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Author's Chapter Notes:
Sorry it took so long to put this one out. Please leave feedback :-)
"So, I guess the real question is, can I stay the night?" he asked and looked deep into my eyes.

“That seems to be the question of the moment doesn’t it?” I said nervously. “Yes Nick. You can spend the night with me. But don’t get any bright ideas.” I said and smiled cautiously at him.

“Jade, you’re the greatest, you know that?” Nick said and swept me into his arms. He kissed me full on the lips and laid me back on the bed. The pressure of his body on top of me was surprisingly welcome and comforting. I ran my hands over his back and his hands were tangled in my hair. Just as the kiss was about to get deeper, Nick climbed off of me and walked to the bathroom.

“You suck! You’d better stay in that bathroom for a long time if you don’t want to experience serious repercussions!” I shouted after him and began to laugh. I got up from the bed and changed into a tank-top and some striped pajama bottoms before climbing into bed.

A few minutes later, Nick popped his head out from behind the bathroom door and said, “Do I have the all-clear?” I nodded and began laughing again. I moved over and Nick crawled under the covers with me. “Good night Jade. Sleep well, sweet dreams. See you in the morning.” Nick then kissed my forehead and turned over.

“Are you serious? That’s it?” I asked. I was kind of disappointed so I shrank down into the bed and turned over. I turned off the light next to my bed and tried to fall asleep.

Just as I was drifting off, I felt Nick roll over and wrap his arm around me. “You didn’t think I’d be able to go the entire night without you in my arms, did you?” He said and kissed the top of my head. I smiled and closed my eyes and quickly fell asleep.

~*~


The next morning, the alarm woke us up at 6:00 and I ran for the bathroom. I took a quick shower and got out as Pierre banged on the door, holding the day’s outfit. I opened the garment bag and found a pair of dark washed jeans with a rhinestone butterfly design on each of the back pockets, a white tank-top and a green bohemian flowy top with length sleeves and a low cut neck-line bunched together with a rhinestone brooch. I had green heeled espadrilles and some diamond jewelry.

After I was done changing, Nick came out of the shower and gave me a low wolf whistle. I blushed a deep pink and gave him a huge hug. “Listen babe, I would love to hang around and go with you to the schools today, but I have to get back to the city for a conference before the rest of the guys leave town again. I’ll call you tonight and you know that I’m always with you.” He ran his hand over my face and pulled me close to him, enveloping me in the greatest hug I’ve ever felt. He kissed me goodbye and left just as Amanda and Henry came into my room to complete my make-over.

“Girl, I didn’t know that you’re dating Nick Carter. He’s hott!” Amanda exclaimed as she applied my foundation and started working on the rest of my face.

“Yeah, we’ve been dating for a little over a month and it’s been great. He’s the best guy I’ve ever met.” I said and smiled.

“He seems to make you happy. He’d better not hurt you because I know about 7 people who would kick his ass if he did.” Henry said and finished spraying my hair with the third coat of hair spray. The three of us laughed and once they were finished, I grabbed my stuff and met the girls in the hallway.

We were all wearing similar outfits just in our different colors. We smiled and hugged when we saw each other for the first times and went downstairs to get on our buses. We traveled to Deer Park High School and did our morning walk of the school and met with the contest winners. This group was extremely quiet and acted very nervous. Then, when we got into the Discussion time, they seemed to be a little more interactive.

A young red-head stepped up to the question microphone and nervously tucked her hair behind her ears. “Hi, my name is Rachel and my question is what are your families like and do you get along with them?”

“Wow, that’s a great question. I’m glad you asked that question Rachel.” Savannah said and looked at the rest of us. “My parents have been married for 30 years and I have 3 brothers, 2 are twins and 1 younger sister. We get along great. Actually, I really miss them because we haven’t seen our families in about 2 years. We’ve been working so much.”

“Yeah, I really miss my Grandmother. She and my mom were all that I had growing up. No surprise there since I’m such a girlie girl!” Amethyst said and made everyone in the audience laugh.

“My parents are still together after 23 years and I have one younger brother. When we were little, he and I used to fight all the time but I really miss him. I have a funny story about him actually. When I was about 13 and he was 9, he found my bra and put it on his head and ran around the house. It’s even funnier that my 15-year-old boyfriend of the moment was there when it happened, and I wasn’t so well, um, endowed when I was 13 so the bra was so small. I think the guy actually broke up with me two days later.” Bianca said and the entire audience laughed.

“Well, my parents are still married, and I have an older brother who I haven’t talked to in over 4 years because he moved out and left our family and I have a younger sister who I have lunch with at least once a month because she’s only 10, so she needs her big sister. My family and I get along pretty well.” I answered and another student walked up to the microphone.

“Hi, my name is Jeff and I was wondering if any of you are still virgins and how old were you when you first had sex? Was it uncomfortable?” The guy said and had a smirk on his face. He sat back down at his seat and the principal waked onto the stage.

“Jeffery Martin, you will need to report to my office as soon as this is over. We have some things to talk about.” She said loudly, without using a microphone.

“Actually, Mrs. Phillips, we don’t mind answering that question. One of our goals as The Esteem Team is to be 100% honest with all of the students and answer each of their questions. We’re here for them and you as an adult may never know what kind of inner issues they’re dealing with, and by answering one question, we may be answering more.” Amethyst said to the principal. I was surprised by the poise and presentation of her answer because she is usually the most fidgety when the four of us talk about sex. I always thought that it was an uncomfortable subject for her to deal with.

“With that said, I’ll answer first. I’m still a member of the V club. I just haven’t found the right person yet.” Amethyst said and looked down at the table.

“No, I am not a virgin. I was 17 when I lost my virginity and it was the most uncomfortable night of my life. However, it does get better. Remember, practice makes perfect.” Bianca said and winked at the crowd.

“Well, actually, you’d be surprised to know that I am not a virgin. I was 15 and I had sex with the neighborhood heart-breaker. At first I thought it was great, but then I met other guys and they were better.” Savannah said.

“And to finish off, no, I’m not a virgin. I was 18 when I lost it to my long-time boyfriend and it was uncomfortable because I did it because I felt like it would be the only way to get us to reconnect what we had lost. Girls, don’t be like me. Do it because you are really willing and because you’re not pressured. I went to visit my boyfriend a week later and found out that he had been cheating on me with a friend of mine for 8 months, so I really felt dirty afterwards.” I said and I could hear clapping. The four of us looked up and saw 3 girls standing up and clapping for us. When we smiled at them, they yelled, “Thank you!”

Now, that’s what my job was all about.

~~~***~~~***~~~


Nick’s POV

Once I reached my car, I got in and turned the radio on. I heard an advertisement for the girl’s appearance at Deer Park High School and smiled. I picked up the phone and dialed Jade’s number.

“Hey this is Jade. You know what to do at the beep.”

BEEEP!

“Hey beautiful, it’s just me. I wanted to tell you that I had a great time with you last night. You’re doing an amazing thing for these kids and I’m so proud of you. I can’t wait to hear from you later today. Call me when you can!” I said and hung up the phone.

I drove along for a little while and listened to the radio and then a Backstreet Boys song came on the radio. I turned it up and laughed. I felt weird singing the whole song since I usually only sang certain parts. When it was over, I sat back in my seat and waited at a red light.

“Damn, this light is long.” I said out loud and then my phone rang. I didn’t bother to look at the caller ID and I picked it up, “Hello?”

“Hey Nick. How are you?” A familiar female voice said to me. “It’s Holli.”

“What?! Are you serious? Why are you calling?” I demanded to know. The light turned green and I slammed my foot on the gas.

“Well, hello to you too. I was calling to see how you were doing. I miss you.” She said quietly. “I was wondering if I could see you,”

“No, no you can’t.” I said and pushed the gas a little more. “You know what Holli, I’m doing really well without you. I don’t need to drudge up old memories and pain that had finally subsided. I’m with a really great girl now and to be honest with you, I’ve never felt this way. My life is so complete and at peace that I really don’t want you to be a part of it.” I said and hung up on her.

The nerve of her. Who the hell did she think she was? Calling me up out of the blue like that. I don’t need her or her drama and I sure as hell am not going to be there for her just because she’s having a shitty day. I turned the radio to a local rock station and began to really get into the music. My phone began to ring again and I reached for it and it fell to the ground. As I bent over to pick up the phone, I heard a loud beeping and the next thing I knew, I was in total darkness.

“JADE!!!!!!!!!!!”

~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~***~~~


After Deer Park High, we were heading over to Harmony Heights High School. I went to find my cell phone to call Nick and when I reached it, I had 5 missed calls. I had one from Nick and one from AJ and 3 from an unidentified number. I listened to my messages and heard Nick’s sweet voice come over the speaker, “Hey beautiful, it’s just me. I wanted to tell you that I had a great time with you last night. You’re doing an amazing thing for these kids and I’m so proud of you. I can’t wait to hear from you later today. Call me when you can!”

I smiled when I heard his voice and saved the message. The next message was from AJ. “Hey Jade, um, I’m afraid I have some bad news. Nick has um,” his voice trailed off and I heard him choking back a cry. “Nick’s been in a pretty bad accident. He’s at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital at 600 East 233rd Street in Manhattan. I know that you girls have a really busy schedule today, but I thought you’d like to know. All the guys are here with him and I know that they’ve each tried calling you. I’m going to call Bianca now and let her know what’s going on. Give me a call when you get this.”

“NO! NO!” I screamed and threw myself onto my bed. “No, Nick! No!”

“Jade, what’s the matter?” Ames asked as she rushed into my room and sat by my side.

“Nick’s been … in … a … really bad … car accident.” I choked out and threw my head into my pillow and sobbed harder. “And I can’t … even … be there for … him!”

“No, no, no. That’s not true. You’re going to be with him. I’m going to call Frank and have him pick you up. There’s no way you can work right now. I’ll be right back.” She said and hugged me. I continued to lie on my bed in a numb state and continued to cry harder than I’ve ever cried before.

“Ok, listen babe. I called Frank; he’s only a few blocks away. I already called Kirsten and told her that you weren’t going to make the rest of the week and she was pretty bitchy at first, but then I explained it all to her and she completely understood. The bus driver is going to meet Frank at the Circle K in 5 minutes and then Frank is going to get you to Nick as soon as possible. Do you know the address?” Ames said as she was calmly smoothing my hair.

“Yeah, it’s 600 East 233rd Street Manhattan. Ames, he’s going to be ok, right?” I asked and began to brush away my tears.

“Yeah, he’s going to be just fine. He’s going to come back to you and you are going to be so happy together. You’re going to get through this. And you know that you always have the best family! Me, B, and Vannah are always here for you and so are the other guys! Look, we’re here – get going!” Amethyst said as she ushered me out of the bus. She handed me a bag with some clothes and hygiene stuff and walked me over to Frank’s car.

“Oh Jade! He’s going to be ok. Are you ok?” Savannah and Bianca said at the same time as I got off of the bus.

“I’m horrible guys. I’m so scared. Can you please cover for me? I love you guys so much. I’ll call you to tell you how he is, ok?” I said and climbed into the back of the limo.
I watched as we pulled away from the girls and I began to sob silently again. Frank lowered the partition and said, “Hey Jade, I wanted to tell you that I’ve already got the go ahead to speed from the police. I called them and told them the situation.”

“Thank you Frank, but I want to make it there in one piece ok. I couldn’t handle two car accidents.” I said and began to cry again. I closed my eyes and remembered the first car accident I had ever been in.

~*~FLASHBACK~*~


“I hate you Jade! You’re the worst sister ever! I can’t believe you won’t help me out!” I heard my brother Jaken’s voice as clear as day.

“I’m not going to help you out by lying to the police Jake! I’m not hiding the weed for you!” A sixteen-year-old version of me screamed into the phone. “Who the hell do you think you are? Do you want me to go to jail too?! No way. I love you, but this has got to stop.”

“You know what? You’re nothing but a selfish, stuck-up bitch. I can’t believe that we’re even related. No sister of mine would treat me like you do!” He screamed back and hung up.

I started to cry and the rain began to come down harder outside of my Aqua Mustang Convertible. I hung my head and before I knew it, I saw two headlights coming directly at me and I felt my car flip 3 times and I blacked out.

~*~END FLASHBACK~*~


I shook myself from the feelings of the memory. “Nick, please, baby. You have to make it. I need you. Please.” I said up to the sky as Frank pulled into the hospital parking lot. As soon as he had parked, the two of us ran to the front desk.

“Hello ma’am, can I help you?” The desk clerk asked me.

“Yes, uh, Terri,” I said after looking at he name tag. “I need to see Nick Carter. I’m Jade Carroll.”

“I’m sorry Ms. Carroll. Unless you’re blood related, there’s no way I can allow you to see Mr. Carter.” Terri said back sympathetically.

“Terri, you don’t understand. This woman is the most important thing in Mr. Carter’s life. If you don’t let her up there, he may die and I don’t think the hospital wants to be responsible for neglect, now do you?” Frank swooped into action.

“Uh, um, let me check for you. He’s still in ICU and waiting for his operation but you can go up to the waiting room. There are already 4 other gentlemen there waiting for him.” Terri stuttered and pointed us in the right direction.

“Thank you.” Frank said and placed his hand on the small of my back, guiding me through the hospital.

As I reached the waiting room doors, I took one look at AJ’s face and started sobbing. I was so weak from crying that I collapsed on the floor. All four guys and Frank ran to me and carried me into the room.

“How is he?” I asked, still crying.

“He’s waiting for surgery. You’re not allowed to see him until after, but it should be soon.” Kevin said and took hold of my trembling hands.

“What kind of surgery does he need?” I asked, scared out of the answer.

“Well, right now they’re taking X-rays to check his bones and they know that he’s got internal bleeding, they’re just not sure how much.” Brian said.

“Do you guys know of any broken bones he has right now?” I asked, my crying had subsided to allow the numb state to return to my entire body.

“I think the doctor said that he has a broken foot from slamming on the brakes so hard and his head hit the dashboard pretty hard. He has a broken arm and they think his hip was chipped also.” Howie delivered the news with a breaking voice.

“Did any of you see him? Did you see the accident site?” I asked while staring off into space.

“Yeah, um, I was the first one there. It didn’t look too good Jade. They had to use the Jaws of Life to get him out of the car. He was bruised and cut up and bleeding and he looked really hurt. I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth.” AJ said and took me in a hug. “He’s going to be ok though. He’ll have a few scars, some battle wounds, but he was too pretty anyways, right?”

“He was beautiful AJ. He has to pull through this. I don’t know what I’ll do without him.” I said and began to cry again.

“Shh, shh. It’s ok. He’s going to be fine.” AJ said and comforted me.

“Excuse me, but is there a Jade in the room?” A nurse came into the waiting room at the time.

“Yes, I’m Jade. Is everything ok?” I asked and tried to wipe my tears.

“Well, Nick is going into surgery now and we found something in his wallet and thought that you would want it.” She said and handed me a silver chain with a solid silver heart attached to it.

The heart was engraved with “Nick + Jade”. I saw it and smiled. I remembered when I bought that necklace. We went to a local theme park and they were making them for $5.00. I bought it and gave it to Nick a few days before the tour started. “Thank you.” I said and pulled it close to me.
“You’re welcome; we’ll let you know when he’s out of surgery.” She said and turned back to the ICU doors.

~*~5 Hours Later~*~


The same nurse came back out and said, “Well, you have a very strong friend in the other room. He came through each surgery with flying colors. We had a little trouble with his internal bleeding, but it was quickly taken care of. We had to set his foot and arm in casts and his hip was not chipped as we had originally thought. You can all go see him if you’d like.” She said and walked us to his room.

I stood outside not knowing what to do. “Jade, you go first, we’ll all be right here when you’re done.” AJ pushed me towards the door.

“No, no I can’t do it. I can’t see him like that. You go in first and I’ll be here. I’m going to go find some coffee.” I said and walked away.

I walked all over the first floor and found a coffee dispensing machine. I knew that it would be gross, but it would keep my mind off of how Nick was. I put the cup to my lips and tasted the bland coffee and nearly spit it out. I walked back to Nick’s room and the guys were still in there. They were surrounding him and I couldn’t see anything other than his foot raised over his bed wrapped in a bright green cast. I laughed to myself knowing that it was his favorite color.

I quietly entered the room to here Nick’s strained voice. “Where’s Jade? I need to see her. I need to feel her next to me. Where is she?”

“I’m right here baby.” I said and slowly approached the bed. The guys made a clearing so that I could be right next to him. Looking at him, I began to cry again.

His beautiful face had a huge gash across his right cheek, a bump in the middle of his forehead and he had two black eyes. His lips were swollen and cut and his neck was all scratched.

“Babe, what’s the matter?” He said as he reached for me. I pulled away and stood next to his bed silently. “Come here, please hug me.”

“I can’t.” I said. I started to cry again and I turned away but AJ grabbed my arm.

“Jade, please. I need you.” I heard Nick say. I closed my eyes and turned around.

“I’m going to hurt you.” I said and felt AJ loosen his grip on my arm. When I opened my eyes again, the guys had left and it was just Nick and myself left in the room.

“No, you’ll only hurt me if you don’t come close and hug me.” He said and with his free hand pulled me near. I climbed into his bed and lied beside him. I snuggled close and I felt his hand running through my hair. “See, I’m not hurt. I’m doing much better.”

“Nick, you amaze me. You have no idea how scared I was. I was so afraid that I had lost you and I don’t know how I’d ever deal with that.” I said and kissed his unharmed cheek. He turned his head and kissed my forehead and I reached up and kissed his swollen lips.

“Now that’s the best I’ve felt all day.” He said and smiled at me. “How long are you here for?”

“I have the rest of the week off. The girls are going to cover for me. I’m sure that the media is going to have a field day with this one. I can read the headlines already ‘Nick Carter in Car Crash and Jade Carroll goes Missing from Esteem Team Tour: Coincidence?’ And after you get released, you’re coming with me. I am not going to let you out of my sight for at least the next 3 months.” I said and wrapped my arms around him.

“I don’t want to be let out of your sight.” He said.

“Nick, can you tell me what happened?” I asked carefully.

“I can tell you up to what I remember.” He said and closed his eyes as if he was thinking. “I was driving and singing to a Backstreet Boys song and my phone rang. I thought it was you so I didn’t look at the caller ID and it was actually Holli. She called to talk and I yelled at her and told her that I didn’t want anything to do with her anymore and that I was happy with you. I was really mad at her, so I turned up the volume on the radio and sped a little. Then, the phone rang again and it was on vibrate so it fell on the ground of the truck and I leaned over to pick it up and then I heard a beeping and then I blacked out.”

“That bitch! Just wait until I get my hands on her. This is all her fault! I knew that you had to be upset about something for this to happen. Was it your fault or the other driver’s?” I asked.

“I was going through an intersection and the other guy ran a red light, so it was his. The guys said that he walked away scratch free. Doesn’t that suck?” He said and laughed a little.

“Yeah, it does. You know what though. I want you to get some sleep. You’ve had a very stressful day and you must be tired.” I said and tried to get up from his bed.

“I’ll sleep if you promise to stay with me.” He said and pulled me back down next to him.

“Ok, I promise.” I said and ran my hands through his hair as I watched him drift off into a deep sleep.