part i

‘Why me? Seriously.. what did I do to have this happen?’

Nick sighed heavily, gazing out at the ocean as the waves came crashing down only a few feet away from him. He was sitting in the sand, under a quickly darkening sky, trying to recover from a realization he found nothing less than frightening.

No matter what he came up with, the fact was still there; he still felt it, and he knew that no matter what else his brain could invent, it wouldn’t go away.

Three and a half years. Nick couldn’t even begin to put his head around all the memories, good and bad. Couldn’t forget the day they met. Couldn’t find a reason to make what he was feeling now okay.

‘She’s my friend,’ he thought, his brow furrowed in frustration. ‘My FRIEND. There’s no way, man.. there’s too much at stake to be entertaining these feelings...’

He was entertaining them, though. Whether he wanted to or not, the feelings were there, and instead of feeling great about them, he’d never been so scared in his life.

- - - - - - -

“Ahh, the infamous kid sister.”

“There’s no ‘kid’ in there, shortie..”


Nick grinned. Finally, someone put AJ in his place. Sort of. Even funnier... it was a girl. The road manager’s little sister, no less.

“Hi,” she spoke, and he suddenly realized he’d been lost in thought as she went through introducing herself to everyone before coming to him. “I’m Sandra.”

“I’m Nick.”

“You seem nice,” she said, slanting a disapproving glance at a laughing AJ.

“Thanks. I think.”

- - - - - - -

He’d not been that young when they met. They were both 18. Granted, she was a few months older than him, but by the end of that night, the pranks they had pulled on the entire entourage had brought them closer together than either of them could have imagined.

Within the year, they were best friends.

- - - - - - -

“I’m... really? You consider me your best friend?”

“You know me,” Nick shrugged. “No one else does.”

“I’m in a class all my own, aren’t I?” she grinned, throwing a blade of grass in his direction. “That must be why you keep showing up here instead of your own house,” she added, giving him a knowing look. She knew things were less than stellar at his family’s place, so she was more than happy to have him around here, where she knew he was comfortable. Why he travelled all the way across the country, though, was beyond her.

“For the record,” she grinned. “You’re my best friend, too.”

- - - - - - -

“He does not.”

“Yeah he does...”

“No. Nick, you’re always wrong...”

“He does!” Nick insisted. “AJ likes you.”

“AJ ‘liking’ me can mean so many things,” she pointed out. “Namely that he’s been picturing how my clothes would look on his bedroom floor. I can really do without that. Really.”

“Fine, don’t believe me,” Nick shrugged. “When he hits on you, don’t come running to me. All you’ll get is a big, fat “I told you so!” from your friend Nick.”

“If he hits on me, I’ll KNOW you were behind it,” she said simply. “I know the way you work, Carter.”

Nick scowled. So much for that prank.

- - - - - - -

Nick couldn’t... just couldn’t... let things change. They were nothing short of perfect as they were. She was his best friend, the guys all saw her as their little sister, things could NOT go in a different direction.

If he let things happen, he’d ruin everything.

He couldn’t live with that, he decided, watching the grey rain clouds roll in slowly.

It hurt too much as it was.

[index | part ii]