A Return from Hell by Moony44
1. Chapter 1 by Moony44
2. Chapter 2 by Moony44
3. Chapter 3 by Moony44
4. Chapter 4 by Moony44
5. Chapter 5 by Moony44
6. Chapter 6 by Moony44
7. Chapter 7 by Moony44
8. Chapter 8 by Moony44
Okay, so I'm coming out of the proverbial Backstreet fanfiction "closet" with my first novel. Thank you Kelly for all of your feedback and support! I couldn't have done it without you! Reviews would be appreciated!
“Come on in!” she shouted.
The old hinges creaked as he slowly opened the door. Taking a deep breath, he readied himself for their reunion. Yet, nothing could prepare him for what he saw as he crossed her room’s threshold. There, lying on the bed was her as he remembered her. Her tiny five-foot frame lay on her stomach with her head buried in a book. Her long, black, slightly tinted brown hair spread across her back. Her legs bent upwards, were exposed and swinging, her sweatpants rolled up to her knees. Her head was cradled between her hands and didn’t turn as she spoke, “Hey Jackie, I left the book you wanted on the dresser, just go ahead and grab it.”
Nick held his breath, truth was, he couldn’t breathe. After all this time, she still affected him the same way without even trying. She was truly breath taking. God knows what his reaction would be if she actually tried to affect him but she never did and he didn’t know if she ever would.
Knowing he had a limited amount of time before she realized his presence, he drew up the courage to utter the words he had practiced reciting in the three-hour drive to see her. “Who would have thought classes, exams, and college life would prevent someone from picking up a phone.”
The second he uttered his rehearsed words her entire body visibly froze. Her legs stopped swinging, her hands stopped writing. “Nick," she immediately thought to herself. She didn’t think that she would ever hear his voice this close to her again, especially with the time that had passed. Her heart was beating a mile a minute, knowing she couldn’t just sink into the lush blankets. Finally, after what seemed like hours but really only seconds, she decided to face the music or rather the melody of this blond god.
“Nick,” barely above a whisper she was sure he didn’t hear her.
But his reply made it known he was listening, “Yeah, Carrie, babe, it’s me. Was there any doubt?”
Slowly pulling herself up, trying to calm her racing heart, Carrie twisted her body to be facing him. As she lifted her gaze toward the door she swore that his eyes were a more brilliant blue than she remembered. He gave her one of his famous grins that melted the hearts of millions, completely undoing her own. She timidly placed her hair behind her ear taking the entirety of his being there. Her eyes swiftly swept over him as she tried to accept his presence in her room.
Noticing her close study of him he tried to ease the tension that had overcome her demeanor, “So, do I pass the test?”
If she was one to visibly blush, Carrie was sure that her entire body would be flaming red. Instead, she smiled nervously trying to summon her voice that seemed to have escaped her, “Y-yes-- I mean no, I mean,” "Oh god," she thought to herself, could she be anymore of a stuttering idiot? Trying to calm the rampant butterflies in her stomach, Carrie took a deep breath and smiled nodding, “You look good, Nick. Healthier and happier.”
"But I’m not happier," Nick thought grimly to himself. “Thanks. I’ve been eating a decent three meals a day--I’m never taking food for granted,” he grinned.
Nodding, she looked down to the hands she was wringing on her lap, “Yeah…”
Seeing the sudden change in her mood again, Nick took a few steps away from the door and stepped closer to the bed and her. He hesitated, “You look better but you didn’t gain much of the weight back, did you?”
She looked up from her lap, realizing that he had moved closer to her. Sighing, she craned her neck upwards slowly gazing into his face, “I always wanted to lose those pounds,” she smiled weakly.
Thinking that it was okay to proceed, “Yeah, I never did ask you how much you ended up losing from the--um, what happened,” he ended meekly.
Her weak smile, slowly disappeared as she shifted her eyes off of his distracting face to the windows near her tiny bed. “What are you doing here, Nick?” she whispered.
Sighing, he looked around the room, finally taking it in. The room was small but neat. The room was comfortable and personalized with a myriad of posters. He studied them, noticing that many of them were of the Beatles, Dave Matthew’s Band, and Led Zepplin. He smiled, if she was going to avoid the subject he could do the same, “I didn’t know you liked Dave Matthew,” he said gesturing towards the poster.
“I don’t,” she said standing up, “those are all my roommate’s posters.”
Seeing her standing, he felt the urge to close the distance between them and wrap her tiny and now fragile body in an embrace that would warm both their souls that were hardened in the last year. He took a step forward only to be stopped by her eyes that held the deepest despair. “What are you doing here, Nick?” she repeated furrowing her eyebrows.
“I--I drove three hours so I could--,” Nick stuttered; only to be interrupted by her raised hand.
“Wait--I’m sorry. That was rude. I’m--I’m just,” pausing to slow her racing thoughts she said, “Why don’t we sit down, you’re probably exhausted from the drive.” She gestured to the two chairs located behind the two books-strewn desks. Grabbing a chair, Nick turned it around and straddled it facing her. Reaching for her own chair, Carrie sat down pulling her legs against her chest.
“So, um, when did you come to Illinois?” Carrie hesitantly asked trying to look everywhere except into his face.
Staring, straight at her, Nick realized again why she was so uncharacteristically beautiful. She wasn’t drop dead gorgeous by any means but she was striking. Her true beauty wasn’t measured through her appearance as she constantly reminded him but her amazing soul. But God, Nick reminisced, she was simply stunning when she smiled.
“I flew up to Chicago yesterday and drove down here earlier today,” Nick said finally answering her question.
Raising her eyes, “PR?” Carrie questioned hoping she wasn’t the sole reason he came to her remote town.
“In Urbana?” raising his eyebrow with a smirk, “Nah.”
Her heartbeat escalated once again as she hesitantly asked, “Oh, so--,” only to be interrupted by Nick.
“What am I doing here? Well, isn’t it obvious?” Nick asked with an ever-present smirk.
Trying not to smile at his playfulness, Carrie rolled her eyes, “I was hoping you could point out the obvious, like you usually do.”
“Oooh. Ouch, now that hurt. See if I drive three hours for you again,” Nick laughed, thinking he would drive for an eternity just to see her for a moment. They sat staring at each other as their eyes spoke the words that could not be said.
“Nick…” Carrie attempted to break the intense nonverbal communication and return to the original topic.
“I’m here to see you,” Nick finally answered waiting for her reaction.
“Nick--I don’t think---,” Carrie stammered while her voice attempted to betray her control.
Exasperated Nick interrupted her, “Damn it, Carrie! It’s been six months. Six fucking months! We haven’t seen or heard from you. You didn’t call, email, or even fucking write after everything we‘ve been through! We were fucking worried about you, okay?!” Nick’s voice escalated as his frustration emerged. Getting up from the chair, Nick ran his fingers through his hair frustratingly and walked towards the window. Pausing briefly to look outside into the darkness and calm himself, Nick turned back around to see Carrie’s wounded expression and tears slowly trailing down her face. “Shit," he thought, “I’ve been here for only ten minutes and I’ve already made her cry.”
Walking slowly to her chair, he lowered himself to her eye level, and decisively grasped both of her soft hands into his own, touching her for the first time in over six months. “God, I’ve missed her touch so much,” Nick thought to himself
Staring into her tear-ridden eyes, Nick said gently, “The guys missed you,” hesitating only for a millisecond to say, “I missed you.”
Carrie swore her heart stopped beating when Nick uttered his words. Gently she pulled her hands out of his strong, warm ones. Wiping away her tears she got up and grabbed several tissues from her desk. With her back facing him, she summoned the strength to say what needed to be said.
“You shouldn’t have come, Nick,” Carrie stated as coldly as possible.
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A slap would surely have felt better than what he was feeling at the moment. Nick opened his mouth but nothing came out. Standing up he shook his head, “She doesn’t mean it. She’s just trying to get rid of you.”
“Nice try, Fairy but I’m not letting you off that easy.” Nick said, using his ace, the term of endearment he always called her.
Closing her eyes, Carrie sighed, “Please. Nick.”
“Please, what Fairy?” Nick asked, not giving up.
“It’s so hard. I can’t do this--I just can’t,” Carrie replied exasperated.
Walking towards her, Nick stopped right behind her. As they both stared out the window into the sea of trees and the moon mocking them in its luminosity, he gently asked, “Can’t do what?”
“Live with this fear as a burden and relive it all again.” Carrie said emotionlessly.
Nick’s heart ached with a similar pain as he placed his hand on her shoulder and whispered, “You don’t have to do it alone. We both share the same burden. We can help each other.”
Squeezing her eyes shut, to stop the flood of tears, Carrie opened them allowing the tears to follow the well-known trails. She turned her head to the side, eyeing Nick, “I know. That’s what scares me.”
Nick chuckled and leaned in close to her ear to whisper, “Yeah, it scares me too but we do have Brian and Kevin carrying the load so it won’t be just the two of us.”
Not realizing how close he remained to her, Carrie turned around only to bump her cheek into Nick’s nose, putting their faces dangerously close.
Nick sucked in his breath as he found himself gazing into two dark chocolate kohl-rimmed eyes that held too much sorrow.
Carrie stepped away immediately, seeing that the two blue pools reflected her face too familiarly. Looking down at her hands she asked, “How are Kevin and Brian?”
Licking his lips, Nick nodded, “The fellas are doing good. You know, getting over it and stuff.” He paused for a second adding, “They’ve been wondering about you, though.” Not waiting for her to respond, he continued, “Look I know it’s been tough and I totally get that you needed some time and space. But it’s been six months and I --we hoped that you would be able to handle seeing us again. What we’ve been through, no one else can understand, you know? So we gotta stick together. It’s the only way we’re gonna survive. “
Running her fingers through her hair, Carrie risked a glance at Nick’s face, “I‘ve been busy with school--I”
“Don’t feed me that crap!” Nick interrupted, rolling his eyes. “We’ve all been busy with things but it only takes a second to pick up the damn phone and call. Lord knows we’ve been calling your house, cell phone, and anybody else who knows you hundreds of times only to get a dial tone. What the hell has been up with you? It’s like you dropped off the face of the earth. Why are you giving us the cold shoulder, huh? Why is--”
Not being able to take anymore, Carrie brought her hands to her face as tears ran rampantly down, “I know, okay? I know I should have picked up the phone and called. I know I should have contacted you guys and told you I was okay but I couldn’t. You don’t understand what I’ve been through--”
“I really doubt that,” Nick snorted.
“No you really don’t know what I’ve been through, Nick! You guys are used to the limelight. You’re used to paparazzi following you everywhere you go. You’re used to being wary about outsiders and friends alike. You’re used to receiving unwanted phone calls, house calls, and other contacts. You’re used to being stared. I’m not. You’re probably used to all of that but you have no idea what it’s like to have people wonder if you’ve been raped or sexually abused. You have no idea what it’s like to be called a slut and whore when walking down the streets. You don’t know what it’s like to have to look at your parents only to see disappointment in their eyes. It’s killing me, Nick. It’s probably already killed a part of me. And all I’m trying to do is live my life and I can’t do it when I have reminders of it everyday,” choking back her sobs, Carrie gasped for breath, hugging her arms around herself.
Not being able to stand still any longer, Nick took one quick step towards her and swept her into his arms. Nick felt her body stiffen and tried to ease her by rubbing small circles on her back. He felt her body slowly relax against his, setting her tears free. Her silent sobs shook her small body as Nick grasped onto her like an anchor. Nick held her silently, not knowing what to say. “God, I had no idea,” he thought.
His familiar touch returned all the memories she tried so hard to bury. She cried, for what happened, for what she lost, for what they lost, and for what they couldn’t have. After there were no more tears to shed, Carrie whispered hoarsely, “Why is it that I’ve lived twenty-one years of my life and only three weeks define the rest of it?”
Nick closed his eyes, knowing that he could not sugarcoat anything to protect her. No one had protected her--them from it. The four of them suffered and still bared the battle scars that would continually infect the rest of their lives. Finally he told her the truth, “It’s not fair. God, it’s never fair,” his voice cracked.
Carrie sucked in her breath, and raised her head trying to take a step back. Nick reluctantly loosened his arms and allowed her to step away from him.
Wiping her tears, Carrie looked at him, “Thank you, Nick,” giving him a wry smile she continued, “I guess I needed that,” pausing she looked directly into his eyes, “I’m sorry, Nick. I shouldn’t have--”
“No, don’t apologize. Jeez, I should be the one apologizing. I had no idea and I should have realized but I didn’t,” Nick interrupted sadly.
Carrie shook her head, “You couldn’t have known. We were all dealing with what happened and you couldn’t have possibly bore my burden as well. We all needed to sort everything out on our own.”
Nick mentally shook his head, knowing that he should have known better but he let the issue drop, the sky was dark and time was passing them by. He sighed, “Look, the last few months have been crazy for all of us but now that we’re on the same page we can finally help each other, you know? The fellas and I were talking the other day and we agreed that we didn’t want to lose contact with you. You’ve become too important to m--us,” Nick attempted to cover up the slip of tongue, hoping she wasn’t paying attention.
“Oh Nick,” Carrie sighed to herself mentally. She caught his slip but decided ignoring it would be the safer route, “I know. We’ve already lost six months and I don’t want to lose another six,” she smiled earnestly.
“Good,” Nick said as he inwardly cheered for the return of his Fairy. Nick grinned at her as her smile unfailingly set his heart on a race, “Damn,” he thought to himself. “L--look, it’s uh-- already dark,” Nick faltered, “and I still need to find a hotel so I should be going but we should probably meet up for some breakfast, maybe lunch, and you know, dinner,” Nick grinned.
Chuckling, Carrie nodded her head, “It’s just like you to forget to get hotel reservations ahead of time.” Shaking her head Carrie blurted out, “Hey, my roommate is gone for the weekend, you could stay here, you know.”
“Oh my god! What am I thinking? Please, please, say no Nick!” Carrie prayed.
Nick raised his eyebrow, “Really? That‘s awesome cause I didn’t know exactly where to find a decent hotel. Plus, I don‘t want to get lost in Hicksville, if you know what I mean. You don‘t mind do you?”
“Of course not. I offered,” Carrie gritted her teeth, cursing her manners and rambling mouth.
She minded. Nick knew that she did mind his presence but he knew he could always count on her considerate nature and amazing heart. He was banking on this and she came through like a pro. “So what bunk?” he grinned gazing at the beds.
“Well, my bed’s the bottom bunk, so--” Carrie started
“Perfect! Me and top bunks don‘t mix,” Nick smiled lying down on Carrie’s velvety green blankets. “Hey, this bed isn’t too bad, we’ve slept in worse, right?” Nick gauged the size of the bed realizing, “hey, isn’t this the same size of the bed we shared before? We can probably still fit in it together,” Nick raised his eyebrow grinning lazily up at her and patting the empty space next to him.
Carrie’s heart winced at the realization, smiling and rolling her eyes to cover up the intense flutter of the butterflies in her stomach, “You wish, Carter. I’ll be taking my roommates top bunk so you can keep the bottom.”
She was nervous and probably uncomfortable, Nick thought. Nick could always read her like a book after being secluded with her for three weeks. Inwardly, Nick chuckled reminiscing to the time when they were forced to share a single bed together. Initially, they each tried to move as far from each other as possible only to find themselves clinging desperately to each other in an attempt to stay warm by the end of the night. Soon that desperation for warmth turned into a desperation for something else, something more. He knew that this feeling was mutual. It had to be otherwise there was no explanation for the long-held gazes, extended conversations, and lingering touches that slowly progressed during those three weeks.
“What are you smiling at Nick?” Carrie questioned.
“Nothing,” Nick stated quickly, running a hand through his hair. Sitting up, Nick gazed at her petite frame, “So, I should go park my rent-a-car somewhere where it won’t get towed. I’ll be back in a few, okay?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. There should be a parking lot right next door, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one.” Carrie answered him feeling slightly self-conscious under his intense gaze.
“Alright, don’t lock me out,” Nick chuckled as he got up and walked to the door.
“I’ll try to restrain myself,” Carrie rolled her eyes, closing the door to his back.
As the door closed, Carrie shut her eyes and rested her head against the solid wood, sighing.
“What was I thinking?” She whispered to myself. “I couldn’t do this again. I couldn’t be suckered back into their lives. It isn’t fair to my family who I already put through so much. But, God, he was so sweet and what I wouldn’t give to feel his arms around me again.” Carrie shivered involuntarily, slowly opening her eyes, she backed away from the door.
“Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad being friends with Nick again,” she thought. "We’ve already been through so much,” she rationalized to herself. “I just won’t get too close to him. Relationships from traumatizing events never last and it would be tragic to lose his friendship over something so…trivial,” Carrie reasoned.
Rubbing her head, Carrie headed over to her desk where she attempted to organize the disarray of papers and books. Tensing up again, she recalled how just moments ago she broke down in Nick’s arms, “God, what an idiot. He must think I’m some kind of blubbering fool who can’t move on with her life.” Carrie scolded herself. Gathering her books, Carrie placed them in a neat pile. She eyed the bed seeing how it was a mess as well. Quickly, gathering the sheets in her hands Carrie lifted them over the pillow, catching the scent of Nick’s cologne. She straightened herself, thinking of how much of a flimsy girl she was becoming in Nick’s presence. “I can’t let him think that I’m dependent upon him. I‘ll just be friendly but keep my distance.” Carrie thought to herself.
Hearing a knock at the door, Carrie looked up from her silent reverie seeing Nick open the large wooden door. All thoughts of keeping her distance fled Carrie’s thoughts once she raised her eyes to meet his.
“I’m glad you decided not to lock me out,” Nick grinned as he brought in a black duffel bag.
“Me too, Nick. More than you know,” Carrie thought to herself. “Don’t feel so flattered, I was too preoccupied to lock the door,” Carrie replied with a smirk.
Nick chuckled, thinking to himself that there was still a resemblance to the person he met before their kidnapping. Dropping his duffel bag near the bottom bunk, Nick headed over to Carrie’s desk to see what she had been working on when he invaded her dorm. “So you’ve been studying up on religion, history, anatomy and chemistry, eh? I take it back, you probably didn’t have time to pick up the phone. Dang girl, how many classes have you been taking?”
Carrie shrugged, “Well, I ended up not receiving any credit for any of the classes I took last summer so I have to make up for it somehow.”
“Oh,” Nick answered, eyes widening at how much of an impact last summer made on her daily life. Clearing his throat and taking a seat on the desk, Nick tried to cover up the awkwardness of the situation, “So, do you have a lot more to study? I’m sorry I interrupted.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it. I was pretty much finished when you got here,” Carrie replied easily, sitting on the chair across from him. Changing the topic, Carrie asked, “So what have you been up to, Nick?”
“Eh, nothing really, just relaxing down in Florida--”
“I thought you lived in LA, now.” Carrie wondered aloud.
“I do. I just needed some time away--to just relax, you know?” Nick chuckled nervously. Fact was, his family was insufferable but he wouldn’t say it, he didn’t want Carrie to be dealing with his own problems.
“I see…and it doesn’t have anything to do with your family, right?” Carrie replied raising her eyebrow. Nick may be able to read Carrie like a book but since Nick possessed an amazing poker face, Carrie was able to read Nick’s true feelings from the inflections in his voice. Three weeks with nothing to do except talk made Carrie an expert on Nick’s mannerisms.
Shaking his head, Nick smiled wryly, “Yeah, maybe just a little. I did go to Norway for a bit to play some of that celebrity basketball with Aaron. I’ve also been doing some writing, you know for songs and stuff.”
Carrie noted the change in topics but decided to go along, “Solo stuff or BSB material?” she questioned.
“Don’t know really but Brian, AJ, Howie, and I are going back to the studio in a couple of weeks.” Nick answered.
“Really? That’s great! I had no--,” Carrie paused for a second, finally comprehending what Nick stated. She furrowed her eyebrows, “Wait. What about Kevin?”
Nick sighed, “You haven’t heard?” Nick paused as Carrie shook her head. “Well, you have been living under the college rock for the last few months.” Running a hand through his hair nervously, Nick got up from his seat at the desk and walked to the bed. Lying down and staring up to the top bunk, Nick said as emotionless as possible, “Kevin, well he--I guess he realized that life is pretty short after what happened. So he told us he wanted to focus on his family and in a sense start one, you know? He told us to continue recording by ourselves but he wanted to move in a different direction with his life.”
Carrie shifted her body to face Nick, “Oh wow. I--I didn’t know. I’m sorry. That must have been pretty hard on you guys. I’m really sorry.” Carrie stated meekly.
“S’alright. It’s not your fault. Yeah, it was tough but he had to do what he had to do. I guess all of our perspectives changed after what happened and we all understood and respected his decision.” Nick answered casting his gaze downward.
Carrie nodded understandingly, “So are you guys gonna tour after recording?”
Nick winced at the thought of touring without his older brother, “Depends, on our CD sales I guess. But knowing Jive, we probably will tour so we can generate a profit,” Nick sighed miserably.
“I imagine, it will be difficult--touring without him,” Carrie whispered sadly.
“You have no idea,” Nick answered his voice cracking.
Closing her eyes, Carrie did the only thing that was right in her mind. She took the two steps to the bed and sat down at the edge, quickly leaning over and wrapping her arms around Nick’s warm body.
“Oh Nick, it’ll be alright.” Carrie whispered consolingly.
As much as it pained him to tour without Kevin, it warmed his heart considerably to have a certain black-haired beauty hugging him trying to ease his anguish. Wrapping his arms around her, Nick touched her tenderly, basking in the warmth that her heart was exuding.
“I know it will be alright. I--I guess it takes some getting used to but it doesn‘t hurt any less.” Nick whispered hoarsely allowing his fingers to run through Carrie’s hair carelessly.
Carrie shivered involuntarily with his caresses. Lifting her head from his chest, she glanced at the clock above the bed and sighed, “It’s nearly midnight. We should probably hit the sack, so we don’t miss breakfast,” Carrie whispered gently. Carrie gingerly extracted her arms from Nick’s body and turned her body away from, as she was about to get up, she felt Nick’s hand lightly touch her shoulder.
“Carrie, wait. Don’t leave. I--I just--I mean-- this is gonna sound bad but do you think you could stay with me tonight? I mean--not like that--but you know, just holding each other. I swear I won’t do anything--it’s just that I always felt better with you beside me. I promise I won’t do anything,” Nick asked sincerely knowing he couldn‘t suppress his need to be close to her.
“It’s not you that I’m worried about, Nick,” Carrie thought to herself. “I don’t know Nick. I don’t know if that’s the right--”
“I mean we’re just friends, right? I swear I won’t try anything. I just thought, you know, we could comfort--“
“Okay. I--I mean if it’ll help, sure,” Carrie interrupted him. “Idiot, you are such an idiot,” she thought to herself.
“Are you sure? I-I mean we don’t have to if you really don’t want to. I’m not trying to pressure you or anything, I swear,” Nick told her.
“Yeah, I’m sure. It’s okay, seriously,” Carrie told him. “Umm, let me just go brush my teeth, okay?” Carrie finished lamely.
“Okay,” Nick whispered, his heart soaring with her acquiescence.
Carrie quickly grabbed her toothbrush and left the room to find solace in the bathroom and gather her thoughts. Nick sat up as Carrie closed the door behind her, his grin baring his emotions.
Nick didn’t know whether to be more surprised at his outburst request or the fact that Carrie agreed to it but either way he wasn’t complaining. Getting up from the bed, Nick began stripping down to his navy blue boxers and white wife-beater. After placing his folded pants on his bag, Nick had the afterthought of wondering if Carrie would feel uncomfortable with his attire, “She won‘t mind. Hell, she‘s seen me without the wife-beater,” he thought to himself. Nick flopped back down on the bed his face still bearing the grin that never left.
Once his head hit the pillow, the creaking of the hinges announced Carrie’s return. Looking up from his spot on the bed, Nick noticed she had changed into a white tank top and gray baggy PJ bottoms. As he studied her, Nick realized that she never did return to her original weight. Sighing inwardly, Nick thought to himself, “We’ll never return to how we were originally.”
Putting her toothbrush away without a glance towards Nick, Carrie tried to focus her mind on getting through the night without any reoccurrences of any previous emotions she might have held for the man laying on her bed. Finally, ready to face him, Carrie turned to Nick holding her breath when she saw him donning his boxers and wife-beater, “You ready for bed?” Carrie questioned the relaxed figure on her bed.
Nick placed his hands behind his head and sincerely smiled, “Yup. Just need you, that’s all.”
Shaking her head, Carrie switched off the lights and made her way to the bed. Closing her eyes she crawled into the small bunk, praying that morning would come soon. Trying not to touch Nick in any way, Carrie hugged the edge of the bed and pulled the velvet blanket over her. She was about to let out her breath when Carrie felt an arm sneak its way around her waist, making her hold it once again.
“You don’t mind, do you? I mean-- I figured we’d just go into our regular positions.” Nick hesitatingly asked.
“No, I don’t mind. It’s alright.” Carrie quietly replied, finally letting out her breath.
“Okay, good.” Nick said quickly pulling her body right up against his as they so frequently did before.
Feeling Nick’s warm body plush against hers, made the butterflies in Carrie’s stomach increase ten-fold. His hand covered her flat stomach and slightly brushed against her chest being as small as she was. The back of her head was pressed against his broad chest and moved slightly every time Nick exhaled.
“She smells like, vanilla,” Nick thought to himself. “What did I get myself into?” Nick shivered to himself.
Carrie was frozen. She couldn’t move nor breathe. “God this is too reminiscent of those three weeks in hell. But if it wasn‘t for the man lying next to me I would have been condemned to that hell for an eternity.”
“You alright, Fairy?” Nick whispered.
“Yeah, why do you ask?” Carrie asked letting out a breath trying to act nonchalant.
“Well, probably because that’s the first time you exhaled let alone inhaled.” Nick answered.
“Oh, I--I guess I’m just…” Carrie trailed.
“How about all the above.” Carrie replied wryly.
“Yeah, me too,” Nick chuckled. Pausing for a second to gather his thoughts Nick began to ask, “Hey, Carrie, I--I wanted to ask you about what happened between us right before you left--”
“Nick, forget it.” Carrie interrupted, knowing where he was headed. “It happened. It’s in the past and it probably won’t happen again. We‘re just friends, right?”
“It won’t?” Nick wondered, his heart sinking. “Right,” Nick answered stiffly.
“Let’s just catch some sleep, okay? Your probably tired from the drive and since I’ll have to wake you up tomorrow, you better get your seven hours of sleep,” Carrie said lightly to ease the tension.
“Yeah, your right,” Nick muttered trying to cover up his despair.
“Goodnight, Nick,” Carrie whispered.
“Goodnight, Fairy,” Nick whispered gently.
Trying to ignore the tingles coursing throughout her body due to the warm body next to hers, Carrie relaxed herself and steadied her breathing attempting to gain some semblance of control. “Why did he have to bring up that moment, that kiss?” Carrie mulled. “He probably wanted to apologize and I wouldn’t want him to because I wanted or needed it as much as he did.” Carrie thought to herself. “But I can’t let him think that otherwise I’ll be putting my entire life and family in jeopardy once again.”
Nick settled himself into the blankets not knowing whether or not being this close to her was a good idea since she didn’t see anything beyond a friendship. “But if it’s friendship she’s willing to offer than I’ll take it…and maybe convince her of anything further along the way,” Nick smirked to himself.
Both Carrie and Nick finally let go of their inhibitions and slept peacefully in each other’s arms as they had before.
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As the rays of sunlight streamed through the side windows of the small confinement of her dorm room, Carrie awoke suddenly to her own internal clock. Her eyes met with a white fabric that she could only assume was her pillow but it was the scent of this oddly stiff pillow that made her think differently. As she inhaled deeply she was met with the light cologne that brought back all of the memories of the night before. “So much for keeping a friendly distance,” Carrie thought to herself as the butterflies awakened in her stomach. Trying to shift a little bit to get a bearing of her surroundings, Carrie began to notice just how entangled Nick and she had become overnight. “Some things never change.” Carrie reflected. From her cramped point of view, Carrie noticed that her right leg was resting in between Nick’s legs, while Nick’s left leg was slightly strewn over her left calf to ensure a complete entanglement of their lower bodies. Nick’s large arms were wrapped completely around her body crushing her head to his chest, while her own right arm was wrapped around his lower torso. To her horror, Carrie realized that both their hips were met together; leaving no doubt that Nick was having a good dream. Carrie shivered slightly reminding herself that it was merely a normal male reaction and had nothing to do with herself.
Hoping to untangle their bodies before Nick awoke, Carrie attempted to move her leg from between Nick’s thighs. However, such a task proved to be quite difficult, resulting in more jostling than she wished. Nick sighed in his sleep tightening the hold he had on her. Closing her eyes, Carrie realized it was useless to prevent Nick from seeing their present predicament because they were far too tangled for her to move without going unnoticed. With her eyes remained closed, Carrie tried one more time to withdraw her leg from Nick’s grasp without avail. Surrendering herself to her situation, Carrie sighed and snuggled her body closer into Nick‘s, thinking, “Might as well.”
“Vanilla,” Nick smiled to himself as his dream led him through every curve and caress. Subconsciously, he knew it was a dream but he begged his mind to continue its explorations. It was almost as if he could feel the soft, delicate skin underneath his fingertips and the smooth raven hair brushing against his face and forearms. The scent of vanilla overwhelmed his senses as his fingertips gently moved up and down her spine in an effort to memorize the beauty. He could hear her whisper his name, “Nick,” as his fingers continued its wanderings. He could almost feel her breath on his chest. “Please, don’t wake up,” Nick begged his mind, “it’s just getting good!”
Groaning, Nick could feel the pressure of the light and the outside world pulling him out of his fantasy.
Scrunching his eyes to adjust to the brightness pressing onto his closed lids, Nick slowly opened one eye to survey his surroundings. Immediately he noticed a dark head of hair obstructing his view. His heart clenched as he wondered, “Am I still dreaming?”
“Nick.” Carrie whispered again trying to wake Nick from his slumber.
Raising his eyes upwards, Nick sent a silent prayer of thanks, “Thank you, God!”
“Yeah?” Nick finally replied, his voice gruff for more reasons than one.
“We should get up, otherwise we’ll miss breakfast,” Carrie gently answered. Taking a deep breath she added, “and, um, would you kindly remove your hands from underneath my shirt.”
“What the hell?” Nick questioned as he realized that his hands had indeed made it underneath her tank top. “So this is who I need to thank for my hot dream.” Nick snickered to himself. Extracting his hands from her bare back, Nick smoothed out her tank top and closed his eyes and burying his nose into her vanilla scented hair. He shivered involuntarily thinking how wonderful it felt to feel her bare skin against his hands.
“Sorry,” Nick grunted without any real remorse.
“It’s alright, do you mind moving a bit so I can stretch?” Carrie asked trying not to embarrass him any further.
As Carrie shifted her legs slightly, Nick’s eyes quickly snapped open. “Damn,” Nick thought to himself, “That wasn’t just a hot a dream. That was a fucking hot dream,” as he felt his stiff pride and joy rub against Carrie’s pelvis. “To move or not to move? That is the question.” Nick chuckled to himself.
“Nick?” Carrie questioned.
Trying to milk it for what it was worth, Nick groaned, “Mmmhhh? Don‘t wanna.”
Rolling her eyes, Carrie didn‘t hold back anymore, “Nick, I know at least one part of you is awake,” she smirked, “so I need you to move.”
“So warm and comfy,” Nick mumbled closing his eyes and basking in the warmth and softness of her tiny body, while squeezing her even tighter.
Knowing he was just being stubborn, Carrie attempted to take matters into her own hands. She tried pushing her body away from Nick’s but was only met with a firmer grip. It became a battle of physical strength as Carrie attempted to withdraw from Nick’s grasp while Nick attempted to hold her for even longer. Nick snickered as she hopelessly tried to push him away.
“Your just too puny for my manly strength,” Nick playfully growled.
Deciding that his upper body strength was clearly superior to hers, Carrie attempted to withdraw her right leg from between Nick’s thighs. This only complicated things for it ground her hips into Nick’s groin.
Nick released a groan, feeling her body rub even harder against him. Knowing his self-control was dwindling, Nick reluctantly released Carrie’s legs and loosened his arms around her.
“Finally!” Carrie gasped. “What exactly has made you so clingy this morning?” Carrie gazed up at Nick with a smile.
Nick breathed heavily whilst trying to steady his emotions. Suddenly, a ray of light cut through the window onto Carrie’s face illuminating her already radiant skin and allowing him to see the true depth of her eyes, preventing him from regaining any normal heartbeat. Nick brushed aside a strand of hair that covered her beauty and simply replied, “Do you really have to ask?”
Seeing the intensity in his Caribbean sea-colored eyes, Carrie’s gaze traveled downwards to her hands, which were lying, gently on his rising and falling chest.
“Hey,” Nick softly whispered, “I’m right here,” as his finger brought her chin up to become face to face again.
Carrie’s breathing quickened as she recognized the dark passion growing within Nick’s eyes. It was as if his eyes were drawing her into him and she couldn‘t do anything to prevent it.
The exotic, kohl-rimmed eyes had hypnotized Nick once again as his lips sought out hers. As his hand guided Carrie’s face, Nick’s heart raced as he anticipated the contact of lips.
The loud blare of the alarm abruptly broke them from their near intimacy. Out of surprise, Carrie pushed at Nick’s chest who was too startled to tighten his grip, letting her fall to the tiled floor of the room. Carrie yelped as her butt hit the cold, hard tiles.
“Carrie!” Nick yelled his eyes widening, “Are you okay?” he asked as he peered over the side of the bed down at her.
“Ugh. Yeah I’m alright. Thank God, we weren’t on the top bunk,” Carrie smiled assuredly.
Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, Nick reached his hand down to help Carrie up off the floor.
“Thanks,” Carrie said sincerely as she rubbed her sore butt.
“No problem,” Nick stated, watching her from the bed.
“So,” Carrie said, trying to change the subject, all the while stretching her body of its kinks, “we should go down to IHOPs and I’ll show you around the oh-so-exciting town of Urbana.”
Nick was speechless, “Does she know what she does to me? Let alone that she is trying to change subjects but now she is tempting me by showing me what I can‘t have. It‘s not fair.” Carrie’s hands stretched over her head giving Nick an excellent view of her taut tummy.
Suppressing his frustrated groan, Nick answered hoarsely, “Sure. I’m up for it.”
“Good, cause’ I think I’m in the mood for waffles,” Carrie smiled. “I’m gonna head to the shower. The guys’ bathroom is down the hall to the right.” Carrie grabbed her towel and toothbrush, heading towards the door, “So I’ll meet you back in the room in twenty, okay?”
Nick nodded, not being able to muster anything else. Once Carrie closed the door, Nick sighed plopping back onto the bed, adjusting himself, thinking a cold shower was in order. Running his fingers through his hair, he wondered, “I need to start figuring out how I’ll convince her of the proposition that I need to run past her.” Figuring that he could break it to her over breakfast, Nick pushed his thoughts aside to get ready for the day.
Thank you for the reviews everyone! Keep them coming please! Feedback is definitely my motivation to keep posting week after week.
Carrie heard the faint click of her seatbelt, as she strapped herself into the close confines of the car. She turned to see Nick turning the key in the ignition while reaching with one hand over his left shoulder to put on his own seatbelt. Sighing to herself, Carrie turned to face the passenger window.
“So,” Nick stated as he placed his hand on the back of Carrie’s seat to peer over his right shoulder to back out of the parking space, “what do you do for fun around here?”
Rolling her eyes, Carrie turned her head to face Nick, “Nick, you’re talking about Hickville here, the only things worthwhile here are the movies, Dairy Queen, and Walmart. Oh, not to mention a bunch of bars to cater to the college students cravings for alcohol.”
“So which bars are the hotspots?” Nick teased.
“I wouldn’t know. You probably know better than me. It’s been twenty-four hours, you must have hit all of them by now.” Carrie easily replied.
Grimacing at how true the statement was to his life for the past few months, Nick asked while steering the car, “Have you been keeping an eye on me?”
Rolling her eyes, Carrie answered, “I’ve been trying to avoid you guys but people tend to think that after what happened, I should know everything there is to know about you guys. So, I’ve been bombarded with unwanted information.”
“I see,” Nick paused, “so, umm, what have you heard?”
“I don’t think you want to know.”
“Shit,” Nick thought to himself, “I really didn’t’ think she would find out about all the partying. God, I hope she doesn’t use this as an excuse not to agree to the plan.”
Pulling into a parking spot at IHOP’s, Nick pulled the key out of the ignition. “I guess we have a lot to talk about,” Nick whispered.
“Whatever, Nick. You don’t need to explain anything to me. It’s your life.” Carrie stated nonchalantly, while exiting the car and punctuating her statement with the slam of the car door.
“Shit. Shit. Shit,” Nick repeated resting his forehead on the steering wheel. Running his fingers through his hair, Nick exited the car and entered the heated building of IHOP’s. Spotting Carrie by the waitress, Nick walked over in time to hear the waitress say, “I’ll take you to the back booth.”
Pulling his trucker hat over his eyes, to prevent any recognition, Nick walked behind Carrie giving him an excellent view of her ass in her form-fitting jeans.
The waitress swiftly led them to the back booth leaving two menus on the table with a mumble of, “I‘ll be right back.”
“Great service here,” Nick stated dryly, plopping down in the seat across from Carrie.
Wordlessly, Carrie opened her menu and scanned the options.
Staring intently at Carrie, Nick finally mustered the courage to say, “You’re wrong.”
Carrie raised her eyes to Nick’s, in confusion, “What?”
“You’re wrong,” Nick continued, “I do owe you an explanation because if not anything else, you are my friend. A very good friend who I don’t want to lose ‘cause of my stupidity.”
“I, uh--,” Carrie stuttered.
“No, just let me explain,” Nick interrupted, “yeah, I was stupid. I partied, a lot. Hell, I partied way too much. I know that. The fellas know that and called me out on it. It’s just,” Nick paused, “it’s just how I deal with things, you know? I guess I just like to avoid crap by doing that, you know?”
“Wow,” Carrie chuckled, “that was a lot of deep stuff, there.”
“Oh, shut up,” Nick said in mock offense, “I just opened my heart to you and all you do is laugh,” Nick finished in a feminine voice.
Controlling her giggles, Carrie quickly denied, “No, no, no. It’s not that, I swear. Heck, Nick what do you think I’ve been doing for the past six months?”
Both stared at each other for a millisecond before simultaneously laughing, gathering the stares of the other customers.
Seeing the fiery glint of laughter in her eyes, Nick abruptly stopped laughing, gazing at her in melancholy.
Still smiling, Carrie asked, “What?”
“Nothing,” Nick paused, “it’s just good to see you really smiling again.”
“Oh,” Carrie replied, shyly returning her eyes to the menu.
“Are y’all ready,” the middle-aged waitress asked Nick and Carrie. Taking their orders and menus, the waitress left no barrier between Nick and Carrie, allowing Nick to finally receive a full view of her.
Feeling confident over their recent exchange in laughter, Nick took a deep breath to initiate the conversation he was dreading. “So,” Nick began, staring at Carrie.
“So,” Carrie mimicked with a smirk.
“Yeah, so um, your winter break is coming up isn’t it?” Nick asked.
“Yeah, next week,” Carrie replied raising her eyebrow.
“That’s good. That’s good,” Nick mumbled realizing it was the wrong approach. “Umm, it’s been awhile since you’ve seen everyone, right?”
“Yeah, I guess it has,” Carrie stated warily.
“Yeah, so umm, I was wondering, err, I mean, we were wondering if you were busy during your winter break,” Nick struggled.
“Nick,” Carrie said annoyed, “will you just spit it out?”
“Okay, okay, sheesh. Can’t even let a guy talk,” Nick muttered good-naturedly.
Rolling her eyes, Carrie urged, “Just say it, Nick.”
“Fine. Okay, so the fellas and I were thinking that if you weren’t busy this winter break, that maybe we could all meet up and, you know, catch up,” Nick quickly stated all the while holding his breath for a positive reaction.
Carrie’s eyes widened with Nick’s words but before she could respond the waitress, with impeccable timing, brought them their breakfast.
Inwardly cursing the damn waitress, Nick frantically searched Carrie’s face for her answer. He watched as she thanked the waitress and fiddled with the napkin in her lap. Adamantly, Nick decided to wait for her response before he would vocalize any suggestions.
Finally, glancing up from her lap, Carrie noticed Nick’s eyes staring at her intently. “Nick, I--,” sighing and lifting her hands from her lap, Carrie brushed her bangs from her eyes. “I don’t know, Nick.” Seeing that he was about to make his opinions known, Carrie hurriedly added, “Let me explain. I don’t know if my parents will be okay with me seeing you guys again and to be honest, I don’t know if I’m ready.”
“Didn’t I already tell you, I’ve got your back?” Nick questioned amusedly. “And if your worried about your parents, don’t. Kevin has a knack at convincing parents. I know I wouldn’t have been able to go to certain places when I was younger if I didn’t have him fielding my mom,” Nick chuckled.
“I dunno...” Carrie trailed.
“C’mon, Please?” Nick pleaded attempting to give her best puppy-dog look.
Smiling Carrie timidly asked, “You’ll be there to hold my hand if I get nervous, right?”
“We’ll be handcuffed by the wrists, I swear.” Nick solemnly replied.
“That was dirty.”
“Only if you want it to be,” Nick playfully flirted.
Rolling her eyes, Carrie continued, “And Kevin will deal with my parents?”
“He’s probably already on it, considering how anal he is.” Nick answered.
Knowing she might regret it later if she didn’t accept, Carrie hesitantly said, “Okay, I’ll come but only if my parents okay it as well.”
Squelching a possible girlish squeal, Nick clenched his fist in excitement and replied, “Awesome! You won’t regret it, I promise. Don’t worry about the plane tickets and hotel stuff. I got it covered. We’ll probably be leaving on the--”
“Whoa! Whoa! Plane tickets?”
“Oh, I didn’t mention that we’re all meeting up in Atlanta, Georgia?” Nick questioned, feigning innocence.
“No, Nickolas. You conveniently left out that vital piece of information,” Carrie replied sarcastically.
“Oops,” Nick shrugged, “Well, Brian doesn’t want to leave his family behind or bring them out to Chicago for that matter so Atlanta is the meeting place. But I guess you already agreed so you can’t back down now, right?”
“Whatever, Nick. You are such a manipulative butt-munch,” Carrie huffed.
“People have told me that my derrière is quite scrumptious.” Nick replied with a smirk.
“That’s disgusting. Sorry, to burst your bubble but I’m not a member of the Carter ghetto-booty fan club,” Carrie retorted.
“I’ve seen you eyeing my ass. Don’t deny it.”
“How could you see me eyeing your butt if your back is turned?” Carrie smirked at Nick’s dumbfounded expression. “Anyway, as much as this conversation is stimulating I want to get back to the topic at hand,” Carrie paused to emphasize her return to seriousness, “If, and this is a major if, you can convince my parents that I should go out of state to have a Backstreet reunion, then we’ll talk about plane tickets.”
“That’s all I’m saying,” Nick agreed.
“Okay, as long as we’re clear. Now, let’s just eat and get out of here,” Carrie concluded.
Digging into their chocolate chip pancakes, Carrie and Nick took their first few bites before conversing.
“So what’s next project-wise with you,” Carrie politely asked.
“Mmmh,” Nick answered while chewing, “um well, I’ve been thinking about getting my family together.”
“Really?” Carrie asked surprised, “You mean your mom and dad?”
“No! No, not that, not yet. I meant my brother and sisters. I’ve been hanging out with Aaron a lot lately and I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time to get everyone together.”
“Wow. That’s great, Nick! I know you’ve missed them,” Carrie said sincerely.
“Yeah, I just gotta convince them, you know,” Nick chuckled.
“Yeah,” Carrie scrunched up her nose, “How are you going to do that? Isn’t everyone spread out doing their own thing?”
“I’m working on that part. I’ve gotta couple of ideas but we’ll see,” Nick answered.
“Well, I’m sure it’ll work out. It’s a good intention and I’m sure they’ll see it your way,” Carrie said supportively.
“So do you have any major exams coming up?” Nick asked.
“One this Wednesday and a group presentation later this week but otherwise I’m good exam-wise,” Carrie said.
“That’s good,” Nick replied as the waitress brought them their check. Carrie immediately snatched the check knowing Nick’s gentleman-like nature. “Carrie,” Nick scolded, “What do you think your doing?”
“You’re my guest, Nickolas, so I’m paying,” Carrie grinned in triumph. Getting up from her seat, Carrie hurriedly went to the cashier and paid for their meal.
Quickly following Carrie, Nick stood next to her, “I’m so getting you back for this, Fairy,” Nick whispered, as the cashier took Carrie’s credit card.
“Whatever, Nick,” Carrie replied. After signing the receipt and taking her card, Carrie exited the building and headed toward the car walking side-by-side with Nick.
Halfway to the car, Carrie heard her name being called, “Carrie! Carrie! Hey, wait up!”
“What the hell?” Nick questioned turning around.
Carrie whipped her head around to see a tall, dark-haired man jogging toward them. “Oh, this cannot be good,” Carrie thought to herself. “Hey, Nick do you think you could warm up the car while I talk to Scott.”
Glancing over at Carrie, Nick raised his eyebrows, in an effort to say, ‘I don’t think so.’
“Don’t worry, this baby has an automatic start engine,” Nick stated, with a press on the button. As the car ten feet away charged with life, the man in front of them halted in front of Carrie with a broad grin.
“Scott! Hey, how're you doing?” Carrie politely asked with a smile pasted on her face as Nick sized up the man in front of them.
“He’s built but I’ve got a good 20 pounds on this sucker,” Nick happily concluded.
“Carrie, Carrie, Carrie. I’ve been good, but I would be better if you had been returning my calls and emails,” Scott answered with a smirk.
Nick’s eyes narrowed, immediately feeling the strong need to wipe the smirk off of Scott’s face. “What the hell? Calls? Emails?”
“Yeah, about that…” Carrie trailed, “I’ve been busy with classes and exams lately so I haven’t gotten around to returning any of your calls or emails. Sorry about that.”
“Nah, that’s alright. Maybe we can get some coffee this Friday. You can’t study on a Fri—,”
Knowing where this was headed, Nick cleared his throat rather loudly.
“Oh! Where are my manners! I’m so sorry! Nick, this is Scott. Scott, this is my friend, Nick,” Carrie introduced.
“Yeah, a good friend,” Nick emphasized as he firmly shook Scott’s weak hands and glared into his eyes.
“Oh. So you’re Nick, Nick Carter. From the Backstreet Guys, right”
“Backstreet Boys,” Nick hissed.
“My bad. I forgot you were just boys,” Scott grinned innocently.
Attempting to relieve the tension, Carrie tried to make their escape, “Wow, it’s getting real cold. Um, maybe we should--,”
“Oh yeah! Your hands always did get cold whenever I walked you to class,” Scott said as he grabbed Carrie’s hands in an attempt to warm them.
If Nick’s eyes had been shooting daggers before, they were surely emitting fire now as he glared at Scott’s hands enveloping Carrie’s. “Motherfucker. Walking her to class?”
With a fake chuckle, Carrie replied, “Yeah,” all the while attempting to gently pull her hands away.
Not being able to restrain himself any longer, Nick swiftly pulled Carrie’s hands from Scott’s grasp and stated, “Don’t worry, Scott. I’ve always kept Carrie nice and warm. Anyway, we should be going but it was a pleasure meeting you.”
“Likewise,” Scott muttered with malice.
Flabbergasted, Carrie could only glance at Scott as Nick swept her away to the car never letting go of her hand. Opening the passenger-side door, Nick ungracefully dropped Carrie into her seat and slammed the door making sure all necessary limbs were inside. Making his way around the hood of the car, all Nick saw was red as he remembered the way Scott was eyeing Carrie. Getting into the car and slamming the door, Nick was too focused on his task of driving off with screeching tires to notice Carrie fuming beside him.
“Where the hell do you get off grabbing me like that?” Carrie asked through a haze of anger.
“What do you mean me grabbing? Did you see the way that prick grabbed your hands and wouldn’t let go?” Nick fiercely returned all the while speeding out of the IHOP’s parking lot.
“Even if he was holding my hands, I don’t see how it is any of your business. Who I see in my free time does not concern you.”
“Like hell it doesn’t. I’m—I’m your fucking friend and who you see is my concern,” Nick argued.
“It hasn’t been your concern for the last six months and it shouldn’t be now. If I didn’t know any better, I would say your jealous and I don’t really see why since we are nothing more than friends,” Carrie stated bitterly.
His heart clenching at her words, Nick scolded himself sullenly, “What did you think, Carter? That she was sitting around for six months by herself? Of course, she’s going out with guys. She’s beautiful, any guy can see that.”
Running his fingers through his hair, Nick sighed, attempting to explain himself without digging a deeper hole, “Look, after everything we’ve been through, I guess you can say I’m protective. I care about you and don’t want to see you get hurt, especially after everything.”
Knowing he wouldn’t be satisfied with a silent answer, Carrie verbally agreed, “Yeah,” knowing that both their hearts were saying something different.
The rest of the ride back to the dorm was in silence, neither not knowing what to say to each other without letting their hearts get in the way of reality. Nick would be leaving in the next few hours and the imminent goodbye hung in the air.
Upon reaching the dorm the silence ensued except for the occasional need based question and answer, while Nick gathered his possessions. Carrie’s stubborn rationale and Nick’s fear prevented them from verbalizing anything meaningful.
When the time came for Nick’s departure, both couldn’t look the other in the eye, fearing the look of need, as they stood by the car waiting for the other to say something.
Finally breaking the silence, Nick whispered, “Look, we’ve got to just sit down and talk about everything, okay? And I mean everything. I’ll send you all the plane ticket information in the next few days and I’ll see you again in a week, okay?”
Hearing his plead for truce, Carrie looked up at Nick and took a step forward, “Okay.”
“Good,” Nick stated, all the while grabbing Carrie in a fierce hug. Reluctantly, pulling apart, Nick found her eyes and whispered, “Bye, Fairy.”
Trying to keep her emotions at bay, Carrie whispered an equally hushed goodbye, “Bye, Nick.”
Knowing that nothing more could be said to conclude the weekend, Nick opened the car door, and closed it in his wake. Pulling out of the parking lot, Nick refused to glance in his rearview mirror, convincing himself that there was nothing that could be done in that moment and that he would do whatever it took to finally get into Carrie’s heart in the upcoming weeks.
Sorry about the delay! Here is the next chapter!
“Please buckle your seatbelts and prepare for landing.”
“Prepare. She’s definitely right on that one,” Carrie thought to herself as she fastened her seatbelt. A week had passed since Nick had found her and now Carrie was on her way to Atlanta. “I can’t believe Kevin was able to convince my parents,” Carrie thought to herself.
“Carrie, remember to take the bag from out of the overhead compartment,” Carrie’s dad reminded her.
“He was able to convince them but probably not quite the outcome Nick expected,” Carrie chuckled remembering their conversation from a few days ago.
“Okay, so I’ll email you the ticket and hotel information tonight,” Nick assured her over the phone.
“Hmmm. Is there anyway that you could send me the information by this afternoon?” Carrie questioned.
“Uh, I could try but I don’t know. I got a lot of errands to do before I talk to my travel agent. Do you need it right away, or something?” Nick asked.
“Um, yeah, I kinda do need it ASAP,” Carrie answered.
“Oh” Nick paused, “ I promise I won’t stick you in a crappy hotel and I did ask for first class,” Nick hesitantly added wondering why she would need to approve of his planning.
“No! No, it’s not that. Umm, I guess Kevin didn’t tell you,” Carrie sighed.
“What? What didn’t Kevin tell me?” Nick fearfully asked.
“Well, I’m kinda bringing someone,” Carrie winced.
Nick could swear he heard his heart dropping as he wondered how she could even think to bring Scott on the trip that he planned.
“Yeah, I’m sorry it’s not what you expected, but he insisted, you know? And I couldn’t say no,” Carrie tried to explain.
“What the hell? You couldn’t say no? It’s not like he owns you, Carrie,” Nick spitted into the phone, angrily.
Taken aback by the anger in his voice, Carrie was speechless as Nick continued, “I mean I’ve been planning this for a long time and I didn’t think you were that much of a bitch to actually suggest to bring a fucking guest.”
Completely astonished by his crudeness and insensitivity Carrie could only utter incredulously, “Nick! He’s my dad.”
Nick’s tirade halted as his jaw dropped. Attempting to say something that was meaningful Nick could only muster an incomprehensible squeak. The information finally processing, Nick rubbed his grimaced face as the guilt started to eat through his conscious.
“I mean what did you honestly think, Nick? That my parents would let me travel across the country, by myself, especially after what happened last year?” Carrie asked in disbelief.
“I—I’m so sorry, Fairy,” Nick finally whispered. “I honestly didn’t think—I thought you were talking about—I didn’t know you were bringing your dad,” Nick said meekly.
“Who did you think I was bringing?” Carrie angrily questioned.
“Uhh. Scott,” Nick whispered hanging his head in shame.
Carrie could only do one thing at a response that ludicrous, she laughed.
“I’m an idiot,” Nick admonished.
“Yeah, you’re my goofy idiot,” Carrie laughed.
Stepping off of the plane, Carrie wheeled her carry-on while her father followed closely behind. “I hate airports,” Carrie thought to herself as she followed the signs to the baggage claim. Being the first ones off the Atlanta bound plane, Carrie easily grabbed her suitcase without having to push through the crowd at the baggage claim. Scanning the crowd in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Carrie tried to find the sign with her name. None of the guys wanted to draw any more attention to Carrie so Nick told her he would send a limo in his stead. Spotting the placard with her name, Carrie maneuvered herself to the limo driver as her father kept up trying to avoid the growing crowd.
“Hi, I’m Carrie,” Carrie introduced herself to the chauffeur.
“Very good, ma’am. Just follow me,” the driver replied.
The driver led them to the black limo where he stored their baggage and shut the door after seating them in the back.
“So where are we meeting them?” Carrie’s dad asked her.
“Well, I don’t know exactly. I told Nick I would give him a call once we get in and he would let me know of the plans,” Carrie answered while taking in the Atlantic scenery.
“Ahh yes of course. Nick,” Carrie’s father said dryly, “you two have been talking a lot lately, haven’t you?”
“Umm, I wouldn’t say that, dad. He was just doing some of the planning as well as paying for the tickets so he had to keep me informed,” Carrie quickly explained.
The rest of the ride to the hotel was in silence because Carrie knew that whatever she could say in defense of Nick would be in vain and whatever her father would say in offense to him would be an argument. Her parents both adamantly believed that Nick Carter and the Backstreet Boys were the sole source to blame of the kidnapping and nothing she said or did could change that.
Sighing to herself, Carrie was glad to see the Hilton hotel come into view of the dusk backdrop, ending the tension-filled silence.
Taking the baggage from the limo driver, both Carrie and her dad proceeded to the main desk set in the opulent lobby of the hotel.
“Good evening, ma’am. How may I help you?” The young, well-dressed desk clerk asked Carrie.
“Hi, um I have reservations made by Nick Carter.”
“Very good, ma’am. What are your names?”
After giving the woman their names, Carrie watched the desk clerk type away at her computer to find their room.
“Ahh yes. Here it is. Your room is 724, ma’am and sir yours is 228. If there is anything else that you may need to make your stay more luxurious please feel free to contact the front desk,” the clerk cheerfully explained.
“There must be a mistake,” Carrie’s dad immediately pointed out to the clerk, “Why were we given two separate rooms and on two different floors?”
“I’m sorry, sir but Mr. Carter booked room 724 a couple of weeks ago and tried to book another room on the same floor but nothing was available.”
“Is there any room available on the seventh floor now?”
The clerk clicked the keys to check, “Sorry sir, nothing is available.”
“How about on the second floor?” Carrie’s dad persisted.
“Yes, there is a room available on the second floor but there will be a cancellation fee for room 724 since it is one of our VIP rooms.”
“Dad, just forget it. It’s not worth it,” Carrie whispered to her dad.
“Alright. That’s fine,” Carrie’s dad swiftly stated to end the clerk’s search.
Gathering their baggage, Carrie and her father made their way to the elevators where they were lucky enough to catch an empty elevator.
Pressing their respective floors, Carrie waited for all hell to break loose.
“Well, that was pretty stupid of Nick,” her father spitted.
“Well, he is a popstar, dad. He has money to burn,” Carrie playfully injected, hoping to lighten the mood.
“That was pretty convenient for him to stick me on a different floor. What does he think he’s trying to pull?”
“Dad!” Carrie admonished, “He’s not trying to pull anything! You heard the concierge, there weren’t any rooms available.”
It seemed that the elevator had taken a lapse in time, as the never-ending silence expanded in the close vicinity. Finally, the elevator happily dinged open onto the second floor. Wanting to help her dad settle into his room, Carrie followed her father. After setting their bags down, Carrie sat down on the bed with the intention of merely catching her breath.
“You never even told us what happened during those three weeks.”
“What?” Carrie asked turning to face her father.
“You never even told us what happened. Your own family,” her father somberly stated.
“What did he do to you that was so terrible that you can’t even tell your own family about? Huh?” He asked setting himself beside Carrie on the bed, “I know they didn’t rape you, I spoke with the doctors but what did that man do? What did Nick do that makes him call you at least three times a week for six months? Did he to-touch you?” Carrie’s father tearfully stuttered.
“I—,” Carrie gasped tears brimming her eyes, seeing her father finally break down in front of her.
“Please. Tell me, Carrie. I know you’ve been hurting but just please tell me something,” he pleaded.
Wiping her tears, Carrie looked down at her hands and whispered, “No, Nick didn’t touch me. He saved me,” pausing to strengthen her voice, Carrie looked up to find her father’s eyes, “He saved me, Dad. I know I don’t talk about what happened but I will when I’m ready. It’s just you have to believe me when I tell you that Nick, Brian, and Kevin did everything to try and protect me.”
Grabbing her shoulders, Carrie’s dad pulled her into a fierce hug, “I believe you. I believe you,” he whispered repeatedly. Pulling away, he added, “Just remember that when you’re ready don’t leave your family in the dark, okay?”
“Okay, hopefully, this trip will make things easier,” Carrie replied, wiping away at her tears.
“Good, now what time is dinner, I’m starving,” Carrie’s dad chuckled getting up from the bed.
Smiling, Carrie answered, “I don’t know, but I’ll give Nick a call when I drop my bags in my room, okay?”
“Alright. Just call me with the plans. I’m gonna take a shower.”
“Okay. I’ll see you in a few, dad,” Carrie said while closing the door behind her.
Taking the elevator to the seventh floor, Carrie rolled her bag into the lavish room all the while thinking, “Three times a week for six months?” But it was the beautiful suite that stopped her train of thought. An incredible view, top of the line linens, a large bathtub; the suite was made for a celebrity. Taking it all in, Carrie was staggered at Nick’s generosity. “He really went all out!”
Her fascination over the view was interrupted by a loud knock on the door followed by a familiar resonating voice, “Room service!”
“Dork,” Carrie smiled to herself, hurriedly going towards the door. Opening the door, Carrie smirked, “There must be a mistake. I didn’t order a Nick Carter.”
“I believe you did, ma’am,” Nick played along.
“Hmm,” Carrie pretended to ponder, “No. Nope. I remember specifically asking for a Justin Timberlake.”
“I’m sorry we don’t sell fluff around here. We only give out the good stuff,” Nick replied with a roll of his eyes.
“Well, I don’t want a Backstreet Boy. Just give him to the guy next door. I just hope he has earplugs,” Carrie laughed.
“Fine. I guess we’ll ask your neighbor then,” Nick hotly replied stepping over the threshold. He strode over to the adjacent wall where he opened the door that led into the suite next door.
“Nick! What are you doing?! That’s not our room!” Carrie whispered frantically.
“Well, you said you didn’t want a Backstreet Boy. I’m gonna see if your neighbor has better taste,” Nick easily replied.
Carrie quickly followed Nick with the intention of pulling him out of the room before they were caught trespassing but could only stand back and watch Nick rummage through the room.
“Hmmm. Looks like your neighbor is not here. Let’s see what kind of person he is,” Nick whispered conspiringly.
“Nick! Are you crazy? You’re gonna get us in trouble!” Carrie fearfully whispered.
“Pshhha. No worries, babe. C’mon you have to be a little curious. Go check out his bags while I go through the drawers,” Nick answered.
Seeing that it was helpless to pull Nick out of his investigation, Carrie curiously wandered over to the bags. Seeing a “Goonies” shirt and a pair of camo pants, Carrie turned around and smacked Nick upside the head. “Idiot, you freaked me out! Loser! I can’t believe you!”
Snickering, Nick dodged her, trying to escape her wrath, “What??” I didn’t do anything!”
“It’s your room!” Carrie exclaimed while shoving Nick. Nick lost his balance and grabbed Carrie’s hands at the last second. His knees caught the edge of the bed while Carrie’s legs tangled up in Nick’s legs. Roughly landing on Nick’s chest, Carrie let out a loud, “Oomph.” Nick tightened his arms around Carrie as they both tried to regain their breath from being knocked out.
Glancing up into to Nick’s blue eyes, Carrie asked concernedly, “Are you okay?”
“Perfectly fine,” Nick replied earnestly looking down at her.
“Good. I—I just wanted to make sure I didn’t crush those golden lungs,” Carrie rambled as her heart fluttered.
“No, you didn’t.”
“Oh, okay. Good,” Carrie hushed.
Raising his hand up to brush aside a stray hair from Carrie’s face Nick tried bending his head closer to Carrie’s lips, only to be interrupted by Carrie’s voice and push of hands, “So, my dad settled into his room.”
Dropping his head back to the bed, Nick sighed and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “That’s great,” Nick muttered.
“Yeah,” Carrie replied, while extracting herself from Nick’s arms and the comfortable bed, “He was wondering what time we’re all meeting up for dinner tonight.”
“Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Dinner is at Brian’s around six. Kevin and Kristin are staying at his house and I think Howie and AJ might stop by for a day or two later on in the week,” Nick excitedly answered.
“Wow, I didn’t realize that I would be meeting the entire band,” Carrie said with a sudden bout of nervousness.
“I thought I mentioned it before. They really want to meet you,” Nick grinned mischievously, while lifting himself from the bed.
“Nick, your just full of surprises, aren’t you?”
“Yup,” Nick stated cockily. Clearing his throat and gathering some clothes that had magically seeped onto the carpet, Nick asked, “So when is your dad’s flight back home, tomorrow?”
“He’s leaving around ten in the morning. He figured that would give me enough time to get adjusted and what not. Plus, he has to work at eight the day after.”
“That sucks,” Nick sympathized.
“Yeah, anyway, I should go and get ready before we see Brian and his family. You know I’ve never met Baylee and I only briefly met Leighanne and Kristin at the hospital.”
“Oh yeah. Don’t be nervous about it. Kristin is cool and Leighanne can be a sweetheart,” Nick comforted, while gathering up the rest of his clothes.
Carrie chuckled, “Can be? I probably shouldn’t read too much into that sentence.”
Nick shrugged, knowing that he shouldn’t let his past personal beef with Leighanne mar Carrie’s perception of her. “Don’t worry. You’ll be fine tonight. You’re gonna be with friends and that’s all.”
“Yeah, you’re right but I suppose I’ll just get over these butterflies after the initial meeting,” Carrie agreed while heading toward the connecting door.
“Alright, I’m gonna get ready!” Carrie yelled from the adjoining suite.
“I’m gonna drive us down to Brian’s in an hour, so be ready!” Nick yelled, hoping Carrie wasn’t the type to take hours to get ready. “Well, this will certainly be an interesting dinner. I just hope Carrie’s dad won’t kill me by the end of the night,” Nick silently prayed.
Sorry it's been so long but summer vacay has taken a toll in my writing groove.
Thank you for everyone who has reviewed! Please, keep them coming!
“Remember just breathe. Just breathe.”
“Are you breathing?” Nick asked from behind.
“I’m trying to,” Carrie whispered in return.
“I’m right here, Fairy,” Nick reassured, reaching for her hand.
The sound of Carrie’s dad’s footsteps up the walkway interrupted their intimate conversation, causing Nick to pull his warm hand out of Carrie’s.
“This is a well kept property,” Carrie’s dad pointed out as he walked up to the door where Nick and Carrie waited.
“Yeah, Brian is pretty big on privacy and Leighanne has the eye for that kind of stuff,” Nick cheerfully answered to get on Carrie’s father’s good side.
“What do you think is the acreage for this type of lot?” Carrie’s dad asked.
Nick eyes widened at the question and his lack of knowledge. “Shit. I don’t pay attention to this kind of stuff.”
“Dad, it’s probably a good three acres at the very least since it’s a corner lot,” Carrie knowledgeably replied, “and if you’re gonna ask about the market price on this type of house which seems around ten thousand square feet, I would estimate around six million depending on the property value here in Atlanta, which I’m guessing isn’t too high.”
Completely dumbfounded by Carrie’s knowledge on real estate, Nick could only face Carrie with his jaw dropped.
“Yeah, that seems pretty accurate,” Carrie’s dad replied lifting his eyes to take in the house, completely oblivious to Nick’s reaction.
Smiling innocently at Nick, Carrie simply shrugged and proceeded to ring the doorbell. It only took a second before the large oak door was whipped open and Brian’s grin lit up the darkened porch.
“Hey, strangers!” Brian exclaimed, “Don’t stand in the cold all day! Come on in!”
“Whassup, bro?” Nick smiled, grabbing Brian into a one-handed hug and handshake. “Allow me to introduce my good friend, Carrie,” Nick playfully added.
“Very funny,” Carrie replied, rolling her eyes as Brian pulled her into a warm hug.
“It’s been too long,” Brian whispered in her ear, “How have you been, sweetie?”
“Good,” Carrie smiled automatically, slowly pulling away, “This is my dad Brian,” Carrie introduced, gesturing to her father.
“It’s good to meet you again, sir,” Brian smiled, shaking hands with Carrie’s father.
“You too,” Carrie’s father replied succinctly with a nod.
“Let me get your coats and you guys can go on in to the family room,” Brian cheerfully added taking their heavy coats.
Allowing Nick to lead the way, Carrie followed, convincing herself that if she met two Backstreet Boys, then one more and the rest of the family shouldn’t make a difference.
Leading them into the French colonial styled family room, Nick immediately grinned upon seeing Kevin and Kristin.
“Hey bro!” Nick yelled, the inner child in him revealing itself upon seeing his older brother.
“Nick!” Kevin warmly smiled grabbing the younger man in a brotherly hug.
Carrie couldn’t help but smile as she looked upon such a loving display.
“Hey, Carrie. It’s good to see you again,” Reluctantly pulling her eyes away from the two men, Carrie turned to see Kristin with a smile on her face.
“Don’t even think of calling me Mrs. Richardson! You’ll make me sound like an old fart!” Kristin exclaimed good-humoredly.
Chuckling nervously, Carrie corrected herself, “It’s good to see you again too, Kristin.”
Kristin pulled her into a hug and continued, “You look amazing. Still tiny as I remember you.”
“Too tiny. We gotta get some meat on you!” Kevin chuckled, while shaking hands with Carrie’s father.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure my cooking will get some meat on her!” Leighanne added from the archway of the family room.
After hugging Kristin and Leighanne, Kevin wasted no time to bend down and give Carrie a heartwarming hug, whispering, “We’ve missed you, kiddo.”
Pulling away from Kevin, Carrie simply nodded, holding back the tears that were threatening to come.
“Did I miss the reunion,” Brian asked with a laugh.
“Nope just in time, honey,” Leighanne smiled as Brian wrapped his arm around her waist.
“So, since it’s getting late, let’s get our grub on!” Brian grinned.
“What my husband is trying to say is ‘Supper is ready,’” Leighanne translated good-humoredly.
“Great, I’m starving!” Nick exclaimed.
“Of course you are,” Brian chuckled as he headed out of the room, “I’m gonna go get Baylee. He’s been waiting all day to meet Carrie.”
“And what about his Uncle Nicky?” Nick whined.
“I think he’s tired of hearing his Uncle Nicky whine all the time,” Kevin shot back with a laugh.
Everyone laughed at Nick’s expense, who just shook his head with a grin, as they headed to the dining table. The dining room was tastefully setup with the antique furniture and warm colored walls. Seven seats and one high chair were set with glassware and fine china.
“Wow, Leighanne you went all out,” Nick remarked.
“It looks beautiful, Leighanne,” Carrie smiled warmly at their host.
“Thank you, Carrie,” Leighanne replied showing everyone to their seats. It wasn’t long before Brian came walking in with Baylee in his arms.
“Nick!” Baylee exclaimed, jumping from Brian’s arms to run to Nick’s legs.
“Hey, little man!” Nick equally exclaimed, grabbing Baylee and throwing him up in the air. After blowing a raspberry on his cheek, Nick turned Baylee to Carrie and said, “Hey man, I want you to meet a good friend of mine. This is Carrie.”
“Hi Baylee,” Carrie cooed.
“Ca-wee? Are you Nick’s Fawee?” Baylee asked shyly.
Knowing that Carrie’s father was looking on at the interaction, Brian attempted to save the situation by quickly adding, “She’s our Fairy, Bay.”
Scrunching up his nose, Baylee asked curiously, “Why?”
Smiling at his adorable son, Brian took him out of Nick’s arms, placing him in his high-chair saying, “She’s our Fairy because she saved our lives and that’s what fairies do.”
Smiling graciously at Brian, Nick risked a quick glance at Carrie to see her softly smiling with tears grazing her eyes.
“Okay, so let’s get the grub going,” Brian chuckled.
So I haven't written in a long time and looking back at this chapter, it reads very corny. I don't know maybe it's just me. Let me know what you think!
Letting out a deep breath, Carrie allowed the cold Atlanta air blow her hair from her face from the balcony of the hotel. Shivering slightly at the chilly wind, Carrie smiled at how wonderful Atlanta winter weather was in comparison to the brutal Chicago winter and leaned further over the railing to see the traffic lights.
“Isn’t it kinda cold to be standing out here your PJs?” a familiar voice asked, interrupting the quiet hum of the city life below.
“You are such a wuss, Florida boy,” Carrie responded in amusement without turning around.
“It’s Mr. Tampa Man to you,” Nick chuckled as he walked over to stand next to Carrie. Leaning his forearms on the cold metal railing, Nick gazed down at the world beneath them. After a few seconds of prolonged silence where Nick breathed in the Atlanta air, Nick commented, “So, the dinner went well, don’t you think?”
Smiling slightly at the offhand comment, Carrie responded, “Yeah. Yeah, it did.”
“See, what did I tell you. You had nothing to worry about,” Nick grinned turning his head to face Carrie.
Trying to suppress a smile Carrie mumbled, “Yeah, you were right.”
“What was that? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you,” Nick pressed good-humoredly.
Not being able to withhold her smile any longer Carrie grinned and gently nudged Nick with her elbow, “Shut up.”
Another moment of silence passed as Carrie and Nick both gazed upon the Atlanta skyline. The silence was neither awkward nor uncomfortable by any means. It was familiar.
After gazing upon the world below them, Carrie raised her eyes to the sky to only be disappointed with the view above. Shivering at both the oncoming cold wind and the hidden stars, Carrie rubbed her bare arms to warm herself.
“You’re cold too,” Nick noticed, wrapping his arm around Carrie’s shoulder to bring her close to his body. “You never ever did tell me when you were cold.”
“But you always knew anyway,” Carrie whispered, her heart rate accelerating. In an instant the comfortable silence turned uncomfortable with their unmentionable intimacy and moments they shared in the past weighing their thoughts.
Sighing, Carrie pulled away from Nick and headed inside the luxurious room.
Shaking his head, Nick brushed his fingers through his hair and followed Carrie’s path to the room. Seeing Carrie sitting at the edge of the bed playing with her cell phone, Nick made his way over to her and kneeled in front of her. “We need to talk,” Nick stated with an air of resolution, resting his hands upon hers.
Looking up from the cell phone, Carrie’s eyes met Nick’s with apprehension. The glow of the cell phone in the darkness of the hotel room casted an eerie glow upon Nick’s sea-blue eyes bringing out the depth of his worry. “Maybe this isn’t the right time, Nick,” Carrie observed sadly.
Closing his eyes to hide the frustrations of the inopportune moments that arose whenever they attempted to progress their relationship, “You’re right. Your dad is leaving tomorrow morning and we need to get up early,” Nick rationalized. “But,” Nick paused, “tomorrow we gotta talk. You and me. You know, like we used to.”
Licking her lips, Carrie replied knowing that any sense of moving on could only occur through communication, “Okay.”
Seeing the confirmation in her eyes, Nick raised his face up to press his lips to her forehead, praying that all would bode well the following day. Removing his lips from her forehead, Nick looked into her eyes and confirmed, “Tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow,” Carrie whispered in reply.
Nodding his head with a slight smile Nick whispered, “Goodnight, my Fairy.”
Oooh an update! It's a short one...sorry! Keep the reviews coming please! Maybe it'll motivate me to write a ton.
“Yeah, four days,” Carrie confirmed.
“Make sure you have your plane tickets and check your flight information,” Her dad reminded.
“Of course dad,” Carrie laughed, “I think I’ll be able to handle it.”
“You’re still my kid, so I have a right to worry,” her dad playfully scolded.
“Yes, dad,” Carrie sighed with a smile.
Stepping into his open arms, Carrie heard him whisper, “Take care. I love you.”
“Love you too, dad,” Carrie replied pulling away.
Turning to Nick, Carrie’s father extended his hand in as a sign of both truce and trust, “Take care of my girl.”
“I will, sir,” Nick solemnly replied staring into the familiar brown eyes.
With a slight smile, Carrie’s father grabbed his bags and headed toward the security check where he promptly placed his bags and went through without any problems. With a final wave, Carrie’s father disappeared behind a corner, leaving Nick and Carrie alone.
“And then there was two,” Nick said with a smile playing on his lips. Carrie turned to Nick with a raised eyebrow, tilting her eyebrow,
“No, wild parties with the parents gone, mister.”
“Aww, dang it. Can’t fool you,” pretending to ponder, Nick tapped his lips, “Hmmm. How about some lunch?”
“That sounds like a safe idea,” Carrie agreed.
“There’s a great sushi place ten minutes from here if you’re up for it,” Nick suggested.
“Sure, but don’t you dare order me squid. Everything else is fine but squid…” Carrie shuddered.
“Such a wimp,” Nick snickered. Simultaneously, turning towards the exit, Nick reached out to grab Carrie’s swinging hand. Holding it firmly in his grasp, Nick watched Carrie’s reaction from the corner of his eye.
Swallowing the immediate urge to withdraw her hand, Carrie simply looked down at the pavement as they made their way to the car.
Nick smiled inwardly, thinking that they were finally making progress.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.