~*~AJ~*~

I grabbed Lee for the next slow song and told her. We watched them slow dancing. He holds her hand, bodies stay a few inches from touching, they spent most of the dance talking and laughing. Yep, early dating behavior. Ok, fine, they did this all the time as "just friends", but this time they were both single, both not looking for anyone else, and both had huge trust issues with the opposite sex. Except for each other. "They" made sense. Maybe the timing had always been off?

We had a private party which resulted in the munchies, which resulted in . . . breakfast. Brian and Howie took their dates on home. The five solo players raided a 24 hour diner and got enough bacon to feed a third world country. Enough that Tracie and Kevin didnít have to fight over it, but they still did. Cute.

I was ready to go home and see if my lady was home from her get together with her girlfriends.

~*~Lee~*~

Poor kid. The minute we started talking about heading home he looked like weíd just shot his dog. He had a great time tonight. I donít think Iíve ever seen Nick have as much fun as Iíd seen him have tonight and at the party we threw. Both nights without Pam. As it turns out, both nights after having stood up to Pam and not bought into her guilt trips.

"Nick, did you guys have a fight? Is that why you donít want to go home?" I was the one. Iím pretty sure Kevin knows more and him asking would be like telling a secret. If Kevin knows it, Tracie probably does. Wish theyíd just get over it and fuck.

"That obvious?"

"Only to everyone."

"Iím not going home tonight. Period. Iím having a great time and Iím not going to let her ruin it."

I donít know where this came from, "I have a spare room. Letís go." Maybe it was I just felt sorry for him. Maybe it was I didnít want him going with Kevin and Tracie, wanting them to have as much time alone together as possible to see if they figured it out. Or maybe it was because heís hot and sweet and I have a crush on him. Na, couldnít possibly be the last one. That would mean I was actually aware of my feelings. Canít have that. Yes, I have a crush on Nick Carter.

I led him back to my place and showed him around. He made himself a little nest in the corner of the couch. Sat there Indian style taking up as little space as a six foot two man can. I got us both something to drink and sat, "You ok? I understand if you donít want to talk about it."

He ran his hands through his hair in the way I learned signaled frustration, "I donít know what to do. Scratch that. There is nothing I can do. Iím finally getting that picture."

"Good."

"You too? Damn. That obvious to everyone but me. How is that possible?"

I laughed, "I donít know. Explain Kevin and Tracie?"

"Good point. Shit, that obvious!" He was laughing too, "What is it with those two? They are perfect for each other. Matching sex drives, both sarcastic, both scared to death. Perfect."

"And you are this great guy who is too nice and happened to find the perfect person to suck you dry." It just came out, I meant to censor it.

"Is that the sugar coated version?"

"Aw Nick, Iím sorry. That sounded horrible." I felt bad.

"Is that what you really think?" He looked so small. Like a lost little bird curled up in his nest.

I sighed, "Yes. I think you are great with her. I have never seen you do anything that is disrespectful to your relationship. Any flirting Iíve ever seen you do has obviously been in fun."

"I meant the sucking me dry part."

"Kinda harsh, but yeah. I hate to see that happen to nice guys, some vampire girl gets her hooks in you and bleeds all that niceness and trust. Then the next one you meet you donít do all that for because youíre wearing that necklace made out of garlic that keeps her far enough away for you to be comfortable. Hate it, hate it."

"I do feel worn out and lifeless these days. Not since we got back from California though. It was good. We had a meeting, just the guys. Aired some shit. Itís good when we do that. No one knows us better than us." I could see him thinking and waited. "So how do I not get bled dry, and be good to the next lady?"

Iím not sure if he realized he had just stated his intention. I smiled, "You get out while you still have something left to give. Then you find a woman who will not take advantage of you, but not let you get away with things you learned to do with Pam. Like staying away after a fight, not facing her. Iím not saying that you should go home. Not at all. Actually, I agree that staying away and enjoying the night is what you need to do. But in general itís much better to face it and deal with it, you know that."

He shook his head, "Yeah, I do. But I canít win, and Iím getting really tired of fighting. I lose too much in the fight."

"Exactly. You know what you want to do. Now you just have to check it out a little longer, then make your move. See how this fits for you." Still being direct. Even though I have this crush on him I think Iím stating facts and being objective.

"So tomorrow I go home. I go about day to day thinking Iím almost done, stop fighting, let nature take itís course, and see what happens. Iím done breaking my ass to prove Iím trustworthy. She either believes it or not, but Iím done with feeling responsible."

I smiled, "Good boy. I hope it works out, I hope she gets it together. I know you love her."

"You know . . . love dies in slow motion. This has been going on for a long time. I donít know if Iím so pissed by her anymore or Iím falling out of love with her, but itís not the same." He looked at me, and I wished I had the answer.

"Nick, anytime you need to talk, or want to talk. Iím here." I meant that. I feel like I have to justify things with all heís dealt with from her. Iím not saying Iíll be there for him in hopes of benefiting from it. Scoring points with him. Thatís her game, not mine. I donít play that way.

"Thanks, Lee. I appreciate that. Itís nice to get a different opinion from the guysí. Even though it seems to be the same opinion. Iím beat. Iím going on to bed."

"Night." I stayed up a little longer and worried about the little bird sleeping peacefully in my spare room.

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