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Chapter 10: Heart and Soul

“So how’s Kristin?”

“She’s good,” I smiled at Howie. “She had an audition last week for this backup dancer gig.”

“That’s great!” Howie gushed. He looked excited at this bit of news. Knowing Howie – and I did – this was not conversational politeness but genuine happiness for me and Kristin.

“What about you?” I asked. “Anything new?”

I was eager to catch up with all my bandmates – it had been two years since I had really, properly spoken with any of them. Besides the occasional family gatherings where I would see Brian, I had really drifted away from everyone. There would be rare phone calls here and there, but people just grow up and grow apart. It was sad, but it was reality.

“I’ve been in business school,” he replied, his smile growing larger. “And I’m working with my brother. We’re setting up a real-estate company.”

I already knew this – I had had a phone conversation with Howie a month ago. It’s not like I had completely blocked the guys out.

“Oh yeah. How’s that going?” I wish I had sounded more excited.

“Really good. We’ve been purchasing condos all around Florida. I really think this is going to be a good investment. And I enjoy it too, so that’s a plus.”

I was happy for Howie. He was finding a life outside the group and had set up something that was all his own – he didn’t have to share his successes with four other guys anymore. It was what we all wanted. Brian had started a family, Nick had established a solo career, AJ had overcome his problems with alcohol and drug abuse, depression and anxiety, and I had a burgeoning career in Broadway musicals and theatre. Although we had never officially broken up the band, calling it a ‘break’ instead, in some ways it felt like the end to the Backstreet Boys.

“I wonder what’s taking them so long,” Howie suddenly said.

He was referring to AJ and Brian. When Nick left, the three of us –AJ, Howie and myself – just hung around AJ’s kitchen catching up and reminiscing on old times. Howie – the master of all things culinary – magicked up some mean burgers and that’s how we spent the rest of the afternoon. Nick hadn’t reappeared and none of us were too keen to go up and see him so we let him be and continued with the reminiscing. I noticed quite quickly that the dynamic between us was different. I wasn’t completely surprised – we had all grown up and spent time apart from one another. It might take a while for us to get back into our natural groove. Sometime around six, when we considered ordering pizza and going up to Nick’s room to get his order, Brian called saying that he was at baggage claim and would be waiting for one of us to pick him up. AJ volunteered again and that just left me and Howie. We decided to wait until AJ and Brian returned before we ordered pizza. That was over an hour ago.

“Probably stuck in traffic,” I replied. I wasn’t worried but I did hope they arrived soon – I didn’t want to run out of things to say to Howie. That had never been a problem before but like I said, the dynamic had changed and we were still getting used to it.

“Yeah probably,” Howie said wistfully and I wondered if he shared my concerns.

We sat in silence for a moment, not sure what to say next, and I feared that my concerns were in fact reality. And then we heard the front door open and we both let out a breath of relief.

“They’re here,” I said. I was sure Howie had already deducted that very same fact for himself, but I felt like I needed to say something.

We both stood as AJ wheeled in a luggage, placing it next to mine, followed by a dishevelled looking Brian. I instantly walked over to him and wrapped my arms around him.

“Hey cuz,” I said, pulling away and smiling softly.

“Hey Brian,” Howie moved past me and enveloped my cousin as well.

“Lord, it’s so great to see you all,” Brian breathed, a look of wonder on his face, as though he never thought this day would come.

“The Backstreet Boys all under one roof again,” Howie said softly.

In that moment it finally hit us: we were together again for the first time in two years! Suddenly I was overwhelmed by an outpour of feelings and slowly, my eyes filled.

I looked around at the others and could tell they felt the same way I did. We had spent so long apart – brothers should never be away from eachother for too long. It was unnatural.

I wanted to freeze in that moment, take it all in – the love, the joy, everything – but we were not here for that.

“Did AJ fill you in?” I asked Brian.

He nodded his head. “I don’t get it,” he said. “What’s going on with him?”

“He wouldn’t say,” AJ said. “Not really.”

“It’s got something to do with Jane,” I said abruptly. As soon as Howie informed me of the number of calls Nick was receiving from his mum, I knew she had something to do with his out of control behaviour. She had a habit of taking advantage of her oldest son and Nick was always left hurting when he finally came to that realisation.

 “Where is he?” Brian asked, turning around as if expecting Nick to be standing right behind him.

“Upstairs,” AJ directed. “First door on the left. Ask him what kind of pizza he wants.”

Brian left the kitchen quickly but I was too busy fuming over Jane to notice. I briefly wondered what she had done this time. Maybe she had written another tell-all book.


November 20th, 1998

“Nick!” I banged on his hotel room door with my fist. “Nick open this damn door!”

Normally I would be concerned of disturbing the hotel guests but there was little chance that they could hear me over Nirvana blasting at max volume from Nick’s room.

“Nick!” In my frustration I was willing to kick the door in, but luckily Nick opened up just in time.

He opened the door a bare inch, turned around and flopped on his bed. I headed straight for the portable radio on the table and switched it with exaggerated hand movements to convey my anger to the eighteen year old. It didn’t matter though because he was lying on his bed with his eyes closed.

“What the hell Nick?” I all but screamed, walking back to the open door and closing it so I could yell at him in peace. “That damn music can be heard all around the hotel.”

“So?” Nick was in one of his moods again, that was plain to see.

“So,” I said hotly, not wanting to deal with a hormonal teenager. “I just got reamed a new one by the hotel manager!”

Nick didn’t reply, he just lay there, silent and with his eyes closed. I stood staring at him filled with rage and annoyed at his lack of giving a shit. But something wasn’t right about him – something more than just being a hormonal teenager. Usually he would argue with me, tell me I was being anal or old. But he did none of that and that made me worried and curious. So I let go of some of my anger and annoyance and approached the bed.

“What’s going on Nick?” I asked, my voice suddenly calmer.

“Nothing,” he mumbled, placing a hand over his face.

“Are you sick?”


“Is everyone okay at home?”


“Is Angel well?”





“Yes!” he shot up, taking me by surprise, and turned his back to me as he sat with his legs over the side of the bed. “I said everyone is fine!”

“Then what’s going on?” I asked with authority.

“Nothing!” Nick huffed.

I walked around to the other side of the bed and sat beside him. I was close but not close enough that he would feel uncomfortable or that I was invading his personal space.

“If you’re feeling homesick, I can maybe organise you to go back to Florida for a couple of days,” I suggested, thinking about all the times Nick would become physically ill from anxiety when he was away from home too long.

“God, Kevin, I’m not a kid anymore!”

I wanted to disagree with that statement but I didn’t want to aggravate him further.

“Nick, you gotta tell me what’s going on buddy because obviously there is something going on,” I pushed.

He remained silent so I asked the question I had deliberately been holding back.

“How’s mum?”

Nick’s reaction was all I needed to confirm that whatever was going on right now with Nick, his mum was at the centre of it. I had noticed a bit of friction between Nick and Jane over the past few weeks. She had been on tour with us for the first time in a long time and at first it had made Nick so happy, but then his mood shifted slightly. I knew that at the time I should have said something to him, should have asked him if everything was okay.

Nick jumped up from the bed and began to pace in front of me. The anxiety was radiating off him and was starting to make me nervous. When he turned to face me it was not anger and hesitance that I saw in his eyes but fear and guilt.

“I tried to talk her out of it,” he said, stopping his pacing to stand in front of me. “I told her I didn’t want her to do it! But she’s going to do it anyway and now you and Brian and Howie and AJ are going to be mad at me and I don’t know what to do! It’s going to be so embarrassing and she wants me to do an introduction!”

His sudden shift in behaviour alarmed me. He went from all angsty, moody, ‘leave me alone’ Nick to anxious, rambling, scared out of his mind Nick. What was worse was I had no clue what he was going on about.

“Nick, calm down buddy,” I stood up and placed a hand on his shoulder hoping that would calm him. “Just breathe, okay?”

Nick nodded, following my instructions and, slowly, the wild look on his face lessened.

“Now, tell me everything,” but when I saw his anxiety levels rise again, I added quickly. “slowly.”

“My mum,” Nick started. “She’s releasing a tell-all book on me and the group.”

I didn’t know what to say. I certainly wasn’t expecting this bit of news. Nick was watching me anxiously, waiting for a reaction.

“It’s mostly about me,” Nick continued. “But it has some Backstreet stuff in there too.”

My shock was subsiding and I could feel my anger rise in me again. What right did Jane Carter have to write a tell-all book about the Backstreet Boys? She had not approached us to ask for our approval. She had not even given us a heads-up.

“Kevin?” Nick looked terrified and I knew I had to approach this sensitively.

“When is it being released?”

Nick looked down at his shoes. “Next week,” he said softly, almost ashamedly.

“Next week!” I hadn’t meant to sound so angry, but the truth of the matter was, I was furious! “Why am I just hearing about it now?”

Nick flinched and I instantly felt guilty.

“She only told me a couple of weeks ago,” he said defensively. “I thought I could talk her out of it by now.”

“Have you read it?” I asked more calmly, retaking my seat on his bed.

He shook his head. “Only the blurb,” he admitted. “I flicked through the book. There’s only one chapter on the group. Two at the most.”

I sighed. “That’s not the point Nick,” I said glumly as he took a seat beside me.

“I know,” he mumbled. “She wants me to write an introduction. That’s the only reason she told me in the first place. Her agent thinks it’ll sell more copies that way.”

“Do you have a copy on you?”

He leaned forward and pulled the first drawer of his bedside table open. From there he retrieved an average sized manuscript. I looked at the cover in distaste. The photo of Nick was one I recognised instantly – it was from a publicity shoot we had done back in Germany. But that wasn’t what had made me recoil in horror.

“’The Heart and Soul of Nick Carter’?”

Nick moaned and leaned forward, covering his face with his hands.

“If people don’t think I’m gay yet, they will after this,” he grimaced.

“Can I take this?” I asked, flipping through the manuscript.

“Nick looked up at me in horror. “Why?”

“Because I want to read it,” I said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world – and it was.

“Why?” he asked again.

“I want to know what she says,” I said honestly. “Maybe it’s not as bad as you think. Besides, I want to have read it when we tell the others.”

Nick jumped off the bed, startling me. “NO!” he all but screamed. “AJ will kill me!”

“They’re going to find out about it sooner or later,” I reasoned, standing from the bed and travelling towards the door. I wanted to start reading as soon as possible. “It’s better that they know before the book comes out.”

“Kevin, we’re not going to stop it,” he said it with such defeat and I was tempted to hug him but I stopped myself. “It’s going to come out and I have to write an introduction.”

I sighed, placing my hand on the doorknob, itching to get out. “I’ll talk to the guys by myself,” I thought I’d give him some reprieve. It wasn’t his fault his mum was doing this.

I had opened the door and was about to step out when Nick spoke again.

“I never believed them, you know.”

“Believed who Nick?”

“Everyone. When they said she was a stage mum, I never believed it. But she is, isn’t she?”

I knew he was looking for a specific answer – that answer being ‘no’. But I didn’t want to lie to him, not this time. In my anger towards Jane I felt vengeful – I wanted Nick to finally see who she really was. After all the crap she’s pulled throughout the years, he’s still stuck by her, forgiven her even after all the disappointments and empty promises – it almost made me sick. Maybe now was the time the veil was pulled back from Nick’s eyes.

“Just relax tonight, Little Man,” I said instead noting the disappointment in Nick’s eyes. “We have a big day tomorrow.” And I left.



I looked up at AJ. I was so lost in my memories that I had completely zoned out, not even noticing when AJ had asked me a question.


“What type of pizza topping?” AJ had a phone in his hand, ready to hit dial as soon as Brian came down from Nick’s room.

“Oh, whatever,” I said, waving my hand. “I’m not really hungry.”

Before AJ could answer, Brian came rushing into the kitchen with a puzzled look on his face.

“What does he want?” AJ asked.

“He’s not up there,” Brian said, annoyance creeping into his voice.

“Did you look in the right room?” Howie asked.

“Well, his stuff is there,” Brian replied, his puzzled expression giving way to an angry one.

I could feel my blood begin to boil.



A/N: Thanks for the feedback, to those of you who reviewed. I always love to get feedback! Hope you all liked this chapter!