Let It Be Me by Mariah
Summary:

LIBM



After 2 years, Amelia thought she had everything set in her life. Then he came along and reminded her of the person she hid inside all her life.

Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: AJ, Brian, Howie, Nick, Other
Genres: Angst, Drama, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Sexual Content
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 9 Completed: No Word count: 50478 Read: 11323 Published: 01/30/14 Updated: 12/16/19
Story Notes:
Bringing the story back because I wanna finish it! Hope you like it! :)

-Audrey

1. Chapter 1 by Mariah

2. Chapter 2 by Mariah

3. Chapter 3 by Mariah

4. Chapter 4 by Mariah

5. Chapter 5 by Mariah

6. Chapter 6 by Mariah

7. Chapter 7 by Mariah

8. Chapter 8 by Mariah

9. Chapter 9 by Mariah

Chapter 1 by Mariah
Amelia held up two different colored earrings to her ears in the mirror and smirked, but not in the satisfied way she wanted. She stuck out her tongue and threw the trinkets back in the jewelry box. She had a feeling things were going to be this way. She told herself, in fact, she forced herself not to freak out. But why was she doing this? Wasn't it clear what's done is done? Its been 2 long years.

When she bumped into Leighanne at the Century City Plaza she didn't know what to think. Seeing Brian again was bound to happen. He lives here. Hell, come to think of it, most of the celebrity lexicon lives in Los Angeles. And the fact that Leighanne was so saccharine made things really uneasy. Amelia never thought of her as vile. Just, its nearly impossible to be jealous anymore. They were perfect for each other.

There's that word again. Jealousy. Oh boy. Amelia thought she was over this already. When did seeing red trump being happy for someone else? She let him go. Its what he wanted. He's happy. Its all that matters. Its all that should matter. She knew this. She just didn't assume it was going to be this challenging. Its a party. People go to parties all the time. This should be no different.

She jumped as Will wrapped his arms around her and pulled her so she was lying with him on the bed. He kissed her forehead and hugged her body against his.

"What time is this thing again?" He asked gently.

She sighed and laced her fingers with his burying her head in his chest. "I think like 9 tonight. Leighanne told me its mostly going to be family and close friends. I said I would go."

They sat up closer to where the front of the bed was. "Do you want to go? I mean I know you said you would but its cool if you'd just call her up."

She took a deep breath and thought about it for a second. This wasn't a mandatory thing. Did she have to show up? No. She didn't have to do anything she wasn't comfortable doing. Still, it wasn't up to her. She could do this.

"Nah, I think we should. It'd be fun. Plus, hey, free food. We know how you love anything free." She said, nuzzling her nose in the crook of his neck, smelling his after shave.

"Yeah, are you going to be ok?" He whispered near her ear, moving her dark brown hair from her face.

She nodded, feeling him smile. She turned and looked in his eyes, "Let's get out of here. We don't go out enough anyway. It could be a lot of fun."

He laughed, "But seriously, should I be worried? I mean, because, its you know, Bri-"

She broke him off with a light kiss, relaxing as she put her head on his chest. "Don't worry about that. Its over."

After a few seconds her breathing became even. He could sense she was relaxing.

"You're falling asleep on me?" He said in a playful manner.

She smiled and closed her eyes, shaking her head. She opened them up as she felt her sides being tickled.

"Alright, alright," She dragged herself from the bed, trying to get away from his hands, "You need to get ready too."

Will looked at her as if she just told a confusing joke. "What's wrong with what I have on?"

"Didn't you wear that to the audition today?"

"Yeah? I like it. Its decent. Its a guy thing. What, you don't like suede?"

"Sort of reminds me of a cowboy. All that's missing is the chaps and the Garth Brooks 10 gallon hat."

He pouted and scoffed as he went to the closet to find something else. Sometimes he didn't know what was going on between them. Lately she was criticizing him for the weirdest things. He shook it off mostly because its no big deal, but it nipped at him. Like a puppy gnawing on your fingers. He was going to let it go for now. But who was he to complain? This is what he liked about her. She's always been about being straight and good.

He fumbled with a few dress pants and just went with the cobalt colored ones he used for dressier auditions. They looked more like the same NYPD gear he wore on the show when he was shooting. Eh, they pass. He shrugged, slipping them on as he looped a belt through the top holes.

"Hey, don't take too long. Its kind of a drive." She shouted from the bedroom and clicked on the TV.

He craned his head to look in the room. "Where'd you say they're having it at?"

Amelia racked her brain taking a few seconds to remember. "Oh, for a sec I thought it was Atlanta. Its Santa Barbara I'm sure of it. I'll get the directions, wrote them down somewhere."

She went to look for the directions in the night stand. When she pulled them out, she checked them over. They were pretty clear, it's impossible for them to be lost. She put the piece of paper on the bed and walked back to the dresser mirror. The diamond studs she was wearing didn't look that bad. What was she stressing over? She's with an amazing guy who doesn't care about how she looks. She adores that about him. Even with his schedule and all the auditions he goes on, he comes back to her like it's the first day they met.

She reached on her neck to touch the necklace he gave her recently on her birthday. Silver snowflakes overlapping each other with her initials on the back; it was her favorite.

"Think we should take PCH or just stay on the 101 north? How far is it anyway?" Will's voice made her jump again.

She looked up and licked her lips. Maybe driving through the ocean would be best. She always felt a thousand times better about everything when she looked out to the coast. "PCH, it's kind of prettier actually. Duration should be a little over an hour. We could check out the views, maybe watch the sun set on the way. What do you think?"

He grabbed hold of her waist and pulled her close. He smelled her scent, closing his eyes, "Whatever you want. Are you sure you wanna do this? Remember what I said? I don't like to see you gloomy when you get there. You're terrible when you're in a bad mood."

She smirked, lightly bonking the back of his head, "I'm too obvious sometimes. I wear it on my sleeve I guess. No, I really think this'll be good. We could mingle, meet new people. Brian's got some connections I'm sure you'd be interested in."

He rolled his eyes and squeezed her waist, snaking his hand inside the back of her slacks. "Oh come on, I'm good in that department. When you first met me, I was struggling. I'm just riding this wave now. Thank god I still look young."

"Yes you do!" She pinched his backside, running her hands under his shirt up and down his back.

"I love you." He gave a soft kiss on the corner of her lips, making three slow kisses down her neck.

She purred as he whispered and kissed down her collarbone. This was getting heavy pretty fast. She laughed as he began tickling her. Its sad Will Estes knew all her spots and he wasn't shy on showing he does. She needed to pull him off before it got any further.

"We need to get going Billie. Ha, OK, jeez, calm down horsy. Keep it in the cage."

He looked up and pouted. It was all it took for her to blush and relent. "For now."

He grinned and kissed her forehead, "I can't help it. You drive me nuts. All of you. How did I get this lucky?"

"God finally felt sorry for both of us. Now get ready." She said, pushing him away.

He laughed, kissing her cheek as he stood away from her, modeling what he had on, "So, what do you think? Is it me?"

She giggled, took a step back reviewing his ensemble in her best serious expression, "I'd fuck you."

"You already do." He said, giving her a hard but mock stare.

"Well then if we never met, I'd seriously come up to you and say, stick it in! Better?"

"Wow, that's exactly what I thought you'd say. What are the odds?" He said fixing his collar up.

She finished for him and looked in his eyes, "Ready to do this?"

"Smoozing is what I do best. It's all method, baby."

"You forget, it's not acting if I can see it."

He lifted an eyebrow, "Who said anything about acting? I'm a natural charmer thank you."

She gave him a long passionate kiss and pulled away touching her forehead to his, "That's why I fell for you."


The drive to the Littrells was shorter than Amelia expected. During the ride a lot of past memories kept coming up. She couldn't ignore them. She had to push them away as she stepped out of the car. She was here, things weren't going to be weird. Will came incase that happens. Maybe she was thinking he could be a safety net just on the off chance things would get tense.

No doubt about it there will be friction. She knew it. She just had to put her best fake smile on and be happy for them. That's right. They are lucky, as was she.

She looked at the house for a second. It reminded her of images she'd seen in movies of families arriving, greeting each other with warm genuine arms stretched out. A stone and brick layer covered the exterior. It looked like a huge log cabin mansion. Almost resembled a picture out of some Christmas card illustration. The perfect house. It made her feel at ease. She watched as an elderly couple came up the stairs. He held her hand so sweetly. She smiled. Guess love knows no age. It's pretty universal.

She felt her hand grasped and turned to find Will with a lopsided grin on his face. "I know it's nice to look at and all but the free stuff is inside."

"I have a really good feeling about this." She meant that, something about this felt right.

Will put his arm around his girlfriend and they walked to the front door. The front door was suddenly flung open to reveal the most perfect little blond boy ever. He had grown the last time Amelia had seen him. A lot has changed in two years.

"Honey, what are you doing? I told you to keep the door closed sweetie pie, it's cold, oh-Hello-" It was Leighanne. She was perfectly dressed in a short long sleeve green V-neck with a matching skirt.

Amelia felt a little awkward and extended her hand, "Hello Leighanne. I'm sorry if we came a little late. Thanks for inviting us."

Leighanne smiled warmly, "We're just getting started. Brian's parents haven't arrived yet. Come inside. Make yourself comfortable. I don't believe we're met?"

Will reached out his hand, "Will, nice to meet you. You have a beautiful home."

Leighanne pulled back her hand still smiling, "Thank you. Come on guys, we're going to have lots of fun things going on. Everybody's in the living room."

Will took Amelia's hand and they walked inside closer to where all the voices they heard were. It was quite a turn out. Thick Kentucky drawls were overlapping in conversations every which way. The foyer had been dressed in reds and greens along with banners spreading the holiday spirit. It was warming to be around, but Amelia suddenly felt out of place. Her hand was sweating and Will felt it. She slowly let her hand slip from his and excused herself to the restroom. Leighanne said to use the one upstairs near the master bedroom.

As she walked up the stairs she started to get an eerie feeling. Not this again!She climbed up the stairs the rest of the way to the main room of the house. She felt slightly weird being in the room he shared with her. She shook her head. She was going to be in and out. No dilly dallying. She didn't come here to fret over what was. It was time to move on. He made his choice. She made hers. She was happy. She was...

She crossed the room and came to a closed door. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a figure out on the balcony. She wasn't so sure about this. She flinched as he took his hat, messing up his matted hair letting out a deep breath.

In and out, she kept telling herself. She knocked on the door and that was when she saw him. He'd changed a little in the last couple years. A few things haven't. She could still make out the powerful bright blueness in his eyes. But now they held a somber expression. Still, he was the same. Still amazingly beautiful and gentle. That's the best way to describe Brian every time she thought of him. Some things are just hard to erase. She didn't know what to do. This was something she couldn't escape. Making the best of it was what needed to happen.

Amelia smiled and waved to him, staying put. "How are you?"

"Is that you?" Brian came closer, squinting to get a better look.

She forced a smile but it came out a little pensive. Being around him was going to be a little strange.

"I-I, yes." She stammered, regrouping herself.

His face was unreadable. It was safe to conclude he didn't know she was coming. He wasn't sure what he was going to do or how he was going react if he saw her again. He was certain Leighanne had something to do with this.

A slow smile came to his face as he looked her over as if reading a novel. She was just like he remembered her. But one thing he couldn't ignore; she was looking anywhere but him. It was making him uncomfortable. He understood. Things weren't going to get weird. Would they?

When he found his voice he got her attention finally, "H-how are you?"

"Good, I'm great. Life is good." She was surprised at how quickly she answered.

"Life is…" he trailed off.

She looked at him strongly, leaning on his answer. She hadn't known this side of him. It was scaring her a little. She took a small step back, very subtle, not soundlessly, but small so he wouldn't notice her trepidation.

"...you changed your hair?" He reached out and felt her slightly shorter straight caramel streaked locks at the ends.

She would fight through this. She would. "Yeah I uh, cut it a few months ago. You look good."

"So do you. It's good to see you Mia." He whispered, although he hadn't meant for it to come out that way.

She realized she forgot to breathe and took a sharp breath. "Why aren't you downstairs?"

He laughed inwardly biting his lip as he looked outside. "Just needed to prepare I guess."

"Brian?"

When she got silence she continued, "Are you alright?"

"I should go downstairs. Excuse me." He said flatly and walked out of the room.

She frowned and went inside the bathroom. She closed the door, sitting on the edge of the tub and closed her eyes. She leaned her head back and rolled her neck hearing the small cracks as she started to relax. That had to be one of the tensest moments of her life. She could feel his breathing and his heart start to beat like it was going to scream. She made a mistake approaching him. She should have just not done anything. She understood this would be weird but didn't know the extent.

She wouldn't cry. She has a great life. Brian isn't part of it. He just isn't. She was so spaced out she forgot she was leaning so far into the tub and caught herself. She let out a breath and pulled herself up so she sat straighter.

"Ugh, no point. Stop letting this fuck with your mind. Its probably nothing, just leave it alone." She rambled and went over to the sink.

She checked out her eyes. Thank god the mascara was waterproof. She splashed a little cool water under her eyes erasing the tear streaks.

She heard a knock and jumped, "Who is it?"

"Oh, wow, didn't know anyone was there. How much longer are you gonna be?" A booming female voice asked.

She looked at the door and rolled her eyes. "Hold on, I'll be out in a sec."

She opened the door and came face to face with the most over-processed face she'd seen. In fact, the whole appearance was trying too hard. She didn't look like she was family. More like the tramps she saw walking along the pier in Santa Monica.

"All yours." Amelia said, pushing a smile and scooted as far away from her as she could.

She practically coughed her way out of the bathroom from getting a strong whiff of that disgusting perfume she wore. It reminded her of the make-up department at the malls.

Last thing she wanted to do was butt heads with some skank over something as silly as bogarting a bathroom. Amelia wondered around the house for a bit, hugging her shoulders from the slight draft that was starting to build.

She passed the corner and turned down the hall to see various photos of childhood and family snapshots. Mostly of Brian and his brother, a bunch of other pictures of the Backstreet Boys too, the early years. There was a platinum plaque from their first album hanging in the center of the room leading to what looked like a recording studio. Amelia heard what she thought were guitar riffs followed by a pause, then she'd heard that melody again. It was so beautiful. The instrumental alone sounded like a lullaby. Just needed lyrics.

The door wasn't shut all the way. The crack of the door barely showed anything. Did she want to know? She felt like she was intruding. She thought against it and turned on her heel as the floor creaked.

"Shit!" She swore.

"Brian, is that you? Lauren? Hold up, I'm coming, just gotta finish this thing." A gruff voice answered.

"Babe, what are you doing? Everything OK?" Will's voice came out of nowhere.

She sighed and caught her breathing. She straightened herself walked to him, "Oh... Just got lost. What's going on?"

He pursed his lips in boredem bored. He was always obvious with that stuff. "I think they're having dinner now. Everybody's pretty much there. Brian's got a huge family."

"He does, yeah." She looked away glumly.

Will turned her face to his, cupping her cheek, "Are you OK? Seriously you know, you could say so."

"Let's just go downstairs. I don't wanna be rude." She said as they slowly sauntered down to the living room.

As soon as she stepped in the room she could feel Brian's eyes on her. When she looked at him he quickly averted his eyes and touched Leighanne's knee to distract himself. Inside, his stomach was burning.

Brian was highly uncomfortable about all this. He didn't know much about this guy Will, other than the actor thing. The way he was touching her shouldn't be making him flinch. Why should he care so much who she's with? They looked nearly perfect together. Like he and Leighanne. Too perfect. Seeing her again put him in knots all over again. He had no idea she was coming and it showed. She saw it, he knew it. Forgetting her wasn't in the cards. He thought of her constantly while they were touring. While he was on stage, he tried to hide his emotions but during the ballads he just let go; to the point of being in tears on his knees during "Show Me the Meaning..." Even Howie came up to him one day and asked him what was wrong. Kevin called him the next day after having heard what Howie told him. Brian didn't want to talk about it, instead saying its just the stress of the tour. He's not as young as he used to be and sleep was becoming non-existent. The guys didn't know about Amelia; and right so. They were only together for a month. Besides, everybody would have thought he was going through a crisis if he mentioned anything. So he turned his cheek and kept his mouth shut. Leighanne knew very little. It was the way it should be. She thought Brian and Mia were just friends and never suspected anything. Leighanne and Brian weren't together 2 years ago, it shouldn't matter. But somehow if Leighanne found out, hell, he didn't want to know the answer to that. She isn't going to.

Seeing her again almost did him in. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Will whispered something causing her to laugh. Brian's grip on Leighanne's knee tightened slightly. She looked back at him raising an eyebrow, asking him what was wrong, he smiled back and gave his best assuring nod.

Brian reconciled with Leighanne around the holidays. It was the perfect time; according to his parents, the guys thought so too. Everyone except Nick. He always suspected something weird was going on. Brian never acted so skittish even when he was tired. There were times on past tours where he was roaring drunk and acted out; but he was grateful it never out of control. Whenever Nick asked Brian to be straight with him, he would brush it off, using the same excuse, claiming it was just all the stress. He became even more suspicious when Brian would check his phone in private. Or what he thought was private. As if he was waiting for an important call. Brian would go out of his way to keep things from the group and when confronted from any of the guys, he'd act like nothing was going on.

Everyone turned around when Nick and Lauren trotted down the stairs arm in arm. Amelia looked anywhere but the couple. Something about that girl just irked her. Nothing about her seemed authentic. Sure she wasn't a beauty, least in her eyes. She had a peek of her outfit from the corner of her eye. She was wearing some sort of push-up black mini with a white faux fur juicy couture jacket that was about 3 sizes too tight; along with matching black clog stilettos that looked like she stole them off an exotic dancer.

Girls like that really bother her. At least Leighanne resembled a Disney princess. This one needed a lesson badly in etiquette.

Will whispered something in her ear. She only heard the last part. "Wonder how much her chest cost?"

Amelia pushed him a little giving him a look as she laughed.

It was wrong of her to laugh but she couldn't help it. This girl was so obvious it was like she was asking for it. Its also apparent the terms PDA is something she's familiar with. Guess its true what they say about Nick too. He really is attracted to trash. Amelia made a mental note to avoid him. A man's choice in girls shows his character. She can bet he was always like this.

She clutched the bear close to her chest as she sat outside the waiting room. A sour mood obvious on her face. Her mom was late again.

A boy sat next to her suddenly but she didn't look at him, "What's wrong?"

"My mommy's late. She's always late."

"Oh, my mom and dad are just outside. How long have you been waiting?"

She hugged her bear tighter, "My daddy dropped me off now. He said mommy's coming but she's not here."

"Don't worry, she'll be here. How old are you?"

"Four and a half. How old are you?"

"Me? I'm eight. This is only my second audition here. Your mom won't leave you here. Don't worry."

Her eyes filled with tears. She wanted to believe that so badly. She looked at him and noticed a Yankees cap covering his eyes.

"I just want her here. She never comes. I had to tell that lady inside the room last time to call my daddy and he was late too." She cried into her bear and hung her head low.

The boy began rubbing her back slowly whispering to her, "Don't cry, I hate seeing anyone cry, I'm sure she'll be here. If you want my mom will cheer you on. She does that a lot."

She looked at him and started laughing. She didn't know why but she did but out of nowhere she was laughing uncontrollably.

He looked at her at first, a little strangely but then joined in. After they calmed down he asked her about her bear.

"I've had her since I was born. Her name is Penny. My grandma gave her to me. She's my only friend." She said, handing him the bear to look at.

"I could be your friend." He said sweetly.

She looked at him with wide eyes. "Amelia, we're ready for you honey."

Amelia shook in place. She was suddenly brought back to the party. She looked around the room breathing rapidly. She looked over at Will who was talking with Jackie, Brian's mother about the pilot he was shooting. Brian was out of the room and left Leighanne who was having a deep conversation with Brian's dad. She didn't want to make a scene. She excused herself for the second time and went out to the backyard picking up her speed as she passed the patrons. Air. She needed air. She caught her breath, trying to calm her hands from shaking. She thought she was going to start seizuring. Her breathing hadn't slowed down.

"Amelia?" Oh no, at her most vulnerable, why now?

She turned around slowly, ready to face him, "Brian?"

"Are you alright?" He said softly, advancing closer.

Amelia didn't know what to think. She thought she was going crazy. Her mind was racing and her hands were sweaty. She ravenously wiped them on her skirt and frantically looked around. Was she losing it? The chilly air barely did much to kill the heat radiating off her body.

Brian ran up and grabbed her shoulders, "Amelia, look at me? What? What's going on? You're scaring me."

She shook her head, blinking several times as if she'd been possessed. "I don't know. Please let go."

He loosened his grip and trailed his hand down her arms near her elbow. She closed her eyes. Something she shouldn't have done.

"I saw something. I don't know what but I saw something." She whispered, hanging her head down.

He lifted her chin with his finger, "Saw what?"

She just looked at him blankly. She wasn't sure if she was scared or indifferent. She never felt a sensation like this before. What in the world did that flash mean? She'd never had a feeling this intense like this before. Her headache was building again. She roughly shook her head and turned her back to him. "I don't know. I think-god I don't know what all this means."

He took her hand nearly forcing her body to face him. "What's going on?"

She bit her lip, stuck in quick sand. How did she get here? Why in the world did she come here? Looking at Brian always made her weak. She couldn't stand it anymore. The touching, the stares, the jealousy. She never stopped loving this man. His blue eyes seared into her petrified hazel ones. The way he was looking at her, she just wanted to surrender. She didn't want to stop. She couldn't shake that image from her memory. Did it really happen? His face. What did it look like? His voice. That little boy. Where did he come from?

"Hey! What's going on here? Get your hands off my girlfriend." Will's crowding voice boomed loud enough for both of them to separate.

Amelia couldn't look at Brian so she glanced at Will, an unreadable expression on her face. "Will, I'm sorry."

She ran to him but he just would not tear his eyes from Brian. She turned his face to meet her eyes. "Will stop. We weren't doing anything."

His face softened somewhat, but he wasn't done. "I know you weren't. Not sure about him. Let's go inside OK?"

She nodded slowly, took his hand, "Don't worry about me, OK? Brian didn't do anything wrong."

He said nothing for a few seconds. She sighed loudly, it wasn't any use. Will was the jealous type. One of his more annoying traits. Sometimes she wondered if he really trusted her. She didn't want to be around him like this. She can't even get away for 5 seconds without him crowding her. Amelia's the type that when she is ready, she'll talk. Will didn't see eye to eye with her sometimes and almost forced her to reveal her secrets. They weren't perfect, but who is? Leighanne and Brian. Even their names sounded like they belong together.

"Maybe you're right. Look, I'm sorry. When I saw his hands on you I snapped. Wasn't the way to handle it. I'm really sorry." He cupped her cheeks gently.

She pulled him into the kitchen, giving him a soft look before pressing her lips over his. "Let's just forget it. I don't wanna be all hung up on drama. We came here to have fun, didn't we?"

"That we did. Come to think of it, I was having a great lengthy conversation with Brian's mother. She told me Leighanne's an actress too. Isn't that cool? She stopped doing films because of her son. I really don't wanna hate Brian. But when he was touching you, god, I can't help myself. I love you so much. You're my life. Goes without saying you know?"

"We show each other enough. So, what'd you and Jackie talk about?" Mia asked, taking a swing of her light beer.

"Oh, told her about the Blue Bloods pilot. A bunch of other things. Left out the embarrassing auditions for that children's thing. She gave me some great advice on handling something fresh like that. Just because you know, she has a son trying new things. That lady knows her stuff."

"Yeah, she's a talker that's for sure. I once had a 2 hour debate with Harold, Brian's dad about how much the music industry's changed and its so difficult to get your foot in the door. Kinda know how that feels. I lost my chance a long time ago." She pressed her lips tightly together.

He hugged her and kissed the corner of her mouth, "You shouldn't say that. Its never too late to get you some gigs. I'm not Mark Walhberg but I can pull the right strings. Get you doing what you've always wanted."

"Don't worry about me. I could always try new things. Still have time." She shrugged. It was the best she could come up with.

He pulled her in for another kiss, this time, he lingered, taking his time. He completely forgot they were in public, well, in some married couples' kitchen. Amelia didn't. She wanted to pull away but the way he kissed her suddenly made her knees go weak. Eventually things broke apart. Not in that soft gentle way. At the sound of a distracting cough, the couple abruptly broke contact.

Amelia could only think of one person.

Chapter 2 by Mariah

Nick Carter? Who would have thought?

This surprised Amelia. She hadn't even known the guy since she came here and already he was being a dick. Maybe they were making out a tad too long in the kitchen, but did he really have to draw attention to it?

Will just laughed and dragged Amelia out of the kitchen, but not without her giving a stern look to the tall blond who fucked up her romantic moment. She had a feeling he was always this immature. Even with the overdone she-man he arrived with, he wouldn't know a relationship if it bit him in the ass. Men like him are chasers. It reminded her so much of how JC was. Addicting personalities that will never feel anything but lust. The fact that he couldn't see it with her and Will, proves her point. She can put money on him never doing a nice thing for someone else unless he got something out of it.

When they called her name, she was so nervous. Her mother hadn't come yet and her dad will probably be so late one of the casting agents will feel sorry and drive her back.

"Hey, wait a second. Here you go." The boy gave Amelia back her bear and smiled.

"Thanks."

"Hold on." He said before she could get up.

She held onto her bear so tightly she could feel her face pressing against the soft cotton of the fabric.

She watched him pull something out of his pocket shorts. It looked like some type little silver chain dolphin necklace.

"I carry this everywhere I go. When I first came here, it brought me luck. I want you to have it now. You need it." He held out the necklace to her.

She didn't really understand why he was doing this but she found herself taking the necklace, then looking at him. For the first time she saw his eyes. He looked just like the princes she saw in Disney movies. She looked back at the necklace, examining it.

"Thanks. I hope my mommy comes back. You're nicer than my daddy is." She gave a small smile, trying to keep her head up.

The boy laughed, throwing his head back, "Tell you what, if your mom doesn't come to pick you up then my mom can take you home. I know my mom would be so scared if she left me by myself somewhere. Anyway, good luck in there."

Amelia nodded quickly, holding Penny in her arms along with the necklace "the prince" had given her. For the first time in a long time she felt so happy.

"Baby? What's wrong?"

"Hmm?" She said, slightly spaced out.

She found herself in the living room with most of the eyes on her. It's like they were watching her. Why was she having another flash? She remembered she had the thing happen when her mother died. The day after her funeral she was having these strange flash backs of memories from happy times with her mother. That scared her because her mother didn't have many.

And now it was happening again. She couldn't see straight. Not again. Her body was starting to feel weightless. With all the eyes on her, it was just too much.

"Amelia, sweetheart, what's wrong?" Brian's mother stood up from the couch and went near her.

She barely felt Will's hand anymore. When Jackie came next to her she suddenly pulled out of his grasp. She had to fight through this. She remembered what those flashes did to her. It was emotionally draining. But what was this about? Did that really happen? She never remembered any of that happening and she could remember clear scenes from 3 years old. Why was she all of a sudden getting flashes from an audition? Who was that little boy?

Amelia smiled and held her hand, thanking her sweetly, "I think I just need to sit down for a minute."

"Sure honey, go ahead, would you like some tea?"

"No thank you. I think I'm just going to sit if that's ok." Jackie just nodded and went to the kitchen to get her some water.

She hugged her stomach, going to sit on the empty end of the couch. Just so happens to be next to Brian. Amelia tried to relax by taking slow, calming deep breaths. She looked up and saw Will's eyes on her. The look of concern he held was so painful; she had to look back down.

She felt Brian's knee leaning against hers. Not this, not now. It was his version of asking her what was wrong without her boyfriend staring daggers. She moved further away if possible and kept her head down. She couldn't look at anyone. Not with all this pressure. She knew they all wanted her to say something. She would probably sound like a bumbling idiot. That's the main problem with the Southern crowd: they always have to know your business. Everything was fair game.

Baylee with his bouncy curly blond hair came rushing into the room carrying a microphone. "Hey guys! When am I gonna sing?"

The enthusiasm of the little boy reverberated around the room and everyone forgot about the tenseness. Amelia did a silent thank you to the 8-year-old for taking the spotlight off of her just for that moment. It gave her a chance to relax and watch as Brian hooked up the microphone to the karaoke machine behind the flat screen. Baylee was so excited when the intro to ABC by The Jackson 5 cued up. That kid is all Brian. Seeing Baylee was almost like looking at his father, if you put Brian in a dryer. The kid had all the right moves and knew how to entertain an audience. Being around Brian had its advantages. She wondered sometimes what life would be like if she'd said something the night he left. Would it have been the right thing to do? She kicked herself every day for not saying anything. That one month drove her crazy. Maybe she was crazy to think it would last longer than a month. He had so much going on in his life, great career, amazing family and then there were his friends. What did he need her for anyway? Guess that explains why he let her go so easy. It shouldn't have hurt her so much, but it did. She really fell hard and that was where she messed up.

Sometimes it hard to be with someone else entirely when you have some unresolved past that you can't confront. Sometimes she wanted to. There were moments where she stared at the phone just waiting for the call. Just something to tell her that she wasn't alone. But who was she kidding? They weren't really friends. Its easy to come to the conclusion that maybe she fell for the guy she wanted to see. Maybe she didn't really know him. Nothing made her cry more than that night. He really was too good to be true and now he's back where he belongs. She was where she...belongs too.

Amelia's face slowly lit up as she watched the toddler prance around and dazzle the crowd in the living room unaware of Brian sneaking a peek from the corner of the room. He couldn't help but be turned on by her smile; considering he hadn't forgotten. The way she tucked her hair behind her ear so slowly to the point where he ached to have his hands do it for her. She bit her lip when she blushed. Looked down as she giggled. Threw her head back as she let out a loud laugh. What he would trade at that moment to be the guy in her life. Will, too bad he was a good guy. Honestly if she would have shown up with someone like Nick, always juggling and jumping from one relationship to another, he would have said something, eventually. He loves Nick dearly, but the guy still hasn't matured even with the current one he's got. Poor Nick. Nobody knows the real him and probably never well. Unless by some miracle a girl from his past arrives and knew him before all this fame. Brian met Leighanne in 1997, before they were even renowned in the US. That's what Nick needs. This new girl just isn't. He doesn't know what Nick sees in her.

Brian looked over at Amelia, thinking of a lot of things. The short strained time he never forgot. He almost forgot how innocent she was. Extremely sensitive, wears her heart on her sleeve. He could read her better than anyone. He had to look away because he felt her eyes turn his way. He placed his attention back on his son cutting up a rug in front of everyone. Seeing his son so passionate and determined reminded him a lot of himself as a child. He smiled to himself thinking of those times. Everything was so complacent then. Well, perfect in his version. Having a family was something he always wanted. Now that he has everything, there's always something he can't have. Why did she have to come back in his life? She didn't, was it an accident?

As Baylee finished the song and bowed, everybody stood up and applauded. He blew everyone a kiss and smiled real big.

Amelia went over to Baylee telling him what a great job he did.

"Oh I know. I learned it all from Dad. I've been doing it all my life you know?" He raised his voice with the last word.

Amelia looked behind him to see Brian with a content smile on his face. She smiled back and turned her attention back to his son.

"That's amazing. You were so fun to watch. What else can you do?"

Baylee's eyes lit up and grew wide, "Oh yeah! This!" He grabbed her hand and pulled her aside.

She watched as he twisted his elbow so it made a rotation showing how double-jointed he was. Amelia immediately laughed and clapped.

"Impressive. I've never seen anyone do that like that before. What a talented little guy you are." She moved some hair from his face so she can see his eyes.

Brian's curly hair. Brian's eyes. Brian's nose. Brian's smile. Brian's cuteness. Brian's sense of humor. Brian's natural ability to entertain. Brian's hands. She smiled through watery eyes. She couldn't let herself go now. It was too much. Way too intense for her to grasp. She hugged the little boy in front of her and buried her face in his shoulder. When she pulled away she gave him a strong kiss on his cheek.

"Ugh, you kiss me like my mommy does. Why do girls always kiss me?" He frowned.

She honked his nose, making a "beep" sound. "Because you're so cute people can't help it. Just like your dad."

"You like my dad? You know my mom and dad love each other? Do you like my dad too?" He asked innocently.

She smiled, looking down shyly. She knelt down to his level. "I think your dad is a wonderful man. He has a beautiful family. And I glad I came here."

He grinned Brian's smile and leaned his head back, "You're funny."

She giggled and pinched his cheek lightly, "Thank you sweetheart."

Amelia watched him run off and hug himself against Leighanne's leg. She shook her head, laughed softly and stood up. When she turned around, she bumped into Brian.

The way he was looking at her made feel a little weird. Had he heard what she said? How much did he hear?

"Standing there long?" She smirked slightly.

Brian blushed. She'd never seen him turn red to that extent. It was almost like he was the kid that got caught with hand in the cookie jar. "Thank you."

She nodded proudly, "You're welcome."

He tilted his head to the side, taking a hold of her hand. He knew it was a risk, but he had to touch her; in some way. He laced his fingers into hers and knew he was in trouble.

"Brian..." She whispered, trying to move from his grip.

He wouldn't let that happen. He held onto her tighter and pulled her around the corner and to the closet under the stairs. He was sure no one saw them. Thank god he was discreet and didn't rush, that would have been too obvious.

He closed the door so it was dark. This was what he wanted.

"Brian, please, turn on the light, I'm scared." Her small voice interrupted his thoughts of desire.

He was still holding her hand, looking for the light with his other hand. He fumbled around until he felt the space above his head. He reached up higher touching the ends of the beaded cord of the overhead light. When he tugged it down he realized his face so close to hers as he illuminated the closet. He took a deep breath and looked in her eyes. He saw more than he thought he would. He lifted his hand, touching her cheek with his knuckles. He missed the feeling of her skin. It was getting to be too much for him.

"I needed to do that." He wanted to say more, but left it at that.

"Brian, please." She struggled to say, backing as far away the room would let her.

Brian tried to snap out of the trance but he couldn't. He didn't want to anymore. He was controlling himself for too long. Doing the "right" things. Saying the "right" things. Keeping his mouth shut when it came to the mother of his child. His parents were so proud that he went back to his old life. Just giving in. Being the man that everybody wanted him to be. Thinking of everybody else's feelings before considering his own. Truly and completely forgetting Amelia. Nobody knew her. Nobody but him. She was his secret fantasy. Every time he was aroused he pictured her looking back at him.

He didn't ever think that he was going to find anybody in life that made him happy like Leighanne used to. Until that morning 2 years ago in April that he found her sitting alone at the cafe. He couldn't stop himself any longer. It was like a magnet. But he messed it up. He shut her out of his life. You could say he was afraid of what people thought. In a way, he still was or he wouldn't be in the closet looking deeply in her eyes; desiring her all over again. Falling for her was easy. He let what he was getting in the way. He can only hope she didn't hate him still.

She couldn't handle it. She can't be this close to him. Her heart was about to burst out of her chest. She knew she was in the danger zone when she looked back at him. The look in his eyes, telling her it was ok. She didn't want to find out. She just couldn't. Something was pulling her back. She couldn't do that to Will. He is a good man. Will was around when Brian left her. Will called her. Will made love to her every night. Will talked to her when she was having nightmares. Brian never did. He hurt her. That's all that matters. Not the look in his eyes. She told herself not to look.

"What are we going to do about this? I'm having a hard time holding myself back here." Both his hands caressed her face, his thumb brushing her chin.

She didn't want to hear anything else. The more he talked, touched her, the more she didn't care about Will, and that wasn't the answer here.

"You have to. I'm sorry; I need to get back to Will. He's looking for me I'm sure." She didn't move for 5 seconds, flailing around for the will to the leave.

"God, I don't know what I'm doing anymore. You're obviously happy with him. I'm making things worse am I?" His voice dripped with remorse.

She said nothing. "I should go. Please, don't make this hard Brian."

He searched her eyes. She was doing this for him. It was all for that guy. But doesn't she realize she doesn't have to do anything just because that's what people expect from her? That was his problem too. If it weren't for all those people out there, he would carry her upstairs and make love to her all night and forever.

"I'm not meaning to. Really, it's just-you're so... I want you so bad."

"Brian that was more than 2 years ago. I've moved on. Now please, let me go." She tried to move past him, her hand on the handle.

She paused for a second looking at her hand. Her head was starting to pound. The loud drumming increasing by the seconds. She could feel her eyelids getting heavy. Her entire body was shivering. Her hand on the handle shook violently. She didn't expect to feel so lightheaded. Why did he have to be so close? She kept picturing that boy. He was haunting her. If only she could remember what he looked like? His eyes, what color were they?

"Penny?" She whispered the last word as her body gave out.


Amelia came out of the audition room feeling proud. The necklace really brought out her confidence, she didn't care if her mother came or not. She knew calling her dad would make things worse so she grabbed her plastic Rainbow Bright bag back and went to the main lobby. Being in this place was scary. It was an empty waiting room with no signs of life. She was completely alone. She knew waiting here was better than wondering around the building.

"There you are! Mom, she's here." Amelia turned around to see the boy in the cap with a smile on his face coming toward her.

"Your mom not around huh?" He asked her sadly.

She shook her head and looked down. "No one is coming. I didn't want to call my daddy either. He doesn't care."

He took her hand in hand, "I care," he smiled warmly at her. "Come on, we'll take you back, are you close to Ruskin?"

"Yes. I live with my Auntie. She lives in a small house but it's pretty and by the water." Amelia replied softly.

He tugged on her hand, pulling her closer to the exit. "Mom's waiting outside. Come on!"

Amelia wiped her tears on Penny and joined him outside. It was like a fairytale and he was a prince.

He led her to a silver van parked near the side of the building. His mother poked her head out of the window.

"Let's go."

"Mom." He looked back at Amelia and laughed. "You get used to her after a while."

Amelia smiled a little which made him smile wider. She liked his smile a lot. A lot of people told her she has a pretty smile. This boy had a better one. It was just perfect. Its one of those smiles you'll never forget.

She climbed in the back and buckled her seat belt. She couldn't believe she was leaving. She knows she should be scared but oddly, not of this terrified her. It was his smile. Something about it made her trust him. The color of his eyes reminded her of her light blue dress she wore at her piano recital. He was so...

"Perfect, god, you're beautiful..." She whispered as her eyes were closed.

Brian, Leighanne and a few family members stood outside just staring at Amelia as she shifted in the guest bedroom. Brian tried hard to figure out what she was talking about. When she fainted in his arms, he didn't know what to think. He knew things were just weird between them but this just took things to a new level. One he couldn't quite wrap his mind around what was going on. Why was she moving around so much? She curled up, almost like a baby. A couch cushion clung to her arms as she periodically whispered the name Penny.

"Brian are you sure she isn't sick? Maybe we should be sure. We can call Dr. Roy. Maybe he would know what's going on." Leighanne suggested, sitting next to Brian, taking his hand, squeezing it gently.

Brian didn't want to involve any professionals and at the same time if it's an emergency it was the right thing to do. He was torn just looking at her. He knew he didn't want to move her; selfishly he didn't want to create a kerfuffle with this matter in case it was pressing. He didn't know what to think. Leighanne squeezed his shoulder waking him from the confusing daze he was under.

"I think it needs to be handled when she wakes up." Brian covered his face with his hands and rubbed his face.

Nick suddenly came near the room and poked his head inside wondering what all the commotion was. A few of Brian's family members were in the guest room as things were starting to dwindle downstairs. He noticed Brian sitting on the stool near the head of the bed. He had his face in his hands sighing loudly as if he was stressed out. What Nick wanted to know was who was behind all this? That was when he saw her.

"Nick, hi, I'm Amelia. You know that already." She giggled really high and smiled.

Everybody turned around and stared at Nick. Talk about the one time he didn't want the spotlight on him. Nick opened his mouth to say something, anything, but nothing came out. People all around were still gawking at him and he remained stoic. Nick looked at Brian who was supposed to be his friend and brother for some help, though he looked more like he wanted to take him outside. He didn't understand any of this. Suddenly this was his fault she said his name? He didn't even know this chick, never seen her before in his life.

He scoffed and waved all the eyes off him as if swatting a fly, "She says my name and it's my fault? This is fucking crazy."

Thank god Baylee wasn't in the room to hear Nick's foul mouth Brian thought. The last thing he needed was to have a talk with Baylee about certain words. Leave it to Nick to cause some more trouble. The nickname Kaos does him justice.

Amelia moaned, slowly moving her eye-lids up; a calm relaxed look on her face. She stretched out her arms above her head yawning softly.

She blinked several times until she noticed she wasn't alone. She shrunk her body, sitting up and gasped. "What's going on? Why's everyone staring at me?"

"Join the club." With that, Nick left the room to grab another beer. Drinking was how he handled pressure. He almost didn't care about his limit, but right now he just didn't give a shit.

Amelia sat up straighter, her back slightly rigid from the position she had been in. She didn't even know she had been sleeping. The last thing she remembered was..? The closet. Temptation. Brian's eyes, his lips. Giving in. But no, she didn't, did she? She couldn't remember. Everything was foggy. That flash really drained her extremely short term memory. She buried her hands in her face and said the only thing she could think of.

"I'm fine. Can everyone please go back to the party?" She looked up and caught Brian's eyes quickly.

Leighanne was the first one to react and stand up to lead everyone out of the room. As soon as Brian's parents had gone she came over to the bed smiling sympathetically.

"Do you need anything? Are you going to be ok?" Leighanne asked, trying to offer something.

Amelia shook her head, trying to rid herself of a headache that just wouldn't leave. She attempted to calm down her beating heart. She was sure they heard it too.

"I think I should be going home. I'm sorry for making a scene, to be honest I think I should just leave."

"You sure about that?" Brian inquired.

She had a feeling he would try to convince her to stay and she knew that wasn't the best idea. Being around him was adding to the craziness. If there was a way she could tell him what she saw. He wouldn't understand. Not even Will would. This was something she had to deal with alone.

"Yes, where's Will?" She asked sitting up swinging her legs around with her head down.

"Right here." She felt the bed shift and her hand being held.

After a few soft grunts she made herself stand up, holding onto Will. She looked in his eyes. This was where she belonged. She needed to go back. Hopefully those flashes won't come back anytime soon.

Amelia and Will went to get their coats and made small goodbyes to Brian's family. Amelia couldn't look at him. She insisted on making eye contact with Leighanne only and graciously thanked her for everything. They walked over to the car without looking back and Will went to the driver's seat.

As she settled in on the passenger side her head stopped hurting. He drove off and her mind started to clear. She could remember some things. In all honesty she wanted to forget them. Coming wasn't the brightest idea. She thought she could handle it. But really, she expected the stuff with Brian to be there. Those flashes were what puzzled her the most. She sighed looking out to the scenery around the Pacific Coast Highway. He was driving a little fast so it was hard to focus on anything. She felt she needed to relax. Just lie down and not do anything. Her eyes drifted off despite all the bright shore light beaming on the highway.


"Amelia? You alright?"

After a few seconds, Mia turned to Will, smiling gently. "Yeah, I think the headaches left so that's good."

Will turned off the radio and adjusted the heater. "I think you need to just take it easy. You looked a little out of it over there. I don't know what was going on. I really thought it was Brian."

Mia looked over at him, having her full attention, "What does that mean?"

He made the noise he makes when he's annoyed that bothered her, "Amelia, you guys have a history. I wasn't born yesterday."

She had had enough. It was almost like she had to defend herself to him every time Brian was mentioned. Why? She deserved to be treated better than that. How was anything going to last if there wasn't an understanding? She took her hair out of the clip and ran her fingers through the tangles.

"Sometimes I really feel like you don't trust me. What do I have to do to make you see that?" She sighed, frustrated at his arrogance.

"I don't know what was going on outside, I just know I didn't like what I saw. He had his hands on you. If I didn't come out in time, I thought he was going to do something. I can't help it. Its not you, trust me on that." Something about how he said that irked her. It didn't feel sincere, least for her.

"I don't wanna talk about it OK? I'm done trying to convince you of anything. Believe whatever the fuck you want." She said, frustrated with this whole thing.

She was ready to change out of her clothes and go to bed; hopefully in peace. The crazy dizziness she was feeling had finally surpassed so that's one less thing to worry about. She was not going to let him win this one. He was in the wrong.

"Fine. I'm not going to ask you about it." Will pulled into the driveway and shut off the engine abruptly.

Amelia pulled the lever of the door nearly yanking it off its hinges and slammed it shut without looking back. She didn't want to be angry. She doesn't get angry. Nobody hurts her. The last person to get away with that was JC. Thank god he was no longer in the picture. Maybe putting some distance between her and Will seemed like the right thing to do. She hated long drawn out fights because it reminded her of when she and her father would come to verbal blows. Will had never become that extreme and she wanted to keep it that way.

Hopefully he can put aside his jealously and be a man for once. She wanted to say that but she thought it would only make him more aggravated. When Will gets jealous, it's almost unbearable. One of his worst qualities; he knows it too. The best thing to do was to be as far away from it until it dies. Somehow, strangely, he was making it all her fault what happened in the backyard. If only he would have heard her out instead of jumping to conclusions like he tends to do, she wouldn't be fleeing out of the car at a rapid pace.

She turned the key in the door and jerked the handle. This was so stupid. She pushed the door open wide and snapped on the light that illuminated the living room. She was blinded by it for a minute. Her eyes got used to the dimness from the ride back. All she just wanted to do is run upstairs and go to bed. Sleep off the stress. That was until her eyes veered around. She noticed something and stomped across the room to correct it.

"Haven't I told him a million times to turn this thing off?" She shut off the TV, her last nerve nearly crumbling.

She heard the door close behind her but it didn't stop her from tidying up the room. He's known to do this. He can't stand it when she avoids him, it's worse than arguing to him. She didn't turn back. She wouldn't. Any sign of giving in would make her feel bad and none of this was her fault. Men and their stupid predatory ways. Both men in this sense. She blew a big chunk of hair out of her eyes and scooped up the nick knacks lying near the couch.

She was huffing and puffing until she finished. He didn't say anything when he put away his coat in the side closet. They rarely fought, that was true. Ever since Jennifer, he was turning into that guy again watching his girlfriend's every move. Jennifer was different. He fell in love with her at a weird time in his life. American Dreams was just starting to take off. His life wasn't as stagnant as he thought it would turn out. He had a lot going on 6 years ago. Then when Jen met Ross, it was like they never existed. He didn't think it was possible for a couple as crazy they were to just drift away. The words that scared him the most was falling out of love. Amelia didn't want to hear about his past so he never brought it up. This trust thing was eating at him and he really didn't know how to control himself. Being aggravated was not how he wanted to handle it.

Amelia was used to this behavior but it really wasn't her fault. He still has trust issues. Maybe being away from her was the best. He swung around to the bedroom, taking off his shoes and collapsed on the bed. He folded his hands and brought them behind his head. He hated this. He hated himself for being so suspicious. He stared at the ceiling with unabashed tension on his face. He couldn't relax. He sprung up from the bed when he heard a loud crash coming from the kitchen.

Something could be happening, he felt it. He didn't care about leaving her alone. Something could be really wrong.

He made his way out of the room and caught sight of the swinging door with no handle still moving. He charged forward pushing open the door.

"Ow! What the fuck?" Amelia doubled over in pain holding her face in her hands.

Chapter 3 by Mariah
Brian laid in bed looking at the crystal green clock. He couldn't fall asleep let alone close his eyes. His mind kept drifting off to what happened. He wasn't sure what the hell was going on. So she said Nick's name while dreaming? Couldn't it have been another Nick whom she used to know? He chose to believe it could be anybody else but his Nick. Something about how she said his name though was unsettling. She almost sounded like a child.

Brian felt Leighanne's body shift in bed, alerting him. Lately all Leighanne wanted to do was get closer. Problem. That would only work if he didn't push her away. It was a vicious cycle. He would feel bad and give in. This was before Amelia was invited to the party. He didn't feel close to Leighanne anymore. He tried. He tried so incredibly hard to push for the marriage to work. They never officially divorced for various reasons. For one, the fans liked and respected Leighanne. How bad would it look on his image if this had gone public? Then there was also Baylee. He couldn't do that to his blood. This was his family. As much as he'd like to pretend everything was normal and nice with Leighanne, he couldn't lie to himself. He didn't know how much longer he was going to keep these feelings in.

His phone made the low battery beep that shook his body off the bed. He normally forgets to plug his phone in and then hear it from people the next day. When he picked up the phone he noticed a missed call along with a new BBM. He unlocked the screen and checked out the message.

Brian, I'm sorry for doing this, but I need to talk. -Amelia

His heart stopped for a second as he looked behind before he texted back. He couldn't text how he really felt; he was just going to handle this the way she wanted.

Are you alright? Where should I meet you? -Brian

He sat on the couch looking for his shoes. He knew he saw them under the couch. When he spotted them around the coffee table he grabbed the keys off the night stand in the corner. He almost forgot he was wearing his flannel pajamas but it didn't faze him. It was proof. This means she needs him. He stared at his Blackberry for a few seconds. Then the mobile buzzed in a circle. He grabbed it while it was vibrating.

Santa Monica Pier, next to the sign. Be careful. -Amelia

He was nearly out the door when he received the message. When he got inside the car, he threw his head back, stared forward and answered back.

Don't worry, I'll be there. Be safe OK? Don't be in the dark. -Brian

He pulled out the driveway carefully. Baylee's a heavy sleeper and he just prayed Leighanne would be.


Amelia really didn't know what the hell she was doing contacting Brian. From the way she scared him at the party, she wasn't sure if he would answer her let alone agree to talk. She didn't seem to have another option. All she knew was that she didn't want to be around Will now. She took the bus because it was the only way to get out of there fast. Will would have gotten further pissed had he known she drove to talk to Brian. That's all she was going to do. She checked the clock on her phone and looked around. The night was growing chilly by the second. Santa Monica was scary this time a night. Homeless people at nearly every corner pushing grocery charts filled with dirt-covered rags and various food items they shoplifted from thrift stores. It wasn't looking good.

She started shivering and not from the cold. She looked at the time again and shifted on her weight. Now she was looking desperate. She tried to stop the tears that came flooding down her cheeks. No, she wasn't going to do this. She wiped her face while looking down at her hands. They were shaking uncontrollably. She tucked some hair behind her ear trying to suppress the shaking. Something was wrong. Something felt wrong. She looked up and a drop of cold dew landed in her eye. One after the other fell until it was a string of them. She had on a thick hoodie, it was all she could grab; but it could only do so much. She was stuck. Maybe Brian wasn't coming. Maybe something happened to him on the way here. Maybe Leighanne stopped him. She should have called someone at work. But who at this time would come out just to talk? Did she need more proof to her loneliness? If there was one thing she envied about Brian, it was his family. His friends. Least he had some things money can't buy. What did she have? Really, what did she have worth living for?

She stood underneath the shade of the bus stop huddling and shivering, now from the cold. It was safe to conclude her lips were turning blue and her hands were frozen. Before she sat down a car honked, nearing closer to where she stood. She looked over her shoulder squinting as she saw a black SUV pull up.

"Amelia!" Brian opened the door, ignoring the rain and ran to where she stood. "Are you OK?"

She couldn't respond. She pulled down her damp hood, still looking at Brian with no expression. To say she was shocked was putting it mildly.

"Come on. Let's get out of here." He grabbed her hand which she didn't protest and they ran toward the car without another word.

He led her to the front seat. As he was pulling her seatbelt over her shoulder she watched his eyes and noticed something. She stopped him suddenly, looking at him intently. She brought her freezing hand to caress his cheek and smashed her lips against his not caring about anything anymore. For the first time in a long time she felt so relaxed. So at home. The moment she dreamed of so many times only lasted a few seconds when he pulled away. He gave a tiny kiss to her forward and backed away slightly, regaining his senses.

"We need to get out of here." He repeated placidly, she agreed, sitting back and finished clamping her seat belt on.

He shut the door, still oblivious to the rain until he snapped back to reality as a bus honked for him to move. He gave a wave signaling his leave and ran to the driver's seat, shutting the door. After backing out and driving off, he tried to think of a place to go and talk. A public place where they could only talk. That's all he wanted to do. Just talk.

"L-lables is open. They never close." Amelia stammered, pointing to a small restaurant and cafe coming up to the corner on her side.

He drove into the parking lot without a word. When he pulled into a spot near the front, he killed the engine. He looked inside the restaurant and noticed it was almost empty. A good sign. A crowded place wasn't ideal. Brian buried his face on the steering wheel while his arms came over his head.

"I've been holding that in for 2 years." She cried into her hands, ashamed she admitted it.

Brian couldn't look at her, he was trying to be the rational one here but it wasn't easy being closed off around her. He wanted to do more than just kiss. Much more. But this wasn't about what he wanted. He had to be the sane one here. Thinking with your heart can get you hurt. He wasn't expecting her to react all over again. Making it so hard for him to resist her. And that's why he couldn't look at her.

"What's going on Mia?" He asked, taking a deep breath, still in the same position.

The rain hit the roof of the car like hard styrofoam. Amelia tried to calm her nerves and just talk to him normally. She was breathing so loud she thought she was going to dry heave. She closed her eyes than opened them slowly. She was really here. He actually came. She is sitting in his car. She is still in love with him. She was having strange flashes about a little boy named Nick. All it was just too confusing.

"I'm trying hard to figure that out myself. I can't believe you came here. What about Leighanne?"

Brian still had his head down on the cold wheel that was now starting to warm from his body heat. "She doesn't know."

Amelia shook her head, giving him a narrowing stare even if he can't see it. "I don't like this."

"Don't like what?" He asked bleakly.

"You came all this way and she doesn't have a clue where you are? Brian, I think you could have said something."

Brian lifted his head and opened his eyes, "What was I gonna say? You needed me, I had to be here. She knows you're my "close friend" apparently. Why is this so… I almost moved on when I left for the tour."

She put her hand up, halting his words, "I wasn't the one who said goodbye. We had to move on. You have your family. Looking back, maybe it worked out for the best."

Brian sucked in his lip, almost biting it, unable to contain his emotions. It was starting to become harder and harder to pull back and he couldn't take it. "Yeah, maybe you're right. You know, all that misery and all those lies I told the guys on the road about my performances were the best. You know what else was the best? Keeping you a secret. Yeah, making sure you never existed was so easy; I almost forgot how mad I was when I left. That's right. So easy. You know what else was the best? Checking my phone every few hours thinking that maybe it was all a silly dream and you'd come to your senses for once and just do what you want. That was the best, yeah. You know what else happened? I fucking missed you and I couldn't do a god damn thing about it."

Brian tried to keep the tears from spilling over but it was too late. He couldn't be the strong, solid man anymore. Now he was a weak man. A drained man with hardly any fight left. He could stay solid like he used to. He could pretend. But there was so much truth there. He reacted. He always reacted around her. Amelia always brought out the truth in him. Insecure, painful and weak.

Amelia brought her arms around his shaking body slowly, rubbing his back as she whispered calmly in his ear. "I know. God I know. I didn't know how bad it was. I thought you were happy without me in your life." She pulled away suddenly, wiping her own tears. "I saw pictures of you and Leighanne right around the time I met Will. He tried to get my mind off of you."

"What?" He asked weakly. He started to get goose bumps on his forearms.

She shifted and nodded, sloppily wiping her nose on her still damp jacket. "I tried to erase you, I really tried. I forced myself with Will. He tried really hard with me. I hated him in the beginning. I gave in because I made myself sick wishing and hoping that all this was a bad dream. That you didn't say there was a better guy for me. Two years was forever. All I wanted was you."

Brian kissed the spots under her eyes where the tears fell. "We need to get out of this car. Come on."

The rain somewhat slowed down to a drizzle. It was perfect timing. Brian and Amelia made their way out of the car, hand in hand. They went inside the diner and sat in the corner, away from the door to avoid the draft. A sturdy waitress who looked as if she'd been there far too long brought over menus. Amelia just ordered a tea, Brian a coffee. It was back to being awkward again. There was that silence she hated. While Brian brought both his hands on the table Amelia started playing with the napkin. His hand came on top of hers.

"Sorry." She looked down, ashamed.

Brian looked at her, really trying to decipher her body language. "What's going on? Just start from the beginning."

"If it were that easy…" She tried to reason.

"So try again. I'm here to listen."

Amelia looked around the diner, slightly distracted. It was one of those '50s throwback cafés that withstood a lot of depressing late nights from all kinds of lonely people. Amelia felt like she belonged here. At least she belonged somewhere. This is what she got for settling. Thinking about Will made her eyes water. She looked away, hoping he wouldn't see. Praying he wouldn't mention anything.

Their drinks came and Brian didn't flinch. He looked straight at her, waiting. He figured staring her down would eventually get her to start somewhere. He wanted to gain her trust and prove to her she wasn't alone. Get her to talk to him again.

"I think I forgot how to just talk to people. I got so used to routine, conversations became forgotten. I haven't had a chance to come to terms with a lot of things. Will doesn't know any of this. I don't even think he knows me sometimes. I don't even think I know me. But Will and I... we don't do this. I don't have any conversations that last beyond trivial stuff. I can't begin to understand how everybody else does it. I think I've come to a point where there's nothing to say anymore." She let out a small breath, fixing some honey inside her steaming tea.

He sipped the coffee, wincing from the taste of the bitterness. He added some cream and sugar, stirring the mixture together. He looked down at the cup then back up at her. He didn't think that was all she had to say. She covered her face with her hands. She rubbed her eyes gently, pulling her hair behind her ears. She sucked in her bottom lip, thinking for a moment. He still hadn't said anything. She didn't think he'd actually listen. Sometimes it became so hard to get Will to hear her out. They never had serious talks about anything before. Sometimes it didn't feel like they were together.

Brian noticed something out of place. She was wearing sunglasses, at night? He came around to her side and sat next to her. He didn't care if he was invading her privacy. He knew she wasn't going to come out and say what exactly happened, so he started with the beginning. Ease her into opening up. He took her hand, holding onto it like he missed it; he had.

"Amelia, why are you wearing those?" He asked gently.

"My eyes hurt. This light is too bright for me." She answered a little too quickly.

Brian looked around the place then back at her. He reached over to remove her glasses. He was surprised she didn't fight him as he slowly pulled them down. There was a light purple bruise under her lower eyelid. She closed her eyes. She couldn't face him as soon as he saw. She knew the rain must have smeared the cover up she used to blotch the mark. She heard him take a sharp intake of breath then let out the air he was holding as he tried to calmly figure out what was going on.

"How did that happen? The truth?" He whispered into her ear.

Two tears streamed down as she drew in a shaky breath. She opened her eyes, staring forward. "He didn't mean it. It was an accident."

"He did this to you?" Brian asked, his eyes growing wide, his fist starting to clench.

Amelia looked at him squarely in his eye. "It was an accident Brian. I got home, went to the kitchen; he was in the other room. I was making him a drink then when I went to give it to him, he opened the door and it just happened. He couldn't handle it, he left as soon as it happened."

" I'm sorry." He put his arms around her shoulders, pulling her to him.

She couldn't completely relax against his embrace. Something about all this bothered her. The fact that she contacted him at all was taking it too far. What about Leighanne? She couldn't shake what this would be doing to her. They were still married for Pete's sake. She slowly pulled out of his arms and sunk into herself. She was OK, why couldn't he see that? Her eye wasn't the big picture. That was the only thing she'd admit wasn't entirely his fault.

"I can't bring the last 2 years back. I want to but I just can't. Neither can you. Everything happens for a reason I suppose." He leaned back in the both, putting distance between them. "Do you just get tired of questioning everything?"

"I-"she cleared her throat, "I didn't know that was a bad thing."

His face twitched. She was misunderstanding what he meant. "No, like drop the paranoid bull shit. Don't you ever get tired of putting on an act?"

She nodded sharply, "All the time. I never knew anything else. Everything just gets harder."

He sighed. He looked at her profile through squinted eyes. "It wasn't hard with us. I never forgot how easy everything was."

She smirked, licking her lips, blushing. "It didn't feel like a challenge. You were upfront and honest." She looked down, gathering herself.

He slowly smiled, seeing her this way was bringing some of those thoughts back; those feelings. "I was crazy about you. Everybody thought I was stressed out. The tour was very stressful. Crazy, but I didn't expect you to follow me around on tour."

Amelia sighed, trying to relax. Looking around the diner she spied an older woman chatting with the head waitress. She looked at the woman and couldn't help but see herself in the role. She watched as the woman threw her head back, laughing. It was eerie how much it sounded like hers. The woman didn't look married. She looked like a regular. Someone who's been around the block and can tell you a million stories that you'd want to hear.

The waitress in the corner of the room kicked the jukebox and Boston's "More Than a Feeling" reverberated in the quiet diner. The whole diner changed suddenly. Amelia looked down, her mouth twitching in an almost smile. She looked at Brian from the corner of her eye and noticed a goofy grin plastered on his face. He looked like a 5-year-old with a mischievous expression. She had a feeling she knew what he was thinking.

"No." She said staunchly, though trying to suppress a laugh.

"No what?" He asked, innocently.

She looked at him directly, her eyes piercing. "I know exactly what you're thinking."

"Yeah right. I haven't done anything." He went back to his coffee, downing the last of it.

She pushed his body away only to have her fall on top of him. Her eyes were wide, pulse quickening. This was not good. Beyond not good.

She pulled her body off his as quickly as she fell and felt a head rush burning. She looked down and he was still on the floor. She wasn't going to give him time to react; the thoughts in her head punctured enough damage.

"You're not going to help me up?" He asked, easily sitting up on the ground.

"Don't make me regret this." She lent her hand in front of him.

She pulled him up with force as soon as his hand grasped hers. She didn't have time for games. She needed to get away from him before anything else happened. Being this close to him was just not good.

Brian threw some money down along with a tip as she stared on. She felt guilty she didn't bring any money. She always did feel a little weird when guys would pay. Going Dutch wasn't her thing but at the same time, it wasn't a date.

"Thank you." She whispered, sadness dripping from her voice.

"Come on, I guess I'll take you back." He fixed the jacket collar up and started to walk out.

As they were walking, she noticed something odd. Most definitely odd. When she glanced at her cell phone, she frowned slightly. No missed calls. She was just staring at the wallpaper picture of Will and her taken the Annual Actor's Junket last week. She snapped it closed and felt her heart racing. Why didn't her call her? It was nearly 1:00am, she practically ran out from under Will's nose with no car, no money, no nothing. What she didn't understand: why was he so mad?

"Amelia," Brian whispered, making her jump.

She stared at him and jammed her phone back in her pocket. He didn't need to know everything. Taking her home was the best thing that needed to happen.

"Y-yeah? Oh sorry. I'm sorry. I think I just need to go back. It's late and- -well, you need to go back too." She stammered, walking with him the rest of the way to the car.

He unlocked the door, getting in silently as she followed suit. He sat down for a few seconds, he took his time buckling up. She wasn't in a rush. Going back was what needed to happen. For both parties. She reached for the seatbelt and buckled. The click of the connection woke Brian up. He just stared at her, wondering what the hell was going on in her life and why wouldn't she tell him. He wanted to know.

"Brian, I think I need to say something." She paused, pulling her hoodie down as she looked at him.

"I would like us to be friends. I know I have no right asking but I just think that lately I let a lot of good people go and let some bad ones stay. I understand if you don't agree." She whispered, trying so hard to make eye contact without losing it.

He pursed his lips, looking down at her hands. They were shaking uncontrollably. He placed his hand on top on hers, relaxing them finally.

"I'd like that." He smiled, looking out from the condensation of the windshield.

She suddenly made a move to kiss his cheek. The spot she kissed instantly warmed his body. The heat radiating from the contact felt intoxicating. If they were going to be friends, kissing of any kind had to off the table.


Amelia opened the door with a sigh of relief. All the lights were off which indicated Will was asleep. She didn't want to have a run-in with him about where she was. Calmly slipping herself inside the covers should do the trick. She let out another breath, slipping off her still slightly damp hoodie and shoes. She huddled from the draft and checked the thermostat. Normal. Suddenly she noticed the balcony was open. She walked slowly toward the window, trying not to be scared. What she saw made her blood boil.

"Will? What the hell of are doing out there? Why are you doing that?" Amelia yelled in a hushed tone.

Will flicked the cigarette slightly carelessly, unfazed by her appearance or scolding. Yes, he was smoking. He had taken it up recently since he overheard the producer of Blue Bloods didn't have much faith in the show. Of all the things that would make matters worse, he believed her. Jane Raab usually can sense when things are going to be a hit. It just wasn't fair. Why can't he be the breakout star for once? He's 32, when is it his turn to be the name everyone knows? All of this was so new all over again. Was almost like he had to wait for people to like it or trash it.

Amelia loved him no matter what. He knew that. Why wasn't it enough? Why can't it ever be enough? He looked up to Donnie Walhberg, his costar on the pilot, because he knows what it takes. Tom Seleck told him not to take this opportunity for granted. He'd been given another chance. Coming from the Magnum P.I. era, Tom should know a thing or two about the small screen. Everything is a step up from where he was. Commercial land. He shuddered, thanking god silently that he wasn't in that lifeless world anymore. A child actor still looking for his big break? But just how long would this one last? Jane had a point though. He tried not to think about it. Still, those insecure thoughts kept graining on him like a starving leech.

He looked at Amelia. His sweet Amelia. The one thing he felt so proud of. The only reason he continued putting himself out there. He wasn't going be that guy anymore. The guy she got annoyed with. He was going to be the charming guy she fell in love with. The man she first saw 2 years ago in the bookstore. This was all that matters. Not his career, his sly insecurities. Tom did say one thing that was right on the money. Cherish this. Whatever this is, what you have, don't lose it.

He stubbed out the ash of the ciggarette, blowing out the last bit of smoke he sucked.

"Will, are you ok?" She whispered as he walked passed her, sitting on the couch.

She came next to him, sitting close. She brushed his cheek with her knuckles, attempting to arise somethingin him. He caught her hand, turning to kiss it softly. She narrowed her gaze wondering what was going on. She watched as he planted gentle loving kisses on the inside of her hand. Now she was worried.

"I love you so much. I hate us being like this. You know? I get sick when I see you hurt. I am so sorry I pushed you away when you needed me. I should have been smarter." Will whispered against her hand.

How can she stay made at him when he was making her melt? And doing a good job of it. Seduction was his best feature; she loved it when he was romantic. She exhaled and relaxed against his chest. What was slightly killing the moment was the cigarette stench permeating off him. She wasn't going to let it bother it though.

"I want us to stay like this. I want you to trust me from now on. I promise you things will get better. Let's just be there for each other. I need you just as much as you need me." Amelia rubbed her hand along his chest, feeling his heartbeat under her fingertips.

He hugged her tightly, letting her snake her hand under his shirt. He smiled as she ran her fingers across his chest, arousing him. He couldn't take the teasing anymore.

"Making love is what we both need right now." Without another word he carried her to the bedroom.


As Brian opened the door to the house he made several prayers on the spot that no one heard him. Baylee wouldn't have budged that's for certain. Leighanne was another story. Lately she just wanted to know everything. Not that being concerned is such a bad thing but it was bordering on clingy. His wife was being too clingy. Is it really possible to fall out of love with someone? They were so passionate, so young… before. What happened? He was so happy with her. As he kept thinking of all the good memories, they were all laced with the word "was." Except one. He remembered the notes they would leave in the bathroom mirrors and the smile that always came to his face as the end would sign off with love always. When did that vanish?

He walked in the living room, surveying the area. Everything was pretty much cleaned up with the exception of a few of Baylee's toys. He's gotten better at cleaning up now. What a sweet little boy. Brian's face lit up as he remembered the little performance he gave to the crowd. No different than the stuff he does on tour.

He took off his jacket, storing it in the closet. He tried to be as quiet as possible with changing. When he made it to the room he noticed the light on the night stand on. Oh no. He dreaded what was behind the door. He ran his fingers through his rain-matted hair and slowly opened the door. What he saw made his face relax.

Leighanne was fast asleep, with a hardcover book lying against her chest, reading glasses sliding off her nose about to fall. He felt the guilt rush to his head as he slowly removed the book that clung to his wife's chest. He looked at the book and sighed. Another one of these books. He couldn't blame her really. He knew he wasn't around as much as she wanted. His family was falling apart. Leighanne was still a big piece of his life that he can't shake off. He didn't know if being married to her was the right decision. It was, that's all he knew. It definitely felt right. She loved him so much. He didn't know what to do with that. This was way before Amelia.

The first time he was separated it almost felt like a million pounds of weight had been lifted. He had a lot of time to think. Loving someone hadn't become a chore, an obligation. He enjoyed having a clear head during the break. He didn't think he'd ever feel that euphoria he felt with Leighanne... until he saw Amelia. She didn't know the power she had over him. A little over 2 years ago, he was so ready. More than ready to find it again. He got tired of wallowing in misery. People around him had been changing. Growing up. Howie was married and had James. Kevin had been with Kristen and they share Mason. AJ's finally getting his life back on track with Rochelle. Nick's, well, Nick's a different case. Can't compare his situation with Nick even on his worst day.

When he took off his wife's glasses, her hand caught his gently. She slowly opened her eyes, searching his. She slowly sat up, bringing his face to hers and kissing his cheek softly.

"Come to bed. Please sweetheart, I'm feeling cold." She whispered, despair pulling at his heartstrings.

He kissed her forehead and stood up to get ready for another night of sheer loneliness.

Chapter 4 by Mariah
Amelia rummaged through her room for the 4th time trying to find some decent jeans. The ones she normally wore didn't flatter her anymore. The last few weeks her body was fluctuating from a 4-6. Stress eating was certainly a factor. One night she's eaten a whole strawberry cheesecake in one sitting. The jeans she wore just brought down her mood. It's been a while since she considered wearing slacks. Dresses don't really put her in the color she likes. She always ended up dressing like she was going to a wake. It was like Wednesday Adams trying to dress casually. It's still black and depressing no matter what you did.

She had recently taken a week off from work, all thanks to the powers of persuasion and someone having her back. Will made her go through with it ultimately. Amelia was an unassuming creature at times. It had become a challenge saying a simple no lately. As a result she'd been overworked and slightly taken advantage of. Her main mission was to be self-sufficient. She wanted it because of sense of accomplishment that was associated with it.

She had no idea why she had so many things in black. As she pushed aside the blouses, attempting a final time to spot something fairly decent, it became apparent nearly everything she owned had absolutely no diversity. Denim wasn't considered a color. She only had 3 jeans that she rotated occasionally. Her co-workers only cared if she had her skirt pressed. The jeans and T-shirt look was strictly forbidden. One day she accidentally came to work in an ensemble that made her look as if she was headed to a rave. Her boss actually pulled her to his office to address the outfit. One of the many moments in her life she wanted expunged completely.

She flipped shirts, bras, shorts and various other clothes behind her trying to look in the back of her closet trying to see if anything fell from the pile. How could she not have one pair of good jeans? As she continued flipping, Will was standing in the background, catching each shirt that was thrown absentmindedly in his direction.

He caught another blouse along with a lacy bra, smirking while shaking his head. "Don't you think this is a little much?"

Amelia rolled her eyes, continuing on with the scavenger hunt. "You're a guy, you wouldn't understand."

Will chuckled, she had a point. "I'd like to think I know something about clothes."

"You forget you have a stylist for that." She corrected, reaching under a shoe box, pulling out another bra.

She squinted and chucked it behind her, hearing another loud laugh spurt out of him. She ignored it and lifted the Total Gym box coming up with nothing.

"What stylist? I thought that was you?" She could practically feel the smirk spreading across his silly face.

"Don't stress me out anymore than I am." She sighed collapsing on her knees; she was getting ready to give up.

Will gathered the pile of clothes and placed them on the corner of the bed. He bent down to her level, rubbing her back.

"Taking it to the extreme are we?"

Amelia pushed some hair out of her face. All she wanted was something that looked nice. She had nothing in here that passed. She sat against the floor of the closet leaning against the wall, defeated. She banged her head against the wall wincing at the slight pain she endured. It was hopeless. She was just about ready to fold.

Will curled up next to her, pushing his shoulder against hers. "Wanna just get something at the mall? I know I'm not the best shopping partner but we could do with something nice for you. Come on, my treat."

"This doesn't have to do with you getting those gigantic cookies at Mrs. Fields again is it?"

"I can't believe you'd go there, of course it is." He pushed her shoulder again, falling on top of her.

"What do you say? We're always stuck here; time to get back out there in the scary world." He brushed his lips against her, kissing the corner of her mouth.

She kissed his nose pulling back to look in his eyes. "I'm not scared of anything."

He helped her up and lightly smacked her behind. "That's my girl."




Will knocked on the dressing room door. "Sweetheart, let me know when you're done I'll be on the other side checking out the guy stuff."

Amelia pulled on a fourth pair of flared denims she picked up dressed with a few designs down the sides. "Yeah right. Just tell me you're bored and go to Vienna Sausage already."

Will smirked and rolled his eyes. "Come on now, give me some freedom here. I'll literally be next door if you need me. Just a ringtone away."

She adjusted the fit and turned around, modeling a new angle. "Alright, I'll let you know when I'm done."

When she heard Will's footsteps scurry off she looked back at the mirror. Trying on new clothes always felt like a test. If she could grade herself, she'd give a C for effort. She wasn't the best at this. Was anybody really? Yeah, it fit fine. Looks OK. But was it her? She never was a stickler for passing tests. Whenever she went shopping she always thought of the girls in high school. When they tried on anything it was a big thing. Almost everything looked good on them. Even the craziest outfit you'd see on runways looked the best on them.

"I'm wasting time worrying, am I?" She stared at herself strongly in the mirror.

She stripped out of the flares and threw them in the pile of discards. She decided to go with the dark one and the first one she tried. They went with her mood. For some reason she can't see herself in bright colors. She wasn't one of those girls who looked appealing in brightness. The darker, the better. It was more her thing. Goes with her hair and features.

She unlocked the door and began searching for Will. She gathered the pieces of clothing and decided to walk around the store, trying to spot her boyfriend. He's a crafty one. He can sure trip her up when he wanted. Will never stomached the whole mall thing. She had a feeling he would lose interest the second she was barricaded in a dressing room; knowing she couldn't come out. She almost forgot how good of an actor he is.

She glanced on the clock on her phone. She began walking out of the store. She turned and bumped into someone.

"Oh my gosh. I am so sorry." Amelia apologized, trying to pick up her stuff.

Blue eyes focus on her, when Amelia looked up a cheery face smiled brightly. "Wow, small world. I'm sorry, are you OK?"

Leighanne. She was perfect. She had Brian. She was too damn perfect. Amelia nodded, continued helping her with the items she made her drop.

"I am. Yes it is definitely. So, wow, how are you doing?"

Leighanne clutched the clothes she carried closer to her, "Doing well. Just doing some shopping with a couple gift cards. How are you feeling? Brian and I were really worried something might have happened."

The concern in her eyes was killing Amelia. "I'm doing better, thank you. Well I'm sorry if I'm taking you away from all this. I'll be more careful."

"Oh," She waved her hand, "I'm not really in a rush. Baylee's at home. Grandma's watching him. Brian and I were just about to go to dinner pretty soon."

"How is he?" Amelia sucked in her lip.

Leighanne smiled warmly, "Baylee's a good boy. Brian's been home a lot more. Everything is just getting better every day. You know, things are meant to work out. I really believe in that."

Amelia might actually finally welcome liking this woman. It was nearly impossible to be envious. Putting away petty problems is how she was going to deal with things. It's for the best. This was the second time in the same month she bumped into Leighanne. She was going be around Brian no matter what. She was going to have to remain in control. Be the adult. Accept the reality. The reality of where she belongs.

Amelia gulped down the last of her uneasiness. It felt a little liberating. "I would have to agree. I'm happy for you guys. Where's Brian?"

"Oh... wow, that reminds me..." Leighanne took out her Blackberry and BBM'd her husband.

Seconds later, she received a call. "Sweetie, hey. Yeah, I just got finished. Come over now. Yeah I know, OK, I'll see you in a bit. I love you."

Amelia stomached through hearing the last line. She had to. She was just going to have to accept that life doesn't always work out the way she wanted. Amelia called Will saying she was finished and he should "get his ass back." Amelia caught Leighanne's smile and laughed back to prove she was joking. Really she was just stalling and wanted to get away before Brian came in the scene. She didn't have enough time.

Just as if things couldn't get any more awkward, both men appeared side by side at the entrance. As Brian walked into the crowded store he tried not to show his shock and focused all his attention on his wife. Maybe if he just did that from now on, he'd stop driving himself mad.

Brian watched Will kiss Amelia firmly on her forehead, looking in her eyes. "You about ready?"

Brian can sense Amelia was avoiding eye contact so he tried to mimic the gesture. Shouldn't be hard.

As the four of them made their way to the checkout counter, things were silent. Amelia didn't want to speak unless spoken to and Brian was playing things cool. Leighanne started asking Will about his next project. Amelia should have known. Anytime someone asked Will anything actor-related, he just went to town. There wasn't much that was going to shut him up. Amelia looked over at Brian, for slight second. He looked so downcast. As much as she'd love to believe Leighanne how good things were, it was all on Brian's face.

Amelia felt terrible. Maybe she should hold up her promise. Prove that none of this was eating her alive.

After her things were paid and wrapped up, Amelia went up to Brian, who was sitting sullenly on the thin, wooden bench.

She bit her lip, letting out the breath she was holding. "Hey, stranger."

Brian slowly scaled his eyes up to meet Amelia's. She was trying. He was going to give her that. The more he looked into her eyes, the harder it was to pretend to go back to himself. The life everybody knows and expects of him. His duty. His existence was just to serve other people without having any thought of his own considered. He couldn't look at her the way he wanted to. It just can't happen.

Brian put on his best brave face. "Hey back. How are you doing?"

Amelia was glad he said something. She was beginning to think he was mute at the site of her. Impossible. She straightened her back, smiling proudly. "Got a little desperate I guess."

Brian relaxed suddenly. She broke the ice finally. "Yeah well, this is Leighanne's thing. I'm more the guy who stays out of the way. That's why we have a stylist on the road."

She felt a little more relaxed and sat down next to him. "I'm glad things are going well for you. It's good to know everyone happy."

He smiled, despite himself. She was trying to cheer him up. It was sweet but if only she knew the truth. The fears he held every night of not feeling secure in himself anymore. The dreams he would have that made him awake in a sweaty daze. He couldn't escape her. It was like she was haunting his every moment. If only she knew. Maybe if she knew, things might be different? Would they be?

"We are… we're not perfect. We're just...?" He trailed off, thinking of the right words.

"Good?" She finished.

Will surveyed the store, trying to spot Amelia. He hadn't noticed she left until a few minutes. It slipped his mind. He excused himself from the conversation with Leighanne and caught his girlfriend next to Brian. He trusted her but he knew this wasn't good. The sight of the two of them together, alone, the closeness of it, just shot his blood pressure threw the roof.

He came up to the twosome, hoping to break up whatever it was that was going on, "Hey baby, wanna get outta here?" He said it extra loud, on purpose.

Amelia laughed, turning her attention to Will, before glancing briefly at Brian. She exhaled just as loudly. He was being rude but she was going to let it slide.

She made a move to stand up, "Yeah, we can get going."

She was lucky that he came just in time sense she was running out things to say to Brian. Her brain was on overdrive. She looked back in the store as Leighanne walked over, carrying her purchases, fumbling with the various bags while swinging her purse on her shoulder. Leighanne looked at Amelia, smiling. She could sense there was something bothering her so she decided to do something as an idea formed.

"Hey, do you guys have plans for dinner?" Leighanne handed Brian a few of the bags since he was empty-handed.

Amelia immediately looked at Will, who in turn returned the look. The expression he gave was nonchalant, as if to say he was giving her the chance to answer. She gave a sweet smile and shook her head.

"Well, Brian and I will be heading out soon to Maria's, would you guys be interested in joining us?" Leighanne asked, sitting on the corner of the bench near Brian.

Amelia didn't look at Brian who's eyes she feel on her the second Leighanne mentioned the word dinner. She grabbed Will's hand, almost squeezing it, trying to get all the stress and tension out. She heard him whisper baby and she loosened up a little. She pulled him close to her so he had his arm around her body. Brian looked away finally. She was done feeling bad about everything. This was her life and she was doing the right thing. She was secure enough to handle a night out.

"That would be great, thanks; um will it just be you and Brian?" Amelia laced her fingers with Will's, planting her eyes on Leighanne.

Leighanne nodded and pulled out her phone, looking at the screen, "I just called Nick and Lauren and Howie and Leigh. Kristen and Kevin can't make it. AJ and Rochelle were out of town. So I guess if Nick, Lauren, Howie and Leigh can't make it then it'll just be the 4 of us."

Amelia looked up at Will, then back at Leighanne. "Sounds like a big party. Let me just go get my purse and we can head out."

When she tried to turn the other direction Will pulled her hand, padding his pocket that held the outlining of his wallet. "I got this, don't worry about it."

"Guys, it's our treat. Don't worry about it, really." Leighanne started to say. "Brian and I hardly go out to dinner much anymore. This should be fun."

Amelia looked at Leighanne. The woman was so sweet she wanted to scream. The sincerity that basked in her eyes made Amelia begrudgingly cave in. If there was gonna be 8 people in this party then she hoped she didn't want Leighanne to thing she was using her for a free dinner. Besides, she invited them. What was she so stressed about?

"Yeah," Amelia's eyes danced over to Brian who was looking down, "fun."




When the four of them loaded their bags in the back they got in their cars and drove to Maria's. Amelia was stuck thinking. Maybe tonight wasn't going to be as wonky as she thought. She hadn't been to a restaurant in a long time, unless you count the numerous hotel functions and pot locks she attended with Will. They never actually had gone out before. Just the two of them. As they were coming up Westwood, she sat for a minute, still and solemn. She can do this. Having feelings for Brian is just an unfortunate accident. There's no chance in a million years anything would happen. She believed nothing would happen. She didn't have a lot to cling on since Will's with her. She felt safe and protected when he was around.

He was her real friend. He wouldn't try to build something for her and then up and leave. He wouldn't take the time out of his life if none of it mattered in the end. He was hers and she was his. Forever? Forever is a scary assumption. All she knows is she can trust him. This is love. With Brian, there wasn't anything to hold on to. And why should she? Her heart was broken. He was the one who left. It was nothing. They didn't have a story. She concluded this much as Will parked in an empty place near the entrance.

She suddenly stopped him. She placed her hands on his face and looked into his eyes. His soul. She moved a little closer until her lips were touching his ever so gently. She wanted this. She missed the gentleness of this. She can imagine Brian and Leighanne sharing the same types of affection. That floored her passion further. She could feel her entire body light up as he deepened the kiss, placing his arms around her. She was brought back to reality when she heard a sharp knock on her side.

Amelia pulled away and kissed his nose. He was hers. She can always count on him. She didn't need to turn around to guess who it was. She was pleasantly surprised when she turned around.

"Hey, where's Brian? We're here." Nick whined as he held Lauren's hand.

Will turned off the car, laughing. He shared a look with Amelia and they both got out of the car, shivering from the chill that hit their cheeks. She avoided Lauren's stink eye and joined her boyfriend as they all walked to the front. Amelia tried to block out the equally annoying banter of Lauren. Just inane ramblings about their relationship. Amelia tried to drown some of it out. She also reminded Amelia of She-Ra, if She-Ra was a man. He-Ra. Amelia shook her head, laughing. She grabbed hold of Will's hand.

"And the fun starts." Amelia sighed as everybody walked inside the restaurant.




It was Saturday; Maria's hit their traffic rush already. They got lucky they came right before it started. Normally one would secure a reservation before even entering. It wasn't Mastros but it was a pretty packed place because it was so local. Families and couples from all corners frequented nearly every night. It had a homey atmosphere. One of those places that welcomed everyone.

After everyone ordered their food, Howie cleared his throat, "Hey, just wanna say a quick thing before we order. I am so glad that Leighanne and Brian didn't forget us. I know Nicky here might have." Laughter erupted around the table. Nick was only mildly amused but joined along with the affectionate quip.

Howie continued and raised his glass of Pinot Grigio. "Anyway, just wanna say I'm happy everyone is well and healthy. I am so grateful and so blessed for everything. This year was a blast and that I got to share it all with my friends and family, well, I can't ask for more. Here."

"Goody." Nick chirped under his breath, still unnerved from the jab.

On cue, everyone raised their glasses and cheered in a prayer. Amelia smiled in delight. It had been a long time since she saw something like that. People lately don't really take the time to count their blessings. Howie was obviously great man with morals and family values. As soon as the toasting subsided, everybody dispersed into their worlds. Leighanne and Will were discussing, yet again, the life of an actor. Nick and Lauren were still in a little soap opera made just for them. Howie was having a quiet conversation with Leigh. Something about a babysitter and Howie's sister. Amelia pulled herself out of eavesdropping and took a long sip of her wine.

She felt her hand being grabbed under the table. She looked at Will and smiled brightly. When he didn't turn to her and she was confused. Her grin faded when she realized whose hand it was.

Leighanne insisted on sitting near Leigh because they were closer, oblivious to what her husband was doing. Amelia didn't want to make a scene when Brian sat near her. There wasn't a scene to make. She was perfectly fine sitting next to him. It's just like sitting next to anyone else. She made the mistake of squeezing back. She was holding tears inside. It took everything in her not to completely break down. She felt like this every time he touched her. She slowly pulled her hand away and glanced at him through the corner of her eye. He made another attempt and succeeded as his hand reached hers. Amelia braced herself. She didn't know how much of this she can take.

She cocked head, composing her emotions to a standstill. She gave in. No matter what was going on, she gave in. She felt explosions of bliss began to seep inside her. She was scared. She didn't think Brian could claim that part of her again. This was all from a simple touch. She relaxed her hand against his. When she did this he drew circles on the inside of her palm. She closed her eyes and looked down, her last attempt of regaining her sense of self. She was slipping. Falling. Everything was crumbling inside. She didn't want to be so obvious. There was a lot of risk in being inhabited. She knew it and so did he. But he didn't care. She did. He should be careful.

She tried to make that clear as she turned to him. She gave a sad smile and immediately tore her eyes away. Any second longer and-who knows? She didn't want to find out.

"I'm gonna take a call, meet me outside. Say you're going to the bathroom." Brian whispered casually.

Amelia just looked at him. No words. She had nothing to say to that. His expression was dead serious as he patted for his blackberry, pulling it out. "Oh shoot. Hey guys, I gotta take this. Sorry..."

"Brian, everything ok?" Howie asked.

He stood up pulling on his jacket, checking his Blackberry again. "Yeah, just need to take this outside."

Brian brushed his fingers across her back. Mia shivered slightly. She knew she had a choice.

"Excuse me everyone." She said gruffly as she stood up slowly.

She tried not to draw attention to herself as she pretended to walk to the restroom. She pulled her jacket tighter around her and trotted outside. She didn't know what the hell she was doing or why she even went through with it. But here she was. Being an idiot. Really, she was more concerned about Brian. She had a feeling he was up to no good.

She pushed open the door briskly and looked around.

"I'm getting a divorce." Brian said simply, coming into view.

"So then Donnie told me, 'kid this is the big shot. You're playing with the big boys now.' Being on a show about cops I mean, I hear that stuff every day. Even in what we say on the show. But Donnie, he's like a saint. I steal everything that guy does. He's really like the older brother I never had. I missed being on a TV set. Brings back so much I never knew I missed." Will said, taking a bite of his pasta and garlic bread.

Leighanne sipped her seafood soup. "I always thought about going back to movie projects. Brian and I always wanted to open our own production company. He says it's for our protection. But for some reason he keeps putting it off. Things are getting better since we separated but I feel lately his heart doesn't seem into things like that anymore. I mean, we talked about this for years. Maybe if I start up the blueprints he'll get excited again."

"Whatever works for you guys. I know with Mia and I, we always find time to do things as a couple. It can be hard though. Hell if I know the rules. She took my schedule with a grain of salt. When I first met her I was lucky if I could get my foot into the audition room; let alone a callback. It's amazing when you have such a huge opportunity, you really don't want to let it go. I'm a lot smarter then I was a few years ago. I take the craft very seriously. In fact, I have chunk of months of shooting for the some new episodes of Blue Bloods in Manhattan. They even have me working on New Year's Eve. We'll have to figure out a way to plan out what we're gonna do. It'll be hard but she's been real helpful. Honestly, I don't know how she puts up with me. I'm sure Brian's the same, what with all the touring and all?" Will said, taking a long sip of beer.

Leighanne nodded, "During the holidays it dies down. We were supposed to be going on a cruise but it fell through. The planning wasn't all there. I really wish Brian and I would take a break. I don't mean at home. Just us being an us again, you know? I don't know. Sometimes I feel like life's work and the older we get, the more we lose playing. I don't want to ever lose that... or him."

Will smirked, downing the last of his beer. "We make time for what we care about. You guys are a different story. Being married solidifies life as a whole. When you have a family, priorities change. Being a father is something I've always wanted. A lot of people laugh when I say that. They think it's something only women want. Well, it's not entirely true. I've always wanted a family. I have the love of a woman who loves me back and shows me how much every day..."

Leighanne sensed what was going on and pressed him, "So what are you waiting for? Have you considered it?"

Will smiled warmly, thinking back since the first moment he saw her. "I knew she was the one. I can't explain why. It was like something inside me woke up and I knew... I saw her in my future. I saw lots of things with her. She opened my heart again. Told me it was ok to be free. I haven't stopped believing her since."

Leighanne's hand came over Will's. He was slightly surprised. Her hand was warm, soft and feminine. "Ask her. Be with her. Don't wait anymore if this is truly what you want. Everyone deserves the happiness that comes with marriage."

"I'll strongly consider this. Believe me; I want to stop thinking about it for once. I want that life. I want her." He said with a far off look in his eye.




Amelia backed away, visibly shaking. The cool mist of the air barely fazed her as she attempted to sit down on the bench, almost falling. She couldn't register what was happening. This can't be. No, it shouldn't be. How could this happen? Why was it happening to her? This was not fair. Leighanne never did anything wrong. Why was he throwing away a marriage just like that? When did he decide this was the right thing to do?

"I made this decision recently. There were indications before you even existed. Not going to lie to you by saying I hadn't thought of you during this. Leigh and I, we're, I'm-it's not working. All of it. The life. The choices. All the hours spent wishing I was somewhere else. With someone else. I can't beat myself up about this anymore. I'm sending the papers Friday. I don't care what the press or anybody thinks. It doesn't matter. All I care about is finally... being away." Brian explained in a breathy tone.

"Why are you doing this? Leighanne loves you. Isn't that enough?" Amelia asked, numbly.

Brian kept pacing back and forth until his thoughts settled on an answer. "For a while, it hasn't been. There's just a lot of stuff you don't know. Stuff I know doesn't feel right anymore. She's the mother of my child. I've known her for 10 years. My heart can't take forcing this marriage. I can't make myself do it. I simply can't push myself to be with her anymore."

"You can't be serious. I would kill to have what you have. I never had a family. I don't know what that feels like Brian. You don't know what it's like to wish things were… Will is a good man, but we aren't soul mates. You and Leighanne. You're-" Brian cut her off sharply.

"Don't say it. You don't know this. You don't know us. I don't think anybody does. Things aren't always what they seem on the surface. Pretending is all I know. For the last few years I was duped. Canard into thinking this is what's right for me. I have to be honest with myself."

"This can't be happening. There's no way you're going to throw it away like this. You can't. Think before you do anything. Please Brian. Be rational." She finally looked at him but he remained steadfast.

"I have. All I do is think about everything. All I keep thinking about is how much this would hurt her. I never once thought about my happiness. I don't want to be the bad guy here. I never want to be the one to break hearts. You just-you wouldn't understand. I've never done any of this before." He sat down next to her raking his fingers through his hair.

Amelia couldn't believe how stupid she was. He forgot. Of course he would forget. It was so short its almost embarrassing to bring up. She didn't want to but she found herself spilling out like a waterfall of hurt.

"You did to me." She admitted, closing her eyes so he couldn't see the pain.

Amelia stood up, leaving the scene right before two warm tears fell down her cheeks.
End Notes:
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 5 by Mariah

"Amelia, wait." Brian's voice called out.

It was too late. She was already inside the restaurant when he ran to her. So much for telling the truth, he grumbled. This was not going like he hoped. What did he think was going to happen? Didn't help matters that she was the only one who knew.

Nick appeared on the side of the restaurant, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth; looking perturbed, like something annoyed him. Brian tried to act as casual as he could.

"Hey man. Thought you laid off those." Brian gestured.

Nick padded the top of his jacket for a lighter and looked up, "Brian? What are you doing out here?"

He held up his Blackberry. "Yeah, it was a long one. What's going on in there? Boring as hell?"

Nick lit the cigarette, blowing a cloud of smoke in the air and shrugged. "Hell if I know. Just thought I'd take a break from all the simultaneous chatter. Hey, you were out here for a long time. Who were you talking to?"

Brian scratched the back of his neck. "Ah, just a business call. You know how those are. Actually you don't, that's Howie's thing."

"Yeah, whatever. You guys are gonna bust my balls forever? Anyway, what were you and that chick talking about?" He took another calm puff.

Brian gulped. "What chick? I was on the phone man."

Nick took another long drag, blowing the smoke in the sky and squinted at his friend. For all the years that he has known Brian, he wasn't very good at this. Nick was. Everyone knew it.

"I saw that Amelia chick looking real gnarly when she walked back inside. She even snapped at me when I asked her what was up. What's going on B-Rok?"

Brian shook his head. He was not going to go through with this. Nick and Brian hardly ever had heart to hearts. He didn't even know what was going on. He just made this huge decision and was now having some doubts. He was the one who broke her heart. He was a bad guy. How could he begin to explain the craziness that was going through his head?

"Was she the same one that messed you up on tour?" Nick gestured with the cigarette toward the entrance.

Brian narrowed his eyes, "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Nick pulled back. This was unexpected. Brian never cursed unless something really bothered him.

"I picked it up. Only a girl can make you this torn and isolated. You and Leighanne only got back together 2 months ago. What happened to you?" He flicked the cigarette ash off the end.

Brian was disgusted. There was no way he was going to go into that with him. "Nothing. She's just a friend ok? I don't need to explain any of this. Especially with you."

Nick stubbed out his cigarette and held up his hands as Brian tried to pass him. "Whoa, what are you getting at? Really, I'm a little concerned now. Why are you being so closed off?"

Brian sighed, reeling on his last nerve, "Nick, there's nothing to talk about really. It's just all this str-"

"Let me guess, the stress? Wasn't that the top excuse for the weirdness on the tour? Sometimes you wouldn't hang around any of us. Always checking your phone every hour like it was some big deal. I was worried you were taking the AJ path of self-numbing. What the fuck's going on Brian?" Nick confronted.

Brian was really getting frustrated. He debated whether he should keep his mouth shut or stop hiding. Only Amelia knew his fears, insecurities and secrets. Can he trust Nick with the loneliness he'd gotten so good at concealing? Honestly, does Nick really care about anyone besides himself and that caked-up man he calls a girlfriend? It should be so easy.

Brian's phone suddenly vibrated. He breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled it out.

Brian, where are you? Your food's getting cold. Come on! -Leighanne

"Gotta go inside. The food's here." Brian found his freedom and pushed passed Nick.

As soon as Brian went back inside, Nick thought to himself. What the hell happened to his friend? Nick was beyond confused. He'd never known Brian to be like this with anyone. He sure had everyone else fooled but not him. If anything, this made Nick more curious than before to find out the truth. He can only assume it involved that snappy girl. There's something about that girl beyond what Brian's letting on. There was also something about her couldn't understand. He had a feeling it was going to be big.


The meal was long. Amelia couldn't stand being there any longer. The entire evening dragged on like a long movie. Thank god for Howie and Leigh. They were the normal ones. Howie asked Amelia about her job and other questions really no one cared to ask anymore. She was grateful he had somewhat picked up the tension and tried to diffuse the mess with light hearted conversation. His wife was savior as well.

Amelia and Will made their way back to the car after a strange parting from the crowd. Howie gave her a warm hug as did Leigh and Leighanne. Amelia couldn't wait to just go home and sleep. It was far from a late night but for what she'd been through, it was deserved. It was a lot to take in.

They waved as Howie, Leigh, Brian and Leighanne were getting in theirs. All was safe as both cars pulled from the parking lot. Amelia huddled her shoulders and she looked at Will.

"Oh shit. Forgot my phone. Hold up. I'll be back." Will rushed back inside, leaving Amelia alone.

Amelia leaned against the car, hugging herself tighter as a gust of wind blew in her direction. She began wondering why she was caring so much about Brian's decision. It was his. Whatever his reason was shouldn't matter. But something about it just didn't feel right. They were perfect together. She almost lost her senses before. She won't let him do this. She can't.

"Hey, can I talk to you for a second?" She looked up, staring in his eyes.

Nick coughed, telling Lauren to go wait for him in the car. He handed her the keys. She whined, it was a horrible sound. Though, as soon as he looked at her, she obeyed. Finally, some peace and quiet, he thought.

As soon as she left Nick drew a blank. His mind became jumbled and he didn't know where to start. He just wanted to make it quick.

Around 5 seconds later Amelia grew bored. "What? What do you wanna say?"

Nick rubbed the back his neck, a steep laugh escaped his lips as he looked at her. He saw her eyes for the first time. She scoffed and he finally remembered.

"I have a lot of questions. Guess you could say I wanna know what's up. What's going on with Brian?"

Amelia froze, tucked some hair behind the ear that was burning, thinking fast, "I don't know. Maybe you should ask him."

Nick watched she crossed her arms, obviously very irritated. This was never good when you want to get something out of someone. "Sometimes you have to dig deep and investigate other corners. I saw you guys outside; I know something is going on. Leighanne and others may not, but I do. I need to you talk to you. I want my friend back." Nick said firmly.

Amelia was taken aback. That was a tall request. He acted like a cop interrogating her. What makes him think she's just going to be him straight with him? He must be on something, and judging by how skinny he is, looks like crack.

"I'm not going to say this again. Ask him. I don't know anything ok? You should leave, my boyfriend's coming back."

"Boyfriend huh? Say you don't know anything? Say I'm full of shit? What were you doing talking to Brian in private? Sounds like to me that you know your ass from your elbow." He chided, almost scaring her with how much he already knew.

Amelia shrunk. Standing her ground became the hardest thing to do when you're being confronted with the truth. She should have been more careful. She should have not gone outside. Nick should have not witnessed anything.

"Bye Nick." She turned around, pulling at the car door, hoping he would take the hint.

She knew it was locked. She knew he didn't leave. Two fresh tears slipped down her cheeks as she prayed for Will to enter the scene.

"I know you're involved somehow. The guys may not care so much. They don't read between the lines. Everything you do is obvious. I hope you know what you're doing is fucking with his head. Nothing more. I'll find out your secret." He said in a menacing tone.

She wiped under her eyes, her tear streaks now cold from the breeze and sticking to her skin. She barely felt them as she turned around. She didn't care anymore.

"I hope you do. I hope everyone knows. Just so you could feel good about yourself. You have my permission to ruin my life. I got nothing left to lose." She replied bleakly, unaware of the change in his expression.

His face softened. He was confused. There was more to this than what he believed. "That's not what I'm do-"

Will ran into the lot briskly and picked Amelia in a hug. The reaction on his face telling her he found what he was looking for. He pulled away from the hug, kissing her cheek.

"Hey, let's get going." He whispered.

When Will rounded the car, unlocking the doors, Amelia briefly looked at the blond. She just stared at him, slowly bringing her eyes to gaze over his.

"Let's do this right, ok? Let's meet somewhere. You can trust me." Nick pleaded, his curiosity getting the better of him over rational thought.

No more secrets. Can she trust him? The look in his eyes was confusing her. Those eyes, there was more to it than the beautiful ocean color.

"Is this where you live?" Nick said, pointing to the house with green bushes surrounding the exterior.

Amelia looked out and shuddered. She didn't want to get out. She clutched Penny tightly and looked at the boy.

"Mommy's not home." She said, tears appearing at the corner of her eyes.

Nick nodded, his eyes shining brightly through the dimness inside the car. "Let's go to my house. We could play Kid Niki."

Shit. It can't be. No way. Amelia immediately unlocked the door behind her. She couldn't look at him anymore. "I can't."

She slipped inside and shut the door without another look. A scared look on her face. She took a deep breath and slowly released it.

"Amelia, what's up sweetheart?" Will touched her shoulder eliciting a flinch from her.

"Sorry. I'm really sorry. We're not doing this again." She pulled herself together and fell into his arms.

"I just wish I knew what's wrong. You hardly ever tell me."

He was right. All this time she was preaching her problems with trust, not realizing she had been harboring some on her own. She pulled away, touching her forehead against his.

"Let's go back, I'll tell you everything. I don't wanna hide it in anymore." She admitted.


Brian and Leighanne waved goodbye to her mother and closed the door. Baylee had been asleep for a while now; things were just starting to wind down. Brian watched Leighanne take out the newly purchased items from the bags stored in the closet and hung some pieces on the hangers. He sat on the edge of the bed, looking at the way she pulled out a new dress, a deep blue color and put it against her body. Brian's eyes scaled up her body in slow motion. Been a while since he really looked at her. She was his love. What was the problem? She's everything to him. He'd give his life to make sure she was happy. So what's going on?

Leighanne felt his eyes on her and calmly sauntered over to him. Brian noticed her when she straddled his waist, making him lean over and fall on the soft bed.

She kissed his cheeks and when she went to his lips she paused, "Have I told you how perfect you are?"

Brian smiled genuinely, "No that's you. Everything about you. All of you. So perfect."

Leighanne looked in his eyes, leaned over kissing him softly. His kept his lips closed but tried opening his mouth. He sighed, it was no use. His mind was jumping all over the place. She pulled back with a frown. Running her fingers through his hair she stared in his eyes.

"Are you alright?" She said, worry dripping over each word.

He had rehearsed it a million times and now he was a master of it. "Yes, everything is perfect."

"Yes, you said that already. Brian, sweetheart, are you sure you're alright? We've always talked things out. Sometimes its best." She urged, attempting once more.

Brian calmly pushed her away and backed up against the headboard of the bed. The stiffness in his neck raising by the minute. "I don't need to talk. Let's just not talk."

Leighanne narrowed her eyes. She noticed he was looking down. His hands covered his eyes. His entire body was detached. He was somewhere else. Leighanne took a deep breath and came over to sit next to him with weary eyes. She tried to look at him but he wouldn't let her.

She tilted her head. "Brian I don't want to go back to 2 years ago. We moved passed this."

"Maybe you did." He said in a raspy tone.

Leighanne gasped. She could not stop the tears that threatened to spill but they came anyway. She could not believe he was doing this. They were happy. He was around more. The spark they had in the beginning was there. They were so happy. She had so many things planned when he came back.

Leighanne reached out, trying to touch his arm but he shook it off. Everything inside her was beginning to die. She hung her head low. Not this, not now. Not when they've come this far and made so much progress. He will not do this. Not when everything was just starting to go back to normal. That was all she wanted. All she craved for. She couldn't lose him. Not now. Not ever.

"Brian..." she trailed, searching for the right words. "I know things may seem like they're hard, but its not. Sweetie, if anything else, we should be happy. We deserve it. Think about Baylee. It was much harder before when we were separated. Don't you remember how difficult things were when we weren't a family? I can't bare it. I know Baylee couldn't get used to us not being us. Do you really want to break his heart again? He needs you Bri. I need you."

Brian was conflicted. He hated when she would coax him into doing what she wanted. For once, he wasn't really caring about this stupid marriage anymore. It was pretentious. He wasn't following his heart anymore. He was doing the opposite. Thinking with his head and choosing obligation over logical truth. It wasn't Leighanne. Not anymore.

Seeing Amelia again brought out the realness finally. He didn't enjoy playing house anymore. But Leighanne, he still cared. But it wasn't right. She deserved better. Someone who can give her the love she deserves. Baylee is growing up. Things will change but he's still a father and that matters most to him now.

"I don't want this marriage anymore." His deadpan delivery rang out in the quiet room like a thousand echoes.


A few days later Amelia was meeting Will at Yogurt Land right after his read through with the next Blue Bloods episodes. He had been on the phone lately a lot with Donnie Wahlberg. Sometimes Donnie would come over and leave revised scripts to her place. She met his ex-wife Kim and thought she reminded her a lot like Leighanne. She regretted not talking to him more besides the occasional "thank you" "hi" and "bye." Most of her friends from work had been on vacation which didn't leave her with anyone to talk to other than Will. She didn't think about it all that much until recently.

She was curious too. She wondered about Will a lot. Who his friends were. What they did between shoots. Usually when he goes to New York, he'll hop on Skype and give her the whole journal entry of his days events. Except on the days he goes out with Nickolas Turturro. Amelia never met any of his friends other than Donnie. She saw Tom Seleck once when they were filming a scene in Los Angeles on the weekend. He had this fatherly figure like quality that was magnetic. She knew Will was in good hands. He really looked up to the whole cast and crew of the show. She often thought about the stuff he does at the parties.

He had a small homestead loft in New York because of the long months from shooting and his intense dislike of hotels. Amelia seriously thought of surprising him on set. She knew he wouldn't be expecting it because of her fear of flying. Ever since she was a kid, she just despised flying. It pulls people further away from each other. That explains why she never goes to airports when he travels. Seeing people leave, there's nothing worse. She didn't know what she would do if he never came back. She didn't want to think about that anymore.

"Hey! There you are!" She greeted as Will took the empty stood seat next to her.

He kissed her cheek and took the pink plastic spoon with some cherry frozen yogurt on it. He savored the flavor and licked his lips trying to get the extra yogurt with his tongue off the sides of his mouth.

Amelia laughed, "If I knew you were gonna do that I would have gotten my own."

He took another hefty spoonful, "You love it when I'm gross."

She rolled her eyes and dipped her finger in the whipped cream on top. He leaned over and sucked the cream off her finger.

She gave him a look with wide eyes. "And what do you call that?"

"Hey. You were the one who dipped it; I was just hungry for it. Looked so good." He leaned closer kissing her lips. She could taste the cream on his tongue.

She pulled away when he tried to deepen the kiss. "Not here. This kind of PDA is outlawed. What would Jamie Reagan do?"

He spooned another mouthful of yogurt, "Jamie would say fuck it. Sergeant Renzulli would probably watch, you know him. I guess I'll behave myself for that reason."

"Good. So what's up? What time are you leaving tomorrow?" She picked at the now soupy magenta colored yogurt.

He pulled out his iphone flicking some screens around. "I board around 7am. Who knows how long customs will be? I'd rather be frisked by you."

"Don't look at me, you're the trainie."

"And even cops love getting frisked."

She licked the spoon and pulled some hair from her eyes.

Will looked at her. He'd never seen anything so beautiful. Her layered brown locks loosely hung from the French braid. He loved how natural she looked. No makeup or a mask, he could see her face. The sensual beauty that attracted him from the moment he saw her. If he could bottle this moment and keep it forever, he would. But before he could stop himself, there was something he needed to say.

"Let's get out of here." He whispered and took her hand discarding the cup.

They began walking around the shops of Westwood. A lot of students frequented the outside mall because it was near UCLA. Saturdays were crowded with all kinds of young adults. The looks on their faces. Pure joy, laughter and excitement. Amelia looked around and saw a young couple sitting on the bench. The man was reading sitting up; the woman had her head on his lap and held his hand. The look on her face told her so many things. Her eyes danced to the engagement ring that bloomed brighter than the day. She couldn't tear her eyes away from it. Something about the visual drew her eyes toward it. She was mesmerized.

"Amelia?"

"Hmm?" She hummed, still looking at the couple with transfixed eyes.

Will glanced in her direction and turned her chin up with his finger, looking in her eyes. "I love you."

She smiled, turned red and looked down then trailed her eyes up, "I love you."

Will led her to a bench in a quiet area. As they sat Amelia was distracted. She looked back at the couple, holding hands. She just found herself staring. Thinking, wondering about some things.

Will leaned forward and spoke in a low voice. "Look at me beautiful."

She shivered from the vibration of his tone. She looked at him through her lashes. His eyes were a deep green and the corners of his mouth lifted up.

"I got to say something. You know what I said about going away to New York for New Year's to film? I told you it was only going to be New Years but its extended; which is good news for the show. The bad news is it's almost 6 months."

Amelia sat still. She just stared at him, waiting for more. This was a lot longer than what he normally works. What's going to happen in 6 months? She took a deep breath, collecting herself. She can't help but think this was déjŕ vous.

She rubbed her temples together trying so hard not to think about Brian. She shut her eyes tightly. All she could see was Brian's face and watching him walk off when he told her he was leaving the next day. That moment burned in her memory; seemed like yesterday. Brian, please go away.

Will didn't know how she would take it. He didn't know how he would take it. 2 to 3 weeks is one thing but anything longer, how could they get passed the time lost? They've never been through something this long distance before. Maybe this was going to be a test. There was nothing he could do. CBS ordered new episodes and he has to be a part of it. He wanted to ask her to come with him but thought against it. She would have to leave work, be cooped up in the house during shoots and he just knew the director would blow up on the set if anyone he didn't know would come without permission. Will didn't want her to go through that.

This wasn't going to be easy. None of this was going to go by quick. He knew this and truly hated it. Being around her always made him happy, he couldn't describe it. She was eerily silent for 2 minutes. Felt like forever to him.

"I didn't expect this. It's not forever, just 6 months."

Amelia felt his hand on hers and reacted finally. She held both his hands and gave a sad smile. "Yeah, I know."

He pulled her into his arms and relaxed. He looked behind her to the couple she was staring a few minutes ago making a mental note.

"Please come with me. I can't spend New Year's alone." He said, squeezing her body close.

She pulled away and looked in his eyes in disbelief. He nodded and smiled wide.

"I'll be there."


'Tis the season! Except for Brian. He didn't feel so merry when he hopped the plane to ring in the New Year at Times Square. He didn't know if 2010 was a year he should regret or remember. He thought it was best if Leighanne stayed at home since they were fighting about their marriage. Leighanne just wanted too much. More than Brian could give her. He couldn't be a husband anymore. Playing house became so natural it was making him feel sick inside. He found himself daydreaming when she wasn't around. How different would his life be if he asked Amelia to come with him? It was the question that just wouldn't die in his thoughts.

After rehearsal for the Times Square New Year's Rockin' Eve performance, Brian vaguely called it in. Nick was giving him an evil glare ever since they got off the plane. He watched Brian's every move when he exited the arena. Nick's suspicions grew when Brian whispered something in the bodyguard's ear. As Brian left through the curtain in the back Big Mike stood in front of it.

Nick took off his headphones, rolled his eyes and walked toward the curtain unafraid of the guard. What in the world was Brian up to? As Nick approached, Mike gave him a knowing look.

"Sorry man. There's another exit downstairs."

Nick sighed. He thought about bribing him but he knew Mike wasn't a big money or favors kind of guy. He was loyal and wouldn't fall for those things on the cuff. His head was screwed on straight much to Nick's chagrin.

Nick was stumped. He knew there was no going around this so he retreated to the back door that led to the downstairs exit; the long way out. As he pushed the door open he spotted Brian on his cell attempting to make a call. Brian left out a soft curse and clicked off the line. He stomped back inside with his head held down walking with a slump to the elevator. Nick squinted as he watched him hesitate before walking inside. So far so good. But who was on the phone? Who was he trying to call?

"Nick, what the fuck are you doing?" AJ's gruff voice made his skin jump.

Nick realized it was over and he forfeited the game... for now. "Nothing, just thought I saw something. Didn't Joe and Donnie say they were going to meet us at Balthazar?"

AJ gestured with his thumb behind him, "Everybody's driving there now. Let's go. Biggie told me Brian's going to sleep so he's out. Lauren was looking for you. Are you sure you're up for this? You don't look so up."

Nick looked at him pointedly, "Yeah, just give me a second, I'm coming."

AJ patted his shoulder, "Meet you in the lot. You're sitting in the back with your giant girlfriend."

On any other day, that comment would have bothered him, but for now, he didn't care. All he wanted to know is who was he trying to reach and why was he so mad? Why was Nick so mad? Why did Nick really care about Brian's personal business? It never bothered him this much on tour as it was now. He thought it was because everybody was being so oblivious to the signs. Brian was way too obvious to ignore. And Nick was so over his bull shit.

Donnie is with the guys now so that means Will Estes was around him as Donnie mentioned he was splitting his time with filming the cop show and the performance. How convienient. There might be chance he could get some answers and there was only one person who would provide them. Next on his list: finding Amelia.


Amelia settled into the hotel Will insisted on getting because Donnie talked him into it. The condo wasn't ideal since it was far from shooting locations. Now for the next two days the cast of Blue Bloods would be on a break. Donnie put them up at the Roosevelt Plaza Hotel, one of the oldest and poshiest hotels in Manhattan. She didn't care about the room since the room basically had a pool in the shower. It reminded her of Will's place but cleaner.

She placed her bags near the bed and sat on the edge of the bed. Before she could relax on the fluffy bed there was a knock that startled her. She glanced at the clock. Wasn't too late but she firgured maybe Will came back to get something. She grabbed the hair tie off the counter and pulled her hair up in a high ponytail. She tried to appear more awake as she walked to the door. Last thing she wanted was to appear haggard on Day 1. She has to make an effort.

She pulled open the door and staggered in place. This was like a bad dream. She couldn't look at him.

"Are you alone?" His eyes burned into hers.

She responded by shutting the door, but he held it back and peeked his head inside.

"Let go."

"I love you."

"Brian, this is wrong."

"Its not. It wasn't wrong when you called me that night."

She struggled to push the door but he won. Wasn't too long before he led her to the bed, not bothering to close and lock the door. He wanted her. It was over. He was tired of dreaming about it. Tired of going to sleep every night wondering what if?

As his face came over hers, hovering, she stopped him. "Wait."

He sighed heavily and fell next to her. He sat there looking at the ceiling for a moment. Did he really want to do this? He knew how he felt. He knew how she felt. It was so clear. Why didn't it feel right?

"I love you too. I never stopped." Amelia said, her voice above a whisper.

Brian froze. He closed his eyes, fear pulled at his heartstrings. Everything made sense again. He didn't think he would ever hear those words come from anyone.

He gently felt for her hand. She was shaking. She turned her face to his and opened her eyes. She made herself look at him. She could do this. Slowly her eyes scaled his face until she traced her way to his eyes.

"Open your eyes."

She looked at him, puzzled, "I am."

"No, really open them. Tell me what you see? Who do you see? Who do you want to see?"

She didn't know why but she closed her eyes then slowly opened them.

"Nick?" Her eyes bulged when she saw Nick smile back at her.

"I knew you'd choose me." He caressed her cheek with the back of his hand.

She closed her eyes again, sinking in his touch. "Hmm, you're not real. You can't be."

"I'm as real as you want me to be. Go ahead touch me." He pulled her hand and placed it on his warm chest.

She opened her eyes and let out a gasp. Her hand felt warm and she looked at her coat on top of her laptop.

"Oh my god." She fell back on the bed. Still confused that it was all imagination.

She looked at alarm clock on the night stand. She was asleep for 2 hours. Time to get up. She hurled herself up slow and easy. Her body felt like Jell-O and her head was starting to pound like she'd just been to a concert. Her body was still in sleep mode when she stood up. Her eyes were small slits as she adjusted them, even in the dimness of the lamps.

The suite was empty. It looked like Will hadn't come back yet so she decided to get some fresh air. She grabbed the card key, took her coat and closed the door.

She turned around and crashed into something hard.

"Easy there. Amelia?" Nick's surprised eyes peeked down at her.

End Notes:
I wrote a couple chapters to this story, hoping to post them soon. Thank for the responses so far. :)
Chapter 6 by Mariah
Amelia pulled her hands away from his. She looked him over. Why was he always around at the weirdest times? It was almost like he was purposely trying to follow her around just to stir up trouble. Why did she get the feeling he was up to no good?

"Sorry." She said quickly and made a move to pass him but he caught up to her.

"That's OK. Where are you going?" He picked up the pace nearly walking in front of her toward the elevator.

"Out." She replied flatly.

"Oh good. I'm about to head out myself. In fact, we should keep each other company. It is late; I don't wanna take any risks."

Amelia ignored him and jabbed her finger on the down button. As she was waiting she blew out a chunk of air. She didn't realize she wasn't breathing until he started getting closer to her. The gesture made her hands shake.

She moved further to the left and made a small thank you when the doors finally opened. She walked in a clipped manner as he followed right behind. It was unfortunate. He was making her really uncomfortable now. Plus the way he smelled was getting to her. When she knocked into him she got a good whiff of his cologne. He smelled like the ocean. Brought back a lot of memories she didn't knew were there.

"You're gonna be silent the entire time? Well OK, that's great. Makes things so much easier for me."

Amelia bit the inside of her cheek to keep from speaking. The second she gave him any attention it would be bad. Nick can't be the boy, he just can't. Those eyes. Everything about him seemed so far off. So different from her world. What confused her more than anything was when did she live in Florida? All her life she was a valley girl. Born in Hollywood, raised in Calabasas. Not proud of it but those were her roots. For all she knew she didn't have any immediate family. She was an only child too. She thought of another theory but quickly brushed it away. These were just merely hallucinations caused by… she couldn't think of an answer.

When the elevator doors opened she tried to bustle out of there. The second she stepped out she knew exactly where she was going: the hotel bar. Looked fairly quiet and empty. The perfect dive-like atmosphere that matched her mood. It was just want she wanted. She made a bee-line for the counter and ordered a drink. She looked back and low and behold, he was watching her.

She took the drink and moved to sit in the corner booth. She played with the cherry at the bottom, twirling the red cosmopolitan in a whirlpool.

"So, how are you doing?" Nick started casually.

She rolled her eyes and took a long sip of the cold drink. The icy liquid trickled down her throat slowly as she watched him sit on the other side of the booth.

"OK, fair enough, continue to ignore me. But you know I'm right about Brian. He's a married man. I don't know what you guys had going on but I want it to stop. Stop fucking around. Alright? Cause if you don't then, oh boy, just—leave him alone."

Amelia stopped twirling the tooth-picked cherry and glared at him hard. "You don't know anything. Stop with the bull shit already."

She downed the rest of drink sucking the cherry off the toothpick. As she chewed ravenously she felt his eyes on her.

"What?"

Nick shook his head, trying to find another way to approach this. He rubbed his eyes, tired of the secrets. The trepid ones that haunted him on tour and whenever he saw Brian lock the door and barricade himself in his room unless Baylee wanted something. All Nick could do was look at her and it made him sad. He didn't want to be the bad guy here he just wanted some things straightened out. If Amelia was still after Brian then he needed to know. How was he going to know?

"That guy you're seeing… do you love him?"

Amelia narrowed her eyes. "Not that it's any of your concern, I do."

Nick pulled back, thinking of a defense. Instead he blurted out, "What's between you and Brian?"

"Look, I don't know what your game is but this is getting sick so you better leave me alone."

"I don't play games. I'm giving you a chance to simply come clean." He retaliated.

"Go fuck yourself." She attempted to stand up to put the empty glass on the counter.

After she placed the glass at the end of the counter, she reached into her pockets trying to locate a bill. Had she taken any? She smiled when she reached in her jacket pocket but frowned when she found just the key card. She was certain she left with some security.

"There's something going on with you. Brian's an idiot. Being separated wasn't ideal for him and he knew it. Whatever happened between you two was a detour. You and I both know it." He slapped down a 20 next to her, fixed the collar of his coat and turned on his heel. "Keep the change darling."

She grabbed the bill suddenly, as if it was the first time she'd seen it. What did he think she was? If there's anything that irritated her more it was others footing the bill. He just embarrassed her and got away with it. The bartender stiffly took the bill and placed it into the till. Everything happened so fast she couldn't process all of it at once.

"Shit." She cursed, billowing out of there as fast as she could.

She caught up to him leaning against the lobby wall checking his Android. He looked up with large eyes. No not again.

"I'm not playing games. I promise, trust me." He whispered, coming closer to her.

"I don't know that-"

"Come on. The raft's over there. Get it and bring it here." Nick called to Amelia sitting at the edge of the pool.

Amelia pulled the silver flotation near the diving board and threw it in the pool. She looked around the backyard and couldn't find Nick.

"Nick? Where are you? Come on, where are you?" She called out, a little scared.

"Gotcha!" He came up from behind and tackled her until she fell in the pool.

When she emerged she started swimming away from him upset that he could be so cruel as to scare her that hard. She was about to swim to the diving board when she felt a strong spray of cold water on her back. She turned around to see Nick in a fit of giggles. He was holding his Super Soaker Mega. Amelia wasn't going to let him go that easily. He attempted to spray her again but she made a fast duck under water and swam swiftly to the bottom of the end of the pool. She didn't realize she was underneath Nick in a flash.

She pulled both his legs under the water and finally came up for air. She didn't have time to catch her breath because he was sprinting after her like an Olympian. When she reached the stairs he grabbed a hold of her leg pulling her back in the shallow end nearly making her fall on top of him.

Amelia caught her breath suddenly stopping. Everything stopped for that matter. She saw Nick. She was bewitched by his mischievous smile and curiosity.

"Ooh, hold still." He said suddenly.

"What?" She tried to suppress her fear that encumbered her senses.

He extended his index finger finding a small, bright red ladybug on her eyelash. It was so small it looked like a red dot. He looked at the insect then back at her. She was giving him that look again. The one that lies between trepidation and shyness. He adored that about her.

"Make a wish." He said wistfully.

She closed her eyes but there was only one thing she wanted: she didn't want him to leave. She didn't like it when anyone left.

"Nickolas, food's ready. Hurry up before it gets cold." Jane stood outside the screen door and turning to go back inside.

Amelia shunned away as he blew the ladybug off, threw the squirt gun to the side and swam to the stairs near the shallow end.

They say you're never supposed to tell a wish or else it won't come true. In this case Amelia might make an exception. When something good happened it may not last as long we thought. She wanted to know this for sure. Her father abandoned her while growing up, barely in her life when she was an infant. Her mother was bordering on following the same path. Would people stay if you tell them or do you keep quiet? She didn't know but she was going to find out.

He never knew. And why would she say anything? What would it help? She was 8 years old and her life was over. He said nothing and did what he was told to whenever his mother spoke. It was like a dog trainer calling its pet. Here he was, jumping out of pool leaving her.

Amelia pulled away when she realized she was so close to Nick she could hear him breathing. It was getting to be too much. She raced out of the situation and headed toward the stairs of salvation. The stairs. No. The pool stairs… They really were there. He felt so real. His amazing eyes made it surreal to comprehend. It's impossible though. Why didn't she remember any of this before? Why was it happening now?

Nick chased her up the stairs watching her open the door. Going after her would be a mistake; it'll only lead to more confrontational discussion. Did he really want to dive into the fire? Did Brian matter really all that much? This was about Brian? Wasn't it? What the hell was it about that girl besides being Brian's side order?

His legs moved before he could make a decision. Before she could close the door his foot stopped the motion. She yelped as he forced his way inside, not knowing his next moves. His skin was shivering when he saw the look on her face. She turned away and charged after her phone.

"Why are you doing this?" Nick moved to the bedroom.

She ignored him and found her cell underneath the sheets. She took a deep breath and rung up Will.

Nick took a seat on the sofa chair silently. He was afraid to leave.

"Will, hey it's me. No, I'm OK, when-what time are you coming back? The shooting goes passed midnight? Can't you get—yeah I know. No its, well, OK. Well, I want to wait for you—I see. Will, I just need you here. No, everything is fine. Nothing is wrong. I love you too. Yes, I'll figure something out." She hesitated before clicking off the line. She was expecting this to happen.

Nick sat still and watched her every move like a cheetah, conniving and cunning. She was becoming really unpredictable and it was confusing the hell out of him. His eyes followed her as she sprung up from the bed and pulled open the door of the mini bar. She grabbed a few choice bottles and went to the balcony, shutting the screen door abruptly.

Amelia decided it was time to drown. She didn't care anymore; she wasn't going to tell Will the truth. Why was she always holding things back? She cast aside the question and opened another small bottle of vodka peach and chugged most of it in one swing. She managed the bitter taste in what little feeling she had left.

She heard the screen open slightly but didn't turn around.

Nick sat next to her and stared at her. There was no way he was going to leave now. She was sad now; maybe she might open up and talk. Maybe about Brian. He tried once again to get through to her. She just moved to the corner as far as she could.

Amelia barked at him again telling him to just leave her alone. She didn't want to talk and she didn't want him to see her like this, or anyone for that matter. She just wanted to wallow the rest of the night. Doing whatever she could to numb the isolation she felt. Be invisible.

Nick thought for a moment and took the initiative. He couldn't take it anymore. At this point it was beyond a buzz she would be experiencing. He knew this personally. But with a girl, any girl, anything more than 2 mini bottles is a red flag. He grabbed the last bottle out of her grasp and held it above her head.

"Hey asshole, that's mine." She grabbed above slipping on the chair when she made another attempt.

She was sloppy. He held the bottle higher when she climbed on the chair to match his height.

"Not anymore. Come on… were you planning on cleaning out the fridge? You don't wanna do this. Whatever happened on the phone can't be that bad." He maneuvered the bottle from his left hand to the right one.

"Oh yeah? I wouldn't be stuck with you if that were true."

He rolled his eyes and threw the bottle down to the street letting it smash to pieces.

She pushed him, her face contorting in a frown. "You're going to pay for that you know?"

She pushed him again only to move away. No she wasn't going to lose it.

"I just wanna talk." His sincerity threw her for a loop.

She looked at him and scoffed. "And I don't give a fuck."

She pushed him away and stomped out in a huff staggering; her body swaying. There was no getting away from him since he was hot on her trails.

"You're clearly not all together. Just sit down and take a second. You know the headaches come first—"

"Can't you just stop already? Stop following me and stop it with the memories!" She yelped, it was too late to save herself.

He pulled back and raised his eyebrow at that. "What are you talking about?"

Her eyes widened and she pulled back, her body staggering against the end of the couch. "Nothing, forget it."

He got fed up and stood her up. Lowering his voice this time, "What do you mean memories?"

When she looked back at him she couldn't help it. A few flashes from childhood came in a blink and she was overwhelmed with the power they held.

How could he possibly understand these flashes? His eyes were triggering them. It was something in his gaze that awoke them out of nowhere. She felt weak, almost like she'd fall over any second. She looked at him with glazed eyes and fell against the wall in the living room.

Nick caught her and looked in her eyes. This time, he had a flash of a small one of a brunette little girl playing a video game with him. He never noticed her before until now. Her eyes, they were these wide green and butterscotch color. She had a big stretched smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes.

He shook his head and stared at Amelia. No way was that her. No way any of this was true. They were the exact same eyes.

"I think this must be a dream." He whispered not believing what just happened.

She looked away, anywhere but his eyes. "I should go." She looked at him briefly. "Let me go."

He moved away, she was finally leaving. As he was watching her walk away he had another flash. This one was about Nick in a car riding in the back as he was leaving his home. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted the small brunette staring at him as the car was pulling away, tears burning her eyes. She left the window and he turned around. It was the first time he cried that much. He was trying to keep it in but his mother was saying it was going to be OK.

Nick pulled out of the flash. Amelia and this girl… They can't be. No it isn't. There's no where she was the girl he left years ago when he was 12. One thing was certain he concluded.

"She has her eyes."Amelia laid in bed wrestling with sleep. She wasn't thinking of anything in particular but one thing just wouldn't leave her thoughts. If there's anything she didn't want to confront: those flashes. Nick was the boy who left her in Florida. There was no hiding it anymore. The truth rang out so loud she thought she would be going deaf from the harsh reality. Now all she needed was concrete proof but there wasn't any. Another misshape formed. Only one problem remained: she didn't want to believe it. How could she have known Nick growing up? Surely he would have recognized her but he just looked at her as if she were crazy.


She reached over and checked her phone for the 13th time in the last 30 minutes. She sighed and slammed the mobile on the cushion of the comforter making it bounce. Will's not listening, what's the point? She picked it back up starting to flick around her address book and scrolled down the name list. A lot of people she rolled her eyes on, wondering why some of these people mattered. She froze when her finger stopped on Brian's contact information. She'd received two missed calls earlier from him and no message. She knew he was around even if she didn't see him. NKOTBSB was sort of hard to ignore. The promos for the performance were everywhere. It was part of the reason why she wouldn't watch TV. That would mean Donnie was with the guys probably and hanging out in clubs after rehearsal. No doubt they would be staying in the same hotel.

She knew it was just unforgivable. It was so wrong that everything inside her screamed to remind her how downright evil it was. Will is a good man. Don't do this. You can't do this to him. You love him.How often did she listen to that voice controlling her every move? Every time. Now her heart was speaking. Her conscious was non-existent.

She grabbed her phone and texted Brian. She wasn't going to regret this, was she?


Room 213, come alone. -Amelia

She pounded the back of her head on the pillow. There was no turning back. She did it. She's going to this. Can't back step anymore.

The knock on the door pulled her into reality. Wow, that was fast. She was suddenly terrified. Her hands shaking from the thought and reality of it all.

She slowly moved to get up, taking her time walking to the front of the door. She took a deep breath and placed her hand on the handle. She closed her eyes and reopened them when she opened the door.

She pulled his face close to hers. She looked directly in his eyes taking in the dark patience in his stare. Her lips barely brushing his.

"The bed?" Brian breathed out, just barely.

She answered him by shutting the door, locking it and backing him against it.

She moved closer, her lips lingering over his, waiting for him to sing her song. Did he know it? Did he know how she felt?

"Make love to me. Make love to me now—" She was cut off by his lips brushing over hers fervently.

He's never kissed her with such passion and a crazy desire that would make her fall against him for support. Until she was about ready to melt right then and there they moved to the bed, unfastening and discarding every piece of clothing they had. Her breathing sped up at a glorious rate and she wondered if he could feel her body shake under his.

She closed her eyes. Making sure this wasn't another dream. Then she was sure she wasn't when she heard her name being called.

"Look at me Mia. Open your eyes." He whispered gently.

When she opened her eyes, she could feel him begin to enter her. He was just brushing the tip over her. He pulled back and kissed the corners of her legs so slowly she thought she was being kissed by a feather. His lips trailed to the sides of her hips setting her nerves on a high she didn't know existed. She forgot what it was like to feel this good again, about everything. Taking in the moment as it comes. She closed her eyes when she felt his tongue slip inside.

She grabbed the pillow in a balled up fist and pulled the pillow over her mouth. She wasn't going to take the chances on letting anybody know what's going on.

When she felt him slide two fingers inside. She screamed her lungs out directly into the pillow. She yelped his name and started heaving.

When she came he took all of her in. She tangled her fingers in his hair and pulled his eyes to slowly meet hers.

"I love you so much."

"I love you back." He said against her lips before melting into another passionate kiss.

Their hands linked as he pushed her legs apart. He pulled from her lips, planting a small sweet kiss before looking into her sedated eyes.

He stared hard and deep as if confessing his secrets. The ones only she could know. The ones that irritated him every time he did what he was told. Followed the rules. Swallowed his pride and dragged his soul along once again. But now, the dream is no more. She was his fantasy for many years. Now she was a reality.

She brought him back when she moved her hips to meet his. Granting him passage in her own way.

"Make love to me Brian." She held on tight when he entered her strongly.The sun shined through the silvery silk curtains that next day. Amelia stirred and shifted in his arms. The more she moved and squirmed in place the tighter his arms secured around her frame. She felt so warm. So protected. She had put on her clothes since last night. Her thoughts were muddled but it's was all real. The night. How she felt when he wanted her. Finally, it wasn't a dream. She shifted around holding onto his hand as she tried to get more comfortable and didn't feel like a contortionist.


"Quit moving, you're waking me up." Amelia's eyes came into focus. That sounded an awful lot like—

"Nick?" Amelia scooted away as if she were burned by him.

Nick in all his tired glory sat up on his elbows with one eye closed. His bed head prominent and obvious enough for anyone with eyes but she didn't seem to notice.

He groaned, rubbed his eyes, slowly reanimating, "Good morning."

Amelia realized she was still in her clothes and breathed a sigh of relief. Then she realized this was Nick. What was he doing in her bed? More importantly, why was his arm around her like they just-

She looked around the room. Everything seemed quiet, shaded and peaceful; she was feeling anything but. She kept looking from him to her body, wondering, just what the hell happened last night.

She sat at the edge of the bed with her face falling in her hands. "Where's Brian?"

She felt him kick off the covers and move closer. "He couldn't make it."

She pulled back and looked at him strangely. "What does that mean? I asked for him."

Nick whistled and stood up next to the bed. "I know that. He never got the message."

"Quit fucking around, what happened? Why are you in my bed?" She stood up and charged toward her demanding answers.

"You sent him a message. But I got it when he wasn't looking, deleted it and found you here nearly half awake. You looked like me 2 years ago."

Amelia scrunched up her face as if she were back handed. "What?"

Nick rolled his eyes, straightened his clothes and grabbed for one of his shoes. "Don't worry. Nothing happened last night. Brian doesn't know anything. I'm actually surprised your boyfriend didn't come back. I half debated coming to your room."

Amelia harshly pulled her hair up with one of her butterfly clips and fastened it out of her eyes. "Wow. So none of it happened? Jesus. But why didyou come?"

Nick laughed despite pulling back what went down. He'd barely had anything to drink so he remembered everything. Even when she thought he was someone else.

"Because I didn't want you doing something you'd regret. And quite frankly, it was wrong to leave you to get all liquored up. I was sort of afraid you'd contact him. Knowing he'd jump at the chance. I gotta say though, you're pretty tough when you're sloppy drunk." He secured both shoes on and stood up to make some coffee.

Amelia was left still confused. Her ears started ringing as if she heard a freight train coming closer. She was glad it went away and looked around for her cell. She reached under the pillow, her usual hiding place and came up empty. She checked the night stand drawer and still nothing. She felt underneath the bed and frowned when she ducked her head under to find nothing but empty space.

She stood up and walked to the kitchen, watching as Nick made himself right at home. "Where's my phone?"

The coffee drip started and he grabbed two mugs setting them on the counter near the machine. "Oh, its safe don't worry."

"Why do you have my phone?" She asked with attitude.

He turned his body to her, looking at her with a lopsided grin. "I had to take it away. Brian has his phone on him 24/7. I got lucky when he walked away from the charger."

Amelia fake smiled and stuck out her hand. "Give it back."

Nick debated whether to succumb to the request. Then he thought of her strength and went to his jacket on the balcony, pulling the mobile from the inside pocket. "No more calls to Brian."

He dangled the device in front of her face and rose it up. Clearly his 6'1" frame was no match for her meek stature. She held up a silent fist and he relented. He remembered she could punch the air out of him if she wanted and he didn't want to be the brunt of the unnecessary violence.

She noticed her phone was completely dead. There was no way to know if Will or anybody called to leave a message. She sighed and plugged it into the charger hoping she could bring some florescent life to the screen for a few seconds. When it came up, she noticed the screen was blank. Nobody called. She looked at her phone in disbelief nearly squashing the compact mobile as if it was Will's head. All this worrying and he didn't care to let her know if he was coming back or not. Did he stop caring when she came to New York? It was like he was a totally new person.

"Just call him. I'm sure his phone died too. Donnie and AJ said they all went clubbing after the restaurant. I didn't feel like going since those rehearsals were a bitch."

Amelia calmly turned the phone over and yanked the coffee pot mid drip. She poured it into one of the cups and set it down almost soundlessly. She couldn't believe the nerve of Will. This was just like him to do this whenever he parties with Turtorro. Sometimes she really doesn't trust him. He didn't once bother to call her just to check on her or anything. She thought the drinking would make her forget all that. But it led to other things: blond things.

She lifted the mug attempting to drink but put it down without feeling. No, she wasn't going to crumble. Hold it in. Just hold it in until he leaves. He doesn't care. Nobody really cares what she does, who she does it with.

"You OK? Hey, Amelia?" He caught her up before she fell on the tile.

"Yeah, sorry. Think my head. Oh shit!" She covered her mouth and ran out making a straight head on to the bathroom and closed the door.

How embarrassing was this? After she finished coughing up an organ she slumped her head against the cool wall. This was the worst she's ever felt in her life. The dry itchy feeling she got in her throat irritating her to the brink. She needed to regurgitate but hated the residuals that came after. She flushed the toilet looking anywhere but the slimy remains of what she ate last night. Did she even eat anything? She had to stand up, the smell was getting to her. That rotten egg citrus aroma was burning her nostrils above anything else. She picked herself up slowly and washed her face. Everything in her stomach hurt beyond belief but she felt a little better.

She didn't notice the water was running until Nick swung the door open. She looked at his hands: glass of water in one, aspirin in the other. He seemed to know this move all too well.

He set the water and aspirin near the tissue box. "How are you feeling?"

She was surprised at how gentle he sounded. Nobody ever spoke to her in such a hushed tone. Nick turned over the toilet lid and helped her sit on it.

"I didn't see which organ I lost. Felt like all of them." She said, gruffly.

"Well, good to know you're coherent. Maybe you should take this." He handed her the antihistamine and the glass of water.

When she took them she leaned back and titled her head against the wall, closing her eyes.

Nick got down on his knees and looked at her. She barely opened her eyes when he glanced at her. She felt above her head for a wash cloth and wiped her face. She straightened her body so she was sitting out of the slump. She noticed Nick looking at her. She blinked twice and balled the cloth.

"Stop."

"What?"

"Looking at me like that."

"I'm just glad Brian wasn't here."

"Why do you even care what I do? I still lov—I don't know what I want with him. I just know I want him. I miss him. You have no idea what happened 2 years ago."

"Sure I do. And I know how you feel about him but I guarantee he doesn't feel the same. You still have your boyfriend. If you're unhappy then tell him. Don't sweep things under the rug before it gets worse." He put his hand on her knee gently.

"Nick, it's not your place. I know how he feels. I don't need to hear this when I know the truth."

Nick looked at carefully. Was she? Those flashes were really messing with his train of thought. But he needed to do one thing at a time.

"I think you should lay down. Just rest. You look like you haven't slept much. Come on." He held out his hand in front of her.

She groaned deeply and tried to move her feet but it felt like they were on ice or stuck on glue. She looked around with an odd expression.

"I think my legs have given out. Shit, I think they're asleep." She banged on her knee for a response.

Nick bit the bullet and slowly scooped her up in his arms. "This is probably from the headache. I used to get weird shivering feelings when I threw up too. It'll pass soon."

As he carried her to bed she held onto his neck tightly. He was warm, it relaxed her. His body, all of him was comfort. She never noticed this before. She almost forgot about her legs falling asleep when he brought her to her side of the bed. He pulled the covers halfway over her body. The trick to rid temporary paralysis is to keep warm. He learned this from AJ.

As he was tucking the covers she was looking at him. He was a mystery. Did she want to know what the hell that meant? How curious was she?

"Why are you doing this?" She asked sternly.

"Because you asked me to." He said, simply.

"When?"

Nick sighed. It was going to be near impossible to dodge these questions when she's wide awake. He opted for the terse version.

"In your memories." He leaned over to kiss her forehead.

Her lashes weighed down slowly and she sunk into a deep peaceful slumber, completely letting go.

End Notes:
Posting new updates, thank you to the reviews I've gotten. I was surprised to see them but happy to have them. Chapter 7 is coming up soon. :)
Chapter 7 by Mariah
Nick stood from the foot of the bed as he watched her eyes close slowly. She was going to be out like a light for a few hours. He wanted to just leave for the sake of her boyfriend coming back. Nick figured this should just be between them. No reason for everyone to know everything.

There's something so strange about this girl that had him in knots. He was so sure he saw her, that little girl. He looked around the suite and took a deep breath. He had to leave. So many people were looking for him it was expected. For a second he wished he never had this life. It was starting to create chaos. Looking at Amelia scared him. She reminded him of his life before all this. Before the world knew everything about him. Before Lauren cared to be his girlfriend. Before the pop star status. Before singing became the sole purpose for just being. His family was destroyed from the result of being on top. Did he feel like a winner?

Don't be so sure. He knew, he had a vision of how his life would be had all this came to fruition, but never like this. His phone was never silent unless he turned it off or broke it.

"Why aren't you leaving?" She opened her eyes pulling him out of his day dream.

Nick staggered. His breath hitched in his throat. "Just wanted to make sure you're going to sleep."

She flipped the covers off and sat up against the headboard. She looked at him through hazy eyes. He looked shaken, nervous when he finally stood upright. She watched his body language. Something was making him twitch. Amelia looked around the room. She glanced at the clock and rubbed her tired face. Her hair was disheveled but that was the least of her worries.

"I can't believe he did this. I should have never come with him." She collapsed in a huff back on the pillow. "I never thought I would beat myself up over this. But I did. Now I feel like shit."

Nick hesitated. It wasn't his place to respond since her personal life had nothing to do with him. Only as long as it didn't concern Brian; which wasn't true he believed.

"Sorry. I don't know what to say. I'm almost pretty sure he hung out with Donnie and the gang last night. Speaking of, the guys and I have studio time in the city in the evening. I should get going." Perfect timing he thought as he breezed over the time on his Android.

Amelia sighed. Everyone leaves. Everyone has to leave, don't they? Isn't that the story of her life? It shouldn't bother her this much but it was hard to ignore. With the combination of a residual hangover, Will's carelessness, Brian's face never leaving her thoughts and dreams, Nick being the boy from her childhood, it's a wonder she wasn't the female Howard Hughes. Closed off from her surroundings. She felt detached from everything suddenly. Mainly because of the ever going need for people to just leave. That's what they do best.

It shouldn't shock her, but as a small, warm tear slid down her cheek, she couldn't resist the power of her vulnerability.

"I'll see you." She whispered, turning her back to him, rather harshly he thought.

"Will's a lucky guy. He'll come around. Just be honest with him."

Amelia couldn't contain the tears that were flooding and flowing down her cheeks. They silently trickled down without feeling. It was a wonder he couldn't see her face. If she wiped them he would see and maybe rub it in her face. Make things even more intolerable than they always were.

She felt the mattress shift and turned upright, blotchy face and all. Nick sat on the corner on her side of the bed.

When she looked at him she allowed herself to break. She took 4 deep heaves of breaths, unable to hold it in. It was getting harder. His piercing eyes awoke something inside her. Just like they had when they were kids. She saw herself in them. The walls came down. She saw her 4-year-old self being chased by him around his backyard. The flash was in his eyes now. She remembered much more now. She could feel the memory like it was yesterday.

When the flash stopped, she saw the silky blue shade of his iris. "I don't want to lose him."

Nick sighed gently. She was scared. He can feel as well as see it. Her entire body was convulsing as if she was having a slight panic attack. He reached across and covered her hand with his. He turned her hand over and linked his fingers with her fragile ones. She closed her eyes while two fresh tears streaked down her face.

"You won't lose him. Just tell him. If he loves you, he'll listen. Let him know what a jerk he was. Flag him down on this."

The corner of Amelia's mouth rose and she shook her head, trying to hold in the eminent breakdown that was bubbling.

"I guess you're right. You know, I know we don't know each other," Big fat lie. "But, any guy would have left by now. I mean you even stayed until morning. That's not something guys do."

Nick blushed slightly. "Well, unlike those guys, I care when people need it."

She looked at him and grinned. "You sure you're straight?"

He gave her a pointed look. "You don't wanna go there."

"I'm joking. I never asked for any proof, you can rest easy."

He smirked and wiped her tear streaked face with his thumbs. He didn't want to see her in tears anymore. It wasn't worth it. She just needed some rest and all will be well. The back of his knuckles brushed her red cheek, he knew this was overstepping the bounds but he felt like he knew her. She had grown up since then. She became a woman. Her butterscotch eyes were checking his. He slowly removed his hands to hold onto hers under the covers.

"Nick…" She breathed, didn't expect it to sound so weak.

Her barely audible voice made him stand up from the bed. He caught himself.

*Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people*


He looked at his phone and excused himself outside to take it. She nodded pulling the covers back over her body. She watched him shut the door with a click and realized all she needed now was to sleep. She didn't want to deal with anybody.




A few hours later Will snuck inside the hotel room. He had a feeling Amelia would be a little peeved so he thought sliding under the covers like a quiet cheetah would make up for last night. Knowing her, she was probably freaking out about him since he didn't call. She wouldn't believe it if he told her that he was in a basement under a dive bar on the upper Westside. He realized it might be futile to tell her everything but he'd have to break it down when she woke up. He certainly had a rough night for the most part.

He went to the bathroom to clean up and closed the door softly. Any sharp noises would instantly bounce her upright and he really wanted to come back to relax. After Will rid himself of last night he peeled off his clothing and walked over to the King sized bed. Looking at her brought a calming smile to his face. She was in deep sleep; he could tell by her completely relaxed frame. The comforter moving up and down with the timing of her breathing. She looked so beautiful. What a sight for sore eyes after last night.

This was his cue. He unfolded the other side of the comforter and gently slipped in slowly without making the sheets crinkle. He breathed a sigh of relief when she didn't move. She must really be tired. She was probably worrying all night, getting bored with everything, even in the master suite. There was one other thing that bothered him.

Last night he hung out with Donnie and the rest of The New Kids as well as the Backstreet gang. He had gotten to know everybody pretty well except for Brian and Nick. Nick wasn't around all that much but he seemed cool in general. The night ended as soon as it began with him. Brian was present but distant. From the moment he met Brian he was always like that. He was still not used to Amelia's choice. Will was getting a little annoyed with Brian's attitude toward the whole thing. She made her choice. He should want her to be happy. Obviously he was a selfish guy trying to play with people whenever he could. Brian barely looked at anyone. AJ tried his best to loosen him up but he wasn't having it. It was AJ's idea to get him, or rather drag his out of his room and away from his phone out. He'd never seen Brian check his Blackberry so religiously. But whatever AJ did, Brian didn't seem all that into anything. He groaned and mumbled responses if anyone asked him anything. The New Kids group were observing this and Joey called a car service so Brian can sleep it off. Probably was best considering the overall nasty vibes he was sending out. Brian called it a night after 9pm not right before he shot Will a glare and headed up to his room. Will shared glances with Howie and AJ and they shook their heads. Thank god those guys didn't know about Brian and Amelia. The less people know the better.

Howie and AJ were cool though. They explained Brian's going through something in his personal life and he gets this way when things aren't going well. As long as it's not affecting his performance the guys think he should be OK. Will wasn't so sure. Something was off with that guy. He had so much going for him. Leighanne is such an amazing person. They have a family. Everything Will wants with Amelia. He has it all. Why is he acting like such a prick? Will closed his eyes as if trying to shut out the reason. Maybe that other guy, what was his name? Nick? Maybe he knows what's up. Maybe he could find out some stuff about Brian through Nick. They seemed to be the closest of all the guys. Nick seems like a nice enough guy to get it. And he has a girlfriend so there's no worry there. Nick was probably with Brian last night.

Amelia moaned and pulled the covers tighter around her body. She felt the bed shift again. Maybe he got off the phone. Its enough that she's dreaming of the two men she fell in love with at different times in her life, why does he have to keep coming back? She decided she wasn't going to give in and turn around this time. She needed a break from all these memories.

She felt a presence so close to her. It can't be. Could it? No way. Nick would not do this-

She gasped and turned around to see Will's sleeping face. Something wasn't right here.

"Will? Wh-at? Will, wake up." Amelia shook his shoulder.

"Hmm?" He opened his eyes slowly. "What, what's wrong?"

Amelia sat up looking at him incredulously. "What happened last night?"

"I—I, sweetheart, I am so tired. Can I sleep for a little bit and then we can talk?"

Amelia's eyes started to close again. She didn't have the energy to push him to answer. She'd have to wait. She sunk down on the taunt pillow roughly. She was probably being irrational. She can see in his face all he wanted to do was sleep. She brought the back of her hand to his cheek, stroking it. She missed this. Missed the feel of him. She traced a finger down his face and stopped at his lower lip. She brought her finger up and felt him kiss it.

"Angel. I love you so much. Come here." He kept his eyes closed as he pulled her into his arms.




Brian awoke to the sound of sharp knocking. He didn't request a wake up call so this was unexpected. He weakly lifted his head from the dip of the pillow, checking the red crystal alarm clock. It couldn't have been after 2pm? He knew he had rehearsals at 5pm but The Firm always wanted everyone to arrive an hour before just to check in and go over some new things that might be added in the performance. Which almost didn't make sense since the show already had enough bells and whistles.

Brian pulled his body around and took a deep breath. The knocking jolted his body fully upright. His eyes popped out and he shook off the tension in his shoulders. His entire body was intense and he felt like at any moment he might hit something, or someone.

"Yeah, wait, hold on." He swung his legs around and tried to stand up.

When he walked the few steps to the door he checked the eye hole, another groan escaped his lips. If there was anything or anyone he didn't want to see, it was him.

Nevertheless Brian unhooked the chain from the lock and slid it open. He closed one eye as he pulled the door wider, leaning his head on it.

"Whoa Brian, you just wake up?" Nick looked at him strangely suppressing a giggle.

"No, I was hit by a sledgehammer. What's up?" He rubbed his eyes and covered a yawn.

"Well, you missed breakfast about 8 hours ago. Do you wanna come down for lunch? There's a lot of cops down there and its getting a little too New York. Donnie was asking about you. You're really missing out on all the fun B-Rok."

Brian wanted to ask if Will was there but he had a feeling since NKOTBSB and the Blue Bloods crews are mingling a lot lately, luck would have it. It's unfortunate he'd have to see him for a couple more days, but glad in case he's at work so he can reach Amelia. He could have sworn she tried to contact him last night. He left his phone alone for 5 minutes and it went missing. He freaked out when he realized it was just at the end of the bed. When he checked it for the millionth time a weird feeling appeared in the pit of his stomach. He could still try. Will's been working a lot and came back probably really late. There's still a chance, he didn't loose hope. If only she could realize what he gave up. But truth be told, she wasn't solely the reason, but regardless, a prodigious part.

Brian nodded, "I'll consider it, give me 5 to get dressed."

When he closed the door he leaned the weight of his body on the hard surface, softly banging his head against it. He peeled himself off the door and started to get ready. He figured once he started his day everything would sort out itself.

Ten minutes later he emerged fully decent and ready for the day. As he trotted downstairs to the lobby restaurant a muffled voice caught his interest. He walked closer and realized once of the voices was Amelia, the other, a soft barely audible tone he had to squint his ears to make out. What was going on here?

"I don't know… Am I crazy to think he's back with Jennifer? She is filming a TV movie here too. I just think all the late nights remind me of 2 years ago when she came back and he couldn't think straight."

"Have you told him this?" Nick? Brian pulled back; realization hitting him square in the face. When in the world did they have time to talk so personally?

"You kidding? He's tired. I never get a chance. Maybe I should try harder. I don't know why I'm so scared. I guess, maybe, he'll leave me one day. How do I tell him? I don't know how to bring it up." Amelia sighed and leaned back against the stair railing.

Brian took the silence in and moved closer to witness the scene. Nick reached out to take her hand. What was going on between them? He would have never suspected anything was up with them in a million years.

"Brian is still in his room?" Amelia perked up, concern evident in her tone.

"I was Mr. Wake-up call but who knows if he'll do anything anymore. Except for some things." He whispered the last part so only she could hear but Brian managed to hear it too.

Amelia stared at him with a solid look, her eyes searing, breathing quickened. Not this again. "I'm careful. I don't want any distractions."

She still wants me. Brian's pulse raced and his hand holding the railing shook. He put his other hand on his arm, yielding the tremor.

"Thank god I intervened. Brian shouldn't know anything. Let's just go downstairs. Load up on some empty calories." He winked.

Brian's eyebrow raised. Nick has a lot of explaining to do.

Amelia smirked. Her mind easing slightly. "Still trying to lose weight Carter? You're damn near anorexic you know?"

Nick took her hand, leading her downstairs, "I'm just surprised with all the cops downstairs there's no donuts, just yucky peach danish."

She rolled her eyes, following behind him, her voice fading as she started walking further down, "I hate donuts, they look like sugary goo."

Their footsteps muffled their voices and it was getting hard to hear.

"Brian should be down soon. Brace yourself." Nick's voice trailed off until a door swung open and closed.

Brian decided to take the elevator after his legs started to work again. So it's like this now? Nick and Amelia are best friends? When did this happen? When did Nick ever have heart-to-hearts? Brian scratched the back of his head and pressed the down button. The more he thought about it the angrier he got. Well, he won't have it. He was determined as ever to get to the bottom of whatever this was and get the girl. Makes thing much easier knowing she can't resist him.




Amelia wasn't very hungry. She excused herself from the table trying to not lose it in public again. Her mind was a mumbled mess. She couldn't be enjoying another meal or anything without Will. She can't keep doing this to herself. Maybe Nick was right. Maybe he was just held up and honestly couldn't get a free second to get back to her. After they woke a few minutes after 12pm, he'd gotten 5 calls saying he was needed on set to re-shoot some of the scenes with Nick Turtorro. He even got calls while getting ready. Amelia could have said how much she hated that he left her. How cruel it was that every time he did this a piece of her died. But she really couldn't bring herself to tell him how she felt. It was beginning to be hopeless. She was his girlfriend. What she wants should matter.

She ran up to her room and shut the door. The loud crash was almost like a reality drum pounding into her brain. She collapsed on the bed, hugging her pillow as if it was Will. She needed him. The passed 5 days, she only saw him when he would come back really late at night or the next day for only a few minutes. If she had any brains she would hope a plane back to Los Angeles and be done with crazy New York. She couldn't wait to leave. She buried her face into the pillow and let loose what she couldn't easily slip out. Only Nick really knew this side of her. Of course he did, they were kindred. Only he doesn't know. But if it weren't for Nick, she'd probably secretly abandon this whole trip and wait until Will came back to say anything.

When Will was filming in the past it wasn't so strenuous. She understood the craziness. She gets it; he's a celebrity. People want a piece of him, his soul. When is enough going to be enough though? She wants him. Even if it's a small fraction. Just something to know she's not alone. Something to make her believe in love again. Sure they were together, lived together, saw the world together when he has time, slept together and anything else she could remember in the last 3 years. He was the longest relationship she's ever held on to. She never worried of the status. She was with him when he was struggling. It isn't easy being in your 30s and you no longer look like you could play 18 or 19. Those roles ended with the American Dreams era. The time where she was envious of JC Chasez and have only heard of the Backstreet boys as a guilty pleasure. She was Will's support through all of it. But she didn't prepare for it all to happen like this. Her life wasn't work. Your work isn't who you are. She didn't want to believe in the reality but it just might be true. It just didn't make sense. None of this felt right. She doesn't belong here.

She turned to the side and squeezed her eyes shut. Just being alone was bringing on all kinds of sadness. It wasn't right. She should have a say in some things.

She heard a knock and wiped her eyes. Of all times, now was really a time she didn't want to be around anyone. Another knock made her rise up from the bed from being curious enough. She looked through the eye hole and her breath hitched. She thought she was going to choke. It was Brian, his fingers grazed the door but she knew she was in for it. Temptation was literally peering its ugly head and she felt torn. The dream could be real. Couldn't it? All that she ever thought was making him a reality again. No more dreams. No more thoughts of what ifs burning through her like there was an inferno creeping on her lifeline.

She mimicked his motion but pulled back as if she was singed. He was fire. He was desire. Did she want to play? She looked at him once again. Her emotions getting the worst of her. She was so close to flinging open the door. So close. She could feel every part of her scream out to him. But it was no use. Her conscious rang out louder and she sunk back. He must have heard her breathing even through the door.

"Amelia, please." Brian purred against the door. She could feel the heat off the door. He had to leave.

Amelia wiped her eyes, looking through a sugary stare that was unfocused, lost. Her forehead leaned against the door, holding her body up.

"Brian…" She whispered, unsure, dazed and full of need to tear open the door and live out the fantasy.

*My shattered dreams and broken heart
Are mending on the shelf I saw you, holding hands, standing close to someone else
Now I sit, all alone, wishing all of my feeling was gone
I gave my best to you, nothing for me to do but have one last cry*


She couldn't take it. He was singing how he felt. When didn't he? But this time, it was for her. She felt it. She felt him. His pain. His heart. She could still feel his kiss, burning a place in her memory that just wouldn't go away. Now it may never. She pulled the chain off the door but stopped. Another voice rang out in the hallway. It wasn't Brian's, but, another man's. She looked through the eye hole and noticed Brian wasn't in focus. Then she heard the other voice clearly.

"What are you doing here really?" Nick's voice punched her ears as she listened in. This wasn't sounding good.

"I should ask you the same question? What do you want with Amelia? What's going on between you two?" Brian charged forward, his voice accusatory as ever.

Nick looked at Brian, a perplexed expression spread across his face and he held his hands up, "I don't want anything with her. She left the table pretty quick and I was just checking on her."

"Oh isn't that nice? So you guys just became friends out of nowhere? When in the hell did that happen Nick? You only met her once, remember? What's your deal?"

Nick rolled his eyes, everything Brian was saying was utterly ridiculous. "I'm not allowed to be concerned for people when they leave the table anymore? Jeez, Brian. Since when did you care what goes on? With anyone for that matter?"

"Don't start Nick. You don't want to go there. Not now." Brian warned.

"All hostility aside, I think you should leave her alone. I know you and Leighanne are having problems but-"

Brian moved Nick over so he didn't come close to the door. He knew something bad was going on and he didn't want to hear the words. He just wanted Nick out of his business. Amelia had nothing to do with him. And while he was breathing, Nick wasn't going to.

"Heh, Brian, man, cool it. I'm not here to fight you. Look, you haven't eaten anything or really hung out with anybody since we've been here. I know New York is uptight and ballsy but the guys downstairs are cool enough. Let's just both leave her alone. Come on," Nick calmly reached for Brian but he brushed it off.

Brian was stolid. There was no way he was leaving her alone. No way. Not with Nick around. Just because Nick has a girlfriend, it doesn't mean he's off limits. The one girl Brian cared about, the one girl that made him believe in falling in love again, now Nick wants her too. Not a chance. He wasn't going to allow Nick to stand in his way.

Nick made another attempt but Brian grabbed him by his jacket and backed him up against the wall. Nick's eyes were wide and shaken; he didn't expect such an action that was so abrupt, so out of character. Brian was never this forceful with anyone and it scared him now. He took a deep breath and held his own. Brian's strong, he'd forgotten. Nick's stature was nothing compared to Brian's stamina. He was small, but he could crush him if he wanted. Brian would never do that, would he?

"Back off, Nick," Brian lowered his voice to a sinister register, "I won't tell you again."

"She doesn't need you. She needs to be left alone." Nick fought back in a weak, hushed voice.

Brian's grip tightened. "What makes you such an expert on what she wants? You don't know her and you're not going to."

Nick tried to push Brian off him because there was a little crowd forming and there could be paparazzi lurking. "You're overeating on this man. There's nothing going on between us. Now get off. You're drawing a crowd now."

When Brian turned around, his grip loosened on his Nick's jacket. He turned back and looked at the blond. A serious but deadly look cast over his eyes.

"Promise to leave and I'll get off you."

"Leave her alone and I'll leave." He pushed him back but Brian kept him pinned against the wall.

"You're gonna get it Nick. Don't test me." Brian's grip came back.

"Brian leave him alone! Please." Amelia finally called out. She couldn't take this anymore. It was going to get worse.

When Brian dropped his hands at the sound of her voice, Nick began to regroup. It was his chance to escape, Brian thought. But Brian wasn't done. Nick eyed Brian's actions, waiting for his next move. Brian moved back to the door but Nick intervened. What a stupid move. Brian's fist came around and collided hard with Nick's cheek. Everything was happening in a matter of seconds. Nick and Brian were in a full out brawl by the time security were called and a gust of people formed around the scene causing on sight gridlock. When Amelia saw everything she came outside finally and witnessed the fight first hand. Nothing could separate the two friends and Amelia was knocked down for trying to reason with Brian. That was when it all stopped. It was like a movie. Any minute somebody would yell cut and they could wipe off the fake blood and clean up the make up. But this wasn't a stage. Nick and Brian finally broke away when more security pulled them completely apart.

Amelia staggered. She stood up with a wobble and rushed back behind the door. She watched as the two friends tried to come at each other again with more verbal spats. She held her eye but the other one she was sure was wet and runny.

"Guys, stop it. Whatever this is about, please stop. It isn't worth it, you guys are friends." She shut the door, locked it and went to find some ice for her eye.

There was more verbal shuffling she could hear but security was doing their job to split them up, she was sure of it. A few seconds later, things were quiet. Deathly quiet. Amelia finally moved to the mini bar. There was so much in the suite she got lost again. She forgot where it was. When she spotted it under the bar she relaxed.

Seeing them fight was killing her. She knew what Nick was doing there, probably going to check on her when she excused herself. But Brian? What was his problem? All of a sudden they're fighting? She would never forgive herself for coming in between friends like this. She removed her hand from her eye and crouched down to the fridge. She pulled out the ice trays and noticed they were empty. She went to the sink and filled them up. Meanwhile, her eye was in desperate need to be tended to, she could feel the bruising already starting to form. She needed something right now. She had to step outside and go to the machine.

She looked through the eye hole and the coast is clear. She exhaled and took the empty bucket and ran over to the machine. She was so in tune with her running, she didn't pay attention and crashed into Nick. He caught her before she fell and just looked at her. When she looked at him, her heart broke inside. His cheek was an unsightly blotch of purple and beginning blue. Most of his face was red and his hair damp from sweat. The perspiration dripping down his temples. He was ready to calm down. They both were.

The backs of his fingers touched her cheek. Her eye already looks terrible.

"Let's go take care of that." Nick whispered.

"Nick…" she looked down, ashamed, "I'm so sorry."

He shook his head, unphased, it was like it never happened in his eyes, "Come on, I brought you this."

He held out a cloth that was damp from melted ice inside. She smiled sadly and held up the bucket. He understood and filled up the container with cubes. Her heart was beating so fast she felt like she was going 170mph. When the container was filled to the brim they walked back to her room in silence.

Amelia really wanted to know why Nick was taking part in the fight. The sound of the door closing made her jump and she watched as he locked up.

"What a day, huh?" Trying to make light of craziness, she didn't know what to say.

"You're tellin' me. Security told us both to take the rest of the day to cool off. Guess that means rehearsals were cut as well." Nick placed the bucket on the coffee table.

Amelia held the ice-soaked cloth up and told Nick to sit down. She turned on the light and sat in the chair next to him. Things were silent again. When she reached up to place the cloth on his face he stopped her.

"Let me. You need it more." Nick said with such gentleness that made her break inside.

While he tended to her, she looked down as Nick tried to put the ice-filled cloth on her eye. She was sitting up high so he could get it on her more securely with her head tilted back and one eye closed. She looked at him suddenly, wondering about him for a moment.

Even in the dim lighting cast from the night lamp she could still make out the overwhelming shine in his eyes. But now they were darker a more dark blue, closer to black. She looked with one eye to the ceiling and tried getting used to the coldness. The silence that covered the room was strained.

"Where's Lauren?" Even though she didn't care, she had to fill the quiet space.

Nick almost dropped the cloth forcing Amelia to hold it still.

He looked at her with downcast eyes, "Sorry. I think she was out shopping with friends. Here, sorry about that."

He fixed the cloth so it was directly placed over her eye. "I got it, it's alright."

He let her take hold of it and didn't know what to do with his hands. She laughed and put the cloth on his cheek this time. He looked really cute, almost like he did when they were kids.

"We outta get you healed and get back to her." She whispered, there was a touch of seriousness to it.

He touched the rag on his face and instantly flinched. She touched a nerve and she knew it.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have. I mean its none of my business." She apologized but he brushed it off.

She noticed he was being uneasy. A little dazed. He didn't saying anything back and that was probably a good thing.

She cleared her throat. "I might go to Manhattan to surprise Will; if I don't get thrown out by the director. Just gotta wear glasses to hide this. Think I'll take the A train. There's a lot of construction on the 1 and 2."

Nick nodded, "I could give you a ride. It's a short trip and I'm familiar with the short cuts.

She put the ice cloth down on the table and looked at him. "Maybe later. I need a break."

"Wanna order in service and watch something? I haven't seen a movie in a while." He stood up and walked to the couch plopping down.

Amelia smiled, her hair falling in her eyes. "Yeah, certainly beats doing anything alone."

She stood up and followed him on the couch. They both went for the remote and giggled.

"Whoa... Deja vu."

"Yeah?" She raised an eyebrow.

Nick shook his head of the memory. It was so long ago. There was no way he was going to go into that one again.

"Leslie does the same thing."

Amelia nodded, crestfallen. Maybe he really didn't remember anything. "Oh, OK, of course."
End Notes:
Hope you liked it! Chapter 8 is coming soon!
Chapter 8 by Mariah
Brian retreated or rather was enforced back to his room where both AJ and Howie were waiting. He honestly thought he was going to be alone.

"Oh this is like a nightmare. Not you guys. I don't need the third degree." He shucked off his jacket, flinging it on the couch.

Howie came forward first and just stared at Brian in disbelief. He couldn't recognize his friend anymore. The guys knew New York would be a drag with Brian but they never expected things to turn out like this. It had gone on far enough. Howie shared a look with AJ and took a seat.

"We're not here to do that Brian. We just want some sort of explanation for your behavior out there."

Brian eyes bugged out like he heard the worst news of his life. "You gotta be kidding me guys? You saw how aggressive Nick is. He pushed me. He just wouldn't leave."

AJ sighed and pulled out a chair, "Sit down man. We need to sort some things out."

Brian scoffed.

"Come on. It'll be good for you." AJ pulled out the chair further in front of him so it was closer to Brian.

"You guys really think this is my fault? Please, I'm not going to have another blow out just because you don't know the whole story." Brian made a move to leave when AJ and Howie advanced forward.

Howie cleared his throat, "Can you try telling us?"

"You guys wouldn't understand. You don't know what's been going down for the past few years. How things are just-just not what they seem. You think this is a perfect world, huh Howie? Just everybody doing what they're told? We don't question anything or anyone anymore. That's not how we do it. Right? We're flawless. People look up to us like we know everything. You haven't begun to imagine what I've been going through the last few years. How Leighanne just—" Brian stopped himself before he continued.

"Rok, we know about your marital problems. Everybody picked up on it when Leighanne didn't come with us. We know about the fights. The brush offs you give us when we try to be there for you. You really haven't tried letting any of us in, and I gotta say, man, its hurting all of us. I thought we could trust each other." AJ concluded. He really didn't want to open that can of worms but now was a perfect time to mention everything, even if Brian didn't want to hear it. He had to make him understand what he's doing when keeping secrets.

Silence. As much as Brian hated to admit his faults, he couldn't deny the obvious. Howie noted this. They guys were getting somewhere. Or rather, a start on something.

"We know," Howie begun, certain this time, "we're aware of the basics, we just want to know what's really going on with you. We would never judge you. We've known each other long enough to realize that. Come on, we're asking as friends, not as band mates."

Brian shrunk back. They had tried this talk, or verbal intervention previous times in the past but he could tell by the looks on their faces, this wasn't going to be an argument. He couldn't handle their stares anymore. It almost felt like his soul was peeling away the shell that was incased around him the past few years. There was a lot they didn't know, a lot he never told anyone. Not even his parents when they called him everyday. It wasn't easy hiding a secret and it didn't make him feel all warm and toasty when the guys asked what was wrong for the trillionth time. Lying to them, lying to everyone ate away at him like nothing else. He almost wanted to scream the truth. That he always thought of her. That he would do anything to take back when he said in her bedroom. The awkward goodbye that followed, a memory he wanted expunged. They don't know Amelia like he does.

Could he take it back? Probably not. Could opening up be the solution? If Kevin were here, hell, he'd suck it up and deal with his problems. He wouldn't come to the conclusion of divorce. Kevin was really the backbone of marriage. He did everything right and things worked out for the better. The poster husband for everything going right; for happiness. That wasn't the case with Brian. He went out of his way to make everybody happy and it still wasn't enough. He didn't plan on falling for Amelia, just like you don't plan your whole life.

Could the guys really understand any of this? More importantly, were they going to support his decision, whatever that maybe?

Brian quietly walked and sat down softly on the couch. He stared at the ground. His eyes fixated on the carpet as he attempted to face the monster. The truth. No more secrets. He couldn't hide his feelings in anymore. Walls inside him began to crack open. Out came a spill of what he should have done.

"It started a few years ago…" Brian began.


"Ugh, see, I knew that guy wasn't right for her. Barbra should have just stayed with Jeff Bridges. I mean, they were married after all." Amelia dug hungrily into the bowl of popcorn between her and Nick.

"Oh god. These stories are too damn predictable. Of course she's going back to him. She just dropped James Bond on his ass 5 seconds into their date. Man, these movies are nuts I tell ya. Only a woman can really get the appeal." Nick shoved a mouthful of popcorn.

Amelia narrowed her eyes and grabbed a handful of popcorn, throwing it at his head. He turned his head so fast from flinching one landed on his eye lash. He flicked one off his shoulder and onto hers.

"Sorry it doesn't beat your Slasher-of-the-week movie on Spike TV. I don't know if I could sit through a Pet Cemetery themed hour."

"Excuse me, but the first Saw was actually really good. Least that story had a plot with twists and turns. This sap fest makes me want to heave."

"You're such a sour puss. What makes you think horror beats rom-com? I'll take The Mirror Has Two Faces over Suspiria any day. I mean, come on. You gotta be attracted to substance. Your tastes in cinema are as bland as your personality."

"Ouch. So hurt. You went below the belt Pac-Man. I just can't stomach another unrealistic chick flick for another second." He put the bowl on the side of the coffee table and propped his feet up.

Amelia smiled. She knew it. He so had her fooled for a minute there. "Guess you are like every guy out there."

"You don't wanna go there baby. You're not gonna loop me in with every other douche you've met just because we don't like the same flicks."

"Nick, you're not gay for liking a love story. I mean, you're in a relationship. You know something about love." He looked at her weird when she said that.

She crossed her eyes, "Er, inkling. How long have you guys been together?"

Nick stretched his arms behind his head and groaned. "2 years and some change. Why, how long have you and the actor been?"

When she thought back her eyes closed in slits, "Hmm, 3 years I think."

"You think?" He smirked. She looked as if she wasn't sure.

"Approximately. I met him at B & N around January so I guess it'll be almost 4 years. Wow."

Nick laughed, "What?"

Amelia smiled quickly then scrunched her eyebrows together. A serious expression sewn across her face. "Nothing, just realized it. Didn't know it was that long. That's longer than anything I've ever had."

Nick looked at her confused face. She looked so cute with a lost expression. He found himself staring and looked away. When did looking at a girl become like high school again? If he ever went to high school that is. It wasn't 10 seconds later until she came out of her daze.

Nick cleared his throat and looked at the screen. He scoffed and rolled his eyes. Another clucking sound escaped his lips as he watched the scene play out. Of course Jeff Bridges wants her now. It just doesn't make sense. The story is so one-dimensional he wanted to scream. The fact that Amelia thought it resembled Romeo & Juliet was astounding. Of course she would. This is like a modern day re-telling in a since. Except there wasn't an ugly duckling concept in Shakespeare's version. This one was so geared toward Streisand fans entirely. That demographic was obviously highlighted. The middle-aged woman of the '90s still living at home, dreaming of falling in love and being loved in return. Wanting for their Prince Charming to go crazy for them in the end. Pretty masterfully original, he thought sarcastically.

When he looked at Amelia he was immediately still. The way her big eyes focused on the scene was remarkable. Her lips bunched together and she sucked in her lower lip. He hadn't realized how inviting they looked; how red. The TV illuminated her dark features and milky skin.

"I can't watch." She dove her head into his shoulder and hid in tears.

Nick didn't know what to do except move his hand to her shoulder, calming her. Her body begun to shake as she tried to fight back her emotions. They were steady when she pulled away and hugged her knees. She rocked back and forth like a child.

"Are you alright?" Nick asked, concern stringing from his voice.

She stopped rocking suddenly and sat back into the couch, almost sinking in it. She blew a big chunk of hair that was in her eyes. She had to compose. She needed to get it together.

"It's just a movie. It's not real. I mean, some things are but stuff like that isn't. I'm a little too old to think everything I watch should be real. Ugh, stop me, I sound like Ellen Degeneres again."

Nick laughed despite her serious undertone. "I got what you're saying. I used to think a lot things were real in movies. A lot it is just smoke and mirrors and good acting. Don't beat yourself up on it."

Amelia made a weird face and crossed her eyes. She eyed the blond and playfully pushed him. "So you do like it after all."

He rolled his eyes to that. No way was he going to admit what he thought deep down.

Amelia turned her body so she was facing him with her hand propped under her chin. "I get the feeling you don't always say the right thing; but when you do its kinda refreshing."

Nick leaned back so he was eye to eye with her. "You're something else aren't you?"

Amelia sighed loudly. "Been a while since I sat this still before. Just feels like life's a rush. Sort of feels as if I'm in the way."

Nick was silent. He looked around the room and took a deep breath. Anybody can get lonely being in a cooped up place like this. What he would give to be alone. He hasn't been alone since he was a toddler. Has it been that long since he had a moment to himself? He was so lost in thought he didn't notice Amelia stand up fiddling with her phone.

She pressed the phone to her ear and waited for him to pick up. So what if it was after 10pm? He still hasn't gotten back to her. She should have gone into the city. This wasn't right. Now her mind was turning into mush. Her brain was feeling light-headed. She waited for the beep and ran to the balcony for some privacy.

"Sweetheart, um, look, I don't know what time you got off from shooting but it's New Years Eve-eve. Heh, call me back ok? I love you Billie." She croaked the last word and switched off.

When she turned around she stopped when she saw Nick on the couch. He hadn't moved a muscle and it was freaking her out. She came closer to the couch and carefully sat down.

She gulped. His eyes were open but it was like he was in a trance. His eyes were perfectly centered on the wall behind the plasma TV. Amelia glanced from the wall then slowly back to him.

She raised her eyebrows almost meekly. It was like something was controlling him. She tilted her head slightly trying to look in his eyes.

Don't look in his eyes, don't stare. It might come back. The flashes. She caught herself and squeezed her eyes so tight she saw black.

"Don't close your eyes." She heard. It was like one of her dreams.

She knew if she opened them she would wake up and everything would be gone. She'd be alone. She couldn't do it this time. She willed herself not to open them, not while he was still here.

"Please, Mia, open your eyes." She felt the back of his hand graze her cheek softly. She never felt anything so gentle. She felt like she might break if he touched her.

"I want to. But I want you to be there. I don't want you to go." Her voice broke as her eyes began to flutter.

"I won't leave, open them." She felt his fingers lightly touch her chin.

She didn't mean to shudder. She tried to hide her emotions but she couldn't, not around him. She felt naked, raw.

She slowly opened her eyes. He was still there. "This isn't, uh," she grabbed and rubbed her temples. She couldn't believe this was real. "I don't—I don't know. I feel so tired."

Nick knew there was more to it than that but she didn't look like she wanted to open up. "Lay back then. Here," he fixed the couch pillows so they were around her body.

Amelia reached out, stopping his actions. She was getting fed up with all this nurturing. "Nick, you don't have to do this. Really... don't feel like you need to out of..."

She was about to say pity but caught herself. Nick still understood it regardless of her not saying it.

Nick smiled sadly. Some part of that was right. He wasn't obligated to really do anything. But after the whole bru-ha-ha with Brian, Will being MIA for the third night, he didn't want to leave her. "You want me to go? I overstayed my welcome."

Amelia's face softened, she placed her hand on top of his. She tried to ignore how volcanic it felt. The guy was always warm, it was uncanny.

"I didn't say that. You just, you don't have to do this. I haven't consumed any alcohol or gone on any binges. Just I don't know, stop being so nice." She laughed and squeezed his hand gently.

"You want me to stop being nice? I'm just being myself. To be honest I've never seen someone as fragile as you before. But if you want me to go—" She interrupted.

"Stay. But don't feel like you have to. OK?"

Nick looked down and shook his head, this girl was so confusing its no wonder she didn't know how long she's been with her boyfriend. Maybe he's just as confused. Maybe that's why he puts work over her. Who knows? But she is a nice girl and she doesn't deserve to be treated like that. In some small way he was here to help kill her loneliness. Possibly for him too. But he would never admit that. The way the poor girl looked at him with those big doe eyes, why make it worse?

"Its cool," He put his attention anywhere but her eyes, "Oh hey, Bryan Adams? I didn't know he sang on this soundtrack."

"I love this song. It's probably more realistic than the movie. But it's so rare though, I mean yeah, the ending is cheesy/predictable yada yada. But I love this music. She wrote the score. I love how she did everything for this movie."

"Big fan of Babs?"

Amelia blushed, turning away slightly. "I've been to like 3 concerts and those are not cheap."

"I'll never understand the appeal of her but this song seems decent. I'll listen to anything with Bryan in it. How did I miss this one?" Nick scratched the scruff on his chin.

"Guess you're not a good fan." Amelia said as she picked up the remote and surfed the channel guide.

Nick stared at her, this playfulness was rare. He only saw it behind closed doors and lately there hasn't been a moment where he could get Lauren alone. Lauren was extremely promiscuous when they were alone. Most of time she didn't want to chat and just wanted to cuddle on the couch and touch him. Sometimes to the point of being to the point a litte bit. Not that he minded, being a guy. He was noticing it a lot more now. Were they friends too? Could they have long conversations about nothing in particular? When he met Lauren he knew wanted her. What's not to want? A banging body including an ass that won't quit, and long sessions of fun after a hard day of work. She wanted him around all the time. He couldn't complain. But there was something about her, something that lacked. His mouth went dry and he caught himself with the mental questioning.

He licked his dry lips, "Probably the case."

Nick's phone vibrated out of nowhere and they both glanced at his pants. She looked at him, awaiting his actions. All good things come to an end.

Nick stood up and pulled out the Android looking at the picture. "It's her."

She took the hint and waved off to him. If he was gonna leave, this was his chance. Plus, being after 10pm anyway, why would he want to stick around?

She didn't mean to eavesdrop so she stood up and went to the kitchen with the bowl of popcorn in her hand. She busied herself with saving the remaining contents in a Zip-lock baggy. She didn't want to listen but her ears failed to comply with that logic.

"…you're in your room? Uh, with a friend. Just uh, pretty bored actually." Amelia rolled her eyes. He was so feeding her big time bull shit. Maybe Lauren is the jealous type. Why couldn't he say where he really was? Amelia shook her head and went to the fridge getting something cold to chug. "I'll come back in a few. Sure, umm, no I haven't. Yeah I can eat."

Amelia wanted to laugh out loud. It's a wonder his nose hadn't grown since he picked up the call. When he said his goodbyes he took in a deep breath. Out of the corner of his eye Amelia was walking to the door. She turned the handle, pulling it open for him.

When he finally found his voice again, he cleared his throat, "I gotta go."

She nodded and walked away from the door, giving him privacy. She wasn't going to ask anything else. He was just gonna leave. He should leave.

Amelia slightly nodded to the door, "Its OK."

"OK, I just wanted to make sure you were cool." He bit his lip.

Amelia smirked, "I'm a big girl. You should be with your girlfriend. She'll probably call again."

Lauren might be the clingy type, which wasn't shocking. Amelia can relate since she's like that with Will. She really needed to get her mind off her possessiveness.

He smiled and turned toward door. He paused and turned around on his heel.

"Are you sure you are going to be OK? Do I have to worry about you buzzing Brian again or raiding the mini bar like Mel Gibson?" To ease her loneliness, he thought.

She emphatically shook her head, laughing. "You have nothing to worry about."

But really, she just wanted him to leave because the flashes might come back. When they do they cloud her thoughts. After a few seconds he finally turned outside, closing the door. She blew a big chuck of air she was holding out and sat back down on the couch.

What was wrong? Her mind drifted back to Will. Why couldn't she trust him? It was the same argument over and over in her head. She was getting tired of battling it. So tired her legs almost went directly to the fridge.

"Shit! Nick said no, you can do this." she reminded herself.

But then there was Brian. Should she? It was so tempting she couldn't refuse. Was it more than just that? Could he be more than a fantasy? God, it was so wrong, taking advantage of a married man who was separated just days ago. She hated that. She hated that it was so soon. So sudden. It made her feel like utter shit. Nick didn't say anything about disarming chatter. Would it be so bad?

She took a huge breath, picked up her cell and sent Brian a harmless greeting. No longer than 30 seconds, her phone buzzed.

They exchanged a slew of texts asking one another if the other was ok. When Brian asked her back she shook as her fingers configured the message.

Yes, just tired.-Amelia

Want me to come over?-Brian

She was about to say something she may regret. A yes would solidify her desires. Make the dream real. She made her decision. So much was riding on her response and she didn't like it. She closed her eyes and opened them. She was about to text "yes" when Will came trolling inside. Too late to do anything now. She hoped he didn't see anything as she shoved her cell in the back pocket of her pants. When he came in he stared at her with a solemn expression; it broke her heart. She felt a taunt pain in her hands.

He placed his shoulder bag down and smiled. "Happy New Year's Eve-Eve."


New Year's Eve had everyone in a bind. It was the only day where the parties are at the forefront of memories and who you kiss at midnight makes all the difference. How you start off the New Year affects the rest of the year.

NKOTBSB's performance was to be held in Times Square. Everybody's nerves were kicked into high gear. Brian was feeling a little more better thanks to Amelia's text, even though she didn't meet with him, it was a start. He was going to talk to her before the show. In person. Make sure she was there. Will was going to be there but he didn't care. He was probably doing some actor thing like he always does and Brian would finally have a moment alone with her. At least backstage. Something. It would have to be when the cameras are not rolling.

Meanwhile, in the hotel, Amelia watched Will do the ever tiring celebrity circuit. A few interviews here and there, she again felt like the third wheel. The Blue Bloods crew was doing a bunch of radio phone-ins along with a few talk show appearances. She was getting bored really fast with how it was going and decided to go site-seeing. It wasn't like anyone really cared. Will barely acknowledged her when she said she would go into the city. He waved her off like an irresponsible parent excuses their teen after 9pm dressed like Miley Cyrus.

As she turned her back on him she started to feel like maybe she didn't belong in this world. That maybe she should go back to her life in the newsroom, taking orders and editing idiots for a living even if it's for the niece of the Daily News. Would she have been better off? Walking through the lobby, a string of thoughts ran through her mind. She did have a round trip ticket, just no date. Would he miss her? Would anyone?

Her phone vibrated. She gulped as she opened it up.

Where are you right now?-Brian

She stared at it for a few moments debating whether she should answer back. It did make her feel happy someone thought of her. Even if it was wrong. She bite her lip and—

Isolating myself, where are you?-Amelia

In my dressing room. You wanna come by?-Brian

She sighed, thinking for a moment. This was certainly a tough choice. She wanted to but there was that feeling in the back of her mind. That gnawing feeling that shook the shoulder of the devil awake on hers.

I don't want trouble.-Amelia

You're not getting any. We can just talk.-Brian

Are you sure it's OK? I mean if Nick gets involved again, I really don't want anything to happen.-Amelia

She sat at a bus stop propping her purse on her lap.

It won't. I'll make sure you're safe. Nothing bad will happen.-Brian

Brian, I want to believe you.-Amelia

Then believe me. You can trust me Mia. Please, I need you to.-Brian

She nodded as if he was standing right there. She couldn't believe she was finally doing this. She was going to see him. Alone. Without restraints, or fear of waking up. Just them.

She sent him an affirmation and took in the directions he gave. She rounded the corner and took the 2 Train down to Times Square. Worry followed her all the way there.

When she finally came around the corner to his room she spotted Nick down the hallway chatting with a few girls. Her heart hitched up a few beats faster and her eyes grew wide. She looked at his face quickly. Oh no. This doesn't look good. But she could try it. He looked distracted enough. Just incase she hid well into the corner. She texted Brian back saying, "hold on." If she got caught by Nick, he'll never trust her again, and in addition, another round of Mortal Kombat will ensue. She had to think fast. She pulled her phone and texted Brian again.

Open your door for me.-Amelia

As if on cue, she looked at the door and it opened a crack, Brian's blue eyes poked around. She saw him. When he spotted her he mouthed "come on." She just looked frustrated and mouthed back, "Nick's here" she gestured with a small nod of her head to the end of the hallway. Just when she was about to lose all hope, it happened…

Lauren suddenly came out of nowhere and planted a big kiss on Nick averting his attention. Amelia knew she had to hurry. She scooted over and bolted into the room like a track runner, Brian moving out of the way for her. After closing the door and bolting it he caught his breath as he turned around to look at her. She was really here, she actually came. He has her alone finally. She was catching her breath and had a hand over her heart.

Brian's throat went dry. This was his idea and he was the one clamming up. But he couldn't help it. The sight of her, every part of her, just did something to him.

Amelia calmed down to the point of breathing relatively normal. Once she noticed Brian's obvious uneasiness she clearly her throat softly.

"How are you?"

When he finally came back to the moment he just smiled, "Better, you?"

She shrugged, she tried not to stare into his eyes. "Will came back. I mean he's busy but then again so is everybody. It is New Year's Eve."

Amelia took in a shaky breath. Maybe this wasn't good, her head was feeling dizzy. She thought she could handle it but no, it was so wrong. She gave in, she listened to her desires.

"I should go, I mean—you're, I'm—this isn't right…Me being here." She made a move to leave.

"Wait a minute." Brian's voice rang out like church bells. "You can't leave."

She pivoted and caught the look in his eyes. She glanced back down. He was looking at her with such an intensity she thought he was going to pin her with his eyes. They never looked so blue, so dark, brooding.

"I really have to go," she says again when he inched closer to her.

Brian breathed out. Just looking at her was painful enough. But he had to see her. Take her away the resistance she was putting in front of what she wanted.

"Brian?" She asked in a small voice. "Can you hear me?"

Silence. It was quiet and Amelia nodded her head down. She didn't catch him advancing closer and closer until he moved in to kiss her. It was hopeless and she couldn't stop him. She can't resist it anymore. She completely gave into to temptation as he rendered her speechless with his kisses. When he went kissed his way to her neck she took everything she had and forced him off her. It was struggle but she pulled him off her. Her forehead leaned against his.

She licked her lips, out of breath. After catching her breath she dared to look him in the eyes, "I'm not sure about this. This is because of Will. I must be out of my mind."

This isn't her. This isn't what needs to happen. He kissed her again, this time with more passion than before.

"Maybe. Maybe you want this too. I could see it in your eyes outside the restaurant. It was right and I just threw it away. I was so scared. I shouldn't have done that to you. But I need to make it right. I have to. I worried so much about what everybody would think; the media, Leighanne, even the guys. I put it all above what I wanted. Now I don't care what they want from me. Cause what I want is right here." He whispered before his lips covered hers gently.

He held her face, "Do you hear me? I don't care. I don't want to fight with anyone, no more hiding. No more living a lie." Between words he kissed her gently; placing small kisses to her eyes.

He was making it so hard for her to say no. What she couldn't believe was how much she was holding inside herself. She almost broke inside and then calmly looked in his eyes. She wanted to say something, her heart was pulling the words out of her.

"Brian, there's so much I have to say. Please list-" there was a knock on his door.

"Come on, Rok, open up."

They heard Nick's voice on the other side of the door and Brian panicked. He didn't want any trouble but Amelia gave him that look as if saying "we should tell him." If he didnt want lies, it needs to start somewhere, then she can trust him again.

She shook her head, incredulous. Why was he all of sudden hiding it? Granted it was new but why was he behaving so scared of Nick out of nowhere? Brian nodded over to his closet. She gave him a look of sadness. Why was he being so secretive? She was having some big doubts about everything. When they heard Nick again Amelia surrendered and went into the closet shutting it softly.

He didn't see her eyes and thank god as she watched Brian pull open the door. Nick asked him what's up. Things were still tense between them but both Howie and AJ were away somewhere.

Brian looked at Nick in worry. "So what are you doing?"

Nick ignored him at first and looked around his room. He shook his head and looked back at Brian who looked as if he was going to deck him again. He didn't want to start a fight, not why he came inside.

"Some of the guys are having lunch in the meeting room to go over last minute changes to the show. New single stuff. You're wanted." Nick said, a little sarcastically.

Brian had a feeling that was Nick's excuse to come up here and snoop around again. He was conflicted; he wanted to be open about Amelia but not yet. He wanted to keep things on the down low until things back home were settled with Leighanne. It was enough he had a huge altercation with her but he didn't want anymore grief with this. It'll be a secret for now. AJ and Howie know of it and won't intervene, Nick on the other hand, stubborn as a mule, won't let it slide so easily. Why is that? When they get back to LA he was going to find out just what was going on in Nick's head. Why he cared so much who Brian wanted when he had a girlfriend.

Just to clear the dirty water, he told him what he wanted to hear, "I'll be down there in a few."

Nick looked at him for a second, then broke into laughter.

"What so funny?" Brian asked.

Nick hesitated before answering, "I just thought I saw somebody ran in your room but it was so quick I didn't catch who it was."

Brian gave him the stink eye, "That's crazy. Am I not allowed to be alone before all the craziness of Times Square is going to drain me?"

Nick turned his back, this isn't even worth it. AJ should have dealt with him. He wasn't about to have another spill out with a stick-in-the-mud Brian. He just hoped that his mood won't be obvious when the cameras will be rolling.

When Nick left the room Brian made sure the door was closed and locked. Out in the back corner Amelia came out of the closet with a an unreadable expression. She couldn't look at him. She didn't know why he was acting like this. Why he changed so quickly when Nick was around. Maybe the other guys didn't know or something and Brian thought Nick might stir up more trouble. She hated this. She hated hiding. But at least he finally left, so now maybe she can just move on.

"Is he gone?"

"Yeah I think so." He let out the breath he was holding.

She moved passed him but he grabbed her arm gently.

"Meet me at midnight." He said which came out more of a command.

"Will might be there. If he won't meet me anywhere."

"I want to be with you at midnight. Please." He begged her.

She couldn't say yes because she honestly didn't know. Jumping back into the fire again? Did it feel good? Was it right?

She looked up with glass eyes, "Where?"


It was New Years Eve. Party time was apparent. You can almost smell the beer and whiskey off the breaths of the thousands of tourists that occupy New York's most prized event annually. People were bundled and stuffed together like sardines in below temperature weather that hits your face when you take in a breath.

There is only 10 minutes left. Will hadn't showed and Amelia wasn't sure what she was doing in the middle of the crowd. She didn't expect it to be so rowdy. She debated whether to just go to the riser under CNNs booth and wait for Brian. She looked at the clock and it read 8 minutes. The riser wasn't far from where she stood. As she checked the time on her phone the picture of her and Will came up. It wasn't fair, why did he do this to her? He said he would be here. He said a lot of things and it was never good enough. She felt so stupid. Time was ticking away as she made her decision.

She was going to meet Brian under the riser.

She wanted it. When she got there she was immediately nervous. She crouched underneath the riser and just sat on the bench.

She distinctively heard pushing and shoving and assuming it was Brian.

Her luck was destroyed when she saw Nick charging forward.

Her mouth swung open as she stood up, her ears burning from anger. "What the hell are you doing here? How the fuck did you know where I was?"

Did he know about Brian too? Where is Brian? Where was Lauren in all this? Tons of questions filled her mind as Nick approached her shaking body.

"I told you to stay away from him. Didn't I tell you he doesn't care? Oh God, he has you brainwashed."

Amelia narrowed her eyes and gave him a powerful shove. "Fuck off Nick. This has nothing to do with you. I—I need him. I don't need to explain anything to you or anybody."

Nick shook his head. She's not getting it. "Amelia, you don't want to do this. Brian's having problems. You're having your problems. It doesn't work. It won't work."

Amelia wouldn't believe it. She can't. If that's true, then this is her fate? Nick, Brian and now Will? But Brian twice. Maybe he's right.

"Stop it, just stop it. If you wanted to ruin my New Years you could have at least warned me. Now, this is, now you have the gall to—" She couldn't finish her thought. Her emotions were taking over her.

They hardly noticed the minutes dwindle down around them until 20 seconds were left on the clock. This was as good a chance as any to find him, she thought.

She started to run away but he pushed her back to him, "I'm not done."

She looked at him weakly, she couldn't believe what he was doing to her. "You just ruined everything. You ruined my life and now he'll never want to be with me if he knows your here. Will, Brian, its over, everything is finished now. You weren't supposed to be here."

10 seconds chimed in the background on the clock and she just looked at him, the look he was giving her was a desperate look of sympathy, a want, a need, a desire.

She opened her mouth to ask, "Where's Laur-?" He silenced her with a kiss and she was instantly stilled; her body froze.

Chapter 9 by Mariah

New Years would never be the same. Amelia decided she needed to catch the next flight back to Los Angeles and bury herself in work. She took a seat near the window and tried to put out the recent events that happened the last few days. Brian's no show had an excuse. Amelia found out Leighanne "surprised" Brian at the last minute and that's when she knew she shouldn't look back. Not on anything. If she wanted to keep her sanity she would try to not think of how Nick kissed her. Why did he do that? That look in his eyes, just why? She instinctively brought her fingers to her lips. Why was she still feeling the kiss? It was almost as if he just kissed her.

"Drinks, Miss?" She was pulled from her thoughts and turned around looking at the flight attendant.

"Hmm, oh um, maybe just water. Thank you." She said and stared out the window, she barely noticed the small bottle of water placed on her folding tray.

She looked out at the sky and sighed. Going back was what should have happened. She knew the second she landed in New York that something didn't feel good. Will was much worse than he was the last time he was filming out of state. She wanted to avoid confronting him on purpose just to make him feel like shit. Because he should. He lied so many times she couldn't keep track. Work changed him. Work does that everyone but this was different. It made him a worst nightmare. She wouldn't answer his texts or calls before she boarded the plane. She knew if she treated him like this, he would relent eventually. This wasn't right. None of this felt right to her. She should have listened to her instincts and stayed away. Back in her world. The one where she woke up and dragged herself too begrudgingly to punch the clock. But working at the Daily wasn't always abysmal. Some good things came from it. The friends she made, her editor always joking around with her.

She spent the last few hours left of the flight sleeping. She knew she probably had maybe 2-4 hours of sleep and she was going to need it, whatever she can get. You'd be surprised how fast you sleep on a plane when you haven't had a good night's sleep in barely a week. She can just see the editor-in-chief mentioning the obvious shadows under her eyes, along with a tripe quip as it is his style; but in a good way. She wanted to hide any traces of weakness. There was no room to show your business to anyone. The workplace wasn't made for that.

One of the flight attendants awoke her when the plane finally landed. She looked around the plane, slightly hazed. It took a few seconds for her to regain her senses. She started to gather her carryon items and deplane. She didn't have much so it was a relief she didn't need to wait at baggage claim for long. She hailed a taxi back to her apartment to get ready. On the way back she texted her editor saying that she would be coming within the next hour and all she got back from him was, "take your time."

She took a nice warm, long shower, making sure she was thoroughly washed and refreshed from the stench of New York. She wanted to burn the clothes she was wearing when she landed. It reminded her of the trip. She was being ridiculous. She needed to just forget it and move on. It happened, a lot of things happened. None of it should impede her life.

It was all in the moment she told herself when she walked into the Daily Newsroom. It was a stale sort of silent library-like environment but she missed it. She was glad to keep busy. When she went to her cubby office she was instantly hit with massive paperwork.

"Guess they missed me." She said, eying the pyramid of un-proofed documents lying sloppily on the corner of her desk.

She took a deep breath. Maybe going to New York wasn't a good idea for all reasons. She was never this backed up before and she knew if she didn't start now, she would get sidetracked and put it off later. But that's beauty of today, she was glad for all of it.

Her editor-in-chief, Thomas, a lanky guy with a young face and sturdy demeanor, noticed Amelia walk in and sit down. He saw her rub her forehead and felt horrible most of the new proofs were dumped on her. Being understaffed wasn't her fault but she always put up with it. Never asked questions. She looked like she barely had time to get ready and a little jet lagged.

He came into the room, knocking gently on the door, "You're only really supposed to do half of that. I told HR not to put the entire burden on you, guess they missed the point. I know I don't say this a lot but: just take your time."

Amelia looked up and noticed Thomas with a weird look on his face. He looked at her sympathetically, like he was her father.

Normally they weren't like this since it was daily and it was a chop-chop like atmosphere but she rarely took sick days or asked for anything. Mainly because she needed the money and wanted to save up for something nice, like a long vacation.

"Thanks Tom. But it's alright. Today I don't really mind it." She said, smiling sadly.

Her editor couldn't help but look her over. Her eyes were obviously bloodshot and pinched. Her reading glasses propped on the bridge of her nose like they were glued there. Thomas turned around and went back to his desk. He didn't want to get too personal. Besides, Amelia wasn't one to be personable in the first place. She hid it well. All work. All business. No cracks. He actually admired her for it. A lot of people at the Daily were middle-aged and filled with dysfunctional problems, mostly the women. As he sat down looking over the layout for tomorrow's daily he glanced back at her. He really worried about her a lot even though he knew he shouldn't.

Amelia looked disheveled but she didn't care. She circled her neck cracking the tension out so she can work more loosely. Work was what needed to happen right now and she had to bury herself into it before she lost focus. She tried to ignore the burning feeling on her lips when Nick kissed her. Ugh, she didn't want to know. She shook her head of the memory and planted her head into the proof pages. One down, another 500,000 to go.


Amelia had to stay overtime, being it only close to 9pm. There was no way she was going to have everything finished by clock out. Normally she left as soon as she got finished with tomorrow's stories but because she left, and everyone at the Daily relied on her most of the time, she had to finish.

At hour 7 she was hit up by Thomas who came racing into the room.

"Stop the presses! I got a new one for you." Thomas dropped a piece of hand-written scribble in front of her eyes. Or that's what it looked like to Amelia.

He gave her a knowing look and she complied, taking a look.

She shuddered in horror when she found out it was Karyn Johnston's review. The monster herself.

She shook her head, "Tom, this is impossible."

"Come on, Mia, I'm saying please for a reason. It can't be that bad. Just a little movie review. It's not a political or editorial. Be grateful for that." Thomas certainly knew how to put on his best car salesman voice. And he was right about the semi short piece. It definitely wasn't an important article.

But, ugh, she cringed at the thought. She can't proof for somebody that defensive. She looked at the hefty brunette with long hair and blunt bangs with a glare. This girl was a case. Picture Monique without the likability factor; spoiled to the hilt to boot.

Amelia was conflicted. Her instincts kicked in. "It's out of the question. She's trouble."

"Come on. You know you're the only one to really do this." He knew she would brush it aside after what Karyn did to her last time she tried to work with her.

Amelia sighed, nobody will put up with her, not even the editor-in-chief. Karyn's uncle owns the Daily News and she could have Thomas and anyone who pissed her off reported. For Tom personally, it would be strike 3. No more job. Amelia's the only one who could do it. Ever since Karyn came into the picture last fall, things were a shambles. She once proofed a piece Karyn did a long time ago on a music record and just made it look like she wrote it but it took forever because the first time she did it she changed the title and basically the entire piece because it was one big run-on sentence. She bit her tongue and smiled at Thomas. If she didn't care so much for everyone here she wouldn't bother critiquing her work.

When she proofed the tripe, she brought it to Karyn who was instantly smug with her, giving her the best my-shit-don't-stink-grin. She had the Mrs. Potts smile but the heart of Maleficent. She always looked down at her since the beginning. Amelia couldn't change that. She just tried to get on her good side. If possible there was any.

"Do it again. And make it perfect. Try not to use so many big words this time." Karyn waved her off as if she were a fly near her face.

Amelia clucked her tongue, biting it so her retort was held back. Talking back only made it worse. Karyn had to have been the most insufferable human being on the planet. Everything Karyn said had to be done or your neck was on the line. It was an unfriendly atmosphere whenever she was around. Some days Karyn wouldn't come in until 3 or 4 hours later. Nobody cared about her lateness, it was apparent. In fact, you could simultaneously hear the groans from the staff as soon she breezed through the door. Her mere presence sparked an annoyance switch that couldn't be ignored.

After a few brainstorming and collective tries, Amelia brought the corrected proof page over to Karyn where she sat texting up a storm. For somebody who didn't know anything about journalism she sure was adamant on getting her "work" noted. She wanted to look over everything before her work was posted even if it wasn't her work. It was Karyn's new rule.

"Work on it again. I told you not to use so many words. Don't fuck this up for me. Believe me, you'll be sorry." She flung the typed paper to the ground.

Amelia sucked it up, picked up the paper and marched back to her office. She sat down and took a deep breath. If she was going to do this, she had to do it right. Dumb it down apparently. Dumb it down a lot. Make it so illiterate Cliff's Note's would look like Tolstoy.

First, she had to watch the movie: Flipped, a coming of age story based on a book about two neighbors who grew up together in the 60s. It was obvious Karyn didn't watch it, based on the grade school trite she wrote. But it was the only way. Thousands of people still read the Daily and Amelia will be damned if Karyn the heifer took the publication down the toilet. Granted, by just the article, maybe. Amelia was extremely paranoid, especially when it came to Karyn.

Amelia logged online and used her screening password from the company site. Computers were a tad slow so she waited for the video to buffer. While she waited she noticed people were going home all around her. There was a crack of thunder that whipped around like a lash. She put the movie on pause when out the corner of her eye she saw one of the staff try to get an umbrella from the antique bin.

"Amelia, which one of these is yours?" Caroline, middle-aged, working, kind eyes had asked her.

Amelia scratched her head, remembering, "I think the dark blue one. Yours is the big black one."

Caroline snapped her fingers. "Oh right. Thank you sweetheart." When she grabbed the black adult umbrella she grabbed her purse and waved Amelia goodbye.

Amelia nodded and mirrored the gesture. She laughed at the size of the umbrella and wondered if it was purchased in New York. Los Angeles wasn't built for rain. A lot of the time the weather was warm and warmer. Then there was the road. Driving in LA was like driving anywhere in Canada on icy pathways.

She went back to the task in front of her, sinking back on the recliner. "This is gonna be a long night ass night."

As if it could get any more like a Vincent Price movie, lightening reflected off the computer screen.

Thomas knocked on her glass door, "Everybody's about ready to close up. Storm's building. How much longer do you have?"

Amelia looked at the estimated time on the film. "2 more hours. Can you believe she made me do this 3 times? One of these days that spoiled hippo is gonna get hers."

Thomas rolled his eyes. "We'd all like to see it one day. Good luck. Lock up and shut the lights when you leave."

She bit her lip. Everybody gets to leave but her. "Lovely, have a goodnight. Tomorrow the fun starts again."

When she was sure mostly everybody left, including Thomas, she shut the door and locked it. Even if she was sure she was alone, she wanted to be completely isolated. Whenever she watched a movie, she tried to block out everything she could as if it were a theater. It helps her focus. The elephant witch left over an hour ago so she wouldn't have to worry about her nasally voice prodding her about the stupid review. Watching the movie was the only way she was going to fix the piece.

She pressed play as the 1960s came alive in front of her. She tried to ignore the rain and cranked up the volume on the speakers when the drumming of the '60s pounced as the movie opened. It starts off where the girl likes the boy then she stops, then the boy flips and starts liking the girl. When she was watching the movie, she could help but think the plot was similar hers and Nick's tale. Every part of the story, even some of the dialogue reminded her of her childhood. When he kissed her yesterday she was reminded of those feelings again. But it was just a silly crush. That shouldn't deter her.

The movie had a very loving message to it. She was jotting down little notes here and there between scenes she found interesting. She loved that it was based in the 60s, gave it a nice free-loving feeling. The world was so different. Kids were so care-free; life was about following your dreams or sometimes choosing another path. Kids were kids, they behaved like kids and mostly they had fun. It started to get a little interesting when the two main characters, who were narrating the story, were in the 8th grade. Everything just got more complicated the older they get. The basic themes were boys, girls, crushes, feelings getting in the way, first love and best friends. Playing make believe is questioned as well. She was growing to hate Bryce's Dad. He was the protagonist. The anti-dreamer. A former fallen human that now, was drained of life from the pressures of society's obligations. In many ways, his dad reminded Amelia hers. Creepy how he's got no filter or regard for anything he says. But wasn't that the 60s?

There was a scene where the girl, Juli smelled Bryce in class. Amelia shook her head at the little girl, laughing. This girl was so quirky, full of love and innocence. Things were so compromised when you get older. She was so much like her as a kid, so into nature, bright and secretly in love with the blond kid. Only she wasn't as strong as the little girl. But she probably would have supported her decision in not cutting down her favorite tree. Amelia was more the girl that waited for things to come her way to avoid getting hurt. Case-in-point: Will, currently the biggest jerk off ever. It was killing her, how long is she going to do the silent treatment for? So far, just after one day, her confidence was crumbling. How long is this going to last where he gets away with all his asshole ways as she remains tight-lipped about the whole thing? She felt a tear running down her cheek when the boy, Bryce again dismissed her. He wanted to run away from her. Well, she guessed having an asshole for a best friend contributed to the decision. It was just so cruel. Amelia was so into this movie she was chewing on the end of her pen. A habit she picked up whenever she was enamored with something.

Bryce was relentless, he'd lied to Juli so many times and she finally caught him. She told him how awful he was to his face. She envied Juli's gusto, and her perfect long hair. Amelia pulled the pencil from her locks and let them hang loose. She ran her fingers through the tangles, attempting to smooth out the stress that inhabited the bird nest that lived in her hair. Her reading glasses were falling down her nose and she lazily slipped them up. She wrote some more notes and organized an outline for the intro of the piece. She figured if she didn't just go into it then it will never be started. Leads first and then comes the descriptive shit. That's how she always did it.

Bryce finally wanted her; it became obvious when he let his feelings known at the Basket Boys Boosters Auction. It was bound to happen. Usually when a girl doesn't care, the guy is interested. He tried to kiss her and she ran. Wow. This was a shock to Amelia. She squinted and looked a little more closely.

She was so engrossed into the movie she barely noticed a pair of arms crossed in the doorway. It was so dim she could see and when she did-

"Nick?" She almost fell in her chair when she saw him looking at her. How long had he been standing there?

"Hey…"

Amelia stopped the movie, slipped off her glasses and stoop up from her desk. Her door was shut and locked so she was grateful for that.

"What are you doing?" She asked carefully.

"Can you open the door?" He asked, his voice muffled behind the door.

Amelia adamantly refused. "I'm working."

"Come on, just for a few minutes."

"Nick, go home."

"Amelia, I need to talk to you, OK? Just open the door, I'll say it, then I'll leave."

"I really need you to leave. I don't know how you got up here or how the hell you found me either." She turned her back to him looking at the pictures on her desk. "Go away."

"I promise you. Please." She could hear his voice getting softer with each word.

Why would she cave? What the hell did he have to say that was so important to follow at work? Did she want to find out? He really needs to leave. Her patience was wavering.

"Not right now. Look, I've had a long day. Too long, I'm still on the clock, overtime, behind on paperwork that'll keep me busy for the rest of the week and I just don't care to get into anything that'll stress me out any more than I am." She fiddled with her paperwork and noticed a wallet-sized photo at the bottom of the stack. It was her mother. How did that get there?

"I'm not here to do that. I just want you to hear me out. It literally won't take more than a few minutes."

Amelia slammed down the picture she was holding and turned around with a glare. He's got a lot of nerve trying her patience this late at night; and on her most challenging assignment. If she messes this one up, it'll be bad news for him. She'll make sure of that.

She lifted the lever of the lock free and swung open the door.

She held up her watch with a stern expression. "5 minutes. Start talking."


Brian and Leighanne drove back from her mother's house in Georgia in complete silence. The dinner was halfway pleasant. Brian did talk more than usual. His mother-in-law made sure every question asked was directed at him until he gave a proper answer. Everyone officially knew of their problems, but like good Christians, being coy and silent was the way to behave. Brian just loved the suggestions he got from every corner of the spectrum. He rubbed his eyes thinking about it. It lingered in his mind and he tried everything to let it go.

Leighanne turned to him. Brian tried, he really did and for that alone, Leighanne was just grateful enough. She didn't want to lose him. There was no way that was going to happen. She figured he needed some space in New York, and being so busy, he probably wasn't thinking of their marriage. But she was. All the time. She called him before he left and a few more times at night. She couldn't help it, Brian was her only reason. It just wasn't right how they left things. She barely made mention of his reason for leaving her, partly because she was so much in shock, she didn't know how to react. They fought sure, they argued, who hasn't? It wasn't anything so extraneous that she ever imagined he would want to leave her. Never did she dream of such a thing. But the current progress was good; still, she wanted him back. It was like he was always somewhere else and she couldn't pull him away from it no matter what she did.

She intended on showing up on New Years even before he left. They were going rebuild what they lost. They would work things out like married couples do. He just needed to put in a little more effort. Maybe with softer coaxing on her part, it should do the trick. Brian was never this stubborn so she was going to have to think of other ways to convince him they belong together.

Leighanne turned down the radio a little. The classical music was just too distracting.

Brian turned the nub back up; even higher than the previous level. It was almost like he was daring her to challenge him. She sighed and leaned back into her seat. She turned her head to the side, frowning. She sighed again, this time really loudly. She wanted him to know how she felt even if he didn't want to hear it.

"Brian?"

"What is it, Leighanne?" He mumbled, getting off the freeway.

"I don't understand what I did to you to deserve this. I am your wife. This is our marriage; please try to care, if not anything else then for Baylee." Her voice was gentle but direct.

Brian snapped his eyes shut and then opened them briskly. He didn't answer right away. Instead he let silence do the talking. He was on the road. He didn't, nor is he ever going to talk about anything personal when he was driving. No way in hell. He had to focus so he can get through the next hurdle of this caged life. Then comes the next moment, and so on. It's enough she wants more. More? What else does she want? Baylee is fine. He's a happy, healthy little boy. Everybody's fine. The world is just happy. What doesn't she understand?

"Alright Brian. I just don't understand all this. Don't shut me out like this." Leighanne blinked back watery eyes, hiding them. Why? Does he even care what he's doing anymore?

Brian kept a tighter grip on the steering wheel. This wasn't the time or place to be discussing anything. He couldn't allow himself to get angry. Couldn't allow himself to feel anything around his wife. Every little thing she scrutinized, just trying and exhausting his mind with inane ramblings about stuff he should do for her. He did everything and more for her. Gave his son a better life he never had growing up. Gave Leighanne the opportunity to open her bag line as well as foot the bill for various future projects she insisted on doing as way of riding on his coattails as a Backstreet Boy. The life was there. She had it, she had it all.

That's a stretch, even for him to admit. Did she really use him? After 11 years of marriage, he didn't know what to think anymore. There was no fire. No life in the things they did. His son was growing up faster than he could see straight. Pretty soon its high school, girls and then college. His entire life will start and Brian can't help but think he has nothing left on his journey. What motivates him? Was there anything? Isn't life supposed to be about adventure? Discovering new things, learning all over again how to live?

He hadn't realized he was speeding on the residential roads. He eased on the gas until he noticed where he was. He pulled over and put the car in park, literally throwing the car in break. He covered his face with his hands as if his face might melt away. He willed his emotions to be at bay but they couldn't hold on any longer. Brian rarely cried but this time it was different. His eyes were burning from salty wetness. It was as if he was crying fire. The tears seared down his cheeks as his hands held his face. It was no use. He was falling and much faster than he thought.

He felt Leighanne's hand on his back but it didn't faze him. He was crumbling. Being here, in this car just wasn't where he belonged. This life, just what was it? It was what he thought was home. He thought he could stomach another scene out of Revolutionary Road. They were really playing. Leighanne had no idea of his battles. And she wouldn't understand it. Not even the guys. Spilling his secrets did nothing to repair the damage of being the butt of everyone's joke. The lap dog. For years, Brian laughed, cracks jokes, inside he was dying and long before Amelia entered his world. He felt so lost, so unbelievably trapped to keep going with his head held high. His face was red by the time he pulled his hands off his face.

"I spoke to my lawyer. It's over Leigh. I'm not choosing death over happiness anymore." He said numbly.


Amelia sighed and looked at her fingers while Nick was talking about something to do with music; she couldn't get a point out of it much less force him to take a breath between sentences. She blocked out a lot of what he said when she started averting her eyes to look around the newsroom.

"…so, that's what I was thinking. I mean it could be a good idea right? I think it should be between us since you know? Paparazzi and the world will be up my ass if I'm seen with another girl." He finally stopped.

Amelia crinkled her brows together. She opened her mouth but nothing came out. She clucked her tongue in annoyance and attempted to tackle this one.

"What the fuck are you talking about Nick? What are really doing here?"

He rubbed the back of his neck and blushed. Maybe that was a lot to take in but he thought he made the point clear enough. "I wanna work with you. I hear you edit pretty well. I think we could work well together."

Amelia gave a fake smile and removed her glasses. "I got a lot of stuff on my plate. I gotta finish this movie, write the review for Princess Hippopotamus, then I have about a zillion proofs that haven't even been touched yet waiting for me in my queue." She hunched her shoulders in sympathy. "I'm sorry but I can't help you."

Nick looked her with narrowed eyes. She was being difficult, but this wasn't anything he wasn't used to. He couldn't help but think about New Years too. He wanted to say something as soon as he came in, but he needed an excuse for her to open the door.

He took a seat at one of the staff worker's and leaned back in the chair as if it had his name on it. He leaned back as far as the recliner would go and groaned when the tension in his back relaxed. When he came up she was just staring at him, an amused look pasted on her face.

"Having fun?"

"Always. I always bring the fun." He said, a smirk sealed on his lips.

Amelia looked down and coughed. She folded her glasses and put them in the middle of her blouse. When she looked back up, she found him staring at her, almost looked like he wanted to say something serious. Knowing him, knowing what she knew, was he ever serious? Not since he was a kid.

Amelia finally gave up and threw up her hands. "What already? You keep staring at me."

Nick sucked in his lips, popping them as he tried to get the words out. "It was wrong. I know what you're thinking."

"And what exactly was wrong?"

"The kiss. All of it. Don't lie, you were thinking about it at least once today."

Amelia nervously pulled her loose tresses in a bun with the pencil she was holding. He didn't have to go and mention it. Of course it was wrong. The word was painted across it like a red flag. Why did he have to bring it up?

She pulled her reading glasses from her shirt and put them on, hiding her eyes slightly. "No sweat. Don't worry about it."

Nick took a breath to say something but paused. This was easier than he thought. She was taking it well. Not that it would mean anything. It doesn't. It shouldn't. It wasn't like when he kisses Lauren. Two very different people, two styles, two lips, two beauties; why should he be so hung up on this?

Still, he didn't want to leave. He couldn't ignore there were enough pregnant pauses in the room to give birth.

Amelia sighed loudly. "I really need to get back to my work. I still need to write my review."

Nick's eyebrow lifted. "What movie are you watching?"

She rolled her eyes. She pushed her glasses up her nose and looked at the time. She rubbed her temples with her fingers. This was more than what she could deal with now. She hadn't had any flashes for a while now but already the headache was building up. She cursed and crossed her arms looking at the ground

"Comedy."

"Oh yeah? What kind?"

Amelia sucked in her teeth. "It's actually quite boring. More of a girl/type thing."

"A love story?"

"A Drama. Dull. I gotta pick out the interesting parts. And I'm almost finished so if you don't mind, I need to watch it, write the fucking review and go home to sleep."

Nick was silent for a few minutes. This clearly was not the same Amelia he met at the restaurant and hung out with in New York. She was…different. She looked like shit in his opinion. So not the girl anybody wants to hang out right now. But it was weird, something about that struck a cord with him. She intrigued him. He felt bad for her. Not even her boyfriend bothered to stop her from going back to work. Maybe she felt like she was in his shadow. Whatever the reason she looked like a wreck and here he was, distracting her from her obvious distractions.

"I'm sorry." He apologized and stood up, his frame towering over her. "Maybe this was a mistake."

When he turned around, he was certain coming here was beyond bad. Just being around her screamed a red light. He was halfway out the door when he stopped.

"Nick, none of this is your fault." She spoke softly right behind him. How could she have walked behind him so quietly?

"Yes, it is. I shouldn't have done it. I know we already said its wrong but I messed up everything." He trailed off.

She touched his shoulder with the tips of her fingers and slowly turned him around. His face was torn. Eyes conflicted.

"Don't feel bad, OK? It happened." She tried to look him in the eye but he wouldn't let her.

"Shouldn't have. That's all I'm saying."

Amelia laughed, trying to lighten the mood. "So what are you saying, I'm a bad kisser?"

Nick blushed and looked to the side. "Not at all." He stared at her directly. "Was I?"

Amelia grinned; she could actually feel her glasses beginning to cloud up. "No, you weren't."

Nick shook the muddled mess in his mind. She was here. She was right in front of him again. Staring at her face maybe wasn't a good idea. Her butterscotch eyes looking so small, so wide; so inviting.

"So, we're both good?"

"Yeah, we are."

Nick hadn't noticed how much closer they were until he felt the tip of Amelia's chest touch his. He could feel how hard her nipples were. Her glazed over eyes scanned his. Neither moved apart or came closer. He wanted to see what she'd do. What was she thinking at this moment?

*I love when you do that hocus pocus to me
the way that you touch you got the power to heal
you give me that look its almost unreal, its almost unreal*

Amelia jumped from the vibrating of her phone. She dug into her pocket fishing her cell out.

She looked at the ID, "Will."

She turned to Nick as if pleading for something. He just gave a flat smile and turned the opposite the direction, making his way to the hallway.

She clicked open the phone before it went to voicemail. "Hi. Yes, I came back. No, I'm here alone… What? Oh, no, I had to come back. No, well, Will to be honest… yeah? Well, no I didn't mean to just run off. I did miss a week of work. Plus, you weren't even there. No, I never went. I saw Donnie and the rest of the guys but they said you were counting down somewhere else. I see, well great. No I mean that, it's great. Ugh, look I'm a little tired. Can we talk tomorrow? What? I can't hear you. Huh? Will hello? Fuck! Will? Jesus Christ." She pulled the phone from her ear and across the screen it said "CALL ENDED."

She stared at her phone for a few seconds. This was so convenient for him. It made her really regret picking up the call. She gasped when her phone beeped. She got a new message. It was a text, but not from Will.

You ok?-Nick

Amelia looked around the office. He clearly wasn't around but he somehow knew what was going on.

Yes, I'm sorry about that. I wish you didn't see that.-Amelia

It had to happen.-Nick

She put her phone away. There was no need to answer back. Goes without saying sometimes. She sighed and pulled out the pencil that was holding up her hair, letting it fall past her shoulders.

"Everybody else is happy, how do they do it?" She asked out loud as if anybody would listen.

"They lie." She heard from the hallway. She stared at him, how did he understand these things? Nick hadn't left. She didn't know how she should feel.

Amelia smiled sadly. She blinked back her tears as she took in that statement. "They're good actors."

Nick came around the corner and knelt down in front of her. He could feel her tears and came closer to her.

He took her hands in his as she began to sniff. Her feelings were getting the best of her. "One of the most beautiful things you can do is show how you feel. Whatever it is. Keeping it all in like everyone else kills you inside like nothing else. You told him how you felt. That's all that matters."

Amelia slowly pulled her hands from his. They were burning up and she had to release them before her mind caved in. The gentle look in his eyes made hers glaze over.

"Maybe," she licked her lips, slowly holding it together. She was slipping away. He knew how to do it. Nick had a way about him and she wasn't sure how it made her feel. "I really need to get back to the—"

"Movie? Sounds interesting, can I watch it with you?" He perked up, that irked her slightly.

"Huh? I thought you said you don't care for silly girl movies?" She knew she had him. Guys will never sit through sappy, kids movies like Flipped.

Nick laughed; he stood up from his knees and held out his hand to her. "I doubt it is. From the way you described it, sounds kind of cute. I'm curious to see what happens."

She took his hand, a little confused and gave a short laugh. "Alright well, according to your taste it's predictable. Nothing blows up and there's no blood anywhere."

"Stop worrying so much. I told you, I'm not typical." He said, assertively.

She looked at him through one eye and caved. She was getting tired as is and she didn't care to hear his whining.

They made their way to her desk and she got out a chair for Nick.

"Oh you're totally typical. The real question is, how much actual cuteness can you really stomach?" She smiled, and clicked replay.

 
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