“No, no, NO!! Damnit, Andy, what the hell’s wrong with you?!”
Her own words bounced off the walls of her bedroom, echoing in her head as she fell into the rocking chair in the corner of her room.
This wasn’t healthy, she knew that much, but it had to be done.
She was never one to play games.
Especially when people’s most intense feelings were involved.
She glanced at the notebook in her hand. Her journal, her most trusted friend... when Tommy and Nick couldn’t be brought into a situation, anyway.
She’d gone as far as made lists, charts and even a silly, senseless graph to try and detirmine what it was that was going through her head... and every time she came up with one answer. Logical, maybe, but was she going to accept it? Hardly.
It just wasn’t right.
It couldn’t be right.
Shaking her head clear of those thoughts, she tossed her notebook aside and headed out into the living room, where her mother was nestled on the couch with her current favorite book.
“Mom? Do you have a moment?”
“All the time in the world for you, sweetie,” her mother smiled, putting her book down. “What do you need?”
“I think I need help.”
“Psychiatric help, Mom,” Andy groaned, plopping down beside her mother on the couch. “I think I’m going insane.”
“Honey, it can’t be that bad,” her mother assured her.
“Well... try this on for size...” Andy said, and proceeded to fill her mother in.
“I’m not getting any of this.”
“Were you ever supposed to?”
AJ sighed. Things weren’t looking up. Not in the least. Forget the fact that this should be the happiest moment in his life; he still felt like scum.
“AJ, look, the only thing that matters is that we’re happy, right?”
“So what’s there to worry about?”
“Carolina, I don’t think we--”
“Well, I DO,” the young woman said, leaning in and brushing her lips against his. “I love you, you love me. What’s holding you back?”
With a heavy, sorrowful sigh, he gave her the answer. “Andrea. My Andy.”
He could have broken his hand when he punched the side of the building, and it STILL wouldn’t have fazed him.
He saw it coming. From miles away... and yet he had hoped it wouldn’t be the case this time.
When Andy was involved.
Nick was beyond angry. beyond rational thought. All he knew was that he had to get out of there and FAST.
He brushed past a curious Howie, who called out to him.
“Nicky? You okay? Where you going?”
“I’m fine,” he called over his shoulder. “I’m going to pick up a few things. I’ll be back in a few.”
He sped out of the studio’s parking lot moments later, no set destination in mind, and yet...
He’d arrived at Andy’s house in record time.
Walking up to the front door, he saw they had it open, with only the screen door closed to keep insects out.
He heard voices, too. Andy’s. Her mom’s. A string of words he’d never thought would come from her.
“Mom, and if I do love him? I mean, really love him? What am I gonna do? This can’t be good for our friendship. And Tommy? What will HE think?”
Nick staggered back down the front steps and quietly got into his car. He was NOT going to walk in on a conversation like that. Especially one concerning AJ. He did NOT need to hear her express THOSE precise feelings for him. It just made things harder for him.
Inside the house, Andy sighed. Her mother was searching for the right answer, the perfect one, and it was taking forever.
“Honey,” her mother began, “Tommy doesn’t matter. If he’s really a friend, he’ll understand. As for Nick... I think you should talk to him, and then figure out where you and Alex really stand.”
“Shouldn’t I first see where Alex and I stand?”
“Whatever you think is more important, Hon. I just don’t want one good thing slip away from you while you try and solve something that can stand to wait a while longer.”
Andy let her mother’s words sink in before ultimately jumping to her feet.
“Thanks Mom,” she said, embracing her mother. “I know what to do now.”
Not thinking twice, she bolted out her front door, her mind completely set on what had to be done to ease both her heart and her mind.
She had been so caught up in her thoughts, Nick’s car parked in her driveway almost went unnoticed.
She had walked clear past the car, and the person sitting inside it, before realizing it was there. Walking backwards, she stopped in front of the driver’s side window and looked Nick right in the eyes.
“What are you doing here?” She asked, wondering wht fate liked to play these sorts of games with her.
“Well, I wanted to talk to you, but I heard you talking with your mom, so I kinda stepped away and decided to sit here until you were finished, and-”
“You heard me talking to my mom?” she repeated, a sinking feeling overpowering her. “What did you hear?”
“Something I shouldn’t have, that’s for certain,” Nick sighed heavily. “Confessing your love for AJ was not the highlight of my day, trust me. Considering why I’m here, it’s that much worse, too.”
“AJ?” Andy asked, confusion etched across her face. “Why you’re here? Nick, what gives?”
Andy’s confusion aided in his own, and he searched her face for some sort of answer. He found none. Yet, she had questioned his mentioning AJ, so it couldn't have been him she'd been talking about. There was only one other person left, and Nick didn't like the idea all that well.
“Andy, I don’t know where to start, and you’re gonna hate me, but --”
“Why would I hate you?” she asked.
“You’re gonna hate me for this, Andy. Believe me.”
“I could never hate you, Nick,” she replied, and Nick could have sworn the statement went deeper than she’d intended it to.
“I hope you’re right.”
“I’m always right. Besides, I need to talk to you, too. Sorta.”
“Sorta? Okayyy... but first, let me. Please.”
“All right, let’s go inside.”
“No,” Nick said quickly. “Not in there... can we go somewhere else?”
“I guess so,” she shrugged. “Have anywhere in mind?”
“As a matter of fact,” Nick sighed. “I do.”
[chapter list | chapter twenty six]