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Author's Chapter Notes:

By the time the show ended that night, Coll was asleep on the couch in the dressing room. It had been a while since she’d seen a dressing room with a couch but it was warmer, cozier and when she finished with Jill, her headache surging again, she took the opportunity. She hadn’t even considered venturing back into the venue, unsure how she wanted to proceed with Jane.

“Colleeeeen…” Nick sang happily as a drop from the icy exterior of his water bottle landed on her arm. “Wake up sleepy head.” He laughed.

She opened her eyes and looked at him smiling at her but didn’t say anything.

“What’s up? You okay?” His voice was lighter than she had heard it all day.

She slowly sat up. “Hey. Yeah, I’m okay.”

“I’m sorry we are over exerting you.” He laughed, taking a sip from the bottle.

“No, I’m fine. I swear.” She looked around as casually as possible, “where’s your mom?”

His smile faded quickly, sensing there was a specific reason she was asking. “In the lounge. Why?”

“No, nothing... just curious.” She dismissed it and stood up, “come on-“

“Did she say something to you?”

Her pulse quickened, Should have planned that better… “Well-“

“Did she?” The concern present and heavy in his voice.

“Well, it-“

“Oh my god. She-“

“It’s okay.” She said calmly, “I mean, we spoke. We had a little chat, it’s not a big deal.”

He eyed her suspiciously and she smiled kindly at him. “I promise I’m fine.” She said, knowing, ultimately, that’s what he was worried about.

She kissed him on the cheek and he wrapped his arms around her waist. For a moment, she let the guard she had up the past two days down. We’re alone. It’s safe. He kissed her and she swung her arms around his neck.

“I want you so bad but that might mean there are things I can’t protect you from. And I don’t want to be the reason you sacrifice your potential.”

She shook her head softly, locking her eyes on his, “I think my potential includes the ability to find a way to work within this situation.”

He was quiet in his contemplation about her statement before smiling. His hand moved toward her face, her eyes met his. “I can’t wait to be home with you,” He said as he brushed his palm against her cheek.

Her body felt like putty again, her heart fluttered, “I love you” she whispered as he pressed his forehead into hers.

Suddenly the door to the dressing room slammed shut abruptly, startling them both for a moment.

He looked between her and the door briefly.

“Please tell me what she said to you.”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter.”

“It matters to me. It matters that she thinks she can say whatever bullshit she said to you.”

“She’s not going to change my mind and It’s just going to make you mad.”

“I’m already mad.”

She pouted, “Okay.”

He was tormented thinking that he wasn't able to protect her even from this. This should have been easy.

Coll took a deep breath, “She told me that she could tell something was up between us. She said ‘you don’t want to get involved in this’... she said…” she paused, he was looking at her and his jaw was tight, holding the anxiety there. “She said ‘Nick can have any girl he wants, he knows it and he does’....”
His face was unmoving for a second. His hands slid from her back to her hips and he backed away from her ever so slightly.

“She said that?”

She could hear the anger in his voice.

Coll nodded sadly. “I know that's not the case though. Well, I’m sure plenty of girls want you, i just mean like - you know. And she isn’t upset about us. She’s just … rude about it. She doesn’t care what we do- what you do. She just wants her way… whatever that is, I don’t know.”



“I don’t want her to hurt you.”

She thought it over for a moment. “Right… well, I’m okay with what she said. Because I know the truth about you. What she said didn’t hurt me. It was that she said it at all. That she wanted to say it to me. That she wanted to say something to me that she thought would make me doubt you.” She explained, “I trust you. And that’s all that matters to me about it. I’m glad I know now… how she can be. Please don’t worry about me. You have enough to think about.”

“I want to think about you though.” He said, pulling her in closer to him again. “Having a reason to think about you means you’re mine. That’s what I want.” As the words escaped his mouth he felt a surge of maturity, the feeling like he was finally getting it right - doing right by her and wanting it that way.

The urgency she felt to get to his suite that night and close the rest of the world out was intense. She made quick work of gathering her things at the venue, meeting up with Angela to pass her room key off, checking in with A.J. before he disappeared for the night… things she had to get done not just because she cared but because she needed to be beyond them. She needed to be alone in the dark with him, secure in his embrace, relaxed into his body. She needed to run her hand through his hair and feel that full body happiness that came from hearing him tell her he loved her.

When she finally got there, she could feel the rest of the stress leaving her body.

The remaining anxiety dissipated as his hand snaked up the back of her neck and crept into her hair while he kissed her. She smiled against his lips, her entire body feeling euphoric and tingly.

The tension she didn’t realize she was still holding throughout her body released as he undressed her down to her lace shorts and bra and kissed along her neck and jaw.

Her worries floated off as his finger tips dragged slowly across her skin.

Things that mattered mere hours earlier, didn’t matter anymore.

Jane was leaving early in the morning, so early in fact, they had already said goodbye to her. It was quick and the primary concerns were largely left undiscussed.


“I only wish you’d told me.”

“I asked him not to.” Coll said before Nick could respond. She marveled silently how it seemed to be getting easier to lie. “I was hoping we could have a little more time under the radar…”

Jane looked at her incredulously as Nick started in.

“We’ll be back to the states next week. I’ll call you sometime soon.”

“Do you promise?”



His hand was pressed into her bare lower back, he was seducing her in a way that felt new and raw. And she loved it.

She realized that she felt so much urgency to be there with him like that tonight and such incredible relief in it because of the shift she knew was taking place

She could feel herself getting closer to him in the ways that mattered most to her these past few days. Little by little, she knew, she was handing him things and he was holding them; carefully. But he was handing things to her too, and letting her in places he hadn’t let anyone else go before. He was acting on it - finally understanding that she did trust him and that gave him confidence to let her see these broken, sensitive things about his life. She proved she wasn’t scared off, and that she was okay with whatever weirdness she’d have to endure for him and he let her.

They were both in something deeper now, but they were in it together.

“Colleen.” He mumbled against her skin, anchoring her back in reality.


He pulled away from her, his body hovering above hers. He looked at her but he didn’t say anything.

Without thinking, she moved her hand to his face and pushed her fingers through his hair gently. She enjoyed the fact she could do that and the sensation it left her with. She smiled at him and he remained quiet, watching her.

She thought about the things he’d been through … with Jane, the things he’d been through with other women because of her incessant belittling. She refused to be part of it, she refused to make him repeat any of it.

“You make me feel so safe.” She said quietly.

The corners of his mouth turned upward into a smile.

“I love you.” He said simply. The words came easily to him when they were for her; it was an unfamiliar experience. He had told her he loved her - that he was in love with her multiple times, more than he had ever said it other women combined. And this time, he knew it was real. He understood that the things he felt for her could only be defined this way. In his eagerness to express so many things to her, this one phrase summed up most of them. He’d have to find ways to show her the specifics, but it excited him.

Her heart beat harder, faster… “I love you, too.”

His fingertip traced over the curve of her hip and slid under the band of her lace shorts. He looked at her cautiously. She smirked, tilting her hips in his direction, encouraging him to go on. Her mind immediately wandered back to that night in the shower with him after leaving the club. Instantly her body reacted - her heart rate increased, her core heated up remembering the feeling of him touching her where she most wanted him to, the way no one else ever had. And she wanted to feel that again.

Slowly he worked the garment off her body, savoring the smoothness of her skin as he pushed it down her leg with his hand. He continued by turning his attention back to her hips, caressing her with his hand as his mouth trailed down her neck, through the valley of her chest and across her stomach. His hand nervously moved further down her torso until there was nowhere left for it to go. She adjusted her body slightly, unfolding, making it easier for him to do what she wanted him to do.

His fingers teased her briefly, touching her gently. Relaxation radiated through her body, watching his eyes move across her body, nearly entirely exposed to him now.

His mouth returned to her face as he slid his fingers easily inside of her. His hot breath on her face combined with his lethal touch were creating a storm of complete pleasure inside of her.

“Nick…” she breathed as his available hand swept across her upper back.

“This is all I want right now.” She didn’t know what it meant but her mind was too tangled up to think it over. “I want to make you feel good.”

She pressed her hips into him, his fingers gaining deeper access, her body unfurling into his touch.

She had never experienced anything like this before. She didn’t feel self conscious or shy, she didn’t feel pressured or unsure. She wanted more and simultaneously didn't want to move on from this yet.

He had no idea if she had ever allowed anyone else this much access to her before and he hated not knowing. But he loved that she gave it to him.

She hid her face in his shoulder as she braced her hands on his arms, breathing a bit heavier as he took her all the way.

He kissed her cheek and she turned her face to his.

He kissed her lips and she moved her hands to his face. It was hard to believe any of this was real - him, the feelings, the enormity of it all... it was overwhelming but it was also exciting. "You're amazing."

“I know this isn’t the more you want the most.” He said, sliding his hand up her arm.

She blushed, he remembered… “There are very few things I don’t want with you...”