~The Binding~

Chapter 45

The bang of the barn door brought Nick back to reality. He had chosen a spot on the far end of the barn. But not far enough away that he couldn't hear her. Kevin had entrusted her with Nick and Suzie, as well as Jake. Nick was trying to keep everything as normal as possible including chores. What he didn't like was the amount of time Kaylin spent alone in the barn. He mumbled to Jake that she was still a kid and she shouldn't be left alone. Jake eyed him up. "I have my hands full. Am I supposed to take this baby down there?"

For awhile Nick sat in the barn listening to Kaylin talk to Fuzzy and Fiona. He listened to the sadness in the little girl's voice as she told them how much she missed her Mom and Dad and she didn't think they were ever coming home. The conversation went on about every day things that happened in the house and then onto her school work.

The barn door banging signaled her departure. He sat and stared at the two horses that were in stalls next to each other. "I'm going to guess she's done talking to you guys." Nick stepped forward and petted each animal when they bowed their heads for attention. "I feel real bad for her. She's missing her parents, which I can relate too. Sometimes you don't really want anyone to talk to… You just want someone to listen."

Nick heard a beep and looked at the horses. "You guys do that?" He stuck his head in the stall when Fuzzy backed into the corner. The beeping had continued. Nick spotted something lying on the rail and entered the stall slowly. "Don't stomp my ass into the ground. I'll just get it out of here so it stops bugging you." Nick reached for the object and it went off again. The horse danced around the stall nervous. "Easy. It's just a toy."

Nick backed out and closed the stall door and the pink plastic phone vibrated in his hand. Nick grinned at it. "She must have been talking to this and not to you guys." Nick looked for a safe place to set it down.

Kaylin flew back into the barn huffing and puffing. Nick stood in front of the stall door. "Excuse me?" she asked politely.

Nick moved out of the way and watched her walk in. When she did the phone vibrated again. "Kaylin, how do you shut this off? Fuzzy doesn't like it." Nick picked the toy up and held it out to her.

"Oh there it is." Kaylin ripped it from his hand and took off. "Thanks Uncle Nick." Kaylin turned back long enough to yell over her shoulder and almost trip.

"Be careful. God knows if anything happens to you I'm going to be nailed for it!" Nick shouted back to her as he watched her run off towards the house. Nick grabbed the book he had stuffed up on a high shelf when he had come out here. He didn't want Suzie to catch him reading it. At least not until he had his own legitimate copy after Suzie's doctors appointment next week. He was thankful Bron had the barn heated so the horses were warm in the winter; he'd be warm as well

He plopped down across from the horses on tack box and thumbed through the pages. He laughed, "Kev man, making notes in the margins. That's bad." Nick stared at the contents. "Let's see we figured the beginning of August. That damn Halloween night got us in big trouble. It takes 10 months according to this book and it's now February so that would make her… hmm 12 weeks. How the hell is that possible that we didn't know." Nick began reading hoping to enlighten himself. Nick became mindless of the time and read.

"So what's been keeping you out here all night Nick?" Suzie leaned on the barn door with her arms folded over her chest.

"Oh, ah… nothin'." Quickly Nick closed the book and shoved it behind his back. He'd been down here for a long time but he wasn't sure how long.

"If you're that interested, I have my own copy in the house." Suzie grinned at him.

"How long were you standing there?" Nick could feel the heat in his face he was blushing.

"Long enough. Come on, it's late." Suzie waved him to join her.

Nick shrugged his shoulders; there was no way to hide the fact that he was busted. "Look I just wanted to understand what the hell is going on with you. You're starting to scare me a little."

"It's fine Nick." Suzie turned back around and grabbed the book out of his grasp. "Shit you dropped one of his sticky notes." Suzie giggled and pointed back to the floor.

"Oh man," Nick's arm swung down to the floor and he snagged the piece of paper. "If I'm lucky it has the page number on it."

Suzie out right snorted. "He labeled the sticky notes?"

"Ah yeah," Nick tried to read the note in the dark as they headed to the house. "I'll put it back later. How was chat?"

"Chat was good. Bron seems likes she's in a better mood. She left early though. She said Kevin might be a little needy."

"Kev isn't needy Suz." Nick rolled his eyes at her. The frost on the ground crunched under his boots as he walked back up to the house with her.

"Bron is needy Nick, but she'll never admit it so we let her tell us that it's Kevin who is. I hope they come home soon." Suzie ambled into the kitchen.

"Me too." Nick walked in and closed the door. He turned back around to lock it. He hung his coat up on the peg. He toed his boots off as Suzie did the same. "So what'd you guys talk about after I was tossed out?"

"I talked to the girls about the WIC convention in May. Well just Bron really. Gillian isn't going and Mary well, that's up to her. She's not really involved in the business."

Nick shrugged and noted the change in Suzie's voice over the use of Mary's name. He'd almost forgotten about her.

"It's out of town, is that going to be a problem for you?" Suzie flicked the lights off and meandered into the dining room.

"Not that I know of." Nick caught up to her and grabbed her hand; he began to swing his arm. "I'm not going to be controlling like Kevin, Suzie. I'm not like him so you don't have to ask me if you need to go out of town. I'm sure the Women In Children need you."

"Women In Children?" Suzie looked at him as she sat down.

"Yeah the WIC conference. You know, you see those little signs on the doors of grocery stores and it stands for Women Infants and Children. I read one once."

Jake was sitting opposite Nick and sort of choked a little. Suzie patted Jake's hand.

"Ah, I see… Figured that out all by yourself, didn't you? Well see that's another reason that I love you. I don't have to check in with you all the time like a teenager." Suzie smiled at Nick. "You're too good to me."

Jake stood up and walked to the living room with Cooper in his arms. Nick watched the huge man rock a whiney infant to sleep softly singing a lullaby. "Not good enough for you either." Nick mumbled. His arm was yanked on hard. He turned to Suzie

"Why would you say that to me?" Suzie's voice quaked.

Nick recognized the sign of the shaky voice and the crying fairy was checking in. Now he had to explain as best he could and hope happy fairy came back. "Suz this is effed up. We should have gotten married first and spent some time together as husband and wife. Then we should have kids."

Suzie blew her bangs up in the air with a loud exhale. "Nick that doesn't always work out for everyone. Look at my parents."

Now Suzie was rolling her eyes at him for a change. "Your parents are fine. Actually they're very cool in my book." Nick paced between the doorway of the kitchen to the foyer that separated the dining room and living room.

"My biological father Nick, not my Dad. They did it the right way and it didn't work. Then my Mom married my step dad. He had two boys at home. Two daughters that lived with their mom and then I jumped into the picture. It worked and they didn't get married before they had kids." Suzie began to laugh.

Nick could feel relief overtaking him. The crying fairy was definitely on her way out. "Well, yeah I guess that worked too."

"Look at your parents." Suzie smiled.

Nick's smile turned to a frown. "Let's leave them out of this before I run screaming from this house and go live on an island all by myself."

"I'm sorry," Suzie patted his arm as they made their way to bed. "What made you go out there to begin with anyway?"

Nick hiked his tee over his head. Yanking it off, he tossed it to the chair. "I wanted to check on Kaylin. She was down there cleaning out the horse stalls. I really don't like her around those big animals by herself. It makes me edgy. What if they got spooked and stepped on her or knocked her down-." Nick stopped hearing a loud sigh come from the woman who was two steps in front of him now.

"You're going to make a perfect father." Suzie began to wail.

Nick pinched his eyes closed since Jake was sending him a shitty look from where he had ducked in from the living room. He watched Jake put up his hands and back out of the doorway and down into the pit. "Suz, I think you need to go to bed now. I have some Backstreet crap to deal with. Why don't you head up to bed and I'll be up in awhile."

Nick held his breath until she was out of sight from the bottom of the stairs.

Jake approached him still rocking Cooper who was safely ensconced in the arms of Uncle Jake. "Damn, I thought Bron was bad. This weepy shit is getting to me."

"I'm trying." Nick flashed the book at Jake that Suzie had handed back to him.

"That better not be Kev's. He'll be pissed." Jake's eyes grew huge.

"He told me to get it from his nightstand, Jake. He knows I have it." Nick hopped over the ledge and landed with a thump on the sofa in the pit.

"What else is in that nightstand Nick?" Jake chuckled good naturedly.

"If you want to know that bad dude, go look for yourself." Nick wasn't going to tell him he didn't really look. He closed his eyes when he reached into the furniture and after touching the book, grabbed it and slammed the door shut. "Kevin can be really scary sometimes and I heard some shit about him and Kris… No thank you," he whispered under his breath. Nick waited a good two hours before he intended to ease his body next to Suzie's. He had walked the house once. Kaylin and Cooper were sound asleep. Andrew was out cold. The dogs were asleep in their respective rooms with their charges. Jake was still up with the baby monitor on in his room.

"You talk to Kev?" Nick paused at Jake's door.

"Yeah, earlier. Their planning on tomorrow afternoon but only if it doesn't snow." Jake picked his head up from his book, grinning.

"Not snow, up there. Are they crazy?" Nick laughed.

"Let's hope not. Kaylin is really getting out of sorts and so are the other two." Jake griped.

"And so are you, you big bad ass." Nick's laugh echoed down the hall.

Nick was irritated when sleep didn't come. Something wasn't right about this entire Stevie thing. To see him so close and right out in the open like that. Hell he had stalkers all the time. Some of them should have been on meds or locked up for their safety as far as he was concerned. It just seemed like Stevie always knew.

Suzie mumbled in her sleep, "I'm having Nick Carter's baby."

His belly shook with laughter talk about timing. He had heard that from a few stalkers. "Yeah you are. I'm so amazed I didn't get the parental speech from Kevin yet either." Nick closed his eyes and dreamed of lying on nice warm beach soaking up the sun with Suzie next to him. They were drinking little fruity drinks with umbrellas. He had this dream before. The sun always set and the moon rose. The waves began to crash on the beach and they made passionate love to each. This dream was different. The sun didn't set, instead they were yanked from their little interlude by an over excited child with blonde curly hair and big blue eyes. "Can I bury you Daddy?"

"Such is life," Suzie smiled at him.

"Hell yeah!" Nick jumped up and chased the precocious child down the beach.

Nick woke up the same way he went to bed, annoyed, except for his dream. Things just weren't falling into place. His mind kept going back to the letters that Bron had received. Suzie had finally let him read them when Bron and Kevin had left for New York. Actually she hadn't let him read them. She had entrusted the letters to him for safe keeping. Kevin had given them to her to keep and after reading a few she couldn't stand to be around them. She had begged Nick to find a place for them.

After school Kaylin darted right to the barn. Nick shook his head as he watched her pull her little pink pretend phone from her backpack. It made him sad that she was this lonely. He asked Jake to call Logan and see if he wanted to come over and play. He would even go and pick Logan up if need be. Jake told him no that it was a school night. "Yeah but Jake."

"Nick, think a little will you." Jake spoke to him as he ambled between Nick and Suzie in the kitchen.

"Oh yeah, I forgot. Sorry." Nick nodded at him. He had forgotten that Kevin and Bron were going to be home soon.

"Sorry about what?" Suzie popped the top on a jar of spaghetti sauce. "Sorry that you didn't tell me that Bron and Kevin will be home any minute now?"

"I didn't know." Nick blinked at her.

"You did too." Suzie yanked open the freezer door. "Jake, where would Bron put the frozen meatballs?"

"The garbage," Jake chuckled and closed the door. "Don't bother; they're bringing dinner home with them."

"Excellent what are they bringing?" Suzie walked the pot she had pulled from the pantry back to the pantry.

"Well I don't know Suzie but I guess we should be happy and eat it or we could eat frozen meatballs." Jake pulled a coat on. "I'm going down to check on Bounce. Andrew isn't home yet so keep an eye on Coop for me."

"Yes sir," Suzie dumped the sauce in the dog's food bowls.

"I swear she lives with that pretend phone stuck in her ear." Nick motioned for Suzie to look out the window.

"Who does?" Suzie looked to where Nick was pointing.

"Oh, yeah she does. She's looks like she's having a great conversation. I wonder when she got that?" Suzie walked away from him. She picked Cooper up.

"Probably Christmas. It rings constantly and she talks into it. Tells it everything that's going on. Who is where and what there doing. When and where everyone is going…." Nick looked at Suzie stunned. "SHIT!" he screamed and tore out of the house.

Suzie jumped up to the window to watch him run. He yanked the phone from Kaylin's grasp and slammed it closed. Suzie could tell he was pissed as he grabbed Kaylin's hand and ran towards the house. The kid was almost flying. Jake was running now too. The entire time Nick continued to yell to Jake who was trailing behind him.

Nick pointed to a chair and Kaylin immediately sat in it stunned. The phone was tossed to the table. It slid across the table and fell to the floor. It was almost smashed by Nick's booted foot.

"Stop!" Jake shouted and shoved Nick, knocking him into the sink. Jake reached down and snagged the phone from the floor.

Kaylin began to cry as Suzie sat frozen with Cooper in her arms. She placed Cooper in his seat and glared at the grown men. "What the hell is going on with you two?" Suzie didn't really ask as much as she screamed at them.

"The freakin' letters. He's getting all the information from her." Nick pointed to Kaylin, who outright began bawling.

"Nick I don't understand." Suzie shook her head as she reached for the pink plastic device that Jake had rescued. "Give her back her damn toy."

"It's not a toy!" Nick began screaming and stomping around the kitchen.

"GIVE IT BACK TO ME!" Kaylin growled at all of them. "I hate you Uncle Nick!"

"What the hell is going on in this house?" Kevin stood in the doorway of the kitchen. One hand on the doorknob, his other wrapped around the handle of a suitcase. His left foot propping the door open for Bron.

"She… the ph… phone… letters. It's fucked up!" Nick roared. Nick started to hyperventilate.

Kevin dropped the suitcase as soon as Bron came through the door. He crossed the short space. "Okay, calm down. I know you're trying to tell me something important." Kevin placed a hand on each one of Nick's shoulders. "Take a breath and focus." Kevin didn't move from in front of Nick.

Nick could feel his face pulsating from all the blood in it.

"Nick buddy, come on. This doesn't happen unless you're really upset. What's goin' on?" Kevin stared directly into eyes.

Nick closed his eyes and took a deep breath; he let his words out slowly through clenched teeth. His fists were balled tightly at his side. "Stevie has been getting his information from Kaylin."

Kevin chuckled. "Now Nick, come on, she doesn't even see him."

Nick tried to pull out of Kevin's grasp. Kevin's hold on is shoulders didn't relinquish and he took another breath. He looked at Bron who was comforting a sobbing Kaylin. By the look on her face if Kevin didn't clear this up quickly Bron would be serving him up for dinner. He had never seen her show such anger and he knew he never wanted to see it again. That mama bear crap Kevin once told him about shot to the forefront of his mind. "Did you buy her that pink plastic cellphone?" Nick pointed to the one that Jake was holding.

Kevin moved his head from side to side. "No, she's seven. She doesn't need a cell phone. If she needs anyone in the family she can turn to her left. Someone is always with her unless she's in school or here on the property."

Nick watched Bron approach Jake. She held her hand out and he set the device in her hand. Bron flipped it open and hit a few buttons. She closed her eyes and then closed the device. She walked around the table with the phone in her hand. Casually she reached up and removed one of Kevin's hands from one of Nick's shoulders. She held the phone tightly. When it began to dance around in her hand she shoved Kevin's other hand off of Nick and placed the phone in Kevin's palm. The phone vibrated like crazy, it was being ignored for the moment. Everyone froze as Bron walked over to Kaylin. She bent down to Kaylin. "I really missed you and I was wondering if you and I could have some time together alone? Away from the ubber dudes in this house. "

"I'm glad you and Dad are home! I missed you too." Kaylin sniffed and wrapped her arms around Bron's neck. Bron stood up and Kaylin wrapped her legs around Bron's waist. "The bad man won't come back?"

Bron hoisted her big bundle to her other hip and motioned Suzie to hand her Cooper. "No, he won't come back, ever again."

"Can you get my phone back from Dad?" Kaylin's gaze focused on her Dad who held her phone.

"Probably not but I think Daddy will take you tomorrow to get your own phone. Okay?" Bron grimaced.

Kaylin's arms went around Bron's neck. "Okay, but I want it to be pink like that one."

"I'll get you a pink one baby." Kevin swallowed hard. It was getting harder and harder to hold the buzzing object in his hand. "We'll figure out the rest of this later."

"Okay." Bron answered and left the room with one child dangling in his carrier and one on her hip.

All eyes seemed to be trained on the trio and their chatter. Kevin folded his fingers over the phone wishing he could crush it since it had fallen silent. Within a few seconds the phone vibrated again. Kevin flipped it open. "Kaylin's phone. This is her father. This phone is no longer available to you Steve, so you better figure stuff out for yourself. She won't be talking to you anymore."

Kevin closed the phone and dropped it to the floor. Jake yelled once again and dived from the floor. "You stupid shit! There could be evidence on this." Kevin just missed his fingers.

Kevin stood shaking his head and holding the bridge of his nose with his fingers. "Of all the things that he could do it's Kaylin he singled out and we didn't even see it."

"Oh my God Nick, how did you know?" Suzie's face seemed pale.

"She has had that thing with her since summer. I thought it was a toy Bron had bought her. DAMMIT!" Kevin's fist slammed into the table.

"Obviously Bron thought one of us had bought it for her. I know I never questioned it." Suzie's head moved slowly from side to side in disgust.

Kevin glared at Jake, "What?" Jake looked back at him. "She's had it since before camp. I thought you bought for her when she went to camp."

"Aw Jesus!" Kevin dropped in a chair. "All this shit, all the letters, Bron running to Florida. All because I wasn't paying attention to what the hell my kid was playing with."

"You're very smart Nick," Suzie beamed a mega watt smile.

Kevin chuckled. "Yeah man, you are very smart. I suggest we all just sit tight and see if Bron comes down to dinner. If she does, she'll probably know everything and fill us in after Kaylin goes to bed."

"Oh dinner, I almost forgot. What did you bring?" Suzie looked out the windows towards the truck.

Kevin watched Suzie's eyes glaze over at the mention of dinner. "Hell, it's in the truck and probably getting cold. Come on Nick, help me carry it in. For normal human beings it's a nightmare and a pregnant woman's dream."

"Oh Chinese… No, I want tacos… maybe fried chicken… or a mushroom burger…"

Kevin headed out to the vehicle with Nick on his heels, after Nick grabbed his coat. Kevin stopped and turned on Nick suddenly. Nick jumped back. Kevin moved forward and wrapped his arms around Nick. "Thank you so much."

"Oh God, don't do that shit to me." Nick pushed him off as headlights shined up the driveway.

The blazer door opened and then slammed shut. "Oh, it looks like you two really missed each other." The laughter rang through the dark night.

"Funny Mc." Nick groaned as he opened the back of Kevin's truck. "Holy shit," Nick started laughing. "Now I know Bron is pregnant." Nick reached in and pulled out a pizza, a bucket of KFC, and a bag of biscuits."

"I'll get the Chinese. Mc, what are you doing here? If you're staying, grab something. Get the tacos and the egg rolls." Kevin loaded Mc's arms up.

"Damn, no sauerkraut." Mc's arms were going to buckle but Kevin kept loading him up.

"Don't give Bron on ideas. The house stinks for hours afterwards." Kevin groaned.

They made the short walk to the house to find Suzie and Jake setting the table. "Bron said they'd be down in a minute."

Kevin waited on pins and needles. He wanted the full story and he wanted it now. He didn't bother to go upstairs and get it directly from Kaylin. Kevin had watched last night as Bron had once again re-lived the incident in her life and the vow she kept to herself to protect her daughter. Hopefully she would be on the road to recovery now. He had thought that once before and it didn't happen. Kevin knew this afternoon was more about Bron needing Kaylin near her then it was about Kaylin missing her or the phone. He hadn't enlightened Mc to the new discovery yet. He guessed he should before Bron came down. "Um, look-"

"Man I thought you guys would all be celebrating." Mc placed boxes on the counter and then some on the table.

"Ah, we were about to but then Nick figured out where Stevie was getting his information and things kind of fell apart after that." Kevin eyed Mc speculatively to see if he would give Nick a chance to explain.

Mc immediately turned to Nick. "So what do you think?"

"I don't think, I know. He was getting it from Kaylin." Nick was still upset Kevin could tell.

"Yeah right-" Mc stopped talking when a pink square slid towards him. He picked it up, opened it and hit a few buttons much the same way Bron had. "Interesting. I'll be holding on to this." Mc dropped it in his coat pocket. "I'm skipping dinner. I have some things to do."






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This is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
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