Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

Running From the Truth



Gingerly I took the cold, wet washcloth and dabbed it at the scrape under my left eye. This was definitely going to leave a good bruise as it healed. I winced as the contact to the skin burned. My bottom lip was split and bleeding and noticebly fat on one side, the left side.

I slipped on a pair of sunglasses as I left the house. I was already running behind schedule. Hesitating for a moment, I debated on locking the garage door up, and decided against it. It would only serve as another reason for her to get mad at me again.

The events played out in my mind as I got stuck on I-75. Another damn traffic jam could only mean a car accident up ahead.

I was only online this morning to check my email and I forgot to shut off the instant messanger. It popped on and one of my online friends IM’d me and we started chatting. Manda came into the room, saw me online and freaked out. When I got up to leave after quickly shutting the computer down, she went postal on me and started throwing things in my direction. I managed to duck until she came at me, her fists balled up. She was swinging wildly and I tried to shield my face but she still made contact.

Mom always told me never to hit a girl. I took it and when she got tired of it, she left the house and drove off, promising she would be back when I decided to stay off the computer and pay more attention to her.

It was my fault. I upset her and I provoked this attack.

I grew tired of the traffic jam and took an offramp and drove the back way towards the affiliated management office building. I pulled into the parking lot just as Brian was exiting his car.

“Hey Nicky, what’s with the shades?” Brian smiled at me as I got out of my car.

“Oh nothing,” I answered.

Telling by the smile as it fell from his lips I noticed that he saw the fat lip. Brian reached up towards the sunglasses and I gently slapped his hand away. He persisted and he slid them down away from my eyes. His breath caught.

“What the hell happened?” He asked, concern was written all over his face and in his voice.

“I got up to use the bathroom last night and didn’t turn on the lights cause Manda don’t like me turning on the lights during the night and I ran into the damn bathroom door,” I lied.

“Bathroom door? Right,” Brian replied. I could tell in the tone of his voice he didn’t buy it.

Yeah, bathroom door, what a klutz,” I laughed it off.

“Nick, this makes the fifth time in two months you accidentally walked into a door, the logistics of this are impossible,” Brian argued. “Do you want to tell me the truth?”

I hung my head. I didn’t want to tell him what happened, I didn’t want to get Manda into trouble with the guys. They seemed to dislike her already I didn’t want to give them another reason to hate her. “It is the truth.”

The day got from bad to worse when Bruce, our PR manager pulled me aside and directed me into his office alone.

“So Nick, see you had an accident with your face.”

I chuckled a little. “Yeah, damn bathroom doors anyways, I’m gonna try and be more careful,” I quickly added the apology.

“You know why I pulled you in here, don’t you?”

I watched Bruce as he held onto his tie as he sat down into the thick leather chair behind the desk.

“Not sure, why?” I replied, silently praying that he wasn’t going to address the bruise under my eye.

“Tour starts up in a few weeks and it seems you were taking too much advantage of the nine month hiatus,” he started out.

I narrowed an eye at him. “I don’t understand what you’re getting at.” I did, but I was hoping I was thinking wrong.

“Your weight Nick,” Bruce replied.

I shifted in my chair. Oh great, everytime we start a tour this subject comes up.

“Oh, I know I’ve gained a little, but it will slip off, honest,” I defended.

Bruce shook his head. “A little? Nick... Nick. You are kidding yourself here. You’ve got the start of a double chin, you can’t tell me you don’t see that and your stomach is poking out and would look like shit onstage.”

Okay now I felt like total shit. I admit I put on roughly twenty pounds, but Manda assured me I looked better a little heavier. What could I say?

“So Nick, we’ll be having Jake back as your personal trainer watching you while on the road making sure you are following the restrictions to the letter. I will be having him come to your house beginning tomorrow morning with your work outs,” Bruce stated.

Manda wasn’t going to like this one bit. God, this was going to put her over the edge again.

“Is that all?” I asked, wanting to break out of this private hell.

“No, one more thing, dump the bitch,” Bruce directed.

“Excuse me?” I narrowed my eyes at him.

“I said dump....the....bitch, you know, Manda,” he stated in a even tone.

“My personal life is none of your damn business,” I hissed.

“You’re owned by Jive Records and The Firm, boy. Her messing with your face and your body affects record sales,” he sarcastically laughed as he paused and looked me up and down. “and looking at you right now, she’s ruining our chances at any success.”

~*~*~*~


“Nick you want to stop and grab a bite to eat?” Brian asked as he smacked me on the back.

“No, I can’t I have to get back home,” I replied. I didn’t want to tell him what went on in Bruce’s office. I felt so embarrassed.

“Hey Chubbs, I’ll buy,” AJ commented as he stepped up his pace behind us.

I winced at the nickname.

“You and Bri go on ahead, I really need to be getting home,” I replied as I pushed the door open and walked towards my car.

“Your loss then,” AJ called out.

“Call me later Nick, okay?” Brian stated, worry was still in his voice.

“Okay, see you later,” I said as I climbed into the car and put the keys in the ignition.

I drove home as fast as I dared. I knew Manda would be waiting and I told her roughly when the meeting would end, I didn’t want to keep her waiting past that point.

Pulling into the drive, I saw that Manda had come back and was waiting for me. I could feel the knot tight tighten up in my stomach as I shut the engine off. I never knew what mood I would find her in. I guess now was as good as anytime.

I walked into the house to find Manda sitting on the couch. She got up and immediately wrapped her arms around me and held me.

“Baby, I’m so sorry for getting mad at you,” she whispered into my ear.

“It’s okay, it was my fault,” I replied as I took the sunglasses off my face.

“Awww, lemme kiss the boo boo,” Manda cooed as she gently touched my face. “Pooh bear, I’m so sorry for getting upset with you this morning, but you know that you shouldn’t be online, I don’t like that.”

I glanced at the computer sitting in the corner. “I know, I’m sorry I couldn’t help it, I’m sorry.”

Manda put a finger to my lips to silence me.

“Carry me now to the bedroom,” she ordered.

You know, the fighting was always bad, but the making up was always good. I guess that was always why I stuck it out. Without hesitating, I scooped her up into my arms and carried her, giggling into the bedroom.

~*~*~*~


I woke up to find that Manda had already gotten out of bed. Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, I saw that I had overslept. It was 9:30. The smell of sausage pulled me out of bed.

Walking into the kitchen, I found her standing at the stove, wearing one of my tee shirts, making pancakes.

“Good morning,” I said softly as I wrapped an arm around her waist.

“Morning, sit down at the table, breakfast is almost ready,” she replied sweetly.

I did as I was told and Manda placed a mug of hot coffee in front of me. She came back with a plate that was overloaded with pancakes and sausage and sat it in front of me.

“Hey I can’t eat all of this!”

“Why not? I thought you loved my pancakes and sausage,” Manda replied. Her voice had the hint of a hurt tone in it.

I lowered my eyes away from her gaze. “I was told.”

“TOLD? Told what?”

She was nearly screaming now, throwing the spatula into the stainless steel sink.

“Bruce told me that I needed to lose some weight, he said I was too heavy,” I mumbled, ashamed of what I was telling her.

“Bruce can go to hell, you look fine,” she reassured me.

“But he said I was affecting the group,” I persisted.

“Nick, you eat what you want and when you want, Bruce has no control over you. I swear you are such a wimp, stand up to him Baby. Now, you eat your breakfast and don’t worry about that damn ass.”

I nodded in agreement as I buttered up the pancakes. Manda always told me the truth, she knew what was good for me. She even told me to stay seated when the buzzer went off on the gate to the driveway. It was Jake that guy that Bruce was sending over to start me off on my diet and exercise thing. Manda lied to him and told him that I had gone for some doctors appointment and wasn’t expected to be back in town until sometime late tomorrow.

After breakfast was finished she curled up next to me on the couch. “Sweetie, I need to get some new shoes,” she cooed. “I need a credit card, okay?”

I groaned inside at the thought of her taking another credit card. I got yelled at a little the other month by my accountant. One of my cards had been maxed out the month before and he told me I can’t keep doing that with the $10,000 limit on them. I rarely used my cards, but Manda was constantly shopping and I wanted to keep her happy. The computer caught my eye and I had a quick thought.

“You know where my wallet is, go ahead,” I replied.

She quickly kissed me on the cheek and jumped up off the couch. “I’ll buy you a suprise, honey bear,” she squealed. “I’ll probably be gone most of the day, so don’t get too lonesome.”

I nodded. “I’ll stay out of trouble.”

“You best stay off that computer while I’m gone too, watch baseball or something while I’m gone,” she replied.

“Sure thing,” I lied to her. I knew full well I was logging on to check my email the moment she left the house.

~*~*~*~


I guess I don’t really know what set her off when she came home from her shopping trip. I didn’t hear her come in and suddenly she dropped her bags, which in turn caused me to turn around and find her standing in the doorway, the smile on her face soured.

“Oh, hi, I didn’t hear you come in, just checkin my emails.” I knew my voice was dripping in guilt. I did something that was wrong. She hated me online and here I had been sitting at the computer from the time she left the house. I was smart enough to hide the IM boxes, but not smart enough to realize that Chrissy would IM me on a different name if I ignored her in a chat.

The big gray box popped up.... busted.

“What are you doing? I told you specifically DO NOT GO ONLINE TO CHAT WITH THOSE GIRLS!” Manda screamed at me.

I took a deep breath in. This was do or die time. I quickly shut the computer down and stood up. I needed to dig in, I had the courage this time, I was prepared to do this.

“It’s my computer, hell, it’s my house and I will do as I damn please!” I replied.

“Excuse me?” she hissed. “I think you better take a reality check my dear Nicky, I told you the rules and you broke them.”

I walked towards the steps that led down to my equipment room. “It’s over Manda, pack your stuff and go.”

“No! You can’t do this!” she screeched.

Before I could grab the stair rail, I felt her hand up against my back. I think I yelled as she shoved me down the stairs, I don’t remember anything after that but waking up at the bottom of the stairs, Brian hovering over me, a concerned look on his face.

“God, Nick don’t move for a minute, okay? Take it slow. Is anything broke?”

I closed my eyes for a moment. This was all a weird dream or something.

“Hey don’t be going to sleep on me now, stay with me Nicky,” Brian encouraged.

“I... I think I’m alright,” I quietly stated.

Brian held his hand out for me to take. I gladly accepted his hand and he slowly helped me up off the floor.

“What the hell happened?” He asked as I made my way to the couch in the living room.

I sighed deeply. This I didn’t want to tell him. Although Manda was gone, I didn’t want to give Brian or any of the guys another reason to hate her. It was my fault that she pushed me down those stairs. I had broken the rules, I had upset her. Deep down I knew that what she did was wrong to have left me unconscious after a fall like that, but I assumed that she freaked out and maybe she called Brian to check up on me.

“Um, it’s kinda dumb,” I replied.

“Just tell me Nick, I wanna hear it,” Brian replied.

“I tripped over one of the dogs and fell,” I lied.

The look on Brian’s face said it all. He knew what had happened. He always knows when I lie.

“Tripped on a dog? Nick, come on!”

I wasn’t getting out of this one and I knew it. I couldn’t look him in the eyes. “It was Manda.” I looked back at him. He had this weird look on his face.

“So where is she?”

I took a deep breath in, I wasn’t gonna cry over this. I made my decision, right or wrong, I wasn’t gonna turn back.

“Gone, I asked her to leave.”

There, I said it. Then he said something I didn’t really need to hear.

“Good, it’s the best choice you’ve made.”

I wasn’t about to let that one go by. “What do you mean by that? I was mad and I mad a rash decision. We just need some time apart.”

“Nick, she shoved you down the stairs and not only that, she left you while you were out cold, that is something that is unforgiveable, you’re talking like you are going back to her.”

I made my mind up that my personal life was none of their business. I was planning on calling Manda after a day or two to make sure she was okay but I wasn’t about to let Brian or any of the guys know about it. “It’s okay Brian, don’t worry about me.”

“I do worry Nick.”

“Drop it,” I growled.

~*~*~*~


Brian stayed with me for a few days and when he left he asked me the question again that I hated the most.

“Nick, you’re not planning on calling her are you?”

“No,” I lied to him. Actually, I didn’t really think it was a lie, he was asking me something that I thought was intruding on my personal life which was none of his business.

I waited until he left the drive and I picked up the phone and called Manda.

When she moved back in with me, I kept it a well guarded secret from the guys. They hated her and only saw bad things about her. I looked at her and saw a person that was sorry for what she did and wanted and was willing to change. I think she apologized over a million times.

“Here, Nick,” Manda directed as she pulled the chair out from under the computer desk. “I want you to sit down and mess around with the computer.”

I looked at her questionably. This was the one thing that she hated the most. This was the thing that always led to the terrible fights and the hitting and shoving.

“No, I don’t want to go online, it upsets you and I don’t want to upset you,” I replied.

Manda pointed at the chair instantly. “No, Nick, I said go ahead and go offline or whatever the hell it is.”

“It’s online,” I smiled. She had absolutely no clue about the internet.

“Okay, well online then, but you sit here because I know how much it makes my Pooh Bear happy and I want you happy,” she cooed.

Puzzled, I did as she told me. The next couple of things she said really caught me by suprize.

“I want you to go ahead and talk on that thing and, Nick, anything, anything at all that you need, I want you to ask for it, there is no need for you to get up, I’m here to wait on your every whim.”

Okay, now that was something I was sure I was going to enjoy.

The first day I did this, it was pretty cool although I kept looking over my shoulder expecting to see Manda glaring at me and the computer but she was sitting on the couch reading a novel.

Towards the third day, she was treating me like total royality. I didn’t have to lift a finger. If I wanted water, she brought it to me, if I wanted a sandwich, again, she brought it to me. The only time I was allowed up was to go to the bathroom or to just go and sit on the couch. I was still shocked at her allowing me to be online. She hated my fans as well as my friends, she always felt they came between me and her.

The fourth day, Manda came back from one of her famous shopping sprees and had bought me tons of clothes. She went into the bedroom and came out carrying some of my old clothes and tossed them onto the couch.

“You won’t be needing these anymore,” she said as she dumped them.

“Huh? What do you mean, those clothes are still good,” I replied.

“Nick, I got you nice things, you don’t need those old ratty clothes,” she stated.

I got up from the computer.

“What do you need?” Manda jumped.

“Take it easy, I just wanna look at what you bought,” I laughed.

The clothes were really nothing out of the ordinary, but all the pants had the size tags removed. “Hey where are the tags?”

“It’s a new French thing, they take the labels out,” Manda lied.

“Oh, I hadn’t heard that one yet,” I replied.

“Now, go back to your computer like a good boy and I’ll bring a snack out for you in a second.”

“A snack? For crying out loud, I just had lunch two hours ago, compliments of you.”

“A busy guy like you needs to keep his energy up,” she replied as she walked off towards the kitchen.

I just shook my head as I sat back down in front of the computer. I figured I just wouldn’t eat any of the stuff.

Manda came back a little later with one of my big weaknesses. A plate overfilled with pizza rolls.

I looked at them wearily.

Manda, I can’t be doing this and you know it.”

“Why on earth do you think that?”

“Because I’ll get fat if I keep this up,” I replied.

“Nonesense, you look good to me and besides, when tour starts up you’ll get so skinny I’ll hardly know you anymore.”

She did have a good point there. A few pounds wouldn’t really hurt me. I happily dug in.

Manda went about cleaning in the kitchen and I contentedly ate the snack and chatted with one of my online friends. I guess I made the mistake of bragging to her how good Manda was taking care of me and giving me snacks and things cause she asked if she could chat with her for a few minutes. I was a little worried about doing that because Manda really did deep down hate the internet especially online chats.

After a few minutes of her going back and forth with me about asking Manda, I gave in and I asked her. I about fell off my chair when she agreed to talk online.

I quickly made an excuse about needing to use the bathroom and left Manda to chat with my friend. When I came back a few minutes later, Manda was no where to be seen, the computer was turned off.

This was not a good sign.

Out of no where, Manda came at me, first with a verbal attack that escalated into a physical attack. She started yelling at me about telling my online friend about what was going on at my house. She kept yelling how it was nobody’s business.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking,” I yelled back in my defense.

Then the shoving came and the fists. “Don’t you dare yell at me! Look at you, you’re pathetic! Without me, you’re nothing, do you hear me?”

I remember trying to protect my face. She could do anything else, but I didn’t need her to bruise my face or give me a fat lip, those things can’t be covered up like marks on my body.

Manda ran at me, full force and slammed my body into the wall. Some stuff fell off the wall and hit me in the head. My knees gave out but I managed to stop myself from falling to the floor. I just covered my face and quietly prayed that she would grow tired of the hitting.

Minutes were lasting like hours to me.

Then it was over. She scooped up Princess and stormed out the door.

“I’ll be back and you better have cleaned up that mess!”

I nodded. It was all my fault and I had to fix this. I made her angry and I did wrong.

~*~*~*~


It almost seemed like Brian had a built in radar for when I was having a fight with Manda. While she was gone, he showed up at my house when I was cleaning up the aftermath.

“What the hell happened in here?” Brian asked as he entered the living room.

“Nothing,” I replied, still trying to hurry and set things back as they were and pick up broken glass.

Brian started helping me.

“No, just sit down, it’s my mess, I can take care of this,” I demanded.

Brian tossed a pillow back on the couch. I could feel his eyes staring at me while I cleaned up. “Nick, what did you do to your finger?”

I didn’t notice the pain until Brian brought it up. I looked down at my hand and noticed the pinky finger on my left hand was misshapen and bruised. It was too late to hide that.

‘I... I guess I broke it,” I quitely replied and then continued on cleaning, trying carefully not to bump the injured finger.

I could feel Brian still staring at me while I continued to clean and it was starting to bug me. Manda would be coming home soon and the last thing I needed was for her to come back and find Brian sitting in the living room. Those two did not get along at all and I knew she would still be in one of her upset moods and I didn’t feel in the need to be the recipient of her anger again.

“Brian, I think it would be best if you just go, okay? Manda is going to be coming back any minute and I know you two don’t get along very well, and I guess it would just be the best thing for right now,” I asked, not making eye contact with him.

“Nick, there’s a reason why Manda and I don’t get along---”

“GET OUT!”

I lost it and I felt awful at yelling at my best friend like that, but I just didn’t feel like hearing any of his motivational lectures about life, family and friends. I glanced at Brian as he was leaving, his face was drained of color.

“Nick, please be careful, okay? Call me, please,” Brian pleaded as he opened the front door to leave. I didn’t say anything, I just nodded an acknowledgement and silently prayed he would go.

~*~*~*~


The weeks seemed to fly by after that blow up with Manda. She treated me like royality again and waited on my every whim and praised me on anything I did. I was loving it and not looking at the entire picture of the situation. As the weeks went by, my weight went up. Manda couldn’t have been any happier. Her goal was being achieved. She hated my fans and felt that they always came between us, little did I know at the time, she decided her key to having me to herself was to mess around with my looks and distance me from the public. I hadn’t seen anyone in the group for close to a month, kept putting off meetings and told them I was sick when they wanted me to rehearse a song.

“Who was that, babe?” Manda asked as she looked up from the book she was reading.

“Oh, just Michael, I guess I have to go and do some things to get ready to go to Stockholm to cut the new record. He was getting a little irritated that I have skipped too many meetings and stuff, you know the same old bullshit,” I replied as I hung the phone up.

Manda looked at me looking sad. “Oh but Pooh bear, I don’t want you to go.”

I walked over to the couch and sat down next to her, placing my arm around her. “I won’t be gone too long and besides, if Nick don’t work, Nick don’t make money and then Nick will have to move.”

“Oh yeah, I totally forgot about the money part,” Manda joked.

“I gotta go shower and get dressed,” I stated as I got up from the couch and walked down the hall towards the bedroom. “You wanna lay some clothes out for me?”

“Sure thing babe,” Manda called out to me as I closed the bathroom door.

I stared at my face for a few minutes before I turned on the shower. I decided to skip shaving, they wouldn’t dink with me as much if I had a “tough guy look” about me. I snickered thinking that I was thinking I looked tough, I guess I was in a pretty good mood.

After the shower I found Manda sitting in a chair in the corner of the bedroom, a pair of jeans and a black Nike t-shirt laying on the bed.

“Wow, I don’t think I remember what it’s like to wear regular street clothes. You’ve had me wearing sweats most of this month,” I chuckled.

“Well Nick, why dress up when you’re not going anywhere?” Manda replied, a grin on her face.

“True,” I said as I grabbed the pair of jeans and stepped into them. Everything was going great until I got up to about mid-thigh, I noticed they were getting sort of tight around my legs, I brushed that off figuring it was because they had been washed. When the time came to button them, I freaked out. The sides were never going to meet up.

“SHIT! What the hell!?” I huffed as I struggled to make the sides meet.

Manda appeared calm as she watched my temper start to flare. “Nick calm down.”

“Calm down? How the hell can I calm down, good god, I can’t button these, why didn’t you tell me I was getting fat!”

“Nick, you’re not fat, it’s just a little weight, probably a few pounds, besides, you look gorgeous,” Manda stated as she put her arms around me and drew me into a hug.

“Manda, they are going to kill me, management told me last month I had to start working out, having Jake help me. SHIT, they are going to fire me!”

“Just calm down Nick, this isn’t going to help with you getting all worked up over this,” Manda soothed. She pulled open a dresser drawer and produced a new pair of jeans and tossed them on the bed.

I eyed the jeans suspiciously and then glanced at her before I peeled off the other jeans that I had outgrown.

“I knew it was getting to this, I picked them up last week,” Manda casually stated.

“If you knew, why the hell did you keep pushing the sweets and the snacks at me?” I asked in an exasperated tone.

“Nick you look fine, really, would I lie to you? They won’t do anything to you, I mean you are their number one singer in the band,” Manda commented.

I slowly nodded as I picked up the new jeans. I glanced at the tag and my heart skipped a beat. “Okay, but a size 38?” That was up from my usual size 34.

“Room for growth,” Manda smiled sweetly at me.

As I was putting them on, I was anticipating them to fall back down on the floor but instead I discovered that they were comfortable, not too loose, but loose enough. Thank god the Nike shirt was big too, I didn’t want to tuck anything in so I let it hang down. I looked into the full length mirror. I saw all the imperfections.

“I look like shit,” I mumbled.

“You look just fine,” she reassured.

I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek as I grabbed my keys and hat. “I dunno when I’ll be back but it shouldn’t be too long. Page me if you need me.”

~*~*~*~


I sat out in the parking lot for about ten minutes, trying to summon up the courage to go inside. I was psyching myself up, knowing that I was going to get yelled at for skipping meetings and being a no show for rehearsing.

Taking the keys out of the ignition, I fiddled with them nervously, spinning them around on my finger. I quickly sucked a breath in and got out and approached the office.

“Hi Nick, they’re waiting for you in conference room C,” the petite receptionist stated when I entered the building.

The moment I walked into the conference room, I knew they were not too happy with me. The look on Brian’s face told it all. He surely noticed my weight and I looked away from his gaze and slumped into the nearest chair and kept my eyes down at the table.

“So glad you could finally attend, Nick,” Bruce remarked in a sarcastic voice.

“Sorry, I’ve been busy,” I mumbled.

“I guess so, looks like the only curls you’ve done lately is the fork to your mouth,” Bruce replied.

“Hey! That’s uncalled for!” Brian defended.

“I’m only stating the facts Brian,” Bruce remarked.

“You don’t need to pick on Nick,” Brian continued on his defense.

“Alright, alright, I’m just pointing out facts. Thank god Stockholm is only in a recording studio. I am going to have to have Jake handcuffed to your wrist to stop you from eating,” Bruce stated in a smug tone.

Brian jumped up from his chair and grabbed his sunglasses. “I’m not going to sit here anymore and listen to you cut Nick down Bruce. You were doing it before he even showed up and I warned you about it. Have a little heart okay? Some of us have been having a rough month and I’m sure Nick doesn’t need to hear you rubbing it in his face about how much weight he’s put on. I think Nick is old enough to make his own choices. When and if you decided to become human again, you can contact me, but don’t until you’re ready. Nick you want to come along?”

I could feel the color rush to my cheeks. They were talking about me as if I weren’t in the room. I felt humiliated. I didn’t realize I looked that bad. Without answering, I got up from the table and followed Brian out of the building.

“Damn that Bruce,” Brian muttered under his breath.

“It’s okay Brian, thanks for what you did in there,” I replied with giving him a slight tap on the shoulder.

Brian stopped and turned to face me. “Nick, I love you now matter what, you’re my little brother, when you hurt, I hurt. I want to help.”

I nodded, I think I could read his mind, I knew what he was going to say.

“How much did you put on?”

I rolled my eyes, I couldn’t believe he was asking me that.

“Nick I’m not asking you that to be nosey, I want to help you and I have a diet plan that will work for you but I need to know how much you gained.”

“I dunno,” I replied, staring at the pavement.

“You don’t know? Don’t you weigh yourself every day?” Brian asked, a hint of suprise in his voice.

I shook my head. “The scales don’t work and Manda told me you shouldn’t judge yourself based on size.”

Brian bit his tongue on that reply. “Okay, well, let’s go to the gym I workout at and get yourself weighed in and start taking action.”

~*~*~*~


My heart was literally pounding inside my chest as I pulled into the driveway, Brian’s car right behind mine. I hopped out of the car and started to walk back towards Brian when he got out of his car.

“Hey, it’s okay, I’m just gonna run in and grab some clothes to work out in, I gotta tell Manda where I’m going to so it’s only gonna be a minute or two,” I calmly stated.

“Nope, I’m coming in with you, like it or not,” Brian replied, slamming his car door shut.

I shrugged my shoulders, I knew from the tone of his voice he was going to come in with me whether I wanted him to or not.

“Hey Nick, you’re back early,” Manda called out ot me from the other room.

“Yeah, sorry honey but Brian’s taking me someplace so I’ll be gone for a bit,” I called out over my shoulder as I was heading for the bedroom.

“Where are you going?”

“Oh, no place special, he just wants to show me that new club he’s a member of,” I replied, hoping she wouldn’t question me further on the subject.

“If he’s just showing you the place, how come you have to take a change of clothes?”

I stopped what I was doing when I realized she was standing behind me.

“Oh, well, I just might want to try out the new equipment,” I lied. I quickly shoved the shorts and a shirt into a bag and gave Manda a quick kiss on her cheek. “I won’t be long, see you in a few.”

The look in her eyes worried me. She was pissed and if Brian hadn’t been there, I was pretty sure she would have done anything and everything to stop me from going. I hoped she would cool down before I came back.

I barely spoke two words to Brian on the drive over to the gym. I was worried about Manda and what would happen when I got back home.

“Something bothering you, Nick?” Brian asked as he pulled the car into a parking space at the club. He could always read my thoughts, I hated that.

“No, it’s okay, don’t worry about it,” I lied. I didn’t want to involve Brian in any of this.

“Yeah, sure,” Brian replied. I could tell by the look on his face he didn’t believe me. I didn’t care, this was my problem, not his.

I followed him into the locker room. Brian gestured to the place where I could change my clothes as he did the combination to his locker. As I was changing, I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror that hung on the wall. I looked away from the image quickly. I didn’t like or believed what I saw.

“Okay, Nick, let’s weigh in and then we can go out into the workroom,” Brian said a little too cheerfully than I liked.

“You go first,” I said quietly as we stopped at the scales. I was trying to buy time, praying that by some sort of miracle, the scales would break down and I couldn’t weigh myself when it was my turn.

“One forty-five, okay Nick, your turn,” Brian said as he stepped off the scales.

“Can we just skip this part?” I pleaded quietly.

“Nick, come on, it’s probably not gonna be so bad, just step on it and be done with it,” Brian coaxed.

I took a deep breath in, closed my eyes and stepped on the scale. As I slowly opened my eyes, I was hoping and figuring I would see maybe a ten pound weight gain. I was shocked at what I saw. I normally weighed 213 and I was comfortable with that weight, I felt good at 213, but what I saw staring back at me was 238. I had gained over 25 pounds!

“Oh my god, this is horrible,” I moaned.

“Nick, don’t worry, we can get this off you in no time, don’t stress yourself over this,” Brian enouraged me.

As we worked out in the gym, Manda’s face kept popping into my head. Her voice when she reassured me that I looked fine and healthy this way. Her voice when she would constantly bait me with snacks and greasy fried foods and pizza. This was all of her doing. I was finally realizing that she wanted to make sure I was hers and hers alone, fully dependant on her.

On our way back to my house, I decided to tell Brian what I was planning on doing, just in case something bad happened.

“Brian, I’m going to ask Manda to pack her things and go. I’ve finally come to the realization that she only wants me for my money and my name and nothing else. She doesn’t love me, she loves using me. Manda is a user. Period. You’ve tried telling me so many times and I wouldn’t listen to you. Hell, I’ve even tried telling myself when I wrote that letter on the website after a fight we had. I’m telling you this just in case she freaks on me and tries to pull something on me, okay? I don’t need you to stick around, just check up on me in a few hours, okay?”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?” Brian asked, I could hear the concern in his voice.

I shook my head. “No, I have to face this on my own. This was something I got myself into, I need to break free on my own.”

“Okay, I’m calling you in two hours. Page me if you need me before then, alright?”

“Don’t worry Bri, I’ll be fine,” I tried to reassure him as I stepped out of the parked car.

“Too late Nick, besides, it’s my job to worry about you, okay?”

“Okay,” I nodded and managed a tight smile. Walking up the front walk was like the longest journey in my life. It felt like my feet were made of clay. I slowly turned the door knob and quietly let myself in the house.

Turning around after I closed the door, I came face to face with Manda.

“So you went ahead and went to that gym after I specifically told you not to go with Brian. God, go take a shower, you’re all sweaty and smelly,” Manda remarked. “After you get cleaned up, I’ll make you one of my famous milkshakes and a pizza.”

“No, I’m not hungry,” I replied, planting my feet firmly into the carpet.

“Of course you are, you just came back from the gym and you worked out, you have to be starving,” Manda stated.

“No, I worked out because I need to lose weight,” I tried desperately to stand my ground.

“Oh Nick, don’t be silly, you look fine, all baby faced in a cute chubby way. Now go and shower and your snack will be ready and waiting for you.”

I balled my fists up, it was do or die time.

“No, no more Manda.”

“No more what? I don’t understand,” Manda replied, her eyes shifting from side to side. She had been caught and she was trying to find a way out.

“Bullshit, you do understand! Look at me! Look at what you’ve done to me! This is crazy!” I walked away from her, trying to keep my emotions in check. Part of me was sad, wanting to cry at any given moment while the other half was so angry I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs.

“Mand, I want you to pack your shit and go, we’re done, I can’t do this anymore,” I calmly requested.

Just as I had expected, she didn’t take the news very well. The anger flashed in her eyes and she came after me, both fists balled up. I stood against the wall and took my punishment. I allowed her to strike my face and my body. Every blow hurt me, but I didn’t strike back or try to cover my face. I deserved it, it was my fault that I had driven her this far in the first place.

A heavy picture that was on the wall must have fallen because the last thing I remember was hearing something sliding down towards me and then it went dark......
final update: 02/10/01


~*~*~*~*~


I slowly opened my eyes and waited a few moments for them to focus as I tried to get my bearings. I looked across the room and saw Manda sitting on the couch, mascara rings underneath her eyes. She had been crying and was still visibly upset.

“Oh god, Nick, I’m so sorry, are you okay?” she said as she got up from the couch and started to walk towards me.

“Don’t,” I held my hand up and she stopped her approach.

“Nick? I need to make sure you’re okay,” Manda sniffled.

“Go Manda, just please go,” I said weakly. My head was pounding and I wasn’t ready to go at it again with her.

“Please Nick, don’t do this to me, I need you,” Manda cried.

“You don’t need me Manda, you are capeable of handling yourself and doing your own thing, please don’t make this hurt anymore than what it already is,” I replied softly.

“But you’re hurt and you need me,” she protested.

I wanted to lash out and yell to her that it didn’t matter before when she attacked me so many other times. I kept my temper amazingly in check.

“I can take care of myself,” I replied as I slowly stood up. “Now, please, go. I’ll ship anything of yours that is left behind.”

Manda still didn’t seem to get it, the fact that I was finally going to break this off.

“I’ll call you tomorrow, when you’re feeling better,” she promised. She walked up to me and tried one more chance as she leaned towards me to kiss me. I moved my face away. She sobbed as she turned away, hurrying out the door.

~*~*~*~


As I was cleaning and packing up a few things, memories of the two years I had spent with Manda flooded into my mind. The years were mixed with happiness and sadness. There weren’t enough happy times to really compensate for the bad ones.

She had tried to contact me by phone numerous times during the first few days we had separated. So often that I was forced to change my phone number to a new unlisted number again. Then came the packages that were delivered directly to my home. They were candies and cards and personal items. I started ending up just throwing them out into the trash, unopened. It was too painful to be confronted with memories of Manda. This was so much better.

I had slowly made my mind up to drift away from her long before Brian and Lee were married this fall. I deliberately told Manda at the time that she wasn’t invited to the wedding because I knew how Leighanne as well as Brian didn’t like seeing her that much. I realize now that it was what she had been doing to me over the past few years was what alienated her from them, not our relationship. Seeing the happiness that Brian and Lee shared made me realize that there is someone out there for me that would treat me well and admire and respect me as much as Lee did with Brian.

I will admit that there are still days that I miss Manda a lot. I’m scared of being alone, I know that sounds funny, but it’s still one of my biggest fears that I will never find anyone that loves me for what’s inside of me, not for what I’ve become but for truely what I am. My heart and soul. My true self, not Nick Carter the singer, but Nick Carter, a guy that has needs, wants and desires like everyone else. Until that day comes again, my heart will still continue to ache for what could have been and what could be.

The End