Kayla was making calls on her bus the next day when she heard someone else get on.
"Hellooo?" she called with grin, having an idea of who it probably was.
"Now I'm stroooongeeeer than yesterdayyyy!" Nick sang back in response.
Kayla laughed. "Hey, Nick!"
"Hey! Do you have any food? We're running out," Nick replied.
Kayla rolled her eyes. "Boys," she remarked jokingly. "Yeah. There's some in the cupboard over there."
"Okay," Nick replied. Then he narrowed his eyes at her. "What about the fridge?" he asked suspiciously.
"That's off-limits for you, sweetheart," Kayla returned, laughing.
"Awww," Nick complained. "Please?"
"Fine, but don't you dare touch my ice cream, Carter!" she warned.
"Deal!" Nick said with an excited grin, practically diving for the small refrigerator. He knew from experience that all of the best stuff was in there.
Kayla rolled her eyes again. "You're incorrigible, Nicky," she informed him.
Nick stopped digging through the refrigerator and looked at her in confusion. "I'm what?" he asked.
Kayla laughed. "Forget it."
Nick shrugged. "Okay," he said agreeably, turning back to the refrigerator.
Kayla shook her head and smiled as she pulled out her cell phone and began to dial another number.
"Who ya callin'?" Nick asked as he dug through her food supply.
"Home," Kayla replied. "I'm trying to arrange for some friends and family to meet up with us for my birthday, but so far it isn't looking good."
"Why not?" Nick asked. "That sounds like fun. We could party sooo hard."
Kayla smiled. "It's just that there's no good time to do it, andóhi, Mom," she interrupted.
"Hi, sweet pea!" Nick yelled back in a high-pitched voice.
Kayla stifled giggles. "I'm good, how are you?" she asked her mother.
"Just perfect, sugar muffin!" Nick replied in the same voice.
"Excuse me," Kayla told her mother. She pulled the phone away from her ear. "Nicky, shut up!"
"Is that the way you speak to your elders?" Nick chastised, wagging his finger.
"Nickolasózip it!" Kayla commanded with a grin. "Sorry, Mom," she said into the phone again, "some people are just too immature..." She tried not to laugh as Nick made faces at her. "Yes, I'm talking to Nick. Who else?"
"You are a mean, mean little girl!" Nick informed her, closing the refrigerator.
"So...Yes, I'm calling about my birthday...Well, like I said before, it doesn't have to be exactly on my birthday, I'd just like to have you here sometime...The point is I miss you guys, and I want to see you, and this seems like a good excuse."
Munching on some Pringles, Nick sauntered lazily over to the couch where Kayla was sitting. Grinning, he pretended to sit on top of her, but she laughed and pushed him away, trying to listen to her mother.
"Mom, that's not it at all!" she protested. "I don't want you to make more sacrifices and miss work. You can just come for the weekend. I'll even pay for your tickets if you want!" Kayla exclaimed. She paused for a moment and listened more, her brow furrowing. "You think you're busy?!" Kayla sighed and rolled her eyes as once again she listened to her mother speak.
Frowning, Nick put a hand on her shoulder. "You okay?" he whispered.
She just nodded towards the phone and shrugged. Nick was about to put a "comforting" arm around her, but she stood up and started yelling again.
"Mom, I don't even care if you give me anything, if that's what you're concerned about! I just want to...I'm not yelling!"
At that point, Nick glanced down at his watch and saw that it was almost time to leave for the venue. He got Kayla's attention.
"I've gotta go, thanks for the food, sweetie," he whispered, hugging her and kissing her on the cheek.
She hugged him back and then waved and blew him a little kiss as he left. With an effort, he hid the satisfied smirk on his face.
Kayla was also smiling, but it soon faded as she turned her attention back to the telephone. "Mom, I understand that it's hard for you to get there, but..." She sighed sharply. "Okay, fine, I'll call back later...I love you too...Bye." Kayla made a horrible face at the phone as she disconnected and dropped it down on the couch beside her. Why did parents always have to be so difficult?
After a moment of breathing hard and collecting herself, Kayla glanced at her watch and saw that it was indeed almost time to leave, and she had promised Derek she would wake him up a few minutes before they left. Picking up her cell phone and dropping it in her bunk on her way, she quickly hurried off of the bus and towards the hotel door.