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A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 15

Sitting in first class, Nick held Angel's hand during take off. Neither of them was too fond of this part of the flight. Across from them sat Leighanne, Brian and a sleeping Baylee, tucked neatly in a car seat. They took a late morning flight, hoping he would take a nap and sleep most of the flight. They would be arriving into Atlanta close to five o'clock where a car would take them to the Littrell's home.

Nick and Angel fell asleep on the flight, leaning into each others shoulders. Both of them didn't sleep very well last night, their nerves got the best of them. Now that they were on their way, both were much more relaxed.

Leighanne looked over toward the sleeping couple, "Awe Brian, don't they make a cute couple?" Brian leaned over and smiled, "I think this was a great idea Leigh," leaning into his wife, careful not to wake the baby, "Thank you."

After the plane landed, Angel, Leighanne, and Baylee went to the car while the boys went to get their luggage. Nick turned towards Brian, "Bri, thanks."

A smile and a manly hug later, "Anytime Bro. It will all work out. You'll see."

"I hope so Bri. I really do." Nick noticed his bag coming down the lift.

"What's wrong Nick? Talk to me while the girls are outside." Nick looked around and spoke quietly, "I just get the feeling that Angel doesn't like me more than a friend. She has these walls protecting her; I'm not sure what I should do."

"If you like her, you should take a chance Nick. You won't know until you try."

"Yeah, but Brian, she's been such a great friend to me and I really need that. I don't want to lose that. I'm scared. I don't want another fuck buddy, I can get one of those anytime I want."

Looking at his friend, Brian put his hand on his arm, "Go for it Nick. I see the way she looks at you. Leighanne sees the way she looks at you. Hell, Sheridan, A.J., and Howie are surprised you haven't slept together yet."

Nick looked over at Brian wide-eyed, "Why would they think that? Okay, that's a loaded question with me," Nick laughed at his own comment, "But Angel?"

Brian smirked at his friend, "It appears Angel is quite the playa herself. You two are more alike than you know."

Nick's smile dropped, "What?"

Patting his back as they grabbed the last of their luggage, "Angel must be feeling something for you Nick. Sheridan said she was shocked when she learned Angel had slept over your house, twice, and nothing happened. You haven't even kissed her Nick. I thought Sheridan was going to need CPR learning this news." Brian was laughing at Nick's facial expressions.

"How do you know this Brian?" Nick was pissed, Brian knew this information should have been kept private between Angel and Nick.

"Angel confided in Sheridan needing advice. Sheridan was having a particularly bad day when we were out looking at location shots, and it just sort of slipped out. She never meant to tell me and I told her I wouldn't say anything. But seeing that you are struggling, may be this news will encourage you to follow your heart." With that said, the boys walked toward the car.

As they walked into Brian and Leighanne's home, it was time for dinner. Everyone was tired, hungry, and cranky from the flight. "Why don't we order out? What is everyone in the mood for?" They ordered pizza and subs to be delivered.

Angel looked around the gigantic house wondering what the hell she was doing there. Leighanne gave Angel a tour of her house while Brian helped Nick carry Angel's bag to the room where they will be staying for the weekend. Leigh and Brian didn't think twice about putting them in the same room since they've slept together at Nick's house.

Nick noticed Angelina's expression as she learned about her room. He tried to talk to her about it, "If you don't feel comfortable Angel, we can switch to another guest room, they have plenty," he was a little pissed.

Angel looked at him, "No Nick. This will be fine. Why are you getting upset?"

"I'm not upset Angel. I just saw the face you made and wondered why. Is it you don't want to sleep with me?" Angel's eyes went huge. Hanging his head, 'shit' didn't mean to say that. "I mean, be with me."

Angel saw the hurt in Nick's eyes. At that moment, Angel's cell phone rang. Excusing herself, she answered it. It was Sheridan calling from work. Nick walked out of their room to go for a walk to clear his head.

"Hey Sheridan. Is everything alright?"

"Yeah, work sucks. I'm glad to have the weekend off from the project. This will be our last weekend before Kevin arrives back from London. Tom has made some plans for this weekend, but it's a surprise. I'll fill you in when you get back. Did you get in okay?"

"Yeah, we just arrived to Brian's house about thirty minutes ago and are waiting for dinner to be delivered." Angel's voice was very soft.

"What's wrong? You should be ecstatic to be away for the weekend and spending with someone who I know you like."

"Yeah well, things aren't that great. I just pissed off Nick."

"What happened Angel?"

As Angel explained what happened, Nick had run into Brian and was now being drilled with the same questions.

"B, I don't know why I got so mad. Hearing what you said about her past and then realizing we haven't… and the face she made as Leigh showed her where we would be sleeping… I just don't understand."

"Nick, you have been friends with her. Not all friends are fuck buddies. Maybe she doesn't want that with you. Maybe she's intimidated by who you are. Remember she's been a fan of yours and knows you inside out, or as much as fans can with the information they find out on you." Nick let Brian's words sink in. Nick didn't really think about the entire situation.

The doorbell ringing signaled dinner had arrived.

"Sheridan, our dinner is here. I got to go. I'll call you tomorrow."

"Wait Angel, let me just say one more thing, please?"

"Sure."

"Just remember, Nick isn't Joey." Angel's laugh somewhat startled Sheridan.

"They have similarities Sheridan. Having Nick as a friend is a hell of a lot safer on my heart than having him get close to me. We know the drug use with cocaine is a rumor, but some have been reliable sources. He has a temper. He dated an abusive girlfriend. Who knows if it was reciprocated? And he is a player! I'm not stupid and naïve to think he's a saint. He's fucking 23 years old. He's my age. I know what I like to do. He's a popstar; most likely getting a hell of lot more than I am."

Sheridan was shocked hearing Angel compare her past relationship to her current one, "I'm so sorry Angel. I didn't realize… you've never told me."

"Yeah, I know. I didn't mean for it to come out. It just did. Thanks though" Angel said through a smile.

Nick slowly backed away from the door as he heard Angel's conversation with Sheridan. He was stunned at her words and now really wanted to know what went down with her and Joey. Pushing those thoughts aside, he called Angel for dinner.

"Okay, that's my cue. I'll call you later Sheridan, I promise."

"Hang in there. Things always have a way of working themselves out. Bye."

"Thanks, yeah you're right. I will. Bye"

Angel quickly gathered strength to go downstairs and eat dinner with everyone. She kept her breathing in check. Last thing she needed was to have an anxiety attack while on vacation. That would be about the only thing that could make this weekend vacation worse.

Dinner was a little tense at first but Baylee helped break up the tension. He was quite taken with Angel and insisted on being with her. He even tried feeding her his food. She looked like a giant adult finger painting by the time dinner was over. She excused herself to take a shower and go to bed. Nick followed behind saying he was just tired. Before Angel got into the shower, Nick asked if they could talk when she was done. Angel agreed.

Coming out of the bathroom, Angel saw Nick pacing. "Okay, I have to ask you a question that's been bothering me for a while." Nick began.

Nervously, Angel shifted, "Su-ure Nick. What's up?"

Looking straight into her eyes, he stated "Tell me about Joey."

Dropping down on the bed shocked, Angel took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Wow, wasn't expecting that question."

Nick noticed her eyes getting watery. He could see pain in them.

"Why Nick?"

Taking her hand in his, he continued, "I want to know more about you Angel. We've talked on the phone for weeks and I feel like I know you, but there's this one part of you I can't reach. I can't figure it out. And I think it has to do with him. He is the one who made you put up a wall around your heart Angel, and I want to know why." Nick said as honestly as he could.

"I don't want to bore you Nick," trying to laugh it off.

"Anything having to do with you Angel, could never bore me. I know he must have been an important person in your life. You've said his name in your sleep."

'Oh God, please tell me I didn't.' Angel felt terrible and realized maybe this would help her forget about him completely.

Gazing into his eyes, reading how serious Nick was, Angel began. "Joey was the first love of my life. He was two years older than me when we met in college. We bumped into each other at a nightclub over the Christopher Columbus day weekend in October of my sophomore year. We hit it off immediately. It was like we had always been friends. I felt so comfortable around him, like I do with you."

Suddenly feeling very vulnerable and realizing the similarities in their relationship, Angel tried to pull her hand away from Nick's but he held on letting her know he was not going anywhere and he needed for her to talk about this relationship.

She continued on, "He had graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences that May and was planning on attending Boston University's School of Law in September. I left to go to New York City that summer for an internship I had. Joey wasn't too happy that I left for the summer. When I returned to Boston, Joey and I had a great relationship. While we were home for the holidays, Joey called me and asked me to move in with him. He had gotten an apartment in the Back Bay. Since it was cheaper to live off-campus, I said yes."

"At first, I didn't tell my parents about us moving in together because I knew they would be mad. I had brought Joey home for them to meet him and they fell in love with him." Quietly she added, "They still keep in touch with him too."

Tears slowly slid down her face. Nick brushed his fingers over her hand, silently telling her it was all right to continue.

"The first year we lived together was a lot of fun, maybe too much fun at times. But we both strived to do our best in school and sometimes got on each other's nerves when it was a stressful time." Taking a deep shaky breath, "I would leave our apartment during midterms and finals and stayed in my friend's apartment just to keep us from having screaming matches." During our second summer together, I came out here to Los Angeles for another internship. It was such an awesome experience, but Joey never understood my career goals I think. We would fight on the phone while I was away. I would go out clubbing with friends I met here and it drove him crazy. He always questioned my fidelity towards him. He hated having me gone for months at a time, he hated the long distance relationship thing."

'I know how that can be' Nick thought.

"I realized my senior year, Joey had no clue what my dreams really were. But he loved me and if you take out the fact he didn't get my career, it was an incredible relationship. I loved him so much I was willing to try and make it work"

Tightening her hold on Nick's hand, "Looking back, my senior year was truly a nightmare. I hated going home to our apartment. I was so angry at Joey but I didn't say anything. Didn't talk about how I felt. One night I decided I needed to talk to him about us.  I needed to tell him everything about how I was feeling. I walked into our apartment and I heard voices coming from our bedroom."

Slightly gasping for air, "I walked in on him and one of his female law study partners in our bed. I ran out of the apartment. I remember it was close to finals our fall semester, early December and it was cold outside. I walked blocks in the dark, cold streets of Boston for hours til I collapsed in the street and was taken to an area hospital."

Nick, still holding her hand, gave Angel a hug. He held onto her tightly, stroking her hair, encouraging her to keep going.

"Joey was called to the ER and he came and got me. He swore it was the first time he had ever cheated on me and that it was a huge mistake. It would never happen again. Like a fool, I took him back, but our relationship was never the same. I was very withdrawn. I didn't trust him anymore. He tried to make it up to me, but no matter what he did, how hard he tried, it wasn't the same. I do believe he did try, I just couldn't get pass the hurt. I've never felt so betrayed in my life. I hated feeling ashamed."

Stepping out of his embrace, Angel went to get some Kleenex. Blowing her nose and wiping her face dry, she continued. "Joey was very clingy towards me after that. I couldn't stand it sometimes. I lied saying I was going home, when I would stay over a friend's house, just to get away from him for a weekend. I would go out clubbing and would have fun without him. I was secretly hoping that he would catch me and break up with me. I ended up being unfaithful to him and realized I felt no guilt. I'm not proud of my behavior. I was immature, I was too young to be in such a serious relationship. I was too afraid to break it off with Joey and I was embarrassed that I was afraid. I felt so much shame and resentment towards him yet I couldn't find the balls to leave him for good. It doesn't make sense, I know."

Laughing through her tears, she continued, "That April during my senior year, I interviewed for a job at a TV station, WGBH, which is Boston's PBS channel. This was the same job Kevin's investigator found out about."

Nick nodded his head, this was something he knew.

Angel smiled, "I came back to our apartment knowing I nailed the job and it would have been perfect for my career."

Angel lowered her eyes, "I remember that day clearly. Joey was so excited too because then I would be staying in Boston with him while he continued attending Law School. He mentioned us getting married someday soon in the Chapel. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. I realized that if I took this job and I stayed in Boston, I would never be able to leave him. A few weeks later I lied to him."

As more tears ran down her face, "I told him I didn't get the job. He told me not too worry, I would find another job in town. Realizing this wouldn't work either, I finally told Joey the truth. I was going home to Pennsylvania after graduation. I finally had the nerve to tell him I wanted to date other people, see what else was out there for me in this world. He was so mad." Angel began to hyperventilate, "So mad at me. He became enraged. So angry. So very angry. I was never so… so scared."

Nick held Angel's head looking into her eyes, "He's not going to hurt you Angel. You are safe with me, okay?" He questioned her.

Shaking her head yes, "I left him after that. I ran before he caused any more damage to my self-esteem or my heart."

Nick thought for a moment and tried to digest everything Angel had told him. He thought she missed a part in her story, "So he didn't hurt you physically? He didn't hit you?"

Shaking her head yes, "Joey did hit me… that afternoon. As I tried running away from him… he told me all about the whores he had during our relationship. All the weekends I went home. All the summers I had left him. That's what finally made me leave him for good. He abused me, used me, and played me. I knew I deserved better. I had been with other men and none of them ever treated me as badly as Joey did, especially that day."

Rubbing her back while she cried, Nick tried to soothe her back to him. "Shhhh, it's okay Angel. Let it out. Get it all out." After awhile, Angel started to breath normal again.

Pulling away from her, Nick looked down at her. Her face was looking down at the floor. Using his fingers, he gently lifted her head up to look at him, "Thank you," was all Nick said before he leaned in to give her a kiss. A soft, gentle loving kiss.

Angel smiled at him, "I'm sorry… I just don't feel comfortable right now. You understand that don't you? I don't want to lose a friend by sleeping with you." When Nick started to laugh, Angel frowned. "Is that funny to you?"

Nick laughed at his own nervousness; she was just as scared of taking the plunge as he was. "Angel, I'm not lauging at you, I totally feel the same way, that is why I was laughing. I didn't know how you felt about me and I don't think you knew how I felt about you. Now that we have that straightened out, I don't think that waiting a little longer is going to kill either one of us."

They fell asleep wrapped around each other with a newly formed bond in their relationship. Trust was difficult for a popstar who had been around. Trust was even harder for a woman with a broken heart.

Sheridan waited by the window for Tom to pick her up. She was told to pack a light bag and a swimsuit. After searching her dresser drawers she found the perfect little camisole and tap pants. Nothing too slinky but enough to at least hopefully turn Tom's head in the right direction or better yet do something.

Sheridan saw his car pull into the parking lot so she locked up the apartment and began to walk down the stairs. Patrick their neighbor opened his door. "Hey Sheridan how long will you be gone?"

Sheridan's mouth twisted, "Just a couple of hours." In her mind she was wondering if the freak would try to get into their apartment if she said much more.

"Oh, have a nice time." Patrick closed the door as Tom came up the steps of the center hallway.

"Hey baby, are you ready?" Tom plucked her bag from her hand.

Sheridan was frowning at Patrick's closed door. The man knew how to freak women out, that was for sure.

"What's wrong Sheridan?" Tom smoothed a hand over her cheek.

"Nothing, let's go." Sheridan walked out as Tom turned towards Patrick's door. "What a freak he is."

Sheridan sat in the car comfortably dressed, as Tom weaved in and out of traffic. "So what my dear, is the big surprise?"

"You'll see," Tom shifted the car into another lane.

After a series of short-cuts, Sheridan found herself in the parking lot of the Raffles L'Ermitage Hotel. "Why are we here?"

"Because I'm going to pamper you for the next two days. I booked the Raffles Amrita spa for us baby. I have made reservations for everything from a deep muscle massage, facials, pedicures, manicures, body wraps, even the waxing you wanted."

Sheridan gulped, "That was a joke."

Tom looked at her disappointed, "It was? I'm sorry baby, I thought you were serious."

A valet approached the car as they unloaded Sheridan's one bag and Tom's full suitcase. Sheridan's eyes bulged. "You said pack light."

"Yes I did, you won't be dressed much," Tom breezed a kiss on her cheek as he grabbed her hand.

Sheridan felt that little flicker of anticipation. Could this finally be happening between the two of them? They were shown to a beautiful room that was a mix of her favorite décor. French doors led out to a private balcony. The room and its amenities were the plushest she had ever seen. "Oh Tom, this is breathtaking."

"Only for you sweetheart," Tom purred in her ear after tipping and dismissing the bellhop.

The voice that he used was seductive and flamed her desire for him as well as creating an inner clash of hormones. Setting her bag down she kicked off her shoes and watched Tom enter the bathroom.

With a light step she went to the bed, she lay down on the mattress in a very seductive yet provocative position.

Tom came out the bathroom, a quick look at Sheridan and he frowned at her, "What are you doing?"

Sheridan's features took on her emotions rapidly. "I don't know.  What are we doing?"

"Come on we have a manicure and pedicure scheduled in fifteen minutes." Tom dashed back in the bathroom while Sheridan jumped off the bed.

Jamming her shoes back on, she was both angry and annoyed. "I can not believe this," she cried on the inside. "Why do I keep coming back for more?" She waited by the door for him to return.

"Let's go sweetheart. It's a girlie weekend for you." Tom grabbed her hand and pulled her along with him.

"You too," Sheridan flashed him a wooden smile.

Angel tried to reach Sheridan a couple of times over the weekend without much success. Her weekend was turning out to be the best one she had ever had. Kevin had called but Leigh had covered for her and not told him that Angel was there. "The press coverage of the game wouldn't be released until Kevin is on the plane back home to Kentucky." Leigh grinned at Angel.

"I never thought you were this devious," Angel laughed.

"She can be," Brian laughed until the icy glare from his wife told him he had better close his mouth and rather quickly too.

Angel had a fantastic time at the game, she missed the sports she used to be involved with. More than once Angel had tried to get Sheridan involved in a sport or a game on television. Sheridan was too much of a girlie girl to get into it.

Angel knew Sheridan would be curled up on the other end of the couch with a book in her hand, not even paying attention to what was on the screen.

After a night out on the town after the game both of the couples dragged their weary bodies home. Leigh served a brunch after picking Baylee up at her parents. The rest of the day was spent just talking about various subjects but mainly sports.

At the airport, Angel thanked Brian again for inviting her and hugged him. Brian pulled her away from Nick for a minute for a small private conversation. "He likes you, take it slow, don't let it blow up in your faces."

"Thanks," Angel hugged him again. Nick and Angel stood by the boarding gate.

Brian called back, "Don't worry about my cousin, I'll take care of him." Brian winked as they boarded the plan.

"Do you think Kevin was serious? He was pretty adamant about us not being together." Angel buckled up and prepared for take off. "Do you think Brian will run interference?"

"Oh I'm pretty sure if he doesn't," Nick started to snicker.

Angel finished his sentence, "Leigh will."

The flight was late and they arrived at eleven at night. Angel picked her head up off the pillow. "Why do you fly so late? We left there in the middle of the night."

"I can avoid more fans that way," Nick smiled. "Come on, let's get you home."

They walked hand in hand to Nick's car that was left at the airport.

Angel contemplated how the weekend had gone. She had told Nick her darkest secret and he didn't flinch or turn away. Now she had spent the entire weekend flirting with him. She wanted to sleep with him now but how could she get him to see that. 'Maybe just a kiss at my door.'

Nick stood holding her bags at the door of the apartment. Angel unlocked the door and pushed it open. Now was her chance but she just wished he would take the initiative and not her.

Setting the bags down, Nick looked around the room. The apartment was quiet and only one light was on in the kitchen above the stove.

"Sheridan is sleeping by now," Angel whispered as her hand brushed up against his.

"Really," Nick leaned over and captured her lips between his. Pulling away he glanced at her, "I'm sorry, you wanted to wait."

"I've waited long enough," she mumbled as she crooked her finger for him to follow her down the hall to her bedroom.

Nick never did get home that night to listen to the message on his answering machine. Kevin had called for a meeting at nine the next morning with everyone that was in L.A. "Hey Bro, where have you been all day?  I've been trying to reach you. I called Bri, he can't make the meeting. I think the wife is riding his ass again. You do know about the meeting on Tuesday with the ladies, right?  He'll be here for that one. I'll see you in the morning. DON'T BE LATE!" Kevin laughed as he yelled into the answering machine. "Feels good to be home," he sang as he headed to the shower.

Kevin had caught a flight from London directly to Lexington courtesy of the Producers of his show. They wanted to show their appreciation just a little more. After spending half a day in Lexington, he itched to be in Los Angeles. Anne smiled as she drove him to the airport. "Next time you come home, you're going to stay longer."

"I will Mama," he grabbed some of things. The remainder of his stuff would stay at his mothers until his next visit. She had complained about the weight he had lost and said she would take care of him, if he couldn't.

"I'm not a little boy Mom, I'm thirty-two now." Kevin gave a quick kiss on the cheek and headed to catch his flight.

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