I passed the night fitfully, finally admitting defeat around four in the morning. Sleep would not come; my mind was clouded with thoughts of a certain blonde gentleman. As the bus swayed to and fro, I slid out of my bunk and padded out to the couch to work on the footage from the day before. I couldn’t help but laugh as I reviewed the dressing room footage. I posted it, eager to see the fan comments.
Around five o’clock the busses stopped to refuel. Quietly, I slipped out into the early dawn stretching my arms heavenward.
The smell of donuts assailed my senses. I let out a moan of pure ecstasy.
“I’ll take that as a yes. C’mon, I’ve got orange juice and coffee too.”
Following the smell of warm yeasty dough and chocolate, I followed Nick up onto his bus.
“Don’t think this will make up for last night,” I said. He lifted the lid of the white cardboard box; I swooped in for the kill.
“About last night—“ Nick began. I held up a hand, my cheeks full of doughnut.
“Fuhgetaboutit.” I said between chews. I swallowed hard and took a swig of orange juice. “It was just a long crazy day,” I added smiling.
“Well, I promise no craziness today. It’s a free day. We should pull up to the IP Spa and Casino in a couple of hours.”
“Spa? That sounds amazing,” I said. The sweet pulp from the juice danced along my tongue. “I have to admit that I haven’t been able to get used to the bunks. I could use some spa treatment”
“Ugh, I don’t miss the bunks,” Nick said. He paused thoughtfully. “C’mon.”
“What? Where?” I said, setting down the remainder of my doughnut. As I followed him, I looked back at it longingly.
“Try this out for size,” Nick said, opening a door at the back of the bus.
A large bed took up most of the room. The curtains were pulled; the room was cool. It looked like heaven.
“Oh,” I said softly, touching the bedspread.
“Lay down,” Nick said. I gave him a look. He snorted.
“Dirty mind,” he chastised. “Lay down. Get some sleep. I’ll wake you up when we get there.”
Before I could argue, he walked out, closing the door behind him. Rubbing my eyes, I crawled onto the bed. The mattress wrapped me in a soft cocoon. I sighed contentedly, pulling a pillow close to my body. Burying my face into the cloth I inhaled deeply.
Everything smelled like Nick. Fortunately, I didn’t have time to ponder the significance of that realization too deeply; I fell asleep almost instantly.
“Livvy? Livvy, wake up.”
I groaned, smashing my face into the pillow.
“C’mon,” Nick said, shaking my shoulder. I didn’t budge.
“Are you always this hard to wake up?”
With a sigh, I opened an eye and looked up at him.
“This is heaven.”
Nick laughed. “Trust me, it’s not heaven until I’m in there with you.”
I rolled my eyes and slid reluctantly off the bed. I noticed the bus had stopped.
“We’re here?” I asked.
“Yup. I took your bags up to your room already. You have a non-smoking, non-snoring room, so watch it.”
“Ha-ha,” I said, trying to smooth down my hair as I followed him outside.
The IP Spa and Casino loomed ahead; it seemed to stretch up towards the clouds.
“Pretty cool, huh?”
I nodded. He handed me a room key.
“You’re sharing with Andrea,” Nick explained. “Why don’t you go get freshened up? I’ll meet you outside your room in about an hour.”
“Oh?” I said, flipping the key around in my hand. “What’s going on in an hour?”
“You’ll see,” Nick said mysteriously. With a suave kiss of my hand he bid me adieu, then headed in the direction of the casino.
I took the elevator up to the fifteenth floor. I quietly entered the room, looking around to see if Andrea was there. She wasn’t. Grabbing a fresh change of clothes I headed towards the bathroom.
The tub was calling my name. Usually I’m a shower girl, but every now and then I enjoyed sitting in a bubble bath until my fingers turn pruny. Today was one of those days. I set all of the jets on the whirlpool and, as the tub filled, read all of the labels on the complimentary bottles. Dumping in a strawberry scented bubble bath, I watched the bubbles froth and foam. Undressing, I eased into the water. I threaded my hand through the bubbles and closed my eyes in bliss.
I took so long that the water ran cold. Resisting leaving my bubbly world, I filled the tub up once more, setting the jets on the whirlpool tub even higher, hoping the circulating water would stay warmer longer. I leaned my head back, listening to nothing but pure silence.
Procrastinating as long as possible, I finally came to the conclusion that my hour was pretty much shot. Nick would be waiting for me. With one last splash, I started to sit up to turn off the jets when my head was yanked back. I yelped in surprise; my hand flew to the back of my head in horror. My hair was stuck in one of the jets. I did the only thing I could think of: I panicked. Unable to sit up I couldn’t turn off the jets. I was stuck.
“HELP!” I screamed, yanking at the offending strands of hair. Tears sprung to my eyes from the pain. I slapped at the side of the tub angrily, stopping as my fingers touched the edge of my cell phone. Sliding my body as far as I possibly could without scalping myself, I grabbed the phone, spitting out a strawberry scented bubble along the way.
I flipped the phone open; then stopped. Who was I going to call?
I tried Andrea first. Her phone went immediately to voicemail. As I lay cussing, flipping through my contacts for Leighanne’s number, I heard the sound of pounding on the hotel room door.
“Shit,” I said. I found Leighanne’s number; the phone rang several times and then kicked to voicemail. The pounding on the door increased.
Feeling as if I was going to regurgitate my doughnut, and feeling once more like a very stupid, very drowned rat, I punched in Nick’s cell number. Spitting out offending bubbles, I held the phone to my ear, trying to keep from dropping it.
“Liv?” Nick said, picking up almost instantly. “I’m pounding on your door. Where are you?”
“Um.” Spit. “I need a little help.”
“Uh.” Spit. “It’s hard to explain.” Spit. “Can you get in my room?”
“I’ll have to go to the desk. Where are you?”
My phone slipped through my sudsy fingers, into the water. With a string of expletives, I kicked my foot out angrily. I never wanted to smell strawberries ever again. I sat in the rapidly cooling water, the jets grinding away. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was going to die a shriveled prune in a whirlpool grave. Just as I was getting ready to recite my last will and testament, I heard the door to the hotel room open.
“In here!” I called.
Now I have to admit I didn’t think the logistics of my situation through very well. As I heard Nick fiddling with the lock, I came to the realization that I was, well, a little naked. Puffing out my cheeks, I began to blow the suds around, hoping that I could strategically move them to my lady bits before he managed to get the door open.
I was still huffing and puffing when Nick’s head poked in.
“What’s going on?”
“Close your eyes.”
“Close your eyes!”
“Okay, okay. They’re closed. What’s going on?”
“My hair’s stuck.”
“Your hair’s stuck?”
“In the jet. I can’t get out.”
I couldn’t see his face, but his laughter reverberated off the walls.
"You’ve got to be shitting me,” he said.
“Are your eyes still closed?” I answered.
“Well, close them!”
“How am I going to help you if my eyes are closed?” Nick said. He burst into laughter again.
“It’s not funny!” I said. I felt a large tear roll down my cheek.
“Oh crap. Don’t cry. I’ll get you out. Let’s see.”
Nick walked past the tub, a stupid smile plastered on his face. I watched him open a cupboard. He took out a pair of scissors.
“What are those for?”
“I’m going to have to cut you out.”
“I just got my hair done!”
"Just try without the scissors,” I begged. "Make them your last resort."
Nick sighed, kneeling down next to me. He turned off the jet and went to work. Sliding his fingers into my wet hair, he worked quietly and methodically. I closed my eyes, hoping it would work, dreading the telltale “snip” of scissors.
“Got it,” Nick finally said. “And no scissors.”
I touched the back of my head, relieved to feel every strand free.
“You’re my hero!”
“At your service,” Nick said, grinning down at me.
I grinned back…until I realized the suds were almost gone. Blushing, I pointed past his shoulder.
“Could you hand me a towel?”
Still grinning, he picked up the towel. I grabbed it from him.
Whistling, he turned towards the mirror.
“Turn around another way!”
He turned towards the toilet. Quickly, I stood, wrapping the towel around my body.
“Okay,” I said. “You can turn around.”
Nick turned. I saw his eyes quickly trail down along the towel, then back to my face. His eyes twinkled mischievously.
“Need anything else?”
“No, uh, that’s it. I’ll be out in a minute.” I grabbed his arm, leading him towards the bathroom door. Before I could close the door completely, he put out an arm and leaned in.
“I just want to say,” Nick paused. “I just want to say that we made the right choice picking you.”
“And why’s that?” I said, pulling the top of my towel a little tighter.
“Because it’s only the third stop and I already know that I’m never going to be able to get you out of my mind.”
With that he pulled back, closing the door. I stood there, mouth agape. Only a door and a towel stood between me and Nick Carter.
A door, a towel, and, oh…
A wedding band.