The first thing I told her when she practically flew all the way down to the lobby was that I forgave her. I would have preferred to break the news myself but I wasn’t about to get mad at my best friend for something as trivial as that. She apologised anyway and after considering our options, decided that sleep was the last thing on our minds.
I don’t know how, but we ended up sitting on a bench at a bus-stop.
“I miss Jack.” Marianne blurted out after what felt like endless silence. I reached out and gave her a half hug, rubbing her arm to ward off the cold. “I miss him too.”
“I think about him sometimes. High school was fun, wasn’t it?”
I nodded. “Sure was. I think about him too you know. I miss all the adventures we had.”
“I’m sorry for being difficult, especially in College. I should’ve been more understanding.”
I frowned. I wondered where all these things were coming from. It annoyed me that she had to apologise for something that didn’t even exist. “Why are you talking like this? What the heck are you apologising for?”
“You’re a great friend John, even when you started dating Bianca and I gave you a hard time about it cause I didn’t like her, you were always cool about it.”
“I love you both, for different reasons of course, but love the same. And I know you’re only looking out for my interest, I’m glad there’s still someone in my life who gives a damn about me.”
“You know, the only reason why I’m being this difficult is cause I don’t want you to get hurt. I know why you start dating her, but if you’re really in love with her now, I guess it’s okay.”
I sighed. I wanted to tell her so much that she was right all those times. “I’m not sure about that anymore Marianne.”
“Then why are you still with her?” v I shivered involuntarily. I should head back; to where I don’t know yet, but somewhere warm preferably. Funny how earlier today, I preached on the importance of letting ourselves be free once in a while when I couldn’t even afford to do that without risking my life. Nick Carter would love to know this other side of me.
I looked at Marianne and smiled at her. She was waiting for an explanation, patiently like she always does. “You know why.”
The night was still early when I drove into our compound. I dialed the familiar number that I had been neglecting lately and waited for an answer.
“Hey.” She sounded surprisingly calm, no hints of accusations or anger like the last time we had a conversation in my suite.
“How are you?”
“Glad to hear that.”
“Yeah well, I guess I over reacted a bit back there. I should have expected that kind of stuff from the crowd.”
“I really feel bad, they are after all my fans.”
“Exactly. Your fans, not mine.”
I killed the engine and made my way out of the car, funny how with just a simple call, the dark clouds disappeared from above. The night was clear and sprinkled with stars and I had a smile on my face.
“I wanna make it up to you.”
“Yeah?”She mocked me.
“Yeah, I do.”
“Hold that thought, I gotta get the door.”
“Expecting someone over this late?”
I heard her heavy breathe as she made a run for the door. “Nope...maybe it’s the security guard or something...the power switch has kept tripping for the last few days.”
“Oh okay.”I stood there waiting, cell phone pressed to my ear as I imagined her running towards the door.
I heard the soft beep of the security alarm being turned off and the door opened. She was in a pink top and beige pants, her hair slightly damp. She smelled of coconut milk shower bath, someone’s been using my stuff while I’m not around. The shock on her face was priceless.
“I told you I’m gonna make it up to you. Does this work?”
She laughed. “Hell yeah!”I laughed along with her and grabbed her in a hug. It felt good.
“I missed you.”
“I missed you more.”
“I heard Brent and the guys are having a party, lets go over.”I said.
“They have drinks there Nicky, you don’t want people to see you drinking and have it plastered on The Sun tomorrow morning, do you? They’d think I’m getting you to do all those stuff.”
“I want to be 19 and have fun, that’s all.”I said. She smiled and grabbed my hand. “Sounds like a plan.”
We drove out of the compound and made our long drive around Tampa, just me and my girlfriend. And we’re out to have fun.
I decided to book a room at the hotel Marianne was staying at for the remaining two days I was to be in LA. I had decided that whatever was to become of Bianca and I, would be made by her.
I was half way through packing my stuff when she entered the room. “You're leaving? I thought you were gonna stay till Friday?”
“I’m gonna stay at the hotel, I’ve got a room booked.”I said, pausing to look at her. She was leaning against the door frame, arms folded across her chest. Her head lolled to the side, looking at me. I couldn’t quite comprehend the _expression on her face. She doesn’t seem angry to me.
“Can I ask you a question?”I stopped folding my shirts, stretched myself up and nodded. “Yeah.”
“How come you sleep in the guest room when we’re already engaged?”
“There’s this little shrine you have in your room. You know which one I’m taking about?”I asked.
She smiled and nodded. “Well, you got frame after frame of your family and friends, birthday cards that go as far back as grammar school. You’ve always been the sentimental one Bianca, that’s one of the best things I love about you.”
“What does it have to do with you staying in the guest room though?”
“You placed all my gifts to you out there in the living room like a display. I don’t even see all those cards that I sent you. It just got me wondering sometimes, where you placed me in your life. After last night, I finally got the answer.”
She moved slowly towards me, like I had done the night before. I didn’t push her away though. “I put your crystals out there so that when I have people over, they would compliment them. And then I’ll get the chance to boast about my fiance and how much he loves me. And I don’t need to put up your cards anywhere, because the words in there, they were meant only for me. Just me.”
I laughed. I seriously need to reconsider my choice of career. I shouldn’t be fixing other people’s problems. “You told me you never really loved me last night Bianca. Did you forget that?”
She reached out for my hands and when I felt her firm grasp on my arms, I didn’t pull back. “I was also very drunk and upset and didn’t know what I was talking about. I’m sorry I said those words to you, I really didn’t mean it.”
I said nothing, because I didn’t know what to say.
“Stay, please? We should talk, we haven’t really done any talking since you came. We were both too busy with work John, I think that’s our problem. And I admit I’m a bad fiancee, when Marianne told me what happened to you, I was too occupied feeling mad at you and her, it didn’t even cross my mind to ask what exactly happened to you and try to understand what you went through on your own. Can you give me another chance?”
I have a feeling that the 2nd Leg of the Millennium Tour would be much better. For one thing, Mandy was back on tour with me. This time, she would be here as my girlfriend, lending her the support I needed. The guys were elated, I think AJ summed it up perfectly for everyone. Now that Mandy’s here, he’ll stop bugging the rest of us.
Our opening night would be the best. I’m going to have my girlfriend watching me, and John would be here with Marianne and his girlfriend. The guys promised me that we would have a private celebration after tonight’s show and I’m psyche to meet John’s girlfriend.
We were also informed by Jim that Millennium was up for 5 nominations at the upcoming American Music Awards as well as the Grammies. Things were looking good for the group, the spirit was high everywhere in the Backstreet Camp. I could get used to this life.
“Phone’s ringing!”Mandy cried from the sofa. I didn’t stop writing, I was in the flow, nothing could stop me.
“Answer it for me, please?”
She groaned and got up from her seat. “You just robbed me of a good read, you’re gonna pay for that later on.”
“Yeah? Whatcha reading?”
“You’re eighteen baby, upgrade to Cosmogirl or something.”I teased.
“I’m not even gonna ask how in the heck you know about Cosmogirl. Besides, there’s a quiz about which Backstreet Boy is for me and you’re messing things up.”I snorted and went back to writing while she answered the call. It didn’t last long though when I learned who was on the other line.
“Is he here?”Mandy said out loud, looking at me, expecting for an answer. I shook my head and mouth out ‘no’. “Um...he’s not here right now uncle.” I shivered involuntarily. Talk about perfect.
“I’m sure he’s not avoiding you. He’s got a show tonight, things aren’t exactly calm around here...I’ll be sure he gets your message...yes...bye.”
I pushed myself up from the bed and shoved my journal back into my bag. I think I have enough writing for a day. She handed the cell phone over to me, waiting for an explanation. “Thanks, I owe you one.”
“You keep owing me stuff Nicky,”she smirked. “your fans need to know about this uncle of yours, maybe then they’ll have another target to hate instead of me.”
“They don’t hate you.”I smiled.
“They do, but I can’t be bothered about it.”
“Good for you.”I said, ruffling her nicely combed hair. “Get off you jerk!”I laughed and got out of bed.
“I think you’re gonna have to hold onto your quiz baby, John will be joining us for lunch, come on, we gotta go round up the others.”
“I’m sure Kevin and the guys will love to know how you talk about them like you’re rounding up sheep.”
I giggled. I couldn’t help it, I tend to giggle when I’m with her. I also make sure that this sappy boy in me stays hidden in front of the guys. The teasing I’d get if they ever found out, I could never live it down.
We left our suite and I decided a quick call would be faster than running around the entire hotel just to find the guys and their other halves. The screen on my cell phone read that I had one unread message. The dreaded feeling came back in full waves. I didn’t have to look at it to know who the sender was, but I had to.
Even a runner has a finishing line Nicky, yours is just around the corner.
Hey, remember when I said today is gonna be a perfect day? Yeah well, scratch that.
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