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Chapter 31

            After leaving the conference room, they all stand close to the door. They hear Glenna's lawyer ranting at her that they have iron clad proof AND a witness to her crimes. Glenna is screaming back at him and the girls are fighting the urge to giggle. Amy whispers, "Maybe we should get Detective Barbero. It sounds like she's going to bolt."

            AJ runs down the hall to Jenn's office and comes back in with the detective and two police officers. When the conference room door opens, Glenna walks out and stops short. The detective says, "Glenna Armstrong, you're under arrest for grand theft."

            She sputters and turns to her lawyer. He looks at her and says, "I will not be representing you any further, Ms. Armstrong. I don't deal well with clients that lie to me."

            After he walks away, she says, "Brian, I never...you can't think I did this. After what we had."

            He snorts and says, "Glenna what we had was a joke. It's over and you're going to get exactly what you have coming to you. And I can promise you this, you won't get another fucking dime from me."

            Everyone cheers for him. As she's being handcuffed, she turns to Nick and says, "Nick, you can't seriously believe I did this."

            Glaring at her he says, "You can't seriously think I'd be sympathetic. Not after what you did to the woman I love."

            Glenna turns her attention to Dottie, who's standing at Nick's side. Dottie says, "Glenna, I can't believe you thought no one would figure it out. You didn't even try to cover your tracks. And as for Nick, if you look at him again and bat those fake eyelashes one more time, I'll shove them down your fucking throat."

            Detective Barbero says, "We're going to pretend we didn't hear that. Officers, would you take Ms. Armstrong to the police station and make sure Mirandize her. We have to do this by the book."

            As the policeman walk out with Glenna in tow, Amy looks at Dottie and says, "Damn, D, did you really just....was that you speaking just now?"

            Everyone laughs and Nick sweeps Dottie up into his arms. He whispers in her ear, "Welcome back D, I've missed you."

            Knowing he's not referring to her trip to Florida, she squeezes him tightly and whispers back, "I missed me too."

            After going out for a nice, HAPPY breakfast, Jenn says, "OK, guys, time to get your game faces on. After tonight, you have 4 days off."

            Nick says, "Come on, Jenn, can't I spend a couple of hours with D?"

Dottie's desperate gaze matches Nick's, but Jenn just shakes her head. She says, "No, tonight's too important, besides, I need Dottie and I know once you two are alone, I'll never get her back. You can ride to the Staples Center together, but after that, Nick, you have to work and so does Dottie."

Nick sighs and says, "OK, OK. But everything is still on for tonight, right?"

            Dottie looks puzzled and says, "What?"

            Nick looks down at her and says, "No way Lady. MY surprise. Let's go. We have a limo ride to enjoy before she steals you away from me."

            Once in the car, Nick says, "I told the driver to drive really slowly.  I missed you to damn much to give you up quickly."

            She smiles and scoots closer to him and says, "I missed you too Nicky. More than you can possibly know."

            He puts his arm around her and says, "Wanna tell me what happened in Florida?"

            She smiles and says, "Not now. We have all weekend to talk. Do you know how long it's been since you actually kissed me?"   

            Raising his eyebrows, he leans closer to her and kisses her gently on the cheek before saying, "How's that?"

            She smirks at him and says, "Is that the best you can do Carter?"

            He grins and says, "Challenging me, D?"

            Before she can answer, he hauls her against his body, sliding his hand around her neck and pulling her face to his. As their lips touch, Dottie slides her arms around him and pulls herself even closer to his body.

            Four days of loneliness and separation pours itself into their kiss and Dottie immerses herself in it. Nick feels her molding herself to him and he slides back until they are lying across the seat, Dottie's body resting on top of his. When she pulls back slightly, breaking their kiss, he whispers, "D, don't ever leave me again. I can't make it without you."

            She props up on his shoulders, looking into his eyes, and says, "I don't do well without you either, Nick. But I needed the space to sort things out."

            He slides his hands up her sides and says, "Want to talk about it?"

            She says, "Tomorrow, ok?"

            He says, "Why not now?"

            She laughs and says, "Because right now I have much more important things to do and after the concert tonight, I plan on getting you in bed and making up for the last 4 days we've been apart."

            He chuckles and says, "Sounds like my kind of night. But D, seriously, are you ok?"

            Leaning down and kissing him gently, she says, "I'm really ok, Nick. There's so much I need to say to you but only one thing is important enough to say now." When he questions her with his eyes, she whispers, "I love you."

            He smiles and says, "I love you too, D. And I meant what I said back there. I finally see the real you again. You don't look tense anymore."

            She lays her head on his shoulder and she says, "I'm not. I went to your house in Florida and stayed for a few days."

            He seems surprised. He says, "Why?"

            Lying snuggled against his chest, she says, "In order to let go of the past, I had to face it Nick. After talking to Jake, well, I had probably the worst panic attack I've ever had."

            He squeezes her and says, "Baby, I'm SO sorry."

            She says, "Don't be Nick. I needed to cry it out. When I got to the house, I just sat in the floor and cried. I screamed and yelled and cursed and just let it all out. I'm glad you don't have neighbors close by."

            He says, "What else happened, D?"

            She says, "I did some writing. I wrote down everything Nick. Everything that happened, what I felt, how I feel now, how I felt then. I had to get it all out of my head because it was driving me crazy."

            He says, "And now that you got it all out?"

            She sighs and says, "I feel different Nick. I feel like I can handle anything."

            He sits up with her on his lap and says, "Baby, you can. I told you on the phone, you can let go of the past and move forward with me. I'm not going to leave you, D."

            She smiles at him and plays with the collar of his shirt. She says, "I know that Nick. For the first time in a long, long time, I feel like I felt when..."

            When her voice trails off, he says, "Since when, D."

            Smiling at him, she says, "Ask me again later, Nick. I brought...I brought the journals with me. I'd like you to read them before we talk, ok?"

            He looks at her curiously and says, "Why?"

            Cupping his face, she says, "Because I finally admitted to myself what I really want out of life. And all of my dreams begin and end with you, Nick."

            As the car stops in back of the Staples Center, Nick says, "Tell me what you mean, D."

            Sighing, she says, "I wanted to wait, but I can see you're not giving up. I want to spend the rest of my life with you Nick. I want to grow old with you and watch our children and grandchildren grow up and get married. I want a happily ever after with you. But you have to want it too. The dream only works if we're in it together."

            Nick pulls her face to his and kisses her gently. When she pulls away and looks at him she sees his lip trembling. She runs her thumb over it before he says, "We're in it together, D. I promise you that."

            He captures her lips again in a tender, coaxing kiss, pulling her tightly against his body. She wraps around him and puts every ounce of love she feels into the kiss. Just as he turns to lay her back on the seat, Jenn knocks on the window and says, "Come on you two, time to get to work."

            When their lips part, Nick presses his forehead to hers and says, "I love you D. For the next 4 days you are all mine. I'm not sharing you with anyone."

            She smiles and says, "Does that mean you're all mine?"

            He says, "You know it." When she slides off his lap, he takes her hand and says, "Can we finish talking about this later?"

            She kisses his cheek and says, "I want to, Nick. We used to tell each other everything and I want to do that again. OK?"

            As he smiles at her, a single tear runs down his face. She reaches out to wipe it away. He says, "Dottie, you were my best friend then, just like you are now. I'm so happy you're back."

            She kisses his cheek and says, "So am I Nick."

            When they get out of the car, Jenn is standing there with all the guys and Amy.  Brian steps forward and hugs Dottie and says, "Thank you for what you did."

            All the guys hug her, thanking her, before Amy steps up and hugs her tightly. In her ear she whispers, "I have the most to thank you for, D."

            Dottie steps back and says, "None of you have to thank me. I did what I had to do. Not only for you, but for me."

            AJ says, "We do have to thank you, D. For a lot. Enjoy the show."

            After the girls walk away, Dottie looks at Amy and says, "What did he mean by that?"

            Amy quips, "Never you mind, Sis. Just something the boys have going on. The one thing I can tell you is that it was all Nick's idea."

            Jenn says, "OK, enough chatter. Dottie, I need to go over some scheduling with you before the show, and then you and Amy can have the rest of the day."

            Dottie looks at them curiously, knowing something is up. She smiles and follows Jenn to her bus, not really caring. All that matters to her is that she's finally back with her family. She's finally home.



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