I broke away and smiled at Nick. “Oh, look, it’s time to see who wins Model of the Year! I’m so nervous. I don’t want to win though.” I whispered and returned my gaze to the stage.
Amanda Bynes and Josh Duhamel were on stage. “What are models really? Stick-figures who strut their stuff in tiny bathing-suits down a runway ever couple of months? Or women who are doing everything in their power to boost the self-confidence of the American Youth and Teens of
today?” Josh asked Amanda.
I started to tear up because I knew that Josh ad perfectly described the mission of the Esteem Team and it felt really good to be recognized by our peers.
“Well, before meeting each of these women, I would have said the stick figures, but now knowing that there is so much more, I have to say that not only are the women of the Esteem fashion models, but they are role models as well. Unfortunately tonight, they were individually assessed by the American Public and only one was chosen as our Model of the Year. The nominees are…” finished Amanda Bynes.
“Jade Carroll.” The big screen showed my headshot and then the camera swept over to us. I waved and smiled while the audience cheered.
“Savannah Malone.” Savannah’s Cosmopolitan cover showed up on the screen and the camera panned her and Justin. She too smiled and winked while the audience hooted and hollered.
“Amethyst Riggins.” Ames’ headshot showed up on the screen and the camera picked her out while she too smiled and waved.
And finally, “Bianca Sanchez.” Her Cosmo cover appeared as well and the camera found her while she and AJ clung close together and she waved while the audience screamed for her.
Josh pulled out the envelope and opened it. He read the name and his mouth widened into a smile. “And the winner is…”
I sucked in my breath and held Nick’s hand tightly. “Please don’t be me, please don’t be me.” I said to myself inside my head.
“Savannah Malone!” Amanda announced into the microphone.
I looked over at Savannah and the look on her face was pure shock. “They’re wrong! It’s not me!” She said as James helped her out of her seat. Ames, Bianca and I all stood up and gave her a huge hug.
“I’m so sorry guys! I don’t want to win. Come up with me!” She said and started to pull us with her.
“No, this is your night. You need to have the spotlight for a while.” Bianca said, pushing Savannah towards the stage.
“Ok, ok. I’ll see you guys in a little while.” Vannah said and disappeared to the stage. I turned around once I had gotten back to my seat before she started talking to see the entire rafter’s section standing and applauding.
Tears sprang to my eyes again. I am so proud of Savannah.
“Well, um wow. I’m sure that no one expected ME to be the one receiving this award tonight. Least of all myself. Wow. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say. I’d like to first thank my sisters. Bianca, Amethyst, Jade. We never could have done this without each other. Tess O’Rourke, our agent, Thank you SO much for giving us this opportunity. Kirsten Taylor, our manager. Without her we would not have the amazing schedule and we wouldn’t be doing the photo shoots or anything without her.” She began.
“Talk about how hott you are!” A chorus of male voices came from the 2nd level of seats.
“Um, ok. I’m hott? Wow, that’s interesting. Well, I could never be this hott without my stylist Pierre Wagner. He always finds the best clothes for me and my body type and in the best colors! Whoo! Um, Amanda Honeycutt who does my make-up and Henry Young who is the most amazing hairstylist ever. Thank you James for keeping me normal throughout this entire process and always being there for me, no matter what time of the day or night it is. Thanks to my parents and my entire family and thank you to all of you who voted for me! I am so honored by this and I’ll do my best to make you proud.” Savannah finished and pumped her arms in the air. We watched as she walked backstage and finally made her way back up to the front with us.
“Guys, I don’t know what to say. I wish we could all win. This really sucks.” She said, apologizing again.
“Do NOT be sorry for this. You really deserve this V. You know?” Bianca encouraged.
“It’s just … we’ve ALL worked so hard and I don’t think it’s fair that we were separated.” She said. “But I do have to say, I’m really glad I won!”
“That’s my girl!” I said and hugged her. “We’re damn proud of you Savannah Jessamyn Malone!”
She sat down again and only 10 minutes later, Kelly Clarkson and Kimberly Stewart took the stage to announce “Best Comeback.” I squeezed Nick’s hand tightly and said, “You’ve got this one in the bag babe.”
“Shh, shh. You’re going to jinx us.” I said and gently rubbed her hand with my thumb. “I still think you should have won Model Of The Year. You’re always number one in my book.” I said and leaned over and kissed her forehead as she smiled and closed her eyes.
“This is a first for the Big In Awards because we’re never had so many comebacks before by our favorite artists.” Kimberly Stewart’s annoyingly high voice began the monologue.
“There are some really great acts in this category. We have some Boys who, although their name remains the same, have grown into men. Some Independent Women, and some real Fighters.” Kelly Clarkson continued.
“The nominees for Best Comeback are…” “The Backstreet Boys” The audience irrupted in applause. I smiled because their clapping and hollering really gave me confidence in our fans. I looked around at the guys and smiled at them as the camera swept over us.
“Destiny’s Child…” The cheering continued, but seemed to dim a little.
“And finally, the Foo Fighters.” The crowd’s cheering picked up again. Oh crap, this can’t be good. Stop it Nick! Stop analyzing the clapping! Stop.
Kelly Clarkson held the envelope in her hands. She ripped it open in slow motion and Kimberly Stewart read, “And the winner is … The Backstreet Boys!”
“Baby! You did it! You won! Congratulations!” Jade exclaimed as she jumped up and hugged me. I gave her a huge kiss right on the lips as the camera swept over to catch our reactions. I saw the other guys kissing their wives and girlfriends and I scooped Jade up in a huge bear hug and swung her around. I put her down and walked with the other guys up to the microphone.
“It really feels great, doesn’t it guys?” Kevin said into the microphone and waved at the fans in the upper levels of the stadium. “First, we’d like to thank each other and all of the people in our management teams. Our stylists, all the people who make us look god every day. Our fans for voting for us. Kristin baby, I love you. Thank you for all of your support!”
“Leighanne and Bailey, I love you both so much, thank you. Um, my family and everyone in the Backstreet Family.” Brian said quickly.
“My family and friends, the guys, and of course our inner circle. Thank you!” Howie said.
“Bianca, baby, you’re the greatest, I love you, thank you. My mother Denise, and Grandma, I know you’re with me! I love you so much! And of course the fans! Thanks for being there with us all of this time away from you.” AJ said as he finished.
Ok, now it’s my turn. Do I tell Jade I love her here, in front of everyone? “JT, thank you. You mean so much to me and I don’t know what I’d do without you and your support. Dad, Aaron, all the sisters, Ginger, the Team, and all of the fans. Thank you!” I said and waved into the audience.
Well, I guess I didn’t say it. I just couldn’t tell her the most intimate, personal thing for the first time in front of the entire world. We’re still Nick and Jade, still just the two of us. We’ve done great so far that way, that’s the way it’s going to stay.
The backstage area was really hectic, but we eventually made our way back to our seats. I sat down next to Jade and as soon as I sat down, she took my hand in hers. “Thank you baby.” She said and kissed my forehead for a change.
“For what? For what I said? I meant it. Look, you and I really need to talk tonight after all of this is over.” I said and hugged her head to my shoulder.
“Yeah, I have some stuff that I want to talk to you about too.” She said and snuggled up to me.
The very last award of the night was Best New Act. Unfortunately, the girls didn’t win. That damn Ryan Cabrera took the cake. I guess even four hott girls can’t compete with that spiky hair and guitar.
I could tell that Jade was sad when he won, but she took it well. When we got to the limo, she was really quiet and to herself, but I figured that we would talk about it when we got back to the hotel.
When we pulled up, there were at least 100 people standing outside waiting for us, so Frank drove us around the back. Our entire group snuck in as quickly as possible and we all branched off into our own rooms once we reached our floor.
Jade and I retreated back to our room and as soon as we were inside, Jade sat on the bed. She took off her shoes and crossed her legs Indian-style on the bed. She looked nervous, but as if she had something she wanted to say.
“Jade, is everything alright?” I asked her and sat next to her on the bed, putting my hand on her knee.
“Yeah, everything is great. Nick, I have to tell you something. It’s been eating at me for probably months now, and I’ve gone over it at least a hundred times. I don’t know how you’re going to react, but I really don’t care because,” I was cut off by Nick’s finger on my lips.
“Jade Trinity Carroll, I love you. I have loved you from the day I met you in that stupid Spanish bakery. I love how you twist your hair around your finger when you get nervous. I love how you giggle at even the corniest of jokes. I love how you love your job with such a burning passion. I love you, all of you. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long, I just didn’t know how to get it out.” Nick said and then replaced his finger with the soft feeling of his lips.
“Geez, do I even get a chance to say it back?” I asked and laughed. My heart felt so different now than it did five minutes ago. “I love you too. I love the feeling of your arms wrapped around me when you’re just giving me a simple hug. I love how your hair falls in your face all the time, even after you put 3 pounds of gel in it trying to spike it up. I love how YOU love YOUR job with such a burning passion. I love your heart, I love you so much.”
“You have no idea how long I’ve waited to hear those words come out of your mouth. I just want to keep saying them, I love you JT.” He said and kissed me again.
“Nick, I just want to scream it out or something.” I said and threw my arms around him and kissed him with more passion than I had ever used before.
“Well, I’m sure we can find an activity where you can do just that.” He said smugly.
“How do you know I’m a screamer? I don’t remember being one the first time I had sex.” I said and slapped him lightly on the chest.
“Oh baby, you’ll be a screamer with me, trust me.” He said and buried his lips in my neck.
“Oh Nick, God, that feels so good.” I moaned and he continued to plant whisper kissed all along my neck and down the diamond neckline of my dress.
“We don’t have to stop Jade. I want to finally make love to you.” He said as he pulled his lips away from my cleavage and looked into my eyes. “I’ve wanted you for so long Jade and I want to prove to you how strong my love is for you.”
“Nickolas Gene Carter. You didn’t say the “L” word just to get some booty did you?” I asked, jokingly.
“Never in a million years am I that trashy. Jade, I love you. If you can’t feel it even without making love to you, then you must have some kind of force-field around you.” He said and took my hands in his. “I want to show you.”
“I want you to show me.” I said and closed my eyes as Nick closed his lips on mine again.