Chapter 16

It only took an hour of chaos just to get one little girl ready for school and two adults ready to take her.  Now, as the door closed behind them, calm settled once more and Howie let out a sigh of relief.  How Sarah managed to sleep through it all was a testament to how tired she was….and to the insanity she’d become accustomed to on tour.  He’d promised his wife her favorite breakfast and now that the house was empty, he could do that but first he wanted to check on her.

Opening the door quietly, Howie was surprised to find the bed empty.  He looked around and spotted Sarah out on the balcony curled up in her favorite chaise staring out at the ocean.  He could see that she was cold so he grabbed her favorite afghan and went out with her.

First he wrapped her in the afghan and then tucked it around her.  Sitting beside her so that he could face her, he reached out to brush her hair back.  “How about a cup of hot tea?”

“Sounds wonderful.”  Sarah looked into his eyes, those beautiful brown pools of warmth and comfort.  They were so full of love every time he looked at her, even when he was angry with her.  She could tell now that he was worried.  “You aren’t gonna try to talk me into going back to bed?”

Howie shook his head.  “You’ve obviously got something on your mind and need to think.  I’m gonna go fix you some tea and then join you.”

“Thank you,” whispered Sarah leaning into his hand.  “Has Dusty left with Jesse?”

“A few minutes ago…despite her pleas to stay here and take care of her mommy.”

Sarah smiled softly.  “What did you have to promise her?”

“Not much…just a day in the park and lunch at school….with her mommy the first chance you could.”  Howie leaned in to give her a kiss.  “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Sarah watched him go back inside before turning back to staring at the ocean.  Her heart was aching for Nick.  Ever since Howie had told her what Kevin and Brian had said, it had been foremost in her mind.  She knew how critical Kevin could be but Brian?  Brian was supposed to be Nick’s best friend but over the last few months, well, more like since the beginning of the first leg of the tour, Brian had grown increasingly distant to Nick and to the group.  Nick had turned to Howie for advice quite a bit over those months.  Was Brian hurt or jealous?

Howie returned with her tea.  “Here you go, Angel.”

“Thanks, ‘D’.”

“Scoot up…so I can sit behind you.”

With Howie settled behind her, Sarah leaned her head back against his shoulder.  She took a sip of her tea and set it on the table so she could put her hands on his.  “Is Jess okay?”

“She’s fine…just misses being able to do things with you.”  Howie stroked her stomach as he pressed his lips to her forehead.  “Angel, Nick and Becca are going to be fine.  They just lost their way but if they’ll talk today, they’ll be able to find their way back.”

“I know.  That wasn’t what I was thinking about.”

“Oh…so what’s bothering you?”

“Nick.  Howie, how could Brian and Kevin be so unfair to him?  He has given half his life to the group and now, he wants to do something on his own.  Why can’t they be supportive of him?”

“I can’t speak for Brian but Kevin and I have talked about it.”


“He’s very supportive of Nick.”

“Then why doesn’t he TELL Nick that?”

“Because he’s worried that Jive and The Firm are going to shaft Nick…like they did us.”

“I’d think that would make him MORE supportive.”

“We all sat down to talk about what Jive and The Firm was doing to us and Kevin laid it out on the table completely for all of us.  Despite what they’re doing, Nick still feels a loyalty to them and Kevin has tried talking to him but Nick won’t listen so Kevin’s not going to tell him that he’s behind him.”

“That makes absolutely NO sense what-so-ever.”

“Kevin gave his advice and Nick’s not taking it.  Kevin feels like Nick is doing this just to spite him so he’s not going to voice his support.”

“And Kevin accuses NICK of being immature!” and Sarah rolled her eyes.  “What about Brian?  They were best friends.  Now Brian acts like….like a jealous boyfriend.  And to accuse Nick of turning his back on the group?”

“I wish I could explain it, Angel, because if I understood it, I’d try to fix it.”

“Can’t you talk to Brian?”

Howie snorted, “He’s been more elusive that Nick since we decided to take a break.  I do know through Kevin that he’s bought a house in Atlanta and has moved up there.”

“Did he and Sonja break up?”

“No.  She’s moving up there with him as soon as she can leave her job.  They’re getting married next September too.”

“He finally proposed?”

“I guess so but he hasn’t told any of us.  Kevin’s mom told him the last time he was in Kentucky.”

“If anyone has turned their back on the group, it’s Brian.”

“I think we just all need to step back and take advantage of the time off.  This last tour with everything that happened…it was harder than when we first got started.”

“How do you feel about Nick’s solo CD?”

“You know the answer to that,” reprimanded Howie.

“Yeah, I do,” sighed Sarah.  Running her hands over his arms, “You are SUCH a wonderful friend.”

Nuzzling her neck, “So are you, ‘Angel’…my best friend.”

The couple sat in silence, watching the shrimp boats trolling the waters in the distance and enjoying the peace and quiet.  Both cherished the time they had together and even though they couldn’t make love, the intimacy in the gentle touches and soft caresses more than made up for it.

“Have the contractions stopped?”

“Mmmm…yeah.” Sarah had her eyes closed feeling the warmth of his hand on her skin.

“Have I told you lately just how beautiful you are?”

His fingers danced over every inch of her stomach as he placed kisses along her neck.  She was melting from the inside out as she felt his bare chest against her shoulders.  

“Not in the last couple of hours,” she answered.

Howie started, “You are…” but was interrupted by the ringing of the phone and he groaned with exasperation.

Sarah giggled, “It’s probably Nick.”

Howie had put one of the old phones without caller ID out on the balcony so that when Sarah was out here, she wouldn’t have to get up.  Reaching over, he picked it up.  “Hello.”

“Hey, Howie!  I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“No, Sarah and I were just sitting on the balcony talking.”

“Is she okay?  I know she was having false labor pains and wouldn’t admit it.”

Howie laughed as he hugged Sarah.  “Yeah, she is kinda stubborn like that but she’s fine.  How’s Nick?”

Glancing over at the couch where her husband slept, “Still asleep.  That’s why I called.  What time did you bring him home this morning?”

“It was around four, Bec, and he was really trashed.  He’s gonna have a nasty hang-over.”

“Serves him right,” grumbled Becca.

“Yeah, you’re right so let that be his punishment, Bec,” cautioned Howie.  “I promise, he has kicked himself far worse than any of the rest of us could.”

“Did he talk to you?”

“Yes, and I think I’ve convinced him that NOT talking to you was stupid.  Be patient with him.”

“Howie, my patience is just about stretched to its limits.”

“I understand.  Just give him a chance, okay?”

“Of course, and thanks for everything you BOTH have done.”

“You know we’re always here when you need us, Becca.”

“I do know.  Go get some sleep and make sure Sarah takes it easy today.”

“Call us and let us know how things turn out.”

“Will do.”

Hanging up the phone, Howie gave Sarah a kiss.  “How about some breakfast?”

“Sounds WONDERFUL and then you can pick up where you left off telling me how beautiful I am.”

“How about I show you?” tempted Howie as he helped his wife up.

“Sounds like a plan.” As they both stood, Sarah turned to face Howie and ran her hands over his bare chest.  “I love you so much, ‘D’.”

With his hands on her sides, Howie gave her a tender kiss.  “I love you too, Sarah.”

The couple made the most of their day together just being a couple.  They talked about the twins, their friends, Sarah’s career, and even got in some Lamaze practice.  When they weren’t talking, they were holding each other, sharing their love that seemed to grow with every breath they took.

Chapter 17            Index