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Chapter 2: Destination Element

Now that we’ve met Beth and we know what she’s up too, it’s time to meet the object of her affection. Nicholas Gene Carter, age 28, astrological sign Aquarius. He’s not exactly living a full on rockstar lifestyle anymore, but he’s still no saint.

He’s had a slew of one-night stands, a few short-lived relationships, and is most notorious for dating Hollywood diva Paris Hilton. He’s tried to love – even put his heart and soul into it – but he was burned one too many times and now wears a decent sized chip on his shoulder.

He’s not just jaded in the love department, though. Growing up in show business has hindered his ability to trust people in general. Deep down he has the biggest heart, and is dying to share it with someone special. But it’s too well guarded, and without that little push in the right direction Madame Rue was talking about, he might never have let anyone else in.

He, like Beth, is very wealthy and has just about everything his heart desires also. The difference between the two is that Nick’s worked extremely hard for everything he has. He understands that sometimes you have to give your blood, sweat, and tears to get what you want. He even knows that love is one of those things that will take that kind of work. He’s just come to a point in his life where he doesn’t feel the need to pursue it.

With so much going on in his life Nick had no time to worry about a love life, nor did he care to. He didn’t feel lonely because he had his band mates, and they were always there for him. Plus, lets face it; he was Nick Carter. He was well aware of the fact that if he ever fancied a little attention from the opposite sex, he could have it at the snap of his fingers without any repercussions or commitment.

Falling in love was never part of the plan. It caught him off guard, which is the only way it could, and he fell hard and fast. Just when he thought his life couldn’t get any better, he got a glimpse of just how wrong he was and for nine days his world became perfect. His eyes were opened to a life he thought only existed in fairy tales, and it all started with a small get together in one of his favorite clubs where he planned on just blowing off a little steam after a staggering promotional tour.

Nick was the youngest member of the world-famous vocal group, The Backstreet Boys, and they were just gearing up to embark on yet another extensive would tour. The group’s latest album, Unbreakable was holding it’s own overseas, but hadn’t done as well as hoped in the United States. Times were different now, and “boy groups” like the Backstreet Boys had to fight to keep their place in the industry, so this tour was going to have to be the best one ever, but Nick didn’t mind the challenge.

He was more excited for this tour than he has been for any tour save his first, and that’s because this time he was ready for it. He was the healthiest he’s ever been in his life both mentally and physically, and couldn’t wait to literally take on the world. That’s why he was the perfect candidate for Beth’s little love cocktail.

He had a few weeks break before the actual tour began, so when he got home he made a couple calls to some of his closest friends and the idea of a party spawned from the conversation.

“Nothing big, though,” he specified when his friend Dave offered to book the VIP room on Saturday night. “I just want to have a little fun and maybe find a good looking chick to take home for some R&R if you know what I mean.”

“I hear ya, man,” Dave laughed on the other end of the line. “I know the perfect one too. A friend of mine knows this chick from Beverly Hills. She’s pretty hot, probably an easy lay too. He says she was asking about you.”

“Ugh, not another groupie,” Nick groaned, “I can’t take any more of that OH NICK CARTER I LOVE YOU, bull.”

“Na man, I think she’ll be cool. I met her once and she didn’t seem like a psycho.”

“Alright, cool. Make it happen and I’ll be there. Time to party it up. It’s been too long.”

And that was that. Events were set in motion. The date was booked and the VIP room reserved. Then Dave called his friend Steve, who called Beth, who bought the potion that would change Nick’s life forever. The only thing he had to do now was wait, and, of course, show up on Saturday night.


So now you know Beth, and you’ve met Nick, but there’s still one more major player in this equation – the missing piece to the puzzle – and her name is Stacey Vasquez. Born and raised in Palm Springs, California, Stacey was the front desk manager for the Desert Springs Marriott Resort and Spa. Well, up until that fateful Saturday night at club Element anyway, which coincidentally happened to be her 25th birthday.

Stacey may be the heroine of our story, but, unfortunately, Madame Rue was right about perfection. It’s nearly impossible to obtain, even with magic. And Stacey, like everyone, didn’t have it. She was the most stubborn, judgmental person you’ve ever come across. She may not have been perfect, but she strived to be, and she looked for it in a mate. Most people think that’s the reason all of her relationships seemed doomed for failure before they began, but if you really step back and take a good look, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Stacey lived a life of fear. The flaws that she always found in the people she was dating, to most would be no big deal, or even endearing. But for Stacey they were an easy way to rationalize never taking any risks. Stacey never did anything spontaneous, and aside from the occasional trip to the beach or Disneyland, she rarely left Palm Springs and was quite content about it.

Now, Stacey had her flaws, but they were not necessarily the kind of flaws that make her a villain, like Beth. If she weren’t careful, her flaws could be as self destructive as Beth’s, but what put her on the playing field when Beth failed, is that Stacey had more than enough good qualities to balance her imperfections.

When Stacey let you in, she was the most kind-hearted, caring, generous person on the planet. This was mostly in part due to how much time she spent with her family. As typical in Latino culture they were a large, close-knit bunch mostly content to live out there lives together, simply and happily. They were from El Salvador but came to California a year before Stacey was born, so while she spoke fluent Spanish she didn’t have an accent. What she did have was a strong sense of loyalty, responsibility, a strong will, and a hint of the fear of God.

Although she wasn’t as opposed to the idea of falling in love as Nick, she was every bit as unsuspecting of it. Never in a million years did she think it was just around the corner, and she most definitely wouldn’t have chosen Nick to be the one. But when something’s meant to be, it just is. You can fight it all you want, but you only have two choices. You can blow the opportunity of a lifetime, or you can give in and let love make you sublimely happy forever. I wouldn’t worry too much about our stubborn little senorita though, there’s a reason this story is better than Romeo and Juliet.

But now that we’re caught up on all of our key players, and we know what Beth was doing at the party that night as well as Nick, you’re probably asking yourself, “What was a girl like Stacey doing in one of the hottest clubs the Sunset Strip has to offer?”

The answer to that is a lot simpler than you realize and can be summed up in one word: Jessica. Jessica is Stacey’s life-long best friend and roommate.

While Beth can take full credit for the potion that made Nick and Stacey possible, Jessica is every bit as important in this tale despite her lack of screen time, for it was her who kidnapped Stacey and forced her as far from her comfort zone as heavenly possible. You see, nobody knew Stacey better than Jessica.

Jessica knew that even though it was her 25th birthday on Saturday, the only thing Stacey planned on doing was having a huge dinner with her family and possibly seeing the latest Matt Damon flick before conking out early enough to get a decent night’s rest for work in the morning. Jessica was tired of that same old routine and was itching for an adventure so she used Stacey’s birthday to do just that. Of course she couldn’t tell Stacey exactly what she was up to or Stacey would never have gotten in the car. But once she was buckled, and they were moving at a pace fast enough that Stacey couldn’t make a jump for it, Jessica headed for the interstate instead of the local AMC.

“Where are we going?” was the first thing out of Stacey’s mouth when they merged into the highway in the direction of Los Angeles.

“I’m not telling.”

“You have to.”


“Why?” Stacey repeated. “Because I’m the birthday girl and I say so. Besides, you know I hate surprises.”

“I’m taking you shopping,” Jessica replied. It wasn’t a lie. Shopping was the first thing on Jessica’s birthday to-do list. She just failed to mention that there was a list, and conveniently opted not to disclose everything on it.

“Why are we going shopping? We just went to the outlets like two months ago and I blew way more than what was in my budget.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way Stacey, but you’re never gonna turn any heads with the stuff you bought last month.”

Jessica was right about that. Stacey’s style had always been really conservative. It goes along with that whole not taking risks thing. It also probably had something to do with how much she hated the way she looked.

She had beautiful straight brown hair, which she kept nice and long, but barrettes and ponytails were two of her best friends. She cursed herself for her lack of height, and had a little more extra padding than she’d like thanks to her mother’s excellent cooking. She worked hard to keep her weight under control, and looked better than she gave herself credit for, but still she’s a female and with that comes self-consciousness.

“You said you thought my clothes were cute.”

“They are cute,” Jessica agreed, “but you’re 25 now. Cute is for eleven year old girls. You need something sexy if we’re going to find you a man tonight.”

There was no way Jessica could have known what was in store for her best friend that night, but thanks to her, Stacey did look pretty good by the time they actually arrived at the club. It took a long time to convince Stacey of high heels and an outfit that clung to her figure, but after all was said and done Stacey was secretly excited with the outcome.

When the secret finally came out that Jessica was talking Stacey to her first club, Stacey about had a heart attack and spent the entire drive there trying to come up with excuses not to go, but Jessica had set her mind to it. “I know that there is no one on this planet that loves to dance more than you,” she said.

“Yeah, in my bedroom with the door locked. There’s no way I’m going to be able to enjoy myself with all those conceded, rich, anorexic people around.”

“Nothing that a Vodka Red Bull can’t fix.”

“So now you plan on getting me drunk?” Stacey laughed.

“If I have too. It’s your birthday; you’re allowed to have a little fun. Plus, you aren’t going to know any of those people. What do you care what they think? It’s not like you’re ever going to see them again.”

“Ok, but if we get drunk and stay out till 2 am, how are we supposed to get home?”

Stacey thought she had Jessica on that one but Jessica just smiled at her with a twinkle in her eyes. “We take a cab.”

“All the way back to Palm Springs? And we what, just leave your car here to get ripped off? LA’s a dangerous place you know.”

“That’s why I booked us a room at the Hollywood Renaissance.”

“The Renaissance? That’s like 400 bucks a night.”

“Not after I called Randy and got your fabulous employee discount.”

“You called my boss?”

“Yup. I even got you the next two days off.”

“You what?!”

“Yeah,” Jessica laughed. “It was actually surprisingly easy to do. Randy said he’s been trying to get you to take a vacation for forever. He’s a pretty cool guy actually.”

Now, Stacey may be stubborn, and scared, and hate surprises, but she was always secretly appreciative whenever Jessica did things like this. Beneath all of her false hostility was a heart of gold that longed for a little excitement. And that is why Stacey Vasquez was really Nick Carter’s soul mate in disguise.