A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 20

Monday morning dawned with the sun shining through Nick's bedroom windows. Angel awoke early and couldn't get back to sleep. She didn't have anything planned for the day until her project meeting that evening. Nick and Angel decided to spend the night at his place since he spent the weekend at hers. Nick also didn't want to miss any more unexpected meetings with Kevin in case he left a message. Why Kevin didn't use the cell was beyond him, but this was Kevin. Kevin was sneaky.

Angel dressed and made some coffee. After watching the early morning edition news, Angel felt the need to go to the gym. She left Nick a note telling him where she went and that she'd be going home from there. As Angel drove to the gym, she began to chuckle remembering Nick's visit to the gym with her on Friday. He was still having trouble moving some of his muscles last night.

Arriving at the gym, she hit the treadmill first. While jogging on the treadmill, Angel had began to think about her weekend with Nick. To her surprise, Thanksgiving dinner turned out wonderful. Nick couldn't stop complimenting her on her cooking skills; Angel was beginning to think he was overcompensating and that he really didn't like it.

Her mind recalled a particular conversation they had that made her really think about the way Nick grew up and spent his holidays.

"Angel, what did you put in your stuffing?" Nick asked in between forkfuls.

"Do you like it? I tried something new this year. I found it at one of my favorite stores, Williams-Sonoma. It's called Focaccia Country Stuffing."

Taking another mouthful of turkey, Nick continued, "Angel, what's in your cranberry sauce?"

Angel eyed Nick wondering why he was so excited about the food she put in front of him, "It's a gourmet cranberry rum sauce I found on the Internet. It has apple jelly, raisins, and dark rum in it."

"It's delicious. It definitely goes with the turkey. What did you call this soup again? It tastes so good."

Laughing, Angel replied, "I'm glad you like my cooking. It's called butternut squash bisque. Tell me Nick; what did your mother cook for your Thanksgiving meal?"

Nick looked over at Angel and was almost too embarrassed to say what his family did for Thanksgiving. When he was little, his mom would cook the usual turkey dinner with all the fixings. Once Nick was working with Backstreet, he didn't really spend too many Thanksgivings at home. On the few occasions Backstreet had that holiday off, he either would spend it with one of the guys or his family went away and had their meal at a restaurant or Nick's mom would have someone cater the meal at their house.

"The last Thanksgiving meal that I can remember my mom cooked for us was probably when I was twelve." Nick said softly, but continued, "A.J.'s mom and grandmother used to cook a pretty good turkey dinner. Mrs. Littrell and Mrs. Richardson cooked for half their town. They would make so many desserts that their sons would bring them to the neighbors' homes." Nick smiled as he remembered his Kentucky Thanksgivings.

Angel felt a bit teary-eyed as she listened to Nick's holiday tales. She was quick to get up and go into the kitchen for some more wine before he noticed the effect his story had on her. From the kitchen, Angel shouted, "Hey, wasn't Aaron in the Macy's Parade today?"

Nick swallowed his food, "Yeah, he was. He must have performed while the show got interrupted with President's Bush visit to Iraq. Oh, that reminds me. Let me call my Dad and find out what they're up to." Nick grabbed his cell phone from his belt and speed dialed his Dad's cell.

Nick chuckled when he heard someone pick up the phone, "Gobble Gobble to you too Dad. How did it go this morning? That cold huh? Oh, okay… Yeah, just called to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Wait… Is Aaron there? Oh… Okay… Uh huh, talk to you soon Dad… Bye." Nick clicked off his phone and sighed. He looked somewhat sad but when he looked up and saw Angel staring at him, he smiled.

"Do you wish you were there with them?" Angel asked nervously. Part of her felt guilty, she thought Nick only stayed behind in LA so she wouldn't be alone.

"Are you kidding me? No Angel. My father was in the middle of another fight and judging by the slurring of his words, he's three sheets to the wind."

Looking at her clock, "Did they fly back to Florida from New York this afternoon?"

Nick took a sip of his wine, "Yup," was all he said as he smacked his lips together to make a popping sound.

The rest of the meal was eaten in silence. Well, relatively silence. The football game was on in the background.

As Angel was clearing their dishes and putting away the leftovers, Nick took the opportunity to get a closer look at Joey in the picture A.J. noticed during the boys' tour of the girls' apartment. As he stared at Angel's smile and the man holding her hand, Nick wondered how Joey could have been such an asshole to treat her the way he did. Nick had never known a woman to be smart, successful, as well as beautiful, who could actually cook, and liked him. "What a dick," Nick mumbled, "Your loss buddy. She's mine now."

Smiling, Nick sat back down on the couch to enjoy the rest of the game with Angel cuddled up beside him.

Angel stopped the treadmill and went over to sit on an exercise bike. After plugging in her information to get her started, Angel's mind raced back to Nick saying those three words, 'She's mine now.' 'What exactly did he mean by that?' she thought. Another forty-five minutes passed as she tried to rationalize her 'relationship.'

Stepping off the bike and heading toward the showers, Angel scolded herself for overanalyzing her entire weekend. 'Will you just relax and have fun before you give yourself a coronary.' With that thought, she didn't think about her weekend anymore, not until an hour later when she was eating breakfast with Sheridan.

Angel and Sheridan were sitting at their kitchen table in their apartment. Each girl was staring off into their own little world as they ate their pancakes.

Sheridan was playing with her food, "What possessed you to put fresh blueberries in the pancake batter?"

Angel replied monotonously, "They were on the counter. They would go bad if they weren't eaten soon."

"Okay," Sheridan replied while she thought back to her weekend in Pennsylvania. Wanting to focus on something else rather than her life, she looked up at Angel, "So why did you go to the gym at the crack of dawn?"

Breaking Angel from her thoughts, "I couldn't sleep at Nick's. Tossed and turned most of the morning, so I decided to go do something to make me tired." Angel shrugged her shoulders.

"What's on your mind Angel?" Sheridan knew her roommate better than anyone. Angel never had a problem sleeping unless something was bothering her.

"Nothing much. Just looking forward to getting back to work on the project I guess," Angel smiled kindly at her roommate.

"Did Nick tell you why he didn't return to London after Chicago? I've been reading some of the message boards, and the fans seem to think his management or record label pulled the plug on his recording studio time there."

Angel shrugged her shoulders, "He did mention that he was having some disagreements with them. With the movie project and the boys CD project, and his family issues, he just said he didn't need to deal with his CD bullshit now; he'd put it on hold. He'll deal with his solo project once the other stuff is done." Angel drank some coffee; "I left it at that. Nick seemed pretty set on changing the subject after that, so I didn't push it."

Sheridan continued prying into Angel's relationship, "So, did you and Nick talk about your relationship at all?"

Smirking, Angel licked her lips before replying, "Not exactly."

Sheridan arched her eyebrows, "What does that mean, 'not exactly'?

"It means whenever we started to talk about it, we found a way to get off topic."

Sheridan sighed, "So you never asked Nick what you mean to him and that's why you couldn't sleep, isn't it?"

Angel frowned, "Yeah, something like that. I've decided not to overanalyze it and just go with the flow."

Suddenly, the phone rang. As Angel went to answer it, Sheridan returned to her bedroom to finish getting ready for work.


"Hey Angel. It's Tony. I was wondering if you could work the bar today? I've had a bunch of sick calls and we were already short staffed."

"Not a problem. I can only work 'til 4 though since I've got a meeting at 5."

"Oh great! That's fine Angel. Thank you so much."

"See you in a bit."

Angel hung up and went into her room to get her clothes.

"Who was that? Where are you going?" Sheridan asked.

"It was the restaurant wondering if I could cover the bar. Don't worry, I'll be home on time for the meeting." Angel said as she walked into the bathroom.

"I'll see you back here at five then. I think they are ordering dinner to be delivered, but I'll call Marybeth just to be sure. If not, can you bring me home some dinner?" Sheridan asked as she grabbed her keys.

"The usual?" Angel questioned.

"Yes please. Oh shit, I'm running late. I'll see ya later Angel."

Angel heard the door slam shut as she let the hot water cascade down her body and relax her mind. "Going to work will help. You can stop thinking there," she muttered.

Walking behind the bar, Angel felt her second wind kick in. She was ready to face the Monday lunch crowd.

As she was stocking the bar, her cell phone rang. Picking it up, she read the caller ID and smiled, "Well good morning sleepy head. Don't tell me you just got up?"

Nick smiled, "No. I've been up for a while. I had an unexpected visitor come over early this morning," lowering his voice, Nick whispered, "And he's still here."

Angel whispered back, "Who?"

"Kevin. Hey what time did you leave this morning?"

"I woke up with the birds and couldn't fall back to sleep. I ended up going to the gym to workout."

Angel laughed as she listened to Nick groan, "That place is evil," Nick said then he heard a bunch of noise in the background, "Where are you?"

"Oh, I'm at Barefoot's. They called me this morning to see if I could fill in at the bar."

"Who ya talkin' to Nick?" Angel heard Kevin yell in the background.

"It's Angel."

Kevin came into Nick's bedroom where Nick was talking on the phone, "Is she coming over?"

Nick eyed Kevin strangely while answering, "Um…no. She's at work right now." Turning his attention back to his phone conversation, Nick continued, "Oh, okay Angel. See you tonight. Bye."

Nick and Kevin walked back into the living room where they were going over a song for the movie.

"I don't see why the girls need to keep on working. We pay them good money." Kevin didn't understand. He wanted everyone's attention and effort focused one hundred percent on this project.

"Kev, this job isn't permanent. They don't want to burn too many bridges with their employers so they can go back and work for them when the movie is finished."

Hearing his stomach growl, Nick pouted.

"What's wrong with you?" Kevin questioned him.

"Nothing. Just hungry, which reminded me of my weekend. Man, I was spoiled, Angel is one hell of a cook."

Kevin's eyebrows arched up, "Oh really? What was your favorite meal?"

Nick gave Kevin a smirk, "Uh huh. God, everything was perfect. As much as I loved her Thanksgiving dinner, because that was just amazing, I'd have to choose the breakfast she served me in bed." Nick's smile reached both of his ears.

Kevin's eyes widened, "Man, I haven't been served breakfast in bed in a long time. Hell, I haven't had a woman stay for breakfast in a long time." Kevin's voice softened and his mind started thinking about his personal life, or the lack thereof.

Shaking his head from those thoughts, an idea hit him, "Hey Nick, want to go grab a bite to eat? My treat."

"Hell yeah. Sounds like a plan. I still haven't gone shopping yet," Nick grinned as he grabbed his keys and jacket. Kevin drove to a familiar restaurant causing Nick to smile and question Kevin's motives, "Dawg, what are you up to?"

Kevin grinned, "Nothing. I like the food here."

"Uh huh. Sure you do. But I ain't gonna complain," Nick laughed while walking into Barefoot's.

Meanwhile, Sheridan was lost in thought as she reread the same insurance claim over again. "God, this is useless. You are useless," She scolded herself.

Feeling tears coming to her eyes, she fled to the bathroom. Even though Tom wasn't in the office, she felt his presence and it only reminded her of their weekend together, or what was supposed to be "their" weekend "together."

Looking at the clock, she decided to play sick and go home early. 'It's only one. I could go home, take a nap and be refreshed for tonight's meeting,' she deliberated her options.

Explaining to one of her co-workers she wasn't feeling well, Sheridan left work early.

As she pulled out of the parking lot at work, Sheridan noticed Tom's car waiting at the red light. 'Perfect timing,' she thought. Tom didn't notice Sheridan leaving. He just assumed she went to lunch when he walked by her desk and she wasn't there. He didn't learn until an hour later that she had gone home sick for the day. "Dammit," he muttered under his breath.

Feeling as though she was being watched, Angel carefully turned around as her eyes wandered around the bar. Grinning as she poured a glass of Merlot, she shouted to her new guests, "So, what brings you two in here?"

Kevin and Nick were sitting at the bar.

Kevin's mind raced thinking about how Angel and Nick's relationship, or whatever it was - he'd have to ask Nick about that later - could help him get closer to Sheridan.

"You work in a fine restaurant Angel and we were hungry. Not to mention, the service is outstanding," Kevin replied with a smirk.

Nick gave a sideways glance to Kevin as if to say he had lost his mind, then looked over to Angel who had a similar look.

"What?" Kevin was proud of his response. For the most part, it was truthful. He just omitted the part about getting closer to Angel so that he could get closer to Sheridan.

Nick and Angel stared at each other, both shrugged their shoulders and replied in unison, "Nothing."

"Oh Christ, don't tell me you guys can read each other's minds now." Kevin hid behind the bar menu.

Angel decided she didn't want to venture down this road so she changed the subject, "So, what can I get you guys to drink?"

"I'll have a glass of chardonnay please," Kevin replied while looking through his menu.

"I'll take my usual," was Nick's cocky response followed by a wink. Not taking any chances, he also pulled out his license from his wallet and shoved it in Angel's face.

"Yes dear. I know," Angel plopped Nick's beer on a napkin in front of him.

Angel took the boys' order and went about serving the other customers. Every once in a while, Angel looked over to see Nick and Kevin laughing and smiling, both engrossed in their conversation.

Angel observed some fans in the restaurant staring at the boys. None of the fans had ventured up to them. Angel thought that was quite nice of them; although it wouldn't be their first meal that was interrupted by a fan. Angel guessed some of the message boards would be on overload with this news. 'Just wait until the fans watch Oprah,' Angel said while snickering.

Hearing her cell phone ringing, Angel wiped her hands on a paper towel while answering it. "Hello?"

"Hi Angel."

"Sheridan, what's wrong?"

"Nothing. I just wanted to let you know that I left work early and I'm home. Marybeth said that dinner will be catered tonight." Sheridan spoke with no emotion.

"Are you okay? You sound terrible," Angel took her paper towel and tried to make a three-point shot into the garbage can.

Nick looked up and laughed watching Angel goof off at work. Kevin's eavesdropping ears went into full effect when he heard Angel mention Sheridan's name. Unfortunately, Angel went back to the kitchen so he wasn't able to hear any of her conversation.

Bringing over the boys' food, Nick stopped chatting with Kevin to tell Angel about the boys' latest news. They were all going to Las Vegas next week to appear on the Billboard awards.

Angel leaned in close, "Shhh… there are a few fans in here just watching you two. Don't say anything too loud." Angel also shook her hand out of Nick's grasp; hearing Kevin's words in the back of her mind, "Keep it on the down low you two."

Nick could have cared less but he knew why Angel pulled away, especially with Kevin sitting right next to him.

Kevin wanted to know what was wrong with Sheridan, so he decided to do a little investigating of his own. "So, you and Sheridan will both be at the meeting tonight right?"

"Of course Kevin. I have to get back to work. I'll see you guys later." Angel went back to mixing drinks and running to and from the kitchen.

After finishing up their meal, Nick and Kevin went to Kevin's studio to finish working on the song from this morning.

Kevin had questions, lots of them, and he drove Nick up the wall until it was time to leave for the meeting. Kevin had answered Nick's phone twice and took him grocery shopping. If they were any closer, people would think they were a couple.

When they arrived at the ladies apartment, Kevin had a bottle of rum, as well as some Vanilla Coke. Nick thought it was odd but then Kevin could be odd at times.

Nick opened the door knowing it wouldn't be locked. Kevin shot him a look letting him know that he was a little surprised. Angel was in the kitchen setting the table. Sheridan was speaking to someone on the telephone when they walked into the apartment.

The expression Angel was wearing was a cross between annoyed and disgusted. She mouthed the word "Tom" while Sheridan's back was turned.

Nick winked and then yelled, "Hello you hot little honeys. Kevin and Nick have arrived. Let's get it on!"

Angel spewed the contents of her mouth, which happened to be wine, in the sink. Kevin tried not to smirk, but hell, he was getting desperate for an angle.

Sheridan blanched, turned red, and then ran from the room. As she closed the door, she shot the universal sign, the finger, at Nick.

"She's is going to kill you," Angel laughed as she set the table after wiping her mouth with a napkin. "Those two are on thin ice, so keep going," Angel whispered to Nick as he stuck his finger in her dessert, Carmel Apple pie.

Kevin just stood grinning, "You two can be very evil when you are working together on something, but keep going I am enjoying this."

"NICK!" Sheridan yelled as the bedroom door flew open.





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