Yeah.” He smiled at me, “That’s exactly why.”

I glanced over at the bed and decided to take him up on the offer. “Maybe I will sleep for a little bit.”

“I’ll wake you up in plenty of time. Go rest buddy.”

I stepped over Brian once again and headed for the bed.

~*~*~*~


“Nicky, wake up.” I swear I heard only seconds after I closed my eyes. I bat at the sound of my name and heard a faint, “Ow! Crap! Nick wake up.” Ha! I knew I’d gotten him. I opened my eyes to Howie who was rubbing at his nose. “Next time you do it!” He said to AJ as they all sat and laughed.

“Sorry D, you lost the bet fair and square.”

“What time is it?” I asked, trying to rub the sleep out of my eyes.

“Almost eleven, we ordered you some breakfast. Any dreams?” Kevin asked again. I could tell this was going to be his new question for me, replacing “did you go to the bathroom because it’s going to be a long trip and we’re not going to stop just because of you” and “did you remember to get everything out of the room because once we’re gone, we aren’t coming back just because you were irresponsible and didn’t think to double check your stuff.” Wow, Kevin really is like a grandpa, an old, annoying, whiny, complaining grandpa.

“No dreams.” Thank God.

I made my way over to the table where a stack of pancakes and bacon sat there waiting for me with a huge glass of chocolate milk. “Wow, good job with the ordering.” I said to Kevin, more than pleased. “Where’s Brian?”

“He’s taking a shower.”

I nodded and quickly gobbled up my food knowing that I still needed to take a shower too. “Did Max call you back yet?”

“No.”

I was disappointed but not surprised. I was really hoping he’d be here first thing this morning with some kind of news for me. Maybe after our concert, he’d be here waiting. I finished my breakfast in record time and ran into the bathroom just as Brian was coming out.

When I got out of the shower, I noticed a profound quiet in the room. I promised myself I wouldn’t freak out about it. Maybe they were all just sitting there trying to get ready for our performance. I know they wouldn’t have left me by myself, not after everything we just found out. I put my clothes on and anxiously left the bathroom.

“Hey guys you’re all being really quiet!” I said but stopped in my tracks when I noticed that I was in fact all alone.

In a panic, I walked over to the adjoining room door which was closed and tried to open it. It was locked from the other side, so I knocked, “Guys?” I asked in a loud voice but not quite screaming level. There was still no answer. “This isn’t funny guys!” I said to the empty room. I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe I wanted them to come out of hiding spots like we were playing Hide and Seek or something.

“Shit,” was all I could think to say.

Then it occurred to me that maybe I was running late and they had already left to go downstairs. I looked at the clock and was a little relieved to see it was about 11:45. I could see management making them go without me, even though it was weird that they wouldn’t even leave me a note. A whole new set of fears hit me then when I realized I’d have to make it all the way down to the lobby alone. “Shit.”

I finished getting ready, which consisted of me throwing some gel in my still wet hair and glopping on some deodorant. I usually left that part out until Howie and I had a discussion about good smells versus bad smells, him being the good and me being the bad.

As I walked down the hallway, I heard muffled voices coming from Brian and AJ’s room. I knew they were in there! I knocked on the door again. “Guys, let me in!”

When the door opened, it was my father standing there. “Oh my God!” I said with a great amount of relief in my voice as I moved to hug him. “Dad, thank God you’re okay. I have been so worried about you!”

“Not now Nickolas! I told you daddy can’t be interrupted. Go and play.” He pushed me away from him and I was confused. That’s when I saw Max standing there next to him. He looked different, a lot younger than before. His hair was long enough to wear pushed back in a ponytail and his body was more muscular. He looked at me but didn’t say anything. “We need to take care of this!” He urged my father who was trying to push me out of the room.

“Go play with Mommy…” He said and closed the door on me.

“There you are baby. I was looking all over for you.” The woman from my dreams said. “I told you, you shouldn’t be running all over the place.”

“I am confused, am I dreaming?” I asked her.

She ignored my question and gathered me into her arms. Okay I guess that was my answer right there. Of course this was a dream. Kevin would NEVER order me pancakes and bacon! How could I have thought this was real for one second?

My father and Max both came out of the room a few seconds later. Both of them had very serious expressions on their faces.

“I asked you to keep him away from here.” My dad said in a very harsh voice to the woman who was holding me and would end up dead later on.

“He snuck away while I was on the phone. I’m sorry.” She said as she bounced me in her arms.

My father’s expression softened when he looked at me. He walked over to the both of us and then gave me a kiss on my cheek. “Be good Andrew and listen to your mommy.” He winked at me and then gave the woman a kiss as well. “I love you.” He said as he turned to leave.

“When will you be back?” The woman asked.

“Once we’re done. Soon, I hope.” He answered.

Max was watching all of this as he kept glancing at his watch. When he saw the goodbyes were finally over he smiled and turned to walk away. I noticed a gun sticking out of his back pocket.

Once they were gone, the lady started humming a lullaby as she walked towards the now ever familiar room. I hadn’t noticed before but I felt him in my hands. It was my pig. We were heading towards this woman’s final scene.

“Where’s my mommy?” I asked her.

“I’m right here sweetheart.” She answered as she kissed my cheek and we entered the room.


I opened my eyes and let out a deep breath. I heard talking all around me as I sat up. Everyone was sitting around the table, including Max. All eyes came to me as I let out a yawn and looked at the clock. It was only 10. “We didn’t mean to wake you Nicky.” Howie said as he took a sip of coffee.

I ignored him and everyone else and walked over to Max, “Do you have any news? Please tell me you do.”

He looked at the guys and then back at me, “You’re not going to like it.”

“Tell me.”

“Last night I went to go check out your therapist’s office and it was ransacked. When I went to grab your file, it was gone.”

“Someone stole my file?”

He nodded and grabbed a piece of toast from the middle of the table. Looks like they did order room service while I was asleep although no trace of pancakes anywhere to be seen. Just toast, muffins and some fruit.

“What does that mean?”

“It means that they’re looking to see if and what you remember. The thing that disturbs me most is the fact that they knew where to look.”

“You think Jane is in on it?” Kevin asked, feeling guilty for having me go to her in the first place. I knew there was something fishy about that woman.

“It’s hard to say. I’m working on that but in the meantime, where’s that bottle of pills you mentioned?” He asked Kevin who stood up and went to the nightstand and pulled out the bottle from the drawer. “I’ll have someone take a look at these. About how many have you taken?” He asked me.

“Not sure, at least half the bottle by now.”

“Well you haven’t died, so that’s a good sign.” Gee, I feel much better now.

“Gentleman I think we need to consider moving you to a new location after your little concert today. If they have his file then they probably know he’s staying here. None of you are safe.” He continued while placing the bottle in his pocket.

“You know, if they do read that file, nothing is really in there. I didn’t say very much.”

“True, but it might be enough for them to worry.”

“Who are them?” I asked once again growing impatient with his vagueness.

“The less you know…”

I wouldn’t let him finish. “I saw you in my dream. You were there the day that woman died, weren’t you?” He looked at me with a stunned expression on his face.

“Did you have a dream?” Guess who that was.

I nodded but continued to talk to Max, “I saw you and my dad talking. You had a gun in your back pocket. Did you kill that woman?”

“No.” He answered very quickly. “And she wasn’t just a woman Nick, she was your mother.”

“What? That’s ridiculous! My mother was Jane Carter, not this woman. I have never even seen this woman before in my life.” As I was saying it though, I didn’t believe it. He could tell and so could everyone else in the room.

He walked closer to me, “You know that’s not true. She’s your real mother.”

“But…”

He placed a hand on my shoulder in a surprisingly loving way. “I know you have a ton of questions but like I keep telling you, the less you know at this point, the better.”

“Is my dad...?”

“Yes, he’s really your father.” He answered then turned back to everyone, “Look, I know you guys don’t know me from a hole in the wall but trust me. I’m on your side and the last thing I want is for anyone to get hurt. How hard will it be to convince your management to move you to another hotel?” He asked Kevin.

Kevin thought about it for a few seconds, “They’re going to need a good reason.”

“I’ve got that covered.”

“What are you going to do? Please don’t kill anyone!” I pleaded which sounded dumb but considering the circumstances, not totally out of the question.

Max looked aggravated, “I promise I won’t kill anyone, yet.”

“Okay.” Howie answered while everyone else, including me had what the fuck expressions on our faces.

“I’ll see you after your concert. Be safe!” He said as he left the room.

“I still don’t know if I trust him.” Brian admitted and I felt the same way.

“Me too, but what choice do we have?” Kevin answered.

“We could go to the police or tell our families about him.” Howie added.

“I don’t think we should tell our families anything. Max keeps saying how the less we know the better. I think the less they know the better as well.” AJ took that one. I know at first he was bummed that his mom wasn’t around but as more shit was slowly hitting the fan, I think he was more grateful than anything else that she wasn’t around for any of this. I wish I was with her on her cruise and she kind of annoys me. Don’t tell him I said that though, he’ll kick my ass.

“You don’t think these people will go after them, do you?” Brian asked suddenly nervous.

“I hope not.” Kevin answered looking over at me to monitor my mood I guess. “It won’t help to really think about that now. We have to concentrate on this performance and then thankfully we’ll have a day or two to rest, relax and really try to figure things out.” He looked at me again, “Are you okay? I know Max just dropped a major bomb on you.”

I shrugged because honestly, I wasn’t sure how I was. At this point, I didn’t even know if my name was Nick anymore. This was just one more thing to add to the list, that’s all it was.

~*~*~*~


Our performance went remarkably well considering what the hell was going on in our real lives. Maybe that’s why we did so well. None of us actually wanted to get off the stage and back to reality. We were fine with staying in the moment. Letting the small crowd gathered yell and scream our names as the older people applauded us. One thing I did notice was one of our management team members off to the side talking intently to a few hotel workers.

I had a feeling that Max was behind whatever they were discussing and sure enough as soon as we were done, they brought us into a small room and informed us that we would be changing hotels.

When Kevin asked for the reason, they remained coy and just said, “It was a security issue and not to worry about it. It’s all taken care of.”

They booked us at a smaller hotel completely out of Manhattan and under a bunch of different aliases. The same ones we used when we were in Europe. They already shipped everything over to the new place so we just had to bring ourselves.

We were kind of bummed to see we were no longer in a five star hotel but at least it wasn’t quite a motel either. It was nice. We all were in a suite on the top floor which meant no one would be alone. There were two bedrooms and a living room area connecting them. The Christmas tree and presents were all waiting in the living room along with a note from Lou and the management telling us to enjoy the next two days off. Wow, two full days off.

Once we were all settled, there was a knock on the door so Kevin went and let Max in. “I’m not sure what you did, but whatever it was, it worked.”

Max nodded, “it’s best you don’t know.”

“I’m guessing you’re going to be saying that a lot.”

“I’ll be doing some more checking on the Jane situation and making sure no one followed you here. Again, stay out of site. Take these two days and just relax in here. Watch TV, drink egg nog, rent porn, whatever it is you rock star types do. Just stay in this room!” He then turned to me, “I promise you, if I hear anything about or from your dad, I’ll let you know. If you have any more memories, you need to let me know. Your friend over there has my number.”

I nodded at him but followed him out the door.

“What part of stay inside was not clear enough for you?” He asked turning towards me with a stern look on his face.

“What was her name?” He just stood there so I continued, “I know the less I know the better, but I think I at least deserve to know what my mother’s real name was.”

His look softened slightly, “Nicole.” He said as he smiled at me and walked away.

“Nicole…I like that.” I said out loud, walking back into the room and locking the door.


End Notes:
Just to let you know, this week I am starting school again. I'm still a few chapters ahead of myself but this week is the first week all summer that I did not get a chapter written and I am afriad that's going to happen more often now. So, i'm going to pick a day of the week to be my new update day. I think i'm going to pick Mondays so a week from Monday i'll post chapter 15. Anyway, i'll stop babbling. thanks in advance for your feedback. Hopefully lol whether it be good or bad. lol
Chapter 15 by Mare
~ 15 ~

A Blue Christmas without You


After Max left, we all sat in silence in our new little living room staring at the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree. Once again Kevin made sure to block the entrance to the balcony but he left the blinds open so we were able to watch the snow as it fell from the sky. It really did look beautiful and like Christmas. I wish it felt like it though. I didn’t have that warm and fuzzy feeling you should get when you know that Christmas is only a day away. I don’t think any of us did and I felt horrible for that.

“I just wanted to say I’m sorry I ruined your Christmases”

They all looked over at me, “It’s not your fault Frack. You didn’t ruin anything and besides, who said our Christmas would be ruined? I plan on having a great one myself!”

Brian has always had the most positive attitude of any of us in this band. No matter what the situation, he could always find something good in it. I wish I had that in me.

“What are we going to do that’s so special Rok?”

Brian walked over to AJ and sat on his lap. “First we’re going to get up nice and early and open all our presents! And then we’ll eat a huge breakfast that will be on Lou!”

“I don’t know if I want to eat anything on Lou! He’s so rotund it would probably fall right off of him and onto the floor!” Wow…Howie made a funny!

“Good one D!” Kevin said, applauding him.

Howie winked, of course.

“After we eat our breakfast, we will then have a movie marathon of some kind, any ideas guys?”

“I think Indiana Jones would be kick ass!” AJ said.

“I like Star Wars myself!” I added.

Brian then looked over at Howie and Kevin, “Gentleman?”

“Either of those works for me.” Kevin added. I could tell he was a Scrooge McDuck like me.

“Howard?”

“I don’t really know either all that well.”

“Maybe something funny would be better like a Monty Python Marathon?” I suggested suddenly thinking maybe a good laugh would be in order. I know I had at least two Python movies with me. The Holy Grail and Life of Brian were two of my dad’s favorites.

“We’ll figure that out later I guess! Maybe over dinner, speaking of which, I say we order something really bad for us tonight and NO PIZZA!” Brian said looking at AJ who was still underneath him and about to say pizza.

“Chinese!” Howie shouted for some reason which made us all laugh.

“Wow, okay Chinese it is then, although that doesn’t really strike me as a Christmas Eve type thing.”

“What does?”

“We usually have seafood on Christmas Eve.” AJ answered.

“We could always order room service. I know we do have a special meal coming for Christmas but I’m not supposed to tell you what it is!” Brian said coyly.

“As long as you’re not the one cooking it, I’m sure whatever it is will be fantastic!” Kevin said rolling his eyes at his cousin and smiling over at me.

Taking a cue from his cousin, Brian glanced over my way and decided I wasn’t happy enough so he moved off of AJ and on to my lap. “Starting right now, we’re going to stop thinking about all of the drama and horrible things happening and we are going to just try our best to have a good few days with each other, okay buddy? I know it’s going to be hardest for you to do and we all understand but know we are all here for you and love you very much.”

I smiled at him. That was such a nice thing to say. I really wanted to have a great time and forget everything. I just couldn’t see myself being able to. Max was pretty sure my father was dead. He didn’t have to come right out and say it, but it was there. I think they all were thinking the same thing. How could I enjoy myself with the knowledge that I was an orphan?

Wow, I was really going to be an orphan. I had no one in my life anymore. The mother I had always known as my mother wasn’t even my real mother. My real mother died right in front of my eyes. No, she didn’t die. She was murdered! And I was there and worse yet, I can’t remember who did it or why it was done! And now my father just vanishes.

“Nick?” I looked up at Brian and once again pasted on a fake smile.

“It’ll be okay buddy.”

I nodded, but I couldn’t speak, there were no words for the emptiness I was feeling. I was alone. “I need to go to the bathroom.” I said as I tried to get up with Brian on me. He quickly moved out of my way and lovingly tapped my back as I walked over to the bathroom and uncharacteristically locked them all out.

I knew they knew I was in here having a meltdown, but they left me alone, thankfully. I took a few deep breaths and tried to convince myself that everything would be okay. Trying to channel my inner Brian and find something good coming out of all of this.

There was nothing there.

I found myself looking under the sink, wanting to crawl under there in a fetal position like I did when I was a kid all those years ago. Why was it that the bathroom gave me such solace? There had to be a reason. I even enjoyed hiding in the bathroom at our bed and breakfast. When there were too many people around and I was feeling overwhelmed, I’d go into the bathroom with my comic books and stay in there for hours.

Just thinking about the B & B, memories flashed back to my dad again.

My dad and I every Christmas Eve would have a routine at the Carter House. We’d all gather around our huge tree with glasses of eggnog and force everyone there to sing Christmas Carols with us. Most of the time, our guests were more than happy to belt out the tunes but occasionally we had one or two that would stand in the back and refuse to participate. My dad always made it a point to single them out and have them come up front. He would make me sing Deck the Halls with them as they were forced to fa la la.

That wasn’t my favorite part. The best part came afterwards when it was just him and me together in our little suite upstairs away from everyone else. He’d let me stay awake as long as I could and together we’d watch The Three Stooges and The Honeymooners and some other really old shows. I was never able to make it past 1 or 2 in the morning. I’m sure that’s when he would sneak out and put my presents under the tree.

Even when Mom or at least the woman I thought was my mother was alive, it was still something that only the two of us did.

Christmas day was usually spent with strangers, but they never felt like it because our house was always warm and inviting. My mother would do her best to make sure everyone felt like they were at a relative’s house and we would all sit at one gigantic table and eat as a family.

Family, something I don’t have anymore….

“Nicky?” Howie asked in a very soft voice, “I need to use the bathroom. Are you almost done in there?”

I glanced at my watch and noticed I had been sitting on the toilet seat for over an hour just entertained with my thoughts.

I opened the door, “Sorry D, I lost track of time.”

“It’s okay, are you okay?”

I shrugged at him and tried to smile but he knew it wasn’t genuine. He answered my shrug with a hug. “It’ll be okay, Nicky.”

When I walked out and back into the main room, the light conversation the guys were having came to a dramatic halt. “Hey buddy.” Kevin said as he motioned for me to sit next to him on the couch, “We were just about to order some dinner. I hope you’re hungry.”

I wasn’t really hungry at all but I decided even though my Christmas was going to be horrible, I refused to let theirs. They had already sacrificed so much for me. Heck, for all I know they could be in danger just knowing me and their families could even be at risk. They are probably going to end up hating and resenting me, wanting nothing to do with me and I couldn’t blame them. For now though, I’ll just smile and play like everything is cool. Kind of like the way I do when I’m not feeling well but can’t let management know I’m sick.

“Sure, I’m starved. What did we decide on?”

“Italian.” Howie said, looking and sounding defeated as he left the bathroom and rejoined us.

“I’ll have chicken parm I guess.” I said after glancing at the menu for a few minutes before passing it on to AJ.

We all placed our orders and Kevin made the call. “How you holding up? I didn’t mean to upset you.” Brian apologized taking Kevin’s place next to me on the couch.

“You didn’t upset me at all. I just needed to be alone. I’m much better.” I smiled at him but he saw right through me. They all can read me really well.

He placed his arm around me and just sat silently as we watched TV until our food came. We ate dinner around the table close to the balcony. It was still snowing. The weather forecast briefly mentioned talk of a possible blizzard but it wasn’t quite there yet. Most of our talk was generic. Sports, movies, TV, girls, but zero to little about family or anything else they thought might upset me. Once again I felt bad because the one thing I never had in common with these guys was the strong family bond they all shared. Even AJ, who had a small family like me, seemed to glow when he talked about home. Don’t get me wrong, you can tell I love my parents…loved them.

Anyway…We never really did much as a family. I have been a part of this group since I was 12 years old. That left me with them more than my mom and dad. Because of the nature of their business it was always hard for them to get away and then when mom died it was almost impossible for my dad to travel with me. So, my friend’s families became mine. Brian’s parents make it out as much as possible as does Howie’s. AJ’s mom is usually always with us. Kevin is older, so his mom doesn’t feel the need to follow him around, but she did fly down to England when we were there, just to surprise him. The big guy teared up. It was kind of funny.

Family is such a big part of them, “You know you can talk about your families if you want. I’m okay with that. I know you guys hate the fact that you’re not with them. I think this is the first Christmas that none of us have our families with us. Last year we got to be at home and before that usually at least one mom or dad was around.” I took a huge bite out of my chicken that was growing cold and smiled my fake, yippety skippety smile.

“We’re not avoiding talking about family.”

“Yeah you are Brian and I do appreciate it, but don’t do it. It’ll just make me feel worse.”

“I’m supposed to call my mom tonight. I was thinking of doing that now, if it’s okay with everyone?” Howie said, excusing himself from the table and heading to his bedroom.

“My mom wanted to come out but the weather prevented her from coming.” Kevin admitted, looking at me. “All things considered, she thought it would be nice if she was here with us this year. I’m kind of glad she couldn’t come. I’d be worried for her to be here and the last thing I want to do is make her worry more about us.”

I nodded at Kevin, forgetting for a minute that for now I was technically part of his family. I wonder what will happen with that. Would they actually have to end up adopting me or will they give me away to some foster home or something?

Slowly, everyone started to get up and move away from the table. Brian’s parents called him shortly after Howie left to make his call and then AJ’s mom called from the boat. I found myself standing next to the window, watching the snow fall to the ground. It looked like there were at least 4 or 5 inches by now. Some of the cars in the parking lot were slowly being buried.

“Hey.” I looked over at Kevin who handed me a glass of eggnog. “Don’t tell anyone, but I might have put some rum in there.” He winked at me.

“Giving liquor to a minor, wow Kev, you’re a real felon!” I joked and took a sip. It was strong, he wasn’t kidding.

“What’s Christmas Eve without some eggnog?”

“Yeah…” I said once again turning my attention to the snow and parking lot. A car was slowly making its way into a spot as another’s wheels were spinning to try to get out.

“It looks kind of nasty out there.” Kevin said, following my lead and looking at the lot. “Hey, I think that’s Max.”

I squinted to get a better look and sure enough it was him getting out of the car and trudging into the hotel. “So much for forgetting about everything…” Kevin muttered to himself as he left the window and walked over to the living area.

A few minutes later there was a knock on the door and Howie let Max in. “We have a problem.” He said just as Brian motioned for Kevin to come to the phone. Max gave him a nod to let him know he could leave to talk to his family. He waited until he was out of earshot of the call before continuing. “Your therapist was just found dead in her home.” He said looking over at me.

“Dead?” I asked, unbelieving.

He nodded, “I don’t know the details but I heard the address over the police scanner and recognized it as hers. She’s dead.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that. I didn’t know how I was supposed to take any of this anymore. It was Brian who responded, and not in the way that I thought he would. “You couldn’t wait to tell us that until after Christmas? You had to come in and ruin what little chance we had at normalcy?”

Max looked his way, “This was important…”

“So is Christmas! You could have waited until Monday.”

“Look, I’m sorry but it’s something you had to know. If she was murdered, then that means they’re willing to kill to find your friend. Don’t you think that’s a problem?”

Brian looked over at me and then back to Max. “What do we do?”

“For now, nothing. The snow is working for us this time around. I think you’ll be safe, but just in case, I booked the room right next to yours. I’ll leave you alone tonight and tomorrow but Monday we have got to move. If anything strange or out of the ordinary happens tonight, you need to let me know!” Max then looked over at me and gave me the smallest hint of a smile, “Okay?” He asked.

I nodded, “Okay.”

“Good. Fill the Bible boy in on what I just said and again, I’m right next door.” He pointed to his left. “You can even knock on the wall and I’ll be right in.” Max then looked over to Brian, “I’m sorry I’m ruining your Christmas. You can get back to your celebrating now.”

And then he left.

When Kevin was done talking to his parents, we filled him in on what Max had said and he didn’t seem to know how to react anymore than I did. I felt bad for Jane, she seemed like a nice woman but at the same time, what if she was one of the bad guys? Should I still feel bad for her?

We stayed up a little while longer and tried to watch a little TV, but because we were all both physically and mentally exhausted, we decided to call it a night.

The dreams I had that followed were the most vivid and terrifying yet…


End Notes:
I'm a few days early with this update lol I was trying to write another story and since it wasn't working for me I thought i'd just update this one instead. :O) Hope you enjoy! I'll be back with chapter 16 a week from Monday or sooner! Have a great three day weekend for my fellow USA peeps!
Chapter 16 by Mare
Author's Notes:
Happy Labor/ Labour Day! lol
~ 16 ~

I wish I was Dreaming of a White Christmas






I was sitting on the floor playing with some cars and of course, my pig was sitting right by my side. There was arguing going on in the background, a lot of arguing.

“I am tired of all of this!” She said.

“It won’t be for long I promise.” He answered.

“That’s what you always say and then you disappear for a long time and I’m left alone to take care of the baby by myself.”

“It has to be this way, you know that. You knew that when you married me.”

“It doesn’t matter, none of it does. I’m done with this!”

She walked past me and accidentally knocked over the tower of blocks I was making. I wanted to cry but when they were like this, it was better if I didn’t do anything so I just started rebuilding. My father walked past me shortly after. It was definitely my dad and he didn’t look happy at all.

I stood up and wobbled over to the kitchen where my mother sat at the table, her head down and crying. The young Max with the ponytail was standing behind her and massaging her shoulders as she cried.

“It’ll be okay Nicole…I promise.”

“I am sick to death of your promises. The both of you can go to hell!”

Max glanced over at me and I found myself taking a few steps back from him. I was afraid. Something about him scared me. He walked by without saying one word as if I was invisible and then my mother looked up and motioned for me to come to her.

I walked over and she pulled me on to the table, “Looks like it’s going to be just you and me again, Drew.”

I took comfort in that.

A terrible crashing sound came out of nowhere just then. It sounded like breaking glass and she swept me up in her arms and pulled my head into her chest. “Oh god!” She said as she started running up the stairs with me.

Once again I recognized this scene from earlier. “Mommy I’m scared!” I found myself saying.

“I know baby it’s going to be all right. We have to hurry though. He’s really mad.”

“But mommy I dropped Bob.” I panicked when I saw my pig was still lying at the bottom of the stairs.

“We don’t have time for this, he’s coming and he’s really angry!” She said as she got to the top of the stairs and opened the bathroom door. Throwing me inside before I could protest.

I was sitting in the bathroom again but this time Bob was with me. I was humming and making him jump from the toilet to the floor and making a splash sound as he did. I guess Bob was jumping into a pool. There was a lot of yelling coming from the hallway and more crashing sounds. I was in the same place but this was a different time.

I moved closer to the door so I could hear what was going on. Just as I did, the door opened and my mother was there to greet me. The mother I had always known, not the stranger I barely met.

“Mom, what are you doing here?” I asked her, suddenly sounding years older than I had been moments before. We were at the Carter House. “Get your things packed as fast as you can. We’re leaving!” She said as she grabbed my hand and led me to my bedroom.

“Mom, what do you mean?” I was anxious and didn’t quite get what was going on.

“Just do what you’re told. There isn’t much time!” She opened my door and ushered me inside.

“But Daddy’s not home!”

“We’re leaving without your father. Now hurry!” She yelled as she started grabbing my things and throwing them into a suitcase. I vaguely remembered this. I remembered packing my bags and almost leaving but being stopped by my father.

Sure enough there he was, standing at my bedroom door. “Hi Daddy,” I said as my mother turned around and threw my suitcase at him.

“Jane, you can’t do this!”

“Watch me!”

“Nicky, can you give me and your mom a second?” I nodded and headed for the only place I felt safe when they fought, the bathroom.

I found myself sitting in the bathroom once again with a huge knot in my stomach, just waiting until I heard my mother or someone tell me I could come out. It felt like forever and I was getting restless so I opened the door.

When I did, everything had changed again and this time I was back in the other house, in my bedroom and under the desk. My real mother had just been killed and I was watching her blood flow all over Bob, my pig. I was afraid to move because I heard people in the room. They were looking for me but I didn’t recognize their voices.

“We need to do this, just do it and get the hell out of here!” One was saying. He was talking kind of funny. He was definitely not from America that was for sure.

They left the room and I crawled out from under the desk and went to my mother. I tried to shake her awake but she wouldn’t move. “Mommy, wake up I’m scared.” I knew she was dead, but I still had to try.

Another loud explosion happened and now I was starting to see smoke billowing from the hallway. The tears started to flow as I panicked, “Mommy, wake up there’s a fire!” I pushed her again but still she’s didn’t budge.

I sat there crying hysterically now, trying to pull her out myself but I was too small. I was really small. I coughed and cried one more time before standing up and waddling myself out of the room. “Bye Mommy.” I said taking one last look at her before walking out the door and into the hallway.

The fire was slowly making its way up from the downstairs and I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid of the stairs. I had never tried to go down the steps alone. Another explosion happened and it made me scream. I put my hands over my ears and ran back into the bedroom.

The scene had once again changed.

I was still covering my ears but this time I was in the bathroom again. There was a lot of screaming going on and it sounded like things or even people were being thrown. I was afraid to open the door but I eventually did.

I walked out into the hallway. The noise was suddenly replaced by silence. It was almost too quiet. In a lot of ways I preferred the yelling and throwing over this kind of quiet. It was the unsettling kind.

Suddenly, I heard my mother arguing again and this time I could tell it was Max she was yelling at.

“I hate YOU!” She yelled viciously at him. “Get away from me! I never want to see you again!”

I wanted to save her but my fear of the man in the ponytail prevented me from doing that. Instead I just watched as if it were a movie. He was gripping her by both of her shoulders and shaking her so violently I thought her head was going to come off.

“Don’t be stupid Nicole!” He urged as he shook.

“Get off of me!” She said as she tried to break free. That’s when Max slapped her across the face.

I screamed and charged at him with all my might, but I was small and didn’t do much but knock into him.

“Andrew! I told you to stay in the bathroom!” My mother said as tears streamed down her face.

That’s when he grabbed me like a sack of potatoes, picking me up sideways and walking me to my bedroom. “Put him down!” She screamed after us. “Leave him alone!”

He didn’t listen and by this point I was crying. He opened my bedroom door, sat me on the floor with my pig and shut it behind him as he continued to argue with my mother who had quickly caught up to us. They were standing right outside my door and fighting. I couldn’t make out what was being said because I was suddenly distracted by the smoke coming in from under the door.

Once again feeling panicked I opened the door and found myself in the same scene from earlier in the dream. I looked behind me, and sure enough there was my mother lying on the floor dead, again. I started walking down the hallway, ignoring the flames and smoke. I heard yelling coming from around the corner and even though I was terrified, I found myself walking towards the voices. The one I didn’t recognize which was foreign and the one I did, which was Max. Right before I was about to turn the corner Max met me with a gun in hand.

I was about to scream but he put a hand over my mouth as he grabbed me up in his arms and ran down the steps and out of the house. I kept trying to tell him that my mommy was hurt and needed help but I think he already knew, because I’m pretty sure he’s the one that killed her…



I jumped out of bed, possibly even leapt. My heart was beating so fast I actually couldn’t breathe for a few seconds. “That son of a bitch!” I said probably louder than I should have, but I didn’t care. I had to go see him right now!

I ran out the door of our suite and started banging on Max’s door. Within a few seconds he opened it. “Andrew what’s wrong?”

He was taller than me but at that moment I felt we were the same height. “My name’s not Andrew!” I said as I punched him in the face, pushing myself into his room.

“What the fuck…” He asked as he spit the blood from his lip.

“Why did you do it? “I screamed as I shoved him. “Why did you kill her?”

“What are you talking about?” He asked as I pushed him, almost making him fall over the bed.

“You killed my mother in cold blood!” I screamed taking a swing at him. This time he blocked it, grabbed my arm and in one fluid motion flipped me onto the floor and sat on top of me.

“You need to calm down and shut your damn mouth!” He said as he placed his hand over it, just like he did in my dreams. There was another knock at the door “Great, just fucking fantastic…” He said as he took his hand off of my mouth but motioned for me to stay quiet.

Another knock was followed by “Let me in!” Max got off of me and opened the door for Kevin. “What the hell is going on in here?” He asked looking from me to Max.

“Shut the door.” He ordered.

I was just about to stand up and have a go at him again but he gave me a look and pointed at me, “You stay the hell there!”

Kevin looked down at me then back to Max, “What is going on?” He asked again. “It sounded like you were fighting in here.”

“He killed her Kevin! He killed my mother!” I shouted, fighting the urge to spit in his face as he sat down on the bed beside where I was on the ground.

“I didn’t kill your mother.”

“You’re lying!” I smacked his leg because it was close to me.

“Relax!” Kevin said walking towards me and helping me up. “Why are you saying he killed your mother?”

“Because he did!”

“Lower your damn voice before you wake up everyone in the hotel!” Max warned. His voice was low and scary sounding. I shut up.

“You had another dream, didn’t you?” Kevin asked as he kept a protective hand on my shoulder. Hoping I wouldn’t do anything dumb like charge at the murderer sitting about a foot away.

“Yes, I did!” I looked over at Max, “And I saw him kill my mother!”

Max shook his head, “Then you saw wrong kid.”

Actually I didn’t see that at all. “You were shaking her and you slapped her across the face!”

“Did I slap her to death?” Max shook his head in disbelief and annoyance once again.

I tried to move towards him but was stopped by Kevin, “Let’s go back to our room, okay? We can talk about this in the morning when we’re all a little more rational.” He squeezed my shoulder really hard which was his way of saying if you don’t move by yourself I’m going to move for you.

“Fine! But this isn’t over!” I pointed my finger at Max which I’m sure scared him to death because what’s scarier to a murderer then a fifteen year old’s threat!

“It never is kid.” He muttered as we walked out the door and back to our room.

Once inside Kevin shoved me in the door, “Can we make some kind of a deal, the two of us?”

“Kevin he…”

“Uh…a deal?”

“But Kev…”

“Nick!”

“Fine, what kind of deal?”

“Let’s try not to attack or piss off the person who you keep calling a killer. Probably not a good idea, you know?”

“But he…”

“Nick! You barged into the guy’s room and attacked him! If he really was a killer, why would he let you do that?”

I moved away from Kevin now wanting to punch him as well, “You don’t fucking believe me!”

“I didn’t say that! Just that when you told us what you saw, you didn’t mention death, you mentioned a slap. Did you really see him kill your mother?”

I folded my arms across my chest and looked away from him, furious at him, at Max and just about the whole entire world for landing all this crap on my lap. I didn’t deserve this bullshit! “No, but he was real mean and I was terrified of him.”

“He seems like he could be a scary guy when he wants to be.”

“He slapped her.”

Kevin slowly walked over to me and once again placed his hand on my shoulder. “What else did you dream?”

After a few minutes of just standing there in my defensive pose, I finally loosened up and told Kevin everything I had dreamed.

When I was done, only one thing stood out in his mind. It’s something I didn’t even think of until it came out of his mouth. “So, I guess you remember your pig’s name now. Bob, think that’s just a coincidence?”

I thought about it for a second, “I am starting to realize there’s no such thing as coincidence.” I answered, knowing without a doubt that all these years, not only did I not know my real mother, but I didn’t know my real father either.

Kevin nodded, “Let’s try to get some more sleep. It’s only three.” He said looking over at the clock.

“You go ahead, I’ll be in soon.” I said, smiling at him but knowing that I was awake for the day now. There was no way I wanted to go back to sleep where more dreams would haunt me.

“Don’t stay up too long and Nick, please no going back to Max’s.”

“I won’t go back there.” I promised and I meant it. I was done fighting for one night. I didn’t have any fight left in me.

When Kevin left and closed the door, I just sat there in the living room, staring at our Christmas tree. Howie insisted we leave the lights on and I’m glad he did. Nothing was more comforting then the glow of Christmas lights while it snowed in the background.

I suddenly heard our front door handle jiggle and jumped up from my seat. I knew it was him before he let himself in. He was waiting for us to go to sleep and then when he was sure we wouldn’t be ready for him he’d kill us all in our beds. I wish I had the desire to fight, but at this point I just wanted to be put out of my misery.

“I knew you’d be up.” He whispered to me as he approached with something in his hand.

“Just be quick and promise me you won’t hurt the other guys.” I said, but I knew he wasn’t going to kill me. I just knew.

“Andrew for the love of God…”

“My name’s Nick.” I corrected him again.

“Sorry, force of habit. I brought you something.” He said walking over towards the couch and sitting beside me, “I know your dad would have wanted you to have this.” He handed me a box.

“What is it?”

“Open it.”

“It’s not booby trapped or anything is it?”

Max shook his head, “When are you going to realize I’m on your side?”

“When I stop having dreams of you hurting my mother and carrying guns, maybe.”

“Okay, that’s fair I guess. Open it.”

I tore the wrapping paper off the box and opened it. There was a framed picture of my father, my real mother and me in the middle. All of us smiling and looking very happy. I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t seen a real picture of my mother before but only the image of her in my dreams. “She was beautiful.” I said, trying to keep my emotions in check.

“Yes, she was.”

“Did you guys have an affair or something? Is that why she was arguing with you?”

He laughed, “No, nothing like that. Andr…I mean Nick…I would never kill your mother because I loved her very much. She was my sister.”

I looked over at him then, really looked at him and it was true. The two of them looked very similar. They both had long faces and small dimples on their cheeks. They had the same structure to their faces, much the same way I did. “That means you’re my uncle?”

He nodded and smiled, “Yeah, I guess so.” I guess he never thought about it until just then.

“Is your name really Max?” I asked him once again looking down at the picture.

The look on his face was my answer. “Just like my father’s name wasn’t really Bob.”

“But your mother was really Nicole. That’s how your dad came up with your name. He renamed you after your mother.”

“And he named himself after my stuffed pig.”

“You really are starting to remember.” He said, almost sadly.

“I wish I wasn’t.”

“Me too, kid. Me too.” He then stood up to leave, “I’m going to leave you guys alone tomorrow. I just wanted you to have that and know that they both loved you.”

Just before he walked out the door I stopped him, “You said loved…not love.”

He didn’t turn around, “I know.” he hesitated briefly and then walked out the door as I held on to that picture and cried pretty much until the sun came up.


End Notes:
I thought i'd give you an extra chapter since I managed to write another one this weekend. :O) I'll be back sometime this weekend with chapter 17. I'll try to get it up before Monday but if not, then expect the new one on Monday. Hope you enjoy! This one was my favorite to write so I hope you like it! Thanks for reading!
Chapter 17 by Mare
~ 17 ~

Safe from Harm




I felt warm and opened my eyes to see Howie placing a blanket over me. “Sorry I woke you.” He whispered.

I rubbed at my swollen eyes. “It’s okay.” I guess I did fall asleep after all.

“I see you came out to sleep by the Christmas tree. I like to do that too.”

I nodded at him, “Something like that.” I sat up and grimaced slightly when I realized I had the biggest headache on the planet. That always happened to me when I cried as much as I did last night.

He walked over to the tree and flicked one of the bell ornaments making it ding. “I love Christmas.” He sat down beside me. “What’s that?” He asked when he saw the picture Max had given me the night before.

I almost wanted to hide it, but I handed it over, “It’s a picture of my mom and dad.”

He took it in his hands and examined it closely, “This is your mom, mom?”

I nodded and he looked at me, “You look like her.” Upon further examination of my face he looked concerned, “Your eyes are swollen. Are you okay?”

“I had a long night.” I didn’t feel like getting into it again. It was Christmas and I wanted to just make all the hurt go away, even if just for today.

He grabbed me and pulled me towards him. It was almost comical the way he did it. I laughed, “What are you doing?”

“Can’t I hug my Nicky on Christmas?”

“Yeah of course you can, but not in a gay way!”

He laughed and then proceeded to kiss me on the top of my head before letting me go. “You know I love you kiddo!”

“Yeah, yeah…me too.” I answered. We just had a gay, bonding moment.

“Anything you want to talk about?” He asked, staring at my picture once again.

“Not today, but thanks though D.”

He smiled at me, “You know you can talk to me anytime Nicky.”

“I know.”

Brian came out next, in his pajamas. When he saw Howie and I sitting on the couch he took a flying leap over it and sat down on the other side of me. “Merry Christmas guys!” He said just like a five year old. Before either of us could answer he bounced off the couch and ran to the balcony, “It’s still snowing out there! Wow! Have you looked out here recently? You can’t even see the cars!”

I stood up and made my way over to the window and he was right. There was so much snow out there that the cars were buried. “It looks like there’s at least two feet of snow out there!” Howie said making his way over as well.

There we stood three Backstreet Boys with our faces plastered to the balcony window, staring out at the snow like we were little kids waiting to go out and play.

“I want to go out there and play in the snow!” See what I mean?

“Think of the amazing snow ball fights we could have out there!” I added

“Or snow angels.” Howie had to feel included.

“I say at one point today, we go out and have fun in the snow!” Brian said as he walked back to the couch and plopped down, almost knocking my picture to the ground. He picked it up and looked at it for a long time. I wish I knew what was going on in his head. “This is her, isn’t it?” he finally asked me. “She’s beautiful. Where did you get this?”

“Max gave it to me last night after you all went to bed.” I thought for now I’d leave out our little fight.

“You didn’t start Christmas without me, did you?” AJ asked coming out of his bedroom and walking over to the tree.

“Yup, it’s now the day after Christmas, sorry Bone. Maybe next time you’ll think twice about sleeping in.”

“Very funny Rok! Now, let’s open some presents!” AJ moved to the floor and sat right next to all the boxes.

“Not until daddy wakes up.” Brian said lightly kicking AJ in the butt.

“Why isn’t he up? It’s weird, I thought he’d be the first one up, arranging the presents by person or alphabetical order or something anal like that.”

“Howie, I am SO telling my cousin you said that!”

“Oh please, like he’ll believe any of you.”

“I say we go wake his ass up!”

“Right, I suppose you’re volunteering to do that, Bone?”

“Nope, but I’ll let you do it. He’s your cousin!”

I sat quietly, knowing I was the reason Kevin was still asleep. I’m sure he didn’t fall asleep until almost four…again. “I think we should let him sleep for a little while longer.”

They all looked at me like I had ten heads. “What?” Howie finally asked.

“I think he should be able to sleep in. It is Christmas.”

“This is coming from the same child who woke us all up at 2 am one time just because he was bored?”

“I have matured since then, thank you very much!”

“That was two weeks ago!” AJ was quick to remind everyone. I was anxious and didn’t feel like being alone that night, so sue me!

“I’m awake.” We all turned towards the sound of Kevin’s voice. “And thank you Nick for being nice and wanting to let me sleep in.” He smiled at me and then gave all the other guys a dirty look.

“NO problem!” I said smiling myself and nodding.

“Merry Christmas everyone!” He said as he came and sat on the couch with us. “How did you sleep?” He asked me once he was settled in place.

“Okay I guess.” I answered as AJ started handing out the presents.

“Wait a second there Bone!” Brian stood up and ran into his bedroom only to come out a few minutes later with the antlers. “In my house, we have a tradition that the person who passes out the presents, has to wear an elf hat but since I do not have one of those, these will have to do.”

“I’m not wearing those stupid antlers!”

“Then you’re not the one passing out the presents!”

“Make the pip squeak wear them.”

“Pip squeak?” I asked, raising my brow at him. “I hope you’re not talking about me.”

“Who else would I be talking about?”

“I am taller than you.”

“Not by much and size has nothing to do with it.”

“Size has everything to do with calling someone pip squeak you moron, what do you think it has to do with?”

“Whatever dude, you’re wearing the antlers because I’m older and I say so.” He walked over and placed the antlers on my head.

“You look kind of adorable with those on, Frack.” Brian had to add which made them all mock ‘awe’ at me. Of course that was followed by Kevin snapping a picture before I had time to take them off. They all suck!

I moved off the couch and onto the floor, taking AJ’s place. “I guess that means I am handing out the presents now and guess who is getting theirs last?” I stuck my middle finger up at AJ. I know it wasn’t very Christmas like but he deserved it.

I started passing out the remainder of the presents until we all had pretty big piles next to us. We kind of looked like a bunch of spoiled kids with all the stuff we had to open. I almost felt bad…almost. Maybe if my life wasn’t so incredibly shitty at the moment, I would have felt more guilty but those feelings went away pretty quickly as we tore into our gifts.

I made out pretty well. I got a ton of video games and CDs and some gift cards for clothes. Brian’s mother made me a sweater that said Frack and of course Brian got a matching Frick one. She also made us all blankets.

Kevin’s mom sent me a few pairs of sneakers because I think Kevin probably told her I go through them pretty quickly. She also sent me pajamas and underwear which made me blush. Of course another picture was taken when AJ said, “Aww, he looks like Rudolph now!” Have I mentioned how much he sucks?

We all decided to skip out on breakfast and just eat the junk food we had in our room while we waited for whatever it was that Brian was so excited about to arrive. In that time, I changed into my Frack sweater and went to town playing some games. It was nice because for about two hours, I didn’t think about much. Just ate really bad things and played games with my best friend while the other three talked in the background. My headache finally went away and no one else mentioned my swollen eyes. I think they also felt like taking a break from all the drama for one day.

“I hope it gets here in time, otherwise we’re going to starve for dinner.” Brian said anxiously looking at the clock.

“What are we waiting for? I mean you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out your mom made us dinner, so what are we having?”

He actually looked disappointed as if we had no clue that we were waiting for a home cooked meal. And they think I act blonde! “Her famous ham with all the works but I’m afraid that maybe the snow won’t let it arrive on time.”

“It’ll be here.” I smiled at him and the thought of the meal that was coming our way. Brian’s mom was quite the cook. In fact, she was quite the mom in general. I have to admit, there were many nights that I would be jealous of Brian, especially when I saw the special bond he had with his mom. My mother and I were close, but never that close and then she died, so it’s something I’ve always longed for but never really had. I let out a giant sigh, not really meaning to.

“You okay?” I looked over at him and smiled, this time it took a little more effort. “Yeah, I’m good.”

“I wonder what Max is doing for dinner.” He asked. I had totally blocked my uncle from my mind. It was so weird thinking of him like that. I didn’t tell any of the guys about this newest revelation and I kind of decided to keep it that way for now. He was my family though, which I guess meant I wasn’t completely alone. That thought should have comforted me, but it didn’t. I’d gladly trade places with Brian and take his knitting, cooking, sweet mother. He could have my gun totting, mysterious uncle.

A knock on the door had us all jump. “Bad guys wouldn’t knock, right?” AJ asked as he grabbed a pillow defensively. Wow, we’re like the wussy version of the A – Team.

Kevin shook his head as he headed for the door and sure enough, there was our home cooked meal waiting for us. They wheeled it in on two carts and it looked so good my mouth was literally watering. “What a kind gesture for your mother to do this for us Brian.” Howie said as he helped the bellboy place the food on our table. “We have to call her and thank her!”

Brian was beaming with pride and love for his family. My heart ached for him that he wasn’t able to be with them and instead was stuck with me and all my dilemmas. Once again the fear of resentment came up at me from nowhere. They were all going to hate me after this. Especially if something were to happen to their families. Maybe it would be best if just Max and I took off somewhere alone.

Just thinking about the idea of leaving them made my stomach lurch. Would I really want to leave the safety of this family for the one I barely even know? I wasn’t even all that sure that Max was on my side. If he didn’t resemble my real mother the way he did, I would also think he was lying about being my uncle.

“Come on and sit down Frack, before the food gets cold!” I looked over at Brian and realized they were all staring at me. I guess I zoned out.

“You okay?”

I looked over at Howie and nodded as I made my way over the table. The smell of Christmas wafted through our suite. Funny what a little warm ham covered in brown sugar could to for a place.

AJ reached over to grab a biscuit which also looked homemade but his hand was slapped away by Kevin, “I think we need to say grace before we eat this beautiful meal.”

“First I want to read this note my mother sent along.” Brian said opening up a card with Snoopy dancing around a Christmas Tree on the cover. “Hi boys and very Merry Christmas to you all.” I could tell he was getting emotional already. He let out a sigh. I know those sighs well, I’ve been sighing a lot lately myself.

Brian continued on, “We wish that you could be here with us on this special holy day Brian, but because you can’t, we’re glad you’re getting to spend it with your second family. We love you and all of you boys and hope you enjoy the meal we have sent your way. I made the ham, your absolute favorite dear.”

He paused, “It really is my favorite meal my mom makes!” he added, “And I also made the mac and cheese. Anne made the biscuits and the sweet potato casserole.” We all looked over at Kevin to see his reaction. He smiled over at the bread as if he saw his mother’s face.

“Howie’s family sent along all the desserts so be sure to thank them as well. They were going to send them directly to you, Howie but decided it would be best if everything got here at once.”

Howie smiled, “I thought that coconut custard pie looked familiar.”

Brian then turned the card to the back and finished his mom’s thoughts, “I hope with every bite of food you all remember how much we truly love and miss all of you. And AJ know that even though you’re mom is away she loves you very much. She wishes she could have contributed to your meal. She said she would have sent your grandma’s cheesy mashed potatoes.”

AJ smiled and I was beginning to have a very heavy heart, “And Nick, I know right now things are very hard for you baby, but your dad loves you. We all love you.” Because I knew something like that was coming.

“Merry Christmas and call us after you eat your meal, but not before because we don’t want your food to get cold. Love and kisses, mom.”

We were all quiet for a few minutes, especially Brian who just stood there with that card in his hand and moved it to his chest. “Love you mommy.” He said finally placing the card on the table and sitting down, “Who wants to say grace?”

“I will,” Kevin grabbed AJ’s hand and in turn we all grabbed onto each other and bowed our heads, “Lord, thank you so much for the meal we have before us and all the love that went into making it. Thank you for our families and for our health and please watch over all of our loved ones who need some special attention from you on this day. Amen.” I knew he meant my father but I think he really didn’t want to say or do anything today to remind me of my dad. I appreciated that.

The food was fantastic and to say I over did it would be an understatement. I swear I look pregnant. If I were to give birth right now, it would look like a giant ham with biscuits for legs. That would actually be pretty cool!

After dinner we all kind of just sat around the tree, watching the snow fall and yes it was still falling. We were definitely experiencing a blizzard but we were all so stuffed the thought of going outside and playing in the snow quickly went away.

“What’s this?”

Kevin’s question brought me out of my food coma. I looked down to see the picture of my parents in his hands.

“Last night Max gave it to me.”

“I thought I told you not go back there!”

“I didn’t, he came over to me.”

I could tell he wanted to lecture me further but looked at the picture again and then stopped himself. He handed it back to me, “That’s a nice picture.” He smiled.

I nodded and looked at it again. My family, the one that I really never knew and now probably never would stared back at me all happy and smiling. I moved from staring at my parents to looking at the guys. It was weird that they were more real than my own mom and dad. That’s when I made my decision, even though it was a difficult one. They were my real family and I had to look out for them.

“Do you mind if I bring Max some leftovers?” I found myself asking Brian who was over in the corner talking to AJ.

“No, go ahead. We have plenty.”

“Do you want me to come with you? I think I’ll come with you.” Kevin got up answering his own question.

“It’s okay Kev, you stay here, and I’ll be right next door. I won’t be gone long.”

He gave me a look, “I don’t know if I like the idea of you being alone with him.”

“I promise I won’t do anything stupid.”

He waved me off, “All right.”

I nodded, took some food and headed to my uncle to let him know I wanted the two of us to leave the rest of the guys behind. It would be tough and not something I really wanted to do but in my mind it was the only way to keep them safe from harm.

End Notes:
I'll be back next weekend with chapter 18 :O) hope you enjoyed and as always, thanks for reading!
Chapter 18 by Mare
~ 18 ~

Off the Grid




Max opened the door while rubbing at his face. I could tell that once again, I woke him from a sound sleep. “Is there a problem?” He asked, opening the door and letting me in.

“I just thought you’d like some Christmas dinner. It’s really good. Brian’s mom made it.” I handed him the huge plate of food and made my way over to the small table and sat down as he followed, stopping long enough to grab a beer out of his small fridge.

“This smells great.”

“It’s really good.” I bit at my bottom lip, suddenly feeling very anxious and uncomfortable. I kind of wished Kevin did come along.

I watched as he dug into the ham and sweet potatoes. He was making it look so good that I almost wanted to go grab another plate for myself. Yes, I have that little self control when it comes to food.

“So, what did you do today?” I asked him when I was pretty certain he would have been content eating his whole meal in complete awkward silence.

“Not too much. Just watched some TV and slept. Did you have a good Christmas?”

I nodded at him, “I got a lot of great gifts.”

“That’s good,” he said sounding indifferent.

“So, who do you usually spend Christmas with? I know you never spent it with us before.”

He took a few more bites of food before he answered. “I don’t celebrate Christmas. To me, it’s just another day.”

“Oh.” I didn’t know what else to say to that. It seemed so odd for someone who was related to me not to celebrate the holidays. My family was so holiday oriented.

“Was my mom the same way?”

He swallowed his last biscuit and chased it with the last of his beer, “Get me another one of those kid, would you?” He gave me the empty beer bottle.

I walked over to the fridge and grabbed another beer. All he had in there were beers and some leftover Chinese food. I handed him the beer and sat back down. He seemed disappointed when I made myself comfortable which once again made me rethink my decision to abandon the boys and leave with this guy.

“So…” I stopped because I wasn’t even sure what I was going to say.

“You know, you don’t have to stay and keep me company. You can go back to your friends if you want.” Boy he really knew how to make me feel welcome.

“I was actually thinking that well maybe we um…should…” I took a deep breath and just said it, “I think we should leave without them.”

He stopped chewing and looked over at me. “Why?”

“I don’t want to put them in danger. So much shit has gone down that if something were to happen to them, I’d never forgive myself.”

He took a napkin and cleaned off his hands, “It’s too late for that. If they do really know where you are, your friends are not going to be safe. They’ll be less protected if we were to leave them behind at this point.”

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting this answer. Maybe I had watched too many cop shows but I thought for sure that was exactly what he wanted to hear, just me and him without having to deal with the rest of my posse.

“Once again I have to ask who is they and are ‘they’ the type of people to hurt innocent bystanders?”

“I am pretty sure your therapist had nothing to do with anything.”

“So, you’re saying that she was killed just because she was my therapist?”

“No, I’m saying she might have been killed because she was your therapist.”

“What about their families?” Now I was panicking.

“I know you want me to tell you everything will be fine for them, but I can’t guarantee that.”

“Why do they want me so badly? I’m confused! Can’t I just give myself up to them and tell them I don’t know anything?”

He laughed, “No, it doesn’t work like that. You give yourself up to them and they will kill you. Problem solved as far as they are concerned.”

“I want answers.” I found myself saying for the ten thousandth time.

“I can’t tell you anything.”

“What’s the deal with my dad?”

“He’s missing.”

“I know that, is he a bad guy? What did he do that’s so terrible that he had to change his name and my name and hide this whole secret life from me? Did he kill somebody? Are you guys’ mafia or something like that?”

He laughed. Too bad I wasn’t finding any of this really funny. “I know you think this is some kind of joke, but this is my life we’re talking about here. I’m only fifteen friggin years old and you have managed to come here and turn my life upside down without so much as one damned explanation. I deserve answers! What did my father do that was so bad?”

He stared at me for a long while. Long enough that I was sure he was going to reach over the table and stab me with his steak knife. But instead, his eyes finally left mine, “The only bad thing your father did was say yes.”

“What does that even mean?”

He placed his elbows on the table and interlocked his fingers on both hands. If my mother were alive, she would have yelled at him. That was one of Jane Carter’s biggest pet peeves. No elbows on the table. It was sad that I now thought of her as Jane Carter, the fake mom.

“Your father made me swear I would never tell you the truth about things, Nick.”

“My father was going to tell me himself. I’m pretty sure.”

“Some of this might shock you.”

“Believe me Max, I passed shocked about two days ago.”

He nodded at me, “Fine. You’re dad worked for the government. Long before you were born, he was a field agent for the CIA.”

I laughed, I had to. My father worked for the CIA? The man who got arrested as a kid for peeing on a park bench? “You’ve got to be kidding me, right?”

But the look on his face told me he wasn’t kidding. “That’s how I met him. We worked together. I’m the one that introduced him to your mother.”

“This makes no sense! My father doesn’t have, I mean he couldn’t possibly do the things someone at the CIA should be able to do. He loses his breath just climbing a flight of stairs!”

That made Max laugh, “By the time you got to know him, he was a little out of practice.”

“Okay, so he was in the CIA. I still don’t get what that has to do with what’s happening now.”

“He was good at his job, so good that he was asked to lead up black ops.”

“Those really exist? Come on, stop playing with me. This is ridiculous!”

He pushed away from the table, “You said you wanted to know the truth. Do you or not?”

“The truth yes, but this?”

He stood up, “Forget it. I knew you weren’t mature enough to hear this stuff.”

“Excuse me? I’m plenty mature enough. I am just having a hard time believing that my father was a CIA agent. Don’t they do background checks at that place?”

“He made all that stuff up Nickolas. None of it is true. He never got in trouble as a kid. That was for your mother’s benefit.”

“Which mother?” What a sad question that was, huh?

“Jane.”

“Why?”

“He had to create a whole new life after he went off the grid.”

“Off the grid?”

He took a seat on his bed and I turned my chair around to face him, “He worked in the black ops for a while. I did too.”

“So what I’m remembering has to do with one of those black ops things?”

“Yes.”

“What exactly happened?” I felt my heart racing because now I was finally going to learn the truth.

“That I’m not telling you.” Or not! Jesus Christ!

“Why not?”

“Some things aren’t meant to be known. If you remember it on your own, fine. But I’m not going to refresh your memory for you.”

“Okay, so let me get this straight. My father, the man who once got his finger caught in our bathroom faucet, was in charge of a group of CIA black ops people?”

“Yes.”

“And while on a mission, something went so wrong that he had to change our identities and start fresh?”

“Yes.”

“Did we join the witness protection program or something?”

“No.”

“Was my mother involved in this? Did she work for them too?”

“My sister? No, she hated the idea. In fact we spent most of our time fighting about it.”

“So, she knew? I thought no one was supposed to know.”

“She didn’t know.”

“But you just said…”

“She hated the fact that your dad was always leaving to go on these secret missions. He could never tell her why or where he was going or when he would be coming back. Since she knew I was a part of it, she always took her anger out on me.”

“Is that what you were fighting about the day you slapped her?”

He gave me another one of those unsettling stares before ignoring the question, “So, now you know.”

“Now I know? I still don’t know, like for instance how my mother died and why you think people are looking for me and why my father is missing!”

“Okay, I’ll rephrase that then. Now you know a little more than you did before, happy?”

“Not really, no.”

He stood up and opened his door, “I really think you should get back to your friends now before the bible boy comes after me with a bookmark and tries to give me a paper cut.”

I stood up and moved towards the door. There was so much I wanted to say and so many questions I wanted to ask him, but I knew it would be a waste of time. I got as much out of him as I was going to get tonight. But at least it was progress. Maybe he’d tell me more little by little. Maybe there were things I didn’t want to know either. Maybe it was okay to leave some stuff out.

So instead of asking him anything else, I walked past him and said. “I know you don’t celebrate it but, Merry Christmas anyway.” And then I gave him a small hug. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that or not, but he was family and if you couldn’t hug your uncle on Christmas, then what’s the use? Besides, I could tell he needed a hug. Everyone needs a hug on Christmas. Even the worst of people and Max wasn’t the worst of people.

Maybe he was hard and not very friendly, but far from a bad guy and that was a relief. I’m sure it will be to the rest of the guys as well. I decided since we weren’t going to bail on them, that I would just tell them the truth about Max as soon as I got back into our suite.

He actually recoiled when I went to embrace him. I could tell he was picturing me as some kind of leech, but he did put a half hearted arm around one of my shoulders before pushing me away.

“Merry Christmas Nick.” He smiled at me and watched as I got to my own door safely before closing it.

Brian greeted me at the door. “Well you were gone for a long time. One of us was just going to come get you. Make sure you didn’t attack Max.”

I guess Kevin told them about what happened last night. “I just gave him some food.”

“Did he like it?”

I nodded and walked over to the couch and plopped down beside Howie who was on the phone with someone. I glanced over at AJ who was also on the phone standing by the balcony window.

“Where’s Kev?”

Brian pointed at our bedroom, “His mom called, he’s been in there almost the whole time you were next door.”

Suddenly I found myself jealous of all my friends. Calling home and talking to loved ones. I moved away from Howie and on to one of the chairs that were off to the side of the room. “Max is my uncle” I blurted out just as I threw my legs over the side of the chair and leaned back.

Brian looked surprised but not as surprised as I thought he’d be. “You know, I was wondering because I see a small resemblance.”

I nodded at him, “I don’t think he wants anything to do with me though.”

“What are you talking about? If he didn’t care he wouldn’t be here.”

I shrugged at him, “Is it still snowing?” I asked trying to change the subject since I was starting to get depressed again.

“Yup! If we were still in school, and it wasn’t already a holiday we would’ve had a snow day for sure!”

“I am still in school.” I reminded him. Sometimes they forget that I’m not as old as they are.

He nodded and smiled at me. “I think we need to put those antlers back on you.” Just like sometimes I picture Brian as a pet monkey, I think he pictures me as his pet hamster or something.

“No I’m good, thanks.”

He laughed, “You want to play a game or something?”

I smiled, “Sure.” I needed to get out of this dreary mood I was suddenly finding myself in again. Needless to say, Murphy and I were tight these days because just as I thought that, in walked Kevin looking white as a sheet. I knew something was wrong and so did his cousin.

“Kevin, what is it?” He asked alarmed.

Kevin looked right at me, “I’m going to go get Max and then I’ll give you more details.”

He walked out the door and I felt numb knowing that whatever happened wasn’t going to be good. Feeling Brian’s arm around my shoulder tighten let me know he thought the same exact thing.




End Notes:
Hope you enjoyed! I'll be back next weekend with chapter 19. Thanks for reading and reviewing :O)
Chapter 19 by Mare
~ 19~

Burning Down the House




It seemed like we waited forever for Kevin and Max to come back to our suite. In that time both Howie and AJ joined Brian and I around the table. We were all twiddling thumbs and nervously tapping our fingers.

“It’s probably nothing.”

I looked over at Howie, “Seriously dude? It’s something and whatever it is, it’s not good.”

“We don’t know that for sure.”

“Yeah we do. It’s not like Kevin went over to Max’s to ask him if he wanted to hug a puppy. Something bad happened. Oh God, this waiting is killing me!” I got up and moved to the door and was about to open it when Max and Kevin walked through. “It’s about time! What the hell happened, Kevin?”

Why was it sometimes he seemed so much bigger than I was and other times we were about the same height? This was one of those times that I felt like he was towering above me. He glanced over at Max to get the okay to tell me what happened. When Max nodded he then looked down and me and placed a hand on my shoulder, “There’s been a fire buddy.”

“Fire?” I could barely speak. Flashbacks of that night came at me all at once. The flames, the smoke, and my mother lying dead on the floor were all I saw when I looked up at Kevin.

“The police called my mom to let her know. The Bed and Breakfast went up in flames this morning.”

“What?” I didn’t believe any of this. “How?”

“The fire police don’t have any answers yet. They are investigating the cause.”

“Was anyone hurt?” I thought about the possibility of a skeleton crew at the house. Sometimes even when we were away, my father would hire a few people to maintain the house and make it seem like someone was there.

“They don’t think anyone was inside.”

I looked over at Max, “This has to do with me, doesn’t it?”

“There’s no real way of knowing until I do some poking around, but my guess is yes.”

Kevin and Brian both shot Max a look. I knew what they were thinking because I had the same thought. Which was, could you please learn how to lie to this child? Hasn’t he been through enough?

As if to add fuel to that fire, he continued, “Now that he has found the Bed and Breakfast you can never go back there Nick, I’m sorry.”

“I don’t understand why this is all happening to me.” I found myself sitting down. I don’t even remember walking towards a chair. Maybe I was guided by Brian who was sitting next to me. Everything was just turning into one big blur.

“What do we do now?” I heard someone ask Max. I wasn’t even really paying attention to who it was. The only thoughts in my head were memories of my childhood spent in the only place I ever really called home. Like helping my mom and dad paint the rooms with colors that I chose. Humming along as my mom and some of the hired cooks would make breakfast in the mornings. Playing in the backyard on the tire swing that my dad hung just for me, those were all just memories now.

“All of my things, my whole life was in that house.”

I felt Brian’s arm around me once again. “Things we can replace, they’re just things.”

I started crying, “Yeah, but they were my things. I don’t even know who I am anymore. That was the only thing I had left of me and now it’s gone.”

I was getting Brian’s shoulder all wet as he hugged me close to him. There was more talking and probably an answer to my question, but I didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore. Those people, whoever they were succeeded in breaking my spirit. I just wanted to go find them and let them kill me. This was all too much.

I felt myself going back there again, back to the first house. That fire when I was a kid. It was so intense. I really thought I was going to die. Flames were everywhere. The heat made me feel like my skin was going to boil right off. My mother lying dead on the floor as I tried to wake her up and then walking in to the hallway. I was picturing it all over again, but this time I was wide awake.

The hallway was so smoky I could barely see my hands in front of my face. I was trying to shield my eyes from the fire. The heat was burning my eyes. I was crying. I was so scared. I didn’t know where my dad was. There was only that one bad man who was with my mother.

They had been arguing about something. He scared me. She always told me to go to the bathroom when he came over and he came over a lot. I was young but I hated this man. There was something really bad about him. He was in the hallway with me. I couldn’t make out his face because of all the smoke, but I knew it was him because of his voice.

“Come here little Andrew, I’ll help you!” He said. He had an accent.

That’s when I walked back into my bedroom. I chose to go back into the fire instead of be helped by this man.

“Get back here you little brat!” He came to the door and started banging on it. Banging really loudly and I just went over to my mom and tried to wake her again...


“Tomorrow, I have it all worked out.” I looked up to the sound of Max’s voice.

“Okay.”

“Remember what I said.” He was talking to Kevin and then he glanced over at me.

“It’ll be okay,” He smiled at me and then left.

I had no clue what he was talking about. After he walked out the door, Kevin came and sat on the other side of me and he called Howie and AJ over as well. “We need to do exactly what Max said.”

“And what was that?” I asked. Wow, I didn’t even sound like me. My voice was barely there.

“Weren’t you paying attention?” Kevin asked in his ‘I’m about to lecture you’ voice. When he saw the lost look on my face, his demeanor changed, “We’ll just take care of it. Why don’t you go lay down for a bit, little man? You look like you can use some sleep. I’m sure Brian won’t mind keeping you company.”

“Huh?” Yeah, I was out of it. They all looked at each other nervously. I was worrying them now.

“Come on Frack, let’s go inside.” Brian pulled me off of the chair and led me to his room. “Are you okay Nick?” He asked once we were all alone. “You can talk to me if you need to.”

I wanted to, but I was still in my room, trapped with my dead mother while the guy with the accent continued to bang on the door. “I must have locked it, but how?”

“What are you talking about?”

I ignored Brian and tried to picture what I did when I closed the door. “The chair that was by the desk, I used that to jam the door but it didn’t work.” He pushed his way into the room. The chair fell to the floor and I let out a small scream.

“Come out come out wherever you are Andrew…I know you’re in here somewhere.” He was standing by my mom. His boot was on top of my pig, so he kicked it out of the way. It went sailing under my bed.

The man was coughing as smoke was really beginning to make its way into the room. He stood right next to my mother as he called my name, “Andrew, do you want to burn up? Come out and let me get you out of here.” He tried sounding sincere but I knew otherwise.

I remember scooting as far back as I could under that desk. I was all the way against the back. I put my fist in my mouth to avoid letting him hear me cry. That’s when he bent down and…


“Saw me.”

“Saw you? Who saw you? Nick, you’re scaring me.”

He bent down on all fours to get a closer look and when he saw how scared I was, he smiled at me. “Gotcha!” he moved his hand in and pulled me out from under the desk by my foot.

“I tried to get away but I was too small. He had a grip on my ankle.”


I saw Brian move to the door and heard him call for his cousin to come in right away. Something was wrong with me. It was so weird. I felt like I was in some kind of trance. It was like watching a movie unfold. In one corner of the screen there was Brian and reality but in most of the screen there was my nightmare, alive and in person.

I kept kicking at him, but he just laughed. He pulled me past my mother and then picked me up in his arms and walked to the door. I bit his shoulder and he let out a yelp, dropping me to the floor. I hit my head on the ground and went to sleep.

“He probably thought I was dead.”

“I don’t know, he’s been just kind of saying random things like that.”

“Nick?” Kevin’s voice was in my ear but all I saw was myself, laying on the floor in my bedroom only about three feet away from my dead mother. The flames were really shooting up all around us.

“I felt the heat of the fire.”

He was shaking me now, by both shoulders, “Nick! Snap out of it! Can you hear me?”

I looked right at him, but I didn’t see Kevin. It was Max who was trying to wake me up. “Andrew, can you hear me?” He asked as he swept me up in his arms.

I placed my head on his shoulder and looked down at my mother one final time as we ran into the hallway.

“Mommy.”

Don’t look at her Andrew. We have to get out of here. Keep your eyes closed, it’ll be all right.”

We ran to the stairs and carefully made our way down. I was yelling out to my mother the entire time, but she wasn’t answering. I knew she wouldn’t because…


“She was dead.”

“Come on buddy…look at me.”

And I did, “She was dead and I couldn’t help her Kevin.”

He still had my shoulders in his arms as he was pretty much mid shake when my movie ended.

“Are you okay?” He asked silently.

I nodded at him. That’s when I saw just over his shoulder, Howie, Brian and AJ all looking freaked out by what just happened. I don’t blame them, I would be feeling the same way.

“I remembered the fire. The only reason I’m alive is because he thought I was dead. He dropped me and I hit my head. I probably was unconscious.”

“Are you talking about the people who are after you now?” AJ asked.

I nodded at him. “I remembered.” I paused for a few seconds, trying once again to come back to reality. “They must like fire.” I added.

“Do you know who it is then, the person who is responsible for all of this?”

I shook my head, “No, all I know is that he had an accent. I don’t know where he was from but it was definitely not here. Maybe he was Russian; it sounded like that type of an accent.”

“Would you recognize him if you saw him again?”

“I’m not sure. I couldn’t get a good picture of him in my mind.”

“Maybe we should call Max?” Howie asked.

“Don’t bother. He was there for this. He’s the one that saved me from the house.”

“He did?”

I nodded again. “Where did he go anyway?”

AJ answered this time, “He was going to try to find out what happened to the house. We need to stay right here until he tells us otherwise.”

“So, he went to Florida?”

“No, the storm has all the airports closed. He said he had a connection down there that would look into it. He just had to make some calls from a safer location just in case he was being traced.”

“He mentioned a plan, what plan?”

“How we’re going to get away without upsetting management or our families.”

I looked over at Brian, “Is that even possible?”

He shrugged back at me. “If anyone can make it work, I think Max would be that person. We just have to play along with whatever is being said.”

I was beginning to think he was right about that.

“Well, I know this all puts a damper on things, but it is still Christmas for a few more hours, why don’t we just go back into the living room, watch a movie and try to get our minds off things. What do you say Nicky?”

I smiled at Howie, “Yeah, okay. So, when is Max coming back? I mean did he actually leave the hotel?” My mind was way beyond Christmas. I needed to figure out who this man was and how to get to him before he hurt anyone else, in particularly my friends.

“He said he’d be back some point tomorrow and we shouldn’t do anything at all while he was gone. We aren’t even supposed to answer the phone.”

I nodded, knowing what I needed to do. I knew where the answers to all my questions were.

Max’s room.
End Notes:
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it! I will be back next Saturday night with chapter 20. :O)
Chapter 20 by Mare
~ 20 ~


The Face Staring Back at Me




That night, we all went back into the living room like Howie suggested and watched The Holy Grail. Although I’m pretty sure none of us were actually watching at all. When it finally ended, we all had a cup of Kevin’s spiked eggnog, hugged and went to bed.

As I laid there waiting to hear those all too familiar snores coming from Kevin, I concocted a plan in my head. Getting into Max’s room wasn’t going to be easy. Thoughts about climbing from our balcony to his came to my mind briefly, before I realized that I wasn’t skilled enough to do that. Picking his lock was another great idea, except for the fact that I had no clue how to do that and this hotel used one of those key cards. It all seemed useless until I realized I did have one tool that usually came in handy and that was the good, old fashioned Nick Carter charm. I would manage to go down to the front desk and charm my way into Max’s room.

Finally, after what felt like hours, I heard a small humming snore coming from the bed next to me. Even Kevin’s breathing pattern sounded anal and well thought out. Quietly, I got up and slipped on some clothes. I didn’t even breathe when Kevin suddenly rolled over to face me. I just stood there frozen until I was certain he was still asleep. I tiptoed out of there and closed the door behind me, barely making a sound.

When it came to sneaking, I was a pro. I could out sneak anyone.

“What are you up too?” Well, almost anyone. I gasped when AJ greeted me at my door.

“Jesus Christ man, are you trying to give me a heart attack or something?”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you, so what are you up to?”

“Nothing, just going to the bathroom.”

He looked me over, “Then why are you dressed?”

“What are you, the pajama police?”

“I know you’re up to something.”

I started walking towards the bathroom, just to prove him wrong but of course he followed me. “I’m not up to anything, except taking a piss, want to join me?”

“I know you, Carter. I could tell you were planning something the whole time we were watching that movie.”

How in the hell? I refused to give in to him, “I’m not planning anything AJ.”

“Yeah you are. I know that look all to well. When you are planning something you look up at the ceiling and stick your tongue out like this,” he then of course showed me what I do and by the looks of it, I apparently turn into a very special episode of myself.

“Don’t you have anything better to do than stare at me?”

“It’s the stunning blue eyes I guess, so?”

“So what?”

“What are you going to do? Where are you going? I’m not letting you leave.” He walked past me and blocked the front door.

“How the hell did you know I was sneaking out?”

“Because you learned how to sneak around from the best, dufoburger. Now, what stupid ass thing do you plan on doing?”

“It doesn’t concern you, now go to bed.”

He laughed at me, “Yeah, right. Tell me or I’m going to wake up everyone.”

“AJ please, this is my life we’re talking about here.” I almost raised my voice before quickly going back to a whisper.

“I know that Nick, which is why I am not about to let you go and do something stupid.”

“I’m breaking in to Max’s room.”

He crossed his arms in front of himself, “Oh.” He almost seemed disappointed.

“What did you think I was going to do?”

“I wasn’t sure. That’s a pretty smart idea though.”

“Thanks. Now get out of my way so I can go through with it.”

“How do you plan on doing that exactly?”

I was growing impatient, knowing that for every minute we stood here and talked, there was a greater chance that someone else would wake up and join the party. “I don’t have time for this.”

I tried to barrel past him but he just lightly pushed me away. Even though I had height on AJ, he had strength on me. “I can’t let you.”

“I have to find out what is going on and the only way to do that is to get into his room and look for something, anything that might give me answers. This is the only time I can do this, please AJ…I’m begging you…let me go.”

He stood there for a few minutes, staring at me. Why did everyone do that? “Okay, fine…but I’m coming with you.”

As much as I wanted to argue with him, a part of me was grateful for the company. I was kind of nervous about the whole thing. It would be kind of nice to have someone else with me, even if it had to be AJ.

“Okay, we have to go right now!” I moved past him and opened the door and he followed me out.

“You realize if they figure out we left…”

“Kevin will kill us? Yeah, although I guess he’ll have to get in line.” How sad is that?

I told AJ my plan as we headed down to the lobby and once again he thought I was pretty smart. I also let him know about my dad being an ex CIA agent. He thought it was as funny and unbelievable as I did.

I walked over to the front desk and luckily an older lady was working. This would be a piece of cake I thought to myself and was right as I walked back towards the elevator with an extra key to my uncle’s room within ten minutes of crying about how irresponsible I was and how my poor deaf uncle would never hear my knock on the door.

“That was impressive, Nick.” AJ congratulated me as we got in and I waved to the older woman, mouthing the words thank you as the elevator doors closed.

“What can I say? I have great lost, puppy dog eyes.”

When we got to Max’s room, I felt my stomach lurch a little. Now that I was about to break and enter, it started to hit me how stupid and dangerous this idea actually could be. What if Max did come home early and found me in his room? Even worse, what if I found out that he was a bad guy after all?

“Well?” I looked over at AJ as he continued, “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. It’s not too late to change your mind. We can always just go back to bed.”

As tempting as that was, I owed it to my father to find out what was going on.

“No, let’s do this.” I said as I clicked open the door and snuck inside.

I turned on the light, expecting to see all the evidence I needed neatly laid out on his bed or something. Of course it wasn’t like that at all. The room almost looked bare, like he took everything with him. I felt dejected as I sat down on the chair. “It looks like nothing is here.”

AJ walked over towards me, “Wow, you really suck at being a detective. You didn’t even bother to open a drawer before giving up. Remind me never to hire you for work.” That being said he opened the drawer by the bed and sure enough there was nothing in there.

“See?” I said as sarcastically as possible.

“Theee?” He mocked.

Why did I let him come along? On the plus side, maybe if the bad guys did show up they’d take him instead of me. I stood up and moved to the bathroom. Maybe he hid something in there. But, besides some shaving cream and a bottle of aspirin, nothing was in there either.

“This sucks!” I was about to plop back on the chair when I noticed something under the bed. “Wait a second.” I dropped to my knees and started crawling towards the bed where AJ was sitting.

“What the hell are you doing? Shit, do you see a bug or something?” He moved his feet up on the bed. Yeah, nothing like knowing that a bug could turn AJ into a little girl. That always comes in handy when breaking and entering.

I grabbed the briefcase out from under the bed. “Look what I found.”

He moved his body to look down at what I was doing, “Wow, that’s like so stereotypical of him. I wonder if he has a wig and gun stashed somewhere as well.”

Of course the case had one of those locks that you needed a combination to open. “How am I going to open this?” I asked as I began to randomly scramble the numbers and kept trying to click open the box.

“Maybe we can use a knife or something?”

“Then he’d know someone broke into it.” I said as I once again turned the numbers to make a different combo.

“Why don’t you try his birthday? Isn’t that what people usually do?”

“I don’t know his birthday. I don’t even know his real name!”

“What about your dad’s birthday?”

“Why on earth would he even…oh hell, I’ll try it.” I was frustrated but thought why not? Of course it didn’t work.

“What about yours?”

I looked up at AJ and rolled my eyes, but I did try it. Scrolling 012880 and to my surprise there was a click. “Holy crap!” I said once again looking up at my friend as he smiled down at me.

“I told you! What’s inside?”

I cautiously opened the case, very slowly just in case Max had booby trapped it. It seemed like something he might do. Thankfully my fingers didn’t fall off or my head didn’t explode as I got a good look at what was inside. “Wow.” I said as I pulled some of the contents out.

There were a handful of fake Ids and passports with all kinds of names on them. “Now I know where to go when I need a fake ID.” AJ said as he came and sat on the floor next to me.

“I wonder if any of these are actually him?” I continued to leaf through all the identification when my eyes landed on one. “I bet this is his real name.” I said as I handed AJ the passport.

“Carter Huhn.” He said out loud. “You think this is where your dad got your last name?”

I nodded at AJ. “Do you see anything else with Carter Huhn’s name on it?” I moved the IDs off to the side to see what else might be in the briefcase. AJ had taken out a few papers and was looking through them.

I grabbed a batch of papers too and immediately found my name on one of them. Not my ‘now’ name but my real name. “Andrew Martins.” I read out loud. “I think this is me.”

AJ glanced over at me, “What is it?”

“My birth certificate.” I scanned down the page, “looks like my birthday is real. That’s nice to know. I was expecting to find out I was actually ten years older than I am.”

“Or ten years younger.” He added.

“I was born in Kentucky, how odd.” I continued to read down the document, happy to see proof of the person I used to be. “My mother’s name is Nicole Martins and my father’s real name is Jack Martins. Jack…that doesn’t fit him, he’s definitely more of a Bob.”

When I was done reading that one I moved to the next paper which looked like some legal mumbo jumbo that I couldn’t decipher. The name Carter Huhn was on it which further confirmed for me that we had found Max’s real identity. I quickly leafed through the rest of the papers in my hand not really knowing what any of them were. They seemed more like the kinds of things you’d find in a safe deposit box in a bank, but I guess that was out of the question for someone like my uncle.

At the bottom of the box were a few manila file folders. “Did you find anything, J?”

“Nope, not really, except that your uncle owns a lot of cars. Seriously dude. He must be loaded. All of these things are deeds to cars and houses.”

I handed AJ one of the two folders that I held in my hands, “Well, let’s see what these are all about.” I said as I opened the first one and immediately regretted it as I saw the dead eyes of my therapist staring back at me. “Jesus!” I dropped the folder.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s Jane, my therapist. He has a picture of her, dead.” I handed him the folder but he refused to look in it. “How the hell do you think he got that?”

“Maybe he has connections at the police department.” AJ said as he opened his folder and started going through it. I hoped his wasn’t as gruesome as mine, which I decided to pick up and continue to examine making sure I placed Jane’s picture facedown.

There were a lot of pictures of people in this folder. Most of them looked like surveillance shots. “Maybe he’s doing some private investigating or something.” I shuffled through pictures of a woman walking down a street. He had about twenty of her going in and out of stores, houses and …

“What the hell?” I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to be seeing things.

“What?” He asked.

“This is impossible.”

The picture clearly showed the woman’s face this time and there was no mistaking who I was looking at. .

AJ took the picture out of my hands and had the same look of shock on his face, “I thought she was dead.”

“I did too.” I didn’t know what else to say.

“Maybe this is an old picture.” AJ checked the back for some kind of date, but he knew as well as I did that the picture was recent. “There has to be a good explanation Nick. I mean, she’s dead.”

I couldn’t even formulate words for all the things that were going through my mind. For years I had been motherless, thinking an accident claimed her life when all this time…there were no words for what I was seeing. So, I flipped to the next picture and there she was again, laughing and smiling at whatever the person who she was talking to on the phone was saying.

I had to look away for a second, thinking maybe if I looked down again I would be wrong but that wasn’t the case. The face staring back at me every time I glanced down was Jane Carter.

“I don’t…” AJ started but was interrupted when we heard the unmistakable sound of someone trying to get into the room. The doorknob jiggled and the two of us had no idea what to do.

Quickly I threw the documents back into the briefcase and AJ followed my lead and did the same. Once we had them back in their place, I shoved the case back under the bed. I glanced at the balcony wondering if maybe we should make a run for it. The only bad thing about that was there really was no place to hide out there. All the person had to do was open the curtain and we’d be found.

“The bathroom!” I whispered as we both ran over to the bathroom and threw ourselves in as the door knob continued to jiggle.
End Notes:
I am just warning you guys that I am offiicially all caught up with myself which means I don't have any new chapters waiting in the wings, unfortunately. The good news is I am almost done with the next chapter so you should have a new update waiting for you next Saturday. I really am going to try to keep your updates weekly, but be patient with me. :O) In the meantime, thanks for reading and reviewing!
Chapter 21 by Mare
~ 21 ~


Sitting Ducks



We laid there as quietly as possible, not in the most comfortable of positions. I was lying on my back in the tub and AJ was lying on top of me and off to the side. We didn’t even have time to close the door but that was probably a good thing since that might have looked suspicious. Fortunately the tub was big enough to hold us both, but all someone had to do was come in and turn on the light and we’d be caught.

“What the hell are we going to do if they get inside?” AJ asked with a tinge of panic in his voice, “There’s no way they won’t think to look in here!”

He had a good point but it was too late to change hiding spots. “Is there anything we can use as a weapon in here?” I asked him since I was stuck pretty much underneath him and couldn’t move.

He peered out of the tub and looked around. “All I see are disposable razors and maybe a hairbrush.”

“Who do you think it is?” I asked him. For some reason talking made me feel better even though I knew we should probably have stayed quiet.

“Let’s hope it’s your uncle.”

“I don’t know, I think maybe if he found us in here it would be worse.”

“Who do you think it is?”

“I don’t know…maybe it’s a maid who’s having trouble with her key?”

“In the middle of the night?” He looked down at me in disbelief.

The door stopped moving which made both of us stop talking for a few seconds, anticipating what would happen next. Those seconds seemed like hours to me as we lay basically motionless in the small space together.

I couldn’t help but think how the British tabloids would have a field day with the idea of the two of us being in a tub together. That was the biggest rumor surrounding us in Europe. They all thought we were gay and thinking about that right at the moment was better than thinking about what potentially was waiting for us on the other side of Max’s door.

“Do you think the coast is clear?” I asked after about ten minutes had passed. My arm was numb and developed a nasty case of pins and needles.

“I’m not sure, but we can’t wait in here forever.” He got himself out of the tub and tiptoed close to the door.

I started to move but he gave me the wait sign with his finger. “Stay put just in case. I’m going to go out there and see if I hear anything.”

“Be careful and don’t do anything stupid!” I was kind of impressed with his bravery and the fact that he made me continue to hide while he checked to make sure we were safe. It seemed like a very un- AJ-like thing to do. Although in his defense, he could be kind of protective when he wanted to be. It just seemed like a ‘want’ he never wanted very much.

I sat up in the tub as if I was taking a bath and waited for AJ’s return. He came back a few minutes later. “I think they’re gone.” I nodded and climbed out. My legs were kind of numb. Next time we have to jump in a tub to hide from potential psycho killers, I am the one who is going to be on top.

“Where do you think they went?” He asked me as we both walked over to the balcony and looked out the window. The snow seemed like it was slowing down. It was dead outside. No one was coming or going anywhere which kind of scared me to death. That meant whoever tried to break in has been here the whole time.

I shrugged, “Do you think they knew Max left and was waiting for a chance to get in here?”

“Probably.”

That’s when it occurred to me, “AJ, what if they moved next door?”

He had the same look of alarm on his face at the realization that most likely if they knew Max was staying in this room, then they had to know we were staying in the suite next to his. “Jesus, we have to go make sure they are okay!” He said “Dammit! I need to just start bringing a baseball bat with me no matter where I go!”

I crawled under the bed and grabbed the briefcase.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“This might be what they wanted, and there’s no way I’m letting them get it! Besides, it will also serve as a weapon if we need it.”

He nodded and we walked to the door and opened it as quietly as possible. Tiptoeing, we made our way back to our room not sure if we should let ourselves in or not. I put my ear to the door to see if I could hear anything.

“It’s really quiet in there.” I whispered to AJ who had taken the briefcase from me and was holding it up in the air ready to strike anyone who crossed our path. “Think it’s safe to go in?”

“We might as well.”

I nodded at him and carefully unlocked the door and walked into the suite. It was still dark and everything seemed just like how we left it. There weren’t any signs of a break in, thankfully but I decided to make my way back to my room and check on Kevin just in case. AJ followed me with the briefcase in hand.

I opened the door a crack and was relieved to hear Kevin’s snoring come from his bed. I shut the door before waking him up and went over and repeated the routine for Howie and Brian as well. Once we saw they were all safe, we headed to the couch and sat down by the lit Christmas tree.

“Why do you think they left?” I finally asked after sitting in silence with just my thoughts for a few minutes.

“I don’t know but I hope they aren’t coming back.”

“Maybe we should wake the guys and let them know what’s going on, just in case.” I wasn’t thrilled with my idea but at the same time, if whoever was trying to get in to Max’s room did try ours we would be sitting ducks. This way, we could maybe come up with a plan of some kind.

“And dude, your mom is still alive. What the hell? I mean it’s a good thing. Considering all the crappy shit that’s been happening, but still, what the fuck?”

I still couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that my mother was alive. It’s so weird. I know I should have been happier about it. There was a part of me though, that felt nothing but betrayed. For all I knew it could also be some kind of trick. I couldn’t afford to get my hopes up because if it turned out to not be true, it would kill me. Especially with everything else going on.

“Max made it seem like my mom had nothing to do with any of this. This all happened before my dad even met her.” I answered after what I know seemed like forever to AJ.

“Why didn’t Max tell you about her? I would think after everything you’ve been going through, finding out your mom was alive would help a bit, don’t you think?”

I shrugged, not really sure what to think about any of this. It seemed like once we found out something, there was just another thing lurking around the corner waiting to be revealed. “And what about this thing? When Max comes back and sees that it’s missing, he’s going to go ballistic.” He put the briefcase back into my hands as if it was suddenly burning hot.

“I need to see what else is in here.” I was just about to put in my birthday again when the fire alarm in the hallways went off creating a loud, hotel wide alarm clock. “What now?” I asked just as Kevin came running out of the room all disoriented.

“What the hell is going on?”

“Sounds like the fire alarms went off.” I answered suddenly realizing maybe the alarms had to do with the near break in to Max’s room.

Brian and Howie wandered out a few seconds after Kevin, “Should we leave or is it a false alarm you think?” Brian scratched his head and yawned.

“I think this has something to do with us and this.” I held up the briefcase and the three of them had no idea what the heck it was.

“Huh?” Yeah, like I said…

“AJ and I broke into Max’s room and…” my story was interrupted by an abrupt knock on the door.

I tried to stop Kevin from answering it but it didn’t even matter because the person let themselves in, “You need to exit the hotel immediately.” A member of hotel security said. “There’s a small fire on one of the bottom floors.”

I glanced over at AJ feeling helpless to do anything but follow the man’s orders. Brian, Howie and Kevin all ran back to their rooms long enough to put on some clothes and we grabbed our coats and followed the hotel security guy down the hall. “Is this hallway all clear?” He asked another member of the hotel staff who was rounding up all the patrons.

“Yes,” was the short answer as we followed the man down the stairs.

“How big of a fire is it?” Kevin asked the man as we continued to descend the steps. The alarms were so loud that they were almost distorted. The flashing lights on them just added to the feeling of dread.

“Not that big, someone lit candles in their room. It’s under control but just to be safe we have to move everyone off of the floors and down to the lobby.

Even after that explanation, I still felt like this was too much of a coincidence. I mean, what are the chances that someone tries to break into my uncle’s room and then a fire happens. The people who are behind all of this like fire, this much we know.

When we got down to the hotel lobby, it was sheer pandemonium. There were so many people there that I almost hyperventilated. If we were anywhere else but America, we would have been mauled by the crowds. Thankfully no one here gave two shits about us…well except for psycho fire starters. Remind me to write a book about my life when this is all over.

“Maybe we should try calling Max.” Kevin broke me out of my thoughts as I found him looking at me for a nod of agreement.

“I don’t think we should. I mean, it’s really late and this isn’t an emergency.”

He gave me a questioning look, “Nick, forget the fact that you broke into his room. This is a little more serious than that. He told us not to leave our rooms or even answer the phone and now we’re stuck in a lobby with everyone who stays here. We’re out in the open like…”

“Sitting ducks.” I finished for him.

“Yes, so…I think I’m going to call him.”

I reluctantly nodded just as a fire truck pulled into the parking lot of the hotel. I glanced around at everyone surrounding us. Most of them were in their pajamas looking disoriented and a little annoyed. A few people were laughing, trying to make the best of the situation. The main topic of discussion was about the blizzard and how long it took the fire truck to make it here in the first place.

“Where’s the briefcase?” I jumped when I heard AJ whisper that in my ear.

I suddenly panicked when I realized that I had left it in the room on the couch. I turned to answer him, “Shit! It’s upstairs.”

“How could you forget to take it with you?”

“I don’t know…I got distracted!”

“Well, it’s too late now.” He actually rolled his eyes at me and made me feel like a stupid kid. I almost wanted to tackle him. Okay not almost, I actually did want to tackle him. I only refrained because the lobby was too crowded and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

Speaking of the lobby being crowded, I was beginning to get that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. The one good thing, the only good thing that has come out of all the crap that has happened the past few days, is I haven’t really had the time to feel the anxiety I had been feeling for months prior to this. I have had so much on my mind that you probably could lock me in a room with fifty people, a platypus and an alligator and I wouldn’t care.

Until now…

I was finding it harder and harder to breathe as I felt like everyone in the room was staring at me. What if one of these people was the bad guy from my dreams? He could be only inches away from me and I wouldn’t know any better. Maybe this was the plan? Set off the fire alarm and have us all in one common area.

The faces of all the people around us took on a more sinister look. Even those, who were laughing about what had happened, now seemed more solemn and serious. Everyone was staring at me with evil looks in their eyes.

“Are you okay, Nick?” I turned to Brian who had his hand on my shoulder.

“I think I’m going to pass out.” I grabbed at his arm and he anchored me onto him.

“That’s not good. Let’s go outside for a few minutes.”

When Howie saw Brian clinging on to me he came over and placed his arm on my other shoulder. “What’s going on?”

“He said he feels like he’s going to pass out.”

“That’s not good. “

Sometimes we all share a brain.

“Maybe we should go outside for a few minutes.”

See?

The three of us made our way past a lot of concerned gazes and outside. AJ was following behind, probably thinking that I was being a drama queen. It was nice to know that the ‘protective’ AJ was hibernating once again.

When the doors opened the cold air hit us like a canon. It was so cold outside that I actually had a brain freeze and my eyes instantly started to tear. I leaned over and felt someone’s hand on my back. “You’re going to be okay Nicky, just breathe.”

I was starting to feel much better already. “Thanks, D.” I said as I slowly stood upright again.

“Anxiety attack?” Brian asked me through shivering teeth. I felt bad that I made them all come outside.

There were only a handful of people dumb enough to be outside in this weather. Most of them were smoking. Some of them were hotel workers and there were two firemen talking to what looked like management.

“Yeah, I just got antsy. Sorry guys, we can go back in now if you want.”

“We probably should. My cousin will have two and a half cows if he comes back and doesn’t see us.”

I nodded forgetting that in my haste to get outside, we forgot to let Kevin know where we were going. That was a mistake of epic proportions but maybe he didn’t notice.

We walked back inside where the crowd was still kind of mulling about. Most of them close to the elevators now, waiting for the all clear. I glanced around the lobby to the front desk where Kevin was last seen making his call. “Uh guys, where is Kevin?” I asked when he was nowhere to be found.

All four of us started looking around the lobby for any sign of our friend. It was so packed down here that he could have been right next to me and I wouldn’t have known it. I really was trying to stay calm, but when Brian, Howie and AJ all came back to where I was standing, Kevin-less, the panic level in me rose to a new height.
End Notes:
I have officially caught up to myself. I knew it was only a matter of time. I hope to have a new chapter out by next Saturday but it might not happen. Not sure if you guys are even reading this anymore to be completely honest so if you are, i'd love some feedback. I am thinking you have either given up on the story or hating the direction it's taken based on the last chapter.

Have a great weekend!
Chapter 22 by Mare
~ 22~


Deck the Halls with lots of muffins… falalalala





“Where the hell is Kevin?” I asked, frustrated with this entire situation.

“Maybe he’s in the bathroom.” AJ said as he walked over towards the restrooms and went inside.

“He might have freaked out when he didn’t see us.” Howie glanced around the room, placing his hand above his eyes to get a better view. I don’t really know why people do that. I mean, does it help?

“Not in the bathroom.” We looked over at AJ as he ran back towards us.

“If he didn’t see us, it’s possible he headed back upstairs to see if we were there.” Brian added.

“I think he would have checked outside before he ventured back upstairs. Besides, I’m pretty sure no one would have let him just go back to the room.” Howie said, completing his latest scan of the lobby. “I think I’ll go ask the front desk if anyone has seen him.”

As he walked away I turned to Brian and AJ, “I’m having a bad feeling.”

“Don’t say that, Nick. I know we’ve been through hell but let’s not go there yet. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation. He’ll pop up any second.”

As much as I wanted to share in Brian’s optimistic outlook, my mind wouldn’t allow me to. It wasn’t like Kevin to just go wander off without saying anything to anybody. Something happened to him.

“Maybe we should try to get upstairs.” We both looked over at AJ, kind of surprised by what he said.

“There’s really only one way to know if he was able to get up there and that’s if we try it as well.” He shrugged when he said it. I have to admit, it was a good idea.

“I agree, let’s try it guys!” I started walking towards the staircase and was stopped by hotel personal immediately.

“I’m sorry sir, but we aren’t allowing anyone up to their rooms just yet. We’re just waiting for the all clear. It shouldn’t be too much longer. Sorry for the inconvenience. Would you like a complimentary muffin?” She held out a tray of muffins to me.

“No thanks.” I gave her a half smile and turned to Brian, “Well so much for that idea. If Kevin went upstairs, he snuck up there.”

Howie walked over to us and shook his head, “They said they don’t remember him or anyone matching his description but it’s been really busy so they might not have noticed him.”

“What are we going to do?”

“I say we sneak upstairs. Maybe two of us go and two of us create some kind of distraction.”

“What kind of distraction AJ? It’s not like we’re the most inconspicuous people on the planet.”

“I don’t know D. Brian can create some kind of diversion. He’s good at that.”

“Not as good as Nick is.”

“No way, I want to be the one to go up there.”

Howie gave me a Kevin look, “Nicky, I don’t think that’s a very good idea. Maybe AJ and I or Brian and I could…”

“Absolutely not! This is MY fault. I’m not just going to sit here and wait around.”

“It could be dangerous, I mean what if…” Brian didn’t want to finish his thought and honestly, none of us wanted him to either.

“Then it would be too dangerous for all of us. Who’s to say you guys can handle the situation better than I could?”

They looked at each other knowing that even if they fought with me forever, I would still manage to get my way on this one, so dejectedly Howie nodded, “Okay, but I’m going with you then.”

AJ seemed almost disappointed. I guess he liked his last adventurous outing with me. Brian smiled, “You sure you don’t want me to go instead?”

Howie shook his head, “I think it should be me. You are better at creating mayhem then I am.”

“I can’t really argue with that.”

We talked it over for a few more minutes, hoping in that time that Kevin would just resurface. When there was still no sign of him anywhere, we placed our hands on top of each other and gave a grunt. The same kind of thing we did before going out on stage. Hey, if it worked for that maybe it would work for this.

“Be careful!” Brian said while pointing a finger at the two of us.

“You know, we can use this against Kevin for a long time.” AJ said as if he thought Kevin just decided to walk upstairs and go back to bed or something.

“I hope you’re right about that.” I wasn’t about to argue with him. I kind of wished that was exactly what happened. If anything else besides that happened, I’m not sure I could handle it.

Howie and I made our way close to the stairwell again but not close enough to draw attention to ourselves like I had the last time. The muffin lady was standing off to the side and gave me a quick glance before turning back towards the front of the building. She was the only one watching this exit. There were muffin people strategically placed by all the stairways. I wonder if this was their emergency back up plan. Let’s keep everyone away from upstairs by feeding them. We’ll call it the muffin distraction technique.

“Deck the halls with boughs of Holly…” I turned to the sound of Brian’s voice echoing through the lobby as he stood on top of a chair. “Falalalala lala la la.”

I glanced at Howie and he smiled at me.

“Tis’ the season to be jolly…”

This time AJ joined in perfect harmony, “Falalalala lala la la.”

They both sang together, “Don, we now are gay apparel…come on everyone sing along. Let’s make the best of this crappy situation!”

Everyone in the whole lobby sang, “Falala falala la la la.”

I looked over at the muffin lady as she joined in, “Troll the ancient yule tide carol…”

Howie and I made a brisk run for the stairs as the final falalalas were sung.

“I knew that would work.” Howie said as we quickly climbed the stairs, clearing the second floor to the sound of applause from below.

“Lou would be pissed if he knew we were performing for no money.” I said, already out of breath and only on the third floor. We had to go all the way to the top. I need to start working out a little bit more.

We stopped briefly when we hit the 9th floor. Even Howie was out of breath. “Do you think people got the all clear yet?” He asked as I finally caught up to him.

“I think we’d hear more activity if they did.”

He nodded and then glanced up at the stairs, “I am really not enjoying this.”

“Me either.”

“Let’s keep going.” He started to run up the stairs and after taking a few deep breaths, I followed.

We finally reached the top floor very soon after that. My legs felt rubbery, I’m not sure how people like firemen or police men did this all the time. Thoughts went to my father, racing up stairs with a gun in his hand. I just couldn’t picture him being able to do this without dropping dead of a heart attack. How in the world could he have been in the CIA?

“Nicky stay behind me, okay?”

“Okay.”

He nodded and then opened the door that led to our hallway. It was so quiet that it was almost creepy. The red lights on the alarms were still flashing but the sound had stopped which added an almost strobe like effect to place.

“Have you ever shot a gun, Howie?” I whispered as we slowly approached the suite.

He turned and looked at me as if I was an idiot. “Do I look like someone who has ever shot a gun?”

“What if they have guns?”

“Nicky, let’s not even worry about that. For all we know, Kevin just decided to come back up here and go to bed or something.” Wow, I wish I lived on the same planet as AJ and Howie did.

“You don’t actually believe that, do you?”

He stopped again and looked at me, “I don’t know what to believe.”

“So then you have to be thinking what I’m thinking too, right?”

He opened his mouth to answer but stopped when he turned towards the unmistakable sound of a door opening. We really had nowhere to go besides back to the stairwell so we turned to run as fast as we could before being seen by whoever was coming out of Max’s room. It was too late though, they saw us “Stop!” We heard just as we slammed through the door and ran down the steps as fast as we could. It definitely wasn’t Kevin’s voice. In fact, what made me pick up my pace was the Russian lilt in his tone.

Howie opened the door to the floor just below ours and we bolted down the hallway and into the small room where the ice maker and soda machines were. We gave each other a panicked look when we heard the exit door open. “What do we do now?” I whispered to him as he glanced around the room for any place to escape. “Can you fit between the wall and the machine?” He asked me.

I quickly tried to fit but I didn’t have enough room. “No, but you probably can.” I said to him.

“Are you sure they came onto this floor?” The Russian man asked someone as they started to make their way down the hallway and towards us.

“They had to have. They couldn’t have made it down that fast.”

Howie was able to crawl into the small space between the soda machine and the wall and now just watched me in horror as I tried to find a quick place to hide. I really need to go on a diet. I heard them coming and was trying my best not to panic. “Nicky, you need to hide now!”

“Do we even know who they were?” Came another voice, this one not with an accent.

“It doesn’t matter. They ran. It had to be one of them.” The Russian answered. They actually passed by the room we were in as they were talking, giving me a small reprieve.

“Was it the kid?”

“I couldn’t tell.”

Even though he was smart enough not to say anything with the bad guys so close, I felt Howie’s gaze on me once he realized I was the kid they were talking about. I turned around and saw a huge garbage can sitting in the corner of the room. Without even thinking about what was in there, I ran over and squeezed myself into it. Luckily it wasn’t that full and I was able to crouch down inside just as I heard them walking back towards us.

Please don’t come in here….please don’t come in here….please don’t come in here….

“If it was the kid, then he knows we broke in.”

“Yes, but If it was Andrew, then we know he’s here!” The Russian said and I felt my skin crawl when he called me by my real name.

“That’s true. Wow, Misha will be pleased, won’t he?”

“Not sure after the mishap, but I’m sure that’ll help a little. Speaking of which, we better get back because Anya said they are letting people back upstairs now. We need to be long gone…”

“Don’t even bother finishing, let’s roll. We have what we came for.” And with that being said, they both started back towards the stairwell just as I heard a ding coming from the elevator followed by the sounds of plenty of voices.

Howie came out from his hiding space as I climbed out of the garbage can. “Did you catch all of that?” He asked me as two teenagers walked into the room and looked at us suspiciously.

“What?” I asked all defensively, ignoring the fact that I probably smelled and looked like garbage.

Howie pulled me by my shirt out of the room, “Did those names mean anything to you?”

I tried to recall an Anya or Misha but nothing clicked. “No.”

“They didn’t mention Kevin. That’s a good sign.”

“Yeah but they did say they got what they came for. What if that was one of us?” I didn’t mean to be a Debbie Downer but it did make sense.

He gave me a small sigh and then pat my back, “Let’s get upstairs. I’m sure the guys are there by now and are wondering where we are.”

“You don’t think they’re still there, do you?” I asked as we opened the door to our floor and stepped out into the hallway just as Brian and AJ came out of the elevator.

“Well?” They asked.

“We didn’t have a chance to go in there.” I answered.

“Before we even got to our room, someone came out of Max’s and we had to run for it.” Howie finished.

“Really?” I can’t believe how surprised AJ sounded. Didn’t he remember someone trying to break in only hours before this?

Brian had a sick look on his face though. It’s like he knew, it finally sunk in that I was right about all of this. “Kevin…” He said as he picked up his pace and ran towards our room.

I didn’t want to go in there. Thoughts of finding Kevin dead occurred to me briefly. “They were in Max’s room, not ours.” I said under my breath as we walked towards our room and opened the door.

The room looked fine until the light was turned on. You could tell that someone had definitely gone through it. The tree was tilted against the wall and several of the ornaments lay broken on the floor.

The presents that were neatly stacked by the tree when we left, were now all scattered everywhere.

“Kevin!” Brian yelled as he and AJ searched the rooms. I couldn’t allow myself to go looking for him, just in case.

I glanced over at the couch, “The briefcase is gone.” I said as AJ passed me and looked over at the balcony door.

“The picture of me and my family is gone too.” I sat down, feeling so completely helpless I wanted to just crawl into a ball and die.

“He’s not here. Where is Kevin?” Brian asked panicked.

“They had to have taken him, that’s the only logical explanation.” I answered, knowing my best friend would hate me forever for this. I would hate me forever for this as well.

“We need to contact Max. Do you have his number, Nicky?” Howie sounded calm as a cucumber, immediately taking over the role of responsible one left vacant by Kevin.

“Nicky?” He asked again with more urgency in his voice and I placed my hands in my pockets searching for the number.

“Wait, it’s in my other pair of jeans.” I got up and ran into the room Kevin and I shared. I ran to the bed and put on the light. Finding my jeans on the floor, I scooped them up and frantically searched the pockets. “Come on…” I was frustrated when I didn’t find anything inside. “Don’t tell me I lost the number!”

I ran to the dresser where another pair of my pants was rolled up in a ball to the side on the floor. “Maybe I was wearing these.” I felt in my pockets and was relieved to feel a piece of paper. “Yes!” I felt triumphant as if I finally did something right, but that feeling went away very quickly when I noticed something over by Kevin’s bed.

“Nicky, the number…we need it now.” Howie said as he walked into the room but when he saw me looking in the direction of Kevin’s bed, his eyes went there as well. “Is that blood?” He asked nervously walking towards the small puddle at the edge of the bed.

“I think so.” I whispered, now aware of all the small specks of blood surrounding the bed. They looked like a little polka dotted map, leading to the closet where more blood was gathered on the floor.

“D…” I didn’t know what to say. Time felt like it was standing still as the two of us just stood there staring at the closet, not wanting to find out what or who was inside.
End Notes:
Just trying to repost to see if it shows up this time. Sorry for the confusion if there was any lol and thanks for reading and putting up with my whiny self last week! :O)
Chapter 23 by Mare
~ 23 ~

The Dumpster





“Guys did you call him yet? Did Kevin actually get in touch with him…what are you both staring at?” Brian asked when he walked into the room and saw us standing there staring at the closet door. He paused for a few seconds, registering the blood on the floor before he spoke again, “Is that blood?”

“We think so.” Howie answered.

“It isn’t Kevin’s, is it?”

“We don’t know.”

A pounding coming from inside the closet made all three of us jump. The sound of a muffled voice and another kick finally made one of us move. “Kevin?” Brian asked as he opened the door.

A man with his hands tied behind his back and a piece of masking tape on his mouth greeted us with a kick to Brian as he fell to the floor. The guy then tried his best to crawl out of the closet and get to his feet. He was hurt though so the pain slowed him up. Unsure of what to do, I tackled him back down to the ground as Howie helped Brian to his feet.

The man struggled under my weight but I had him pinned down, so he wasn’t going anywhere. “Who the hell are you?” I asked him as he continued to struggle, at one point completely knocking me off of him before trying to get to his feet once again. This guy was a pro; it was pretty easy to tell by his fast moves. The three of us all tackled him this time and managed to sit him down on a chair just as AJ came into the room all confused.

“What the hell?” He asked as Howie hit the guy upside the head with Kevin’s Bible, making him slump on the chair.

“I am pretty sure I’ll be going to hell for that.”

“Howie! Why did you do that? He needs to tell us where Kevin is!” Brian yelled.

“We need a plan and some more rope to hold this guy in place.”

“Who the hell is he?”

“We don’t know AJ, he was in the closet. Go find something to tie his feet together so he’ll stop trying to run away.” Howie said as he put the Bible down on the dresser and made the sign of the cross.

“It looks like he’s been shot.” I said, noticing the bullet wound near his shoulder where all the blood was coming from. The man started to move a little and groan as his eyes began to open, “AJ, hurry!” I called out to him just as the guy once again tried to stand up.

All I could think to do was sit on his lap to keep him down, “Just relax buddy.” I said as calmly as possible as AJ came running in with two scarves.

“This is all I could find.” He said handing them to Howie who proceeded to tie one leg while Brian took the other. The guy tried to fight it but stopped when he realized he was out numbered.

“Good job AJ. Nicky, you can get off of him now.”

Trying to get a really good look at him, I squatted down beside him and looked him in the eyes. He had blue ones just like me. His hair was a little darker than mine and he was probably a few years older than Kevin. He was staring right back at me and smiling from behind the tape.

I stood up and moved as far away from him as I could. He never took his eyes off of me. Even as I turned my back to him, I felt his gaze going right through me. I needed to walk away from this for a second. It was all too much. “I’m going to call Max.” I said, taking the number that had managed to fall on the floor and walking out of the door before anyone could stop me.

Once out there, I figured out that I didn’t want to call my uncle either. He would ask me a ton of questions that I didn’t know the answers to. Should I tell him about the briefcase or should I play stupid? I wanted to talk about it and ask him why he kept it to himself that my mother was alive. I was so angry at him and this situation. But it was Kevin who had me the most concerned, so I sucked it up, forgot about all of my woes for a minute and dialed Max’s cell.

Of course it went to voicemail because, that’s just how things are going.

“Hi Max, it’s me Nick. Look, things are going really bad here. We really need your help. I’m not sure if Kevin reached you or not but now he’s missing and we have a guy tied up in our room. They found us and we don’t know what to do. Please call me back as soon as you get this message.”

I sighed and rubbed my temples. I was getting a huge headache. I’m surprised it took this long before that happened. I’m sure most people’s heads would have exploded by now. I must have a really high tolerance for crap.

“I left a message.” I said before anyone even had a chance to ask.

“Okay, we are going to remove this tape, but if you scream, we’ll put it right back on.” The way Howie said that, you would think he did this for a living. In fact, the way we were all acting, you’d think this was second nature to all of us. I’m sure we were all freaking out on the inside but we were doing a pretty damn good job of not showing it to this guy.

We all watched as Howie gently removed the tape from the man’s mouth and in return the guy spit on him and muttered something in Russian after the fact. D turned around and wiped his face looking like he was about ready to puke.

“Who are you and where is Kevin?” Brian asked walking towards the guy but stopping before he got too close. I guess he didn’t want to be spat on.

The man turned his head away from Brian and looked at me. “You look like your mother.” He said in a very Russian accent.

“How do you know my mother?”

He smiled at me, “You do not remember me, Andrew?”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Why? That is your name.”

“Not anymore.”

“If it were only that easy to erase who you are.”

“Where is Kevin?” I asked since he seemed to be ignoring everyone else in the room.

“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“Sure you do. Big guy, about same age as you, brown hair.”

“You know, your mother would be so proud of you if she knew you were a performer. Did you know she used to sing?”

“She did?”

“Yes, she had a beautiful voice. I’m surprised your father never told you that.”

I tried to ignore what this guy was saying and stay focused on finding Kevin, but at the same time, here was someone who could probably answer all of my questions. “I’m glad she had a nice voice, maybe we’ll reminisce some more once you tell me where my friend is.”

He shook his head at me. “Of course, I’m not that surprised considering he probably didn’t even bother to tell you about your mom in the first place.”

I got in his face, “Where is Kevin AND what did you do to my dad?”

“Nice to know you have the same temperament as your mom too.” He said calmly, once again smiling as he did.

I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder, “Come on Frack. Let’s go in the other room for a little while. AJ and Howie will deal with our guest for now.”

I let out a sigh but decided it was probably a good idea. I think both Brian and I needed a break. I turned to Howie and AJ and gave them a smile. “Watch your backs.” Brian whispered to them as we walked out of the bedroom and back into the living room area.

“I don’t think he’s going to tell them anything.” I said frustrated as we walked over to the balcony and looked out the window. The fire truck was now gone but the snow had once again picked up.

“Don’t you think it’s a little odd that they left him behind?”

I nodded at my best friend. I didn’t think it made any sense that they decided to leave this guy in our closet when they could have easily just taken him with them. Why leave someone here that could virtually tell us what we wanted to know.

“Maybe it’s some kind of trick? Maybe he’s going to tell us some bogus information and lead us into a trap.” I know it sounded a little James Bond-ish, but after all the shit that’s gone down, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

“I think he might be related to you, Nick.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked it kind of defensively. I didn’t mean to sound so annoyed but part of me was thinking the same thing and that part of me was hoping that no one else would have noticed the resemblance.

“You just kind of look a like.”

“But he’s Russian.”

“Maybe your mother was too.”

“But Max is her brother. He’s not Russian.”

Brian shrugged, “I don’t know, just seems like he might be a cousin or something.”

I let out another sigh, “Speaking of cousin…I’m so sorry about Kevin.”

He said with a very serious look on his face, “This isn’t your fault, Nick. And Kevin is fine! Nothing has happened to him. I’m sure we’ll find him safe and sound.”

Just then, the phone to our suite rang and all I could do was hope that it was Max. Brian beat me to the phone so I just stood there and waited in anticipation. By the look of panic on his face, I immediately thought the worst. I braced myself for what he was going to say.

“Oh, hey Aunt Anne.” Shit!!! “No, its okay you’re calling so late. We were all awake. We couldn’t sleep and had a mishap with the fire alarms anyway.” He gave me a look of utter horror. Boy she had bad timing. “Kevin? Uh…he’s actually in the shower. Have you heard from him lately?” I’m glad he’s the one that answered the phone because I would have become a stammering idiot. “Oh…yeah, we loved the presents. Thanks again!”

“Did she hear from him?” I tried to whisper as quietly as possible.

He shook his head at me, “No, that was Nick in the background.” He paused for a second, “He’s doing well and loved all his presents too.” His eyes grew big, “You want to talk to him? Okay…hang on a second, I’ll give him the phone.” Oh my God! No!! I can NOT talk to her.

He shrugged at me and covered the phone with his hand, “I can’t talk to her. I’ll totally give away that something is wrong. Tell her I’m in the bathroom.”

“With Kevin while he’s in the shower?”

“We’re famous, can’t we have two bathrooms?”

He gave me a disappointed look and then took his hand away from the receiver. “Aunt Anne, he doesn’t really feel like talking to anyone. I think the poor little guy is just tired, sorry.” He paused again, “Yeah, I should probably be going too. I’ll tell Kev you called though.” Poor Brian looked like he just tripped an old woman walking across the street as he lied to his aunt. “Love you too. Bye!”

“I hate lying to people!” See? I knew it.

“Believe me Brian, I think this time a lie is better than the truth.”

He nodded at me, “Maybe we should go back in there and see if Howie and AJ found anything else out.”

Before we had a chance to walk in, Howie and AJ walked out. “Who was on the phone?” AJ asked hopeful that maybe it was Kevin or Max.

“Aunt Anne.”

“Shit, this late?”

“I guess she was missing her son.”

“Aren’t we all?” Howie answered as he walked over to us. “He’s not going to talk to anyone but you, Nicky. He was pretty clear on that.”

“I had a feeling he was going to say that.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Why D?” Brian asked.

“He’ll only speak to Nicky alone. He doesn’t want any of us in there.”

“He’s tied up. I’ll be fine.”

“It’s not that. You’ve been through so much. I just don’t want him playing mind games with you right now.”

“I appreciate that D, but we have to worry about Kevin. I’ll be fine.”

Howie gave Brian a look. My best friend thought about things for a few minutes and then said, “I think he’ll be able to handle it and if not, he can always just walk out of the room.” Then he looked me, “You will walk out of that room if he starts with any crap or if he seems like he’s breaking free.”

“Yes, of course I will.”

“Okay, but please be careful. We’ve already misplaced one Backstreet Boy today.” I liked Howie’s interpretation of Kevin’s disappearance. With that being said, I walked into the room and had my go at our little prisoner.

We have a prisoner. You know something in your life has gone terribly wrong when you can utter the words “I’ll go talk to my prisoner.”

I closed the door behind me and made my way over to the man we had tied up with AJ’s apparel. “I heard you wanted to talk to me.” I said nice and calmly as I sat across from him on my bed. I was so exhausted I just wanted to lie down and call it a day.

“Tell me what your father told you about your mother.”

He had the nerve to try to interrogate me? I rolled my eyes at him, “I’m not telling you anything until you tell me what happened to my father and my friend.”

“Something happened to your father? I was not aware.”

My heart started beating just a tad bit faster at that news. “What do you mean? He’s missing. If you didn’t have anything to do with it, then why are you here?”

“Do you still like drawing?”

That question took me by surprise. When he saw the look on my face he smiled, “I take that as a yes. You used to love to draw. You always made me pictures.”

“Tell me where Kevin is, please.” I didn’t know what else to do besides beg.

“I keep telling you, I don’t know who that is.”

“He was with us, he went to make a call and then he disappeared.”

I was embarrassed when I felt a tear fall on my cheek. The last thing I wanted to do was cry in front of this jerk. His face softened just a little when he saw the tears come, “I’m sorry Andrew.”

“Sorry about what?”

“Check the dumpster downstairs.” He looked me in the eyes when he said it, and I immediately closed mine, hoping I hadn’t heard right.

“You…killed him?” I managed to get out in the middle of hyperventilating.

“Breathe Andrew, you’re going to pass out if you don’t breathe.”

I walked over to him and punched him in the face. The force of the blow made his chair fall to the ground. I straddled him and found my hands around his neck. “How could you do that?” I asked ferociously. I was even scaring myself.

AJ, Brian and Howie all came running into the room and it took all three to pull me off of the guy. Once I let go of his neck he started coughing and that made me want to charge at him again. “Get him out of here!” Howie said to AJ and Brian, the two were restraining me. They wouldn’t be if they knew what he just said, but in my grief, I couldn’t tell them. I had to go see for myself.

Once outside of the room, they let me go. “What the hell happened in there?” AJ asked.

I didn’t answer him, instead I put on my jacket and went for the front door. “Where are you going?” Brian asked as he came running after me.

“Stay here! I need to go check something out and I need to do it alone!”

“You’re not going anywhere alone, Nick.” AJ said walking past me and trying to block the door.

“Get out of my way or I swear to God I’ll punch you!”

“Then punch me! You are not leaving!”

“I have to go check something.”

“What?”

“I can’t say, just let me go!”

“Did he tell you to do that?”

“Get out of my way!”

“NO!”

I grabbed AJ and pushed him with all my might and he fell to the ground. I heard Brian call out after me but I left and bolted down the stairs. I was hoping he wouldn’t be following me, but I didn’t have time to look. The thing is, I knew myself and I knew that if I even took a second to think about things, I wouldn’t have the courage to look in the dumpster and if anyone deserved to find Kevin’s body in there it was me. Not his cousin or any of his other friends, but me. Because I was the one who was responsible. It was my fault. So I just kept going, running down the stairs as fast as I could, forgetting about my phobias, forgetting about the threat of other people catching up with me and forgetting about the blizzard outside while I was only wearing a tee shirt and jeans. I just kept going until I was back in the lobby.

The lobby was completely deserted and only two hotel workers were manning the front desk. They looked at me and smiled. One of them was the muffin lady from earlier in the day. I smiled back and then walked out the door and into the snow.

The wind had really picked up but I didn’t care. I glanced around the parking lot, looking for any sign of a dumpster and when I didn’t see anything I decided to run around the corner to the back of the hotel. I had to stop when breathing became increasingly harder to do. I couldn’t even feel my hands or face anymore and wanted more than anything to turn around and go back inside, but I couldn’t. So, I sucked it up and kept moving and within a few minutes, I was at the back of the hotel where three huge dumpsters sat under shoots.

“Kevin please, don’t be in there!” I pleaded as I walked over to the first one. I took a deep breath, found a crate and stood on it as I peered over the side. Grateful that I didn’t see anything besides trash, I moved on to the next one.

I took the crate and put it beside the dumpster and stood up and peered over. This time I did see what I thought might be a foot exposed through a layer of garbage. “Please God…no.” I went to reach in and move things around when I felt someone grab me from behind.

The force of the man pulled me right off the crate and we both went tumbling in the snow. I was struggling to break free but he had a strong hold on me and wrapped his hands around my neck. Now I knew what it felt like to be strangled. I was gasping for air and trying my best to break free but the spots in front of my eyes were hindering my escape. My arms felt rubbery and I just lost all my fight. I closed my eyes and let the blackness take over.
Chapter 24 by Mare
~ 24~

The Interrogation




“Tiss is for you.” I said as I handed the boy a picture of a dragon I made. I used to love making dragons and monsters. Even back then I was fascinated with that stuff.

“Thanks.” The older kid said.

I reached for another crayon and picked a huge red one. I put it in my mouth, which was something I did often. I loved putting things in my mouth. Crayons were sweet. “He’s eating crayons again!” The blonde kid said.

My mother walked over to me and took the crayon out of my hand, “No Andrew, that’s icky and will make you sick.”

I started to cry but was distracted by the older boy who was now dancing around the room like a monkey.

My mother looked over at the blonde boy and smiled, “Good work Nickolas.” She said to him. “Andrew really loves you.” And I remember thinking, “yes…I really do….”


My head hurt really badly as I tried to open my eyes.

“He’s waking up.” I heard as I tried moving my head a little bit. I couldn’t remember what exactly happened. All I knew was I felt like I had been stabbed about a hundred times.

“Guys! He’s waking up!!” The voice said. This time it was louder and thankfully familiar.

When I opened my eyes I saw Brian’s concerned face staring down at me, “Thank God…you gave us all quite a scare buddy, how are you feeling?”

He was quickly joined by AJ and Howie. “Nicky, can you hear me?”

“Of course I can D; you just yelled that into my ear.” I rolled my eyes and tried to sit up, only to find myself too weak and falling back into my bed again.

I suddenly felt so cold. My lips in answer to my brain started to quiver. “Get him another blanket AJ, he’s shivering again.” Brian barked out to AJ. I guess just like Howie became Kevin when he was gone, AJ took over my role as gopher when I was… wait.…Kevin…

I did sit up that time, “Guys, we have to find Kevin!! I was at the dumpster and there was a body…” I looked at Brian’s face. “I think Kevin’s in there!”

“It wasn’t Kevin.” I turned to the sound of my uncle’s voice. “There was a body in that dumpster but it wasn’t your friends.”

“Max.”

He smiled and sat beside me on the bed. “That was a stupid thing you did, going out there all by yourself. Didn’t I tell you all not to go out?”

“But the guy in the room…” That made me look around the room only to find our prisoner wasn’t anywhere to be found. “Where did he go?” I asked, now trying to stand which I quickly regretted. I felt so dizzy I fell all the way back on my pillow to the sounds of gasps.

“He’s still in your room. You’re in my room, Nicky.” Howie said, placing his hand on my forehead. “Maybe we should get him some more aspirin?”

“Aspirin would be good.” I said as I once again sat up. “How did I get up here? I thought someone grabbed me. I tried to break free but I couldn’t.”

“It was me.”

“You?” I asked my uncle.

“When I got back to the hotel, Brian met me in the lobby and said he saw you run outside. I followed you to the dumpster.”

“I don’t understand. Why did you strangle me?”

“I didn’t strangle you. You passed out.”

I looked at him suspiciously. I definitely remember someone’s hands around my neck. “But…you didn’t say anything. I…”

“Why don’t you lie back down? You need your rest.” He stood up to leave.

“Wait! What about the guy? Did he tell us anything about Kevin? And if it wasn’t Kevin in the dumpster, then who was it?”

“We’re working on that but the good news is, I don’t think your friend was taken by these people. It doesn’t add up.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because this kid was shot by someone and left behind. I doubt they did it to him which means someone else probably did.”

“Wait, are you saying you think KEVIN did that?”

Max got a huge kick out of that one. “That’s a good one. No…”

“Then what are you saying?”

“I’m saying that Kevin probably had help.”

“So, you think Kevin got away and is with the good guys?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

“But, aren’t we the good guys?” Max was making my head hurt but I was fine with that because for the first time in a long time, I was feeling hopeful. His explanation was actually making sense. I had even thought the same thing.

“Whoever shot that kid in there probably has your friend with them.”

“Has he said anything else?”

Max shook his head. “I was just about to interrogate him when they said you were awake.”

“Interrogate him?” That sounded so ominous and I know that sounds stupid coming from someone who tried to strangle the guy, but my latest dream had me softening up a little bit.

“Yeah.” He continued towards the door.

“He wasn’t willing to talk to anyone besides me.”

“I’ll get him to talk.”

“I think it should be me.”

Max smiled at me, “Yeah, I know you do.”

He walked out of the room and closed the door behind him.

“I hope that guy tells Max what we need to know.” Brian said, sounding as hopeful as I was feeling. He then turned to me, “Don’t you ever go running off like that again!”

“Sorry.” I looked over at AJ who was standing in the corner of the room way too quietly. “I’m sorry for shoving you AJ.”

“I’ll kick your ass for that later.”

“I know you will.” I said as I grabbed my aspirin from Howie and lay back down.

I still didn’t feel right, not only physically but mentally. Max’s story wasn’t sitting well with me and that had me troubled. I wasn’t sure whether or not to confide in the guys, especially since Kevin was missing. We needed now more than ever to stick together and trust one another but if they started thinking Max wasn’t on the up and up maybe they would think that way about me too. It was nice of Brian to not blame me for this, but how could they not blame me?

I sat back up and swung my legs off the side of the bed, “Where do you think you’re going now?” Howie asked.

Both Brian and AJ were sitting on Howie’s bed while D, sat on a chair.

“To ask Max some questions.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to bother him while he’s with our guest.”

“Oh, is that what we’re calling him now?” I asked as I raised my eyebrow at him.

“Sounds less disturbing then Russian spy.”

“Yeah, that’s true.”

“He seemed really concerned about you.” Brian added.

I looked over at him, “Max?” I said probably a little more desperate then I wanted to. The thought of my uncle caring enough to be worried actually made me feel good.

“No, the other guy.” I tried not to look too deflated.

“Really?”

“Yeah, Max carried you back into your room before he knew that’s where our guest was and he looked really distraught and worried. He even asked if you would be okay.” He stopped for a second, it seemed like he didn’t want to say what was on his mind.

“What it is Frick? Did something else happen?”

He let out a small breath before he continued, “After he asked if you were okay, he yelled something in Russian at your uncle and that’s when he threw us out of the room and brought you in here.”

“Did it seem like Max understood what he said?”

“Not sure. It was hard to tell.”

“mhm.” I started to wonder if he was the blonde kid in my dream. He did say I knew him, but then again, maybe I had that dream because of what he said? Like Jane, my dead therapist said, your brain is a very tricky thing to try to understand.

“Did Max say anything about knowing that guy?”

Brian shook his head, “No, but it’s weird. The guy seemed like he knew who Max was. Why do you ask?”

“While I was out of it, I had another dream about a blonde kid who looked a lot like our ‘guest,’ my mother knew him well and I really enjoyed being around him.”

“And you think it’s the guy in your room?”

“I don’t know, maybe? My mother called him Nickolas.”

“This keeps getting weirder and weirder.” AJ decided to add.

“That’s what I want to go ask Max. If he knows what this kid’s name is.”

“I still think you should wait until he’s done.” Brian urged as I got myself out of bed.

I walked out into the living room and across the hall to my room but stopped when I heard grunts and groans. “Nicky, don’t go in there.” Howie said as he tried to stop me from walking in.

When I opened the door, there was my uncle, straddling our ‘guest’ and repeatedly smacking him across the face. “MAX, STOP!” I yelled.

He turned to me and quickly climbed off of the guy tied to the chair. The way he went at me, I was actually afraid he’d smack me next so I found myself backing away from him. When he saw me flinch he put his hands up as if showing me he meant no harm. Our ‘guest’ seemed thankful for the reprieve.

“I need to talk to you.” I said in a quivering voice.

“Fine.” He walked out of the room, passed the other three guys who had looks of horror on their faces then he motioned for me to follow him. “What is it?”

“What are you doing to him?”

“Interrogating him.”

“It looked like torture to me.”

“Do you want to know what happened to your friend and your father?”

“Well, yes but…”

“Then let me do what I need to do.”

“Has he said anything?”

“Not yet, but he was just about to before you interrupted me.”

“I don’t think you should be hurting him like that. He’s already been shot.”

Max folded his arms in front of himself. If he was bald, he would have looked like Mr. Clean. “Nick, the time to be nice is over. We don’t have much time. Like you said on the phone, they know you are here and it’s only a matter of time before they try to get you. We need to make a move and this guy could be our only way out of this mess.”

“Do you know him?”

He seemed surprised by the question. “No, why do you ask?”

“Because he said he knew me.”

“Of course he would say that. He probably wants you to think he’s a friend. He’d say anything for you to let him go. He knows you’re just a kid. But you know what he’ll do when you let him go?”

I didn’t say anything, just shook my head.

“He’ll stab you in the back.”

“Did he tell you his name?”

“No, but I don’t care about his name. You shouldn’t either. In fact, I don’t want you going anywhere near him, do you understand me?”

I nodded. Max had a way of making me feel like I was five years old. “Good, now let me go back in there and do my job.”

“Max?”

“What?” He sounded annoyed.

I wanted to ask him about my mother. Why he didn’t tell me she was alive, why he lied about strangling me and so many other things but instead I just said, “Never mind.”

He nodded and then walked back into the room, shoving Brian, AJ and Howie out as he shut the door. “He’s in pretty bad shape in there.” Brian said, with a great amount of unease in his voice. “I think we should stop him.”

“I don’t think he’ll just stop if we ask him to.” Howie answered, glancing over at me.

“He said this was the only way to get the answers we need.”

“There’s always another way.” Brian said. “I think we need to go in there and make him stop.”

Max came back out of the room before I had a chance to agree with him. “I will be right back. I just need to go to my room for something. Do NOT go in there!” He warned us all. “He will say anything to get you on his side. Remember that he’s the enemy.”

He gave us all one more look and then left. Once the door shut I made my way to the room. “What are you doing? He just said not to go in there.”

“I know AJ, I heard him.” I said as I opened the door and walked over to our prisoner who wasn’t looking very good.

His head was slouched downward and a small stream of blood was coming from his mouth. “Hey.” I whispered to him.

He slowly looked up at me. “Are you okay?” He asked me, which took me by surprise.

“I’m fine.”

But I could tell our ‘guest’ was not. He had a black eye and his face was beginning to swell. One of his eyes was so swollen it seemed sealed shut. “I’m sorry he did this to you. Please just tell him what he needs to know and he’ll stop.”

At that, our prisoner laughed and then spit out some blood. “He’s not going to let me live.”

“That’s not true. We just want to know what happened to Kevin and my father. Once you tell us that, he’ll let you go.”

“I’m not telling him anything.”

“Then tell me.” I begged.

“Why are you with him?” He asked me. “He’s a very dangerous man.”

Just looking at the guy it was hard to disagree. Max had really done a job on him. “Is your name Nickolas?” I decided to ask out of the blue.

He paused for a second and then smiled at me, “You do remember me.”

“You used to dance around like a monkey to make me laugh.”

He smiled again. I could tell he was going back in time, probably to a happier time than this. “I enjoyed making you laugh.”

“Nickolas, please just tell me why you guys are after me and my uncle will stop hurting you.”

He looked surprised, “Your uncle?”

“Yes.”

“Andrew, listen to me. That man is NOT your uncle. He’s a very dangerous man and you have to get away from him. Do not trust him.”

“What? But he’s my mother’s brother. He had a picture…”

“Andrew, no he’s lying. You have to get away.”

“But…”

“What did I say? Goddamn kid! Why do you NOT listen?” I turned to the harsh sound of my uncle screaming at me. He walked over and grabbed my arm so tightly I thought it was going to break off.

“You’re hurting me!” I cried out in pain as he continued to walk me to the door.

“Leave him alone!” Nickolas shouted before continuing on his rant in Russian.

“Max!” But he didn’t let me finish. He shoved me out the door where I fell on my ass. He locked himself inside with Nickolas while the four of us stood helpless outside the door just listening.
End Notes:
Hope you enjoyed and Happy Halloween! I'll be back next week with chapter 25. :O) Thanks for reading!
Chapter 25 by Mare
Author's Notes:
This is the real update lol
~ 25 ~

No Turning Back




I sat there on the floor kind of dumbstruck at what just happened. Once again my life was upside down. Once I thought I had things figured out, another piece of information comes along and blows that theory right out of the water. This time it was more of a tsunami than just a little tidal wave. Max wasn’t my uncle? Do I believe Nickolas or not? I mean Max just told me he would say or do anything to get us to believe him and be on his side. What better way to do that then to tell me that Max is the enemy?

“Are you hurt?” I looked up at Brian.

“No, just surprised.”

“He was pretty pissed you were in there.”

I stood up and nodded, “Yeah, I got that much.”

“Did he tell you anything?” AJ asked, giving me a hand when I stumbled on my way back to a standing position.

“His name is Nickolas. He is the kid from my dream.”

“Anything else?”

I put my hand over my mouth in contemplation. I really wasn’t sure whether or not to tell them. “What is it Nick?”

I looked over at Brian, “He told me that Max wasn’t my uncle and that we needed to get away from him.”

They all looked at each other in surprise. “Do you believe him?” Howie finally asked.

“I don’t know what to believe. I mean he had a picture of my mother. He looks a lot like her and a lot like me.”

“But he wasn’t actually in the picture himself.” AJ added.

I could tell they were all leaning towards believing the Russian over Max. It’s no surprise that they have been suspicious of him since the beginning. I don’t blame them, I mean my so called uncle has been sketchy at best when it comes to giving us information and he isn’t the warmest guy either, but I don’t know. I wanted to believe him.

“If he was a bad guy, he would have killed us already, like he’s said over and over again. I mean he actually has come to our rescue more than anything.”

Brian nodded. I think he realized how I was feeling. “Max has done a lot for us, and this other kid hasn’t really given us any reason to believe what he’s saying.”

“Maybe if he told us about Kevin or who shot him.”

“I bet that’s what Max is trying to get out of him now.” I became aware of how quiet it was ever since he kicked me out of the bedroom. “I just hope he’s not doing anything he’s going to regret later.”

“You don’t think he’d…He wouldn’t…” Howie couldn’t finish what he wanted to say but all of us were thinking the same thing. Even Nickolas was pretty certain he wasn’t going to make it out of there alive.

That had me over and knocking on the door again. I know it probably wasn’t the smartest idea but I wasn’t about to let anyone die while I was just standing on the other side of the door doing nothing.

“What now?” Max asked. He looked tired and I would have almost felt sorry for him if I hadn’t noticed the blood on his knuckles.

“Has he said anything yet?”

He glanced back at our prisoner and then closed the door and came into the living area. “A little bit. I know who was in the dumpster at least.”

“Who was he?”

“One of the guys sent to watch you. I guess when they saw me leave they started the fire in hopes you’d be flushed out. He died because he failed to get you.”

“Who killed him?”

“Our friend in there.” He said pointing towards the door. “He’s dangerous.”

Well, haven’t I heard this before?

“Who shot him?”

“That he didn’t say, yet.”

“And still nothing about Kevin or my father?”

“No.” He paused and then opened the door again, “Look, I need to finish up with him. You guys might want to go into Howie’s room or something. Maybe out on the balcony. You won’t want to hear this.”

My eyes grew big as the shock of what he was about to do hit me hard, “No way Max. You are not going to kill him!”

He rolled his eyes at me as if I had just asked him not to take my favorite video game away or something, “Nick, let me do my job.”

“No way!”

“We need to get rid of him.”

“You are not killing anyone for me or for anyone else!”

He shook his head at me but then I opened the door and went inside and sat right in front of Nickolas, taking both of them by surprise.

Max let out a huge sigh, “You go and do what you need to do and I’ll stay with him.”

“Nick get out of my way.”

AJ, Brian and Howie all came into the room and stood there watching me with a mixture of awe and horror on their faces. I wasn’t sure where all this bravery was coming from. I mean I am a huge scaredy cat which we have come to figure out based on all the things that scare the crap out of me, but maybe things had gone a little too far. I was the bad version of Gizmo the gremlin at the moment, the one who dressed up like Rambo and not the one who stayed in his wussy box and purred. So, I stood my ground with my uncle, coming between him and the guy who used to dance like a monkey for me when I was a little boy. I’m sure both were far from perfect but neither deserved to die.

“If you want to kill him you’re going to have to kill me first.”

That made my little Russian friend a bit uneasy. Oops, guess I should have gone with better wording.

“Fine, you know…I have to go do things. You stay and have a party for all I care. I’m tired of talking sense into you.” He looked at my friends, “You all come with me for a minute!” At his insistence they all left the room, only Brian pausing for a few moments to look my way with concern planted on his face.

Once they left, I took the gag out of Nickolas’s mouth.

“Thank you Andrew.” He said followed by, “That was a really stupid thing you did. He could have shot you.”

“He didn’t even have a gun.” I answered.

I moved to the bed and sat across from him, “We have some problems Nickolas. As you can tell my uncle is running out of patience. I’m not sure how long I can convince him to keep you alive.”

“I’m sure the second you leave, I’ll be dead.” He said matter of factly with a shaky voice. “And he’s not your uncle. Please remember that.”

“Then who is he?”

He looked at me for a moment, trying to asses if I could handle what he was going to tell me, “He used to be your dad’s best friend.”

“Used to be?”

Nickolas nodded. “They had a major falling out a very very long time ago.”

I guess that would make sense since I have never seen Max up until this point. It was one of the many questions rolling around in my head since he popped up seeming so concerned about me and my father. If they were that close, you’d think he would have shown up at the Bed and Breakfast every so often. I knew all my father’s friends and Max was never one of them, but then again, I also didn’t know he was in the CIA.

“But he’s done nothing but help us since he’s gotten here. Why would he help me if he was really here to hurt me?”

He let out a sigh, “Andrew, I know you have questions but here’s the thing. The man you call Max is coming back any minute and you have to make a choice.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, we don’t have much time and you are the only hope I have of escaping.”

“Letting you go?”

He looked at me as if I was dumb, “Yeah.”

“I…” I don’t know why I was so surprised. I mean it seemed like the next logical progression to this story. I stand in-between him and certain death only to walk away and let Max kill him? “He’ll be really mad. You said so yourself that he’s dangerous.”

“That’s why you have to come with me.”

“What?”

“You need to come with me, Andrew. I can keep you safe.”

“What about my friends? Am I just supposed to leave them here?”

“Of course not, I meant all of you.”

“I don’t know…”

“Andrew, we’re running out of time.”

“I need to go talk to the guys about it.” I turned to leave the room.

“Your father sent me for you!” and that’s when I turned around and walked back towards him. When he saw me turn, he continued, “He didn’t want me to tell you.”

“My father’s alive?” Everything else he said had no consequence for me.

“Yes, and he’s waiting for you. He has your friend Kevin with him as well.”

“I don’t get how…”

“Andrew, we don’t have time. I promise I’ll explain on the way, but we have to go now!”

I nodded at him. “I just need to tell the guys about this.”

I started to walk away but he stopped me, “Can you untie me please?”

“Oh, yeah.” I hesitated just for a second before loosening the scarves around his wrists. Once I got them loose enough he took over and quickly worked on his feet. As he was doing that I walked back into the living room to tell the guys the new plan.

“We’re leaving.” I said like a man in charge.

They all however looked at me like the kid who needed a babysitter. “Pardon?” Howie asked just as Nickolas came barreling out of the room “Nicky, behind you!” He screamed thinking that our prisoner broke free on his own and was now going to attack us.

“It’s okay D, I untied him.”

“You did what?” Now it was Brian’s turn.

“We have to go with him before Max gets back here.”

They all looked at each other with concern, “Nick, we’re not going anywhere with him.”

Nickolas was moving around our suite like a man on a mission. Looking for things we could use as weapons and trying to figure out a way for us to escape.

“We have to. He said my father sent him. He said that Kevin is with my dad too!”

Again they looked at each other, before AJ spoke, “He might just be saying that to get you to let him go!”

“Yeah, or he might be telling the truth.” Now I was getting annoyed.

“Nick, we can’t go with him.” Brian said, with much more authority this time.

“But, he knows where my dad and your cousin are!”

“Why do you believe him?”

“Because I trust him.”

“Why? Because you had a dream about him dancing around and making you laugh?”

“Well yeah, but mostly, it’s a gut feeling.”

“Nick, did you tell him about your dream or did he bring it up?”

“What do you mean?”

This time D stepped in again. “He means, did he say his name was Nickolas and he knew you as a kid or did you mention those things to him first?”

“What difference does that make?” I was getting antsy. They were wasting time and Max would be back any minute.

“It makes a big difference. I mean if you were holding me against my will I would say whatever I needed to so you would let me go.” Brian said in a very condescending tone.

“I’m not stupid!”

“No one said you were, but we can’t base our safety on one of your dreams, Nick. This isn’t a video game. If we make the wrong move, we can die!”

“Don’t you think I realize that?”

“I’m not sure.”

I swear if he wasn’t my best friend, I would have punched him by now. “Well screw you then, I’m going with him. If you want to stay, then stay.”

“And what are we going to tell your uncle?”

“He’s not Andrew’s uncle.”

“And HE’S not Andrew!” Wow, Brian was not acting very Brian-like.

Nickolas ignored Brian and looked over at me, “We need to go now.”

“Do we have a way out?”

“Yes, we can make it at least down the block and around the corner. There’s a 7/11 there. I was supposed to make contact with your father at that location. He’s probably waiting for us now.”

“Why can’t you contact him here?” Brian again, not buying what our prisoner was telling us. He was usually a good judge of character and I have to admit he was starting to make me doubt myself.

“It’s too dangerous. All of these phones are bugged.” Sensing that we wouldn’t believe him, he screwed off the receiver of the phone in the living area and showed us the device.

“That means whenever we talked on the phone, they were listening in?”

He nodded at me.

“I’m sure they were bugged at the first hotel you were staying in as well and I bet it was your ‘uncle’ that bugged them in the first place.”

“Who was the guy in the dumpster?” AJ asked. He had been very quiet until now, which wasn’t like him at all. That’s a good sign that he’s freaked out.

“Later.” Nickolas said but we all stopped when AJ pulled out a gun and aimed it right at our prisoner.

“Jesus AJ, put that down!” Howie yelled.

“No, D. I’m tired of this!”

“Where did you get that?” I asked, my eyes wide as I stared down at the gun.

“Max gave it to me. He told us you’d try to get him to go with you.” He said directing his gaze at Nickolas who seemed very calm and used to guns being pointed at him. “He said you’d lie or do whatever it took to get Nick out of here. He knew the kid would believe you, but we aren’t kids and we’re not just going to let you walk out of here with Nick or any of us for that matter.”

“You are a kid, AJ! God! Stop trying to pretend you’re so much older than I am!” I know… I’m not sure where that came from either. Once again seemed like a stupid time to bring that up but it was the heat of the moment.

“Okay, fine…his name was Martin and he was one of my best friends.”

“Max said you killed him, is that true?”

Nickolas let out a small, disgusted laugh. “Hardly, he’s the one that killed him. He also shot me as we were trying to escape.”

“Max shot you?”

He looked over at me and nodded. “He almost shot your friend. I pushed him out of the way.”

“What?” Now Brian seemed more interested.

“Look, I’m sure he told you not to believe me. I would have done the same thing.” Nickolas looked over at me again, “But, you have to figure out who to trust because I need to leave right now. I really want you to come with me, but if you choose to stay, I’ll understand. We’ll just have to come up with another plan and it’ll be more dangerous for you, especially if I’m gone. He’ll realize you believe me and then he might actually go ahead and kill all of you.”

During Nickolas’s plea, AJ put the gun down. His whole arm was shaking. “So, what are you going to do?”

I looked over at Brian for an answer, but he only shrugged at me. “What should we do?” I asked D. hoping he would be the decisive one.

He let out a sigh, “I think maybe we should go.” He then looked over at AJ and Brian for approval. Both of them didn’t look overly excited but they nodded in agreement.

“Alright, let’s go then!” Nickolas said as he grabbed a towel from the bathroom and wrapped it around his injured arm, using one of the scarves that had bound him to the chair as a tie to hold it in place.

We all gathered our coats and bundled up. I had a huge pit in my stomach. It was a feeling I have never had before, not even when I was scared out of my mind. The uncertainty of what lay ahead was terrifying to me. The mere idea that if this was the wrong move, we could all end up dead was so real it was almost comical in its simplicity.

“Okay let’s get out of here.” Nickolas said as he glanced at all of us and made his way to the front door.

I took one last look back at our Christmas tree, “No turning back now,” I whispered to myself just as Max let himself into the suite.
End Notes:
Thanks for reading guys. I can't promise that I'll have a new chapter next weekend. November and December are crazy months for me, but I shall try my best. This story and some of my others, have been nominated for Felix Awards. Thanks so much for the noms. If you haven't voted for your favorites yet (and they don't even have to be mine lol) you should go do that now! http://bit.ly/FelixAwards and as always, thanks for reading and reviewing! :O)
Chapter 26 by Mare
~ 26 ~

The Great Escape




Max looked as surprised as we did. “What the hell is going on here?”

Nickolas flew past me and in one motion swirled and did a roundhouse kick, knocking Max to the ground. He landed on his back with a grunt. Before he could stand, Nickolas went over to him, uttered something in Russian and then kicked him in the face.

“Stop!” I said a little too late, just as Max’s head jerked back and he lost consciousness. He was just about to stomp on my ‘uncle’s’ neck when I found myself grabbing at him, “I said stop!”

He turned around and I continued, “I wouldn’t let him kill you and there’s no way I’m letting you kill him!”

“He killed one of my best friends!” The look of hurt in his eyes was there with all the sincerity of someone who was telling the truth. “He deserves to die for that.”

I looked down at the man who I had thought was my uncle only hours earlier. “Maybe, but not today.”

Nickolas turned to look at him too, “Fine. I’ll be back for him when this is all over though.” The intensity in his eyes told me that was true. I felt a shiver run down my spine. I once again started to doubt this decision. He looked at the four of us, “Let’s go. He isn’t going to be out for long and once he’s awake, he’s coming after us.”

“Maybe we should tie him up?” AJ said holding one of the scarves we had used earlier.

“Good idea.” Nickolas replied as he grabbed the scarf and in no time had my so called uncle hog tied to a coat rack.

Once he made sure Max was secure, he opened the front door and we made our way out into the hallway. I took one final look at everything before closing the door behind me. The Christmas tree lights were still on even though everything was now a mess. It was like the holidays were saying a quiet F.U.!

We made our way down to the lobby, avoiding the elevator and taking the stairs. At the end of every floor, Nickolas made sure to open the door and do a quick scan of the area directly ahead of us before we descended to another floor. Just in case someone was waiting there to blow our brains out or something. He did this over and over again until we finally reached the main floor.

Nickolas went first and turned to us before we all followed, “Walk nice and slow, business as usual, no eye contact.” He turned towards the emergency exit.

“Wait, isn’t an alarm going to go off if we use that door?” Howie asked pointing at the big red flashing light right above our heads.

“Yes, that’s why the second we go through these doors we needs to run like hell.”

“Why don’t we just go out the front?” This time it was AJ.

“You are being watched. You have been since you got here to this hotel.”

That’s when it dawned on me, how this wasn’t really going to be very easy. I don’t know what I was thinking actually. Of course people would be watching. I mean they set the friggin’ hotel on fire for Christ’s sake. For all I knew, the muffin lady could have been in on the whole thing.

“Won’t the alarm let them know it was us?” That was Brian.

“Yes, that’s why we have to run like hell. What part of run like hell are you people not understanding?” He paused and took a deep breath, probably regretting his decision to take us all with him. “Are you all ready?”

We nodded, but believe me when I say it was as half hearted as when Fatima asked us that same question before having to go through a dance rehearsal for the ten thousandth time. The slow nod of the head while cringing on the inside, wanting to do anything but what was just asked.

Nickolas nodded back at us and then gave me a quick, reassuring smile before walking towards the door. Once we were all right by it, he opened it and the alarms immediately started to sound. I can’t even really tell you what happened next with a whole lot of accuracy but I shall try.

We were no longer in the middle of Manhattan like we were at our previous hotel. I’m not even sure if we were still there or had jumped to a different borough. I should pay attention to these things. Either way, because of our location we were more in the open than we would have been had we stayed at our original location. Even in the blizzard, I’m sure there would have been enough people as stupid as we were, roaming the streets. We could have just blended in. It wasn’t the case here. That’s probably the way Max had intended it. I mean, he is the one who changed our location. God, I’m so stupid!

The first thing that comes to mind is the intense feeling of cold that hit me hard as we started running. It was snowing again, not as hard as before but hard enough so that it quickly gathered on our jackets as we picked up speed. The wind was blowing pretty strongly and the ground was kind of slippery. As we turned the corner and headed away from the dumpsters and towards the parking lot, Howie fell on his ass. Luckily I was behind him or we probably wouldn’t have noticed. I tried helping him to his feet as quickly as possible as he murmured something in Spanish. Funny how these kinds of situations bring out the secondary languages. I wonder if I’m going to start talking in pig latin or something.

We made it across the parking lot in record time, Nickolas in the lead with Brian a close second and finally AJ, Howie and then me rounding out the pack. By the time we got out of the parking lot and across the street, I was pretty much gasping for every breath I took. My pace started to significantly slow to the point where AJ turned back towards me and Howie had to yell for the other two to slow down. I felt dumb and embarrassed.

Nickolas and Brian both came to my side, “Are you okay? Do you need me to carry you or something?” Nickolas asked, making me feel even more like an ass considering that he was injured and all.

“No, I’m fine.”

“We have to go!”

I was bent over, hands on my knees just trying to catch my breath when I heard Brian say, “Guys?” in an alarming voice. That’s never a good thing.

“We have to go now, Andrew!” Nickolas said.

I looked up and there were two men running towards us at full speed from the parking lot.

“Come on!” He said as we all bolted across the street.

That’s when my adrenaline kicked in. The tiredness I felt only moments before had disappeared, replaced by a jolt of fear. We were actually being chased and not by crazy teenage girls, but men who wanted to kill us. If that didn’t motivate one to move, I’m not sure what would.

We managed to run one block which really didn’t consist of very much but a few restaurants, gift shops and an old fashioned barber shop. The block was long though and no one at all was out. I was afraid to look back but I was even more afraid to not, so I turned my head and saw they were getting closer.

“They’re right behind us.” I shouted as I tried to pick up speed and catch up with the rest of the crew. Howie stayed back with me and literally grabbed my arm as we ran. I thought at one point he was going to pull it right out of its socket. Sometimes I forget how strong D really is. He looks scrawny but he’s not.

We ran down I don’t know how many blocks with the two guys right on our tails. Meanwhile, Mother Nature decided that things weren’t bad enough so the snow suddenly started to come down fast and slanted, hitting our faces as we ran. The pellets were beginning to burn but I knew if I closed my eyes I might fall. The sidewalks were getting more slippery and overall it was getting harder to escape. We all slowed down, but luckily so had our pursuers. In fact, I didn’t even see them behind us anymore.

“This way!” Nickolas yelled, quickly turning and running into a small alleyway that smelled like someone’s ass had exploded.

At the end of the small area, there was a fence. “We need to climb up and over.” He said not giving any of us time to process anything. Brian started his climb first and then Nickolas looked over at me, “You next.” I nodded and climbed just as Brian leapt off of the top and landed on the other side.

“Hurry Frack!” He said as AJ started pushing my ass from behind. I put a leg over and then just kind of let my body follow and the next thing I knew I was being helped off the ground by my best friend. The other three managed to get over the fence rather quickly.

“Come on!” Nickolas shouted.

We flew around another corner and ran another two full city blocks before finally stopping in front of a CVS of all places. “In here.” He opened the door and we all ran inside to the sound of Christmas music blaring through the very empty store.

We quickly walked to the middle aisle where ornaments and Christmas cards were already half off, and just stood there waiting. “Why are we just standing here?” I finally asked.

“Just seeing if they follow us in here.”

“And what if they do?”

“Let’s hope they don’t.”

“Where’s my father? You said he’d be here waiting for us.” Yes, I was growing impatient.

“No, I didn’t. Not here, we’re just trying to lose our tail first.” I glanced over at the other guys and if I looked anything like they did, we were probably a site to behold. “This will also give you guys a little time to catch your breath. You okay?” He asked me.

“Sure, never better,” Was my sarcastic reply.

He smiled despite the fact that he probably wanted to slap me. “Okay, I think we officially lost them. Let’s go.”

We all nodded and followed him out of the store and turned back towards the fence we had just climbed over. “Don’t tell me we’re doing that again?” Normally I would probably get a kick out of climbing all over New York but the blizzard and life and death situation kind of sucked the fun out of it and made it feel like an overwhelming chore. But still, instead of answering my question he headed for it and started to climb, so we did the same. It was easier the first time. The cold metal of the fence was burning my bare hands and my skin was actually sticking to the metal. I swear by the time this was over I’d have no more skin left.

When we came out of the alleyway, we headed in the opposite direction of where we had come for about another two blocks and then stopped in front of a subway terminal. “Okay, let’s go.”

My nerves came back full force at that point. “We’re taking the subway?”

“Yeah, we have to get back to the city.”

“But I thought you said my father was right around the corner.”

“He is, after we take the subway.”

“Is it even running with the snow?”

He turned to Howie, “Guess there’s only way one to find out, huh?”

I took a few deep breaths as we descended the long stairway. This was something, that even though all my phobias had kind of taken a back seat to what was going on, I was still scared to death of. A small space with lots of people equals a panicked Nick, or Andrew or whoever the hell I was.

The burst of hot air as we finally hit the ground felt refreshing even though the smell of urine that accompanied it was anything but. There were a few homeless people sitting on the benches, with carts next to them as we walked towards the turnstiles. There were quite a few people down there waiting on trains which was weird considering how barren it was above ground.

“So, what’s the plan?” I asked Nickolas as he glanced at his watch and then down the tunnel, hoping to see the light of an oncoming train.

“We get to your dad.”

“And then what?”

“And then we go from there.”

“I was hoping for a little more than that.”

“Train’s coming.” AJ said while pointing to the track as the sound of the engine started to overtake the Christmas music played in the background by a guy and his sax. Hearing the word Train, I found myself thinking about Kevin for a moment and hoping that he was with my dad and safe.

The crowd started to gather towards the edge of the platform, waiting on the arrival of the train but Nickolas gave us the signal to stand back. “We’re going to take the next one.” He said.

“Why?”

“Because there are too many people.”

“Isn’t that safer than too few?” Brian asked skeptically.

Nickolas didn’t answer, just watched intently as a bell rang, signaling the opening of the doors. Once they opened, a slew of people got out of the cars and then the others finally made their way in. I felt like we should be going to, what if those two guys who were following us had figured out we were down here? There was really nowhere to hide if they were to show up now.

The ringing of a second bell signaled that at any second the doors were about to close. I turned to say something to Brian when all of the sudden I felt myself being pulled at full force towards the closing train doors. Brian started running after me, trying to grab at my arm as Nickolas pulled me in right as the doors closed behind us.

“What are you doing?” I screamed, trying to bang on the doors so they would open up again. Brian, AJ and Howie were now just standing on the other side trying to do the same thing as the train started to slowly pull away.

“Wait!!!” I screamed again as they started to run after us. The look of fear and panic on their faces probably matched mine. “Stop the train!!!” I yelled but no one was listening. The last thing I saw was Brian finally coming to a stop just as he reached the edge of the tunnel and then off we went into the unknown darkness.
End Notes:
Thanks for reading! I'm glad I was able to finish this chapter in time to post this weekend. Hopefully i'll be able to do the same with next week's. :O)
Chapter 27 by Mare
~ 27 ~

Something Like That…



“Why did you do that?” I screamed at Nickolas who was holding my arm so tightly I was getting pins and needles. “We need to go back and get them!” I tried to break free of his grasp but wasn’t having any luck.

He pulled me over towards the end of the car and then we sat down on the two empty chairs right by the back door. “Let go of me! I said we have to go back and get them!!”

“Look, I know you’re mad at me, I get it. But, you have to stop yelling because you do not want to attract attention to yourself!”

“Maybe I should attract attention to myself. I mean you did just kidnap me!” I tried to stand up and was promptly pushed back down, his grip on my arm getting even tighter.

“I’m not kidnapping you. I am taking you to your family, just like I said I was going to do.”

“You left my friends behind! What if those two guys catch up to them?”

“It’s not them they want, it’s you. Your friends will be fine.”

“Why did you do that?”

“Because that’s what I was told to do.”

“What? My father would never tell you to do that!” I tried getting up again, this time kicking him hard with my heel, but to no avail. He managed to keep a hold of me and he wasn’t letting go.

“Andrew, to protect you, your family would do anything.”

“Stop calling me Andrew, I told you, that’s not my name!” I hissed at him.

“Fine…Nick, then.” He shook his head, “I know you’re mad, but I assure you, if I thought your friends were in any real danger, I wouldn’t have left them there.”

“And why am I supposed to believe anything you say?”

“I guess you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

“Good, then I won’t!”

“Okay.” He shrugged at me as if I was acting like an irrational child.

I thought about screaming for help, after all I was just a kid, right? But for some reason, I decided not to do that. The people riding in this car with us didn’t seem like they would have even cared one way or the other. I mean when I was going crazy banging on the doors to open, none of them even bothered to look up or offer a hand. They’d probably be all for Nickolas killing me just to shut me up.

Instead, I tried to remain as calm as possible as a ton of thoughts ran through my head. My training as a CIA agent began to kick in…oh yeah, that’s right. I’m not a CIA agent. I’m a FRIGGIN’ POP STAR! Why the hell should I have to think like a God Damned CIA agent? All I should be worried about is whether or not I get the prize in my Coco Puffs Cereal box or what should I do if a fan rips my favorite shirt. What the fuck is wrong with this scenario? Jesus Christ!! And yes, I’m having a melt down of epic proportions right now.

Stay calm Nick….deep breaths….what would Kevin do?

For one, he wouldn’t have been stupid enough to go with the guy who was tied up in your closet you stupid asshole!

Calm…

I can do this…

I tried to come up with some kind of plan. I needed to figure out a way to double back and get the guys. When the train came to a stop, I’d manage to get out, but how? I glanced over at Nickolas’s shoulder. It was already hurt so maybe all I’d have to do was give him a firm punch or something. That would be enough to loosen his grip on my arm. Once he let up, I’d be able to book it right out of there.

“I see it in your head. You’re trying to figure out a way to get away from me, aren’t you?”

Is he kidding me?

“Please don’t aim for the arm. It already hurts like hell.”

Son of a bitch!

He turned to me, loosening his grip just a little, “Nick, I’m not your enemy. I know it’s probably hard to believe me right now, but I’m telling you the truth.”

“I don’t think I can believe anyone ever again. You’re no better than Max.”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about, you’re just a kid.”

“Well maybe, but even a kid knows that leaving my friends stranded in the middle of nowhere during a blizzard while two men were chasing us makes you an ass! And for your sake, you better hope nothing happens to them!”

“Or what?” He rolled his eyes at me. Do you believe that? I’m the eye roller here, not him!

“Whatever!” I shook my head and just looked away. I swear I saw him smile at me and then shake his own head.

Jerk!

“We are getting off at the next exit.” He said as he stood, pulling me up as he did.

“I thought you said we were heading back into the city.” I asked as we made our way right by the doors as they opened up.

“I just said that for your friends’ benefit. This way that’s where they’ll head. They’ll be safer in the big crowds in Manhattan.” Weird he would worry about their safety.

When we got off the train, there seemed to be fewer people on this platform. That’s when I briefly thought about my own safety. Up until now, I had been so mad at Nickolas for abandoning the guys, I hadn’t even thought about what it might mean for me. If he wanted to, all he had to do was take me around the bend where no one could see and kill me. He could throw me right on the rails if he wanted to. I mean even with an injured arm he was stronger than me.

“What are you going to do to me?”

“You really do have a listening problem, don’t you? Like I have said a thousand times already, I am taking you to your family.”

“If that’s the case, then why didn’t you just tell the guys that?”

“And they would have just let me take you?”

“Probably not.”

“And then they would have been left with Carter, or the guy you call Max. They wouldn’t have been safe.”

“So, you know Max’s real name then?”

He nodded at me and seemed a little surprised, “You knew his name too?”

“Yeah, AJ and I found it.”

“You found his briefcase.” He said as if it should have been obvious to him. That means he’s the one who was looking for it in the first place. We started walking towards the turnstiles, “I have to let go of you while we go through these. If you run, there’s nothing I can do, but it’ll be a foolish move.”

He was right, I could easily make a run for it and then stop one of the transit police for help, but as much as I hated to say it, I still kind of believed the guy. How much of a dumbass am I?

He let go of me and I shimmied through the revolving spikey things. He seemed a little surprised to see me stop and wait from him. “Thanks.” He said, thinking about taking my arm and then stopping himself. “We need to go up the escalators and to our left.”

“Aren’t you worried that Brian or one of the others will call the police now that they think you’ve kidnapped me?”

“Not really.”

“You don’t think they’ll care enough about me to get help?” For some reason that hurt my feelings.

“No, I think they care too much about you to get help. I’m sure at this point they realize we are way beyond the police and even if they did go to the police, what would they say exactly? That the man you kidnapped and tied up in your closet took you?”

I was going to say something, opening my mouth but then closing it when I really had no words. He had a point. “They’re probably worried sick.”

“Yeah, you’re right. But wouldn’t you rather have them worry then be in danger? They were too far into it. We have just taken them out of the equation. It’s bad enough the other one is in the middle of things right now.”

“You mean Kevin?”

“Yes, Kevin.”

“Why did you guys take him?”

“We had to, to keep him safe. It was too risky to let him come back to you guys. There were too many people watching.”

“How did you end up in the closet?” I asked as we made our way out of the subway terminal and back onto the cold streets of New York. Now I really had no idea where we were. I was hoping the snow would have stopped but it was still snowing as intently as before.

Nickolas proved this point but shuddering as he pulled his jacket’s hood up over his head. “We were in Max’s hotel room looking for the briefcase when he came in with your friend. I’m not sure what happened but they were fighting about something and Kevin grabbed a book and hit him in the face with it.”

What is it with Kevin and using books as weapons? “Was it the Bible?”

“It might have been.” He shrugged not sure why that was so important. “We were hiding but then Max pulled out a gun and appeared as if he was about to shoot Kevin. That’s when we stepped in. I pushed Kevin out of the way and was hit by a bullet.” He stopped briefly and took a deep breath. “Shortly after that, Martin came in to help, he managed to knock Max out and then told me to make sure your friend was safe, so I grabbed Kevin and led him out back.” He paused again and then faced me, since the wind was making it harder for us to hear each other, “When I got back to Max’s room, Martin was laying on the floor dead. He hit me from behind and I ended up in the closet. You know the rest.”

“I’m sorry about your friend.” I said sincerely.

“Thanks. He was a good guy.”

“I don’t know what I’d do if that happened to one of the guys.”

He put his hand on my shoulder as we turned the corner and headed down another empty city street, “That’s why we are going to make sure you won’t have to ever find out.”

He picked up his pace as the wind picked up and the snow intensified once again. I don’t know why people say they like snow. It sucks! Of course, I’m kind of guilty of that myself. It’s easy to like snow when you make that statement on a beach somewhere.

“We’re almost there.” He said as he climbed up a few steps of an old apartment building.

“They’re in here?” I asked, feeling butterflies in my stomach.

“No they’re not, but I do know a shortcut and it’ll keep us out of the cold.”

“Fine by me.” I said as he opened the door and led me inside.

It felt nice being indoors and away from the cold and snow. “These buildings are all connected so we can just go through the basement.”

“Sounds good to me.”

We went down the stairs and entered one of the creepiest basements I had ever seen. The sound of a washing machine on the verge of blowing up was chugging as we ventured into the very small corridor. Even though we were inside and safe from the snow, the air in here was just as cool as it was outside and I felt a chill go down my spine.

“When we get to where we’re going, can I call Brian and let him know I’m okay?”

“How about we leave that up to your dad?”

I shrugged, “So, do you work for the CIA too?”

He slowed his pace a little when he noticed I was lagging behind. “No.”

“FBI?”

“No, not that either.”

“Are you a police officer?”

“If you must know, I work for UPS.”

I did not expect that answer. I mean I know that those guys tend to get around but I had no idea they did stuff like this. “I didn’t know they worked with the CIA.”

He laughed at me. Okay, I can see why. But still….

“I have nothing to do with the CIA. I deliver packages for a living.”

“And you do this on the side?”

“Something like that.”

“Something like that?”

“Look, when you are brought up the way I was, you just kind of adapt to certain situations.”

“Like people trying to kill you?”

“Something like that.”

By now we had made our way through about four creepy basements. At least that was my guesstimate based on the amount of chugging washers, dryers and hot water heaters we heard along the way.

“How do you know my dad and my mom when we were little?”

“Less talking and more walking, we’re almost there.”

I decided to stop for a second and when he stopped hearing my footsteps Nickolas turned around looking a little annoyed and impatient. “Andr…I mean Nick, can we please keep going. I’m really not feeling all that great to be honest. I need some medicine and to rest.”

“Just tell me you’re not lying to me. Tell me you’re not bringing me someplace to kill me to turn me over to people who want me dead.”

“I wouldn’t do that.”

We stared at each other for a few minutes. Me with my arms crossed in front of myself and him holding his hurt shoulder, looking tired.

“Okay.” I finally said as I picked up my stride to even his.

We walked the rest of the way in silence as I grew very anxious to see my dad. There were so many questions I wanted to ask him but most importantly, I needed to see for myself that he was alive and well. I’m sure once that happened, I’d get mad and tell him off. But I needed a hug from my daddy first. Did that sound stupid?

We finally stopped at a huge black door that looked like it opened up into a warehouse. “This is it.” He said as he glanced over at me before he opened the door and we went inside.

We climbed the steps and ended up in another old fashioned apartment building. “We’re on the second floor,” He said as he grabbed hold of the banister and starting to walk up the stairs. When we got to the top, he stopped before knocking on the door. “Before, you asked me if I was lying to you and did I want to kill you.”

Uh-oh

I just nodded at him, wondering if I should turn and run back down the steps.

“I would never hurt you, but I didn’t tell you the complete truth either.” He finished his sentence with a knock on the door.

A few moments later we heard a few deadbolts unlatch as the door finally opened. An older man came into view and embraced Nickolas, “So glad to see you are alive. Come in.” He said, looking at me and giving me a small smile as if he knew me but didn’t. Just like the people in Europe who would recognize my face but not exactly sure why.

There was a TV on in the background as Kevin stepped into view. “Nick.” He said and I instantly felt relief. He ran over to give me a hug, “Are you okay?” he asked looking me up and down.

“Yeah.”

“Nick…You need to know…” Before he could say anything else there was another voice. One I hadn’t heard in a long time.

“Son! Thank God you are okay. I was so worried about you!”

I looked up in shock at the sound of the voice. Not the one I was expecting. This voice belonged to the mother I thought had been dead all these years. As she walked towards me, I wasn’t sure what to say or do, so I just stood there. What was even more surprising is when she glanced at me but continued to walk past me and instead hugged Nickolas.

He wrapped his good arm around her but looked at me as he said, “Thanks Mom, It’s good to be back.”
End Notes:
Hope you enjoyed the chapter! I'll try to be back next weekend with another one for you! Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the USA :O)
Chapter 28 by Mare
~ 28 ~

Family Reunion



I’m not sure how long I stood there dumbfounded. Sometimes there are just no words for something. Believe me, there were a whole shit load of emotions but nothing worth saying.

“You need to get that shoulder looked at. Chris will help you with that.” Jane said as she kissed Nickolas on the cheek and hugged him once more.

Before he left the room, Nickolas put his hand on my shoulder, “We’ll talk later.” He said and then he exited leaving me staring at my mother.

She turned and walked back my way. I just stood there, silent and feeling empty. Gently, she placed her hand on my face and slowly and lovingly pet my cheek down to my chin. “My beautiful baby boy,” she smiled as a tear came down, “I have missed you.”

I didn’t say anything, but I felt so much. “I’m sure you have a lot of questions.” She said as she pulled me into an embrace, “But, there will be time for that later. You must be so exhausted. Kevin will show you to one of the bedrooms where you can get some rest.”

She pulled away from me and brushed my hair away from my face just like she used to do when I was little. Back when the world was simpler and I was just Nick Carter, the kid who liked to sing into doorknobs.

“Where’s my father?” I asked just as she was about to leave Kevin and I alone.

She turned to the sound of my voice and seemed disappointed at the choice of my first words to her in years. “Nickolas said he would be here. Where is he?”

Instead of answering my question, she looked over at Kevin and nodded before turning back towards me and smiling, “Get some rest.”

I watched her leave the room and my eyes remained glued to where she had been for a long time after. I wanted to run after her but I was too drained, both emotionally and physically. I felt Kevin’s arm on my shoulder. “Let’s go sit buddy. I know you’re probably in shock.”

“He’s dead, isn’t he?” I didn’t want to look at him when I asked because I could tell when he was lying to me. This time I didn’t want to know the truth. If he said no, that my dad was still alive, as long as I wasn’t looking at him, I could believe it.

But he didn’t say no. He didn’t say anything. Instead he just led me towards the couch and sat me down. “I have been so worried about all of you.” He said as he grabbed a blanket and covered me with it.

“Aren’t you the least bit curious where your cousin is? Where the rest of the guys are?” I didn’t mean to say it with as much contempt in my voice as I had, but I found myself getting mad at how calm and collected he seemed to be about all of this. Like being in the same apartment as my dead mother and her Russian son was a normal occurrence.

“Are they all okay?”

“I hope so; we left them standing on a subway platform.”

“What?”

I explained what happened from the time he disappeared all the way up to knocking on the door and seeing my mother. He just sat there and didn’t say anything. “So, I’m hoping that the guys are okay and that the people who were chasing us, didn’t catch up to them.”

“Nickolas wouldn’t have left them there if he thought they were in any danger.”

“So, you’re on a first name basis with him too? What the hell? Do you guys all get together on the holidays or something?”

“Nick, what the hell are you talking about?”

“How the hell would you know he wouldn’t do something like that?”

“Because he saved my life.”

“Yeah about that, what exactly happened? I mean, I think it’s a little weird that you kind of just disappeared without a trace and you’re sitting here as if you are a guest.”

“What do you mean by that?” I could tell he was starting to get angry.

“Well, it’s not like they have you chained to the bathtub or anything. Seems to me like if you wanted to, you could have just walked out the door.” I looked over at the wall and pointed to the phone, “Or call us even, let us know you were alive. That would have been super.”

“All of the phones at the hotel were bugged.”

“Oh right, and you would know that because?” I didn’t mean to make it seem like he was lying but I couldn’t stop myself. I was angry, not even at Kevin, just at everyone.

“Your father told me.”

“Oh, you mean the guy who no one wants to tell me about? I’m starting to think I made the fucker up or something.”

“Nick…”

“Don’t you dare Nick me! I am so tired of this crap Kevin!”

“And I’m not?”

“I don’t know, are you? For all I know, you’re a part of all this!”

“How can you even say that?” He sounded hurt. Not mad at all and that made me feel bad.

Kevin sighed and wrapped a blanket around himself. I had been outside for such a long time that I hadn’t realized how cold it was in this apartment. “I have tried to leave a million times but your mom and dad convinced me to stay. They said they had their hands full trying to keep the rest of you safe and the last thing they needed was to worry about me as well. I’m sorry Nick, I really am. I’m sure you have all been worried sick about me.”

I nodded but wouldn’t look at him again. This time it was because I was embarrassed by my outburst. I knew he would never do anything to intentionally hurt me or anyone else. “Your mom called, we had to lie to her. Brian felt horrible for doing it.”

“I talked to my mom.” This time I looked at him.

“When?”

“After you did. I didn’t want her to worry.”

“So, they let you call home?”

He nodded. “I’m not a prisoner here Nick and neither are you.”

“Kevin, what happened after you left us? You went to make a call and then what?”

He turned his body to face me and sat folding his legs underneath himself.

“When I went to go use one of the lobby phones, I started to dial Max’s number when I overheard one of the people at the front desk. She was talking in Russian to someone in the back. Someone I couldn’t see. I glanced over towards you guys but saw that you were all just huddled together and not looking my way at all. I almost walked over to you, but I was afraid I’d miss the opportunity to find out what was going on, so instead I put down the phone and headed towards the front desk.

When I got closer I heard your name, clear as day. She said Nick Carter and lobby. At that point I knew I had to warn you guys that we weren’t safe. I started to walk back towards you but felt a hand on my arm. “Hello Kevin, where do you think you’re going?” He said to me. I knew it was Max right away. He was the person I couldn’t see.

I tried to play dumb, I told him I heard someone say your name and that I thought you were in danger and that we had to go warn you right away, but it was too late. He said he saw me hanging out by the phones and that he knew I had heard a little too much.”

He stopped to gauge how I was dealing with what he had to say so far. I guess once he was satisfied that I wouldn’t jump out the nearest window, he continued.

“I tried pulling away from him, but that’s when I felt a gun in my back. He told me if I tried anything funny, he would have no problems shooting me and then anyone else who got in his way. There wasn’t much more I could do at that point, so I left with him. We took off up the stairs.”

He shivered. Poor guy, I can only imagine how scary that was for him. Again, this was my fault.

“I just let him lead me back upstairs to our rooms but then he stopped when he noticed that his room was opened. He grabbed my arm and kicked his door and moved inside. He actually put me in front of him to act as a shield in case anyone was to shoot at him. Luckily no one did. So, he threw me on the bed as he ran to the other bed and looked underneath it.

I knew exactly what he was looking for.

He was really angry when he didn’t find the briefcase. “I bet you know where it is, don’t you?” He asked me as he grabbed me up by my collar. That’s when I saw the Bible, sitting there on his end table. Before he could say or do anything else, I hit him as hard as I could with that damn Bible and he dropped to the ground. He was blocking the front door so my only hope was the balcony. I started running towards the sliding glass doors, ready to jump if I needed to when suddenly I heard someone say “Look out,” As the guy pushed me down to the ground.”

“Nickolas?”

He nodded at me, “I heard a scuffle behind me and by the time it was all over, Nickolas was helping me off the ground and your uncle was on the floor knocked out. There was another Russian guy there as well.”

“His name was Martin. Max killed him.” I added, feeling horribly guilty and stupid for ever trusting this guy in the first place. I swear after this, you’re going to need about 15 different forms of identification to be allowed into my inner trust circle.

“He was killed?”

I nodded at him and explained what happened out by the dumpster. Now, there was no doubt in my mind that Max was the one who was trying to kill me. I wonder what stopped him? He had a perfect opportunity to stick me in that dumpster with Martin.

“I don’t get it.” I said out loud.

“Don’t get what?”

“Like Max has been saying this whole time, he could have killed us about a million times over, how come he hasn’t?”

He shrugged at me, but I could tell by the way he did it, there was more he hadn’t told me so I decided to prod for more information, “So, after Nickolas saved you, what happened next?”

“That guy Chris was waiting outside so I went with him and Nickolas said he was going back in to make sure everything was okay upstairs. He said he was going to try to get you guys to follow and they wouldn’t be too far behind. Chris brought me here and that’s when I saw your dad and your mom. When I saw her, I about had a heart attack. She’s been really nice but hasn’t said very much. She’s kind of kept to herself.

After a few hours, your dad knew something was wrong so he sent Chris back to the hotel to check things out. Anyway, he came back shortly after and said he saw one of their own dead in the dumpster.”

He paused, “That’s when your dad left to see for himself. When he got to the dumpster, he saw you. You were leaning over and looking at the dead body. He said he was about to grab you when Max came out of nowhere and grabbed you instead.”

He stopped, put his hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes, “Nick, he was about to kill you but your dad wrestled him, they fought but in the end, hotel people came out and Max grabbed you and pretended you had passed out from the cold. Your father had no choice but to let you go back inside the hotel. He knew that you’d be okay as long as you still thought Max was on your side.”

My father had saved my life.

“Where is my dad now?”

“I’m right here, son.” I turned to the sound of my father’s voice as he entered the living room. He looked at me and smiled, he seemed older somehow. I jumped up from the couch and ran over to him, giving him a huge hug and vowing to never let him go.

“We have a problem.” He said after we finally pulled away from each other.

“What is it?” I asked, just wishing I could live in that moment forever before another dilemma arose. When they heard the sound of my dad’s voice, my mom, Chris and Nickolas all came back out into the living room. It was them he was talking to, not me.

“Is it Max?” Jane asked.

“Yes, what I was most afraid of happened.”

“What?” I asked again.

He looked at me and Kevin, “The boys decided to double back to the hotel and tell Max about what happened to you. I saw them walk in before I could stop them.”

“He won’t try to hurt them, right?” I asked hopeful.

“I don’t know Nick. Things have changed. He knows you left with Nickolas and he probably has figured out you are now with me.”

“So, what does that mean?”

“That means he can use the boys as a bargaining chip if he wants to.”

Oh crap!

“Can’t we just go in and get them?” Kevin asked panicked.

“There are too many people keeping watch from the inside.”

“I don’t understand why this is happening!” I said, frustrated.

That’s when my mother stepped front and center, “This is my fault baby.”

“Mom, don’t…” Nickolas urged as he placed a consoling arm on her shoulder.

“No, it’s time he knows the truth. We have kept him in the dark too long.” Bob said nodding to the woman I thought was dead for such a long time. I wonder how long he has known she’s been alive.

“Max told me he was my uncle.” I said to my mother as she walked towards me.

“He’s not.”

I sighed, knowing what was going to come next, “He’s the one that killed my real mother then, huh? Just shot her dead in cold blood.” I looked down at the floor, ready to cry because I felt so deceived.

When I felt my mother’s hand grab my own, I glanced up, and only after making eye contact with her did she speak, softly but clear as a bell. “No Nick, Max didn’t kill her. I did.”
End Notes:
:O) I'll be back next week with chapter 29! As always, thanks for reading!
Chapter 29 by Mare
~ 29 ~

If I Were a Movie…I’d suck!




There are times in my life where I wish I could just yell “Cut!” And be done with it. You know, just like they do in the movies. In the movies, when things get too intense or the scene just isn’t perfect, you stop it. This was one of those times. Hearing my ‘fake’ mother telling me she killed my ‘real’ mother. I almost wanted to hit pause and ask someone how exactly I am supposed to deal with that situation. Am I supposed to yell and scream, cry or run out of the room? I needed to know what to do because in my heart, I felt nothing. I didn’t have the urge to run, yell, cry or scream. All I did was stare in disbelief.

When she told me, there was this odd kind of quiet that happened. I don’t think anyone in the room was even breathing. I’m not even sure if I was. None of them seemed shocked by this revelation which means it was old news to everyone except me. I’m pretty sure that even Kevin had found out prior to this moment.

I felt her hand still in mine, but now she was rubbing my palm with her thumb. Something she used to do to me when I was little. Before I knew she was a cold blooded killer.

I could tell they were all waiting for me to say something. The tension was high and the silence had reached its maximum. We had arrived at the part in the movie where the audience was ready to jump or whine because the characters were taking too long to react. So, I reached into the depths of my soul to try to find the perfect thing to say.

“Okay.” Is what I came up with?

Jane, we’ll call her that from now on, looked surprised, “Okay?” She echoed.

I pulled my hand away from hers, suddenly feeling dirty. “What else do you want me to say? Congratulations? Way to kill my mother?” Okay people here comes the anger. I guess it was a delayed reaction.

“She wasn’t your mother Nick. I am your mother. I have ALWAYS been your mother.”

“Oh really, even after you faked your own death and left me longing for you all these years?”

“It was complicated.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” I moved to the couch and felt everyone’s eyes follow me there. “So, you said she wasn’t my mother….you gave birth to me then?”

She looked over at my father. I could tell they had talked about this moment before, rehearsed it even. I wonder if I was playing my part correctly. Then something else dawned on me, if she was my mother then, “He is my brother?” I asked, pointing towards Nickolas who looked like he wanted to be back in my closet tied up rather than sit through this conversation.

“Nick, before you were born I used to work for the CIA.” My father said as he moved to sit next to me on the couch. I almost moved but decided maybe that was too immature so I just sat there.

“I know, my fake uncle told me that.” I rolled my eyes.

“And one of my assignments was to watch over a family from Russia. They were on several watch lists and I was told to keep my eyes on them. Your mother worked for them at the time. She was their head chef.”

“And which mother would that be? I’m losing track.”

I was looking at the floor now, not really wanting to hear anymore. I was bored with this movie. It was turning out to really suck ass!

“Me sweetheart.”

“Oh, the killer.”

“Don’t talk to your mother like that!” My father actually scolded me. Seriously?

“It’s okay Bob, I deserved that.” Well, at least she got something right.

“This family,” I said now looking over at my dad, “Are we talking about the woman she killed?” I didn’t even know what to call her anymore. If she wasn’t my mother why should I bother caring?

“Yes, she was a part of it. So was Max.”

“So, he didn’t work for the CIA then? He lied about that too?”

“No, actually he did work for the CIA. He was my second in command. We didn’t know at the time that he was a double agent.”

Of course we needed a double agent in this movie. I wonder if there’s an evil twin as well.

“Turns out he was a part of this family and had us all fooled. By the time we figured it out, things had gone horribly wrong, well almost everything.” My dad looked over at Jane and smiled, “I fell in love with your mom during this time.”

She picked up the story now, “Your dad used me to help get them the information they needed. My job was to just listen and report back when I heard anything significant. I am the one who found out that Max was part of the family and that he had been lying to your father this entire time.”

“Max didn’t know you were listening in?” I asked.

“No.” Now it was my father’s turn to continue, “I was already suspicious of him so I left him out of it. I’m glad I did. Anyway, I’ll spare you most of the details because to this day they remain confidential, but the end result was plenty of arrests, including Max and some new identities for your mother and me. We had a fresh start, new life, and a new place, safe.”

“You guys were in the Witness Protection Program?”

“Not exactly, we just picked up and left. When you are trained like I am, changing identities is pretty easy. I still worked for the CIA but we were also working on opening a Bed and Breakfast.”

“Okay, where does he come into the story?” I pointed at Nickolas who it seems was staring at me this whole time.

Jane smiled at her son, “I had him before I met your dad.”

“Was his dad one of those Russians?”

“No, he was a truck driver who ended up being a total jerk.”

“So, you left him with the jerky truck driver when you had me and through that process he developed a Russian accent?”

“He doesn’t have a Russian accent.”

I looked over at my half brother, “Uh…yeah he does.”

“Actually…” Nickolas said in very plain English, “That’s one of the things I lied about. Sorry, I just figured when I was caught, it was best to act like I was Russian so he wouldn’t make the connection to our mother or your father. I was hoping I could get him to believe I was working for his family.”

“Guess that didn’t work the way you wanted it to, huh?”

“Not so much.”

“When it was just you and me, how come you still kept it up?”

“I wanted you to trust me. If I suddenly started talking like this I was afraid you’d try to run away.” He was right. I would have done exactly that.

I put my hand over my mouth, perplexed and then shook my head, “Call me crazy, but I am pretty sure I’d remember having a brother and I don’t really recall him being in my life at all.”

My ‘parents’ both looked at each other again, I was really beginning to hate that. “When I was pregnant with you, things got more complicated.”

“How so?”

“Max came back into our lives.”

“He found you?” They both nodded, “But I thought he was in prison?”

“He was. They didn’t have enough evidence to hold him so they let him go. At that point, the CIA recommended we go into hiding but we refused.”

It’s weird, now that I was finally learning the truth. I almost didn’t want to hear anymore of it. Especially the part I knew was coming next, the part that has been plaguing my dreams and scaring the crap out of me for this long.

When we would watch horror movies together in our hotel rooms in Europe, and I could sense that the scariest part was coming up, I would make an excuse to leave. Usually I ran into the bathroom and stayed there just until I heard the screams die down on the television or the guys stop talking about how cool that scene was. When I would come out, I’d act all disappointed like I was so bummed to miss out on it, but secretly I knew if I had seen what was coming, it would have kept me up all night.

“I need to go to the bathroom.” I said, “Can you show me where it is?”

“I’ll show him.” Kevin said, knowing that I just needed to get out of that room. See, he figured out my horror movie emergency plan a long time ago and would always smirk when I would excuse myself at the perfect time. I give him credit though, because he never told the guys.

“Thanks.” He led me out of the room and down a very small hallway where at the end was the tiniest bathroom I have ever seen.

“How are you holding up little man? You want to talk about it?”

“I don’t even know what I would say, Kevin. Did you know about my mom killing that other woman?”

“No, but I found out that the other woman wasn’t your mother once I got here. I filled them in on your dreams and what Max had been telling us. I’m sorry about this Nick. I wish there was something I could do to make this easier for you.”

“I feel like you’re the only person I can trust here.”

He placed an arm on my shoulder. It felt nice not to want to move away from him. “Nick, you can trust your family. They love you. I know it’s hard to see right now, but I’m sure once we hear the rest of what they have to say, things will make more sense.”

“Do you know the story?”

He shook his head, “We’ll be finding out together and I’ll be right there for you if you need me.”

I hugged him then, just for being there. I wish the rest of the guys were with us as well. “Come on, let’s go back inside.” I said, now knowing what I wanted to say to my family.

“All better?” Jane asked. She was sitting in my spot on the couch. “Can I keep going now?”

“No, I’m not all better and I won’t be until we get my friends back.” I turned to my father, “So, how do we do that exactly? Every minute we wait…”

“He’s not going to kill them Nick, they are too valuable. He’s probably trying to figure out a way to get in touch with us right now.” Nickolas said. It was so weird not hearing the Russian accent.

“Besides, I think we’re going to go to the mountain.” My father added.

“Huh?”

“Oh, I get you! That’s a brilliant idea Bob!” Nickolas said with a huge smile on his face.

I had no clue what either of them were talking about. I glanced over to Kevin to see if he understood and was happy to see he looked as out of it as I did.

“The hotel phones are bugged son, so all we have to do is call there or have you call there and speak to Brian and they will trace the call. They’ll track us down and then we can get them.”

“But, do we really want them coming here?”

“No, that’s why we’re going to call them from somewhere else.”

I nodded, it sounded like a good idea.

“Nick, I need to tell you the rest of this story.” My mother said actually looking annoyed she had been interrupted. As if she hadn’t interrupted my entire life with her departure so long ago.

“I actually think I’ve heard enough.” That wasn’t true, but I just didn’t think I could take anymore of this.

“You need to know what we’re up against and why.” My father said. “Don’t you want to know why your mother had to leave us?”

I looked over at Jane and sighed, “Okay, go ahead.”

I guess it was time to see how this movie ended so I sat down on a chair and listened as my nightmares came to reality with every word my mother and father spoke.
End Notes:
Hope you enjoy! I hope to be back next week with another update and yes, I did still Kelly's title lol but I know she loves me so it's okay :OP
Chapter 30 by Mare
~ 30 ~

Looking at the World through New Eyes




Jane, my dead therapist and not my risen from the dead mother, told me that dreams aren’t always reliable when it comes to memories. That even though it’s possible that many of the things I had been dreaming were memories, many of them could have just been figments of my imagination or events that have happened but in the wrong place or time. In a nutshell what she was telling me was not to totally believe the things I was dreaming because most likely things didn’t really happen in that same exact way.

Jane was right.

After Max got out of prison, my parents panicked and they changed their names one more time. This is how my father and mother became Bob and Jane Carter. When I was born just a month later, they named me Andrew. They didn’t think that Max or anyone else would ever find us in Tampa of all places especially using Max’s own name as their surname. They were right, for a while anyway. Things were great. Max was nowhere to be found, the Bed and Breakfast was starting to do good business and the four of us were living a normal life. I wish I had an accurate memory of all of this. I would have loved to know I had an older brother.

This was one of the things that got all messed up in my brain. The memories of Nickolas making me laugh, that was at the B&B with my parents, not in the other place with the Russians.

When I asked him about that, he had no clue what I meant. Turns out whenever he was talking about my mother back when we had him tied to that chair, he meant Jane and not Nicole.

The next big question I had was about that picture that Max had given me of Nicole, my dad and I. If we weren’t really a family how the hell did they explain that one? My father then took out the picture in question. I was surprised to see it because after our room was broken into, it was one of the things that was stolen. I didn’t realize that it was them that broke into my room. Chris supposedly did the breaking and entering. Makes sense now, as much as any of this can make sense I guess.

My dad then showed me little cracks along the picture when looking at it through a magnifying glass. He said with all the technology at Max’s hands, it was easy to take three separate pictures and superimpose them in one. Chances are that’s what he did because according to my father, he and Nicole never had any real contact. It was probably just a clever way to try to convince me that she was my mother and that he was really my uncle. We already had a lot of similarities in the looks department which helped.

I have to say it worked.

“If he wanted to go through that much trouble chances are he never meant to really hurt you.” Dad had told me. “I don’t think he was going to try to kill you back at the dumpster Nick. I think he was going to use that as a golden opportunity to finally take you back to his family.”

Back to his family, yes this is the part we’ve all been waiting for. What exactly happened that landed me in their house so long ago?

While my family was blissfully happy with their lives in Tampa, they were also blissfully unaware that Max had indeed found them. What no one knew was that Nicole had been pregnant at the time of the big raid. Even though she didn’t technically do anything wrong, she had been held in prison for a little while before being released. In that time she had a miscarriage and apparently lost her mind. Her husband went MIA. He was the real monster in my dreams, but we’ll talk about him later.

Anyway, this became Max’s driving force for revenge. He felt like the only fair thing to do would be to take me back to his sister, so that’s what he did. One evening, when my parents decided to have a date night and left me in the care of one of the workers at the Bed and Breakfast, he made his move. Nickolas wasn’t home that night either, or he might have ended up with me. He was staying over at a friend’s house.

Max strolled in and up the stairs. I guess I was in my room playing at the time. No one really was able to tell me exactly what happened because they weren’t there, but surprisingly I was able to fill in the blanks from my own memory. I said he picked me up and brought me down the stairs, just like he had done in my dreams. Only I thought he had saved my life from a fire. No, my memory was actually my abduction. He set the Bed and Breakfast on fire. Something my family never told me until now.

My parents said when they returned home, the lady left in charge of me was dead, the place was on fire. They knew at that moment that Max had taken me.

That’s when the story switched to how long they had been looking for me. The FBI was brought into the case and everyone whoever worked with my father was looking for me pretty much around the clock. My parents decided to send Nickolas to stay at one of the safe houses run by a close friend of our family, since they had small children of their own at the time. This is where things get even weirder. Turns out those friends were the Richardsons.

Yeah, I know….I’ll give you a second to digest that one!

Gerald owned a safe house that the CIA used to use on occasion. They would make a call to the Richardson’s and let them know when someone was coming to stay for a brief period of time. It was on the same property as their house so both Anne and Gerald would run errands for anyone who was living there so they could keep a low profile. My father was one of those people a long time before I was born and Kevin was just a tiny little thing. My dad was escorting a guy who was going to be entering witness protection and he ended up staying in that safe house for about three weeks. The two of them became fast friends and had remained that up until Gerald’s death.

Both Anne and Gerald managed to keep this part of their lives a secret from the rest of their family, until now.

It was kind of nice to see Kevin looking as surprised and weirded out as I was. “Do you remember any of that?” I asked him during dinner that night. “Nickolas coming to live with you or ever seeing my father before, any of that ring a bell?” He shook his head leaving his meal as untouched as I had left mine. It’s pretty hard to have an appetite when you are suddenly looking at the world through new eyes. Across the table from me was the brother I never knew I had, the mother who had been dead for years and a father that’s been a stranger to me all my life.

Nickolas didn’t remember staying at Kevin’s either although he did remember staying somewhere ‘unfun’ as he put it. He remembered being away from home because of something that had happened to me, but he had no idea it was Kevin who he was staying with.

Small world? Doubtful, but there was no time to ask questions about the two of us being thrown together in a band and the level of coincidence attached to it, not now anyway. Those questions would come later after we had our other band mates back safely.

After dinner, talk resumed about this horrific ordeal my family went through while I was missing. Turns out I was gone for almost one entire year of my life. How does one not have any recollection of something like that? Granted I was very young, but even still you would think that I would remember something about that time, that didn’t come to me in the form of a nightmare at least.

Just when my dad was about to give up all hope, they got a tip from someone. They claimed they saw a child matching my description being pushed in a stroller by someone that matched Nicole’s. Both of my parents immediately flew out to where that was, Los Angeles.

After casing the place, they soon figured out it was in fact Max’s family and came up with a plan to get me back home. My father insisted that my mother just stay behind and he would let her know how things were going, but of course after he left with his team, she decided to follow.

They broke into the house sometime in the afternoon.

Apparently, they wanted to wait until no one was home except for me and Nicole, but that didn’t happen. Turns out that Max and some other ‘security’ types were there as well as the main figure in my nightmares, Nicole’s husband and main target of the CIA, Roger. He eluded capture during the first raid by jumping out of a window allowing his wife and her brother to be caught. Not caring that she was pregnant at the time and not caring that she had a small child with her now. He opened gunfire once my father broke the door down.

When Nicole heard the door being broken down and the shots being fired, she ran up the stairs and brought me into the nursery and that’s where we both hid until my mother found us.

I guess there was lots of gunfire between my father’s team and the Russians. During that time, my mother who had followed my father to the house, managed to sneak in and up the stairs, looking for me. I was her one and only goal. That should have made me warm and fuzzy but for some reason it had the opposite effect on me.

When she told me this part, the look on her face was almost hypnotic, like she was telling me from a trance of some kind. She said she opened the door and I was in Nicole’s hands. I guess when she saw my mother she panicked and just about dropped me on the floor and that’s when I went and crawled underneath the desk.

My mother said she didn’t have any intention at all of hurting anyone but when she saw this crazy woman holding her child, something clicked inside of her and next thing she knew, Nicole was dead on the floor, while the gun smoked in her hands.

She had a deep look of hurt on her face when she said the next part as if the way I reacted was intentionally to hurt her. She said that when she went to pull me out from under the desk, I started crying and screaming for help. I didn’t want to go with her and instead I kept asking for my mommy. At this point, I guess my father had made his way up the stairs and found my mother and me standing in the hallway, ready to go down the steps and out the door.

That’s when Max showed up again.

There was a struggle of some kind; the end result was me falling down the entire flight of stairs and being knocked unconscious. The attention shifted at that point from Max to me. Both of my parents went running to my aide and I guess that’s when Max and everyone else escaped.

I was in the hospital for almost a month. The doctors weren’t sure if I’d ever wake up and if I did, they were almost certain I’d have brain damage. I could actually hear AJ’s voice in my head at this point, saying with a huge sarcastic grin on his face, “That explains so much!”

Anyway, one miraculous day, I opened my eyes and asked for my mother and father. The doctors said I beat the odds and a week after I woke up, I was released from the hospital and we all went back home as a family.

I had no recollection of anything that happened to me and the doctors told my parents, I most likely never would.

By the time my parents finished telling me this part of the story, it was already almost midnight. I could tell that they were done purging when my questions were once again being pushed to the side. “We’ll tell you more in the morning.” My mother said as she stood up and stretched, “For now it’s time for you to get some much needed sleep.”

Like I’d be able to sleep after digesting all of that information?

My mother vanished long enough to come back with a pile of blankets, sheets and pillows. “I’m sorry you all have to sleep in the living room. This apartment was only built for three people at the most.” She then came over to me and handed me all of the blankets and kissed my cheek. “I love you honey.”

I didn’t say anything back. I couldn’t, not yet anyway. In my mind she was still dead and for all I knew this was some kind of elaborate dream. The jury was still out on whether or not I wanted it to be.

My father stood up and walked over to me, “I’m so sorry, son. I never wanted you to find out about any of this.”

There was still so much I needed to know, “Why did you just disappear after our phone conversation?” I asked just as he grabbed me in a hug, “I thought something had happened to you. If all you were doing was hiding, why couldn’t you just tell me that?”

He pulled away from me, “There’s more to the story kiddo, I’m just too mentally exhausted to continue tonight. I promise I’ll fill you in on the rest tomorrow.”

“How can you sleep knowing that the guys are probably in danger? Shouldn’t we be working on getting them away from Max?”

“Nick, I’m sure they are okay.”

“But you said they could be used as a bargaining chip!”

“Yes, but they wouldn’t even be aware of that. You have to see it from Max’s eyes. They came back to him which kind of told him that they still do trust him. He won’t do anything right now to make them think otherwise.”

“I’m sure right now he’s doing a bang up job portraying me as a bad guy.” Nickolas added from the couch where he had just plopped down, ready to crash for the night.

“So, no immediate danger then?” Kevin asked.

My father shook his head, “I think right now they are under the impression that they are in good hands.”

That made me feel a little better but I still knew sleep wouldn’t be in my agenda tonight. “Get some sleep boys and we’ll talk more in the morning.” My dad then walked over to me and kissed me on the forehead. “Okay?” I nodded at him. He glanced over at Nickolas and then put his hand on Kevin’s shoulder. “Night boys.” He said as he walked out leaving the three of us in the living room staring at each other.

Kevin looked over at me, “You want the other couch or the floor?”

I was surprised I was even given a choice. “I’ll take the floor. I know I won’t be sleeping anyway.” I slid myself onto the floor and he threw me some covers and pillows.

“I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much either.” He answered.

“Same here.” Was the reply from the other couch.

Maybe we’d have a night of brotherly bonding. I was sure maybe Nickolas could fill in some of the gaps that my father left wide open.
End Notes:
No cliffhanger! :O) Merry Christmas lol

Just letting you know there probably will not be a new chapter until after Christmas. I might be able to get some writing done shortly before the holiday but definitely not by next weekend. Thanks for reading and reviewing!
Chapter 31 by Mare
~ 31 ~

Left in the Dark


I laid in the dark with my eyes closed for about an hour, just willing sleep to come. I was so tired and my body was exhausted, but my brain had other plans. It was working a mile a minute. Don’t you hate when that happens? When your body gives you all the bells and whistles it needs to let you know you need sleep but your mind just doesn’t care.

I still think brains are unnecessary.

My main thoughts went to Brian, AJ and Howie. I was really worried about them, despite what my father said. Max is a man who set our house on fire and kidnapped me out of my own home. He stole a year of my life from me, not to mention what he did to my family in the process. He was probably the reason my mother ‘died’ and my brother ceased to exist. This is the man I was supposed to trust when it came to my friends?

“Are you awake little man?”

I finally opened my eyes and looked up at the dark figure of Kevin, “Yep, are you?”

“Obviously…”

I sat up and pulled my blanket over my shoulders like a cape, “This has been kind of crazy, hasn’t it?”

He sat up and did the same thing. “Uh, yeah.”

“I’m worried about the guys.”

He motioned for me to come join him on the couch, “Me too.”

“I feel like we should be doing something besides lying around and waiting.”

“Me too.”

The sound of snoring coming from the other couch made us both pause for a second, “How can he sleep?”

Kevin shrugged his shoulders, “I have a feeling he’s used to this sort of thing.”

“How can anyone get used to this? I still can’t believe I have a freaking brother. I mean how…why?”

He half laughed, “And what about my family? What the hell is that all about?”

“Are you going to ask them about that when this is all over?”

“I don’t know.” He paused and then looked at his fingers as he said the rest, “I’m not sure if this is ever going to be all over.”

We both let that statement hang in the air for a few minutes. What if Kevin was right? What if this never ended and for some reason we had to suddenly live the same kind of life that my snoring brother and mother were living. Could we ever go back to normal after this, or would we have to find a new definition of normal?

“I don’t even know what to call myself anymore. I mean how can I be Nick if my brother is Nickolas? I don’t like the name Andrew, it sucks.” I let out a deep sigh.

Okay, now I suddenly was even more restless than before. I plowed my hands through my hair in frustration and stood up and started pacing, “With every minute we wait, Max can be coming up with a plan that destroys everything we have worked so hard on, Kevin. We need to do something!”

“Nick, relax.”

“Yeah, relax,” came the sound of my brother from the other couch as he slowly sat up and yawned. “Getting yourself all worked up over things won’t help.”

“That’s why we just need to go do something. We know where Max is, why don’t we just go get the guys ourselves?” I asked my two big brothers.

“Because that would be dumb.” Nickolas replied.

“Why?”

“You saw what happened to me the last time we decided to rescue you and I know what I’m doing.”

“Are you saying I don’t know what I’m doing?”

“Yeah.”

“How do you know what you’re doing?” Kevin asked my brother.

I turned towards Nickolas, with my arms defensively folded in front of me, “Yeah, how do you know what you’re doing?”

“Mostly because of your father.”

I’m not sure why I felt a small pang of jealousy when he said that, but I did. I mean my father never even taught me how to throw a punch. He always told me the best way to fight was to avoid one, meanwhile he’s showing my brother CIA, ninja moves? What the hell?

“My father taught you how to fight and defend yourself?”

“Not just me.”

I nodded, “He thought it was important that I know what to do if Max or Roger showed up on our doorstep one day.”

Roger, just his name sent a chill down my spine. I wish I could fully remember why, but then again, maybe not. “I don’t get why you and mom left.” I finally stopped pacing and just stood facing my brother, probably looking baffled and annoyed.

“One day, shortly after we got you back, mom pulled me aside and told me I had to go into hiding. That it wasn’t safe for me to be with them and soon we would all be together. You don’t remember me Nick because by the time you got home from the hospital, I was gone.”

Now that he said that, it made sense. My parents said once I came home from the hospital we lived as a happy family but they didn’t mention Nickolas. “Where did they send you?”

He looked over at me and in that instant I saw our similarities. The way his eyes creased and his head tilted when he spoke, told me how sad he was by what he was about to say. “A nice family in Florida that dad knew pretty well. They treated me like I was their own. Mom and dad would take turns coming to visit me on the weekends. It wasn’t so bad. I was only about an hour away from you. I always asked why you didn’t come, but they told me it was just too dangerous.”

“Why didn’t we all just go into witness protection? That way we could have all stayed together.”

“I don’t know. You’d have to ask your father that one.” The way he exaggerated the word father, made me realize that there was some hurt feelings on his part. I can only imagine.

“Anyway, things were good until one day I came home from school and found them dead.”

“What? That’s horrible. I’m so sorry.”

“I didn’t know what to do, so I called mom which I am sure Max was counting on.”

If my father would have sent Nickolas back to the Richardson’s, they’d be dead right now. I glanced over at Kevin, just to see what his reaction to all of this was. The look on his face showed his thoughts going to the same place as mine.

“He followed you guys back home, didn’t he?”

Nickolas nodded.

“And that’s why mom died?”

He nodded again. “Max had a thing against mom. She’s the one that killed his sister. Your dad thought the only way to get him off of our backs once and for all was to have her play dead.”

He told me how my father rigged the accident, hid my mother and brother and then exploded the car, making sure that there was just enough evidence in there proving my mother was behind the wheel at the time of the explosion.

“We moved to Key West and stayed there for a while before ending up in New York.”

“How often did you get to see my father?”

“Two or three times a year.”

All those trips he made, saying it was related to the bed and breakfast. That’s where he was going. To see the family I thought was dead. I was feeling ripped off and mad again. How could they do this to me? Take away my family and life without telling me about any of it. It’s bad enough that I was kidnapped but when your own family steals from you, it makes it wronger…or even more wrong. Whatever, it’s fucked up!

I suddenly needed to get the hell out of that place. Looked around for my shoes in the dark and after locating them, plopped on the couch next to Kevin again.

“Nick, what are you doing?” he asked in his slow, I know what you’re doing but I’m asking you anyway, kind of voice.

“Leaving.”

“No, you’re not.”

“I can’t just stay here and wait for things to happen. I’m going back to the hotel.”

“No, you’re not.” He said once again as if I didn’t hear him the first time.

I finally had my shoes on my feet and even though I knew what I was saying and doing didn’t make any sense, it didn’t matter to me. I just needed to be out of there. “I’m going and you can either come with me or shut up about it.”

That’s when my brother stood up and blocked the door, “You aren’t going anywhere. It’s too dangerous. If you get caught you’ll not only be putting your life in danger but your friend’s lives as well.”

“How do we know that Max hasn’t killed them already?”

“We don’t, but like your dad said, I’m sure they’re safe. Max has only one goal and that’s to find mom.”

I wasn’t expecting that to be his answer. “Mom?”

“Yes, mom. It’s not all about you, you know.”

“He wants mom?”

“Dead, he wants her dead.”

“How did he even find out she was alive in the first place?”

He walked closer to me and pat my back as he led me away from the door and towards the couch, “Andrew, I know it’s frustrating believe me. I have been living this kind of life for as long as I can remember. Getting mad and trying to take things into your own hands doesn’t help. That’s how he found out. I decided that I was going to end things myself by going after Max. It’s my stupidity that started this whole thing up again.”

“How?”

He proceeded to tell Kevin and I, over a cup of hot chocolate and some cookies, how he found Max’s location one of the last times my dad went to visit them. How he bought his own bus ticket and traveled cross country to locate the guy and when he did, he came up with this plan to lure him in and then call the cops. It all seemed easy enough until he tried it. He made it seem like Max had broken into a car and then called the police on him, hoping that would be enough to hold him and then once they did a little background check, they’d find they had bagged a felon. It didn’t turn out the way he had hoped. Max had so many aliases at the time that the police let him go and soon enough he managed to trace that call back to my brother and with it he was able to pick up the very cold trail left by my family.

“Once he made the connection that it was me, he also figured out that mom was alive.”

He paused and once again his head tilted, “Once I realized what a huge mistake I made, I called your dad to let him know. He was furious and decided to have us move again, that’s how we ended up here in this hole in the wall in the middle of nowhere.”

“I don’t blame you for any of this.” I said in all honesty. He was the one person who knew what I was going through. In a way he had it way worse than I did. At least I had some semblance of a childhood and real life. He had spent the majority of his on the run, always looking over his shoulder.

Sometimes it was better to be left in the dark. I was starting to get that now.

He smiled at the vindication I had given him. Not sure how much it mattered but I think every little bit helped.

“Why are you still awake?” My father asked as he entered the kitchen, surprised to see us all sitting around the table.

“Couldn’t sleep.” I said, trying not to sound annoyed with him. I know he was just doing what he thought was best for us, but still I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to forgive him. Vindication can only go so far.

“I guess considering everything that’s happened the last few days, I can’t blame you. I can’t sleep either.” He opened the fridge and took out the milk, “Are there anymore cookies?” He sat beside me and poured himself a glass. “One good thing about insomnia…” He looked at me and smiled, “It helped me come up with a plan.”

“To save the boys?”

“Yes and get our lives back once and for all.”

I took a chug of my milk, “Let’s do it!” I said, feeling determination. Not realizing by the time it was all said and done, some of the people at this table would no longer be with us.
End Notes:
I just wanted to thank everyone who voted for this story at the Felix Awards. It won best suspense so thank you muchly! It means the world to me! I am rewarding you with the second chapter in a row with no cliffy. :O) I know i'm updating on an odd night but because I haven't updated in more than a week I thought i'd post it as soon as it was done. Hopefully i'll get on track again and the updates will start being more regular! Thanks again for reading and reviewing!
Chapter 32 by Mare
~ 32 ~

The Best Laid Plans




“So are you sure you can do this?” My father asked me for about the ten thousandth time. “Because it’s really important that you do not let on that we have seen each other.”

“I can do it!” I was starting to get annoyed.

At first I was impressed when my father started telling us his plan, which started with the words, “This will only work if we can get Max to believe Nick.” It turns out that what Kevin and my brother had prevented me from doing is exactly what my father wanted me to do in the first place.

I’m going back to the hotel, all alone.

Of course when he told us that, Kevin protested. Saying that it wasn’t such a great idea and how bad I was at hiding my emotions and then Nickolas had to quickly agree with him, saying just from knowing me for such a short time, he wasn’t sure if I could actually be able to act like Max was still a good guy. Way to have confidence in me! Haven’t these guys ever seen me act before? Okay maybe the library video isn’t that great of an example of what I’m talking about, but I can really act my way out of all kinds of situations when needed. Neither of them was there when I worked my charms on the front desk clerk at the hotel, but I am more than capable of handling this job.

Kevin insisted that he should go with me but my father quickly shot that down, reminding him that he was ‘missing’ and that it would seem suspicious if I managed to find him without running into my family.

“Just tell me what to do.” I said, determined not to let the guys down and more importantly, to prove Kevin and Nickolas wrong.

“You make the call we talked about, but not until we have a little training first.” With that being said, my father got up from the table, “Seriously, you all need some sleep, especially you. I’m going to teach you some things before I send you back to Max.”

I nodded at him as he left the kitchen. Maybe it was time for me to learn some of those kick ass ninja moves he taught my brother.

“I don’t like this.” Guess who that was.

“Kevin, have a little more faith in me.”

“It’s too dangerous for a little kid to be doing this.”

“Pardon me?”

“Sorry, but it’s true. You’re just a kid, Nick. One who is practically afraid of his own shadow!”

I stood up, “Screw you, Kevin!” Of course it would have been a bolder statement if I hadn’t tripped over my own feet and almost fallen on my face as I said it. Son of a bitch!

Kevin just shook his head and Nickolas looked worried as I stomped out of the room and onto the couch, “And I’m taking the couch, you can sleep on the damned floor!”

I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, ignoring Kevin as he continued to talk to me from the doorway of the kitchen, “I am just worried about you little man. This is a big thing your dad is asking you to do. No one would blame you if you decided you couldn’t do it.”

“Obviously my father thinks I’m capable of doing what I need to do.”

“I just think…”

“It doesn’t matter what you think Kevin. My father is in charge of the situation. Good night!” and with that being said I closed my eyes and tried my best to fall asleep.

“I said shut up!!” I felt his hands on me before I could do anything about it. He grabbed me up by my arms and pulled me away from my mother. He always did that when I made him mad but I couldn’t help it. I was scared.

My mommy wasn’t my mommy and he wasn’t my real daddy. My daddy would never hurt me the way that he did. I liked my new mommy but I didn’t like him, so I would cry when he came too close, even though my mommy would warn me not to.

“Roger don’t, please!” my mommy begged as she ran after us. I hope she catches him and throws him in the garbage, that’s where he belongs.

“Shut up Nicole! I can’t stand this damn kid anymore with this crying.”

“He’s only a baby, he doesn’t know any better!”

“He’ll know when I teach him a lesson.”

He opened a door and threw me inside. It was really cold and dark. I cried some more but I could no longer hear my new mommy or horrible new daddy. I didn’t like it in here. It smelled funny. I found myself shivering and wrapped my arms around myself as best as I could.

I felt around for something familiar, hoping that my pig would be in here waiting with me, but all I managed to find was a box that reminded me of my favorite toy back home. It rattled so I picked it up and kept shaking it, trying not to cry because the intense cold air from the box was making my chest hurt.

The door opened and my mommy picked me up, she was crying, “Don’t worry sweetie, he’ll never do that to you again!”

“I will if you start crying!” He warned and his eyes told me he wasn’t kidding.


I sat up straight and let out a huge breath, one that felt like I had held for over 10 years. Kevin was sitting on the floor and staring at me.

“Another nightmare?” He asked.

I nodded and wiped some sweat off of my forehead. “That son of a bitch locked me in a freezer.” My voice was shaky and unsettled.

“Max?”

“No, Roger. That’s what he did when I cried about missing my family.”

He moved closer to me, “I’m so sorry Nick. That must have been a horrible experience.”

“I guess so horrible that I blocked it out, until now.” I looked over at him, “I guess now that I know the truth, more memories are going to come flooding back. I’m not sure how I feel about that.”

“We’ll be here for you when it happens.” He gave me a sympathetic smile and that’s when I realized I was acting just like the little kid he accused me of being.

“I know you don’t think I can handle this Kev…”

“I just don’t want anything to happen to you or the others. I want us all to come out of this in one piece.”

“I wouldn’t ever let anything happen to the guys.”

He smiled at me again, “I know. I just worry, it’s my thing.”

I had to laugh at that. He was so right. He was very good at his thing. Wow, that sounded dirty. I can’t believe I’m letting my mind go right down the gutter even after all I’ve been through but I guess I am a hormonal teenager.

The few remaining hours or darkness were spent just sitting up and talking to Kevin as if we were on a plane or in a hotel waiting for an interview to happen. As Nickolas slept on the other couch, I told Kevin about the little things I remembered from my time in captivity, things that just suddenly came to me as if they were just there waiting all along to be purged from my memory.

Roger hated me and the very idea of me. He hated the fact that Max brought me back to his sister. He also made it clear from the very beginning he wanted nothing to do with me at all. He showed me this by kicking me in the side. I actually placed my hand to my ribs, remembering the pain I felt when he did it. He kicked me like a soccer ball. He would also steal my toys and throw them away when I would try to play with him or laugh and have any kind of fun.

He was not a nice man.

Kevin just sat and listened, I could tell some of the things I was telling him really made him angry but he didn’t let his emotions get to him. He would just nod and let me talk because he could tell that’s what I needed to do.

I also went on about how confused I was about my parents and how conflicted I felt about my mother. How part of me wished she was still dead because it was somehow easier to deal with then knowing she had been just out of my reach this entire time.

I know I give Kevin a lot of crap, but he‘s a good friend. I really should try to be nicer to him. Maybe after this is all over, I will be.

The first sign of daylight brought my father back into the kitchen where I was sitting and drinking a cup of coffee, or really I should say a cup of sugar and milk with some coffee in there somewhere.

“Are you ready to get to work?” He asked as he sat beside me.

After we all ate some breakfast he took me down to the basement where he showed me some basic self defense moves, just in case something were to go wrong. He assured me that most likely I wouldn’t have to do anything as long as Max wasn‘t made aware that this was a plan.

“If Max figures it out…”

“Dad, he won’t. I promise you!”

“But if he does, you have to promise me that no matter what happens, you will make a run for it. Leave everyone else behind and just book it out of there.”

I was surprised by what he had asked me to do. There was no way in hell I would ever consider leaving the guys behind but I was afraid that if I admitted this to him he would find a reason for me not to go ahead with our plan.

“I promise.” I crossed my fingers behind my back…yeah just like a damn kid. So sue me!

“You’re lying to me, but I can’t blame you. I’d never leave my friends behind either.”

He tousled my hair, “We won’t be too far away. Nickolas will be on your tail the entire time and all he has to do is make one call to me and I’ll come in.”

“It’s all going to work out Dad, don’t worry.”

He smiled and started to walk back up the steps, “Dad…”

He stopped and turned around. “Yeah, son?”

“Do you think after this is all over, we’ll just go back to being a regular family? All of us, including Nickolas and Mom?”

“That’s what I’m hoping for kiddo.”

Me too.

I found myself staring at the clock, counting down the minutes until I was supposed to make that call. It was a weird feeling, part anxiety, and part excitement. Even though I was going back to Max, it was going to be nice to see the guys again. Just to know that they were okay would make this thing a whole lot easier.

One thing I noticed as the hours ticked slowly away was how my mother pretty much avoided me ever since I had gotten there. With the exception of her telling us her story she barely said two words to me this entire time. I was trying not to even think about it, but my emotions were getting the best of me so about thirty minutes before Nickolas and I were about to leave, I walked over to her and tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hey mom.”

She was in the middle of folding clothes and seemed kind of surprised by the interruption. “Hi sweetie, what’s going on?”

That seemed like such a stupid question I almost wanted to laugh, but I knew it was just one of those things you said when you had no idea what else to say. That made me sad.

“Nothing, I just wanted to come in and say I’m glad you’re not dead.” Wow, once again you have to re-examine your life when you can use a sentence like that as a starting point of a conversation.

She smiled at me, “You must hate me for leaving you. I wouldn’t blame you if you did.”

“I don’t hate you, Mom. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel. I haven’t figured that out yet.”

“You’ve always been like that honey. You really think things through before you make your mind up about something.”

“I do? Everyone else seems to think I’m erratic and irresponsible.”

“That’s only because they don’t know you like I do.”

Or maybe it’s the other way around, but I didn’t say that. I kind of liked her logic on this one anyway, even though I knew it was wrong.

“Sorry to bother you, I just wanted to say goodbye before I left for the hotel.”

She stood up and grabbed me in a hug, “Be safe honey, please. I just got you back. I don’t want to lose you again.”

I liked the way her hug fit me. It seemed like a puzzle piece that had fallen under the couch for years and years and just had finally shown up again out of the blue. She pulled away first, I realized if it was up to me we probably would have hugged for another hour or so.

“Love you Mom.”

She smiled at me, “Love you too!”

Nickolas walked into the room. I have a feeling he was standing there and watching the whole scene unfold. I wonder if he was jealous. If I was him, I probably would be, but then again we have already established the fact that I’m just a kid.

“We should get going.”

“Yeah, okay.” Now that it was finally time to set this plan into motion, part of me just wanted to stay behind with my family.

My father placed his hand on my back, “Just remember what I taught you. This will all be over soon and we can get on with our lives, I promise.”

“I hope so!”

Kevin then walked over to me and gave me a hug, “Nick, be careful!”

“I will.”

I turned back towards my mother and father who were both saying their goodbyes to my brother. I wish I had a camera. I wanted us to take a family picture before we left. I almost asked if anyone had a camera but I decided it would have killed the ‘manly plan of action.’

I wish I had taken that picture.

Nickolas began walking my way, “Okay, let’s do this thing little brother.”

That was the first time he ever called me that. “Okay!” I saluted him, not sure why. Maybe because I’m a major in the Army of Dork!

I took one last look at my mom, dad and Kevin and gave them my reassuring smile. I hope they didn’t read all the doubt and fear I had going on in my head at the time.

We were silent for most of our walk to our destination but once we arrived at the payphone he picked up the receiver and handed it to. “Are you ready?”

I took the receiver into my hands and held it tight, “As I’ll ever be, I guess.” I dialed the number to our hotel room and waited as it rang and rang and rang…
End Notes:
Wow, another chapter in less than three days time? I rock! lol actually, now that this story is starting to come to an end *tear* , I think i'm just going to update it as I write it so, sometimes you'll get more than one chapter in a week and others maybe nothing? I hope you enjoy this chapter and as always thanks for reading and reviewing. Happy New Year!! :O)
Chapter 33 by Mare
~ 33 ~

Reunited…and it feels so good….



I was just about to give up all hope when finally someone picked up the phone, “Hello?”

It’s weird but my heart started beating double time, “Howie, it’s me, Nick.”

“Oh my God…Nicky! It’s Nicky.” He said to whoever was standing by him in the room.

“Is he okay?” It was Brian, “Let me talk to him.” I could hear them fighting over the phone. “Nick, is that really you?”

“Hey Bri…yeah it’s me.”

“Thank God, are you okay? Where are you? Are you still with Nickolas? What happened?”

“Slow down…I got away, I’m not sure where I am…I’m at a payphone on a corner.” I knew exactly where I was but I was supposed to play dumb.

“Is there a street name? Are you sure you’re safe?”

“Uh…hang on, I’m looking for it.” I paused for a few seconds while Nickolas gave me an approving smile. “Okay I’m on the corner of Tenth and Berkshire.”

“Where?”

“What do you mean where?”

“I mean where in the city? What borough? Do you know?”

Shit, I really didn’t know. “Borough?” I said out loud, hoping that Nickolas would take my cue and help me out a little bit.

“The Bronx.” He whispered to me.

“I think I’m in the Bronx, maybe?”

“He thinks he’s in the Bronx, go get Max…” He was talking to someone either Howie or AJ. Hearing Brian wanting to get Max made me calm down even more. My father was right, as long as the guys had no idea Max was a bad guy, they were safe.

“I’m glad I found you. I wasn’t sure if you would have gone back to the hotel or not…I didn’t know what else to do.” I was trying to play it up a bit.

“Did he hurt you?” Brian asked sounding worried.

My first thought went to Max and I had to actually stop myself from saying something dumb like ‘how could he hurt me when he was with you?’ before I realized that he was talking about Nickolas. Shit maybe this was going to be harder than I thought.

“No, I got away from him before he got the chance.”

“Nick hang on, Max wants to talk to you…”

I took a deep breath and looked over at my brother, “Okay.” I said as I heard Brian hand the phone over to Max.

“Nick?”

“Yes.”

“Listen, I’ll be there as soon as I can. Is there anyplace around where you can hide or blend in just in case Nickolas comes looking for you?”

“Yeah, there’s a diner right across the street,” That’s why my dad picked this phone. We had planned on Max wanting to meet me in a common area.

“Okay good. I want you to wait for me in that diner. Don’t move. I’ll be there soon!”

“Okay.”

He handed the phone back to Brian. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, Bri…”

“Good, get out of the cold and go to that diner, Max just left to get you.”

“Okay.”

When we hung up the phone I looked over at Nickolas, “You did a great job kid.” He said as he smiled at me. “He’s going to be looking for me so I’m going to have to really do a disappearing act but, take this.” He placed this little tiny magnet looking thing in my hands.

“What is it?”

“It’s a tracking device. As long as you have that on you, we’ll be able to find you. We think now that you’re back he’s going to change hotels again. This way we can track you from a distance.”

“Okay.” Seemed like the word of choice for me.

He placed his arm on my shoulder, “I will be close and I have your back. I’m your big brother and it’s my job to protect you. Just keep calm and everything will work out.”

I nodded at him and then I hugged him. At first he seemed surprised but he quickly softened up and returned the hug. “Be safe!” He warned.

“You too.” He nodded at me one more time before running off and I crossed the street and headed for the diner.

I ordered a hot chocolate and nervously kept tapping my fingers on the table as I waited. The waitress kept looking at me as if I was a lost child. I guess maybe that’s what I looked like. Either that or she was worried I was going to run out before paying the bill. It was one of those looks.

Finally about thirty minutes later, Max walked in. “you can do this Nick…” I said to myself just as soon as he spotted me and sat down.

“Are you okay? He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

“I’m fine.”

“Good. I just scouted the area and he’s nowhere in sight, so I think you successfully got away.” He paused and then looked at me suspiciously, “How did you get away?”

Just like you practiced it Nick… “When we got off the subway, I started screaming that I was being kidnapped and when security started over, I pushed him away and jumped back on the train.”

He nodded but didn’t seem like he believed me. I was starting to get nervous. What if I managed to blow things before even leaving this diner, then what? “I made sure to switch trains a few times so this way he wouldn’t be able to find me and eventually I ended up here.”

“What took you so long to call us?”

What you practiced Nick, come on…stay calm… “Honestly, I was afraid to call after what we did to you. I thought you’d hate me and wouldn’t want to help me anymore. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I figured I had to try the hotel again.” Then I took a deep breath and tried my hardest not to mess this part up, “Max, I’m really sorry.” I made sure I looked him right in the eyes when I said that. My father said Max would be looking for that. It’s one of the ways to know if someone is telling the truth. So, you just look him in the eyes and lie to him.

For the first time since coming into the diner, he showed signs of letting his guard down a little. “Don’t worry, I’m not mad. The others told me he said he was your brother.”

I nodded at him, “I was dumb to believe him.”

He shook his head at me, “No you weren’t. We believe what we want to believe.”

I nodded again thinking how right he was. That’s why it took me such a long time to realize he was a bad guy because in my heart of hearts, I wanted him to be my uncle. Even now I found myself hoping that maybe this was all a big misunderstanding and that really he was a good guy after all.

He took some money out of his wallet and placed it next to my check, “Let’s get back to the hotel. I know your friends are very eager to see you.”

I tried not to look around too much on the ride back to the hotel. I was afraid that it might look suspicious if I kept looking out the window. I know it probably wouldn’t because that’s what you do in a car, but even still I just kind of kept my eyes down and focused on what I needed to say and do. I was grateful that Max didn’t try to spark a conversation. It’s the small talk I was more worried about than the big explanations.

I was pretty much tackled when I opened the door to the room. Brian grabbed me in a hug so hard, I couldn’t even breathe. “Thank God you are okay! We were so worried about you!”

“Don’t you ever do that again Nicky!” Howie was next in the hug line.

“It’s not like I asked to be kidnapped!” I shook my head at D.

“Glad to see you alive and breathing, Carter!” AJ said as he pulled me into a hug.

Max didn’t actually come in but just stood in the doorway, “Okay, I’m going to make arrangements for us to move to another hotel.” Just like my father predicted. “I’ll be back in a few. I know you have a lot of catching up to do.”

He smiled at us and then left. This was going to be the hardest part of all. Everyone was so afraid that I’d blow it with Max but I wasn’t worried about that. I was worried about this.

“So, tell us what happened.” Brian pulled me towards the couch and pushed me down. I swear if he had a bone he would have given me one.

“Nothing really, I managed to get away from Nickolas at a train stop.” I told them the same story I told Max even though I desperately wanted to tell them everything that really happened. God, how I wanted to tell them, but Max was in that other room listening in.

My father warned me, “He’s going to leave just so he can listen in on your conversation and make sure you were telling him the truth. That’s why you absolutely can’t tell the guys anything. They have to be as in the dark as Max is.”

They all seemed captivated by what I was saying but I also felt the need to divert the attention away from me and back on them.

“So, why did you end up coming back here?”

“Once Nickolas grabbed you, we tried everything we could to get the police to stop the train at the next station, but they didn’t believe us.”

“Probably because you said we were the Backstreet Boys and famous.” AJ rolled his eyes at Howie.

“Well, we ARE the Backstreet Boys and famous.”

“Not here though, he thought you were a raving lunatic.”

“Anyway…” Brian continued, “We didn’t really know where else to turn so we had no choice but to come back to your uncle since we pretty much figured out Nickolas was lying about him.”

“Was he mad?”

“He was pissed, but more concerned that you were missing. After Nickolas attacked him, he brought in his friend Curtis to help try to track us down. We showed up a little while later. Max is a good guy. I feel bad I doubted him.

See, statements like that made me feel like a terrible person for not letting Brian know he was right to doubt him. Brian is my best friend, I share everything with him. It was killing me not to be able to share this. KILLING ME!

“What about Kevin, do we know anything about him yet?” My father told me to be sure I asked about Kev, otherwise it might look odd that I didn’t care suddenly.

Brian looked down at the floor, “No, I’m really worried about him. If he was okay, he would have contacted us by now.”

“We keep calling hospitals, but no one fitting his description was brought in.” AJ said as he handed me a Coke out of the blue. That was nice of him.

“I might call Aunt Anne if he doesn’t show up soon.”

I nodded at Brian and wondered what she would tell him. It was so weird knowing that she was aware of what was going on. Maybe Brian’s parents were aware as well. I mean they are related so there’s a good chance that at one point they shared that info with one another. I’d have to ask my dad when this was all over.

“Maybe that’s a good idea.” I said reassuringly. I took a deep breath, knowing I had to keep lying in order for this plan to work. “I have a feeling Nickolas knows where Kevin and my father are.”

All three of them looked over at me surprised, “Why would you say that?” Brian asked.

“Because while we were on the train, he kept telling me he was taking me to see my father and my friend.”

“Yeah, but Nick…he was clearly lying.”

“If he was lying why would he have kidnapped me in the first place?” when none of them answered my question I continued, just like we planned. “He kept mentioning this warehouse in Brooklyn where all my questions would be answered. He said that once we got there, id’ know what this was all about once and for all.”

“Warehouse in Brooklyn?”

I nodded, “Part of me wishes, I didn’t run away and that I just went along but I was so scared. I was afraid he was going to take me to that warehouse and kill me.”

“Hey boys…” I was grateful when Max and his friend came into the room. This way I was able to stop lying to my friends for a little while. I was hoping I gave him just enough info to try to find this warehouse.

“This is Curtis, a good friend of mine and your father’s. We all worked together at the CIA. I called him in on this once you went missing.”

He smiled at all of us but his eyes stayed fixed on me, “Nice to meet you. I am looking forward to helping you out, young man.”

I felt myself go numb and I’m pretty sure my hands started to sweat as my heartbeat increased. I couldn’t find my voice as I just stood there staring at the monster from my dreams.

Roger in the flesh.
End Notes:
Hope everyone had a nice NYE. Things are probably going to start slowing down for me and this story since school is starting back on Monday *waah* Hope you all enjoyed the three quick updates though! I'll be back soon with another chapter! :O) Thanks for reading and reviewing!
Chapter 34 by Mare
~ 34 ~

The Tell




It’s funny how the mind works. How you can live your whole life remembering only what your heart wants you to, but in one second, your brain can take over and have all that change. The second Roger walked in that door, my mind went into overdrive. It’s like someone hit the rewind button in my brain and forced me back to that dark place.

Roger used to kick and hit me a lot. I found myself just cringing at the thought. If I was too close to him he’d push me out of the way. If I tried to talk to him, he’d backhand me and yell at his wife to get me the hell away from him. All I wanted was for him to like me. I didn’t know who he was or why I was with him, but while we were together I wanted to make the best of it. I wanted him to love me like my dad loved me. Even though I was only a toddler, I figured out after a while that it was a bad idea.

Once I got the hint that he wanted nothing to do with me, I tried my best to stay away from him but that didn’t always happen. I once accidentally ran over his foot with one of my toy trucks so he took that truck and flung it right threw the window, breaking the glass into a million pieces. Nicole ran into the room when she heard the crash and she was met instantly with a punch to her face and a demand to clean up the mess that I had caused.

I sat there crying and clinging to my pig as I watched her clean up the small shards of glass all around me. “It’s okay Andrew…don’t cry. Mommy is going to fix this, you’ll see.” She said in her sing song voice. She always made things seem so much better. She made me feel safe.

After that happened, she scooped me up in her arms and took me outside to play. I had a huge playground out there all to myself. She put me on a swing and would sing to me as she gently pushed me.

“I want to go home.” I remember saying to her.

“You are home my darling little boy.” She answered.


“Nick?” I looked up at the sound of Brian’s voice. “Is everything okay?”

My heart was still racing so I took a second to calm myself down before answering, “Yeah, why?”

“You just zoned out on us.”

“I did? Sorry, I must be tired.” I smiled at him but I could tell he saw right through that.

“That’s understandable; you’ve been through a lot.” Max added, patting me on the shoulder and leading me towards the couch.

“So, Nick…is there anything else that kid told you that might help us track down your father or your friend?” Roger asked as I sat down. He and Max both walked towards the table and sat on the chairs while the rest of the guys joined me on the couch.

I didn’t want to answer this man. I couldn’t even look him in the eyes. All I wanted to do was run out of the room and hide. “Nicky?” I felt Howie’s arm on my back. They all knew something was wrong. I was doing a terrible job at acting otherwise. I couldn’t help it. How do I pretend that this man sitting before me wasn’t a monster? How do I act like everything is fine when this guy has caused me and my family so much pain? “Maybe we should let Nicky rest.” He was looking at Max when he said that.

Max looked over at Roger. Neither of them was pleased with the idea but I was kind of hoping I’d get the okay, just to get away for a little while. I needed to get the hell out of this room and recollect my thoughts before I totally blew it!

“Do you need to go lay down for a little bit or are you just eager to get things over with?” Max cleverly worded that in a way that would make it seem douchey of me to take the easy way out.

“No one will be mad at you if you need to rest Nick.” AJ said. “It’s not like an hour or so will change anything anyway.” He directed that at Max.

“Thanks” I smiled at AJ and then looked up at both Max and Roger, “I wish I could help but I really don’t remember him saying anything at all. I wasn’t really with him long enough for that.”

I felt Brian’s eyes staring at me. He knew I was lying because I had told them all about the warehouse. “Are you sure?” He asked confirming my thoughts.

I looked over at him, “Yeah.”

“Nick, is there anything else?” Max asked taking Brian’s cue.

I shook my head, “Nope, nothing I can think of at the moment, sorry.” I shrugged at him.

My father told me after I lied to his face, to watch Max’s facial expressions. I needed to find his ‘tell’. He then explained to me what a ‘tell’ was and how important it was to be able to know when Max was lying and when he was telling the truth.

“It takes people years and years of training to be able to do this effectively son, so all I can ask is that you do your best.”

I looked at Kevin and Nickolas totally baffled by all the things my father was trying to teach me in such a short amount of time. I was the kid who could barely remember my history lesson ten minutes after it was taught to me. Now, I was suddenly supposed to read Max well enough to know when he was lying.

“So, does that mean that you can always tell when I lie to you?” I asked my father after the lesson.

He smiled, laughed and walked away.

“Everyone can tell when you are lying, Nick. You basically wear it like a huge neon sign across your forehead.” You gotta love Kevin.

“Doesn’t that mean the guys will be able to tell that I’m lying?”

“We want them to figure that out.” Nickolas said nodding at me reassuringly.

“But what about Max?”

“We’re going to set it up so that he already knows your lying. It’s all about finding his tell, not yours.”


I made sure to watch Max’s next movements very carefully. Knowing I wasn’t being truthful with him but having to keep it to himself was the way to identify any tells he might have.

He rubbed at his chin and licked his lips. They were two very quick and subtle moves but put together they could be his tell. He smiled at me. I knew it wasn’t a genuine one. “It’s okay. Maybe something will come to you later.”

I nodded, “Maybe.”

“Can I go lay down now?” I asked, wanting more than anything for a time out.

“Sure, go ahead. We’ll try to think up a plan, but there’s really not much we can do without a little more information.”

“Sorry, I really am trying. If I remember anything at all, I’ll tell you.”

Max did it once again. Moved his hand to his chin and licked his lips. “Not a problem.”

I got you! I thought as I got up and walked into the bedroom.

I knew one of them was going to follow me I just wasn’t sure which one. Turns out it was Brian. I sat down on the bed when the door opened.

“Hey.”

“Hi.”

“Mind telling me what that was all about?” He asked.

I realized at that moment, I would never be able to work for the FBI, CIA or anything else with three capital letters. I give my dad credit. All the deceit that goes along with working at one of those agencies is a little much for me. How many times did my dad have to lie to my mother about things he was doing in order to protect us? This was killing me, but I had to do it.

“What are you talking about?” I asked innocently.

“How come you didn’t tell your uncle about the warehouse?”

“Oh…”

“Yeah, that’s a pretty big oh, don’t you think?”

“He told me not to tell anyone.”

“Nickolas?”

“Yes.”

“But who would you tell?” He had that look on his face. He wasn’t buying any of this but he wasn’t really supposed to. Come on figure it out Brian…

“Just in case I were to escape, he told me I couldn’t tell anyone or he’d kill them.”

“What? You didn’t tell us that part.”

“I just said I wasn’t supposed to tell you anything.”

“Nick, you’re not making any sense.”

“Do I ever?”

I looked up at him with almost pleading eyes.

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

I shrugged at him. “I had a really long night and I’m just tired.”

“I still think we should tell Max and Curtis about the warehouse.”

“But he said…”

“I know what he said, but he’s not here and you told us, so what difference does it make?”

It didn’t even matter if they found out about the warehouse now because I am pretty sure I found Max’s tell and that was the whole purpose behind the lie to begin with, but I didn’t want my so called uncle to be able to take the easy way out. I’m not sure why I said the next part, but I did. It was unplanned and unscripted.

“Nickolas also told me that Max killed my mother.”

There, let him have some fun with that one.

“What?”

“He said that Max shot her.”

“You have to know he’s lying to you! Max was her brother. He would never hurt her.”

“How do we know that for sure?”

Brian looked at me funny. I could tell that he actually believed me that time.

“I guess we don’t.” He finally said, looking down at his hands and scratching away at the dryness.

I looked around my room, trying to figure out where the bugs were in here. This was the other way to let Brian know what was going on without actually telling him, just showing him would be enough. I knew they weren’t listening in on our conversation at the moment because they were in the next room with Howie and AJ, but I’m also sure this would be the one thing they’d go back and listen to once they left us so I had to be extra careful.

“I mean, I trust Max. He’s a good guy but sometimes people aren’t always what they seem to be, you know?” When I said that, I walked over to the lamp and looked under the shade. There was a bug. I took the shade off as slowly as possible and showed it to Brian, putting my finger to my lips to keep him quiet.

“What?”

I put my fingers to my lips again and he instantly stopped. “Max has done so much for us,” I said pointing to the bug, and then the door to let him see it was Max who put the bug there. “I feel bad thinking this way, but when you hear something like that, what are you supposed to do?”

Brian mouthed the word “Max?” And I nodded at him.

I placed the shade back on the lamp and then walked over to the desk and wrote on the hotel stationary,

He’s listening to every word we say and has been the entire time. He’s not my uncle. I haven’t been telling you the truth since I got back.

Brian took the paper and read the note just as the door opened and Max and Roger both walked inside. I gave Brian a panicked look and he quickly put the note into his pocket. I hope they didn’t notice.

“I thought you were going to get some sleep.” Max said looking at the two of us suspiciously.

“I was, but then Bri came in and offered to play some video games with me to get my mind off things. I was just about to set it up.

I was hoping my neon sign wasn’t blinking.

“Just wanted to check back with you one more time before heading back to my room, are you sure there’s nothing else you know?” He put his hand to his chin and licked his lips again.

“I’m sure.”

“Okay, I’ll check back in a little bit.”

“Nice to meet you, Nickolas,” Roger added. He gave me another one of those sinister smiles of his. It made me anxious.

“Same.” I sounded like a robot.

Just before he left the room he looked at Brian, “You dropped something son.”

He smiled at me before closing the door. I didn’t like it.

There on the floor lying right beside Brian was the note I had written him. there was no way Roger would be able to tell from that distance what it said because it was small and folded but even still, he knew something was up.

“Shit!” Brian yelled uncharacteristically, “it fell out of my pocket.”

I put my fingers to my mouth again. Maybe that’s why Roger mentioned the note. To see if he’d get a reaction about it after he left. Crap!

I took the note from Brian after he finished reading it and then ripped it into a billion little pieces. I wasn’t about to leave any evidence behind.

Brian gave me a look. I could tell he wanted to ask me a thousand questions but there was no way. I wasn’t sure which rooms were bugged. I’m pretty sure they all were. Maybe the balcony would be safe, but even still. They might be able to hear us from their room without the use of a bug there. We were pretty much trapped, but at least Brian knew now.

He walked over to the desk and grabbed more stationary,

You found Kevin?

I was very grateful to be able to nod and smile at him and added on the paper,

And my mom and dad.

He smiled at me and gave me a hug. “So, what game do you want to play?” He asked me after a few minutes.

I nodded. It seemed Brian was much better at this than I was. “Doesn’t matter, what about Super Mario?”

As I was talking, he was writing,

Do we tell Howie and AJ about this? Does that mean Nickolas is a good guy? Is he really your brother? What about Curtis, you know who he is, don’t you?

“Super Mario sounds good to me. Let me set it up.” He shrugged at me expectantly.

It’s best Howie and AJ don’t know for now. Yes he’s a good guy and yes he’s my brother. Curtis is the bad guy. He’s the one who was married to Nicole.

I took the pieces of paper and repeated the ritual of ripping and chucking.

We put the video game on and basically had it playing manually as we both just sat there, wanting to say so much but not saying one word. Howie and AJ came in about thirty minutes later as we were both sitting on the floor staring at each other.

“What are you guys doing in here?” D asked looking at the game playing itself.

“Just finished playing Mario,” Brian was quick to answer.

“I thought you were coming in to take a nap.”

“I changed my mind, AJ. I’m prone to do that.”

“No shit.”

“So how come you didn’t mention the warehouse to Max?” Howie asked, sounding as annoyed as Brian did when he brought it up.

I opened my mouth to speak but then turned my attention to the knock on the door. I looked over at Brian and nodded. Giving him a heads up that we needed to keep this information to ourselves.

Howie let both Roger and Max in. “Hey boys, I thought I’d give you guys some dinner along with some good news.” Max said handing a bag of food to AJ.

“Really, what news,” I asked, trying to sound happy and excited when all I felt was dread and anxiety.

“I think I found a lead.”

I glanced over at Brian before looking back at Max, “Really?”

“Yeah, we did some searching and it seems that the kid who called himself your brother was last seen at a warehouse in Brooklyn.”

“Oh, that’s great.” I answered, hoping that Howie and AJ wouldn’t say anything at all. “Where did you find that information?”

Max moved his hand to his chin and licked at his lips. “I had someone in the area working on it and they just happened to see him.”

“That’s quite a coincidence.” Howie said. I could tell D wasn’t buying it. This was good news.

“Yeah, talk about right place, right time. Anyway we think we’re going to check it out, but we’d like you to go as well.” Max said this to me.

“You want me to go with you?”

“Actually just you and I.” Roger said. “Max thinks its best if he stays with your friends to, you know…keep them safe.”

My heart began to beat really fast again as I looked over at Max. “Yeah and besides, he won’t recognize Curtis but he’ll know who I am.” He rubbed his chin and licked his lips again.

“But he’ll also recognize me.”

“You’ll be staying in the car. Don’t worry you’ll be perfectly safe.” Roger assured as he put his hand on my shoulder. I couldn’t help it. I moved away and cringed. He smiled.

“What’s the matter Nick? I’m not going to bite you or anything.”

I glanced over at Max, “Go with him, he’ll keep you safe and I’ll keep your friend safe. I promise.”

He rubbed at his chin and licked his lips.
End Notes:
Thanks for reading and reviewing! I hope to be back soon with another update :O)
Chapter 35 by Mare

~ 35 ~

 

 

 

The Monster in my Dreams

 

 

 

 

 

“Andrew where are you?” The woman who wasn’t my mother but kept acting like my mother shouted once again. This time she sounded panicked. I felt bad for scaring her. She was a nice lady and always took really good care of me, but I wasn’t hiding from her. I was hiding from the monster.

 

 

 

She left me alone with him so she could run upstairs for a minute. She told me she’d never leave me alone with him. She lied to me and now here we were. He didn’t even look my way when she walked out the door, so I decided to hide.

 

 

 

“Who the hell cares where he is? Maybe if we’re lucky he walked too close to the lake and drowned!”

 

 

 

“How can you say that?” She cried, “You didn’t see him leave the backyard did you?”

 

 

 

“I wasn’t looking.”

 

 

 

“But I asked you to watch him.”

 

 

 

“I told you I’m no one’s babysitter.”

 

 

 

She moved away from him and opened the back door. I did think about coming out from the cabinet I was in, but he was still in the room.

 

 

 

“Andrew!!” She screamed out into the empty yard.

 

 

 

“We’ll just get another one.” The monster said as he continued to sip his coffee.

 

 

 

“It’s not like it’s a dog we’re talking about here.” The other guy said, the man who would turn up on my doorstep and claim to be my uncle.

 

 

 

The monster shrugged and opened the newspaper while his poor wife was sobbing almost to the point of hyperventilation. Max stood up and walked over to his sister, “It’ll be okay Nicole, we’ll find him. He’s just a little kid, it’s not like he could have gone too far.”

 

 

 

She seemed to calm down at her brother’s words. I remember liking him because he always made her smile. I didn’t like him when he was with the monster.  No, he was completely different when he was with the monster.

 

 

 

“What if he’s right? What if he went down by the lake?”

 

 

 

Max placed a loving arm around his sister’s shoulders and squeezed her tight. Same thing my father always did to my mother. I missed them. I wonder why they left me with these people?

 

 

 

“I’ll go down to the lake and make sure he’s not there, okay?”

 

 

 

She nodded at her brother as she pat her eyes dry. “I don’t know what to do… I can’t lose him…I can’t lose another one…”

 

 

 

“We’ll find him.” He once again reassured.

 

 

 

“I guess we can always call the police and file a missing persons…oh yeah, I guess we can’t.” The monster joked. He thought this was really funny.

 

 

 

Maybe it was his horrible laugh after he said the thing about the police or maybe it was Nicole’s constant sobs, but either way I found myself opening up the cabinet door and shouting “Surprise!”

 

 

 

When I did that, Max and Nicole both turned my way. She came running at me and scooped me up in her arms, crying hysterically as she hugged me too tight. “Andrew, don’t you ever do that again! You had mommy and daddy so scared!” She twirled me around and kept kissing my cheek.

 

 

 

As for my ‘daddy’, he just smirked at the situation. See, I didn’t realize it then, but he knew I was in that cabinet the entire time. I could tell by the way he wickedly winked at me as he walked out of the room.

 

 

 

You would think that maybe that thought would have given me comfort. Knowing he wasn’t upset about my disappearance because he knew I wasn’t really missing. Instead it just filled me with an even bigger sense of dread because of the way he let her suffer thinking the worst.

 

 

 

That’s really the day I realized he wasn’t just a monster to me, but a monster to everyone.

 

 

 

Now I found myself staring at this monster right in the face as he smirked at me once again. “Are you ready to go?” He asked me. “The longer we wait the colder the trail will get.” He was enjoying this. I could tell. I was the small mouse and he was the cat, holding me by the tail and playing with me before he made the kill.

 

 

 

My brain was working in overdrive, trying to come up with anything that would allow me to stay here with the rest of the guys instead of get into a car alone with this one, but in my state of panic, nothing came to mind.

 

 

 

“I think we shouldn’t be split up.” Howie said, coming to my rescue without even really knowing it.

 

 

 

“I agree.” AJ was quick to add. Maybe they saw it on my face. They were able to read the panic behind my eyes. I am easy to read, so everyone says.

 

 

 

Max and Roger looked at each other questioningly. “We can’t all go, it’ll cause too much of a distraction. We have to be inconspicuous, how can we do that if there are 6 of us all sitting in a car?” Max actually laughed when he said that as if the idea was the stupidest thing he ever heard.

 

 

 

“Then let me go at least.” That was Brian. “Howie and AJ can stay with you and I’ll go with Nick.”

 

 

 

At that suggestion my heart started beating normally again. Not really sure why, because now instead of killing just me, I also let my best friend condemn himself to death. Not that Howie and AJ will make it either but this is pretty much a given. I know I’m not making it out of this alive.

 

 

 

Once again Roger looked over at Max. I knew that was maybe what they were mentally shooting across at one another. He was just about to say something but I wouldn’t give him a chance. There was no way I was letting Brian sacrifice himself for me.

 

 

 

“Okay.” The words came out of my heart and not my brain. My heart has always worked much faster. I turned to Roger, “I’m ready when you are.”

 

 

 

“No, I don’t think it’s a good idea!” Brian said more insistently this time. “I should go with you!”

 

 

 

“We don’t have time for this Max!” Roger said growing ever more impatient. At this point I knew if Brian got into that car he would leave in a body bag. This was a monster we were dealing with and one thing you learn from watching a ton of monster movies is not to make them mad.

 

 

 

“Brian will stay here, I’ll go. I just want my family back and have this end.” I said more to my friend than to our captors.

 

 

 

“But…” Brian looked so defeated. He knew I wasn’t coming back from this too.

 

 

 

“All right kid, let’s get moving then.” Roger said as he grabbed my arm and led me out of the room, before I even had a chance to say goodbye to anyone.

 

 

 

I heard Brian protest further and got one final look at a deeply concerned Howie before the door closed on me. I hope I do see them again because I didn’t really want that to be the last image of my friends in my mind. I have to just trust that they will be okay. The one thing that I was able to count on was the fact that my brother wasn’t too far away. I’m sure he’d see me get into this car with Roger. Maybe by then he could have someone rescue the guys and he could follow us.

 

 

 

Roger was pulling me along by my shirt sleeve. “You can let me go, I know how to walk.” I insisted.

 

 

 

He smiled and let go, “Of course you do. Sorry.” He was trying to sound overly nice. I’m not sure why.

 

 

 

We made our way into a very nice car. Of course it was all black and I’m pretty sure the windows were bullet proof because isn’t that what makes a villain a villain? “So what is the lead you guys have?”

 

 

 

“Put your seatbelt on.” He said this like a father talking to his son. I almost laughed at the irony. I am sure he’s going to kill me but I guess he wants it to be on his terms and not some stupid car accident. What’s the fun in that?

 

 

 

“I mean I know you said a warehouse, but what makes you say that? Did you see the guy who took me?”

 

 

 

He turned out of the parking lot without answering me. I found myself glancing back at the hotel and thinking about jumping out of the car before he really took up speed. I was scared to death, not gonna lie about that. In fact I was so scared I was having trouble breathing. I actually wanted to cry, but what good would that do?

 

 

 

“Just want you to know that the second she gets tired of you, I’m going to rip your little heart out and feed it to the neighbor’s dog.” The monster whispered to me as he bent down beside me pretending to give me a kiss on the cheek at Nicole’s insistence.

 

 

 

I looked at him with wide opened eyes, not even really comprehending what was said until now but knowing the words were not meant to be nice. He then stood up and gave his wife a kiss. “I’ll be home before dinner.” He said.

 

 

 

I didn’t want him to be home. Every time he walked out the door I wished he would never come back. I was getting used to this new home and my new mother but I knew I’d never get used to him. I’m not sure why she put up with him. She was a beautiful woman. I could tell she was smart because she was always reading something. Holding me and bouncing me on her leg while she read a book or magazine. Imagine being so young and still being able to realize that someone wasn’t living up to their potential.

 

 

 

“We should go home.” I would say to her sometimes. She always looked at me strangely as if I were just saying something a baby would say.

 

 

 

“We are home.” She’d always answer.

 

 

 

I meant home to my family. I was sure they’d take her in and love her the way I was learning to love her, but little did I know that it was my family that would end up killing her.

 

 

 

I glanced over at him as he kept his eyes on the road. He was wearing sunglasses now which were better for me for some reason. Not being able to see the evil in his eyes helped me to pretend that maybe I was with someone else.

 

 

 

“Where is this place?” I asked.

 

 

 

He still didn’t say anything.

 

 

 

“Can we put the radio on or something?”

 

 

 

When he said nothing, by instinct I moved my hand to the radio, ready to put it on myself but the way he quickly turned his face to me made me freeze in my tracks.

 

 

 

“I just wanted to listen to music. It’s too quiet in here.”

 

 

 

“You’re just as annoying as you were as a little brat.”

 

 

 

And that my friends meant that the show was over. No more pretending. He knew perfectly well who I was and worse, he knew I was aware of who he was. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I wasn’t. I was hoping he’d at least wait until we got to our destination before it happened though.

 

 

 

“Where are we going?” I was impressed I was able to get that out, although to me it sounded like a whine more than a question. I felt a tear fall down my cheek. Self composure is so over rated.

 

 

 

“I don’t know what she ever saw in you. Why she even wanted another kid. It made no sense. Our lives were not meant to be one filled with babies and happily ever after.”

 

 

 

He wasn’t talking to me. I know I was in the car but he was having this conversation with himself. I just happened to be there.

 

 

 

“I thought you were dead but here we are again.” He laughed and let out a sigh as if he had just had the world’s best meal. “Fate has a twisted sense of humor.”

 

 

 

“I’m going to leave you!” She said as I listened in from the bathroom. I learned to lock the door finally. I was always afraid to do it, thinking that once I was inside I would never be able to get out. In the end, my fear of the monster far outweighed my fear of having to live in the bathroom for the rest of my life, simple as that.

 

 

 

“You just try sweetheart, see how far you get!”

 

 

 

“I can go anywhere I want!”

 

 

 

“And I’ll find you and bring you back!”

 

 

 

“You can’t treat us this way!”

 

 

 

“There is no us!”

 

 

 

“We are a family!”

 

 

 

“No we aren’t. I never wanted that kid!”

 

 

 

“What about OUR kid? Did you ever want him?”

 

 

 

“No I didn’t!”

 

 

 

There was silence. I was afraid something happened to her. Nothing could happen to her because then I’d be left all alone with him. I heard a thump and then cries. Maybe he hurt her. I moved from the door to my hiding place under the sink. I should have unlocked the door to check but I was too scared. I was just a little boy. This all happened when I was just a little boy.

 

 

 

He must have moved to help her because she growled a “Get away from me!” Her voice sent chills down my spine. I remember the sound so distinctly, half anger and half grief. I kept wondering who this other kid was they were talking about and when I’d finally get to meet him. Maybe we could play together. Maybe he could push me on the swings.

 

 

 

“Fine, I’ll leave you alone but remember, there’s no leaving. You’re here with me forever.”

 

 

 

Maybe I wasn’t the only one who didn’t feel like this was home after all. Maybe if I asked her to come live with me and my family she’d say yes. But that night as she rocked me in her arms and sang me a sweet song, I couldn’t ask her because I knew just like me, she was trapped here. All we had was each other.

 

 

 

“If you hate me so much, why are you here with me now?” I asked. I was proud of myself for being so blunt. I guess that’s what happens when you feel like you have nothing else to lose. You become a braver version of yourself.

 

 

 

“If it were up to me, I would have drowned you the second she brought you home.” Again he wasn’t even listening to me. I became his personal diary of a madman.

 

 

 

“What stopped you?” At that he did actually look at me and answer.

 

 

 

“Love sometimes makes you do crazy things kid. It’s a life lesson I’m teaching you now.”

 

 

 

“Great.” I said sarcastically. What am I, crazy?

 

 

 

It got another laugh out of him though. I was afraid he’d punch me. Maybe I was pressing my luck but once again, I was the boy with nothing to lose. “We aren’t going to any warehouse, are we?”

 

 

 

“We aren’t. I am though.”

 

 

 

I let that sit for a second before asking my next question, “Where am I going?”

 

 

 

Just as I said that he stopped the car. Jesus Christ, this was it. I was going to die and I wasn’t prepared for it. I started breathing really fast and lost my cool. Now I was full on crying, “Please don’t do this!” I begged.

 

 

 

He got out of the car and came over to my side. In my panic I didn’t even think to try to lock the door. My hands were frozen. I was frozen. He opened the car door, “Get out.” He demanded. I couldn’t get my legs to move and I was afraid I had wet myself so I just sat there.

 

 

 

“Now!” He said as he pulled me out of the car where I landed on the cold, snowy ground in a heap.

 

 

 

I was on all fours crying in the snow. I must have looked pathetic but I didn’t care. I was hoping that someone would see me and maybe come to my aide but we were kind of isolated in an alleyway between two tallish buildings. It was a perfect place to dump a body.

 

 

 

“Please don’t kill me!” I begged once again, this time putting my hands up in the air as if he was holding me up.

 

 

 

“Stop crying kid, you’re pathetic.”

 

 

 

“Please…” I said in a whisper… “Please…” I closed my eyes because I didn’t want to see it happen. I also placed my hands over my ears because I didn’t want to hear the pop of the gun.

 

 

 

I felt like I stayed in that position forever before being pulled up to my feet. “Please…” I kept saying over and over again.  “Please…” I heard a click and tightened my eyes as much as I could, waiting for the smell of gunfire and the burn of death to come.

 

 

End Notes:

Sorry about the mean cliffy lol I haven't done that to you in a few chapters so I was due. :OP Thanks for reading and reviewing and I hope you enjoyed! I will try to be back with a new chapter soon!

Chapter 36 by Mare

~ 36 ~

 

 

 

Reviving Ophelia

 

 

 

It turns out the click wasn’t a gun, but a latch. He opened a door and led me inside one of the buildings. I still had my eyes closed as he pushed. “Open your damn eyes!” He ordered as he threw me up against a wall, pinning me there by my shoulders.

 

 

 

I chocked back another sob and opened my eyes, trying to compose myself. He was staring at me with a look of pity and satisfaction.

 

 

 

“I think you wet yourself!” He said as he grinned and let go of me.

 

 

 

“What now?” I asked slowly walking behind him and rubbing at my shoulders. They were sore and I’m pretty sure bruising underneath my shirt.

 

 

 

He shook his head and started walking down the hallway. “Just follow me.”

 

 

 

Once again, I thought about turning and running. It was the perfect opportunity for me to do that. I knew I could probably outrun him but I also knew in my current mental state I might not be able to function well enough to get away. I wish I knew how to drive. Then I could at least jump into his car and drive off. How many times did I beg Brian and Kevin, even Howie to please take a second and teach me the basics? None of them would. Kevin would say things like he’d rather teach a retarded gopher how to play tennis. What the hell does that even mean? Is that some kind of stupid saying in Kentucky?

 

 

 

Why am I thinking about this?

 

 

 

“Come on!”  I’m not sure how he ended up behind me, but now he was pushing me towards where he wanted me to be, served me right for zoning out.

 

 

 

“Where are we going?” I asked again, this time finally sounding less shaky.

 

 

 

“Do you remember when you were a little kid and I threw your stupid stuffed animal into the water?”

 

 

 

I do remember that. One day the three of us went on a ‘picnic’ by the lake and when Nicole wasn’t looking, he took my pig and threw it into the water. I started crying hysterically and he used that as an excuse to pick a fight with her and leave us alone. I wanted to say no, but I nodded.

 

 

 

“I was hoping you’d go in after it and drown!”

 

 

 

I’m not sure what kind of reaction he was expecting from me but it wasn’t the one he wanted because he pushed me again, this time knocking me down to the ground.

 

 

 

That’s when something snapped. He walked towards me and was ready to drag me back to my feet by my shirt but instead I surprised him with a kick to his shins. I immediately stood up at that point and tried to take off for the door. I’d take my chances with whatever I found outside.

 

 

 

He grabbed at my ankles as I tried to run past him so I kicked at his hands but I lost my balance and ended up falling back to the ground. He was getting up slowly now and making his way towards me so I stood up and started to run again. I heard his footsteps quicken but I didn’t turn around to look. He was mumbling under his breath.

 

 

 

When I got to the door I flung it opened and ran out into the cold with Roger right on my heels.  I stopped for a second to get my bearings but that’s all he needed to catch up to me and drag me back to the ground. He had me in his arms in the snowy, cold alley. It looked like he was giving me a great big bear hug, but it definitely didn’t feel like that.

 

 

 

“Get off of me!” I shouted, hoping someone would hear and come to my aide but he quickly covered my mouth.

 

 

 

“If you don’t shut up I will strangle you right here!” As if to show me he wasn’t kidding, he took his other arm and wrapped it around my throat, making it almost impossible for me to breathe.

 

 

 

He rolled over so I was underneath him and then slowly got himself up, never losing his grip on me. He wasn’t that big of a guy but he overpowered me as if I was just a sack of potatoes in his hands.

 

 

 

My father would have been so disappointed to see that I couldn’t even manage to make it out of the alleyway, after all that training we had. This guy was basically able to over take me with one arm.

 

 

 

He opened the door and shoved me inside once again, but this time he didn’t let go of me or my mouth. “I don’t have the time or patience for this kid!” He growled as he walked me back towards where we were going in the first place. I tried to struggle but it was no use. I couldn’t move and was doing nothing but exhausting myself in the process.

 

 

 

“I should just throw you in the Goddamn furnace!” He said as we turned a corner and there it stood in its huge fiery glory. “No one would even care. They’d probably thank me!” 

 

 

 

I started struggling even more and panicking. I’m pretty sure I was crying too. I was a complete mess. Death by being burned alive wasn’t on my list of ways I’d like to go out. “Yeah, that’s sounding like a good idea, you like that don’t you?” He whispered in my ear as we got closer to the heat.

 

 

 

There was a sudden impact and we were both thrown to the ground. He was on top of me but quickly was thrown right off.

 

 

 

 “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size you son of a bitch!”  My brother’s voice echoed through the small furnace room.

 

 

 

“Like you’re my size?” Roger asked amused. “The two of you put together aren’t my size.”

 

 

 

I managed to get back on my feet and stood there as the two of them circled each other like lions fighting over their prey. “Nick, get out of here!” Nickolas said while never taking his eyes off of the monster.

 

 

 

They were blocking my way to freedom. The only way I could run was in the direction that Roger was taking me. What if it was a dead end and I was trapped there? I’d just have to hope there was another way out.

 

 

 

“Go!” Nickolas said almost reading my mind and using his head to point me that very same way.

 

 

 

“Yeah, go…I’ll catch up to you after I’m done with this one.” Roger smirked confidently.

 

 

 

As much as I’d love to make up this part of the story and say I chose to stay and help my brother, I turned and ran away. I was in full blown scared to death kid mode and the only thing I could think about was staying alive. I’m ashamed of that fact, but what can you do?

 

 

 

I took off down a small hallway as I continued to hear scuffling coming from the boiler room area. I wasn’t sure where in the world I was going but just as I feared, I arrived at a dead end. Well technically not a dead, dead end. There was a door, but it didn’t lead outside. It looked like a very small apartment, maybe the place where the building’s custodian might live. I knocked hoping to find help but knowing there would be none especially since this was where Roger seemed to be taking me in the first place.

 

 

 

I stood back and braced myself for fighting. Not sure what or who would answer the door, but no one came. I knocked again, a little harder this time, starting to get nervous that I was taking too much time and wondering if maybe I should take my chances and double back the way I came, but just as I did, the door kind of opened on its own.

 

 

 

“Hello?” I said as I entered the toasty warm apartment. Making sure to close and lock the door behind me, “Is anyone here?”

 

 

 

All the lights were turned off in the small kitchen that I was standing in so I made sure to remedy that situation by putting one of them on. This place was tiny, not sure how anyone could live here. Walking through the kitchen which took about fifteen steps or so, I entered the living room where once again it was dark but this time I gasped because sitting there in the middle of the room in a wheelchair was a woman. She was facing a TV that wasn’t turned on. It looked like something out of a horror movie. I only saw her from behind but I was pretty damned sure that if I walked closer I would find that she was a decaying corpse of some kind.

 

 

 

“Hello?” I barely managed to get out. Even if she was alive, I was so quiet I doubt she would have even heard that.

 

 

 

“Roger, is that you?” The corpse asked, which I guess wouldn’t make her a corpse at all, unless she was a zombie, freaking zombies!

 

 

 

“Did you find him?” She asked, now taking her hands and turning her wheelchair to face me. I almost closed my eyes, scared to see what she might look like.

 

 

 

I’m glad I didn’t.

 

 

 

 “Oh my God.”

 

 

 

She smiled at the sound of my voice, “You’ve come home.” She said, “It sounds like you are a big boy now Andrew.”

 

 

 

“I thought you were…I don’t understand.” I was in a complete state of shock as I stared at Nicole. Her eyes shiny blue, those of someone who could no longer see, but everything else was her, just the way I remembered.

 

 

 

She put out her arms, “Come here my sweet boy.” She urged, “Let me get a look at you.”

 

 

 

I don’t know why I felt so drawn to her; I mean she kidnapped me from my family. It’s not like she was innocent in that. Most likely she knew exactly what she was doing. Just like now, when she asked ‘Roger’ if he found me yet. Had she been the one behind all of this? Even with all those thoughts in my head, I found myself walking towards her and kneeling beside her wheelchair as she lifted her hands and brought them up to my face.

 

 

 

She placed them on my cheeks at first and then slowly and lovingly caressed my face as she felt her way up towards my eyes and forehead. “You seem to have grown up into a lovely boy Andrew, I’m so happy.”

 

 

 

“I thought you were dead.” She placed one of her hands on the top of my head and placed her other under my chin and raised it slightly as if she wanted to look into my eyes, even though she couldn’t see anything.

 

 

 

She smiled at me as a tear fell down her cheek, “The bullet didn’t kill me; you did. I died when you went away. My heart broke, but now it’ll all be okay again because my baby has come back to me.”

 

 

 

I backed away from her and stood up. I wonder if she was always this crazy or if the bullet to the brain made her this way? The Nicole I remember wasn’t like this one. This one reminded me of a crazy person dancing around and humming while the world fell apart all around her. Who was that Shakespeare character? I think her name was Ophelia? That’s who she reminded me of. Wow, Mr. Thomas would be so impressed with me.

 

 

 

She reached out her hand hoping I’d take it, but I didn’t. I just stood there staring at her. Not really sure how she could possibly be alive after remembering what I saw. Although I was just a kid, I still can recall all the blood and I swear her eyes were opened. I now found myself wondering if my parents knew she was alive as well or if this would be as big of a surprise to them as it was to me.

 

 

 

“Andrew?”

 

 

 

“My name’s not Andrew. It’s Nick.” I said coldly, as it finally sunk in my mind that she was one of the villains of this story.

 

 

 

“Don’t be silly…you’re Andrew.”

 

 

 

“No, I’m not. I never was. Andrew is dead. He died the day my real family came and rescued me.”

 

 

 

The look on her face is one I’ll never forget. I’ve seen it many times on faces of disappointed fans when they are told that we aren’t signing autographs or posing for pictures. It was a look of despair. Only this time it was real, nothing superficial about it. I had hurt this woman to the core with nothing but words.

 

 

 

“You don’t mean that sweetheart. You’re just angry but you didn’t mean that.” Then she said under her breath, “You couldn’t mean that.”

 

 

 

“I do mean it. I mean every word of it. How could you take me away from my real family?” Now the anger was just flowing from me.

 

 

 

She seemed taken back by my reaction and my question. “I am your family.”

 

 

 

“No, you aren’t .You took me away from my real family when I was just a baby. You STOLE a year from my life. You ripped my real mother and brother away from me because of your own selfish needs!” I found myself crying again.

 

 

 

“I did it because I loved you, honey.”

 

 

 

“That’s not love! If you loved me, you would have let me stay with my family. You didn’t love me!”

 

 

 

“Of course I loved you.” Her voice was cracking as her tears were flowing.

 

 

 

“If you loved me, why didn’t you leave with me when your horrible husband mistreated us?”

 

 

 

“Roger can’t help the way he is.” She justified, “he has had a very hard life.”

 

 

 

“Roger is a douche!” I was quick to answer.

 

 

 

“Why are you treating me this way?” She cried in a loud voice, almost falling out of her wheelchair as she once again reached out to me. “All I have ever wanted was to make you happy and love you. Why are you being cruel to me?”

 

 

 

I stood there wanting to just keep going but instead, I just took a deep breath and said, “Goodbye Nicole.”

 

 

 

“Wait, come back!” She shouted as I turned and started for the front door, not really sure what I was going to do once I got there.

 

 

 

Luckily a knock and an urgent, “Nick, are you in there?” helped me out a little.

 

 

 

“Yes!” Thank God he was okay. I thought to myself as I unlocked the door and found my brother on the other side. He looked a little banged up and had the beginning of what looked like a pretty good shiner on his right eye, but other than that, he seemed to be okay.

 

 

 

“Where is Roger?” I asked.

 

 

 

“We need to go now, we don’t have much time. He’s knocked out. I almost finished the job, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” He admitted, putting his head down. I could tell he was thinking the same thing I did earlier about disappointing my father.

 

 

 

I nodded and started out the door, “You can’t leave me now!” Nicole said as I turned toward her just in time to see the gun she was holding in her shaky hands, go off.

 

 

End Notes:

Did you see that one coming? lol Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed. :O)

Chapter 37 by Mare

~ 37 ~

 

 

 

Harm’s Way

 

 

 

 

 

If this wasn’t happening to me in real life, it’s probably something I would have been laughing at hysterically while watching it on TV with Brian or something. A blind woman aiming a gun and shooting randomly. She had this crazed look in her blank eyes as she did it. I covered my ears and shut my eyes as the first round went off.

 

 

 

“What the hell?” I heard my brother shout in the background. He had no idea there was anyone in the apartment with me. While my eyes were closed I felt him grab my shirt, “We need to get out of here!” He screamed as shot number two rang through the apartment.

 

 

 

I screamed when I heard that shot because it hit in the place right above my head, knocking some of the plaster off the wall and landing on my hair making it look a shade of gray which pretty much summarized the situation nicely. I felt my adrenaline kick in and tried to imagine myself in an action movie.

 

 

 

It was the searing pain I felt followed by the third shot which brought me back to the reality of the situation. It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Picture how it might feel if someone took a hot poker and just stabbed you in the side with it repeatedly.

 

 

 

I fell to the floor, screaming in pain as Nickolas turned and came to my aide. “Did it hit you?” He screamed at me. Uh…

 

 

 

“It hurts!” I cried as he pulled me back up to my feet as shot number four went sailing past us. 

 

 

 

“I know buddy but we have to keep moving!” He was half carrying me as we continued to run away from the apartment, turning the corner just as shot number five rang out into the hallway. “Just a little further…” He urged as we continued to move past the boiler room and a still unconscious Roger. Maybe if we were lucky she’d manage to accidentally shoot him.

 

 

 

I felt myself sweating as the pain continued to make its way up my entire side now. I wouldn’t even allow myself to look down. I wasn’t anxious to see the blood and I was afraid the shock of it all might make me faint, but my head was spinning and my vision was beginning to get blurry. “I think I’m going to pass out.” I yelled frantically trying my best to not have that happen.

 

 

 

I have only ever fainted once in my life during a very grueling rehearsal in Germany before a show. I felt dizzy and tired even before the epic five hour practice so it was no surprise really that by hour number four I was down for the count. I woke up with Kevin’s concerned eyes staring at me while Brian stood over him in the background. They made fun of me for weeks after it happened, AJ saying things like “Quick, who am I?” and then falling to the ground with his feet in the air like a dog playing dead, but I knew at the time they were really worried. At least that’s what I tell myself.

 

 

 

“Can you hear me?” I opened my eyes and this time it was the brother I never knew existed, staring down at me.

 

 

 

The coolness of the snow actually felt good as I tried to get my bearings. ”Where are we?” I asked trying to sit myself up only to be stopped by the intense pain coming from my side.

 

 

 

He placed some snow on my wound and helped me to a sitting position, “We need to get out of here Nick. I know it hurts but we have to keep moving. I’m parked about three blocks away. Do you think you can make it?”

 

 

 

There was no way I could make it, but I nodded as he helped me to my feet. “I would carry you but I’m afraid that might bring more attention than we want at the moment, so just lean on me and I’ll get us out of here.” He smiled as I placed my arm around his shoulder.

 

 

 

The sound of gunshots stopped thankfully as I guess Nicole realized we had escaped. Why would she try to kill me if she loved me? Why shoot at me? It made no sense, except I guess for the fact that she was insane.

 

 

 

“Do you think anyone called the police?” I asked as we turned the corner of what felt like a never ending block, only two more to go, I can do this.

 

 

 

“Doubtful, I have a feeling gunshots are very common in this part of town which is probably the reason they decided to take up residence here.” He paused and then glanced at me, “How are you holding up?”

 

 

 

“I will be better once I get to sit down.” He stopped, bent down and grabbed another ball of snow, “Here, put this on your wound. It will make you feel better.”

 

 

 

I grabbed the snow and did as he suggested and he was right. It felt like an ice pack. The pain was starting to lessen as well to which I was grateful but I also wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. I know they always say when you get shot; you tend to go into shock after losing a lot of blood. I wonder if that’s what was happening to me.

 

 

 

“We’re just over there.” Nickolas said, leading me to a modest black Ford.

 

 

 

“Thank God.” I answered, afraid that I was going to black out again just as he opened the passenger side door and carefully helped me inside. It hurt to sit up straight but I tried not to moan or cry about it.

 

 

 

He got in and immediately put on the heat for me. “Who was that woman shooting at us? Do you have any idea?” He asked as we just sat there letting the car warm up for a few seconds.

 

 

 

“That was Nicole. Roger’s dead wife.”

 

 

 

“She’s not dead.”

 

 

 

“No one is apparently.” I actually laughed despite the situation.

 

 

 

“Let me get a look at your wound.” He gently tried to move my hand out of the way.

 

 

 

“I guess I have some street cred’ now. AJ will have to move over as the bad ass of the group. The baby has been shot, that changes everything.”

 

 

 

He pulled up my shirt, “You actually weren’t shot at all. The bullet just grazed you, thankfully.”

 

 

 

“What?” If that’s what it feels like to be ‘grazed’ by a bullet I can only imagine what it actually feels like when one enters you. All those movies where people are shot like a thousand times and still manage to run around and kill other people, what a boatload of crap that is.

 

 

 

“We should still get you to the hospital right away.”

 

 

 

“No, we can’t do that. We have to go save the guys.”

 

 

 

He sighed, “Nick, you can barely stand on your own, tell me how that is going to help your friends?”

 

 

 

Now that I knew I wasn’t actually dying from a gunshot wound, I started to feel better. The pain was beginning to dull, “I think as long as I keep icing myself I’ll be fine.”

 

 

 

“You are going to need stitches.” He grabbed a first aide kit from the backseat and flipped through it. He reminded me of Kevin who always carried one. I always kidded that he was an Eagle Scout wannabe.

 

 

 

Nickolas pulled out a huge bandage and some antiseptic. “This is going to burn.” He warned before squirting what felt like the entire bottle into my wound.

 

 

 

After screaming words I didn’t even thought I knew, I calmed down as he gingerly placed a bandage over the large cut in my side. “Do you kiss our mother with that mouth?” He asked, smirking slightly. We had the same smirk.

 

 

 

“I would have if I had known she was alive.” I answered, pulling my shirt down and sitting up straight.

 

 

 

“Fair enough… here, take two of these.” He held up pills and motioned for me to take a swig of the water sitting beside me, “They’ll help dull the pain.”

 

 

 

I swallowed the pills down and grimaced at the aftertaste. “So, what’s the plan?”

 

 

 

“The plan is the same.”

 

 

 

“Don’t you think things need to change now that Roger is in the picture? I mean no one was anticipating me being separated from the rest of the guys.”

 

 

 

“True, but now that we have you back we are going to go get your friend Kevin and head over to the warehouse and wait for directions. Although I think you should stay behind.”

 

 

 

“No way, there’s no way I’m not coming with you after all this.”

 

 

 

“Your father would want you out of harm’s way.”

 

 

 

“I was going to be in harm’s way for the original plan. Hell; my nickname could have been harm’s way.”

 

 

 

“That was before you got shot.”

 

 

 

“I didn’t get shot, I got grazed.”

 

 

 

“You almost died.”

 

 

 

“But I didn’t and apparently no one in this family actually ever dies anyway.”

 

 

 

He laughed, “I like the fact that you can keep a sense of humor through all this.”

 

 

 

“No worries, I’m sure I’ll need plenty of therapy for this later.” I started to laugh, I couldn’t control myself. “Oh yeah, my therapist is actually dead, at least for now. Maybe she’ll be at the warehouse.” I was guffawing. All the stress hit me in my funny bone. Maybe the drugs had something to do with it too.

 

 

 

He gave me a look of concern this time. “Everything will work out Nick, I promise.” He placed his hand on my head and it was amazing to me how quickly the laughs turned into tears with that one little gesture.

 

 

 

Guess I am really screwed up in the head. That sucks!

 

 

 

I must have fallen asleep shortly after that because the next thing I knew I was being gently nudged awake by Kevin who was suddenly sitting in the backseat of the car.

 

 

 

“Little man?”

 

 

 

I groaned and opened my eyes. My side still stung a bit but it felt a lot better then before. “Kev?”

 

 

 

He leaned forward, “Are you okay? I heard about what happened to you.”

 

 

 

“I’m good, just a little sore.”

 

 

 

“Did I miss anything?” I asked my brother as he continued to drive us to our destination.

 

 

 

“No, I still think I should have brought you upstairs and left you there. I hope I don’t regret not doing that.”

 

 

 

“Why didn’t you?”

 

 

 

“I told him not to.” Well, that was a shocker.

 

 

 

I turned to face Kevin, “Really?”

 

 

 

“I know you and I knew if we left you behind you would have tried to do something stupid like find us which wouldn’t have helped the situation any.”

 

 

 

The boy was right, I’ll give him that much. He knows me too well. “But isn’t mom up there?”

 

 

 

“No, she went with your father. They’re meeting us at the warehouse.”

 

 

 

“You know the guys are probably in trouble then, huh?”

 

 

 

Kevin nodded, trying not to act as concerned as I knew he was. My hope was that they would be okay. “I’m surprised my father is letting you come along.” I said, trying to break up the anxiety that was filling up the car.

 

 

 

“He knows I’m stubborn and useful.”

 

 

 

“Useful, how?” I didn’t mean it as an insult but the look I got was not a nice one. Nickolas got a kick out of what I said though, letting out a small laugh and then looking in his rearview mirror as Kevin sneered at me.

 

 

 

“I’m a pretty good fighter myself. Your dad taught me some things too, remember?”

 

 

 

“I want to remind you both that you are only there to lead your friends to safety. Not to fight or attack or anything else dumb. Hell, I’m thinking of leaving you in the car.” He said looking at me.

 

 

 

“I think that’s a smart idea.”

 

 

 

I rolled my eyes at the both of them, “Not a chance. It’s my fault they are in this situation in the first place. I’m going in there to help, period!”

 

 

 

“Fine.” He said just as we turned into a huge parking lot. “But you have to listen to me. If I tell you to back off and run, you better to do!”

 

 

 

“I will.”

 

 

 

He then turned to look at Kevin, “And you too. No one plays hero in there.”

 

 

 

Well, this was a situation that Kevin didn’t often find himself in. You could tell by the look on his face. “Okay.” He said nodding and then looking over at me like I had done something wrong.

 

 

 

We parked behind a dumpster about a half a mile away from the actual warehouse. “Hand me that bag, would you?”

 

 

 

Kevin looked around his seat and found the bag my brother was talking about. It was really big. Nickolas opened it and took out a pair of binoculars, holding them up to his face and looking over at the windows, “Mom and dad are here.” He said, placing the binoculars back in the bag. It still felt weird hearing him call them mom and dad.

 

 

 

He then pulled out a gun which made my heart jump. “Do you really need to bring that in there?” I know it was a stupid question and I’m not sure what I exactly thought would happen, but I had my fair share of guns to last me a lifetime.

 

 

 

Seeing my reaction to the gun he was holding he felt the need to say, “Last chance, if you wanted to stay in this car, no one would think less of you kid.” He urged, really hoping I’d just say okay and do just that. I wanted to, desperately. Believe me, just like I ran away when he was in trouble. I wanted to just stay in this car and wait for the happy ending. I couldn’t do it though. It was Brian, AJ and Howie we were talking about. I would never be able to look them in the eyes again if I did nothing but sit back and wait.

 

 

 

“I’m coming with you.” I added, “But I’m not carrying a gun.”

 

 

 

He smiled at me, “You’re right about that.”

 

 

 

“Okay guys, let’s go!” Nickolas motioned for both Kevin and I to get out of the car. Before doing so, we gave each other a look of disbelief. Things like this just didn’t happen in real life.

 

 

 

Kevin placed his hand on my back, reminding me that no matter what that’s where it would always be and with that thought we made our way into the warehouse.

 

 

 

 

End Notes:

We are getting close to the end of this story :O( If anyone has any ideas for a new one, let me know lol i'm at a loss for ideas right now.  Thanks for reading and reviewing! :O)

Chapter 38 by Mare

~ 38 ~

 

 

 

The Warehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was walking a little slower then usual as my side still hurt a bit. I placed my hand down on my wound hoping that would help. “You okay?” Kevin asked as Nickolas walked slightly ahead of the both of us.

 

 

 

I nodded, “Yeah, it just hurts a little bit, that’s all.”

 

 

 

“When this is over, we’ll have to get you to a hospital and make a doctor look that over.”

 

 

 

I nodded again, “Assuming we make it out of there alive.”

 

 

 

“Well, aren’t you the voice of doom. Of course we’ll make it out of there alive. Like your brother said, we’re only going to help get the guys to safety.”

 

 

 

I’m not sure why I suddenly felt dread. It seemed like the closer we got to the building, the less hope I had of making it out of this. Something was going to go wrong. Something ALWAYS goes wrong.

 

 

 

When we entered the warehouse both of my parents came running at me. My father getting to me right before my mother, he grabbed me in a huge hug which hurt like hell. “Are you okay?” He asked, pulling away from me and staring at the bloody hole in my shirt.

 

 

 

“I’ll live.”

 

 

 

Next it was my mother’s turn as she reached out to grab me. Her embrace felt good, but still a little confusing and uncomfortable. “I am so sorry you keep getting hurt sweetheart. I promise you that all ends today!” She gave me a kiss on my cheek and smiled.

 

 

 

That was the only interaction we had time for as my father was told that Max and the guys were on the way. “You two stay behind those crates over there, don’t do anything until I signal you.”

 

 

 

He looked over at Nickolas, “You are going to be over there, just across from them.” He pointed at another series of huge crates.

 

 

 

“When I give the signal, you are going to run as fast as you can and get your cousin and the rest of the guys out of the way and then you take them and Nick and get the hell out of here.”

 

 

 

“Wait!” I was annoyed. Kevin wasn’t supposed to have a major part in this play. He was supposed to stand back and do nothing. Why was I the only one not contributing?

 

 

 

Everyone looked over at me. That’s when I realized I had screamed at them. “Can’t I go with Kevin?”

 

 

 

“No, you need to just stay back there.”

 

 

 

“That’s bullshit dad! I want to help!”

 

 

 

“Nick, we don’t have time for this.”

 

 

 

“Make time!”

 

 

 

“You have been injured and we can’t risk you getting more seriously hurt, okay?”

 

 

 

“Not okay.”

 

 

 

“Just listen to your father, Nick!” Kevin said, giving me his trademark, ‘stop acting like a baby’ look.

 

 

 

I know it was dumb to argue because my father was right. I was already injured and truthfully a lot slower moving than I would have liked. I would most likely hinder the rescue attempt than help but I just felt so useless. I needed to do something.

 

 

 

Kevin placed his hand on my shoulder, “Let’s go.” He urged, nodding at my father and mother as they took their places. “It’ll all be fine, Nick.”

 

 

 

“Are you telling me that or yourself?”

 

 

 

“Whoever will listen?”

 

 

 

I had to laugh. I was still kind of hazy about this part of the plan, mainly because I was supposed to be right in the middle of things. I wasn’t supposed to be hiding out like a scared little bitch. Roger taking me to his crazy undead wife screwed all that up. I had forgotten to tell my father about Nicole. I started out from the crates to make my way over only to get pushed back by Kevin. I was so weak I actually fell to the ground with just his touch. Oh yeah, I would be a big help in the rescue attempt. I can’t even stand upright without falling over.

 

 

 

“Where are you going?”

 

 

 

“I need to tell my dad that Nicole is alive.”

 

 

 

“Now’s not the time. The information isn’t going to help any with what needs to be done. Just wait until after. Wait…Nicole as in your dead mother who isn’t really your mother?” He lifted his brow at me in surprise. I was kind of happy he didn’t know about it before hand.

 

 

 

“Yup, the one and only. She’s the reason I was shot.”

 

 

 

“Your brother left that part out. I just figured it was that Roger guy. Why would she try to hurt you?”

 

 

 

I shrugged, there wasn’t really much more to say, so for once I didn’t. He looked at me with a deep sense of pity in his eyes. This was another look I would have to get used to. Let’s call it the ‘poor kid’ look.

 

 

 

About ten minutes after just sitting there doing nothing but waiting, a car pulled right outside the main entrance. I was having a hard time catching my breath because of the nerves hugging my heart so tight.

 

 

 

“I think it’s them.”

 

 

 

I nodded at Kevin and took a few deep breaths. I tried not to think about seeing my friends as potential prisoners. I actually had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that they could actually be tied up and dragged in here, maybe even hurt or unconscious, or even worse, dead.

 

 

 

“What are we doing here anyway, dude? “ AJ’s voice had an instant calming affect on me.

 

 

 

“I told you, we’re meeting up with Nick and Curtis.”

 

 

 

Hearing Max call Roger Curtis made me calm down even more. They had no idea they were actually hostages and Max had no clue that I knew who Roger was. I hope that Brian managed to let Howie and AJ know what was going on, but maybe it was best to keep them out of it and clueless as possible, although they were about to catch on soon enough. The big metal doors creaked when they were opened.

 

 

 

“Curtis, are you here?” Max’s voice echoed through the place sending chills down my spine.

 

 

 

“Must be running late.” Brian answered. I could hear a nervous edge to his voice. I’m sure he was worried about me and my safety.

 

 

 

From where I was sitting, it was a little hard to actual see what was going on but between the huge crates I was able to get a pretty good look at Max at least. He seemed on edge as he kept looking at his watch. By now he had to have realized that something was wrong and his little plan was going south. I was hoping my father would reveal himself before he totally panicked and left. That was the last thing we needed was for Max to leave with the guys.

 

 

 

“Maybe you can give him a call.” That was Howie, always thinking about calling people.

 

 

 

“There’s no need, he’s not coming.” The voice of my father boomed out into the vacant floor before he stepped out from behind a crate.

 

 

 

“Hello Bob.” Max said rather calmly.

 

 

 

“You’re alive! Thank God, Nick thought you were dead!” A very clueless AJ said.

 

 

 

“I am very much alive, but thank you for your concern, AJ.”  

 

 

 

I was listening to my father as if he was some kind of super hero. So calm and collected the way he was talking. “Hello Max, seems we have a lot to talk about, you and I.”

 

 

 

“I guess you could say that.”

 

 

 

“Boys,” He said looking over at Brian, Howie and AJ, “why don’t the three of you go ahead behind those crates, you’ll find your cousin over there.” Well, that wasn’t exactly how the plan was supposed to work but I was happy with the outcome as the guys all came running towards us.

 

 

 

Max never pulled a gun on them; he wasn’t interested in hurting or killing them. That was a plus. When they reached us, there was a lot of hugging but Kevin urged me to stay out of sight of Max. They all saw me and waved, Brian grabbing me in a hug. “I’m glad you’re okay.”  

 

 

 

“Same.” I answered.

 

 

 

“We should probably make our way out of here.” Kevin whispered. It made sense because that was the plan, get the guys and get out of dodge. I really wanted to know what was going on though. I wanted to stay and eavesdrop especially when I heard my mother’s voice enter the conversation.

 

 

 

“Hello Max.” She sounded as calm as my father. These people could not be the same ones who raised me. Those parents were anything but calm. Those parents were known to throw pickle jars at the wall when they couldn’t get them opened.

 

 

 

“Nice to see you alive and well, Jane.” Max sounded genuine when he said that which was equally confusing.

 

 

 

Kevin pat my shoulder, “We should go now.”

 

 

 

“I want to stay.” I insisted. I thought it was only fair that I get a chance to know what this was all about.

 

 

 

Kevin shook his head, “We need to leave.” He pulled me up by my arm in one swoop. Why did everyone feel the need to treat me like a rag doll?

 

 

 

“Should we just go out the way we came in?” Howie asked while looking at the bloody hole in my shirt. A whole new level of concern etched on his face now.

 

 

 

“No, Max didn’t mention Nick being here so I don’t think we should let him see that he is. There’s a door over there.” Kevin said pointing at the exit sign and the place my father indicated we should leave through after getting the guys.

 

 

 

“Are you ready?” Kevin asked me with another one of those warning looks that said in other words, “You aren’t going to stay here and screw things up, are you?”

 

 

 

“I’m ready.” I said with a sigh. I guess when this was all done I’d just have to get the cliff notes version from my parents or my brother.

 

 

 

Kevin put up his fingers and counted to three and then with a nod we went running for the door, not looking back at all. I knew we’d be safe because Max didn’t seem the least bit interested in us at all. We probably could have walked right past him and said excuse me and he wouldn’t have cared. My parents are what he wanted. I shouldn’t have left them alone with him. That was my first mistake.

 

 

 

The second came shortly after we barreled through the door to safety only to find that the exit wasn’t really an exit to outside, but an exit into a smaller room. About three people were waiting for us there. Why on earth would we think Max came alone, I mean we didn’t come alone. That’s why he wasn’t concerned with us; he knew that we’d be taken care of by the people waiting for us to arrive. A few seconds later three more people walked in from another exit door. I briefly caught a glimpse of outside to know that THAT was the real way out.

 

 

 

I recognized most of them. They all seemed to be employed by the hotel we were staying at, right down to the lady who kept trying to feed me muffins.

 

 

 

“Shit.” AJ said under his breath as we all stood against the wall by the door, “What now?”

 

 

 

None of them said anything, it was kind of creepy how they were all just kind of standing there staring at us.

 

 

 

“Maybe if we don’t make any sudden movements we’ll be okay.”

 

 

 

“They aren’t sharks or bears, Howie.”

 

 

 

Kevin took one step forward, “Let us pass.” I’m sure he thought he sounded brave and strong when he said that but from where I was standing, it sounded more like a plea then a command.

 

 

 

“We cannot do that, I’m sorry.” The muffin lady said.

 

 

 

I looked at the men we were up against. None of them were overly huge but I wasn’t sure if we could take them or not. I don’t think Howie had ever fought anyone in his life. AJ is a wuss and Brian, as much as I love the guy to death, he’s Brian. Kevin and I were our only chance and I was a mess.

 

 

 

Still, we had to do something so Kevin and I looked at each other and before I could say ‘let’s do this!’ He was running at one of the guys, fist in the air like Mel Gibson in Braveheart and next thing I knew, all hell broke loose.

 

 

 

Adrenaline is my best friend, next to Brian. I can’t even explain the sudden surge of energy that ran through me the second I saw people running at me knowing their soul purpose was to inflict pain. I actually shoved the first guy pretty hard against the wall, getting out of his way and moving just in time to elbow another in the chest. I have to admit that one was an accident but it still worked.

 

 

 

Kevin punched one of the guys and he landed at my feet with a thump. Yes, he really made that sound as his head hit the ground full force. AJ was ducking behind a box, which was fine with me. Howie however, not sure where it came from but he was right there fighting the guys off, kicking and smacking anyone who came close to him .He was also shouting insults in a very Puerto Rican accent. I wanted to yell, “Hey Howie, please say…say hello to my little friend!” but I felt like maybe this wasn’t the best time for that.

 

 

 

That’s when mistake number three happened. I managed to distract myself so I didn’t see the guy coming at me and by the time I did, it was too late. He had me by the neck and backed up against the wall. I kept struggling to break free but he was too strong, even with both of my hands free I couldn’t get him off of me.

 

 

 

Brian saw this happening and started running towards me which was a good thing because I started to see spots in front of my eyes. He jumped on the guys back but even that didn’t deter the man from letting me go. I was going to die, right here and now. Not by a bullet wound to my side but by being strangled to death.

 

 

 

Just as I thought I was a goner for the second time in one day, Nickolas came out of nowhere and with the help of Brian got the guy off of me. I fell to the floor choking while gasping for air.

 

 

 

Once again my brother managed to kick the asses of anyone in his path. He was like a teenage mutant ninja turtle. Brian and Howie both dropped down beside me, “Are you okay?” Howie asked concerned.

 

 

 

I nodded, not ready to speak just yet. Kevin in the meantime was also doing his fair share of ass kicking, knocking out another person with a punch to the head.

 

 

 

“Remind me never to make him mad.” AJ said, now making his way beside the three of us. “You okay kiddo? I was just about to come and help but I had to deal with her crazy ass!” He said pointing over to the muffin lady who was lying on the ground unconscious.

 

 

 

“Did you hit a girl?” Brian asked as if he was offended by this.

 

 

 

“She was coming at me with a knife dude. Yeah, I hit her. I hit her friggin’ hard!”

 

 

 

Kevin started walking towards us slowly as he wiped blood from his face. I give him credit, he can really fight. I’ll never call him useless again, that’s for damn sure. Now it was just my brother fighting with the one remaining guy.

 

 

 

“Is everyone alright?” Kevin knelt beside me but scanned us all as he said that.

 

 

 

We all kind of just nodded as we watched the last bad guy fall to the ground. My brother standing there just a little out of breath looking over at the five of us all huddled together like a pack of puppies.

 

 

 

I stood up as he walked towards us all and smiled at him as I heard that all too familiar pop. His eyes grew big while mine scrunched closed. By instinct my hands went to my wound before I opened my eyes and realized I was untouched.

 

 

 

Nickolas was still standing in front of me but now there was an ever present red blossom coming from the front of his shirt. Spreading rapidly as he slowly slunk to the floor. Standing behind him was Roger holding a smoking gun.

 

 

 

“Sorry I’m late to the party boys…” Was all he said as I finally had time to understand what had just happened.

 

 

End Notes:

You can thank the snowpocolypse for this extra midweek update! lol hope you enjoy and as always thanks for reading and for the lovely feedback. It helps! Only 2 more chapters to go!

Chapter 39 by Mare

~ 39 ~

 

 

 

 

 

The Saddest Goodbye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They say when bad things happen you tend to witness them in slow motion. That’s what it felt like to me. Watching my brother slowly fall to the floor, placing his hands on his chest as he did followed by Roger just standing there with that horrible smile on his face. I knew I’d never be able to forget that moment. I knew seeing his smile would plague me in every dream I had for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

“NO!” I screamed as I was finally able to break out of my little cloud. I went running at my brother full speed, ignoring the guys screaming for me to stop.

 

 

 

I fell to my knees in front of him only to be grabbed by my hair and pulled back up by Roger, “You are a royal pain in my ass kid!”

 

 

 

I tried grabbing at his arms as he held onto my hair. The burn of my scalp made me cry out in pain. They all stood up to come to my aide but Roger moved his gun and aimed at Kevin who was a little ahead of the pack.

 

 

 

“You come any closer I’ll put a bullet through his brain before taking out the rest of your friends. I’ll leave you for last.”

 

 

 

Kevin stopped and held his arms as a barrier for the other guys to do the same.

 

 

 

“Just so you know if you try to leave this room you’ll be shot on site.” Roger looked over at the door where he entered, “I have a great sharp shooter out there and he doesn’t miss.”

 

 

 

I was still struggling in his grip but luckily he decided to move his hands from my hair to my shoulder, pinching it so tightly I thought the pain was going to make me pass out. “Do not follow us in there.” He said to Kevin. It’s funny how he could tell that Kevin was the leader of our little group.

 

 

 

I looked down at Nickolas as he just laid there on the ground. His eyes were wide opened. He looked like he was just taking a little breather. I knew he wasn’t dead because I saw his chest rising but I could also tell that if we didn’t get him help he wouldn’t have long.

 

 

 

My eyes continued to focus on my brother as Roger opened the door and led us back into the main room where Max and my parents were still having their pow-wow. Just before the door closed behind us, I saw all the guys running to help Nickolas. I tried to take some comfort in that.

 

 

 

“Well hello everyone!” Roger said as he made his grand entrance into the center of the room as I continued to struggle under his weight. “Sorry I’m late.” He said to Max.

 

 

 

My father looked at me with great concern in his eyes. I felt like a failure again. “Let go of me!” I didn’t even recognize my own voice it sounded so hate filled. “He shot Nickolas!” I yelled out into the big room. It seemed to bounce off every wall in the place before landing right in front of my mother.

 

 

 

“He deserved it.”

 

 

 

My mom looked like she was about to lose it. Her eyes grew big and she bit at her bottom lip. “Where is he?”

 

 

 

Roger motioned to the door we had just come from. “I figured I’d kill one in private and then one in front of the both of you, for shits and giggles.”

 

 

 

My father grabbed my mother’s hand trying to calm her. This was exactly what Roger was trying to do, get a rise out of them but dad would have none of it. “What is it you want?” He asked still in a very calm voice.

 

 

 

“Hasn’t Max filled you in yet?” He turned to his friend, “Max, I love that name. I think I’m going to just call you that from now on.”

 

 

 

I hated how much fun Roger seemed to be having at my family’s expense. He just killed my brother…shot not killed. He’s not dead yet Nick…he can’t be dead because you just got to meet him. He can’t die. I can’t die either. He was fully intending to kill me in front of my parents. In no way was I going to let that happen.

 

 

 

“Please just let him go.” My mother said. She sounded like she was crying. “We’ll do whatever you want…just please let my baby go.”

 

 

 

He actually laughed. “I don’t want anything from you people. You have done nothing but cause me trouble and pain and now I finally get to put an end to it all. My wife is no longer my wife because of you and you have the nerve to ask me to spare this thing?” He was calling me a thing. I wasn’t even a person to him. I lived with him for one year of my life but he loved me as much as he loved the rotten sole of one of his shoes.

 

 

 

“I only wish I had brought her with me for this. She probably would have enjoyed hearing your cries as I killed your kids. I would have let her shoot you in the head!”

 

 

 

 “No one is going to die today.” My father said, letting go of my mother’s hand as she placed them to her eyes to hide the tears that were flowing freely.

 

 

 

“I’m afraid you’re wrong about that. One of your sons is already dead.”

 

 

 

The sorrow filled cry my mother let out is yet another sound that will forever haunt my dreams. I know after this, if I do survive, I’ll never be able to sleep without the aide of drugs ever again. Maybe it would just be easier to let him kill me right now. Maybe surviving this would be more painful.

 

 

 

“This is all about revenge? That’s what it all boils down to?” Now it was my dad’s turn to laugh. I’m not sure how he managed to do that in the midst of all the horrible things that were happening around him, but if he was trying to get a rise out of Roger, it worked. His grip on me tightened up. I didn’t think it was even possible because it already felt like a vice.

 

 

 

“What is so funny about that?”

 

 

 

“All these years, the image of you I have had in my mind was this villain, a preposterous guy. I made you out to be ten feet tall. You were a monster and leader in every sense of the word. I was so wrong. Turns out you’re just a spoiled brat who is mad because things didn’t turn out the way he wanted them to.” He laughed again and Roger’s grip on me loosened slightly. I knew then what my father was trying to do. Redirect his anger so he’d let me go.

 

 

 

“You want to blame someone for what happened to your wife? Try starting by looking in a mirror.” My dad took one step closer to us. “If you hadn’t kidnapped MY son, she wouldn’t have been in the line of fire. You left her there. You were a coward and left her there and as a result she ended up the way she is now.”

 

 

 

So, my father did know about Nicole…

 

 

 

“Don’t you dare call me a coward!” Roger was furious now! He all but let go of my arm as he raised the gun at my father. I tried to wiggle away but his grip was still a little too tight for that.

 

 

 

“You are a coward. I’m even surprised you showed up today. You always send Max to do your dirty work while you cower in a corner somewhere.”

 

 

 

I managed to glance over at Max who was staring at me. He kept looking down. It was odd; almost like he didn’t want to look me in the eyes. I couldn’t blame him, I mean if I had betrayed my old best friend the way he just did, I wouldn’t want to look anyone in the eyes either. But there was more to it; it was almost as if he was trying to tell me something. Why on earth would he be doing that?

 

 

 

As my father continued to rile Roger up, I focused all my attention on Max as he continued to look at me and then glance down. That’s when I figured out he was trying to tell me to stomp on Roger’s foot. I glanced right down at the foot in question and then looked to Max to see if I was right. The smallest of nods let me know that’s what he wanted. Why would he want me to do that?

 

 

 

I glanced down at his hand and he held up one finger down at his side. He was giving me a countdown. Then came the second, I took a deep breath as the third and final finger went down. I picked up my foot and stomped on Roger’s as hard as I could. With a huge squeal he let go, “Get down!!” Max screamed as I ducked just as his gun came up and a shot was fired right at Roger’s forehead.

 

 

 

He went down in a heap on the floor, dead as dead could be. I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t feel weirded out. I was actually happy. Would a normal fifteen year old be happy about watching someone die? I doubt it, but I was no longer a normal fifteen year old boy. I would never be a normal boy again.

 

 

 

Both of my parents came running to me, but I told them to go help Nickolas. I then looked over to Max, confused as he started walking towards me, “I always hated that son of a bitch!” He said as he held his hand down to me. I was reluctant at first to take it, for fear that he was waiting for the right moment to take that gun and put a bullet in me as well.

 

 

 

“What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to go check on your brother?” I allowed him to help me to a standing position. Almost falling back down I was so weak and both mentally and physically exhausted. He actually grabbed onto me and prevented me from falling. “Go!” He said motioning for me to follow my parents into the other room.

 

 

 

I glanced back at him one last time before entering the room where everyone stood around my brother as he lay there dying. My mother held his hand firmly in her own as my father knelt on the other side of him. The boys now all standing back and watching the scene unfold.

 

 

 

I walked past them all and knelt beside my big brother’s head. He was gray and blood was slowly coming out of the side of his mouth but his eyes were opened and he was staring at me. “Hey.” He barely managed to get out.

 

 

 

“Hey.”

 

 

 

“We did it.” He tried to smile but he winced and coughed up some blood instead.

 

 

 

My tears started to fall freely, “Please don’t die. I just met you.”

 

 

 

He looked over at my father, “Next part…” He barely whispered.

 

 

 

Dad nodded and then stood up and walked over to me. I knew what was coming next. It was the last part of this plan. The one part I did not want to happen, but knew it had to. “It’s time son.” He said.

 

 

 

“Roger said there was someone outside waiting to shoot at us.”

 

 

 

“I checked when I got in here. There’s no one out there. He was just bluffing.”

 

 

 

Max walked into the room now, “I cleaned up the mess but we don’t have much time.” He said to my father. I was so confused.

 

 

 

“I know.” He answered before turning his attention back to me. “Go and say your goodbyes.” Grabbing me in a hug he then whispered, “I love you son.”

 

 

 

I pulled away from him, wanting to plead my case. How as much as I understood what was going to happen, I didn’t want it to. He had already rejoined my brother and mother though so I sucked it up and turned to the boys. “We should go.” I said.

 

 

 

I walked over to my mom and placed a loving hand on her shoulder and then knelt beside Nickolas for one last time. “I love you.” I said to him and even though I barely knew him and most likely never would, I meant it with all my heart.

 

 

 

He smiled up at me. I’m sure he wanted to say the same but by then the words were no longer coming. I caught my father giving Kevin a slight nod. It was weird and seemed deeply meaningful.

 

 

 

“Come on Nick.” He urged just after that.

 

 

 

I stood up as my father glanced over at me, “We’ll see you soon.”

 

 

 

I nodded and followed the guys out the door. I wasn’t sure what to say to them. I had rehearsed it over and over again in my head, but how does one say goodbye to the four most important people in his life? My dad had warned me that we were going to go into hiding after this. I would have to leave the boys and change back to Andrew. Start all over again and then maybe a long time from now I’d be able to have my life back. He said it was what I had to do in order for us to be a family again and to keep the rest of the guys safe. Maybe he had told Kevin about it. Maybe that’s what the look between them was about.

 

 

 

“So what happened in there?”

 

 

 

Brian broke me out of my thoughts.

 

 

 

“Max saved my life.”

 

 

 

Brian nodded. He didn’t seem surprised by this. “He’s working with your dad and has been this whole time.”

 

 

 

“What?”

 

 

 

“I’m sure he’ll explain it you better than I can. He barely explained it to me. Once Roger left with you, he pulled me aside and told me I needed to trust him. That he was one of the good guys.”

 

 

 

I turned to AJ and Howie, “Did you guys know that?”

 

 

 

“Man, I have no fucking idea what the hell’s going on.” That was AJ, if you weren’t able to tell.

 

 

 

“Guys, we really need to keep moving.” Kevin urged pulling us along at a quick jog.

 

 

 

“Your brother will be okay Nicky.” I smiled at Howie.

 

 

 

“Thanks D, I hope you’re right.”

 

 

 

“Guys less talking and more moving!” Kevin again. Where the hell was the fire?

 

 

 

I stopped short though, I felt like now was the time to come clean and say my goodbyes. The longer I waited the less time I’d have with them. My father made it clear that I needed to say goodbye and then go back to them before things got too sad, although there was a whole other level of sad in the warehouse that I did not want to deal with.

 

 

 

“Guys, there’s something I have to tell you…” I looked down at my feet. I couldn’t bear to look them in the eyes, especially Brian.

 

 

 

“What is it?” He asked.

 

 

 

“I…” A huge explosion shook us all off of our feet followed by an intense ball of heat. I landed on my stomach and had only a few seconds to see the warehouse turn into a towering inferno as I heard the guys screaming “Nick, look out!!” I felt something hit me and my head hit the floor with a thump and yes it did make the thumping sound. It was my last thought before closing my eyes.

 

 

End Notes:

Well, one more chapter of this story before it's put to bed. Tune in next Saturday for the final one. *tear* It's been fun writing on this one. I'm really going to miss it. Thanks for reading and reviewing! :O)

Chapter 40 by Mare

~ 40 ~

 

 

 

Around the Corner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first few days after the explosion, I was in really bad shape. The doctors weren’t even sure if I would make it. I’m still unclear about what happened. The guys said something about a crate breaking into a million pieces and a huge chunk hitting me on the head. I was comatose for a few days and I heard at one point a priest even came in to deliver last rites, although that’s weird because I’m not Catholic but I guess when you’re about to die, you take what you can get. There was some brain swelling and talk of potential permanent damage, but in the end, all I suffered was memory loss.

 

 

 

I was lucky.

 

 

 

Supposedly I was comatose for about four days before I opened my eyes for the first time. I wanted to talk to the people in my hospital room, I saw them and wanted them to know I was okay, but I had a tube down my throat because I guess I wasn’t able to breathe without it.

 

 

 

I always awoke to someone’s hand in my own. Most times it was Kevin or one of the other guys. Sometimes it was Anne, Kevin’s mom who is now my legal guardian. They would all whisper to me that I was going to be okay. I didn’t believe them and I’m not really sure why.

 

 

 

As I would come in and out of consciousness those first few days, I would hear discussions about things that made no sense to me. Sometimes I would keep my eyes closed so they would think I wasn’t awake.

 

 

 

One time I could swear I even heard my mother’s voice in the room.

 

 

 

 “I wish we could take him with us.”

 

 

 

“This is the only way he’s going to be safe sweetheart.”

 

 

 

“Don’t worry Jane; you’re leaving him in good hands. I promise I’ll take good care of him for you.”

 

 

 

“Thanks Anne. He almost died because of us.”

 

 

 

“He was far enough away honey. Kevin made sure to get them all far enough away. It was just a freak accident.”

 

 

 

All of these things make no sense because A) my mother has been dead for a very long time now and B) my father who told my mother not to worry is also dead, which leads me to believe that maybe I died briefly and joined them. For some reason thinking that gives me a little comfort and hope that one day I’ll see them both again.

 

 

 

My father died in the fire, I was told a few days after I woke up. They said it was some kind of freakish explosion and the guys were there with me. Whenever I ask them for details they look at me funny. They always seem to exchange looks when they think I’m not paying attention. You know the kinds of looks you get when people around you are planning a surprise party and you happen to walk in on them. It makes me feel like there’s more to the story but unless I remember it myself, it’ll probably remain a mystery.

 

 

 

Shortly after I was able to talk, Howie asked me what the last thing I remembered before the accident was. I said I was in a hotel room talking to my dad on the phone. He was coming to see me for Christmas, after that, it’s all a big blur.

 

 

 

The guys looked relieved when I said that which makes me think that something bad happened. Whenever I ask them they change the subject. When I slept I heard whispers of “Should we tell him the truth?” Followed by answers like, “No, the fact that he doesn’t have any memories of what really happened is a blessing in disguise.”

 

 

 

I decided not to press the issue.

 

 

 

I underwent intense rehab because my speech patterns were all wonky and remembering little things like how to spell my name for instance took a lot of effort but I made a very quick recovery. I managed to impress all the doctors with my drive. I wasn’t really driven though. It felt more like a running away. I just wanted to get out of the hospital and back to some kind of normalcy although for me, things would never quite feel normal again.

 

 

 

About six months after the accident, the dreams started to come. I had the worst dreams about people trying to kill me. I was always running away from someone or something. Calling out to my father, but he never answered.

 

 

 

When I would tell Brian what I dreamt, he’d bite on his bottom lip and look away before telling me not to worry, at least it was just a dream and dreams can’t hurt you. I could tell he didn’t believe the words he was saying though.

 

 

 

He seldom looks me in the eyes anymore.

 

 

 

 “Are you all packed and ready to go?” I looked over at Kevin confused for a second. That’s another thing that happens a lot these days. I tend to just drift off and it takes someone physically placing an arm on my shoulder and a look in my eyes, to get me back from wherever I go. Not that I never daydreamed before but I guess now I have a medical excuse.

 

 

 

“Uh…yeah, just about.”

 

 

 

Because he knows me so well, he answered before I even had a chance to ask. “Germany Nick, we’re going to Germany.”

 

 

 

“Right, I knew that.” I smiled at him. I actually did not know that.

 

 

 

It’s been over a year since we’ve been out of the US and that of course has been my fault. I got the all clear from the doctors though, so Lou wasted no time in booking us on a really long tour. Lord only knows when we’ll be home again. Not that I care anymore. I no longer have a home. I’m not saying that the Richardson’s haven’t accepted me with open arms. Actually it’s been incredible how ready they have been to make me part of their family.

 

 

 

Sorry, it happened again…

 

 

 

Right, I was saying, nothing against Kevin’s family but no matter how many hugs and kisses I get from them, in the end they still aren’t my real family. I am an orphan now. Nothing is ever going to change that.

 

 

 

AJ walked in the room and smiled at me, “You all ready to go Nickster? Let me take your bag.” That’s the other weird thing. Ever since the accident AJ has been overly nice to me. Maybe he was hit with a block of wood too?

 

 

 

“Thanks man.” I smiled and handed him my suitcase.

 

 

 

“It’ll be kind of nice having fans again. I don’t like being invisible.”

 

 

 

I nodded but didn’t agree with him. I kind of like being invisible. There’s something ‘safe’ about it. Being around a lot of people makes me uneasy these days. I’m sure it’s just because of what happened and so much time out of the spotlight, but when I am around people I don’t know, I become nervous. Hopefully that will go away.

 

 

 

The ride to the airport was filled with our management telling us our itinerary. I tried not to zone out but I must have because the next thing I knew, Brian was patting my back and telling me we were there. I’m sure they’ll fill me in on anything important I may have missed.

 

 

 

After checking in, we took a seat in the waiting area. Now this seemed familiar to me. Waiting to leave on another tour, the last time I was here it was to pick up my dad I think. “We were here to get my father, weren’t we?”

 

 

 

“Yeah Nick.” Kevin answered. He always seems to be the one to answer.

 

 

 

“Did we have a good Christmas last year? I don’t remember?”

 

 

 

More looks of unease, “I’m going to go get a coffee, does anyone else want a coffee?” Kevin stood up and we all shook our heads.

 

 

 

I was restless and stood up as well. “Where are you going?” Howie asked as if I was five years old.

 

 

 

“The bathroom.”

 

 

 

“Want company?” AJ was once again being nice.

 

 

 

“No, that’s okay.”

 

 

 

I ventured towards the bathroom and felt like I was being followed so I quickly turned. It felt like déjà vu. I didn’t see anyone there so I went in and splashed some water on my face. After grabbing a paper towel to wipe off the excess water I went to leave only to run into a guy full force, making him drop his paper.

 

 

 

“Sorry!” I said as I went to pick it up for him. He was wearing long and pointy shoes. I found myself just staring at them. Finally I stood straight up and handed the guy his paper.

 

 

 

“No, problem.” He said smiling at me, and then quickly looked around. “Are you here alone?”

 

 

 

“No, my friends are with me.”

 

 

 

He nodded, “Good. Stay with them, you shouldn’t be off wandering by yourself.”

 

 

 

I nodded in return and then awkwardly walked past him and back into the main terminal, glancing back one last time to see him staring at me. He seemed familiar.

 

 

 

When I got back to the guys they were all huddled around along with management. They were in mid conversation and it quickly halted when they saw me approaching. Everyone has a secret nowadays. Sometimes it gets old.

 

 

 

“Nick, I wanted to introduce you to one of our new security guards.” Pamela, one of the people from Lou’s management team said. The way the guys were huddled around him, you would think they were already the best of friends.

 

 

 

“Hey.” He said with some kind of freaky accent.

 

 

 

“Hey.” I took the guys hand, hoping he wouldn’t be assigned to me. He was pretty scrawny for a bodyguard and not all that much older than Kevin.

 

 

 

“What’s your name?”

 

 

 

“Andrew.” He said smiling at me.

 

 

 

“Where are you from Andrew?”

 

 

 

“Russia.”

 

 

 

“Nice.” I then took a seat and put on my headphones. It was going to be a long flight and I wanted to take a quick nap before I got on the plane. I’m kind of scared of planes.

 

 

 

“You ready for this?” My brand new cousin asked me after he finally stopped talking to the new hired help.

 

 

 

“I guess so. It’ll be kind of nice I think.”

 

 

 

“How are you feeling?”

 

 

 

“Hazy.”

 

 

 

He nodded at me. It seemed to be my go to explanation of what it feels like to be me nowadays.

 

 

 

I feel like I live in a haze now, somewhere between real and dreams and everyday that line becomes harder to discern. There are actually days when I am convinced I’m not who I think I am. I guess the best way to describe it is walking down a long corridor and just when you think you’re at the end, there’s always a corner to turn. Most of the time I’m afraid to find what lurks around the corner, so I stop myself and back away.

 

 

 

Maybe one day I’ll venture forward.

 

 

 

“Looks like we’re boarding.” Kevin said patting my leg.

 

 

 

I took off my headphones and handed them to our newly acquired help. He seemed amused by that. “I guess I’m your bodyguard then?”

 

 

 

“I can take care of myself. I don’t really need a bodyguard. Consider yourself more like a butler.”

 

 

 

“Great…” He smirked at me.

 

 

 

We had the same smirk.

 

 

 

Ah well, guess I won’t be getting sleep anytime soon. What is it they say? You can sleep when you die and I’d like to think I’ll live a very long life since my family sadly can’t say the same.

 

 

 

Another thought popped into my head just as we started to board the plane…

 

 

 

“Guys, have I ever mentioned a blueberry pig?”

 

 

The end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End Notes:

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have stuck by this story for its entirety. I can honestly say this was one of the first stories I have ever written that I looked forward to updating because nothing gave me more pleasure than to see your reactions to the twists and turns. That being said, I hope you aren’t too disappointed in this ending. From the very first day I started writing this and had blueberry pigs stuck in my head, I always knew it was going to end the way it did. I know some people are not fans of opened endings. We like to know exactly what happened and why, but in this case, to explain in total detail everything that happened would make the story lose some of it’s wtf’dness lol So, just like Nick, I leave the rest up to your imaginations and to answer the question some of you will be asking, no, I do not ever plan on writing a sequel to this.


 


Thanks for reading and I’m looking forward to the last set of reviews. This has been a wild ride and a great reintroduction into fanfic writing. You all rock!! 


 


There is a new story coming very soon, like… very very soon. Maybe even tonight! Well, probably not tonight. I’m posting the first chapter tonight or tomorrow.


 


Mizpah,


 


Mare

This story archived at http://absolutechaos.net/viewstory.php?sid=10130