That night, Nick sat alone in the green room where the TV was, watching Kayla sing her ballad. Sighing, he ran a hand through his hair and tried (without success) to ignore that sick feeling she always gave him in the pit of his stomach...the one that felt exciting and nauseating at the same time. He really had to do something about this. But now it was beyond the point where he could just ask her out casually. Now they were practically best friends. Which meant that unless he was willing to tell her how much he really felt for her, he was kind of stuck.
The door to the green room opened. Nick looked up and saw Lisa walking into the room. He smiled weakly and gave her a little wave. "Howdy," he said.
"Hey, gorgeous!" Lisa replied with a grin.
Nick grinned back at her. "Down, girl. I heard about your little liaison!"
"Big word!" Lisa remarked with wide eyes as she say down next to him.
"Shut up!" Nick said, rolling his eyes.
Lisa smiled. "So you heard, huh?" she remarked.
"Yeah. Although, originally I heard it was Kayla and Derek, not you and Derek."
Lisa laughed. "Kayla and Derek? That's funny. But I don't even care about who knows anymore. Derek was the one who wanted to keep it quiet in the first place."
"So what do you think?" Nick asked.
"The two of you. I mean is it serious? Think it could last awhile?" Nick asked.
Lisa smiled and shrugged. "Could be. I don't know. He just comes off as such a player, you know? We'll just see how everything goes."
"You think he's a player?"
"Maybe. I mean, not intentionally. He's one of those guys who has the really intense but short-lived infatuations with all these girls one after another," Lisa theorized. "But I don't know. He seems pretty devoted right now."
Nick patted her on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Lis, it's probably just because of the sex," he assured her.
She smirked. "Like you would know, Nick."
"Ouch!" Nick commented, grinning. "Jeez, just because I'm waiting for the right person!"
"No, just because she hasn't given it to you yet," Lisa corrected, nodding towards the TV screen, where Kayla was still singing.
The smile immediately fell off of Nick's lips. He caught himself, though, and quickly plastered it back on. "Yeah right," he remarked with false sarcasm.
"Oh, come off it, Carter...it's so obvious that you're smitten. Just admit it," Lisa prodded.
"I don't have a crush on Kayla," Nick insisted. "I don't know where you're getting all of this."
"Maybe from that starry-eyed look you had on your face when I walked in here!" Lisa replied. "Don't lie to me, Nick. I've known you for too long. I see right through it."
Nick glared at her. "I am not lying," he said, stifling his anger with some difficulty. How was everyone reading him as easily as an open book these past few weeks? It was really starting to piss him off. Couldn't they tell that there were some things he would rather keep to himself?
Lisa rolled her eyes. "Bull-shit," she decided in a sing-song voice. "Come on. I promise I won't tell her!"
"I feel like I'm in grade school," Nick mumbled, covering his eyes with one of his hands. "All right, fine, I like her. There. Happy?"
Lisa shrugged, but she was smiling. "I knew it. Ask her out, okay?" she advised, putting her hand on Nick's shoulder.
He shook his head. "Can't. It's not that easy."
"Because we're practically best friends. If I ask her out now, she would know that it's not just some little crush. She'd know it's something that I thought was big enough to risk our whole friendship for," Nick explained.
"So she would know. That's not a bad thing, Nick. People like it when they know that someone cares very deeply about them," Lisa pointed out. "And I know you're probably terrified of telling her, but that's just one of those things where you have to suck it up and do it, no matter how nerve-wracking it is."
"I know. But what if she doesn't like me back?"
Lisa rolled her eyes. "There is not a chance in hell that is going to happen. I saw her at your birthday party, among other times. She's crazy about you."
"Even if that's true, that doesn't guarantee that everything will work out. Love by itself isn't always enough. Sometimes other things get in the way. And with me and Kayla, there are so many things that could get in the way," Nick reasoned.
"And that's why you have to find strength in each other and plow right through each and every one of those things that stand between you," Lisa countered. "But you can't know if you can do that until you tell her. You can't cross that bridge until you really do come to it, Nick, and if you never come to it, and you really do love her, you're going to regret it for the rest of your life. If you don't have the courage to tell her straight out, then don't. Be subtle, let her figure it out for herself in some way. Even have someone else tell her. That's up to you. But don't just keep it to yourself like this. It's really not good for you to bottle up your emotions."
Nick swallowed and thought very hard for a moment, unable to come up with a good answer. Finally he turned to her and said, "You make it sound so simple and easy. But it's one of the most terrifying things I have ever had to deal with."
Lisa sighed. "I know it is. But tell me, what's worse? Risking it and actually having a chance to be with her for the rest of your life—think about that, Nick. Having a chance to love her with everything in you until the day you die. Would you rather risk it and have a chance at something like that or keep it all to yourself and know that there's no way you'll ever be with her?"
Hearing that, Nick thought for an even longer moment. "No one ever put it like that before," he admitted softly.
"That is what you want, isn't it? To be with her? This isn't just some screwed up attempt to get laid or something?" Lisa asked suspiciously.
Nick smiled wryly. "No...if it were I'd be going for you, not her."
"Very funny," Lisa said sarcastically.
Nick looked down again, and she could tell he was still thinking. Finally he looked up at her and gave her the right answer, the one she'd been trying to get out of him throughout the entire discussion. "You're right. I have to let her know," he said slowly.
Lisa grinned and squeezed him around the neck. "Yay! I knew you would make the right choice!" she exclaimed.
Nick hugged her back. "I just hope I have the balls to go through with it," he murmured.
"You'll do great," Lisa replied, patting him on the shoulder as she let go of him.
Nick grimaced at the thought of what he had to do. "Tell me something, Lisa," he said.
"This really nauseous feeling I'm getting right now...it's normal, right?"
She laughed. "Perfectly normal," she assured him. "Get used to it, sweetie. It's gonna be there for quite awhile."