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Story Notes:
This is also my response for the August challenge of writing a sequel...
Author's Chapter Notes:
***Spoiler warning for Beanie Blues*** IF you haven't read the second story yet I suggest you do so before reading this one! Thanks everyone and enjoy!
Adventure # 3 – The Case Of The Summer Sniffles

DATE: August 16, 2005
LOCATION: Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, OHIO
VICTIM: Howard Dorough

I’ve always considered myself lucky for being able to tour the country with the Backstreet Boys, but sometimes it has it’s less appealing moments and this week was definitely one of them. We were nearly a month into the tour now and it had finally started to lose most of its glamour. Under the surface it’s really just a bunch of exhausting work for everyone and the heat never helped the situation any.

It was smack in the middle of August now and we were in the Midwest of all places. The nation had been experiencing a major heat wave and in the Midwest they have this thing called a heat index. When I asked what that was, Uncle Kevin gave me some long explanation about humidity and the water in the air making it seem hotter than it is. I have to admit though, I didn’t hear anything he was saying once Nick gave me a Popsicle. Uncle Kevin talks too much anyway. Basically all you need to know is that it was hotter than hellfire and damnation out there. (Those were dad’s words and I think mom smacked him for saying them so you didn’t hear it from me.)

The heat can do strange things to people, and musicians who are supposed to be completely focused on an extensive world tour are not exempt from it. AJ was the first to start showing the signs and I’m sure it had to be because of all the beanies. Ever since Nick posted his priceless picture on Live Daily, AJ had been forced to own up to the Martha Stewart in him. He took it like a champ though and I’m pretty sure there will be a whole new generation of knitters in the world now thanks to him. But he dug himself a hole, because the day after the Connecticut concert he said in an interview that he planed on wearing a different beanie to every concert this tour and then would auction off the collection for charity at the end. It was very noble of him, but now he was stuck having to wear the beanies all the time and like I said before, it was hot.

Anyway, he was the first to start acting strange and then Nick was the next to follow. While AJ seemed to be afflicted with things like severe perspiration and chronic whining, Nick began suffering from paranoid delusions. He was convinced that AJ was secretly plotting his revenge against him and he became very secretive. Always disappearing, looking over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being followed and making his security guard stand watch pretty much 24/7. His actions would have seemed entirely too suspicious, like he was hiding something, except that he really did have it coming to him and you know AJ wasn’t just going to let him get away with it. Maybe it wasn’t the heat in Nick’s case, maybe his paranoia is justified.

Nick and AJ weren’t the only ones acting a little weird though. If it’s possible, Uncle Kevin seemed a little more reserved than normal and a little moody even, so I tried to stay away from him, and Mom and Dad were down right nuts. They were always looking at each other funny and neither of them could sit still, ever. They were never paying attention to a word anyone said and sometimes someone would say something and they would both just burst out laughing for no reason. They’re just plain crazy I tell ya.

And then there was Ms. Jenny! She hasn’t given up the details of her dinner date with Nick, but I’m convinced there is some juicy gossip there. She’s been on cloud nine for a week and practically useless to me so I guess it’s a good thing I haven’t really had a case to work on since then. But at least with all the odd behaviors it hasn’t really been boring around here. Pretty much the only person that seemed to still have it all together was Howie. Or at least he did until the concert in Cincinnati.

About half way through the show, or a little more, the guys do this number where they actually make it snow on stage. Looks pretty cool but it requires a break afterward for the crew to sweep the floor, so the guys play a video and do a quick wardrobe change. Well, after the wardrobe change on this particular night, the next song they were supposed to perform was “All I Have To Give”. Howie actually has a solo in that one and when it came time for him to do his thing, no words came out of his mouth. Dad quickly jumped in for him but it didn’t do a whole lot of good because Howie started sneezing.

I’m not talking one sneeze is a “bless you”, two is cute, and three is cause for laughter… Howie had a full-fledged battle with his nose on stage. The guys were so distracted that they actually had to stop mid song and make sure he was all right. The poor guy, it was down right humiliating. And though it was never as bad as the first episode, Howie continued to sneeze throughout the rest of the show and when he got offstage the guys all bolted as if he had the plague or something.

August 17 - Post Gazette Pavilion Pittsburgh, PA

Per the request of pretty much everyone, Howie stayed on his bus steaming himself and sucking down honey lemon tea. He claimed he felt fine after the show the night before and that he wasn’t sick, but the guys weren’t willing to risk it. I know the last thing any of them needed was a cold, but I’m not sure it was really necessary to quarantine the guy over a little case of the summer sniffles.

For a while that night Howie seemed to be fine, but eventually the sniffles returned, along with red watery eyes. Now a random sneezing fit is one thing, but two nights in a row means you’re sick. The guys were worried that they were going to have to manage a show or two without him but he insisted it wasn’t necessary.

None of them ever want to have to miss a show, but Howie understands how important health is to them. If he wasn’t careful and get his rest, it would only turn into something worse. Not to mention he could be contagious. One Backstreet Boy out of commission is unfortunate, but several or all of them is just a disaster.

What bugged me about this case from the beginning was how Howie swore up and down that he wasn’t sick, that it was something else. Howie is a very smart, levelheaded guy. It wasn’t like him to go against everyone’s wishes and he just wasn’t making any sense saying that he only felt sick while on stage. No, not Howie, something was definitely going on here. I took pity on the guy and decided I would take this case pro-bono. The fact of the matter was, Howie needed help and with everyone going heat crazy there was no one else for the job.

We were scheduled to stay in a hotel that night and had an eight-hour bus ride ahead of us in the morning in order to have a little playtime in the Windy City. I decided that I needed to see for myself if Howie was really only sick on stage, and that meant that I needed to spend some time with the man during the off hours. I needed to ride with him to Chicago in the morning, but how was I going to do that? If Dad thought he was sick then there was no way he was going to let me hang out with him so that I could get sick and then get him sick. I needed a reason to go with Howie and whatever it was it would have to be good or else this case would be dead in the water. I wasn’t worried though. I knew I would come up with something. After all,

Rule number seven – A true gumshoe always has a plan.

I sat in the lounge that night after the concert watching the entire group very carefully. The crazy factor was rising again with all the chaos in the room. Mom and Dad were giggling about something over in a corner and Nick, AJ and Ms. Jenny all seemed to be arguing. Finally Ms. Jenny threw her hands in the air and screamed in frustration. “You two are driving me crazy!”

The outburst made everyone look her way. “What?” she shrugged. “You all may be used to spending this much time together, but this is my first tour.” Ms. Jenny glared at Nick and then grumbled, “I need some air.” Before making a dramatic exit.

No one bothered to stop her. I don’t know what they were fighting about, but it is not like Ms. Jenny to get mad like that. Normally that dame has the patience of Mother Teresa. I know, I test it all the time. Everyone was shocked and of course it was Kevin who felt the need to step up and take control. But the biggest shock of the night was what came out of his mouth as he stood there giving everyone that look he perfected long before I was born, the one he gives when he disapproves of something. “I think Jenny has a point.” He said, “It’s been a long time since we’ve done this and things have been a little chaotic lately. Let’s all go out tonight, hit a club, and blow off some steam.”

Everyone was stunned, but Kristin AJ and Nick wasted no time in expressing their approval and immediately began deciding on a place to go. Howie joined in the conversation and Kevin gave him that look. “Not you. You need to get some rest tonight.”

“But I told you, I’m not sick.” Howie protested.

“Sorry bro.” Nick teased, “But it’s not like you were gonna get any chicks with me and AJ around anyway.”

Howie glared up at Nick and responded with a threat, “You better watch it Nicky, or else AJ’s not going to be the only one plotting revenge.”

“Ooh I’m really scared D.” Nick laughed and threw his arm around Howie.

Howie sneezed and then laughed when Nick jumped back a good ten feet, but he was soon pouting again. “Sorry man.” Kevin shrugged, “But we really can’t risk you getting everyone sick.”

Howie finally gave up his protest and seemed to look longingly at everyone as if he were going to be very lonely tonight while everyone was out having fun without him. That’s when the idea came to me. Maybe I wouldn’t have to wait until the bus ride in the morning. I put on my cutest smile and walked across the room. I went unnoticed until I tugged on Howie’s pant leg. “S’OK Howie.” I said, “I can’t go too. You can play with me.”

I turned on all that Littrell charm and batted my eyes up at the man just as I’d seen Ms. Jenny do to Nick so many times before and I knew I had him when I saw the light in his eyes. “Sure little man.” He said scooping me into his arms. “If it’s ok with your mom and dad.”

Howie looked at Mom and I gave her my best puppy dog face. “If you guys want to go out with everyone, I’ll take Baylee off your hands tonight.”

“All night?” Mom asked with wide eyes. This was too easy.

“Sure. I’m sure you guys could use the time off.” Howie shrugged and then smiled at me, “How about it? Wanna have a sleep over in my room tonight?”

“I don’t think so.” Dad stepped in, messing up my plans as usual. “I don’t need a sick child more than I don’t need a sick band mate.”

He snatched me from Howie’s hands and then wiped me down with baby wipes. Neither Howie nor I could stop the looks of disgust on our faces. This was going to be harder than I thought. I pouted as best I could as dad carried me a safe distance from any invisible sick bugs but he just laughed at my frown. “Sorry little man, but as soon as Howie’s all better you can definitely spend the night with him.”

Mom and Dad told everyone to go have fun and then decided it was time for me to go to bed so we all headed back to the hotel. I needed a plan B and I needed it fast. Dad was gonna be a tough case to crack this time. He can be really stubborn when he puts his foot down. I sat in my car seat thinking of anything at all I could possibly do until I heard Mom and Dad talking in front of me. “I can’t believe you didn’t take Howie up on his offer.” Mom whined.

“Honey you don’t want Baylee to get sick either.”

“Yeah, but it’s Howie. The man is so OCD he’s probably more sterile than an operating room.”

Dad snickered at Howie’s expense and then suddenly lurched forward kicking the back of the driver’s seat. He apologized to the guy behind the wheel and then hissed at my mom with this weird sort of giggle.

Completely crazy I tell ya, both of them.

“But when’s the last time we had an entire night alone together?”

“Too long!” Dad groaned, “But it won’t be so bad.”

Heh, dad’s such a guy. I knew what he was getting at. It’s the same thing Nick and AJ whine about all the time. I also knew where he was going to go with this conversation. Nobody knows dad like me, and it’s a good thing too.

Rule number eight – Know your enemy.

I quickly shut my eyes, leaned my head against the side of my car seat and even managed to conjure up some drool just before he turned around and look at me. “You see?” he said, never even suspecting that I was faking it, “He’s already out. We’ll take him back and get him in bed and then we can relax. We’ll order some wine when we get to the hotel, upgrade to a nice suite.”

“With a hot tub?”

“Anything for you baby.”

I can appreciate kissin’ a beautiful dame as well as the next guy, but having to hear my parents make out when they think I’m sleeping is downright disturbing. Howie was really gonna owe me for this one. I took one for the team though and didn’t disturb them the whole rest of the ride because all of this actually worked to my advantage. The more excited they got for some alone time on the way home, the bigger an upset it would be when they didn’t get it. The key is, to let them think they’ve won first and then go in for the kill. I grinned with anticipation. This had suddenly become all too easy. Really, I’m such a genius sometimes it’s scary.

I let Mom and Dad put me in bed and even gave them a few minutes to relax before I set my plan in motion. After that, I spent the entire night pestering them. I had a bad dream. I needed a drink of water. There was something under my bed… I did everything I could think of to annoy them and ware them out, and I put my whole heart into it. Not only did they not get to relax, but they didn’t any sleep either. At one point they were so fed up with me that they started to ignore me and tried to sleep trough my cries. Did that stop the great Baylee Littrell? I don’t think so. Never challenge a two year old!

I settled down long enough for them to drift off and then crawled in bed between them. Now, this may sound a bit extreme to you, but it served its purpose. Once I cozied up in my dad’s arms I decided it was all or nothing and I let my bladder lose control. I didn’t feel bad about peeing on him in the least because when he jumped out of bed biting back profanities, I knew I’d won. I let them clean me up and then decided to use the last couple hours of darkness to sleep. After all, I needed my rest too. I had a long day ahead of me.

The next morning when it came time to load the busses, Mom and Dad were so cranky I was sure things were going to go exactly as I’d planned, but instead Mom placed me in Ms. Jenny’s arms and said, “He kept us up all night long. Do you think you could take him and ride with someone else this morning so we can get some sleep?”

“Sure thing Mrs. L.” Ms Jenny chirped a little to happily for my taste.

“I suppose I can take them with me.” Nick chimed in, making it sound like it would be some sort of chore and then I knew I was in trouble. I guess whatever they were fighting about last night was over.

I had to do something, otherwise all that hard work last night would have been in vain and my plan would be foiled. In a stroke of genius it hit me and as Nick plopped his arm around Ms. Jenny I faked a sneeze, going out of my way to make sure I got some cooties on Nick. “Leighanne!” he yelled as he jumped back, “Get that kid away from me, he’s got Howie’s crap!”

“Well that explains last night.” Mom said.

Ms. Jenny didn’t want to get sick either and she handed me off to Dad so fast it made me dizzy. “I don’t want to get sick either.” Dad whined handing me to Howie. “You can have him now.”

“But, but…” Howie began to protest, “I told you I’m not sick. I don’t want to get that way.”

I tugged on Howie’s sleeve and when he looked down at me I gave him a big wink. He was confused at first but I could see that he was starting to understand and his frown turned into a smile. “Ok,” he said, “You wanna ride on my bus with me this time squirt?”

Bingo! This case was as good as solved.

August 18th – Somewhere between Pittsburgh and Chicago

I have to admit, I slept for quite a while once I was on Howie’s bus. After all, I worked hard last night. But when I woke up, I was ready get right to work and I knew today’s job would be tons more fun. The only work I had to do was watch Howie and see if he was really sick or not and, to make the job even sweeter, all the guys spoil me rotten when they have me all by themselves.

As soon as I woke up I was greeted by a very perky, very put together Backstreet Boy. He didn’t appear to be feeling under the weather at all. “Hey! I thought you were here to keep me company, not sleep the day away.” He laughed holding up a bag of toys he bought at the last stop. Yup, today was gonna be fun.

There’s really only so much you can do on a bus, but that day Howie and I did it all. We watched movies and played video games that mom would never let me play. We played hide and seek and prank called pretty much everyone in Howie’s cell phone. We ate all kinds of junk food and all day Howie was fine. In fact, the guy seemed to have more energy than I did. He was right, he really wasn’t sick. If he was sick at all, he was just sick of being cooped up for the last couple days.

I was glad that Howie really wasn’t sick, but at the same time, that meant that something else was causing the sneezing attacks. I decided I was going to have to get Ms. Jenny involved and do some snooping around the stage before the show. That is, until the strangest thing happened towards the end of our trip.

Just as we crossed the Illinois border, I came across a large duffel bag that had been shoved under the couch on Howie’s bus. The gumshoe in me couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie and I pulled the bag from its hiding place. Howie looked at it with a frown and carried it to the front of the bus. “Hey John?” he asked the driver, “Any idea where this came from?”

“Oh that? It was sitting out with all the other stuff this morning. I figured it was Baylee’s.”

Howie looked at me and I shrugged. I’d never seen it before. Again, the gumshoe in me, or maybe it was the two year old in me, had to know what was in the bag. I pulled the zipper back and was delighted to see a bunch of Nick’s stuff inside. Nick was always good for fun toys or tasty treats. If I was lucky, I might run across a hidden bag of Cheetos. Mmm, those delectable, mouth-watering morsels of cheesy bliss are enough to drive a guy mad and I immediately began pulling the contents from the suitcase.

Howie looked down and smirked when he recognized an old Guns ‘N Roses t-shirt. “Figures. That man would lose his head if it weren’t attached to his body.”

I smiled up at Howie, after all the man had a point. Nick really could be a bit of a blonde sometimes. After that I went back to my search. I was disappointed to find mostly smelly old clothes but there was a zip lock bag at the bottom of the duffel that looked promising. It looked like a slim jim and that sounded good to me, but when I put it in my mouth I nearly barfed. Whatever it was, it so NOT beef jerky.

Howie smirked, and even though he was laughing at my expense, the man made a valid point. “That’ll teach you not to eat something that’s been packed away in a bunch of Nick’s smelly old clothes.”

Suddenly it wasn’t Howie that felt sick. I began shoving the clothes back into the bag before Howie’s bus was permanently fused with the smell and before I could finish, Howie’s mouth dropped open when he found one of his shirts in the bag. He pulled it out and put the garment to his nose and cringed. He stared at the shirt with wide eyes at the weird holes that were tattered through it.

Howie’s really the only one who tries to hold back the profanity for my sake, he’s a good guy, but he was pretty angry. “That little Ba- I’ve been looking everywhere for this.” He gritted his teeth and then handed me the shirt back. “He may as well keep it now that it’s ruined.”

As I zipped up the bag and pushed it back under the couch I got my first major break in the case. It started with rubbing his eyes and then I watched as one sneeze turned into six. Howie’s burning eyes turned red and his skin began to itch. “Nick.” I said allowed as I began to put the pieces together.

Howie looked at me from beneath a Kleenex and after one more sneeze he gasped. “I don’t have a cold, I’m allergic to Nick.”

Of course I felt bad for the poor guy, but I still laughed. I mean come on, it’s a little funny.

So, now that I knew what we were dealing with and had a place to start looking, the only question that remained was, what was Nick hiding that would be affecting Howie’s allergies?

Yeah, I said hiding. All the sudden all of Nick’s paranoia made sense. Nick was definitely hiding something and I was determined to get to the bottom of it.

My first instinct was to go through Nick’s bag again, there had to be some clues in there. At first Howie frowned when I unzipped the bag again but as I closely inspected its contents Howie smiled. And then grabbed another tissue. “Good idea.” He said between sneezes, “Whatever I’m allergic to, It has to be on my old shirt.”

Sometimes it pays to hang out with the smart ones. Howie actually thought of that before I did, but I wasn’t far behind. I pulled out his old shirt and examined it very closely, but the only thing I found was a lot of blonde hair. I smirked at the idea of Nick going bald and tried to picture him combing it forward, the way dad does to cover up his receding hairline and the mental image was so funny that I laughed out loud. “What’s so funny?” Howie laughed as he rubbed his watery eyes. The poor guy.

“Nick’s hair’s coming out.”

“No way!” Howie gasped.

I can understand his excitement. Nick’s always pranking the guys; I can only imagine the kinds of things they would do to him if they knew he was going bald. Howie took the shirt from me to get a good look at the evidence, but when he pulled the shirt close to his face, it threw him into a sneezing fit. “That’s definitely it.” He coughed. “But that’s not Nick’s hair.”

If Howie knew whose hair it was he couldn’t spit it out because he was busy blowing his nose, but as soon as he said that wasn’t Nick’s hair I tried to think of whose hair it was. And that’s when it hit me, all the sneaking around and the guards standing watch, I knew what it was Nick was hiding.

The hair that covered the shirt was a little darker blonde than Nick’s and curly too. Howie was right, that was definitely not Nick’s hair. And there was a lot of it. The only time I’ve ever seen that much hair is when I played with the dogs at home. And the holes in Howie’s shirt? Not holes… bite marks! “A dog!” I screamed with excitement.

I was so sure that I was right, that this case was as good as solved. “What?” Howie asked as he searched for some kind of allergy medicine.

I rummaged through the bag again and pulled out the mysterious beef jerky and felt sick when I saw a picture of a dog right on the package.

I can’t believe I ate a dog treat! It’s disgusting, and a little embarrassing. I should have known better. I mean everybody knows,

Rule number nine – Always look before you leap!

That doesn’t just apply when crossing the street. I should have looked closer at the package before tasting it. Especially when it was in Nick’s bag. It was a rookie mistake, and I paid the price. I guess even I am susceptible to the heat.

Anyway, I took the dog jerky and handed it to Howie, pointing at the picture on the wrapper. “Nick has a dog.” I said again.

“Nick wouldn’t bring his dog. He knows we can’t have dogs. I’m too allergic to-

Bingo! I smirked as I literally watched the light flip on in Howie’s brain.

Now whether you blame the slow connection on the heat or the sever allergy attack he was suffering from at the moment, either way you can’t really blame him. Even as sharp of a guy as Howie is, he would never have figured it out without me and I think that’s why the victory of solving this case was going to taste so sweet even if I never saw a single crunchy orange chip. All I had to do now in order to feel that sweet success and close this case was expose the sneaky man responsible for Howie’s suffering and it looked like Howie was more than ready to help. “That sneaky little son of a b-!”

Howie’s face was bright red as he chewed on much desired profanities, but I think the redness had more to do with his allergies than his anger. It’s always fun to watch Howie get mad, but it only ever lasts a second, he’s too nice a guy. So, after his split second of fury he noticed the smile on my face. He let out a deep breath, sniffled and then tussled my hair. You know how much I hate that, but the guy had been so miserable that it was nice to see the smile I put on his face, so I let it slide. “How’d you get to be such a smart kid Baylee?”

Beats me. Some people are just naturally gifted I guess.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling proud about a job well done, so I smiled proudly at Howie’s question and then he got this look in his eye that suggested we were about to have some fun. “So, you wanna help me get him back?”

Did I ever! I’m always up for a good prank as much as I am a good mystery, so the last half hour of the drive Howie and I worked out a plan.

Normally I like exposing people for the criminals that they are, but Nick Carter is a prankster. He deserves a sweeter, more creative punishment than just being discovered publicly. In this case Howie could have easily distracted him while I snuck aboard his bus and got the dog. Then everyone would know and he would be forced to get rid of the it. But ask yourself this, where is the fun in that? If you can’t have fun with your job, then why do it?

I love working with Howie when it comes to pranks. Nick and AJ and even Dad sometimes are known for their pranks. They either get caught in the act or take credit once the task is completed successfully, but Howie is different. He’s smart. He never takes the credit for his pranks, which means no one knows when he pulls them. That means no one ever suspects him, and no one ever retaliates. The man’s brilliant. I should work with him more often. Don’t get me wrong; Ms. Jenny is a great sidekick and brings something to the table that Howie never could, but it’s really nice to be in the company of a fellow genius every now and then.

August 18 – The one and only Windy City, Chicago, IL

For our plan to work, we needed to get me on that bus. From what we could gather based on Nick’s behavior over the last week or so, our best chance to get past all his sneaking and security was right when he got off the bus. It seemed to us that Nick must have been disappearing in order to take the dog off his bus after everyone was already inside. Then he would sneak the thing inside later or play with it on breaks during the show, which explained why Howie was having attacks mid concert.

Howie and I’s plan was set into motion the minute we arrived in Chicago. We got Howie’s bus driver, John, to take a small detour and we stopped at a joke shop and got lots of packs of itching powder and sneezing powder before we got to the hotel. It only took a few extra minutes and worked out perfectly because when our bus pulled up, everyone was already inside except Nick. No doubt he was waiting to take his secret dog to go potty when no one would see him.

We watched Nick’s driver get off the bus and Nick stood in the doorway to his bus talking about something with his security guard. Howie and I grinned at one another knowing this was the perfect opportunity. “You ready squirt?” Howie grinned as he handed me both a bag of itching powder and sneezing powder.

I gave him a wink and then unzipped Nick’s stinky bag. Howie wiped the dog haired shirt all over his face and waited until his eyes were good and red before getting off the bus. I waited for the show to start before sneaking off the bus. A sniffling, sneezing miserably sick (wink, wink) Howie stormed toward Nick with his bag in tow.

Howie’s actually had some real acting experience and it really paid off because he got so heated as he fought with Nick over his ruined shirt that not even his security guard saw me sneak onto Nick’s bus. I went straight to work no matter how much I wanted to watch Howie continually sneeze fake sick bugs on germaphobe Nick as he accused him of stealing clothes.

I was right, there was a dog, and he wasn’t hard to find. He was almost as big as me and he was shaggy slobbery mut. It’s no wonder he was driving Howie so crazy. The first thing I did was give him the dog treats to keep him from barking and while he chewed happily, I sprinkled the sneezing and itching powder all over Nick’s bus. In his bed, in his clothes, around the dog crate. The only thing I didn’t put it on was the dog himself because he didn’t deserve the torture, only Nick.

Once I was sure there was no way Nick would be avoiding the stuff, I crept off the bus and very stealthily found my place behind Howie. Again I wasn’t noticed until I tugged on Howie’s pant leg. Sometimes being only two feet tall isn’t so bad.

Once I was back, Howie ended his argument with Nick who stormed back onto his bus just like we hoped he would.

That was only the first strike, after that we continued to litter Nick’s things with the powder every chance we got. Howie immediately started downing the allergy meds and kept his distance from Nick and by the time everyone sat down to discuss what they were going to do on their night off in Chicago it appeared that Howie and Nick had swapped places.

Nick was now the one getting that disapproving look from Kevin and being quarantined for having Howie’s crap. Nick was really upset about having to stay in that night while everyone else went out and Howie put salt on the wound by flirting with the always cute Ms. Jenny and offering to be her date since Nick couldn’t do it. Ms. Jenny of course, being the smart woman that she is, could tell it was making Nick jealous and she played right into Howie’s plan until Nick finally had a melt down like spoiled little child.

Just as everyone was about to go to dinner together, Howie’s smirk was huge and Nick looked absolutely furious as Howie slid his arm around Ms Jenny as he handed Nick a couple packets of Honey Lemon Tea. “Better take these Nick.” He said not bothering to contain his giggles one bit, “It helps and the sniffling is only gonna get worse before it gets better.”

“Bite me Howie!”

“No thanks Nicky, I don’t want to get sick again. You go get some rest and don’t worry, I’ll take good care of Jenny for ya tonight.”

“This isn’t fair!” Nick yelled starting to lose his temper.

“No, Howie’s right.” Uncle Kev stepped in. “You need your rest.”

“And you need to get out of here before you give it to anybody else!” AJ said still standing a safe distance from Nick.

That’s when I knew this case was closed. The shade of red that Nick’s face displayed was so deep that both Howie and I smirked at one another knowing he was about to crack. It was aunt Kristin who finally blew his top though. She started to hustle everyone out the door claiming that we would be late for our dinner reservations and then patted Nick’s red cheek. “Try to calm down Nicky. It’s a proven fact that stress can attack your immune system. Being upset about it is only going to make you get worse.”

“Ugh! That’s it!” Nick finally screamed. “I am not sick!”

“Yeah that’s what Howie said.” Dad laughed.

“Howie wasn’t sick either! It’s because of a damn dog!”

While everyone in the room looked at Nick in surprise, Howie and I exchanged proud smirks and then Howie turned on the acting skills again. “What do you mean a dog?”

“It’s not a cold, its just allergies. I found a stray dog outside my bus after the show in Boston.”

“You have a dog? Nick I’m allergic to dogs.”

I couldn’t help but smile. Howie deserved an Oscar for his performance and Nick looked like he felt really bad. “I know man.” Nick explained, “But I couldn’t just leave him there and I was doing fine until he got out of his crate and got into your stuff backstage. I’m sorry dude. But don’t worry, I’m going to get rid of it tomorrow, I think I’m allergic to it to.”

Everyone started snickering as Nick scratched at his irritated skin until uncle Kev cleared his throat very disapprovingly. “We have a show tomorrow. We can’t have the both of you sneezing through the whole show again. You have to get rid of it tonight.”

“But we’re all going out tonight. I can do it in the morning.”

Remember how I told you that Uncle Kev was extra grouchy lately because of the heat? Well it was a miracle he’d held back this long, but he was so mad at Nick that he stopped the argument with just a look.

Nick didn’t go out with everyone that night and I don’t think Howie felt bad about it one bit. Sure I felt a little guilty about giving Nick a serious rash, but I can’t say he didn’t deserve it. Its too bad AJ couldn’t have been in on the secret, he would have really enjoyed that. But it will be fun to watch him get Nick back eventually too and watching Nick confess all on his own and having that special little secret with Howie was worth it. In fact, it was every bit as good a payment as any bag of Cheetos could have been.

And speaking of Cheetos, I haven’t seen Ms. Jenny for a while and I’m sure she’s missing her favorite Backstreet Boy by now. That dame’s a sucker for this Ace and after taking down the great Nick Carter, getting a bag of Cheetos out of Ms. Jenny is child’s play. Until next time friends!

Case # 3 – The Summer Sniffles / CASE CLOSED