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Story Notes:
'An Ideal Marriage?' was in progress for quite awhile and has now been revamped to become a 3 part series the first of which is 'How It All Began'. This series will be completed.
Authors: CJ and J.

Dedicated to: streetshark18 for suggesting that we post this story here and for the support given through the years.

Beta readers and helping hands and minds: Cole, Linda and Bryan.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and a product of our over active imagination.

An Ideal Marriage?
How It All Began

Kevin Richardson glared at his friend Matt Sigmond. "I don't understand why you had to drag me here tonight! You'd think with Corey around you wouldn't need me for company," he finished with a smirk.

Corey Jacobs who was standing in his fiancÚ's arms blushed and laughed.

Matt made a face at Kevin before kissing Corey's neck. "I brought you here so that you spend some time in a place that is not a working environment or your house."

When Kevin gave him an unimpressed look he sighed, "And I wanted some company myself 'cause Corey here will ditch me for Nick the moment he arrives."

Kevin sighed, "Ah, the famous Nick Carter. Are you sure he'll even be here tonight? To hear Monique speak of it, you wouldn't think so."

Corey grimaced at the mention of Mrs. Monique Carter, his best friend Nick's stepmother. "Try to listen to whatever she says from one ear, especially about Nick and then let it flow out through your other ear. It's not a big secret among the people who know her that she doesn't like Nick. Never has. Neither does that daughter of hers."

Kevin frowned, "Her daughter? That model Annaliese?"

Corey nodded, "Annaliese. She seems to like you," he said cheekily.

Matt laughed, "Yeah Kev, she likes you."

Kevin rolled his eyes, "Gimme a break guys."

Just as he finished speaking a voice sang out his name. "Oh Keeeevvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvin."

The three men winced. Corey snuggled further back into Matt's embrace and waited for Annaliese to make her way over to them.

Annaliese smiled at Kevin and stopped next to him, slipping her arm into his. She loved the fact that her mother was setting her up with this successful, rich man. The fact that he was incredibly sexy was just an added bonus. Not that she needed any help from her mother or anyone else in making him hers.

She smiled at Matthew Sigmond. "Hello Matthew." He's a very good catch too. I wish I could hook Trisha up with him. Too bad he seems so into that little twerp Corey, she thought in irritation. Oh well, once Kevin and I are married, I can find a way to separate them.'

She smirked at Corey, who'd been her junior in school.

Corey gave her a dismissive look that she didn't appreciate at all. Before she could say anything though, Matt spoke up.

"Let's go inside. It's getting a bit too warm out here."

As they made their way inside the house, Annaliese didn't let go of Kevin's arm. She didn't know if her step brother Nickolas would be showing up tonight but she wanted to stake her claim on Kevin before anyone else got any ideas about him.

Monique Carter smiled at the foursome. "Kevin, Matthew, Corey, I hope all of you are having a good time."

They smiled back politely and thanked her before Corey asked, "So, is Nick here yet?"

Monique narrowed her eyes before laughing, "Corey darling, I'm not even sure if Nickolas is coming. Who knows what sort of catastrophic event will hold him back this time."

Corey looked at her as if she had lost her marbles while Matt and Kevin looked at her in confusion.

Before Corey could say anything, Robert Carter joined them, having heard what Monique had said. "Darling, a Tsunami isn't something to joke about. A lot of people lost their homes, lives and families. Those first three days after it were the worst of my life."

He smiled at Kevin and Matt who didn't know what he was talking about. "Nick had been in Sri Lanka on holiday when the Tsunami hit last year. Three long days passed before he was able to send a message across to us that he was ok."

In a flash Matt and Kevin remembered the Tsunami that had been covered by every news channel and newspaper. As reports of missing people had come trickling in, names of celebrities that had been there were mentioned. Among all of them, Nickolas Carter, son and sole heir to Robert Carter had been one of the people who had not been found. He had eventually made contact with the Australian Embassy in Sri Lanka and gotten a temporary passport to travel back on.

Matt and Kevin exchanged looks. No matter what they had heard about Monique from general gossip and a little bit from Corey, she hadn't behaved at all rudely with them. Just the opposite in fact. For her to trivialize a natural disaster in such a way made them frown.

Monique clapped her hands together, "Alright Robert, enough of this depressing topic. Nickolas is not here and I doubt he's coming. I just wish he would for once pick up a phone and let me know in advance what his plans are," she finished speaking with a dramatic sigh.

As Monique quickly launched into an explanation about how loving and caring her daughter Annaliese was, always calling her and keeping in touch, Corey happily exclaimed, "Nick!" and interrupted her.

Monique's eyes snapped wide open as soon as she saw her stepson, Nickolas Carter, striding across the room, looking handsome in a pair of dark grey trousers and a lighter grey silk shirt. She watched Nickolas and Corey hug each other, happiness radiating out of them and fought the urge to make them stop it.

Nick hugged his best friend and then his father before turning to his step mother. He exchanged the obligatory air kisses with her before smiling coolly at Annaliese not making any move towards her. He turned his attention to Matt and smiled.

"Hey Nick," Matt said, stepping forward to hug the blonde.

"How are you Matt?" Nick asked.

"Doing good Nick, doing good. Allow me to introduce you to Kevin Richardson. Kevin, Nickolas Carter," Matt said introducing the two men.

Kevin's eyes hadn't shifted from the blue eyed blonde since he'd seen him come into the room. He smiled and held his hand out, clasping Nick's firmly.

"It's a pleasure to finally meet you Nick. I've heard a lot about you," Kevin said.

Nick smiled, his gaze locked on Kevin's. "Likewise Kevin."

Both men smiled the chemistry between them very evident.

Matt and Corey exchanged a surprised but pleased glance.

Before the conversation could go any further, Annaliese spoke up, "Nicholas, why don't you go and get yourself a drink and freshen up. You look tired," she smiled as she posed next to Kevin.

Nick smiled, "A drink would be welcome. I look tired? You're the first person who seems to think so Annaliese," Nick replied back smoothly.

"You look good son. Healthy and bright eyed," Robert said with a fond smile. "Though I am sure you DO need to rest. This is the start of your holiday. Take a few days off and relax rest, catch up on your sleep and with your friends before you come into the office. You deserve a break."

Nick smiled and hugged his father, “Thanks dad that sounds good.” He nodded his head at the rest of the group, “Excuse us.”
Corey smiled angelically at Kevin, "You coming Kev?"

Before Annaliese could come up with anything to say, Kevin made his excuses and went with Corey, Matt and Nick leading the way.

A little while later, Kevin and Nick found themselves alone outside. Nick smiled at Kevin and leaned against a pillar.

"Nick, you do realize we've been set up right?" Kevin asked in a low voice.

Nick chuckled, knowing Kevin was talking about how his dad, Matt and Corey had conveniently made themselves scarce once Nick had gotten a drink and they'd refreshed their own. "It was done so subtly it was hard to notice," Nick winked at Kevin.

Kevin smiled and shook his head.

Shaking his head, Nick continued, "Dad has been dropping hints as has Corey. I'm sure they've been doing the same to you," he said softly.

They shared a laugh and continued talking.

After sharing a drink with Kevin Nick excused himself so that he could mingle with the other guests too. Annaliese watched Nick walk away with a smile on her face. Just as she started walking towards Kevin she saw him walk over to Robert and her mother.

Quickening her steps she reached them in time to hear Kevin say his goodbyes.

"It's been lovely. But I have had a long week and I need to get some rest."

Annaliese frowned and put her hand on Kevin's arm, "Oh but tomorrow's Saturday. You can rest then." She smiled sultrily and lowered her voice to a smoky whisper, "We haven't been able to spend anytime alone tonight."

Kevin, mindful of the fact that Robert and Monique were standing right there and could hear everything, smiled politely and gently slipped his arm out of Annaliese's grasp. "Sorry Annaliese. I am quite exhausted. I only came tonight because Corey insisted on me coming." He smiled apologetically at Robert not meaning what he said in a rude way.

Robert shook his head and smiled back.

Corey, who had walked up to them with Matt, decided to add more fuel to the fire. "I really wanted Kevin to meet Nick," he said with an innocent smile.

Matt bit the inside of his cheek in order to keep a straight face while Kevin cleared his throat, both of them remembering the way Corey had pouted until Kevin had given in and come with them.

Robert smiled and hugged Corey before shaking Kevin's hand. "I'm glad you decided to listen to Corey and come tonight Kevin. You enjoy your weekend and rest. You really have been working very hard. I'm not surprised that you're exhausted."

Kevin, Corey and Matt thanked them again before heading out. A pair of blue eyes followed their progress until they were out of sight.