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Author's Chapter Notes:

_ it's me long day. In FL now luv u

Finishing her text, Coll eyed Nick as he did another pass of a towel over his hair.

Forty minutes ago, they had arrived at his house after seventeen or so hours of traveling. He had rolled their suitcases up the path and into the foyer, told Coll he would give her the full tour tomorrow, and smiled widely at her. "for now, shower and bed."

She had nodded in agreement, but in between executing the two steps of his plan, she asked him if she could text Becka from his phone.

"I'm pretty sure mine is just…" she yawned, "done. Broken. Tired. Refurbished one too many times."

He looked at her and barely followed what she was talking about but smiled at her standing in his room, wearing one of his tee shirts, with one hand on her hip and the other holding the phone out to the side, waiting for Becka's response. Her hair was damp, and her legs were bare.

He felt his body reacting to her again as his temperature spiked. He thought back to sliding his hand up her leg and over her hip in the shower as the steam rose around them; the way she looked at him and bit her lip as she wrapped her hand around him, kissed him deeply, and worked him over the edge…

"Definitely need a new one." She said mostly to herself, breaking him out of his reverie. He returned his attention to her in the present.

"Is she really gonna respond now? At two am?"

Coll smirked, "Most likely. I'm the Little!" She reminded him enthusiastically. "I'll just give it a minute. If not, at least she will see the text in the morning and know I'm here." As if on cue, the phone buzzed in her hand.

She reviewed the message as Nick moved to sit in front of her on the foot of his bed.

_ call tomrw luv

After reading Becka's reply, she closed Nick's phone and handed it back to him.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." He said, taking the phone from her and tossing it casually into a nearby armchair.

"Bedtime?" She asked sweetly as he reached out to her.

He nodded and pulled her into him. She laughed and fell back along the bed with him.

"It is definitely bedtime," he said before leaning in to kiss her.

She giggled and rolled off the side of the bed and on to her feet. "Which side is yours?"

He looked at her curiously as he stood up on the other side of the bed as well.

"I usually sleep in the middle."


"Is that weird?"

"No." She shrugged and reached for the blanket, "I just wanted to make sure."

"Like I would mind if you slept on my side…" He said with a smile as he flipped the light switch, and the room fell dark.

She grinned at him as they both got under the covers and crept in closer to each other.

Finally She snuggled deeper into Nick's bare chest, pulling him closer to her, reveling in this reality. Everything is fine. Her body relaxed into his embrace, and she felt the exhaustion of the day settle in.

"I'll show you around tomorrow." He said quietly and she nodded into him silently. "I'm so glad you're here, though."

"Me too."

"I love you." He said as his hand moved over the top of her head.

She smiled, her spine tingled, it was still a thrill to hear it and to say it. "I love you too."

"Goodnight, Collypop."

"Goodnight, Snickers."

They fell easily into a deep sleep. So many things had been settled - things had finally been said, they were alone together, no bus, no hotel, no shows and nowhere to be tomorrow. Infinite possibilities.

Coll woke up the following morning alone in Nick's bed. She snuggled deeper into his pillow, feeling the warmth of the sun illuminating the room and a soft wind floating in from outside. She looked around cautiously before rolling over and easing up on to elbows to find Nick sitting on the balcony off the bedroom.

She slid out of his bed and slowly walked in his direction. Feeling a surge of energy pipe through her body as she approached him.

"Good morning." She said quietly as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders from behind.

"Ahh, sleeping beauty is awake." He laughed, bringing his hand to her arm.

"I was looking forward to waking up next to you…"

"It's almost eleven." He laughed. "I've been up a while already."

"How come you are not as exhausted as I am by everything? And jet lag…? You have so much more to deal with than I do…"

He smiled, "Just used to it." He explained, "Plus, I had to check some things, so I just got up."

She didn't question him, just nodded into his shoulder. She noticed then how warm it was, and that the sky was perfectly blue and the ocean was glistening out ahead of them. "Pretty nice view you've got here, Carter." She sighed.

"I know," He smiled softly as she nuzzled her face into his neck, and her hair fell across his shoulder.

"Thank you for sharing this with me." She whispered.

He turned his face in her direction, and she peeked up at him.

"You might change my mind about Florida this week."

"Wow...." He said as she stood up and turned to stand in front of him.

"Colleen," He said as he got to his feet.


His hands slid around her waist, "I love you." Swinging her arms around his neck, she smirked at him. "It feels easy now." He looked at her, "to tell you."

"I love you, too, and I love telling you so."

He kissed her, and she felt dizzy.

"I have something for you…" he explained, dragging his thumb across her cheekbone.

She narrowed her eyes at him, "What is it?"

He didn't say anything. He took her hand and led her back through his room and down the hall.

"I asked Maggie to help me out…" He said as they arrived at a closed door.


"She checks on the house while I'm away, gets the mail, cleans up…"


"She's like, seventy-three years old."

She nodded, "seventy-three years young it sounds like."

"She is peppy, yeah." His smile melted her as he pushed the door to the guest room open. "My closet is a mess, so figured you'd have more space in here."

She looked at him curiously, "what…?"

Stepping fully into the room behind him, she saw there was a rolling rack full of clothes and a few accessories on the bed. A wide smile lit up her face. "Nick… you-"

"Just wanted to help … fill in some of the gaps… I know we should have gotten more stuff in Europe, but it was so crazy and I asked Becka to send me your sizes and kind of just had to get creative from there but hopefully you like some of it. I ordered it, and Maggie came to pick it all up and unpack it."

She covered her mouth with her hands clasped together, looking at him intently.

"I'm excited about this one." He said, pulling a hanger with a black dress off the rack, holding it up to show her, raising an eyebrow in the process.

Her hands moved away from her face, reaching out to touch the dress.

"Wow, Nick, you really did not have to… but," she paused to look around more, "wow, that was really thoughtful."

"I just wanted you to have what you need, that's all." He placed the hanger back on the rack as she explored the other articles, "Also, you didn't have date clothes."

"Ohh, I see." She smiled, "well, what do I need date clothes for?"

"For all the dates I'm taking you on."

"You're really spoiling me."

"You should get used to it."

"Oh, this is going to continue?"

"It's fun for me." He said, putting his arm around her shoulders, pulling her into him. "What else do you need?"

"I don't need anything else." she giggled, "Well, maybe coffee… maybe pants."

"Coffee, sure. Pants… I don't mind you not having any."

She started laughing as he nuzzled his face into her neck, kissing her and making her squirm in delight.