"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.
"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 déjà 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.
"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.