- Text Size +
Chapter Sixty Five – A Day Off

I woke the next morning and did a quiet celebration. I got up and took a well needed shower. After putting on actual clothes I felt a little more human, albeit definitely more pregnant. I was trying to stretch my shirt out against the bathroom sink when Nick walked in. I don’t know how long he stood there, but finally I saw his reflection in the mirror. He was grinning. I seemed to have that effect on him.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m stretching out my shirt,” I explained. “It’s too tight.”

He shook his head. “No, definitely not too tight.”

From the mirror’s reflection, I saw his eyes dart right down to my chest. I leaned over and smacked him.

“It’s definitely too tight if someone sees us walking around hand in hand around Newfoundland. The fans are panicking about you saying you’re going to get married someday; this would send them into coronary.”

Nick laughed. “Okay, you have a point.”

He walked out and came back with one of his t-shirts. “Luckily for you, we are very close to Avalon Mall. Also lucky for you is that I can’t find a clean pair of underwear to save my life.”

I wrinkled my nose. “How is that lucky for me?”

Nick smiled. “Well that gives both of us an excuse to go shopping and it allows me to get some clean drawers.”

Ninety minutes later Nick, myself, Brian, Leighanne, and Baylee hit the mall. The Littrell’s headed for the toy store; Nick and I walked into Sears.

“Seriously I would have been happy buying some new boxers at Walmart,” Nick said as we headed to the men’s section.

“I know you would,” I laughed. “But somehow I just can’t see you next to one of the Rollback signs.”

As a typical guy, Nick didn’t take long. The longest he paused was to take a look at some of the graphic tees in the teen area. He held up a black shirt that said ‘It’s only funny until someone gets hurt…then it’s HILARIOUS!!!’ I could tell by the smile on his face that it was getting added to his pile. I was right.

“Should I be worried about pranks tomorrow?” I asked as we paid for his stuff. He leaned against the counter, his face the epitome of mock innocence.

“Us, prank?” Nick said in mock horror. “At the last concert? How could you think such a thing?” He laughed demonically as he took his bag. “Alright, lead the way to girlie land.”

I rolled my eyes; my first stop was intimate apparel.

“I like these,” Nick said holding up what looked to be the equivalent of floss. Not that I hadn’t worn a thong or two in my day, but…

“Not happening, Nick,” I said breezing by him. He snapped them playfully in my direction. I ducked; they hit an eighty year old guy in the forehead. I clamped my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing. The guy looked confused for a moment, then continued to shuffle past the department. Nick was doubled over in silent laughter behind a mannequin in a nightie. I walked over and grabbed his arm.

Behave, Carter,” I said. Still chuckling, he followed me through the racks.

“I thought you just needed new shirts,” he said as I held up a plain white bra.

“My stomach’s not the only thing growing,” I said. He glanced at my chest again.

“Yeah, there are some perks,” he admitted. I gave him a signature look.

After I got what I needed to get from lingerie, I ushered Nick over to women’s clothing. I had a feeling that if a fan had spotted Nick in the lingerie department things might have gotten messy.

Much to Nick’s disappointment, I picked some very basic, very forgiving tops and added them to my pile.

“That’s it?” he asked, staring down at my sparse selections. I shrugged.

“We’re only on tour a few more days. This will tie me over until I get back home.”

I saw a change come over his face; it was as if he had forgotten I was going back to Wisconsin.

After Nick and I did a race to see who could get their debit card out fastest (in which I won), we walked back through the mall hand in hand. Nick held both of our bags in his other hand.

“I think we need to talk,” Nick said as we settled down on a bench to wait for the others.

I looked at him surprised. “About what?”

“About you going back to Wisconsin.”

I smiled. “It’s home. My job’s there.”

“You could find a job down in Florida,” Nick said softly. “Or better yet you could just relax until…” he looked around, lowering his voice even more. “until the baby’s born. I’ve heard the sound of the ocean is very calming for expectant mothers.”

“Nick, I can’t just pick up and leave. My mom’s all alone up there. We don’t have much family. I can’t do that to her.”

“I can’t have you away from me this long,” Nick said. “I get all nauseous just thinking about it. I’m going to be home most of the time recording my album. I don’t care if I have to move your mom down to Florida, just please don’t go back.”

I had never heard him sound more serious…or desperate. Before I could answer him, Baylee ran up. He was hugging the biggest brown bear I’d ever seen.

“GRRRR!” he growled from behind the plush.

“Oh no, a bear!” I exclaimed, mockingly jumping out of my seat. Baylee’s head came peeking around the side; he erupted in giggles. “It’s just me!”

“You guys ready for lunch? We’re starving,” Brian said. “I’m so hungry I could eat a bear.”

Baylee looked up at his dad and growled. Brian laughed.

We ended up at McDonald’s, which to my knowledge, was free of bear burgers. After we finished eating, Leighanne and I stayed at the table while Nick and Brian took Baylee into the Playland.

It was a strange sense of déjà vu.

“I bet you’re thinking about Nick diving into the ball pit,” Leighanne guessed. I laughed. “How’d you know?”

“Just a good guess,” she said lightly. She looked past my shoulder. “Oh geesh.”

We both stood up; I craned my neck to see what she had seen. I laughed.

“Brian Littrell get out of the plastic tubes!” Leighanne yelled.

I couldn’t help it; I grabbed my camera and turned it onto video. I saw Nick walk over and say something to Brian. Through the colored plastic I could see him shaking his head. Nick gave him an ‘are you serious?’ face then started laughing.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Leighanne said. We headed into the Playland. Nick was still laughing.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Winnie the Pooh here got his backend stuck in the tube. He can’t get out.”

From a tube farther up , I saw Baylee pushing his giant bear through the maze. Spotting all of us, he rounded the corner to the tube Brian was stuck in. He gave his bear a mighty push; the bear slid down and smacked into Brian’s face. We all heard a muffled yell. His legs kicked out behind him.

“This is why there’s an age restriction, Brian,” Leighanne said, tapping the plastic. He kicked in response.

“I’ll get one leg, you get the other,” Nick told Leighanne as he wiped tears from his eyes.

I zoomed in on Brian in the tube. His face was completely covered by the bear; to make matters worse, Baylee slid down to get it. I heard another grunt from Brian as Baylee landed on the bear which in turn smashed farther down on Brian’s face.

Nick took Brian’s left leg; Leighanne his right. They gave a couple mighty tugs, but he still wouldn’t budge. Baylee, seeing what was going on, put his stocking feet on the top of the bear. Bracing himself in the tube, he began to push on Brian’s head.

It was like a weird twisted game of human tug of rope. Nick looked like he was about ready to pop Brian’s knee out of his socket when with a loud suctioned ‘pop!’ Brian landed on his stomach right outside the tubes. Leighanne and Nick dropped his legs. Baylee came crawling out, a big smile on his face.

“Now, are you going to tell me why you went in the tube?” Leighanne asked. Brian rolled over onto his back. He stared right at Nick.

“You owe me twenty bucks.”

Nick held up his hands. “The deal was to crawl all the way into the tube. I can’t help it if your bubble butt got stuck. No dice.”

“I almost died in there!” Brian said. His face was red and a large imprint from where the bear’s nose had pressed into his cheek was clearly visible.

“You did this for twenty dollars?” Leighanne said.

“Well, he dared me,” Brian explained, as if it made it alright.

“That’s it,” Leighanne said. “Baylee sweetie, we’re going to get ready to go!” She turned back to glare at Nick and Brian. They both looked at her sheepishly.

“You two are not allowed in McDonald’s together anymore.

Nick held out his hand to help Brian up. Brian grabbed onto it, leaping up.

Leighanne walked over to help Baylee get on his shoes.

“I love it when she’s mad,” Brian said with a smile, placing his hands on his hips.

“So what are we going to do if we’re banned from McDonald’s?” Nick asked. Brian and him shared a look and did a weird male ritualistic handshake.

“Chucky Cheese,” they said simultaneously.

I shut off the camera and shook my head.

Frick and Frack sure lived up to their name.