"So what do we do now?" I asked softly, looking into her green eyes.
She sighed deeply and looked down. Seconds passed like hours. She then slowly raised her head and looked straight into my face, her eyes piercing me to my very soul. "Now…I give you a choice," she finally said. "I hold in my hand a one-way ticket back to California. It is up to you whether I use it or not."
Now it was my turn to sigh. I opened my mouth to speak but she placed her fingertips on my lips. "No, don't say anything yet. I want to explain. When I saw you kiss that girl, I wanted to die, and in a way I did. Something inside me died when you placed your lips against hers. My trust in you vanished, along with my respect for you. Had you been drunk, I might've forgiven you…but you were sober. So why am I giving you a choice now? I don't know myself. Maybe because despite everything that's happened, I'm still head over heels in love with you. Or maybe I'm just plain stupid for giving you this chance. But keep in mind Nick, if I get on that plane in an hour, I am never coming back."
I ran my hand through my hair and looked around the almost empty airport. I had come here to stop her from leaving, to keep her in my life. Now it was all up to me. I gave a sarcastic laugh. Up. To. Me. Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. The guy who had always been sheltered from making big decisions by his "big brothers". I wanted so badly to just take Carrie into my arms and never let her go. But I couldn't do it. I couldn't promise that I would never hurt her again. I couldn't bear to hurt her like I did and see that look on her face again. No, never again.
"Nick?" she prompted. "What's it going to be?"
I looked at her, standing there looking at me, anxiously waiting for an answer to her question. An answer that would determine our future together, or one that would shatter what we had into pieces and send us on our separate ways. I knew I loved her from the first time I saw her that day almost two years ago. I couldn't believe I had ruined everything we had with just one stupid act of immaturity. Yeah, that was it; I was immature. I was a twenty-two-year-old man with a mind of a sixteen-year-old boy.
It wasn't the first time it happened. I had cheated on her twice before, and for some strange reason she forgave me. Why had I cheated? I didn't know. I was stupid back then, hell, I still was. I didn't even enjoy those times that I had cheated on her. It just became a part of my lifestyle to a point where I couldn't control what I did anymore. It was like second nature to me. I never thought I would have a steady girlfriend, but then along came Carrie and changed everything. She was like a ray of sunshine on a rainy day. She showed me how to be a better person, how to love someone to a point where you couldn't be without them, and how wonderful a lasting relationship could really be. But I went and took all of that and ruined it. She forgave me once, she forgave me twice, but I didn't know if she ever would again. I guess it's true what they say, three strikes you're out.
"Well?" said Carrie again. I could see that she was losing her patience.
"Go," I said, so quietly that I doubted that I actually said it out loud.
Carrie looked shocked. She hadn't expected that. "Are you sure?" she asked, her eyes full of pain.
I nodded. "Yeah, you deserve better than me. You ought to have someone who won't cheat on you, someone you can trust, and someone who will be there for you when you need him," I told her. I then took her hands into mine. "I love you so much, but I don't even trust myself. I don't expect you to do it. I don't know what will happen when I go on tour and all those girls…" I trailed off; she understood. "I am just so sorry for the pain I caused you, and I am eternally grateful to you for giving me all those chances. But now I see that taking this chance would be unfair to you and very selfish of me. You would be in a relationship where you wouldn't be able to trust the person you're with, and that's not something that you deserve. I want you to be happy Carrie, and unfortunately, I know that you won't be happy with me."
Carrie nodded slightly and a single tear escaped her eye and rolled down her cheek. "I knew it, on some level deep down inside, I knew it. I just couldn't let go until I heard the final words," she said softly. She looked towards the boarding gate for her plane where a crowd of people was beginning to gather. "I think I better go," she said and picked up her backpack.
I nodded, not trusting my voice to speak.
"Have a good life Nick, I wish you the best," she said sincerely as more tears rolled down her face.
"Thank you, I hope that life brings you all the wonderful things that exist in this world," I told her as I tried to hold back my own tears. She nodded, then turned around, and left.
I stayed in the airport long after her plane had departed. I couldn't help but wonder what would've happened if only I had asked her to stay.