Chapter One: The Concert, or I Want to Go Too!
I flopped down on the couch and let out a sigh. “After all that performing, I just want to sleep.”
“That’s all you ever think, isn’t it?”
My head slammed against the arm of the couch, “Ow! Brian!”
He let out a laugh, “Did a pillow really hurt that much?”
I rubbed my head and scowled as I tossed the pillow back at him, “But the arm of the couch…”
Brian shrugged as the pillow landed at his feet, “It’s just another pillow, isn’t it?”
“Well, yeah, except that it has a couch inside it!”
Brian laughed again. “There’s a smaller couch inside the couch’s arm? Wow!”
“That’s not what I meant!” I flopped down on the couch cushions once more, “I have a headache!”
Kevin leaned his head into the living room. “Are you sick?”
I leaned my head against the couch arm, “No… Brian just…” I looked up at him. “Is your arm okay?” Sorry, Kevin… I know it’s not my fault, but… Sorry… I wish I could say that.
He stared down at his arm. It was in a blue sling, “Well, it’s as good as expected.” He smiled. “Nick, what’s that look on your face for?”
I gave him a scowl, “What look?”
He laughed, “You’re looking at me like you’re sorry for something again.”
I ran my hand through my hair, “It’s not that….” I looked up at him again, “Hey…”
“Yes?” Kevin walked into the room. He was wearing a Zorro costume, complete with sword.
“H-Hey!!” I sat up quickly and pointed at him.
“I think you are sick, Nick…”
“W-Why are you wearing a costume?!” I stammered. Why is he wearing a costume? His shoulder is hurt… “Y-Your shoulder is hurt! Why are you wearing a costume?!”
“You’re right, I guess I am wearing a costume while my shoulder is hurt,” he chuckled.
There was a laugh. “Why didn’t you just tell him he was sick?”
“I can’t just tell him he’s sick, AJ,” Kevin shook his head.
AJ leaned against his door frame, “Why not? You’ve done it before.” He was wearing a Phantom-like costume.
“He was fourteen, AJ. You can’t tell a nineteen-year-old he’s sick. Trust me, I’ve tried.”
“Well, I’m not Nick.”
“Why are you wearing a costume too??!”
“I thought he wanted to go to bed?” The sound came from behind AJ.
“Sorry, Howie. I threw a pillow at him.”
Howie walked into the living room, holding small plastic vampire teeth in his hand. “Why would you do that when he was sleeping?”
“It’s only eleven thirty!”
A pillow hit Howie in the face. He looked a little annoyed as he picked it up from the ground and clenched it between his arms.
I turned around. Sure enough, Brian had come out of our room dressed as Superman.
I put my head in my hands, “Even Howie, and Brian?”
Brian put his hand on my shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay buddy.”
“You’re all going somewhere without meeeeeeeeeeeeee!” I whined.
“Well, you’re only nineteen, Nick,” AJ shook his head.
“But Halloweeeeeeeeeen is my favorite holiday!” I whined again.
“Sorry, buddy,” Brian patted my shoulder again.
“But I bought a costume and everything! Why are you going trick or treating without meeeeeeeeeeeee?!?” Yeah, I know, I’m still whining. But this is Halloween and desperate times call for desperate measures!
“You’re nineteen, Nick…” AJ raised an eyebrow.
“So? I wanna go!”
“We’re in our twenties,” AJ prodded, “Why would we be going trick or treating?”
“Because it’s Halloween!”
“And at almost midnight?”
“More tricks, less treats?”
“When we’re famous, Nick?”
“Won’t all our fans be in bed by now?”
“Maybe? Depends on how far they drove to see us.” Brian laughed as he put a pillow on top of my head.
I tried to look up at him as he leaned on the pillow.
“Brian, you’re heavy!” I batted him away.
Of course that only made him put more weight on the pillow.
I let out a heavy sigh, “So you’re not going trick or treating?”
“Not last time I checked,” Kevin gave me a chuckle.
“Then where are you going?” I pointed at him, “Especially you and your injury.”
Kevin held his shoulder lightly as he laughed again, “We’re going clubbing, Nick.”
“And people wouldn’t recognize you there?” I rolled my eyes.
“It draws less attention than ringing peoples’ doorbells at nearly midnight.”
I gave him a scowl. I’ll never admit that he’s right. Not as long as I live.
Kevin shook his head, “I don’t know why you would want to ring doorbells this late anyway. It’s Colorado.”
I crossed my arms and continued to scowl, “So?”
“It’s cold,” Howie piped in.
“So?” I stuck my tongue out at him.
Brian reached for it as I quickly pulled it back into my mouth.
“Man…” he gave a jokingly defeated sigh, “I always miss it by that much.”
“What are we, Brian, four?” A large grin spread across my face. Hah, take that, Brian.
“Says the guy who stuck his tongue out in the first place.” Brian patted the pillow he was leaning on. I think he was trying to pat my head, but I can’t be too sure.
I turned back to Kevin, “So you’re all getting dressed up and going out to the clubs?”
He rubbed his shoulder slightly and smiled, “That’s right, Nick.”
“When are you gonna get that checked out?” I cocked my head slightly.
“Tomorrow. It’s a good thing we have a day off between shows.”
“We have a day off?” Really? Cool! I was mentally pumping my fists right then. A day to play video games? I’d take it.
Kevin shook his head, “You just go where you’re told without keeping track of things, don’t you?”
“Yeah, so?” It’s easier for me that way; less to remember.
He shook his head again, “Never mind.”
I rested my hands in my lap. Having Brian’s weight on my head wasn’t really bothering me anymore… That’s probably a good thing. “Hey Kevin… Since we have a day off tomorrow, can I come too?”
“Why are you asking me?” He chuckled slightly.
“It was your idea, wasn’t it?”
Brian starting putting more pressure on the pillow on top of my head again. “AJ’s actually.”
“Huh…” I paused.
I zoned out of the subject for a minute as I watched Kevin and Howie finally sit down in the living room. Howie sat at the end of the couch I had finally stopped sprawling myself across. Kevin eased into an armchair across from the couch and rested his head on the fist of his uninjured arm.
He really didn’t look good.
“Aren’t you going to ask me for permission to come?” AJ burst my deep thought.
I looked up slightly, “Well, I know you like me more, so I just assumed I was coming.”
Everyone was silent for a minute. I went back to staring at Kevin’s shoulder. I bet it would be even harder than normal for him to play video games…
“Well, you can’t come, Nick.”
“Wha?” I looked up slightly.
AJ crossed his arms, “I said you couldn’t come.”
“Why?” I was floored. AJ told me I couldn’t go? That doesn’t make any sense! Okay, sometimes I annoy AJ, but it’s AJ! He’s down with anything!
“You’re only nineteen.”
“So? I know that!” I was starting to get really sick of him pointing out my age to me. Yes, I’m nineteen, and no I don’t care if that makes me too old to go trick or treating. I’m going anyway! And why would that keep me from going clubbing with them?
“No one would have an eighteen and over night on a Sunday, Nick…” Brian paused, “No parents would let their kids go out on a school night.”
Oh…. That’s why… “But college! Parents don’t tell them what to do.”
“There’s probably plenty of bars closer to campus if they really feel like it.” Brian patted the pillow again.
“But I wanna go…” I pouted.
Howie leaned over, “Brian makes a lot of sense, Nick. We can all go out together next time.”
“Let’s ask Billy!” I clapped my hands, “I bet Billy can find one!”
“I thought Superman’s name was ‘Clark,’ Nick.” Brian laughed.
“Really, because the only Superman I’ve met is really named Brian.”
Brian patted my head again, “You know I only use my powers for good, Nick.”
“Which means not helping you get into the club,” AJ nodded.
“I don’t know who made you boss just because it was your idea,” I grumbled.
“Me, because it was my idea,” AJ smirked.
I crossed my arms and continued pouting, “Whatever.”
There was a knock at the door. Howie looked at Kevin and got up slowly. It seems like Kevin is our usual door answerer, but he seemed pretty out of commission right now… So I guess Howie took over the dad position for a while. Which I guess is a good thing… He doesn’t roll his eyes as much as Kevin.
Howie pulled open the door slightly, “Hey, Billy.”
He pushed his large form into the doorway, “You guys getting ready to go out or will it be a little longer?”
I hopped off the couch in a flash, “Billy! Just the person I wanted to see!”
“Nick?” He looked confused as I ran over to him, “Why aren’t you already playing Mario or something on your Nintendo?”
“That’s not all I do Billy,” I pouted.
He crossed his arms, “What do you want this time, Nick?”
“Want, what makes you think I want something?” I pretended I was appalled. Just how does he see through me so easily anyway?
“You get this look on your face,” he responded; another voice had said it in unison. The heavy sigh of Kevin soon followed, so I assumed it was him.
Brian laughed pretty loudly. He had also stolen my spot. That jerk.
“Billy…. Can’t you find out if a club does eighteen and over tonight?”
“Can’t you, Nick?”
“Well, if there is one, I need to put my costume on.”
Billy shook his head, “I’ll check the front desk and be back in five minutes.” He turned and closed the door behind him.
AJ crossed his arms, “Wow Nick, you’re pretty desperate to go aren’t you?”
“Nope,” I gave him a smile and slipped into mine and Brian’s room.
“I’m putting on my costume!”
We stood outside the nightclub. It was cold. It was really cold. “Ah! Why is it cold?”
“It’s October, Nick.” Kevin shook is head.
“And it’s Colorado.”
“And it’s midnight!”
“That arm is making you annoying.” I crossed my arms and gave him a smug look.
“So we take you somewhere and you complain?” AJ rolled his eyes.
Kevin waved AJ off and then nodded at Howie who snapped a masquerade mask over my face.
“Ow, what was that for?”
Kevin patted my head, “No one’s supposed to know Batman’s identity.”
“Maybe Brian should have been Batman and you should have been Robin…” AJ smirked, “You’re attached to his hip after all.”
“Ha, ha.” I rolled my eyes.
Brian put his arm around me, “What concerns me more is that they turned an old church into a nightclub!”
“And still called it ‘The Church,’ Brian?”
“And that they hold an eighteen and over night on a Sunday! It boggles the mind!” He laughed.
I laughed with him and wrapped him into a hug before snapping a mask on his face too.
Brian rubbed the back of his head, “That snap really does hurt.”
“Clark Kent may wear glasses to conceal the fact that he’s Superman, but this Superman needs a mask to hide his real identity.”
“Hey, Howie’s paying! Me too, Howie?”
Brian shook his head, “Your attention span is like a goldfish.”
“It’s three seconds long.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think about food every three seconds.”
“Are you sure?” AJ smirked.
“No, I think about video games every three seconds, got it?”
“Not going to stick your tongue out at me?”
“No, I don’t feel like it.”
He laughed, “That’s new.”
I put my arm around AJ. “It’s Halloween, let’s just all have a good time.”
He pushed me away. “God, you’re so difficult until you get your way.”
“I do what I can.”
We laughed as we entered the nightclub.
“Well, now this is a pretty sight.”
I followed his gaze. There were tons of girls in costumes littered about the place. AJ’s gaze was at least a little hard to keep as it kept darting from girl to girl. It was then that a small, black cat crossed our paths.
“Me-yow,” he grinned and patted my back, “See you later, Nick.”
I jolted forward, felt wet, and then heard a splash…. That’s probably out of order, isn’t it? And while my inner thoughts were focusing on my inner monologue and my confusion over whether I should have heard a splash first or if I should have felt wet first, all my mouth could manage to shout was “C-Cold!”
“I… I’m sorry.”
Cold… Wet… Girl? I turned around. Now, I could go on and on and on about her luscious dark hair or the way her deep brown eyes looked so concerned over something as innocent as spilling a drink. But the really important detail was that she was dressed as a bunny. So, that’s really all you need to know.
I gave her my trademark smile, the one that made all our teenage fans melt. “Don’t worry about it. It mostly got my cape.”
“Oh, just your cape.” She giggled, “Do you want some help with it?”
I smiled again, “Well, it does untie in the front, but it’s right under my chin so I can’t see it.”
She smiled and went straight to undoing the knots Brian had put into it. “I’m really good with knots actually. When I was in high school, I was one of the managers of the Boys’ Swim Team and this one time my best friend got his drawstring stuck in a knot and inside his drag suit. But I managed to get it out and unknotted. So I’m pretty good with knots.”
Manager…. Boys’ Swim Team…. Drawstring… Male best friend… drag suit… whatever the hell that is… and knots…. Wow she rambles a lot! But she did say she wasn’t in high school anymore and that sounds fantastic!
“What?” She’s over excitable.
“I untied it.” She smiled and held up the cape. “I’m… sorry it’s wet.”
“Don’t worry about it.” I gave her a smile and took my cape back. It smells… Hmmmmm… “I don’t think it’s water you were drinking.”
“It’s a… margarita.”
“You don’t look twenty-one.” I gave her a small smile.
She looked down, “I’m…. I’m not. I’m here with my Big Sis. She likes Pauly Shore movies and had a Goth phase in high school. And on the wall outside her room, she has this really funny quote wall and mini sharpies to write on the quote wall and my favorite quote on it is ‘Can someone call my shoe?’ Isn’t that funny?” She laughed again. “I’m sorry, I’m rambling again… I do that a lot… Or that’s what I get told anyway…”
“Your older sister is a Goth and likes Pauly Shore movies?”
“No, no, no, she was a Goth in high school. But yes, she still likes Pauly Shore movies.”
“Pauly Shore?” I started laughing, “Which one is she?”
“That one.” She pointed to a tall blonde at the bar who was dressed in a navy uniform. My mistake, not gothic at all. And pretty cute too.
“But wait, you’re in college and still live with her?”
“Well, actually I didn’t meet her until I went to college.”
And I thought my family was dysfunctional.
“No, no, no, it’s not what you’re thinking. We’re not related in the ‘her parents are my parents and vice versa’ sense.”
“What? Do I have a stupid look on my face?” How the heck did she know what I was thinking? Only Kevin and Brian could do that.
“Why? Do I have a stupid look on my face?”
“No, you just answered the question I was thinking about…”
“Oh, because every time someone asks me that question, they say that I have a pretty stupid look on my face.”
I laughed, “You? No.” You’re too cute to look stupid. I gave her that smile again.
“Thanks.” She smiled back.
She looks really pretty when she smiles.
“But the reason I knew what you were thinking is that I used to be really quiet and shy before I got to college.”
“You? Shy? I’ve only known you for what? Ten minutes? I can’t see it.”
“I’ve changed since then. But… What I was like back then helped me become a better listener and… I could just look at people and see what they were feeling. It helped a lot because I could figure out problems without having to ask for them… You know?”
“Yeah, kind of like how I know Kevin is in a mood by the look on his face.”
“Uh, yeah, probably just like that. Anyway, my Big Sis and I aren’t related per se, but we’re sorority sisters. It’s like having a family away from home.”
Like a family away from home? It’s like the fellas…. “How many sisters do you have?”
“About one hundred and twenty.”
“Wow… I only have four… brothers, that is.”
“I don’t know… I think four would be better than hundreds.”
“If you have hundreds, then you have a bigger support system, right?”
“A bigger support system with many more holes. I think that when your support system is smaller, you know that you can depend on them more.” She gave me an almost sad smile, “That’s why we have families inside that large number… So we feel like we have a support system that can be there for us in a pinch.”
“That sounds… Really amazing.” You seem really amazing too. “Do you… Do you want to dance with me?”
She turned around quickly. “I um…”
“It’s the least you could do for ruining my cape.”
She lowered her head. Wow, maybe that was a low blow… “I’m still…”
“I’ll forgive you if you dance with me.” I flashed my smile again.
She reached her hand toward mine and gave me an equally flashy smile, “Okay… Let’s dance.”
I took her hand and pulled her away from the spill and her glass.
“So, why Batman?”
“I… like comic books a lot…” I paused, “That makes me sound really nerdy, doesn’t it?”
“No. People make fun of me for the music I like all the time.” She flashed that smile again. “And anyway, I saw a Superman here too. It was kind of funny to see him wearing a mask. But actually, I think the mask thing is pretty cool. It makes everyone that much more mysterious…” She started laughing, “I’m sorry, I’m rambling again.”
“It’s fine, it’s nice to know that you always have something to say.”
“So, tell me about your sorority.”
“You’re not going to get me in trouble for drinking, are you?”
“No, I know how that goes…”
She smiled, “Okay. Well, we’re the ultimate combination of class and sass. And we all have a lot of fun. We just finished up Homecoming and it was amazing. We were paired with the Sigma Pi boys and we made a giant airplane for the theme. Isn’t that fun?”
“Sounds like it. What else?”
“Well, we have our formal in a couple weeks. We get to put on formal wear and go to a nice venue and dance… And there are cute desserts…”
“It sounds a lot like Prom…”
“Yeah, it’s like big people Prom.” She laughed.
“Can I kiss you?”
“I want to kiss you.”
She turned her head, “I don’t kiss people whose names I don’t know….”
“I’m Nick… Nick Carter.” And that’s going to be my deal breaker, isn’t it? It’s the nineties. After we released I Want It That Way, there can’t be anyone who doesn’t know our names. Sometimes it sucks being a Backstreet Boy.
She smiled anyway, “It’s nice to meet you, Nick. I’m Vie… Or, umm, Veronica Laurens.”
“So, Veronica… Will you kiss me now?”
She smiled, “I have a better idea. Why don’t you come hang out in Boulder with me tomorrow? The Pi Kapps are throwing a Halloween party, and I could probably get myself in plus one. Want to go?”
“Is that a frat or something?”
“Only one of the strongest fraternities on our campus. Plus, I can guarantee that any party of theirs is better than this place.”
“Sure… I’ll try.”
She pulled out a sharpie and grabbed my arm, sliding the sleeve of my costume up my arm. “Here’s my phone number…” She scrawled the number on my arm. “Okay?”
I stared down at the number. Wow… I coughed, “Yeah, I’ll give you a call if I’m free.”
She smiled, “I hope you do.” She turned slightly, “Oops, I gotta go. Bye bye!”
I watched as she ran off toward the bar. She grabbed the arm of the tall blonde and they walked out of the club together with a few other girls that must have been in their group, and their sorority.
I stared down at my arm again. “Wow.”