Christmas With Family

Chirstmas With Family
Sequel to Flight To Paradise
By Sarah
Chapter 2

        "Well, what did he say?"
        "That he would do it."
        "Great, when is he getting here?"
        "Heíll be getting here tomorrow at four-thirty, I have to pick him up at the airport."
        "This is great, Kevin, really great.  Now if your cousin is as good a singer as you say he isÖ"
        "Trust me, Lou, Brian is amazing, he sings all the time, he can sing for this if he can do it for school and church."
        "I hope youíre right, Kevin, this auditioning people is coming up with nothing, Brian is our last hopeÖ."
        Kevin smiled at his reflection and slowly came out of his reverie.  ĎThat was back when it all started, right before the Backstreet Boys started.  I canít believe itís been fifteen years since that day, it seems like yesterday.  And look at us now, practically legends in the music business and we still all are involved in it somehow.  AJ manages, Brian produces, Howie produces, I manage and produce, and NickyÖí Kevinís thoughts trailed.  The more he thought about Nick, the more hurt he felt.  ĎGod, why did I push him to do that?  I never shouldíve made him perform,í Kevin said to himself, putting his head in his hands.
        "Kevin, Iím sick, I canít perform tonight, thereís no way."
        "Yes there is, Nick, you have to perform, itís the last concert of the year!  Come on, get ready, we have less than ten minutes."
        "No, Kevin, I canít, Iím gonna ruin my voice and probably do something worse to myself that canít be fixed!"
        "Dammit, Nick, youíll be out on stage in ten minutes or Iíll personally drag you out there, we are not going out without you and disappointing all those people!  They paid good money to come see the last concert of the year from us and weíre gonna give them the best weíve ever done."
        "Kevin, you donít get it, I canít sing!  Iíve been trying, but I canít!  Nothing works, nothing helps, I sound like shit and I donít want to go out there and embarrass myself and disappoint all those people because I have a cold!"
        "You will go out there, Nick, now get dressed, you have five minutes."
        ĎAnd that was the night Nick nearly died.  What the hell was I thinking?í  Kevin thought, rubbing his eyes to keep himself from crying.  ĎRight after his solo, he collapsed, just collapsed on stage.  Everyone was so scared and he wasnít breathingÖGod, I was so stupid!  When we got him to the hospital, they said it wasnít a cold, but the beginning stages of pneumoniaÖand performing every night made it worse.  I canít believe I pushed him, I canít believe I did that to him.í  Kevin shook his head and moved his hands from his eyes, looking back into the mirror and looking into his own eyes, remembering what had happened.
        "Nick, Iím so sorry, I shouldnít have pushed you, we all knew you were sick, I shouldíve just believed you," Kevin said, looking at the pale figure on the hospital bed.  Being in the hospital itself was bad enough, it brought back a lot of memories, but when it was his little brother lying in front of him, barely conscience, it broke his heart.
        "Kevin, man, thereís nothing that you can say to make him better.  He knows you didnít mean to push him, we were all pushing ourselves, even he was pushing himself.  He was telling me yesterday how sick he felt, but still wanted to perform.  We all pushed ourselves, Kev, donít just blame yourself," AJ said, trying to make Kevin feel better.
        "But I pushed him tonight, I told him he had no choice but to get on stage and perform, no matter how he was feeling," Kevin protested, not bothering to reach up and wipe away the tears that were falling.
        "Kevin, donít blame yourself, he wanted to perform, he couldíve stayed backstage and refused to go on, heís done it before," Brian pointed out.
        "But this time was different, I threatened to drag him out there if he didnít come out, I treated him so badly," Kevin said.
        "Kevin, thereís nothing we can do now but wait, so stop blaming yourself, Nick is the only one who couldíve gotten Nick out on that stage, and he did," Howie said, walking in the room.
        They all stared at Nick in silence as the machines connected to him beeped away, rating how he was doing every few seconds.  Kevin walked forward and leaned against the bed, looking at Nickís sleeping face.
        "Iím sorry, Nicky, I never shouldíve done that, please donít give up," Kevin whispered.  As soon as he finished, the machine next to Nickís bed on the other side started letting out a loud, ear-piercing alarm, and Kevin backed away from the bed as doctors flooded the room.
        "Everyone out, please!"  Someone yelled, pushing Kevin to the door.  He stumbled out into the hallway and watched in shock as the doctors started CPR on Nick and called out directions and orders left and right, trying to save him before it was too late.
        Kevin looked over to the door of the room and managed a strained smile as Elaina walked over to him.
        "Honey, whatís wrong, why are you crying?"  Elaina asked him, wiping away the tears on his face.
        "I was just thinkingÖthinking about that night NickÖ" Kevin couldnít finish his sentence before getting too choked up.
        "Oh, honey, its ok, Nick survived, heís fine, and heís doing better than ever.  You saw him for yourself a few weeks ago, he was having a great time at the music convention, singing and dancing and even showing off his new group that he found.  Heís a great manager and producer, that incident never really affected him," Elaina said, giving Kevin a hug.
        "Yes it did, he still hasnít talked to me, he wonít talk to me.  Even though itís been nearly five years since that happened, three years since the last concert we all did together, he still wonít talk to me," Kevin pointed out.
        "Kevin, sugar, listen to me," Elaina said.  She led him to the bed and sat him down, sitting next to him and facing him.  "Kevy, you have to let it go, maybe you did push him a little far, but so did everyone else.  Jeff was backstage right before you, pushing Nick to get ready and get out there, Brian was back there, telling him he had to get ready and perform, and then you went backstage to get him.  He was going to stay backstage, but right at the last second, he came out and said he was going to perform.  I was there, I saw him, he was coughing and sneezing, but he said he wanted to go out there, he wanted to perform.  Itís not your fault, donít blame yourself, no one couldíve stopped him that night, no one."
        Kevin sighed and looked down at the rug.  He nodded and waited until Elaina left the room before looking up, looking back at the mirror.
        "Guys, twelve years.  Twelve years weíve been doing this, can you believe it?"
        "No, and its all about to end."
        "Brian, its not going to end, this is just the beginning, we have the rest of our lives ahead of us, nothing can stop us, weíre the invincible five that can overcome anything."
        "Nicky, what are you smoking and why arenít you sharing?"
        "Shut up, AJ, you know what I mean.  We started out as five guys with a dream, and look at us now, five guys at the top of the world and going out with a bang, only to come back before anyone knows it with the biggest and best thing thatís ever happened in our lives."
        "I agree with Nick, guys, this can only get better as time goes on.  Weíre well respected in the business now, weíve all had offers to do so much with the talents we possess.  Weíve all decided to manage and produce, havenít we?  And Brian, look at him, heís got an offer already to buy a record company."
        "No I donít, Howie!  Itís an offer to produce for a new group thatís coming out, an R&B/Hip-hop group.  Theyíre really good and Iím seriously considering taking the job."
        "Then do it!  Sarah would be thrilled for you."
        "Yeah, she was telling me the other day that she had some news for you too."
        "What?  What did she tell you, Nick?"
        "Iím not saying a word, all I can say was that she was really excited and she wanted you to be happy when she told you the news."
        "What news?!"
        "Who knows, maybe sheís pregnant," Kevin intervened in the conversation.  He looked at Nick, who wouldnít look at him.  "Am I right, Frack, is that what she said?"
        "Iím not allowed to say what she told me, Brian, but Iím telling you right now, its big," Nick said, pretending Kevin didnít say anything.
        "Is Kevin right?  Is Sarah pregnant?"  Brian asked excitedly.
        Nick didnít say anything, he just walked out of the dressing room.
        "Heíll never talk to me," Kevin said, depressed.
        "He will, Kev, just give him time, heís just excited because of tonight.  I mean, who wouldnít, broadcasting live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City is the Backstreet Boys in their last concert of their fifth world tour, the concert to end all concerts!  I mean, come on, man, Iím so excited, I can barely think straight.  Just remember, even after tonight, weíre still all friends, remember to keep in touch with each other, call every week just to bug the hell out of each other," AJ said.
        "Yeah, Iíll call AJís at seven in the morning to see whether I woke him up or caught him on his way to bed," Brian said jokingly.
        "You never know, da Bone rarely sleeps!"  AJ exclaimed, smiling as he rushed out of the dressing room.
Kevin smiled and looked at his cousin as Howie ran out of the room after AJ, calling something to him.
        "Its time, Kev, the performance of our lives," Brian said.
        Kevin nodded and looked down at the ring on his left hand, the wedding ring that was placed there exactly five years ago, one that matched the ring on Elainaís hand.  He twirled it around his finger, thinking about how excited she was that she could bring their four year old daughter to the last concert her Daddy was going to do, just to see him perform.  Courtney had never seen Kevin perform live, just on videotape.
        "But is it worth it if Nick and I arenít talking?  I mean, weíre separating on bad terms, I donít want to go out like that.  He wonít talk to me, he wonít even acknowledge that Iím alive.  For the last two years itís been this way, and its only gotten worse."
        "Kevin, the only thing I can say is give him time.  Heíll come around, I know he will."
        ĎBut he never did.  I was right, Sarah was pregnant, and Nick never called me, never talked to me, and never wrote me letters after that.  I got all the information from Brian, only got invited to Nickís wedding because Sarah felt bad and conned Brian into letting her bring me and Elaina along.  Iíll never forget the look on Nickís face when I showed up, he had a happy look, then it disappeared and his face showed nothing to me, no emotion displayed.  We all sang at the wedding, it was mine and the guysí gift, but Nick never said anything to me.  He thanked the other guys, but not me.  I heard everything from Sarah and Brian, from when Nickís wife had her first baby, to when Nick bought his own record company.  Out of all of us, heís the most successful, and yet he hasnít forgiven me, he wonít talk to me at all.í
        "Daddy!  Look it, I drew you a picture!"  Courtney exclaimed as she ran into the room and jumped onto Kevinís lap.
        "Really?  Wow, thatís beautiful, Courtney," Kevin said, looking at the paper.  It was a mess of scribbles and had a faint resemblance to boxes and triangles.
        "See, thereís you, thereís me, and thereís Mommy.  And look, Mommyís holding my little brother," Courtney said, pointing to a dark scribble in the page.
        "Yeah, I can see, did you show this to Mommy?"
        Courtney nodded.  "Yup, and you know what she said?"
        "She said that if she has a little boy, she hopes he looks just like you."
        Kevin smiled and gave his daughter a hug.  She had dark brown hair that was pulled back into pigtail braids and bright green eyes that were so full of life and happiness.  Everytime Kevin looked at her, though, he didnít see her hair and eyes that resembled his so strongly, but he saw that she had her motherís angelic face.  Kevin once saw a picture of his wife when she was Courtneyís age and she had the same cherubic face framed with vibrant red hair and the contrast of pale blue eyes.  Though Kevin loved the contrast of his wifeís looks, he admitted to himself that the combination of Kevinís hair and eyes with Elainaís face, Courtney was going to be a beautiful girl and she had a personality to match.
        "Come on, Daddy, Grammy made cookies and she said I had to get you before I could have any," Courtney said, standing up and pulling on her fatherís hand.  Kevin followed his daughter down the stairs and into the kitchen where his mother was holding the phone to her ear as she pulled a sheet of cookies out of the oven.
        "Yes, ok, I understand.  Great, thank you, Jane, ok, Iíll see you soon.  Ok, bye," Kevinís mother said, hanging up the phone.  She spotted Kevin coming and smiled.  "Hey, Pumpkin, I was just coming to get you."
        "Too late, Courtney got me first, she wants those cookies," Kevin said, helping his daughter sit on a stool on the opposite side of the island counter from the stove.
        "She always wants my cookies," his mother said, smiling.  She sat a plate of chocolate chip cookies on the counter and handed one on a napkin to Courtney.
        "Thank you, Grammy," Courtney said.
        "Youíre welcome, honey."
        Kevin looked at Courtney as she started on her cookie, then suddenly, the conversation his mother was having on the phone registered in his head.
        "Mom, who were you talking to?"
        "When, honey?"
        "Just now, on the phone."
        "Just a friend of mine, why do you ask?"
        "Because you said Jane.  The only Jane I know of is Jane Carter."
        "So why were you talking to her?"
        "Kevy, stop being so nosy and eat your cookie, thatís all youíre getting until after dinner tonight," his mother said, turning around and pushing the plate of cookies towards him.
        Kevin looked skeptically at his mother and selected a cookie from the plate.  "If I didnít know better, Iíd sat that you were avoiding the subject."
        "Kevin, private conversations remain private in this family, you know that.  If I wanted to tell you what our conversation was about, I would.  Now, if you donít mind, take your daughter outside and play on the swing set while I cook," his mother said, not facing him as she started stirring something in a pot.
        "Ma, since when do you have a swing set outside?"  Kevin asked, getting up and walking to the backdoor.  He saw a brand new swing set outside, complete with a slide and monkey bars.
        "Since I knew that I was going to have grandchildren and great nieces and nephews," she said.  She shooed them out of the kitchen and Kevin watched as his daughter ran for the swings, jumping on one and pumping her legs to go higher.  He sat in a lawn chair and crossed his arms, trying hard to not drift into another daydream about the mistake he made five years ago.

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