There were nine petals. Then there were nine days. Nine perfect days. But this story isn’t about those nine days. It picks up on the morning of day 10, once the old gypsy woman’s spell was finally broken.
All you really need to know about those nine days is that during them Nick’s eyes were opened to a kind of life he never knew existed, just like Madame Rue promised. And with nothing in the way to stop them, Nick and Stacey’s souls united the way they were truly meant to, and they took advantage of it while they could.
The thing that makes Madame Rue’s love potion number nine so dangerous is that when it finally sets the heart free from restraint, the heart doesn’t always know how to cope. It can get overwhelmed and force a person to act impulsively. Usually a little impulsiveness is just what the doctor ordered, but when someone is already a little impulsive to begin with, and is as passionate as Nick Carter is, you end up in Tahiti celebrating your spur of the moment wedding before those nine days are up. At least that’s what Nick did anyway.
The morning of day ten, when the fresh ocean breeze fluttered through the open balcony doors, bringing in a little of the morning sunlight with it, Stacey’s eyes pulled themselves open very slowly. She took an extra few seconds to bring the dancing curtains into focus because her body felt sluggish and her mind was foggy. She lied there a moment admiring the quality of what she assumed was the Renaissance Hotel – automatically figuring she’d had more to drink last night than she remembered – and then she slowly began to stretch her stiff body.
That was the real end of Nick’s nine perfect days, because when Stacey moved, Nick was released from a happy dream into his new reality that he found even more desirable. A sleepy smile crossed his face and he rolled over, slipping his arm around his new bride. As he pulled her tightly against him he whispered a groggy, “Are you feeling better this morning Mrs. Carter?”
Nick tried not to giggle as he proudly repeated the title Stacey acquired the night before. He was so insanely relaxed and happy that the blood-curdling scream that followed his greeting knocked him clean out of bed. You see, Stacey has a set of lungs – her scream could easily put horror films to shame – and when she realized she wasn’t alone in that bed, she put those babies to good use.
As you can imagine, Nick was shocked. Well, shocked is a gross understatement, traumatized might be a little more appropriate. He jumped back so fast that he fell backward out of the bed and crashed onto the floor in a tangled mess of blankets. By the time he freed himself of the covers and poked his head above the side of the bed, Stacey was on her feet staring at him with wide eyes.
Never has there been a couple as equally distressed, but for entirely different reasons than each other, as these two. For a minute they just stared at one another in silence until Stacey began to panic. When her heart began pounding and her breathing increased, her body began to tremble. Nick noticed the shaking and started to walk around the bed to her. “Baby what’s wrong with you?”
Of course Stacey knew who The Backstreet Boys were, and Nick looked vaguely familiar to her. If she weren’t on the verge of true panic, with a splitting headache, she probably would have recognized him. As fate would have it, though, Nick appeared to be no one more than a complete stranger – not that knowing who he was would have made any difference to a girl like Stacey in a situation like they were in. She still would have done what she did.
“Don’t come any closer!” she hissed as she took a few steps backward.
The command made Nick freeze. He watched, dumbfounded, as Stacey realized she was wearing only a short silk nightgown and quickly pulled a sheet from the bed. She struggled to wrap it securely around her, but her fingers were shaking so badly it took her a few tries. Once she was covered she made eye contact with Nick again. “Who are you?”
Fate, it appears, has a sense of irony. Nick had waken up next to countless women in his day that he didn’t really know or necessarily remember going to bed with, but he’d never had it happen to him. It figures the one time the girl truly mattered she would be the one not to remember him. Nick was beyond emotion he was so utterly stunned.
The man is Nick Carter for heaven sakes. He was famous enough that he was usually surprised when people didn’t recognize him. But as he stood there that morning, looking into the terrified eyes of the woman he loved, his fame never crossed his mind. He was confused because Stacey certainly seemed to know who he was last night when she said I do.
He began walking toward her again, afraid that she needed help, but she only became more upset. “Baby are you feeling ok? Do you want me to call a doctor?”
“I am not your baby!” Stacey snapped as she backed herself into a corner, “Please, just stay back!”
The fear in her voice, and the urgency in her eyes, made Nick stop yet again. He felt completely helpless as he watched the woman he loved fight to keep control of her sanity. “I didn’t have that much alcohol last night,” she mumbled to herself. “Someone must have put something in my drink.”
“What are you talking about?”
Stacey ignored Nick’s question as her brain tried to make sense of her surroundings, and suddenly she went green around the gills. “Did you drug me?”
Stacey was now far to upset to hear Nick’s response. “Oh no! You drugged me and then you brought me back here and we…” Stacey cut herself off as she gasped. “Did you rape me last night?”
Nick felt the room begin to spin around him. He had to sit down just to keep from falling over. “Stacey you’re scaring me,” he pleaded softly. “Would you please just tell me what’s going on?”
“Did we have sex last night?!”
Nick barely had the energy to shake his head. “You know we didn’t.”
“Right! I only woke up in bed with you, wearing this! I don’t even own anything like this. Where did it come from?”
At this point Nick was so lost he could only shrug and answer the question. “Chanel?”
Tears finally began forming in Stacey’s eyes and Nick quickly became desperate to calm her down. “Stacey, I don’t know what happened to you last night, maybe it was the seafood, but I swear to you, I haven’t touched you!”
Nick smirked sadly, “I’m probably the only guy in the history of the universe that didn’t get laid on his wedding night, but I promised you.”
“Baby I told you it was ok. I know we kind of rushed into this and I understand that you’re not ready. I would never do anything to hurt you. You know that. I love you.”
Since this was the morning of day ten, Madame Rue’s spell was broken. That means Nick was on his own here. His declaration was one hundred percent him talking, not some magic spell. He really did love her. That’s what made this day so hard for him.
Madame Rue’s potion was a complete success as far as Nick Carter was concerned, but not even she had seen the small twist of fate that had caused Stacey’s memory to vanish. However, from the moment the potion took affect, that’s exactly what happened. Stacey had not a single memory of the last nine days and as far as she knew, last night she’d gone to a club with her best friend.
Stacey was a victim every bit as much as Nick, only she had more cause to be afraid. Neither of them had any knowledge of Madame Rue or magical potions – nor the fact that they’d been subject to an evil plot by a villain they hardly knew – but Stacey didn’t even know the name of the man standing in front of her declaring his love to her.
“You’re insane,” she whispered as she scooted slowly across the wall trying to reach the telephone on the bedside table. “I’m calling the police.”
“The police?” Nick gasped, jumping to his feet again, “Honey, that’s a really bad idea.”
Nick tried to grab the phone receiver from Stacey’s hands but the sudden movement made Stacey panic again and she picked up the entire phone and smashed it against Nick’s head as hard as she could. “Shit, Stacey!”
Nick yelled as he covered a small cut above his eye.
Stacey flew across the room toward the door, but her fingers weren’t steady enough to take the small gold hook from its latch, and Nick had time to catch up to her. He tried to pull her safely into his arms. “Stacey, wait! Just calm down for a second.”
“Get off me!” Stacey screamed as she fought who she thought was her attacker.
Nick was surprised by the amount of resistance she gave him and he loosened his grip, but stood against the door. He was afraid she was mentally unstable and didn’t want her running away and possibly hurting herself. But he realized she wasn’t ready to talk to him, so he didn’t follow her as she ran across the suite and locked herself in the bathroom.
Once she’d slammed the door shut Nick backed against the door he’d been blocking and slid to the ground. He let go a bewildered sigh and gave himself a few minutes to get his head on straight before making his way to the bathroom. He could hear Stacey’s sobs through the door and it broke his poor little confused heart. He sat down, leaning his head against the door and after a moment of listening to her weep, he tapped lightly on the door. “Stacey?”
“What do you want from me?” she cried in return.
“I want you to calm down and talk to me. Please! Honey if there’s something wrong with you, we need to get you some help. I really think we should call a doctor.”
Stacey didn’t answer Nick’s plea. She was so terrified that she continued to sob just on the other side of the bathroom door. Nick knocked again. “You can’t stay in there forever. The sooner you come out, the sooner this can all be over.”
“Please don’t hurt me,” came Stacey’s meek reply.
A man can only stay strong for so long, and Nick finally cracked. He was so scared that the walls of the lavish room seemed to close in around him as he panicked. He grabbed his cell phone from the nightstand and dialed the only person he could think of that might be able to help. “Brian? I need your help.”
Brian. That’s a name you haven’t heard yet. Brian Littrell, 33 years old, astrological sign Pisces. Band mate, friend, and occasionally, the voice of reason to our young Mister Carter. He and Nick have had their ups and downs over the years, and because of a certain decision to up and marry a complete stranger on a whim, right now they were experiencing one of their downs.
Nick really didn’t want to call Brian, but he was desperate, and Brian had been married for over eight years, so Nick figured maybe he could help. He cringed at the haughty laugh he received. “Gee Nick, I didn’t expect to hear from you quite this soon. I thought for sure you could get through the first 24 hours.”
“Look man, this isn’t funny. I have a real problem here.”
“I hate to say I told you so.”
Now, despite what you may think, Brian is really a good guy. But he’s pretty set in his ways of thinking, and he’d been telling Nick for about 8 days now that he was moving too fast with this girl. He wasn’t just trying to keep his band’s image clean; he was genuinely concerned for his friend. He about blew his top when Nick called and told him that he was getting married and would be back in two weeks for his first day of Rehearsals. Brian tried his best to talk him out of it. He warned him that marriage wasn’t something to joke around with, but did Nick listen?
Luckily for Nick, no, he sure didn’t.
Unfortunately, now that the potion had worn off, Nick wasn’t as sure of himself as he’d been the day before. So when Brian gave him a hard time about it, he broke down. “Forget it!” he choked. “I knew it was a mistake to call you.”
“Nick?” Brian’s hostility was gone the instant he heard the fear in Nick’s voice. “Nick, are you crying?”
But Nick didn’t answer him. He was ashamed, and confused, and scared. He couldn’t let Brian see him like that, so he hung up the phone and called the only other person he could think of. Brian was beeping in on his call before he even finished dialing the number, but Nick didn’t want to talk to Brian any more. There was only one person that he wanted to hear from now.
He would have just called Kevin first, but Brian was the only one he’d told about his elopement. Nick’s former band mate, Kevin Richardson, was not quite a brother, but more than a friend. Ever since the day they met he’d always been there, loving Nick and supporting him no matter what he did or how bad he screwed up.
Kevin was the only person on the planet that knew every side of him, good and bad, and loved him anyway. Nick knew this, so he didn’t even bother trying to be strong this time. He was a mess from the moment he heard the familiar voice say hello. “Kevin?”
“Nick? What’s wrong? Are you ok?”
“OK, take a deep breath, and tell me what’s going on.”
“It’s my wife, Stacey, something’s going on with her and I don’t know what to do.”
“I’m sorry, did you just say wife?”
“Yes! She’s my wife damn it!” Nick exploded. He couldn’t help himself really. Stress has a very funny way of doing that to a person, and stress caused by heartache is the worst kind of stress. “Look, I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you, but I didn’t want you trying to talk me out of it, and I knew you would be the only one who could. I promise I’ll give you the full rundown later, but right now I have a big problem and I just need to know what to do.”
Now if there was ever a person that could pull you out of a jam, no matter what it was, Kevin is your man because no matter what his personal feelings are, he always manages to keep a level head on his shoulders. That’s why when Nick was trying his hardest to clean himself up, and fix his relationship with his family, Kevin was the one that got him through it. “Ok Nick,” he said calmly, “what’s wrong with her?”
“I don’t know. She went to bed not feeling that well last night and when she woke up this morning...” Nick stopped for a moment reliving the scene in his mind, and once again had to fight back his emotions. “It’s like she doesn’t remember any of it. She doesn’t even know who I am.”
Nick listened patiently to a long sigh, and then Kevin tried not to chuckle as he spoke. “How much did you guys have to drink last night?”
“Nothing! A glass of champagne when we got up to the room, that’s it!”
“Did you just meet her last night? Is she on some kind of drugs?”
“I didn’t marry a crack whore Kev, she’s a good woman.”
“So there’s no possibility that this girl really doesn’t remember you?”
“It’s been nine days,” Nick sighed in defeat. “The nine best days of my life. She’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met, except that right now she’s locked herself in the bathroom, and she’s completely freaked out of her mind. She thinks I’m some psycho that wants to kill her or something.”
Nick leaned against the bed and rubbed his now throbbing head. He released another deep breath, finally getting a little control of himself, and then, almost in a whisper, said, “She thinks I drugged her or something. She wants to call the police.”
Kevin’s bailed Nick out on a lot of different occasions – he may not be the hero of this story, but he’s definitely one of the good guys – but never had he heard a story quite like this one. And with Nick Carter as one of his best friends, he’s heart some doozies. For the first time in his life he was truly stumped.
“I’m really scared Kev.”
For a moment Nick leaned against the bed listening to Kevin tell him that things were somehow going to be ok. He was so desperate for the comforting words that he didn’t notice that the bathroom door had opened quite some time ago. He had no idea that Stacey had heard his conversation and was now standing behind him, completely dumfounded by what he was telling whoever was on the other end of that phone.
Stacey was still terrified, but she’d always been a very smart, levelheaded person. When she realized that Nick was genuinely as scared as she was, she didn’t see him as a threat anymore. “I won’t call the police,” she said, startling Nick so bad he dropped his phone.
“Has it really been nine days?”
Nick nodded his head slowly and couldn’t take his eyes off of her as he brought his phone back to his ear. “I gotta call you right back.”
Nick hung up the phone and then, as slowly as his body was capable of, sat himself up on the bed, making sure to not make any sudden movements or do anything that might set her off again. “Hi,” he whispered as if he were talking to a ghost.
Stacey could see that he was really trying to make her feel comfortable so she wiped away the tears from her face and nervously tugged at the fuzzy hotel bathrobe she’d found hanging in the bathroom. Her voice shook when she spoke, but she tried her best to stay calm because she was desperate for answers. “Who are you?”
“I’m Nick. We met on your birthday.”
“At the club,” Stacey whispered as she tried to piece together the last thing she remembered. “You bought my drink?”
“That’s right. Is that the last thing you remember?”
Stacey’s memory of that night was a jumbled mess, but she knew she didn’t remember leaving the club, so she simply nodded her head. Nick was heartbroken to think that everything he’d experienced over the last week and a half had been erased from her memory, and he was terrified of what this would mean for them. “You really don’t remember any of it?”
Stacey shook her head.
“But how is that possible?”
Stacey shrugged and when her eyes glossed over again Nick felt sick knowing what he was about to explain to her. “Your birthday was nine days ago and we haven’t spent a day apart since we met. It was the best nine days of my life, and I know it probably sounds crazy, but we got married last night, and I meant it when I said I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Stacey couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. Nick wanted nothing more than to pull her into his arms and tell her it would be ok, but he couldn’t. Instead he let his eyes fall to his lap and muttered, “I thought you did too.”
“I’m sorry,” Stacey whispered through her tears.
In that moment Nick knew that his dream had come to an end and finally his eyes glossed over too. Stacey was surprised to see his tears, and even though she was terrified, she felt kind of bad for him. Somehow, she knew that her next statement was really going to hurt him. “I want to go home now, please.”
Nick sucked up his emotions and buried his heartache as best he could. As much as he loved her and didn’t want her to leave, he knew she was scared, and he just wanted to make her pain go away. “I’ll call the airport right now.”
“Airport?” Stacey gasped. “Where are we?”
Nick gulped. “Tahiti?”
Then, the small town family girl who’d never been outside of California, glanced at the open doors to the balcony and slowly walked toward them as if it were all a dream. She looked out onto a more beautiful setting than she’d ever imagined, and the shock of it all finally caught up to her.
Nick knew what was coming when she started to sway. He leapt toward her just as her eyes rolled back in her head and caught her as she fell to the ground. He carried his unconscious bride to the bed and watched her rest for a moment before picking up the hotel telephone. “Yes, I need a doctor up to my room right away please.”