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Author's Chapter Notes:

“Maybe it is still too futuristic to have a phone in your pocket…?” Coll mused, rubbing her fingertips into her forehead as she looked down at her lifeless phone laying on the empty counter. The cell phone she had brought to Europe was a refurbished Nokia she had been using for seven months in Boston. It had already been on the fritz when she left but she brushed it off, preferring email and knowing it would get barely any use and she would be surrounded by ways to make contact if she had to.

She had just used Nick’s house phone to call her parents and let them know she had arrived safely in Florida and to not bother trying her cell because it was not cooperating.

While she was doing that, he felt a pang of anxiety - thinking about her at school and getting back on tour, knowing he would want a reliable way to reach her and sorting out the options for resolving that before he left her in Boston.

“It’s not too futuristic.” He smirked at her, “we can get a new one in Orlando. If it’s a little newer maybe it’ll hold up better.”

Using his finger to flick the side of the phone, he sent it spiraling around the surface of the kitchen island.

Standing up a bit straighter, she narrowed her eyes at him, “Orlando?”

He shrugged with a shy smile, and shoved one of his hands into his pocket, “If you want to come with.” His other grazed the surface of the counter. “We have to be there for two days to shoot a video. My idea was…”

She was smiling softly as he stumbled through it.

“I was hoping… that you’d come with me. I’ll be busy but there's plenty to do there. And then we could go to connecticut.”

Her eyes lit up. “We?”

Everything had been moving so fast and there was so much to think about that the plan for getting back home hadn’t ever been discussed. She had imagined it a few times, how it might play out, but none of the scenarios she had come up with had him with her in Connecticut.

“It’s up to you.”

“I would love it if you came with me.” She gleamed.

Unable to contain the happiness, he grinned at her. “What about Boston?” he asked nervously, rubbing the back of his neck now.

She tilted her head at him, “You want to go to Boston?”

He nodded.

“Really?” she asked, “to my pathetic dorm room…?”

“I mean, I don't care so much about the details, I just want to be with you.” He said easily, “we can get a hotel, or, whatever…”

Thinking about him walking across the campus lawn with her made her heart swell. “That would be amazing.”

He rounded the island and came to stand in front of her. “It was on the list of places we wanted to go together.” He reminded her as their eyes met. Her body felt surprised and comforted all at once, it was a memory from their night at Bunny’s that she hadn’t thought of recently and though it paled in comparison to other events of that evening, it still made her feel a million things. She was silent in response but also smiling eagerly at him. “Are you ready for the house tour now?”

“Think so.” She giggled.

They took their time moving through the house. He pointed out little things about certain rooms - the view from here, the benefit of that… and he mused randomly on life back home. Some of the spaces seemed exactly as she imagined them, others felt different but she couldn’t pin poin why.

“This part usually feels a little lonely.” He said.

“Which part?”

“Being home after being on the road for a while.”

“Oh.” duh, Colleen. “Right, yeah. Makes sense.”

“So that’s pretty much everything.” He said, turning to face her as she continued down the stairs behind him arriving back in the foyer. “Welcome home.”

It made her spine tingle. “It’s beautiful.”

“Well, it looks a lot prettier with you in it.”

“Such a flirt…”

“It’s not flirting, it's just the truth.”

She rolled her eyes at him as he kissed her on the cheek and stepped off the final stair, leaving her one step above him. “Coffee?”

She had noticed that there was not a lot of stuff in the house, food, of course included. “Why do i have a feeling you don’t have any here?”

“Because I don’t. But I know a place. Plus then I can show you around town a little.”

“I’ll put pants on for that tour.” She giggled.

“I guess I can live with that.” He said, “by the way…”

His voice sounded a bit lighter, like he was about to tell her something even more exciting. “Yeah?”

On the plane back to the states, she had decided that she couldn’t leave Florida without telling him everything. As the minutes ticked by in Florida, the urgency mounted… painfully slow. Mentally, the checklist of things she wanted to resolve with him was lengthy. She knew she couldn’t go back home or start classes or see Melanie without knowing she had told Nick everything. Italy. The fountain… why I really knocked on his door that night. What I wanted to say to Jane but couldn’t… All of it. That’s he is it… Everything. He’s everything. That I want everything with him… and exactly what that means.

“I made a reservation at the Waldorf for sunday.”

“The Wal-”

“We can take the boat there in the afternoon, check in, get ready, go for dinner… relax.”

She wasn’t even sure what her reaction was. It was a mix of surprise and nervousness but there was something else… “The spoiling thing was no joke.”

“I know i'm a doofus but… sometimes I can be really serious.” His eyes shifted from his hand on the banister to her on the staircase. “I like being serious about you.”

His words fell into her, and she felt them ignite something deep within her that she didn’t recognize. For a moment she felt hazy and wobbly on her feet, like her body had lost it’s strength. Like every part of her felt… Open…

“That is part of your charm.” She said plainly, trying to keep her tone in check.

He laughed lightly and began to step away from the stairs. “Go get dressed and we can start the next tour.”

“So many tours…” She giggled as she turned to retreat back up the stairs.

She moved through the motions of tracking back to the guest room, unzipping her suitcase, browsing the clothes on the rack… It was overwhelming. The modern beauty of the space, how generous he had been and the feeling his statement about being serious had left her with. As she pulled on a pair of shorts, her mind reeled back to something Brian had said quietly to her as they hugged in the loading dock before he and Leighanne departed for the airport.


“Don’t forget, some doors are wide open.” He smiled, “And not all of them are his.”

She looked at him curiously. For all the harkening back to Brian’s metaphor she had done that summer, she didn’t piece it together immediately. “Huh?”

He hugged her again quickly but didn’t say any more. “Gotta go.” he grinned with a laugh, “Have fun in florida.”


“You’ll know.” He kissed her on the cheek and shuffled over to the van.


She pushed her hand through her hair. Her imagination had her tangled up in bed with him again, and driving in the car, and hugging him backstage... Everything. She checked herself in the mirror. Her eyes were wide and her cheeks were red. … open.