Nick Carter rubbed his eyes sleepily as he stepped inside his Tampa apartment around one thirty A.M. one Friday night. He and the group had just flown in from Sweden, where they had been recording, about two hours ago, and as usual, had been bombarded by screaming fans at the airport despite the late hour. Giving hugs and signing autographs had delayed them about three quarters of an hour. Then there had been the long drive to Tampa, because the Boys always had to fly into the Orlando airport for some reason. And then he'd had to stop off at the drug store, where he'd gotten held up by fans again. Not as many as at the airport—only two—but Nick had wearily talked and laughed with them for about ten minutes.
Now, as he dropped his large duffel bag and set down his suitcase, he felt practically dead. He had been feeling like that a lot for the past few months. It had been making him start to wonder about how worth it his career was, since it always drained him physically like that. Sure, there was all of the fame and glory of being a Backstreet Boy, all of the screaming girls, and of course, all of the money. But lately...the amount of photo shoots and promotional meetings and stress had seemed to go way up, and the amount of time he spent actually singing had seemed to go way down. On top of all of that, the other guys, even Brian, had really been getting on his nerves lately, and he and his family had been fighting a lot. Basically, the life he led had started to become too much for a twenty year old guy to handle.
However, these thoughts were no longer running through Nick's head as he walked towards the back of his large apartment, where his bedroom was. All that he was thinking was that he wanted to get into his bed as fast as possible. Yawning, he opened the door and reached for the light switch. He jumped when he saw that someone was lying on the bed.
When he realized who it was, seeing the long brown hair and pretty face, he instantly relaxed. It was only his girlfriend Mandy, asleep on her back in the middle of the bed. Nick ran his eyes over her body, admiring her, and he saw that her right hand was placed loosely on top of a rose that rested on her chest. Looking around her, he saw that the bed's comforter was covered with rose petals, and that the remains of candles that had burnt out were spread out all over the room. The usually messy floor was spotless, so he figured that she had probably cleaned it for him. That was one of their running jokes. She would tell him that he should clean up, and he would always argue with her about it. Just jokingly, of course. In reality, the two of them hardly ever fought. But maybe that was just because he wasn't around enough for them to get into fights. Or maybe it was because she had a naturally sweet disposition, and very few things provoked her to the point of verbal anger.
Nick turned off the light and walked over to the edge of the bed, where he turned on the dimmer lamp on the night table. He quickly slipped off his tennis shoes, socks, jacket, button down shirt, and pants, leaving him in his boxers and wifebeater, before he climbed into bed next to Mandy. He rested his eyes on her face again for a moment, smiling, before he turned off the light, wrapped his arms around her and easing her body close to his as he laid his head down on the pillow.
When she felt his arms around her, she stirred a little bit, and a moment later, her eyes opened slowly. "Nick?" she whispered unsurely, not able to see in the darkness of the room.
"Hey," he greeted, reaching over and turning the light back on.
"What time is it?" Mandy asked, yawning.
"One forty," Nick reported, brushing hair out of her face.
"Did you just get home?"
"Yeah, the flight from Stockholm was late," he explained. "What are you doing here, honey?"
Mandy smiled. "Well...I was gonna surprise you...but I guess I fell asleep. I came over around eleven," she told him, grinning.
"Oh, believe me, baby, I was surprised," he replied, laughing. "I jumped, like, ten feet when I turned on the light and saw someone lying there."
"Yeah, because I'm just sooo menacing," Mandy said, giggling.
Nick pouted. "I didn't recognize you."
She laughed and put her hand on his chest. "I know, Nicky."
He smiled. She was the only one who could get away with calling him Nicky. If anyone else called him that, he'd bite their head off, but he loved it when Mandy did. "So you really had something planned here, huh?" Nick realized, gesturing towards the rose petals and candles.
"Yeah, I thought it would be a welcoming sight to come home to," Mandy said. "But the effect is kinda ruined now..."
Nick shook his head and kissed her softly. "It was welcoming. Thank you," he mumbled, touching his forehead to hers.
She smiled and took his hand, squeezing it. "You're welcome, Nicky. I'm glad you liked it."
Nick smiled, and all of a sudden he felt like crying. With all that was going on lately, all the changes he had been going through with his job and his friends and his family, she was the one thing he could always rely on. He could always count on knocking on her door and seeing her beautiful smile or calling her on the phone and hearing her soothing voice. She would patiently listen to him complain and rant and even cry sometimes, and then when he would finish, she would always know the right thing to say in response. Nick honest to G-d didn't know what he would do without her. She was his safeguard against everything...and yet she was more. He loved her like he had loved no one else.
Impulsively, he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her up against his chest, and held her tightly. "I really missed you," he whispered.
"I missed you too, Nicky," she replied. "Tampa just ain't the same without ya."
He chuckled, holding her tighter. "Yeah, I know, you don't have to tell me," he said modestly, making her laugh. That was another thing he loved about her. Her laugh. G-d, it could bring a smile to his face no matter what. "I love you, Mandy," he whispered.
She pulled away from him so that she could see his face and smiled. "I love you, too, Nicky," she murmured, leaning forward and kissing him softly. As she started to rub her hands in circles on his back, their kisses became more intense, and soon she was lying on top of him, her hands creeping up under his shirt as they kissed. As she started to pull it off, Nick reached down and gently removed her hands.
"I am so tired...do you think we can resume this in the morning?" he asked hopefully.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, we can," she agreed, rolling off of him and onto her back again.
"You don't have to be sorry, sweetie," Nick told her, laughing. She just smiled as he let go of her to reach over and turn the lamp back off. He moved closer to her before sliding his arms around her, holding her to him as he laid his head back on the pillow and shut his eyes. "'Night, Mandy," he whispered.
She laid her head down next to his and moved a little closer to him, getting herself
comfortable. "'Night, Nicky," she returned, closing her eyes.